876.00 TA/1–2551: Despatch

The Chargé in Liberia ( Richardson ) to the Department of State 1

confidential
No. 249

Subject: Point IV Program in Liberia2

The statement by President Tubman yesterday morning that he has instructed the Liberian Mission now in Washington to defer any action on the Export–Import Bank loan application3 seems to jeopardize a large part of the projected Point IV program for Liberia. This decision of the President’s is admittedly not economic but political, [Page 1286] as was pointed out in the Embassy’s despatch No. 193 of December 8, 1950;4 but it is nevertheless a firm decision, based on the realities of local Liberian politics, as seen by Tubman. Yesterday morning he reiterated strongly that it would be political suicide for him to borrow money for road construction before making definite provisions for a water supply for Monrovia. He considers the water supply even more important than the hydroelectric plant, which is another pet of the politicians. The opening of the Free Port has exacerbated the situation, for the Port sells water to ships calling at Monrovia and also to local residents who are able to haul it away. These residents are principally foreigners, which increases the dissatisfaction of the Liberians and raises further political problems for the President.

With reference to the last paragraph of the Department’s instruction No. 19 of January 13, 1951,4 I have already conferred with President Tubman as to the steps being taken to appropriate twenty percent of Liberian Government revenues for the economic development program, and he stated that this will be provided in the budget.

The final sentence of the Department’s instruction, however, shows what I believe to be a miscomprehension on the part of the Department. President Tubman agrees to apply these funds not exclusively toward the implementation of projects and programs recommended by the Joint Commission, but toward the economic development plan in general as outlined in the application for assistance. In other words, development projects which he considers essential but for which he cannot obtain funds elsewhere, will be financed from the twenty percent. This is apt to be the case with the water-works project for Monrovia, which will of course result in there being less money available for Liberia’s contribution to other projects.

A somewhat similar miscomprehension is shown in the final paragraph of the Department’s instruction No. 17 of January 10.4 The Liberian Government has not agreed, and in all probability will not agree, to establishing the agricultural laboratory in the immediate vicinity of Booker Washington Institute at Kakata. Although the Liberian Government contributes to the support of the Institute, the Institute is considered a private school, not a Government school. It is true that there is a long-range plan for taking over the Institute and integrating it into the Liberian national school system, but so long as the control of the school remains outside the Government, even though the Government might be represented on the governing board, the Government will not consent to having a governmental institution such as an agricultural laboratory attached to the Institute.

[Page 1287]

If any cooperation is to be obtained from the Liberian Government, the agricultural laboratory will probably have to be established in the vicinity of Suakoko, where the Government is showing great interest in the Central Agricultural Station. Mr. Frank Pinder of the Economic Mission concurs in the view that the agricultural laboratory should be planned for Suakoko rather than Kakata.

Finally, I consider it highly advisable that personnel under Point IV not be sent in advance of the conclusion of specific project agreements setting forth in detail the duties and responsibilities of the American personnel sent out. Colonel Poindexter of the United States Public Health Mission and Mr. Pinder and Mr. Rives of the United States Economic Mission concur in this view. All feel strongly, a feeling which I share, that any attempt to force our views on the Liberians will be met either by a blank refusal or by covert sabotage of any plans which they may feel themselves to have been compelled to accept.

W. Garland Richardson
  1. Ambassador Edward Dudley was on leave in the United States from November 1950 until the beginning of April 1951. In his absence, Embassy First Secretary W. Garland Richardson served as Chargé.
  2. Regarding the agreement of December 22, 1950, on U.S. technical assistance to Liberia under the Point Four Program, see the editorial note, p. 1274.
  3. Regarding the January 22 Export–Import Bank decision on a credit to Liberia, see the editorial note, supra. Presumably the statement by President Tubman referred to here was that reported upon in telegram 156, January 24, from Monrovia, which is summarized in footnote 2, p. 1287.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not printed.