Liberians feel betrayed. The U.S. government has admitted that Charles Taylor, the bloody warlord who would become his country’s president and the first African leader to be tried for war crimes, escaped from a Boston maximum security prison with the help of the CIA.
There had been rumors to this effect for years but it was only this week that an investigation by the Boston Globe confirmed Taylor had links with U.S. spy agencies.
Writing in the multi-blogging site African Arguments, Liberian writer and activist Robtel Neajai Pailey, said “the Taylor-CIA connection has re-inscribed for Liberians an age-old dilemma, what to do with our so-called historical relationship with the United States, which has been fraught with betrayal after betrayal. Liberians are justifiably angry, upset and disappointed, but not surprised. This is the validation we’ve been wanting for years…”
Taylor was in jail in Boston in 1985 as he fought extradition to Liberia to face embezzlement charges. After his CIA-engineered escape, Taylor became a particularly brutal warlord during Liberia’s first civil war, from 1989 to 1996. He then became Liberia’s president from 1997 to 2003. He is now in prison in the Netherlands, where he is being tried for war crimes committed in neighboring Sierra Leone.
Pailey is disturbed by the U.S.’s continued influence in Liberia. She calls for Liberia to “look South,” meaning to turn away from the U.S. and instead build relationships with developing nations, like China. Why? “because the U.S. will act only in its interest and leave those caught in the crossfire to fend for themselves.”