Lessons from Liberia and Venezuela: Leadership matters

By Greg Dobbs |

An anti-government demonstrator waves a flag against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro during a vigil in honor of those who have been killed during clashes between security forces and demonstrators in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, July 31, 2017.

I’ve covered elections in many countries — from Britain to Bolivia, Egypt to Zimbabwe. But never have I seen longer lines of citizens eager, even desperate to vote than in two nations that are roughly at the same latitude but an ocean apart, in more ways than one: Liberia and Venezuela. You’d expect a backward nation like Liberia to be on the skids. But it’s not. Resource-rich Venezuela is. There’s a lesson here.

Liberia was founded by freed American slaves on the western rim of Africa. It is a poor country even in the best of times. But the aftermath of the election I covered there almost a dozen years ago has been a slow but steady build.

Venezuela, by contrast, was rolling in oil. But as we see every day in news reports, the aftermath of what I covered there — around the same time as Liberia — is a slow and suicidal bleed.

Liberia’s election followed a decade-and-a-half of civil war that wrecked the nation. Depraved despots went on killing sprees. Survivors endured a living hell. Its only hydroelectric dam destroyed, the war left Liberia with no electricity, running water or sanitation. Most people in the capital, Monrovia, squatted in the shells of buildings that were burned out or bombed out. Potholes swallowed cars on war-ravaged roads. Citizens swallowed food we wouldn’t feed our dogs.

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Source: News Now/The Denver Post Online

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About Cholo Brooks 16147 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.