Tag Archives: Colonialism

Canada’s aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Report—the class issues

By Carl Bronski and Keith Jones
June 14, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The report issued last week by the government-appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian residential schools documents a horrific crime perpetrated by the Canadian capitalist ruling elite and its state—a crime whose impacts reverberate to this day.

For well over a century, beginning in the 1870s, Indian and Inuit children were systematically stolen from their parents and communities and placed in Church-run schools, generally hundreds, even thousands, of miles from their homes. There they endured prison-type conditions; were systematically denied proper medical treatment and nourishment, punished for speaking their native languages, and subject to physical and sexual abuse.

150,000 children—as many as one in every three aboriginal children in the first half of the 20th century—were captives of the government-enforced, Church-run residential school system. An estimated 6,000 died of disease, neglect, and abuse. Many were buried in unmarked graves with their parents not even informed of their deaths.

All with the aim, as the principal father of Confederation and Canada’s Prime Minister for two decades (1867–73 and 1878–91) Sir John A. Macdonald, put it, of killing the Indian in the child.

That Macdonald played a pivotal role in the development of the residential school system is not accidental. It was an integral part of the consolidation of the Canadian nation-state, which he spearheaded, acting in close concert with a cabal of bankers, railway-promoters, and industrialists.

In the more than 300-page “Executive Summary” of its final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concludes that the Indian residential school system was a “central element” in a century-long Canadian state Aboriginal policy that aimed “to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious and racial entities.” Terming this policy “cultural genocide” (i.e., the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group), the Commission found that the Canadian government pursued it, “because it wished to divest itself of” its “legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources.” (For a more exhaustive discussion of the report’s finding see: “Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people”)

The report makes 94 recommendations. Many of these are for increased state expenditure on health-care, education, housing, and child welfare, so as to help lift Canada’s aboriginal people out of the Third World-type conditions that prevail on most native reserves and, increasingly, in the urban ghettos many now call home. A host of other recommendations revolve around commemorating the victims of the residential school system and making Canadians aware of this historic injustice. The Commissioners also reiterated longstanding demands of Canada’s aboriginal elite for increased legal-constitutional recognition of, and powers for, native self-governments, and for the speedy and equitable resolution of land claims.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report has undoubtedly shocked and disturbed working people. Not only has this monstrous crime been ignored and covered up, meaning that prior to last week most Canadians knew little if anything about the residential school system. The report flies in the face of the official Canadian nationalist narrative which portrays Canada as a “kinder, gentler,” and “more-caring” society—one fundamentally different from the rapacious dollar-republic to the south. This narrative, to be sure, has been increasingly exposed as a sham, as Canada’s ruling elite rallies behind one US-led war after another and guts public and social services. But it is sustained by powerful social interests and appetites.

The Harper government’s assault on native people

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government are clearly intent on burying the TRC report and its finding that Canada committed “cultural genocide.” On the pretext that his government awaits publication later this fall of the remaining six volumes of the commission’s report, Harper has baldly refused to respond to the “Executive Summary” or its recommendations.

Harper could not entirely turn his back on the TRC last week. After all, his government had formed it, as part of a 2007 settlement of a class-action suit brought by residential-school survivors against Ottawa and its Church partners. But the prime minister sat stonily silent through the official proceedings marking the termination of the TRC’s work and when questioned about the report in parliament had the gall to say that Canada has one of the world’s best records on the treatment of indigenous peoples. Harper, whose general demeanor suggests nothing so much as a calculating, vindictive accountant, further claimed that his government has spent “vast amounts of money” on improving the lives of Canada’s native population.

In fact the Conservatives government has systematically attacked Canada’s aboriginal people as part of its offensive against the working class as whole. This offensive has included massive social spending cuts, an increase in the retirement age, further cuts to jobless benefits, the effective outlawing of strikes in the federally-administered industries, and a dramatic expansion of the powers of the national-security apparatus.

Harper has cut billions from programs that benefit native people, beginning with his government’s repudiation of the commitments made by the previous Liberal government under the 2005 “Kelowna Accord.” Central to the Conservative government’s agenda has been the push to develop new mineral deposits in the Canadian North and pipeline-projects that will transport Alberta tar-sands oil to U.S. and Asian markets over the strenuous objections of indigenous groups. Under legislation passed in 2012, the Conservatives made changes to the Indian Act and Navigable Waters Act that open the way for the de facto privatization of native lands and significantly reduce environmental protection.

The world capitalist crisis and opposition from native communities have impeded the government’s plans. But in a spate of policy papers, think-tank reports and academic studies, the Conservatives and their big business and neo-conservative supporters have explained that their goal is to integrate the native Indian reserves much more fully into contemporary Canadian capitalism, including throwing them open to private land ownership, so as to more profitably exploit their natural resources and pools of cheap-labour.

If Harper and his government are publicly dismissive and privately disdainful of the TRC report, it is because they view it as cutting across this predatory agenda.

The opposition parties and the TRC

The opposition parties, joined by a significant section of the capitalist press have taken a different tack.

The NDP and the Liberals were quick to endorse the report and its recommendations. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau went so far as to pledge that a Liberal government would enact all 94.

There is a huge dollop of cynicism and hypocrisy in this.

When last in power federally, the Liberals implemented the greatest social spending cuts in Canadian history and all but completely ignored the 440 recommendations outlined in the 1996 final report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People. That commission had been set up to contain mounting native discontent as exemplified by the 1991 Oka crisis, which had ended with the Canadian army suppressing a Mohawk occupation of ancestral lands that were being transformed into a private golf course.

While the NDP has never held office in Ottawa, its provincial governments, including the current Manitoba NDP government, have presided over appalling conditions for native people, on- and off-reserve.

Moreover, both parties are committed to balanced budgets and maintaining the reactionary fiscal framework, established by decades of federal Liberal and Conservatives governments, under which corporate taxes and income and capital gains taxes for the rich and super-rich have been reduced to record lows. Should they come to power, the Liberals’ and NDP’s claims of support for the TRC’s call for a major boost in social spending to alleviate the social misery of Canada’s native people will prove to have been a cruel hoax.

In the wake of the TRC report and the litany of horrors it has documented, the mainstream press has published statements abhorring the treatment of native children in the residential schools. However, the editorials and commentary have pointedly skirted the central issue of funding a massive expansion of public and social services for the Aboriginal population, preferring to concentrate on the need for public apologies from various political and church entities and reconciliation.

This is not to suggest there are no differences within Canada’s ruling elite. In his push for resource development and neo-liberal “reform” of the reserve system, Harper has repeatedly clashed with those hitherto recognized by Ottawa as Canada’s native leadership, such as the Assembly of First Nations. By contrast, those ready to commend the TRC report, including the NDP and Liberal politicians, generally favour the continuation of policies first elaborated in the 1970s and 1980s to give Canadian capitalism’s continuing oppression of the native people an ostensibly more humane face, through the promotion of native “self-government” and land-claim negotiations.

This section of the elite notes Harper has manifestly failed to realize his pipeline-building plans. Furthermore, like Harper, they are acutely aware of mounting discontent among native people. (Reports made available by leaks and access-to-information requests, reveal that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and other state agencies have repeatedly warned of the threat of widespread native social unrest.)

Those sections of Canada’s elite who are embracing the TRC report hope to use it to carry out something of a course correction. They favour relying more on the aboriginal elite nurtured over the past four decades and propose to do so by more systematically incorporating them into government and into resource development. The three TRC Commissioners—Manitoba Justice Murray Sinclair, journalist and broadcast executive Marie Wilson, and lawyer and former Conservative MP Chief Wilton Littlechild—are themselves representatives of this aboriginal elite and their report is imbued with the perspective of “reconciling” the native population with Canadian capitalism.

Justice McLachlin and Canada’s “most glaring blemish”

In this regard, it is highly significant that just five days before the public release of the TRC report, the head of Canada’s Supreme Court, Justice Beverely McLachlin, delivered a major address in which she affirmed that Canada’s treatment of the native people had been tantamount to “cultural genocide”—in effect endorsing the TRC’s central conclusion in advance.

A Supreme Court Justice since 1989, McLachlin has been involved in a series of Supreme Court decisions that delimit “native land rights” and “self-government.” These decisions are aimed at giving legal imprimatur to the dispossession of the native peoples and are serving to fashion a modern-day system of native self-government that is fully-incorporated into the Canadian capitalist state and, as such, an instrument for the further dissolution of traditional communal land and its transformation into capitalist private property.

In her May 28 speech McLachlin termed the treatment of the First Nations “the most glaring blemish” on Canada’s historic record as a “peaceful multi-cultural country”—a statement that typifies the attitude of the ostensibly progressive section of Canada’s elite to the TRC and the continuing plight of the native people.

In reality, the dispossession of the indigenous population was not a blemish, nor a birth pang. It was integral to the rise of Canadian capitalism and the consolidation of the Canadian nation-state. Moreover, it lays bare the violent and oppressive character of the Canadian state, as the instrument of organized violence for upholding capitalist exploitation, to this day. Canadian capitalism’s rise involved the destruction of aboriginal society—a genocide—because the communal relations on which aboriginal society was based were incompatible with the imposition of capitalist private property.

The last four decades of land rights struggles, based on the acceptance of capitalism and the promotion of native nationalism with a view to negotiating a new “relationship” with the Canadian state, have led native people into a political and social dead end. Self-government and land-claim settlements have nurtured a small elite that manages the reserves for six-figure salaries and is immersed in business deals, from construction and transport to casinos and cigarette smuggling, while hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of their fellow band members live in abject poverty.

Ending the historic oppression of the native people, like securing the social and democratic rights of all working people, will only be possible though the independent political mobilization of the working class to reorganize society from top to bottom along socialist lines.

The authors also recommend:

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people

[6 June 2015]

Canada’s Genocide against First Nations’ Children. Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Whitewash

Canada’s Elaborate Coverup of its own Genocide nevertheless proves Guilt, Criminal Intent of Government, Churches

By Dr. Gary G. Kohls
June 5, 2015
Global Research

 

canadaidlenomore“They have lost their legal and moral right to exist …” – Brussels Tribunal

Canada’s expensive, seven year attempt to whitewash its mass murder of aboriginal children ended in lies and shame yesterday, when the state-funded “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” (TRC) released its final report into the murderous Indian residential school system that obscured more than it revealed – and held nobody liable for the worst crime in Canadian history.

The $68 million TRC report acknowledged that genocide had in fact taken place in Canada, but named no perpetrators, ignored the legal consequences of this crime, and effectively absolved Canada and its churches for the systemic rape, torture and killing of aboriginal children that spanned over a century.

Plagued by corruption and tampering, and openly snubbing international law and due process by muzzling eyewitnesses and destroying crucial evidence, the TRC concluded by reporting that thousands of children “may have” died in the Indian residential school system, despite its own confirmed evidence of tens of thousands of such deaths.

Justifying the evasion of this truth, TRC Chairman Murray Sinclair, who was indicted by an international court in 2013 for obstructing justice and concealing genocidal acts, lied publicly yesterday when he claimed that “the (Canadian) government stopped publishing residential school death records in 1920″. In fact, reports of students’ deaths, and a constant mortality rate of between 40% and 60%, were continually published by the government until at least 1969, as was proven by independent researcher Rev. Kevin Annett in 1998, and subsequently.

In a public statement issued today and to be broadcast on youtube, Kevin Annett remarked,

“The little of the truth of the Canadian Holocaust that the TRC has admitted is simply a rehashing of everything I first made public in June of 1998, at our own independent inquiry. The TRC has simply stage-managed a public absolution of the churches and government that together exterminated more than 50,000 children. No-one will go to jail for these murders: the TRC was set up to ensure that. This is yet another national crime!”

Commenting from Brussels on the TRC report, a spokeswoman for the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS), the body that prosecuted Canada and its churches for Genocide in 2012 and 2013, said today,

“Churches and governments that committed and concealed such horrible crimes have no right under the law of nations to conduct self-managed ‘inquiries’ of themselves, as has happened in Canada. So we consider the TRC report a clear obstruction of the law and of justice, and it does not diminish by one iota the criminal liability of Canada and its churches, and their sponsors in London and Rome, for these war crimes. Frankly, these bodies have lost the moral and legal right to exist.””

In Winnipeg, and in response to the TRC report, the Provisional Council of the lawfully-proclaimed Republic of Kanata announced a renewed campaign to “dismantle this criminal conspiracy called Canada, and enforce the standing Citizen’s Arrest Warrants against thirty leaders of church and state in Canada”, including TRC chairman Murray Sinclair.

“They’ve admitted their crime and stand condemned under the law. Now it’s up to We the People to punish those criminals and their system, to cleanse our country of their legacy of child killing” stated Kevin Annett today.

A complete broadcast of Kevin Annett’s commentary along with updates of the Republic’s Arrest and Disestablishment campaign will follow shortly on youtube. See www.itccs.org and www.kanatarepublic.ca .

A Joint Communique issued by the ITCCS (Brussels) and the Republic of Kanata.

2 June, 2015


Kevin Annett was re-nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. Messages for him can be left at 386-323-5774 (USA). His personal website is www.KevinAnnett.com.  

Kevin’s award winning documentary film Unrepentant can be viewed at UNREPENTANT: KEVIN ANNETT AND CANADA’S (NATIVE PEOPLES) GENOCIDE: 1 of 1 FULL . See also: Eyewitness to Coverup of Genocide in Canada

His weekly blog radio program, Radio Free Kanata, airs on Sundays at 3 pm pacific, 6 pm eastern. It is found at: http://bbsradio.com/radiofreekanata . 

The official website for the Republic of Kanata is www.kanatarepublic.ca . The Founding Proclamation of the Republic of Kanata (January 15, 2015) is here:
Canadian Republic Proclaimed

See the evidence of Genocide in Canada at www.hiddennolonger.com and at the website of The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State at www.itccs.org.

The complete Common Law Court proceedings of Genocide in Canada are found at:The International Common Law Court: Genocide in Canada – Common Law Court Proceedings – Genocide in Canada  (Part One) – 1 hr. 46 mins.

Second Session of The International Common Law Court of Justice – Common Law Court Proceedings – Genocide in Canada  (Part Two) – 1 hr. 47 mins.Verdict and Sentence: Genocide in Canada – Final Court Verdict and Sentencing – 8 mins. 30 secs.Endorsements of ITCCS and Kevin Annett by native eyewitnesses – Authorizations and Endorsements of ITCCS/Kevin Annett by indigenous eyewitnesses – 10 mins.Witness to murder at Indian Residential School – Irene Favel, Eyewitness to the incineration of a newborn baby by a priest at Muscowegan Catholic Indian school, Saskatchewan, 1944Preview of Evidence of Genocide in Canada – Other key testimonies from our Court case against genocide in Canada

The first excavation at a mass grave residential school site: Mohawk school, 2011
http://itccs.org/mass-graves-of-children-in-canada-documented-evidence/

An International, multi-lingual ITCCS site can be found at: http://kevinannettinternational.blogspot.fr/

See also an insightful personal interview “Who is Kevin Annett?” (2013) at:

Who is Kevin Annett?

and eyewitness to the crimes: Dr. Jennifer Wade

The Capitalist Origins of the Oppression of African Women

A Glorious Past Before Colonialism

By Garikai Chengu
March 8, 2015
Counter Punch

 

Sunday marks International Women’s Day, which was founded in 1908 by the Socialist party of America in order to promote the struggle for women’s equality. Unbeknown to many, for the vast majority of human history, which took place in Africa, women have been equal if not superior to men.

The world’s first civilizations arose from the spiritual, economic and social efforts of African women and African women in turn went on to lead those Matriarchal societies.

Matriarchy in ancient Africa was not a mirror image of patriarchy today, as it was not based on appropriation and violence. The rituals and culture of matriarchy did not celebrate violence; rather, they had a lot to do with fecundity, exchange and redistribution.

Early man was unaware of the link between intercourse and birth, therefore it was thought that new life was created by the woman alone. This belief created the first concept of God as a caring, compassionate, generous, all loving and all powerful Mother, which is the basis of the African matriarchal ideology.

Historian Cheikh Anta Diop illustrates how as early as 10,000 BC women in Africa pioneered organized cultivation, thereby creating the pre-conditions for surplus, wealth and trade. African women are responsible for the greatest invention for the well being of human kind, namely, food security. It is the practice of organized agriculture that made population expansion, food surpluses and the emergence civilization possible.

Pre-capitalist matriarchal civilizations in Africa included the Nigerian Zazzau, Sudanese Kandake, Angolan Nzinga, and Ashanti of Ghana, to name but a few. The quintessential African matriarchal system was most evident and most enduring in black Ancient Egypt.

Women in Ancient Egypt owned and had complete control over both movable and immovable property such as real estate in 3000 BC. As late as the 1960s, this right could not be claimed by women in some parts of the United States.

A closer look at ancient Egyptian papyrus’ reveals that society was strictly matrilineal and inheritance and descent was through the female line. The Egyptian woman enjoyed the same legal and economic rights as the Egyptian man, and the proof of this is reflected in Egyptian art and historical inscriptions. Egypt was an unequal society but the inequality was based much more upon differences in the social classes, rather than differences in gender.

From ancient legal documents, we know that women were able to manage and dispose of private property, including: land, portable goods, servants, slaves, livestock, and financial instruments such as endowments and annuities. A woman could administer all her property independently and according to her free will and in several excavated cemeteries the richest tombs were those of women.

The independence and leadership roles of ancient Egyptian women are part of an African cultural pattern that began millennia ago and continued into recent times, until Europeans brought capitalism and Christianity to Africa.

In the 1860s, the colonial explorer Dr. David Livingstone wrote of meeting female chiefs in the Congo, and in most of the monarchical systems of traditional Africa there were either one or two women of the highest rank who occupied a position on a par with that of the king or complementary to it.

Professor of Ancient African History, Barbara Lesko illustrates how anthropologists who have studied African history and records of early travelers and missionaries tell us “everywhere in Africa that one scrapes the surface one finds ethno-historical data on the authority once shared by women.”

Under colonial misrule, black women suffered double-edged discrimination and dis-empowerment both as women and as black people.

It is difficult for many people to accept that racial discrimination and antagonism, which is such a pervasive phenomenon in the world today, has not been a permanent historical feature of humanity. In fact, the very notion of “race” and the ideology and practice of racism is a relatively modern concept.

For instance, historians recount how the Romans and Greeks attached no particular stigma to the colour of a person’s skin and there were no theories about the inferiority of darker skin. Slavery in ancient societies was not defined by color, but primarily by military fortune: conquered peoples, irrespective of their color, were enslaved.

Just before colonisation, African women were largely equal to men. The significant value of African women’s productive labour in producing and processing food created and maintained their rights in domestic, political, cultural, economic, religious and social spheres, among others. Because women were central to production in these pre-class societies, systematic inequality between the sexes was nonexistent, and elder women in particular enjoyed relatively high status.

With the creation of the capitalist colonial economy, the marginalization of women came in several ways:

Firstly, the advent of title deeds, made men the sole owners of land. Consequently, as women lost access and control of land, they became increasingly economically dependent on men. This in turn led to an intensification of domestic patriarchy, reinforced by colonial social institutions.

Secondly, as colonialism continued to entrench itself on African soil, the perceived importance of women’s agricultural contribution to the household was greatly reduced, as their vital role in food production was overshadowed by the more lucrative male-dominated cash crop cultivation for the international market. Prior to colonialism, women dominated trade. Markets were not governed by pure profit values; but rather, by the basic need to exchange, redistribute and socialize. Traditional African economic systems were not capitalist in nature.

Thirdly, colonialism brought with it Christianity and a masculine fundamentalism, which is now prevalent across Africa today. The imported patriarchal religion does not allow women to play the leading roles they have in the indigenous African religion.

In Ancient African religions it is not only God who is female, but also the main guardian spirits and sacred principles. Rosalind Jeffries, a historian, documents the concept of the Supreme Mother. In a paper entitled, “The Image of Woman in African Cave Art”, she shows how African Creation stories focused on the Primordial Mother, creating woman first, then man.

Christianity brought the monogamous nuclear family unit to Africa. Its sole purpose was to pass on private property, in the form of inheritance, from one generation of men to the next. Under capitalism, the modern family unit is founded on concealed, domestic slavery of the wife; and, the modern capitalist society is a compound made up of many individual families as its molecules.

A glance at the dictionary will reveal that the word family, has rather telling Latin origins. Famulus literally means domestic slave; and familia, which is also the Italian word for family, signified the total number of slaves belonging to one man. Karl Marx lays it bare: “The modern family contains in germ not only slavery (servitus) but also serfdom, since from the beginning it is related to agricultural services. It contains in miniature all the contradictions which later extend throughout society and its state.”

Finally, the introduction of wage labour affected women by uprooting men from villages to work in urban areas, causing profound, negative economic impacts on women. Colonial authorities routinely used native African males to impose taxes on women, thereby entrenching male dominance in the Native’s psyche. After all, colonialists brought to Africa the concept of the Victorian woman: a woman who should stay in the private domain and leave “real work” to the men. Due to the Victorian concept of women held by all colonialists, African women were excluded from the new political and administrative system, whose sole purpose was to extract raw materials and labour from the colony.

Colonialism replaced the role and status of the pre-colonial, African woman with a landless and disenfranchised domestic slave.

The United Nations Development Program notes that nowadays, African women perform sixty-six percent of the world’s work, produce fifty percent of the food, but earn only ten percent of the income and own only one percent of the property.

The greatest threat towards the African woman’s glorious future is her ignorance of her glorious past. Armed with knowledge, Africans must now fight to restore women to a position of respect and of economic freedom that exceeds that which she enjoyed before colonialism.

Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on garikai.chengu@gmail.com

 

The Struggle Against the Ebola Pandemic Continues. Triggers Economic and Social Instability in West Africa

Liberia, Guinea laud progress while Sierra Leone battles renewed threats

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Global Research, March 04, 2015
Pan-African News Wire

 

Ebola-Photo-by-NIAID-300x300African leaders, healthcare professionals, international humanitarian organizations and others have praised the work done in battling the latest and most deadly outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the epicenters of the latest outbreak of the deadly pandemic, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of cases reported. It is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) based in Geneva, Switzerland and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States that some 9,500 people died among the 20,000 infected over the last year.

Nonetheless, even though there has been a precipitous decline in reported cases as borders re-open throughout West Africa and life is returning to some form of normalcy, experts and leaders warn that vigilance is still required. An increase in cases in Sierra Leone over the last several weeks has once again prompted concern.

In a recent statement from Geneva, it reports that

“According to WHO’s Feb. 25 Situation Report, the steep decline in case incidence in Sierra Leone from December to the end of January has halted, and transmission remains widespread. Case incidence decreased in Guinea in the week up to February 22 compared with the week before, and cases continue to arise from unknown chains of transmission. In Liberia, transmission continues at very low levels, with only one new case reported in the week up to February 22.” (World Health Organization)

Renewed Alert in Sierra Leone

Since last month there has been a new outbreak of cases in Sierra Leone of unknown origin. It is suspected that the EVD infections are being transmitted by workers in the fishing industry who have traveled inland to the capital of Freetown.

Overall says the WHO, “A total of 99 new confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) were reported in the week to 22 February. Guinea reported 35 new confirmed cases.”

A WHO summary report stresses that

“Transmission remains widespread in Sierra Leone, with 63 new confirmed cases. A spike of 20 new confirmed cases in Bombali is linked to the previously reported cluster of cases in the Aberdeen fishing community of the capital, Freetown.”

There were 14 confirmed new cases in Freetown during the same time frame, with additional infections being discovered from what is described as unknown chains of transmission in the capital and other locations. So serious is the current threat that Vice-President Samuel Sam-Sumana placed himself in quarantine after one of his security guards died from EVD on Feb. 24.

In a statement released by Sam-Sumana’s office on March 1, he says

“This virus has affected thousands of our people and has nearly brought our country to its knees. We all have a collective responsibility to break the chains of transmission by isolating the sick and reporting all known contacts, by not touching the dead … We cannot be complacent. We must work together as a nation to end Ebola now.” (Associated Press)

Liberia Reports Rapid Decline in Cases

At the same time transmissions continue at very low levels in Liberia, with only one new confirmed case reported in the seven days leading up to the week of February 22. Liberia, which has had the highest number of deaths, succeeded in bringing its number of confirmed cases to almost zero while reopening schools as well as the borders with contiguous states.

During the last week of February, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf visited the U.S. and met with Secretary of State John Kerry along with high-ranking members of Congress. She reported on developments in the fight against EVD and thanked Washington for its support.

Liberia, a longtime ally of the U.S., has served as a major partner with the Pentagon through the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Thousands of Pentagon troops were deployed to the country at the height of the outbreak many of which have now been withdrawn.

In a press release issued by a Liberian-based news agency it says

“President Johnson-Sirleaf and her delegation on Thursday, February 26 held discussions with House Democratic and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Lindsey Graham and Patrick Leahy of the Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The Liberian leader also met Senator Jeffery Flake and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Chris Coons of the Senate Subcommittee on Appropriation; Representative Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee along with ranking members including Representatives Elliott Engel, Chris Smith and Karen Baas.” (The News, March 2)

Ebola vaccine trials are continuing in Liberia

There are EVD vaccine trials also underway in Liberia where some 27,000 people may participate in a study to test the effectiveness of an experimental drug.

Front Page Africa newspaper based in the capital of Monrovia reported that

“The trial process, according to information, is being led by a Liberia-U.S. Clinical Research Partnership sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). The trial is seeking volunteers from groups at particular risk of Ebola infection, including health care workers, communities with ongoing transmission, contact tracers and members of burial teams.” (Feb. 27)

Clinical trial participants are assigned at random to one of three equally-sized groups.

Participants in one group will receive a placebo (saline), while the others will undergo a single injected dose of either the cAd3-EBOZ or the VSV-ZEBOV vaccines. The drugs were manufactured by pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and New Link/Merck, which are based in Britain, the U.S. and Canada.

There are efforts underway to assure the public in Liberia that the vaccine trials are safe and voluntary. Last year during the initial phase of the outbreak, there were accusations that the EVD pandemic was caused by a U.S.-sponsored bio-defense research program that went awry. (Article by Dr. Cyril Broderick in the Liberian Daily Observer)

Although several EVD outbreaks have been reported in Africa since 1976, originating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), then known as Zaire, the 2014-2015 pandemic has been the most virulent, widespread and long lasting. With specific reference to the ongoing trials of the vaccines which was initiated at the Redemption Hospital, a principal investigator of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccine in Liberia (PREVAIL), Dr. Stephen Kennedy, disclosed that he has taken the vaccine claiming the drug is safe and that no one needs to be afraid of the injections.

One issue discussed by President Johnson-Sirleaf with U.S. officials was the need to invest in medical, communications and educational infrastructure in Liberia. The West African state which was founded by former enslaved Africans in the U.S. during the early decades of the 19th century has been largely under the control of Washington for nearly a century through the control of rubber and mineral production.

The legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism has underdeveloped Africa while European and North American states have grown wealthy as a result of the exploitation of agricultural commodities, mineral resources and labor. At present the Pentagon, the State Department and the Central Intelligence (CIA) are engaging in massive military and surveillance operations across West Africa under the guise of the so-called “war on terrorism.”

Nonetheless, instability is increasing throughout the region and only a resurgence of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist sentiment can move the people towards genuine independence and sovereignty.