Kiiton Press

Cicilline visits Liberia

Posted December 25, 2013  Christmas Day

Rep. Cicilline, Thank You for Visiting Liberia

United States Congressman of Rhode Island, 
Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI) visited Liberia

In the Providence Journal, Nov. 12, 2013, Philip Marcelo reported that Rhode Island Democtratic U.S. Representative, visited Liberia  for 4 days during last summer and found that Liberia is still in need after the 14 years of Civil War in Liberian which took the lives of over 250,000 people, men, women and children while thousands flew into exile and went to different countries all over the world. Some even became refugees in their own country.

"The trip", according to Philip Marcelo, was "organized and paid for by the United Nations foundation, which is a private non-profit organization that supports the UN's work and was established by CNN founder Ted Turner."  The purpose of the trip, according to Rep. Cicilline, was "an opportunity to learn about the country of Liberia, its relationship to the United States and to understand specifically the UN mission in Liberia."

(An older photo of June 30, 2011)
On the trip was also Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.)  The president of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, greeted the Congressmen warmly and further discussed issues of mutual interests relating to both countries.


There are many reasons why this meeting was so very important for both President Sirleaf and Rep. Cicilline.   It must be noted that Rhode Island, the state that Rep. Cicilline represents, has the largest population of Liberians in the United States of America. It is estimated that there are roughly 15,000 Liberians living in Rhode Island as of 2012.  Many of these Liberians have already acquired their US citizenship while many more are still living in Rhode Island as refugees, students, Alien Registered Immigrants or Green Card holders and Non-Green Card holders.  All these Liberians in these categories are Rep. Cicilline's Constituients. From the time he became City Mayor of Providence, the capital city of Rhode Island, and later becoming a Democratic US Congressman for Rhode Island, he has worked deligently for the welfare of all Liberians, no matter what their immigration status may have been.

The Providence Journal even speaks of "Rebuilding Liberia: the R.I. Connection."  Rebuilding Liberia is said to be "an online and print series funded by the International Center for Journalists, in Washington."

While Rep. Cicilline rejoices and celebrates this very important opportunity to visit Liberia to see how the "other half lives," Pesident Sirleaf was exceedingly gratified over the fact that her citizens living abroad, especially in Rhode Island, are in good hands of a very caring and compassionate politician who is making everything possible for Liberians living in his state to be provided with equal opportunity to achieve their dreams and aspirations under the law.

The other reason why this trip was important to the Representative was to visit Liberia and talk with President Sirleaf and discuss issues of mutual importance relating to how they both can help to forge the needed partnership and cooperation in helping develop Liberia and protect its people at home and abroad and to exchange culture and good-will.  The Congressman believes that Liberians have contributed "to the State's rich cultural and ethnic diversity." Congressman Cicilline made the following statements"  

 Click here:  Diplomatic hand-shake.

"It was great to meet once again with Madam President Ellen
Johnson Sirleaf and discuss the rich cultural contributions of
our Liberian friends and their tremendous influence on our own
nation.  In Rhode Island, our Liberian community is one of the
strongest and most vibrant communities.  As a member of the U.S
House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee,
   I am committed
to working with my collegues to support
   peace efforts in Liberia."

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) 

"Whether it be in business, education, the arts, or
community leadership,  hardworking Liberian Americans
have played an important role in helping to make the state of
Rhode Island what it is today." 
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) 
I am sure there are those out there who have said that this trip was a waste of tax payers' money. I disagree strongly with that assertion. It is important to dispell such erronuous idea. In the first place, the trip was not funded by tax-payers' money. It was "organized and paid for by the United Nations foundation, which is a private non-profit organization that supports the UN's work and was established by CNN founder Ted Turner."

Secondly, it is important to note the history of Liberia and the on-going relationship Liberia has had with the United States of America. 

Liberia and the USA have been allies for many many years.  Liberia has supplied the US with thousands of millions of long tons of fine grained Lake Superior-type hematite-limonite ore containing 66% Fe with low phosphorus and silica content high grade iron ore, through the Bethlehem Steel Cooperation which is located in Pensylvinia.  Out of that iron ore, steel is made to be used for building US bridges, skyscrapers,  roads, US cars, trucks, and  other manufactured products that use steel.
Moreover, Liberia has served as a supplier of natural rubber for manufacturing tires and other goods and products that require rubber, in the US, through Firestone Company, located in Akron, Ohio, which continues to operate in Liberia since 1926.  The CIA saw Liberia as its base for work on the African Continent for many years during the Cold War.  The Omega station in Liberia was very important to the USA Intelligence Community. In other ways, Liberia has been of value to the United States of America and vice versa.

It is also true that Liberia has benefited from the US benevolence along the years too. The US Peace Corps program introduced by President John F. Kennedy in the 1960's helped many Liberians in numerous ways through education, farming, and other areas of health and technology. The US has provided Liberia with foreign assistance, in good times and bad times.  There has been some reciprocity in this relationship.  Liberia has not always been at the receiving ends. This is not a "one-way street" relationship.  Medical breakthrough and technological breakthrough may not have come out of Liberia, but Liberia, before and after the Cold War, has continued to work alongside the United States of America.  At some point, Liberia was America's only ally in Africa. We have continued to enjoy partnership with America at many fronts.
Partnership does not mean equality of gifts.  Partnership means the celebrating of the diversity of our unequal gifts we each bring to the table. We can still be United States' partner in spite of our lack of advanced technological know-how and our under-development status.  We have other gifts and resources we bring to the table.  Helping Liberia and its people is not a waste of United States' tax-payers' money.  Representative Cicilline's visit to Liberia was well in place for the benefit of both countries. His assessment or evaluation of what he saw on the ground in Liberia will give him the proper tools and the first hand information needed to make some critical determination as to what to share with his colleages on the Hill. Maybe one visit may not be enough.  He and others may want to visit again for additional verification of facts already gleaned and new facts to present.   
I am sure, my sentiment is also shared by many Liberians, especially those living in Rhode Island.  Rep. Cicilline, "the man of the people", has always committed himself to our struggle collectively and individually. From the time he was a City Mayor of Providence, to even now that he is a US Congressman of RI., Rep. Cicilline continues to support the cause of the Liberian people.  Going to Liberia to visit and assess the needs of the Liberian people is indicative of his unflinching commitment to Liberia and her people.  It is our hope that information gleaned on this trip will be translated into, yet, some concrete efforts to reach out to his Congressional Colleagues to see his vision as clearly as he sees them and to consider Liberia as a dependable, reliable and willing partner with which the United States can do business. 

We give Rep. Cicilline high marks for his good-will and his effective diplomacy.  I hope, during any time when he needs our support, we will be there for him just as he has been there for us. Fifteen thousand votes can make a significant difference. Thank you Rep. Cicilline, for your love for, and commitment to, Liberia and its people at home and abroad.  We love you too--resilience and tenacity prevail. 

                      MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

Nya Kwiawon Taryor, Sr. D. Min, Ph.D.
CEO, Founder and Publisher,
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