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Eyewitness Report from Jarkaken

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 09:10 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 70.7 
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After spending several years abroad, I decided at the end of 2005 to travel to Liberia. On Nov. 28, 2005, I left my army base located at Fort Campbell, KY and started my journey to Africa. I did not get to Liberia until the fourth of December 2005, thanks to the inconvenience of my local West African flight—Bellview Airline. (I spent three days in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria).

When I arrived at Robert\'s International Airport (RIA) at Harbel Firestone, Liberia, I was shocked. There was no real security at this port of entry into our country, Liberia. I saw a great many immigration and custom officials endorsing travel documents of foreign and local travelers on the corners for a charge. I refused to do a behind-the-door deal with the low integrity officials, and asked that my travel documents be properly endorsed at the designated counter, where two well-dressed Liberians sat waiting.

I had to pay a little over 200.00 U.S. to customs for my personal luggage. The custom officials did not believe me when I told them that the basic items in my bags were \"handouts\" for my relatives who had survived the Charles Taylor war. They believed the items were intended for sale in Liberia, so I had to pay sale taxes. I did. But, I did not get a receipt for those taxes; I did not see them log the funds in anywhere. Somebody got paid that day, I guess. It took seven hours—03pm to 10pm—before I was cleared at RIA. Note: There were other Africans who had far more stuff than me, but I guess it was my \"marginal English” - neither Liberian nor exactly American - that made me to stand out. They called me \"American man,\" and it was obvious they wanted money from me.

I noticed that just about every government official I saw was essentially a beggar— always asked for \"small thing for my cold water.\" The government hardly pays them; I understand what they are going through. It took me nearly an hour and half from RIA to reach to Caldwell,...


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