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Alvin Peabody - Pensacola, Florida
It is my understanding that the 30-minute program was only
part of a 90-minute show. It would be wonderful to show
the program in its entirety. While it is educational to
show Liberia in its worst form, it also would be ideal to
balance that with a program that shows efforts at rebuilding,
whether it's through educational, physically or spiritually.
No, there is not a longer documentary -- at least not
yet. Reporter and producer Jessie Deeter is working on
her own Liberia film, which will be an expanded version
of what you saw on FRONTLINE/World. Currently she plans
a one-hour documentary. We are always pleased when our
viewers ask us to show more from a particular country.
As an international news magazine,
we can never run stories longer than about 30 minutes.
We usually try to tell three stories in our one-hour time
slot. We only wish we were on the air more often.
Our goal is to expose more people
to world news and to offer an array of different perspectives,
to take people on journeys to places they may never go.
But we also always aim to be sophisticated enough to provide
new information and insights even to people who are familiar
with a particular country or story.
Farah F. - Seattle, Washington
To Frontline and Jessie Deeter, that was a moving piece
about a rich country torn apart by devastating civil war.
Many thanks to the reporter and people like General Opande.
It shows that the U.N. works best when regional solutions
are used. Such solutions should be implemented in other
Lisa Brenneisen - Oakland, California
I have to say I was really disappointed in Deeter's telling
of this story. No context or history, just a glossing over
and tidying it up in a nice little package with Opande as
a hero, Wolfcatcher as a rock star, schools are full up
and most everyone is seemingly happy, dancing and singing.
Why is it that neither she nor Frontline added the update
that in 2004 there was looting, rape, forced labor and forms
of violence in the areas that lacked international peacekeepers.
Ex-President Charles Taylor has yet to be brought to justice
for his crimes. In April 2005, U.N. chief Jacques Klein
up and left, with much to be done, to take a teaching post
at Princeton. Or that a former warlord plans to run for
president, and there is rioting in demand for payment of
the second half ($150) of the resettlement allowance, and
a $39 million shortfall of funds. Out of the U.S. promise
of $445 million for reconstruction, approximately $32 million
has reached them, the rest is "currently being finalized,"
according to the 2005 Congressional Budget Justification.
Out of more than 100,000 peoples, only 33,000 have placements
in schools and job training. The rest are left to loiter
and beg on the streets.
The promises of water and electricity have yet to be met,
even though Klein stated it was a top priority in 2003;
only the rich and foreign companies have access to this
luxury via generators. No, I can't say that I was impressed
by this reporting. I doubt that the humanitarian organizations
"There are concerns that the U.N.'s desire for a success
story ahead of October 2005 elections in Liberia is the
main reason for what is widely seen as a rushed and poorly
planned return and reintegration process," said Raymond
Johansen, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
May I suggest there are better sources of information
on topics such as this than PBS/Frontline, the internet
is a good start.
Jessie Deeter responds:
You have succinctly presented a list of many of the enormous
obstacles Liberia still faces in its efforts to recover
from a prolonged, nightmarish civil war.
As a reporter, you have to decide which story you are
going to tell. I went to report the story of disarming
Liberia, and I reported what I found. I could have joined
the chorus of other reporters hammering the U.N. or I
could have focused on any number of specific problems
and outrages, including the sex-for-food scandals, ongoing
corruption in the transitional government, or the rumors
of rebels rearming to fight in neighboring Ivory Coast.
But the main story I found was hopeful. I didn't know
when I started that Opande was going to be able to disarm
more than twice the number of combatants that the U.N.
had initially planned. I went in as a skeptic, half expecting
riots in April, not believing the combatants' claims that
the war was over. I came out believing that change was
at least possible. When I first met Wolfcatcher on the
side of the road, there was no way to know that six months
later I would find him in the capital working as the reporter
he told me he wanted to be.
But as I showed in my report, I also found ex-combatants
sewing dolls' clothes for months, instead of the suits
and dresses for Liberians they wanted to make, because
the funds needed for the "R and R," or rehabilitation
and reintegration part of disarmament promised by the
international community, hadn't been delivered in full.
Jacques Klein speaks eloquently on this subject on our
Web site, meant to provide some of the context for this
film that you are craving. And as we said at the end of
the story, most U.N. peacekeeping efforts collapse within
five years, so the relative peace and progress in Liberia
remains fragile and tentative, especially if the international
community loses interest and turns away.
I appreciate the fact that you took the time and effort
to respond to my piece, and understand your frustration
that the enormity of Liberia's difficult story wasn't
fully presented. I am curently working on a one-hour documentary
on Liberia, which will have more information than I could
possibly fit in a 22-minute piece. For now, I would say
only that I tried to honestly report a story with surprisingly
positive developments and with people who were willing
to try to at least take the first steps to fixing the
mess in Liberia. For things to get better in Liberia,
the world needs to have a little hope to supplement the
standard crisis coverage that makes Americans turn the
channel and shut their pocketbooks at any mention of Africa,
expecting to find nothing but desperation there.
Anonymous - Atlanta, Georgia
I was a bit disappointed that the program was shortened
to only 30 minutes. With about half a million Liberians
living in the U.S., we were hoping to finally get coverage
that will serve as due process for those of us who have
been unceremoniously removed from our homeland with limited
information as it relates to the peacekeeping mission and
its advancements. The program really didn't provide much
insight, due to its duration on air. This did a lot of disservice
and injustice to the plausible and hard work of the journalist.
I hope your organization considers rebroadcasting this piece
in its entirety. Thanks.
Anonymous - Union City, Nevada
Please re-air this program and air other programs on Liberia.
Liberia is a very special nation that has great ties to
the U.S.; it's important that people see and understand
these things. I want to commend PBS for these opportunities
and for giving the country a chance to learn more about
the world and matters that are important to society.
Richmond Harding - Sacramento,
California I wish to see
the full 90 minutes of the documentary. The U.N. troops
and their presence do make a difference in Liberia. Hope
the election does not turn out to be a flop to encourage
those hungry warlords to take their heels to the bush.
C.B. King - San Carlos, California
Thanks PBS for the story on Liberia. I hope that it will
bring more attention to the Liberian situation. The U.N.
has been a great help to Liberia and we Liberians appreciate
it greatly. Thanks U.N. for saving the lives of our people.
Thanks to all the people of the world for their support
in the time of our sorrows.
Anonymous - Baltimore, Maryland
As a Liberian living in the U.S. for the past 25 years,
I decided to revisit my homeland 5 years ago, and was most
disappointed, disgusted, and brought to tears to see Liberia
in a state of chaos, poverty of the highest level, and just
utter destruction. But, I was also moved by the resilience
of Liberians to make life, whatever life is to them, just
a little bit better. I watched the short documentary on
PBS, and felt that there was some difference being made,
but we have a very, very long uphill battle ahead of us.
Andrew Greene - Fishers Landing, New York
Thank you for such a touching piece. As a former African
Peace Corps Volunteer I am heartened to see such excellent
coverage of an overlooked continent.
Anonymous - Leesburg, Virginia
The documentary was very informative. It has been many years
since I was last in Liberia and in this program it was very
encouraging to see that many young men have exchanged guns
for positive things. Thanks for airing this documentary.
It was very enlightening.
Lawrence Zumo - Baltimore, Maryland
The world's attention is focused on events elsewhere. The
world's print and television media are disinterested in
Africa and its people. Given the circumstances, yes the
U.N. is an effective although imperfect peacekeeping organization.
Others who could have risen up to their historic duties
are looking elsewhere. The U.N. is all we have. We are grateful
for that. At the same time, Africans have to do a lot of
soul searching to help themselves to learn to live side
by side and solve their own problems. However, we need help
in identifying those external factors that continue to exacerbate
our internal problems, as well.
Adele Berry - Hayward, California
I really enjoyed the piece on Liberia, "No More War." There
are many newsworthy stories throughout the African continent
that mainstream media ignores. I would love to see more
programming about Liberia and other African nations.
Tina Brooks - Atlanta, Georgia
Great story, PBS! We need to see more on the progress of
the U.N. peacekeeping efforts. Very promising toward reconciliation,
reconstruction and rehabilitation of Liberia. Surely, Liberia
will rise again. Please air again to promote awareness.
Love to see a longer version.
Rev. Lawrence Miller, Jr. - Atlanta,
Coverage somewhat 'lightweight' and dated; some good insightful
observations, but a lot has happened since then -- for example,
the formation of a temporary government under the leadership
of Guide Bryant, and preparations for refugees returning
to their home villages; also preparations for elections
in October 2005. Glad you focused on Liberia. It's terribly
important to expose the public viewer to the plight of the
people there so, thanks, overall! But please put something
Saynyonoh Dee - Concord, California
Thank you PBS for airing this documentary. For someone who
has not been to Liberia since 1989 it was insightful. From
reading all the documents online at PBS, I can see that
this documentary was not one sided or trying to push one
person's opinion, but just stating the facts. I personally
appreciate that. I would love to see more on Liberia and
other aspects of what the war has done to the country. Not
only that but I would also like to see how we in the U.S.
could help -- for example, organizations we can get involved
in. Once again thank you PBS and thank you Jessie Deeter.
May God bless you all.
Charles Nilon - Columbia, Missouri
I was struck by the lack of context in "Liberia, No More
War." Liberia has been a country since 1847 and the political
and social history is part of the civil war but not presented.
The focus on the role of the U.N. is important but the role
of the Liberian people and institutions is more important.
There are numerous Liberians living in Liberia who were
not members of rebel groups and actively involved in the
country's reconstruction. Why not also focus on these groups
and individuals? Why not allow them to speak about their
experiences, efforts at reconstruction, and vision for the
country? It seems that much coverage of Africa seeks to
portray its countries and peoples as totally helpless.
Anonymous - Herndon, Virginia
In response to Charles Nilon's comments, I do think we
in Africa want to be portrayed as totally helpless. Especially
in Liberia, we love to depend on others to solve our problems.
The solution lies within every Liberian. If we don't see
that we have become NGO dependent and that we need to
change our attitude, then we are heading to even greater
destruction. The coverage on Liberia in the documentary
"Liberia, No More War" was an excellent piece and I hope
we get to see the whole 90 minutes. The U.N. peacekeepers
are doing the best they can. Thanks U.N.! We caused our
problems and we should fix them! Can you believe we have
52 presidential candidates? Who's going to vote for whom?
PBS, please show the rest of the documentary.
Amadu Sirleaf - Modesto, California
As a Liberian who has lived in the U.S. for over 20 years
(without returning home), I was very touched emotionally
and spiritually to see the utter devastation, poverty and
illiteracy in my home. I'm thankful and reinvigorated by
this unfettered report by Jessie Deeter, to contribute in
any small way to a strong and peaceful Liberia. Thanks Jessie
and PBS for airing this report. I eagerly await the follow
Michelle Kunert - Sacramento,
The right to bear arms should not just be considered America's
constitutional second amendment but a basic human right
for self defense worldwide and should not be taken away
by the U.N. Yes, even Africans, including the Liberians,
need to be able to own arms to police themselves and protect
innocent lives, even when they are in a time of peace. The
U.N. officials should know that African slaves in America
were once forbidden to have firearms, and they should likewise
not reduce Africans to being slaves in their own countries
Neal Helfman - Rio Verde, Arizona
Bravo! Thank you for sharing a little good news for our
world. These real stories of progress and peace should be
mandatory viewing for all people on this planet.
Anonymous - Austin, Texas
It was ironic that this story featured squatters living
in the abandoned Masonic Lodge building -- the very symbol
of the Old Families' power hub. Now a few of the masons
have reclaimed and restored it -- their Mercedes parked
outside, the old powers slowly but surely regaining control.
Funny that you were showing what was outwardly going on
with the building, but not the history of it or how its
members played such an important role -- both symbolically
and practically -- in all of this huge mess. Freemasonry
is a gentle craft, promoting brotherly love, truth and relief.
I'm an American mason, but fully realize that the lodge
may be used in the most wrong of ways -- and used by those
who have no business being masons whatsoever. Perhaps this
is too specialized to explain in a documentary but it is
nonetheless a vital element in this sad story.
Ben Robinson - Falls Church, Virginia
Enlightening. Give us more of this type of information on
David King - Cape Canaveral,
Excellent reporting on the amazing progress that has been
accomplished in such a short amount of time. Thanks for
taking me into the background of these fighters and following
up on their life after the disarming.
Anonymous - Cincinnati, Ohio
Wow, what an insight into a desperate situation. Say what
you will about the U.N., Opande and those like him are doing
the dirty work where the "civilized" world is unwilling
to engage. It may be an imperfect organization, but it may
well be the only bulwark we have against utter chaos in
places like Liberia.
The following are responses to the moderator question,
"Is the U.N. an effective peacekeeping operation?"
Adele Berry - Hayward, California
The U.N. seems to have done a fairly good job with disarmament
in Liberia. It's just a shame that they weren't there 14
years earlier to stop the unnecessary slaughter of so many
innocent people. It was great to see this segment about
Liberia. I'd love to see more segments on African countries.
Charles Blake - Oakland, California
Excellent documentary! The U.N. is doing a commendable job
and must be encouraged to complete the mission. More exposure
to the world is needed to attract investors, because real
peace can only be attained with economic growth. Liberians
must not only be encouraged, but to a person, become participants
in the rebuilding of our beloved country.
Anonymous - Lawrenceville, Georgia
The U.N. is the most effective peacekeeping organization
in the world and needs more support from member countries.
It should not allow itself to be pulled around by the U.S.,
regardless of its wealth. Arab countries should contribute
more to the U.N. to stop U.S. domination and give them some
Ouidah Smith - New York, New
Thank you Frontline for keeping the issue of peace in Africa
on the front line. Yes the U.N. is effective in disarming
combatants, however, U.N. peacekeepers in Africa need much
more financial support. I was disappointed that the report
did not make mention of the work of organizations such as
the Mano River Women's Peace Network (composed of women
from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea) and who were also
instrumental in brokering and maintaining peace in Liberia.
Tracey Ellison - Channelview, Texas
It is hard for the U.N. to follow through when it is not
fully supported by the U.S. and its other member countries.
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