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Firestone tires built Liberia’s economy. Now, painful layoffs are sowing fear for the future. (Washington Post)

January 3, 2020

From the article:

“As the price of rubber slips on the global market, Firestone — a company founded in Ohio with nine decades in this West African country — is shedding large swaths of its staff to cope with what it calls ‘continued and unsustainable losses.’

The drawdown threatens to rip a seismic hole in Liberia’s floundering economy, analysts say, opening the latest chapter in the country’s long and complicated history with American-rooted power brokers.

‘Firestone is the anchor,’ said Gyude Moore, Liberia’s former public works minister. ‘Like the auto industry was for Detroit — except for an entire country.’

Firestone’s farm sprawls across 119,000 acres and is billed as the largest contiguous rubber plantation on Earth. Milky white latex from rows of Hevea brasiliensis trees drips into red buckets. Tens of thousands of people live on and around these grounds, including about 5,400 workers, down from approximately 8,500 five years ago…”

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Photo of W. Gyude Moore
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