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This chapter is an intensely personal one for me.  Like anyone who has ever lived there, I remember exactly where I was – sitting in my car at an intersection I was at daily on my way home from work – when I heard the news of the earthquake on the radio.  As soon as I heard the magnitude, I knew what the number 7 meant.  I looked at the Getty station on the corner where I was waiting for the green light and imagined it crumbled.  I knew that many buildings I knew, loved, had been in, had lived, studied, and worked in had been destroyed.  I knew that people I cared for, had taught or studied with were gone. I was not prepared for this.
Haiti_National_Palace_before_after_2010_Haiti_Earthquake
No, I had never been in the National Palace, but like the Getty station I had been next to when I heard the news, it was a building I passed four times daily on my way to and from work at the Haitian-American Institute where I taught English.  That link goes to a whole new building.  The building where I taught was an old mansion on the east end of the Champs-de-Mars on Rue Capois.  Like the National Palace, it had collapsed – probably while evening classes were going on at the busiest time of day there.

 

original building

On July 4,1942, Haitians and Americans founded a bi-national center to reinforce friendship and cultural ties between their two countries. Located in the heart of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian-American Institute has enjoyed decades of continuous community service and remains faithful to the ideal of its founders.

The Haitian-American Institute itself stands on a landmark site. The original building was the house that once belonged to former Haitian President Elie LESCOT. This building, pictured in the pen and ink drawing at the top of this page, was destroyed in the January 12, 2010 earthquake.

It is a bi-national center run partially by the State Department.  It’s great to see this grand new facility!

In the old building,  I loved teaching at six in the morning in the classroom on that very top floor.  You could see the city waking up.  I would walk up the many flights of stairs early just to go out on that balcony and watch for a few minutes before the students arrived.  When Dr. Ainslie Minor was director,  as was his position as Cultural Affairs officer at the embassy, he was often on the front steps to greet me and the arriving students prior to the early morning classes.  We all loved him!  He loved the institute and everything about it.  We teachers were disdained by some subsequent directors until Millie McCoo arrived.  She, too, loved the institute, the students, and the teachers.

Passing the palace, on my way to work, I was usually on foot.   I nodded to the guards in the guardhouse every day – several times a day.  I later learned that the police headquarters adjacent to the palace had also crumbled to the ground.  I was in there regularly on my annual trek through the ministries to renew my visas.

All of those ministries were gone.  So were the people in all of them.  All the people in all of those buildings.  My HAI and all of the government buildings.

It was beyond my imagination, much the way the collapse of the twin towers had been on 9/11.  I heard the news only one traffic light away from where, that September morning, I had heard that a plane had flown into One World Trade.

How could it be?  Who could have survived this?  How on earth could my poor, dear Haïti Chérie recover?

As I had over those “green weekends” in June 2009 when the Iranians were protesting their elections, I took to Twitter.  A girl had texted, trapped in rubble beneath a supermarket that I knew.  One where I had shopped.  Many of us continually retweeted her location (and many others).  24 hours later, on the news,  I saw her pulled out alive and well and wept.  The reporter said they had found her from the tweets.

That tarmac, where I had boarded and disembarked so many, many times was the tarmac where Hillary landed only five days after the worst disaster in memory in that country – the very first high foreign official to set foot on Haiti’s shaken soil after the quake.  This was no photo op or campaign junket.  Hillary’s visit was from her heart.  It was dangerous, responsive, and crucial.

That, and much more was in my heart as I started reading this chapter and Hillary’s words about landing at the airport that, when I lived there,  was named for François Duvalier and had undergone a major upgrade just before I left the country for good.

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Hillary was in Hawaii on her way to Asia when the quake – that came to be known as “Haitiquake” – occurred.

Hillary Clinton: “… it is Biblical…”

Hillary had to change her plans.  She flew back to D.C. immediately.

Hillary Headed Home to Manage Help For Haiti

She was at the White House the next morning and the pain was in her face … the terrible pain.

I  followed her progress to Haiti partially thanks to Greta Van Susteren who tweeted generously from the plane where she sat beside Andrea Mitchell and less so thanks to the old State Department Twitter that went by the handle “Dipnote,” which, in retrospect,  was not so bad and pretty democratic.

When Hillary landed I thought of her as really and truly “superwoman.”   I am sure the Americans at the airport waiting to be evacuated thought of her that way too – or as an angel of mercy.

She was landing on menacingly shaky ground. People who demand further service from her ought to consider the risks she has already taken, the sacrifices she has already endured,  the time in the air and on sometimes dangerous foreign soil,  away from her family.  When does this “superwoman” get a chance to step back and let someone else take the reins?

Hillary Clinton, Angel of Mercy: Her Press Conference & Details on her trip to stricken Haiti

The guy with the argumentative comment on that post was wrong.  She did come in by military transport, as I had predicted. She brought needed supplies and left the press entourage behind to bring injured Americans out.  The purpose of her visit was to get an agreement from the President of Haiti to allow American military to take over the airport operations so that aid – waiting and blocked – could begin to flow.  Sometimes, in a disaster, you must, judiciously, let one important visitor in for the greater good.  Haiti was no textbook case.  Who knew there was such a thing as a portable airport control tower?  That is what the FAA sent and that would not have happened without Hillary’s intervention and visit, i.e.  sometimes more is more.

Video: Hillary Clinton’s Press Briefing about her trip to Haiti

Hillary Clinton is Wheels down in Haiti (MSNBC)

Video: Hillary Clinton Arriving in Haiti

Hillary to the rescue!

Video: Hillary Clinton Speaks to The Haitian People

Over the course of some of those posts I heard from some aircraft experts that I had misidentified the plane as a C-130, but Hillary, in her book, validates me.  Sometimes it takes years to be validated!  My dad was an aircraft expert, not I.  He built them and knew anything that was in the air that was not flapping its own wings.  But once you have been floating on the Hudson River and seen a C-130 over your head on its way to Newburgh, you know one when you see one.  It’s sort of like the Queen Mary over your head.

Hillary Clinton in Haiti: Some Images From Today

01-16-10-17
Hillary was accompanied by Cheryl Mills and USAID Director Rajiv Shah (2nd and 1st on the right respectively above).  Cheryl, from what Hillary says, must have been the one who got the “people-finder” set up as well as the text system for sending donations easily from your cell phone.

Rajiv was on the ground at the Champs-de-Mars in front of the collapsed National Palace where it seemed much of the Port-au-Prince population was camping out.  I remember him finding some enterprising young folks who had managed to have two car batteries and one car.  They had set up an enterprise allowing people, for a fee, to charge cell phones off one car battery while another of the crew ran a taxi service to charge the other battery.   It was so Haitian!

Secretary Clinton Announces Launch of State.Gov Person Finder Tool for Those Missing in Haiti

So this is where she starts – on the tarmac which is serving as the seat of government largely because it is flat and open and if you sit in a tent and there is a big aftershock you won’t be crushed.  Most roads were impassable and for the first 48 hours, planes could not land at the airport.

 

Secretary Clinton’s Daily Appointments Schedule for January 15, 2010

Hillary reminisces at this point about her honeymoon trip to Haiti when she and Bill went to one of Max Beauvoir‘s voudou shows at Le Péristyle in Mariani and saw TonTons Macoutes  (VSN) and Jean-Claude Duvalier en route somewhere.  1975 was the first Christmas that I came back home – well to Florida where my sister was living. –  or maybe I would have met them.

After the earthquake, President Préval told Cheryl Mills that he really needed Hillary and needed her now!  He was Hillary’s friend.  He needed help.  I perceived him as a nice guy, but not as a strong leader.

Hillary Clinton is NOT the President of Haiti!

In retrospect and fairness, and after having had my own house blown apart by Sandy, I have to say that at the time I probably did not appreciate Préval’s state of mind with his house having collapsed before his eyes (and thankfully not over his head) just as he and his wife were about to enter.  With most of his government officials missing or already known dead, the poor guy must have been in deep shock. When you go through something like that having a buddy like Hillary – well – yes, I would call her, too.  If I needed to pull my country together after something like that – yes, I too would call her.  But Hillary also sees that there was a need for him to go out among the people camping on the Champs-de-Mars and everywhere.   Their question/complaint at the time was “Where is our president?”

When you run for the office, before you even win, you need to consider this kind of situation and how you will react – even if you did just miss having your house fall on top of you.  That is the role you assume as leader of a country.

Try to imagine the White House or the Capitol this way.  This is what happened to Haiti.


When Hillary arrived,  injured Americans were being cared for by a devoted embassy nurse who worked non-stop.  Our Cultural Affairs officer, Victoria DeLong,  had been killed when her house collapsed on her.  I had been in that house several times on very happy occasions.  Dr. Ainslie Minor and his lovely wife, and later Millie McCoo had generously invited the teachers to barbeques and parties.  I had danced the merengue under that roof and met Millie’s sister and brother-in-law, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.,  there.  Now that roof had killed a Foreign Service officer.

There was a massive and effective U.S. response. Hillary remarks that U.S. military felt so refreshed at being welcomed somewhere.

One year we had no electricity from the last night of Carnaval in early February until about mid-June.  The lights went out when Carnaval ended at midnight. From then on sectors got one hour of electricity a day on a rotating weekly basis.  If you needed to do anything that required power, you needed to be home at your hour for that week.  If you were working at that time … too bad.  From Boutillier, the mountaintop above the city, you could see a sector darken and another light up on a clockwork schedule.

Then the United States Marines arrived with generators and I don’t know what all else.  I would be leaving my early morning classes at the institute (we taught from 6 -9 a.m. and from 3 – 6 p.m. or 4 – 7 p.m.) and they would be on the steps of the Hotel Plaza waiting to be picked up.  We cheered them every time we passed them.  “Thank you!”  Our electricity was returning.  Nice that after the earthquake the troops got the same reception.  We have a sort of edgy relationship with Haiti as far as troops go. Americans built the best roads there – during the occupation.

In this case, the distrust engendered by the history of the occupation could have been Préval’s political enemy.  Yet to unblock the shipments of aid at the airport and seaports someone needed to be in charge – not to take over the country – just to lubricate the flow of aid.  Hillary got Préval to sign an agreement that U.S. military would, temporarily in the emergency,  administer the airport and seaports.

Hillary Clinton is Wheels Up!

The plan was to establish camps.  Préval worried that putting displaced people in camps would make camps permanent.  The U.N. contended that camps provided the best efficiency for necessary distribution of aid.

To my mind, and this is just me, the camps were newer, safer, cleaner than the neightborhoods some people had come from,  like Cité Soliel, but many were not from those slums, so there was something to be said on each side of the argument.

For Haiti, the approach would involve both short-term aid and long-term plans for development that had already been in the incubator.

Bill Clinton Arrives on Mission to Haiti (CBS/AP)

On-the-Record Briefing on Consular Services Being Provided to American Citizens in Haiti and in the United States in the Aftermath of the Earthquake

U.S. Government Response to the Haiti Earthquake

Secretary Clinton’s Update on Haiti

The outpouring of support and assistance from around the world has been extraordinary, and I’ve been very proud to see generous Americans from every corner of our country open their hearts in solidarity with the Haitian people. These are the times when we remember our common humanity, when we pull together across cultures and borders to help those suffering and in need.

Hilary Rodham Clinton

Secretary Clinton at the Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti 01.25.2010

Today, Secretary Clinton announced that she will run an International Haiti Donors Conference in March at the U.N. You may remember her words at the Haiti Donors Conference last April in D.C. That speech was simply spot-on.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks to Haiti Earthquake Volunteers

From U.S. Department of State: Some Details on the Upcoming International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti

We have had over 140 nations working to support the Government of Haiti in delivering food, temporary shelter, and medical care to thousands of survivors. But the emergency relief is only the beginning of what will be a long road to recovery, as the Secretary General just pointed out; one that will require global support.

Some people wonder, “Why Haiti? Why this great outpouring of international humanitarian concern and commitment to Haiti’s future? Why is Haiti’s fate of such consequence to the region and the world that it deserves sustained help? Why should we hope that this time, with our collective assistance, Haiti can achieve a better future?” These are questions that deserve answers and I believe that this conference will begin to do so…

Before the earthquake, Haiti was on a path to progress. The government, led by President Preval, had started enacting critical reforms. Haiti’s economy grew by nearly 3 percent last year. Two international chains launched new hotels, a sign of a rising tourism industry. New factories were opening and others had been contracted to begin production. But with the earthquake, the results of much of this hard work were wiped away. But the people of Haiti never gave up. As they mourn their losses, they gathered the resources they had left and began working around the clock to put their lives and their country back together. They relied on the strength and the spirit that have carried them through tough times before. But they need our help. They cannot succeed without the support of the global community, and we need Haiti to succeed. What happens there has repercussions far beyond its borders.

Hillary sees development as a key component in national security and USAID as an essential agency which played a huge role in addressing long-term plans to assist Haiti.  She recounts the war against USAID waged by Jesse Helms and celebrates this initiative which she and Rajiv Shah initiated in 2011 and she proudly saw launched earlier this year.

Hillary Clinton at U.S. Global Development Lab Inauguration



A year after the earthquake, Hillary returned to see the progress of the response (including to the subsequent cholera epidemic) and met with the presidential candidates.   There remained many challenges but things looked greatly improved.

Hillary Clinton in Haiti

“Shifting our focus from aid to development … The United States was not abandoning traditional aid … especially as part of an emergency response … we sought to break the cycle of dependence that aid can create …. Aid chases need; investment chases opportunity.” (Hard Choices)

Hillary Clinton’s Remarks at the Caracol Industrial Park Opening Ceremony in Haiti (with Bill Clinton!)

She recounts a personal moment with Préval after the disputed elections and credits him for being the exemplar – the first in Haitian history – to turn over the reins of leadership peacefully to  a successor not of his backing but chosen by the people.  When she speaks of the toughness of democracy, the danger of the running and the peril of the vote,  my memory rewinds to the Aristede election when Haitians literally risked their lives at the polling places and some were, in fact attacked and killed just for trying to vote.  This time, indeed, there was progress, and despite everything Préval might not have been, he, maybe, is their John Adams in some ways.

These images of the former and current presidents, Préval and Martelly, celebrating at the Caracol opening together were historic.

Rene Preval And Michel Martelly At Caracol Industrial Park Inauguration

Haiti - Politic : Martelly gives the brace to René Préval (speech)

In the book,  Hillary provides a thorough and fair accounting of what has worked and what has not in the aftermath of this disaster.  Shortly after she returned to the department following her health crisis in late 2012, this report was issued.

Haiti Three Years After: What Hillary Clinton’s State Department Has Done

Helping other nations build, profit, and rise among the economic powers on the globe is to everyone’s advantage, Hillary posits.  Especially our own.  In the case of Haiti’s disaster, the U.S. was, it cannot be disputed, the indispensable nation, but we were certainly not alone in the aid or in the investment, and that, Hillary points out, makes all the difference.

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Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

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They are teasing us!  There now is only this short clip   I love the way Bill Clinton rests his cheek on his hand when she speaks.

Remarks at the Caracol Industrial Park Opening Ceremony

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Caracol, Haiti
October 22, 2012

Good afternoon, and what an extraordinary honor and pleasure it is to be here with all of you today to celebrate Haiti’s progress with three presidents. It’s a little unusual, don’t you think? (Applause.) I want to begin by thanking President Martelly for his leadership and his vision and his passion – (applause) – about the people of his country and for your administration’s commitment to show the world Haiti is open for business. And I thank your Foreign Minister, who has been a great partner with you and with us. (Applause.)

We are also fortunate to have with us today former President Preval. It was President Preval who had the will to take this project from dream to reality. (Applause.) And it has been an honor working with you, sir, as well.

And of course, I want to thank the third president who is here. (Laughter.) As Bill told you, we came here for the first time together just after we were married and fell in love with Haiti, and have just celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary at a beautiful garden wedding venues, which is exhausting to think about. (Laughter and applause.) It’s been an amazing experience from start to now – (applause) – and we have had a deep connection to and with Haiti ever since. So it gives me a special pleasure to be here with my husband, who has worked so hard on behalf of Haiti and its development, because he believes so much in the people of Haiti and the potential that exists within each and every man, woman, boy, and girl. (Applause.)

Let me thank our friend Luis Moreno, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, and your terrific team for helping to shepherd this project, like so many others, to reality. Let me thank UTE Director General Michael De Landsheer and SONAPI Director General George Sassine and all the other partners and supporters in the Government of Haiti, in the private sector of Haiti, and in the community. Mayor, thank you for welcoming us all here today. (Applause.)

Now this has been a real whole-of-government effort on behalf of the Obama Administration. I’m particularly pleased to be joined by Senator Patrick Leahy, who I had the privilege of serving with in the United States Senate, the Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who I served with in the Congress. Representing USAID is the Deputy Director Don Steinberg and my Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, who has been, as others have already said, a real driver of our government’s support for everything that we see here today.

We have been united behind a single goal – making investments in this country’s people and your infrastructure that help put Haiti finally on the path to broad-based economic growth with a more vibrant private sector and less dependence on foreign assistance. And we believe that our work here in Haiti and here in the north is beginning to show results.

It is remarkable, as Luis said, that in January this was a construction site without a single structure. Now when we look at it, what we see is part of a broader effort by the Government of Haiti with support from international partners and the private sector. And what is happening here in Caracol is already having ripple effects that will create jobs and opportunities far beyond this industrial park.

As we walked through the factory and saw some of the more than 1,000 Haitians working here, many of whom are women who have never held a job in the formal economy before, I could think, as I do all over the world, what that will mean to their families and their children. Children will go to school, will be healthier, will have more of their own dreams fulfilled because their mothers had good jobs. So this is, indeed, a great day, not only for those who are already working, but for those who they are supporting.

And I too want to thank Sae-A, because Sae-A took a decision that was something of a risk, never having worked in Haiti before, after a tremendous natural disaster that was so devastating. But they brought their expertise and they brought their commitment. And Chairman Kim, we thank you for everything that you and the leadership of Sae-A is doing. (Applause.) Thank you, (inaudible).

But let me hasten to add that while jobs are critically important, that is just the beginning. In addition to effective government, Haiti needs a strong justice sector, free and fair elections, housing, energy, schools, health care – all of which will serve the people of Haiti, but also attract even more investment.

So we are working with the Government of Haiti and a wide range of public and private partners not only to build affordable homes with clean running water, flush toilets, and reliable electricity, but also built to resist hurricanes and earthquakes. And we’re partnering with CEMEX and others to make low-cost loans and supplies to help families renovate and expand their homes.

Homes that have never had electricity before are now powered by a 10 million-megawatt thermal plant. Eventually, as many as 100,000 people will benefit, and the power plant will grow to provide 25 million megawatts of energy. Now, in a country where today 12 percent of the people have regular and legal access to the grid, that is a truly game-changing accomplishment.

Plans for a new container port are also moving forward, with a team of engineers, marine biologists, and economists working together.

Now, in the United States, we pride ourselves on the promise of the American dream. And we have seen many Haitian Americans achieve that American dream. When I was a senator from New York, I had so many successful Haitian Americans whom I represented in every walk of life, every business, and every profession. And what I saw in my Haitian American friends and constituents was a drive, a drive to have a better tomorrow.

Now, Haitians here in Haiti have the very same drive. And what we want to do is create the Haitian dream for every person willing to work for it, to give them and their children a better future. (Applause.)

So this is a good day, a day that took a while to get to, a day that was filled with so many challenges, but persistence in overcoming them, a day that has already seen the first 67,000 garments shipped under preferences given by the United States to products coming from Haiti. And I think it’s fair to say that we want to make this a model not just for Haiti, but for the world about what can be done when people do work together, when they put aside their political differences and join hands on behalf of the better future that we all seek.

Now, no one should have any illusion that this is a perfect project. What development project anywhere in the world is? And there will be frustration from time to time. But for all of the inevitable challenges, today and the development here represents a new opportunity for Haiti. And I am grateful that the people and the Government of Haiti are prepared to see this.

We have made a decision in this Administration to make Haiti a foreign policy priority. When I became Secretary of State, I looked at the billions of dollars of foreign assistance that the United States spends around the world. And I asked myself why the results didn’t always create meaningful and sustainable change in the lives of the people. So we redirected our efforts to work with Haiti, not just in Haiti, to listen to the Haitians, to work with the Haitian Government – first under President Preval, now under President Martelly – to make sure that our priorities were Haiti’s priorities, and to give the Haitian people their voice, so that as we made decisions in Washington, we were doing it together.

Now it is up to the people and leaders of Haiti to sustain and build on this progress. After all, it always comes down to what people will do for themselves. But I think we’re off to a very good start together, and the United States is committed to the work we are doing here. We believe in Haiti’s promise and the dream that every Haitian should be able to feel.

And our partnership, I promise you, will extend far beyond my time as Secretary of State. And so, too, will the personal commitment that my husband and I have to Haiti. I look forward to us being good partners to the Haitian people for years to come and seeing the progress that you will make, along with your friends from around the world who believe in you.

It is now my great pleasure to introduce someone who is the chief believer and dreamer, President Martelly. (Applause.)

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Public Schedule for October 22, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
October 22, 2012

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PUBLIC SCHEDULE

MONDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2012

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel to Caracol, Haiti. Accompanying her are Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Senator Patrick Leahy. Also traveling with her are Counselor Mills, Special Representative Lewis, Special Coordinator for Haiti Tom Adams, Spokesperson Nuland, Director Sullivan, and Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Miguel Rodriguez.

11:55 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton visits the Caracol EKAM Housing Site, in Caracol, Haiti.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

12:30 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Haitian President Michel Martelly, in Caracol, Haiti.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

1:05p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the Investor Lunch hosted by the IDB, in Caracol, Haiti.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

1:25 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton tours the Sae-A Factory, in Caracol, Haiti.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

1:50 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the Caracol Industrial Park Opening Ceremony, in Caracol, Haiti.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)
3:10 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton visits a Caracol Industrial Park Power Plant, in Caracol, Haiti.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

According to some sources her escort includes a certain silver-haired gent ….

Haiti to Officially Open Caracol Industrial Park, Joined by Bill and Hillary Clinton

October 21, 2012 | 10:00 pm | Print

Above: construction on the park earlier this year

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Haiti is officially inaugurating the Caracol Industrial Park Monday, the opening of what is hoped to become a job creator in the country.

Haiti resident Michel Martelly is leading the inauguration of the park, which is in Haiti’s northeastern region, along with Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and Commerce Minister Wilson Laleau.

Headlining the ceremony will be US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, along with Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno.

Read more >>>>

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