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Posts Tagged ‘Réné Préval’

I lived and worked in Haiti for a good portion of my adult life when I was a very sure-of-myself thirty-something who knew my fellow Americans very well.  I knew they would never elect a celebrity to the Oval Office. That was 1980 … and they did.

When I lived there, Haiti did not have elections. They had a President for Life. I was reminded of this on my way to and from work twice a day by the huge billboard on the Champs-de-Mars across from the National Palace.  Nobody in Haiti voted for him.  His dying father made him president while he was still in his teens. Nobody in Haiti ever called him “Baby Doc” – ever!  Sometimes American tourists would use the term, and we would gently whisper corrections.  You never knew who might be listening. “But I have freedom of speech,” they insisted. Nope, not there you didn’t.

When I sensed trouble coming in the early 80s, I left. In 1986 Jean-Claude Duvalier was overthrown and also left. Haiti embarked on the long, rocky road to democracy. It was and is very bumpy ride – sort of like a ride on a Haitian tap-tap.

A president was elected, then overthrown by the army and exiled, and then returned again to fulfill his elected term.  N.B. We did not install Aristede, and he was not our “puppet.”  President Clinton 42 merely restored the elected Haitian president to his rightful post.  Just saying because I have heard that allegation.

On January 12, 2010 a catastrophic earthquake killed more than 200,000 people. Colleagues told me, when they heard early estimates of one-tenth that many, that they did not think that toll was possible and must have been an exaggeration.  They did not know Haiti, and they did not know Port-au-Prince.

Our Secretary of State at the time, Hillary Clinton was on the ground in Haiti within days, the first foreign official to arrive.  The President at the time, Réné Préval, met with her at the airport. It would take him 12 additional days to finally show his face on the Champs-de-Mars where thousands of homeless Haitians congregated in a makeshift tent city in front of the collapsed National Palace.  It was an astounding abdication of leadership.

Elections were scheduled for later that year. Once again Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a visit and met with the three run-off candidates. One of the candidates was a popular performer – a bit of a naughty boy with a distinctive head-style that became shorthand for his candidacy (têt kalé – or “shaved head” meant Martelly during the election season).  Another was a woman with a Sorbonne degree, experience in government, and former First Lady.

Mirlande Manigat was the presidential candidate for the Rally of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP) centre-right party. On October 18, 2010, Dr. Manigat also received the endorsement of the Collectif pour le Renouveau Haïtien (COREH).

Her platform for the presidency includes a focus on education of the youth of Haiti, and lifting the long-standing and restrictive constitutional conditions on dual nationality. She specifically promotes opening government positions for members of the Haitian diaspora. Manigat also aims for a more independent Haitian state, one less reliant upon and subject to foreign governments and NGOs. – Wikipedia

The winner was Michel Martelly with no government credentials or experience.

Martelly’s journey to the presidency is documented in the film Sweet Micky for President which is currently available on demand at Showtime. Given my love for and attachment to Haiti, of course I watched.

I was unprepared, however, for the parallels that emerged between the 2010 Haitian election and the election season we are experiencing.  Our democracy is so much older.  Theirs is like a toddler who runs before he can get walking under control.  I never thought our presidential campaign events could resemble some of the anger and violence that erupt during third world elections.  But then we have to look to the candidates and the way they run their campaigns.  That is where the similarities lie.

Older and wiser now, I know that yes, Americans absolutely will elect a celebrity for reasons perhaps very similar to those for which Haitians elected “Micky” Martelly.  I have learned never to underestimate what Americans will do in the privacy of the voting booth, never to trust what they might do with their precious ballots, never to assume.

Martelly fell into disfavor with the populace. It was probably inevitable.  In January 2015 protesters in the streets angrily demanded his resignation.  He resigned office in February of this year.  We will never know what Mirlande Manigat might have done as the first woman president of Haiti. I doubt that she will ever make another run.  I do know that we have a chance make our decisions based not on celebrity and visibility but rather on issues, plans, and policies.  Strutting and fretting your hour on the stage leads to being heard no more, after all, and ending up just a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing.

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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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Leaders from all over the world – government and NGOs – have convened to assist earthquake-stricken Haiti.

International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York
March 31, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Secretary General, and thank you for your leadership and your personal commitment to this international endeavor.

President Preval, to you and the members of your government, we thank you for the extraordinary work that you have done leading up to this point.

To former President Clinton, with whom I first went to Haiti many years ago about two months after we were married, thank you for taking on another assignment from the Secretary General.

And to all of the countries and international institutions represented here, thank you. Thank you for the immediate response to the overwhelming catastrophe that afflicted the Haitian people and thank you for your continuing commitment.

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.

The humanitarian need, we know, is great. Therefore, as fellow human beings, we respond from a position of conscience and morality to help those who, but for the grace of God, we could be in a world where natural disasters are often unpredictable, inflicting great costs. Haiti was a country of 9 million people before the earthquake. Today, more than a quarter of a million of those people have died. More than a million are homeless. Hundreds of thousands live in temporary camps without enough food or sufficient access to sanitation. Nearly every government agency has been destroyed along with universities, hospitals, and primary schools, which we know are the foundations to a nation’s long-term progress. Close to a million young people were preparing to enter the job market within five years. Now their opportunities have crumbled while the need for jobs has multiplied.

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.

There are two paths that lie before us. If Haiti can build safe homes, its citizens can escape many of the dangers they now face and return to more normal lives. If Haiti can realize broad-based, sustainable economic growth, it can create opportunity across the country beyond Port-au-Prince so Haitians don’t have to move to their capital or leave their country to find work. If Haiti can build strong health and education systems, it can give its people the tools they need to contribute to their nation’s progress and fulfill their own God-given potentials. If Haiti can create strong, transparent, accountable institutions, it can establish the credibility, trust, and stability its people have long-deserved. And if Haiti can do all of those things with our help, it will become an engine for progress and prosperity generating opportunity and fostering greater stability for itself and for countries throughout the hemisphere and beyond.

But there is another path that Haiti could take, a path that demands far less of Haiti and far less of us. If the effort to rebuild is slow or insufficient, if it is marked by conflict, lack of coordination, or lack of transparency, then the challenges that have plagued Haiti for years could erupt with regional and global consequences. Before the earthquake, migration drained Haiti of many talented citizens, many of whom live in our country. If new jobs and opportunity do not emerge, even more people will leave.

Before the earthquake, quality healthcare was a challenge for Haiti. Now, it is needed even more urgently. Haiti has the highest rate of tuberculosis in the hemisphere, the highest rate of HIV, the highest rates of infant, child, and maternal mortality, one of the highest rates of child malnutrition. And with the public health system now shattered, those numbers will climb. The lack of sanitation services could cause outbreaks of lethal illnesses. And the lack of reliable medical services could give rise to new drug-resistant strains of disease that will soon cross borders.

Before the earthquake, hunger was a problem for Haiti. Years of deforestation had stripped the land of its rich topsoil and people struggled to grow or purchase enough food to feed their families. The riots over food that broke out in 2008 toppled Haiti’s government. Now, food is even more scarce, and people more desperate.

Before the earthquake, security was a challenge for Haiti, and a United Nations peacekeeping mission, MINUSTAH, helped promote the rule of law. Now the dedicated UN workers in Haiti have suffered terrible losses. So have the Haitian National Police, which were building their ranks and their capacity. With so much destruction and dislocation, security is even more tenuous. Drug trafficking is a half a billion dollar a year industry in Haiti. It thrives on political and social instability. Trafficking in human beings is also rampant. Tens of thousands of children are trafficked in Haiti every year, and now even more are vulnerable.

Now, each of these problems directly affects the people of Haiti, but they indirectly affect us all. And if they worsen, it is not only the people of Haiti who will suffer. Yet I have great confidence in the resilience of the people of Haiti. Their history has tested them and now they are being tested again. So are Haiti’s leaders, in whom I also have great confidence. So we are called to do better than we have in the past. Many countries here have helped Haiti in the past. Many NGOs have helped Haiti in the past. We cannot do what we’ve done before.

The leaders of Haiti must take responsibility for their country’s reconstruction. They must make the tough decisions that guide a strong, accountable, and transparent recovery. And that is what they are starting to do with the creation of a new mechanism that provides coordination and consultation so aid can be directed where it is most needed. And we in the global community, we must also do things differently. It will be tempting to fall back on old habits – to work around the government rather than to work with them as partners, or to fund a scattered array of well-meaning projects rather than making the deeper, long-term investments that Haiti needs now. We cannot retreat to failed strategies.

 

I know we’ve heard these imperatives before – the need to coordinate our aid, hold ourselves accountable, share our knowledge, track results. But now, we cannot just declare our intentions. We have to follow through and put them into practice. Therefore, this is not only a conference about what financially we pledge to Haiti. We also have to pledge our best efforts to do better ourselves – to offer our support in a smarter way, a more effective way that produces real results for the people of Haiti.

So let us say here, with one voice, we will pass this test for us. To that end, the United States pledges $1.15 billion for Haiti’s long-term recovery and reconstruction. This money will go toward supporting the Government of Haiti’s plan to strengthen agriculture, energy, health, security, and governance. We are committed to working with the people and organizations throughout Haiti, including civil society groups, private businesses, NGOs, and citizens. And I’m very glad to see so many of them represented here today.

We will also be looking for ways to engage our Haitian diaspora. Haitian Americans have much to contribute to this effort. And we will seek specifically to empower the women of Haiti. I’ve said this so many times that I know I sound like a broken record, but investing in women is the best investment we can make in any country. And investing in the Haitian women will fuel the long-term economic recovery and progress, not only for them, but for their families.

Over the years, all of our countries have learned many lessons, particularly from the tsunami that the United Nations was instrumental in leading the response to. Now, we must put those lessons to work in Haiti. I’m very excited and very committed on behalf of President Obama, the Government of the United States, and the people of the United States to help Haiti and to help the leaders of Haiti lead a recovery effort worthy of their highest hopes.

Thank you so much, Secretary General. (Applause.)

NEW YORK - MARCH 31: (L to R) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Haitian President Rene Garcia Preval and former U.S. President and U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton attend the opening session of the "International Donors' Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti" at United Nations headquarters March 31, 2010 in New York City. The United Nations and United States are jointly hosting the donors conference for the Haitian government which is seeking about $3.8 billion in funds to assist the country in recovery from the devastating January 12 earthquake. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – MARCH 31: (L to R) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Haitian President Rene Garcia Preval and former U.S. President and U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton attend the opening session of the “International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti” at United Nations headquarters March 31, 2010 in New York City. The United Nations and United States are jointly hosting the donors conference for the Haitian government which is seeking about $3.8 billion in funds to assist the country in recovery from the devastating January 12 earthquake. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) speaks as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (C) and Hatian President Rene Preval (R) listen during the International Donors' Conference meeting towards a "New Future for Haiti" at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, March 31, 2010. Some 120 countries, international organizations and aid groups are meeting at the United Nations in New York to pledge support for a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of some 4 million people. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) speaks as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (C) and Hatian President Rene Preval (R) listen during the International Donors’ Conference meeting towards a “New Future for Haiti” at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, March 31, 2010. Some 120 countries, international organizations and aid groups are meeting at the United Nations in New York to pledge support for a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of some 4 million people. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

NEW YORK - MARCH 31: (L to R) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Haitian President Rene Garcia Preval and former U.S. President and U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton attend the opening session of the "International Donors' Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti" at United Nations headquarters March 31, 2010 in New York City. The United Nations and United States are jointly hosting the donors conference for the Haitian government which is seeking about $3.8 billion in funds to assist the country in recovery from the devastating January 12 earthquake. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – MARCH 31: (L to R) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Haitian President Rene Garcia Preval and former U.S. President and U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton attend the opening session of the “International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti” at United Nations headquarters March 31, 2010 in New York City. The United Nations and United States are jointly hosting the donors conference for the Haitian government which is seeking about $3.8 billion in funds to assist the country in recovery from the devastating January 12 earthquake. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon (L) speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) listens at the International Donors' Conference meeting towards a "New Future for Haiti" at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, March 31, 2010. Some 120 countries, international organizations and aid groups are meeting at the United Nations in New York to pledge support for a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of some 4 million people. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon (L) speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) listens at the International Donors’ Conference meeting towards a “New Future for Haiti” at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, March 31, 2010. Some 120 countries, international organizations and aid groups are meeting at the United Nations in New York to pledge support for a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of some 4 million people. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) listens at the International Donors' Conference meeting towards a "New Future for Haiti" at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, March 31, 2010. Some 120 countries, international organizations and aid groups are meeting at the United Nations in New York to pledge support for a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of some 4 million people. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) listens at the International Donors’ Conference meeting towards a “New Future for Haiti” at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, March 31, 2010. Some 120 countries, international organizations and aid groups are meeting at the United Nations in New York to pledge support for a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of some 4 million people. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

French Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) listens at the International Donors' Conference meeting towards a "New Future for Haiti" at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, March 31, 2010. Some 120 countries, international organizations and aid groups are meeting at the United Nations in New York to pledge support for a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of some 4 million people. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

French Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) listens at the International Donors’ Conference meeting towards a “New Future for Haiti” at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, March 31, 2010. Some 120 countries, international organizations and aid groups are meeting at the United Nations in New York to pledge support for a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of some 4 million people. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

NEW YORK - MARCH 31: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) speaks as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon looks on during the opening session of the "International Donors' Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti" at United Nations headquarters March 31, 2010 in New York City. The United Nations and United States are jointly hosting the donors conference for the Haitian government which is seeking about $3.8 billion in funds to assist the country in recovery from the devastating January 12 earthquake. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – MARCH 31: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (L) speaks as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon looks on during the opening session of the “International Donors’ Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti” at United Nations headquarters March 31, 2010 in New York City. The United Nations and United States are jointly hosting the donors conference for the Haitian government which is seeking about $3.8 billion in funds to assist the country in recovery from the devastating January 12 earthquake. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (R), a U.N. special representative for Haiti, speaks as Haitian President Rene Preval (2nd R), U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (2nd L) and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listen during the International Donors' Conference meeting towards a "New Future for Haiti" at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, March 31, 2010. Some 120 countries, international organizations and aid groups are meeting at the United Nations in New York to pledge support for a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of some 4 million people. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (R), a U.N. special representative for Haiti, speaks as Haitian President Rene Preval (2nd R), U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (2nd L) and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listen during the International Donors’ Conference meeting towards a “New Future for Haiti” at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, March 31, 2010. Some 120 countries, international organizations and aid groups are meeting at the United Nations in New York to pledge support for a Haitian government recovery plan that includes decentralizing the economy to create jobs and wealth outside Port-au-Prince, the capital of some 4 million people. REUTERS/Chip East (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS)

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I have not found a video of this yet. When I do, I will post it. Meanwhile here are Ban Ki-Moon and Rene Preval in a Clinton sandwich.

Interview With Martin Smith of Frontline

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 9, 2010

“The following is the transcript of Secretary Clinton’s interview for Frontline Haiti, which aired on March 30th on PBS.”

QUESTION: You were about to – you had undertaken a strategy review vis-à-vis Haiti prior to the earthquake, and you were about to release this. How does that change now?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, when I became Secretary of State, I spoke with the President about Haiti – and I have a longstanding interest going back many years in Haiti – and I had presented to him the idea that our government would look to see what we could do to try to help Haiti’s development.

So for the year that preceded the earthquake, that’s exactly what we did. I had my chief of staff and counselor, Cheryl Mills, work in a whole-of-government approach and we sent a lot of experts from government agencies here in the U.S. And we worked closely with the Haitian Government. President Preval had his own national development plan and we wanted to support that insofar as we could.

And we were about to roll it out because we wanted to bring that attention to it, and then the earthquake came. So where we are now is to take all the work that we’ve done in the past year to focus U.S. Government efforts in a few specific areas – namely agriculture, health, energy – particularly electricity – and security, governance, rule of law – and to work with other international partners to fill in gaps and to give us the broad buy-in from the international community that is necessary if we’re going to have a long-term commitment to Haiti’s future.

QUESTION: Why is Haiti important?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s important for several reasons. First, it’s a neighbor. I mean, it’s in our hemisphere. And it’s the poorest country in the hemisphere by quite a measure. It was the first black republic in the world. And the United States has played a role in Haiti’s history, oftentimes not to our credit and to their detriment. When the slaves overthrew their French colonial masters and became an independent country, shortly after our own country became independent, the United States didn’t recognize Haiti for 50 years. Other countries turned their backs on Haiti. We’ve had a long and troubled history with Haiti, and Haiti’s had its own troubles of its own making.

So I think that when you look at its strategic location, the fact that there’s a very large Haitian American diaspora community in our country, it really was both a challenge and a rebuke to us. And I thought it would be worth trying to see, with a government that has the right instincts and a president who is committed to a better future, as President Preval is, to see if we couldn’t be a better partner.

QUESTION: You said that in the past, development has basically been parachuted in and hasn’t necessarily been sustainable. You talk about being a partner, not a patron.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: What do you mean?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Martin, part of it is that we have a long history of involvement with Haiti, and most of it, going back many decades, has been through nongovernmental organizations, charities, church groups, all kinds of American involvement. And we’ve had this sporadic American Government attention and then withdrawn.

QUESTION: Embargos and invasions.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, embargos, invasions in the 1920s and then restoring a democratically elected president to office in the 1990s and then a reaction in our own government against further involvement. I mean, we’ve had a very checkered involvement. And I think it’s important to build the capacity of the Haitian Government to recognize the resilience and the capacity of the Haitian people.

And to do that, you can’t be a patron in the sense of “We’re here to help you.” But it is more along the lines of “Okay, let’s work together. What do you need? Here’s what we can offer. Here are the conditions and the accountability that we would seek and here are other partners,” both of other governments and nongovernmental organizations.

QUESTION: I think a lot of people would look at Preval and ask this question as to whether or not he’s a reliable partner. He’s been through three prime ministers in the last 2 years. He was largely absent after the quake. He failed to address his people, came in for a lot of criticism. And on the streets, he is very unpopular at this point. Is he a reliable partner?

SECRETARY CLINTON: He is a reliable partner, but he is a partner who has very serious challenges when it comes to capacity. He had them before the earthquake. He has them even more so now. But one of the ironies that —

QUESTION: Can I interrupt?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. Sure.

QUESTION: What do you mean by capacity?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that he has a government and a political system and a social structure which is very entrenched in the way it has always done business. And he has worked hard to overcome that. And I just wanted to mention that literally, the night before the earthquake on PBS – I think it was the Jim Lehrer show or whatever it’s called now, I don’t know, the —

QUESTION: Yeah, it is the PBS NewsHour.

SECRETARY CLINTON: PBS NewsHour.

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY CLINTON: In the hour, there was about a 15-20 minute segment on Haiti. It was so hopeful. It talked about all the changes, how this was Haitian-driven development that the United States and others were helping at the U.N., having asked my husband to be the private sector representative, was really digging in and talked about a big investment conference that had been held and how international businessmen from around the world were signing up to build factories, to pursue tourism possibilities. Less than 24 hours, the earthquake comes.

So I want to put it in a broader context that President Preval was making some very important commitments to change and seeking actively to have the support of others in the hemisphere and beyond. And yet, he was the first to say, look, we have a lot of challenges here. We have an enormous number of very poor people. We have a development strategy that was just basically growing up by inadvertence so that people were leaving the countryside, coming into the large metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. I mean so many things that he had recognized and highlighted as in need of change.

Well, the earthquake happens and, I have to say, his response was very human. I mean, this was an overwhelming disaster. And I met with him within days of the earthquake hitting. He was very engaged about what needed to be done, but he was also very cautious. He didn’t want to over-promise. He didn’t want to get out and talk about what was going to happen until he had a better idea of who was alive, what was left of a government that was devastated with the buildings destroyed and records destroyed, the prison destroyed and prisoners out on the street. I mean, he was trying to be very responsible.

And yes, I know that there was criticism that he didn’t do enough in the public. He’s trying to, I think, make up for that, but the fact is that he has been very focused and struggling against difficult political odds. Because remember there was supposed to be a parliamentary election in February. So his parliament is basically living on borrowed time. There was supposed to be a presidential election later this year. He’s very acutely aware of the need for political stability and political legitimacy. So we’re working very hard with him and hoping to provide him the support he needs for this last year of his term.

QUESTION: Did you say anything to him on that Sunday about his failure to stand on the rubble?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it was Saturday that I was there.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. On that Saturday, did you say anything to him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We did. Because he and I did a press conference together and that was the first time that he had gone into public.

QUESTION: First time I saw him.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. And I told him it was very important that he do that with me and he was absolutely in agreement.

QUESTION: It looked like you kind of talked him out into the cameras.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I hadn’t been traumatized by the earthquake. I hadn’t seen the destruction and damage of my country. I mean I remember how I felt after 9/11 and how difficult it was and just trying to begin to catalogue what we were going to need to do as a senator from New York. And here he is, the president of a country that has been just devastated. So I had some understanding of what he must be going through.

QUESTION: The U.N. was also on its back.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: They had lost a lot of people, and their ability to respond to the quake was severely limited. So for those first few days, stuff was piling up at the airport and nobody was moving it into the city or very few people, not enough trucks. Did you talk about airdrops doing anything that could have gotten that aid into communities faster than we did?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we moved as fast as the logistics permitted. The airport had been damaged. The air control tower had been damaged. The one inadequate runway had been damaged. And I worked out with our ambassador, who has done a superb job on the ground, Ken Merten, an agreement that President Preval signed that Saturday to provide greater leeway for America to operate.

Two days before, Ambassador Merten had worked out the agreement on the airport being opened up and U.S. military personnel took over the airport. There was a lot of concern about airdrops. And because, in talking to the experts who do this in our military, they said, “First of all, we are still rescuing people. The last thing we need is to be dropping aid in areas where people might still be alive and having all kinds of commotion occur and maybe even people disrupting the rescue mission.” So it was very complicated.

But we got the airport up and going and we began to deliver the assistance and I personally followed this very closely, and I think that the devastating blow the U.N., losing their leadership, more than 300 associated personnel losing their lives – MINUSTAH, which is the U.N. peacekeeping mission under the command of a Brazilian general being also devastated, and the general wasn’t even in Port-au-Prince at the time. We had to help bring him back, so that we began to put together what were the building blocks of a safe relief operation.

And that is something I really want to emphasize. As bad as the terrible devastation was, we didn’t want military assets, ours and others coming in and making it worse. So we proceeded in a careful way. But within days, we had troops on the ground, we had vehicles delivering assistance, we worked to support the delivery of aid from other countries. So within days, we were managing the most far-ranging search-and-rescue mission in world history, as far as we know.

QUESTION: You talk about jobs and the necessity of acting as partners, not patrons —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: — building a sustainable Haiti with its own economy, the apparel factories that are being talked about in this light, pay about three to four dollars a day. Can you build an economy on that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, actually, there’s been an increase in their minimum wage, but yes, you can. And you can build an economy if it is embedded in a political system that can be functioning to make sure that resources are more equitably shared, a reconstruction program that focuses not just on Port-au-Prince but on the whole country and particularly the agriculture sectors, which is what’s – provides the support for 60 percent of the people to start with, and with the duty-free importing from Haiti, which the United States —

QUESTION: The HOPE Act.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — the HOPE Act had offered. We’re going to try to extend that to other countries like Brazil and others within our hemisphere and beyond. It is a way to build a foundation and then to move on from there. I know people say, well, three to four dollars – I think it’s more than that, but —

QUESTION: It’s a little more than that perhaps —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, it is, but —

QUESTION: — but the people that I talked to actually said they were getting four or five dollars a day.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. It is clearly not sufficient by our standards, and it will not be sufficient by Haitian standards, but the idea of creating enough jobs, trying to get back to where we were in the garment industry in Haiti before the embargo imposed by the United States in the – I don’t know what we call it, but the first 10 years of this new century. The population of the garment factories was decimated. And we, before the earthquake, had about 28,000 people working. We want to reengage with that, get more people back into those factories. But we also want to broaden the base of the economy. And when the assessment of needs was done very quickly, shortly after the earthquake, we realized that the port was damaged and nobody would be able to fix it except for the United States military, we made it very clear we want to move more cargo through that port than was coming in before. And we are now moving more containers than were moved before the earthquake.

So these are all signs that we’re getting back to economic life. The American aid programs are employing thousands of people to move rubble, for example. But it is a – it’s a very low base. And hopefully over the next year, as we try to build a more sustainable economy for Haitians themselves, we’ll see increases in things like wages and education and health care and other indices of progress.

QUESTION: You talk about “as we go forward and build a better Haitian economy,” can we really be expected to build a better Haitian economy or is this something only the Haitians can do?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the “we” covers everyone from the Haitians through the U.S. to the international community. But I’ve been very heartened by the response of the international community. The needs assessment that the World Bank is currently undertaking, which we will have in preparation for the international donors conference on March 31st, shows —

QUESTION: Tomorrow night.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter) – shows a commitment to Haiti that has been lacking up until now. We can’t guarantee results but we can guaranteed that we’ll be smart about how we engage with the international community and with Haitians themselves, and that we will try to have an economic plan, a reconstruction plan that makes sense, that is in keeping with the Haitian culture.

I’ll give you an example. I mean, when we met with the UN people on my visit the Saturday after the earthquake, a lot of them had had experience in other disasters, and the immediate response was, “Well, we need to create very large camps.” I mean, one of the UN experts said 100,000. I mean, he said, “No way. We’re not going into camps like that. We’re going to stay as close as we can stay to our little piece of property here. It may be damaged but it’s all we’ve got.” So you’ve got to be sensitive to the Haitian experience and the Haitian ideas about what they’re going to want. And as we put together all of these plans, the Haitians have to be in the lead, and the international community has to be supportive.

QUESTION: Why haven’t we gotten it right in Haiti before? I mean, we’ve had – it’s right on our doorstep —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: It’s a small country. We take on nation-building projects in bigger places with sectarian divisions. This is a rather simple exercise compared to Afghanistan or Iraq. Its nine million people on the doorstep of one of the greatest, biggest, most powerful markets in the world. Why have we not gotten a better relationship with Haiti and gotten off the starting line before?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the simple answer is neither their politics nor ours has ever permitted it. Their politics has been rocky, to say the least, since the very beginning of their country. They haven’t always had the very best leadership. And they’ve had a very unequal society, where those on the top were, frankly, not interested in investing on those on the bottom. And we see that all over the world. And then Haiti often became a political football in American politics. And there are many reasons historians can point to as to why the mix just never was right.

But that’s one of the reasons why I went to President Obama when I became Secretary of State and I said, “Look, we just – this is intolerable. We cannot in our hemisphere in good faith have a country as poor as Haiti, as unequal as Haiti, when we see the results of educated and very resourceful Haitians coming to our country and being so successful.” I mean, I represented a large Haitian American community in New York City and in Rockland County, across from Westchester County, as you know, where you had doctors and lawyers and business leaders and teachers. So why can’t that be translated back in Haiti? Why do people have to leave Haiti unless they’re part of a very small elite? Why do they have to leave to realize their dreams? That shouldn’t be, in the 21st century. The President totally agreed with me, and so we were engaged before the earthquake and we’re going to try to be a better partner this time around.

QUESTION: Former Prime Minister Pierre Louis – Michele Pierre-Louis, who you know —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: She said the problem in Haiti – what worries her is the lack of transcendence – that people don’t think beyond their own self-interest.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Mm-hmm. We see that all over the world. It is not, by any means, unique to Haiti. I have seen it in every setting and on every continent that I have visited. It is a real problem in the development challenge that we are looking at. How do you get, particularly the economic and political elite, to feel invested in the development of those with whom they are not related, who they view as less educated, who they think of as somehow subservient in cultures from Haiti to Pakistan. I mean, it’s a common problem. And that’s why I am supportive of President Preval because he was very clear that he wanted to break that mindset and end that cycle. He wanted to really look at what hadn’t worked in Haiti in the past and try to come up with better answers. And we want to keep supporting him during this last year in office and the wake of this terrible earthquake.

There are no guarantees, but I think we have a better shot today, in part because this earthquake has shaken, literally, everyone. It was not a respecter of educational or economic status. It devastated the Port-au-Prince larger metropolitan area. So this is an opportunity for us to be able to say, okay, let’s really think about what kind of future you want for all of Haiti. And that’s what we’re trying to pose as the context for this.

STAFF: Last question, Mike.

QUESTION: Okay. Some Americans take a look at this and say, look, we’ve got our own problems. We have not fixed – we’ve not rebuilt New Orleans.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And shame on us.

QUESTION: And now we’re going to take on Port-au-Prince.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. To that I’d say, because I’ve had this conversation with many people, is number one, Haiti has been in the past a security and immigration challenge to us. We have people who risk everything to get on creaky little boats to try to make it to our shores. So it’s not a problem that is way over there – hundreds of miles off our coast. It is often a problem that we live with right here at home.

But secondly, we now have a broad base of international support. This is not the United States coming in and saying, “Oh, let us fix it.” This is the United States, along with international organizations and countries from France to Canada to Brazil to Japan, saying we all will play a role.

Half of – nearly half of all American households have contributed to Haiti relief.

QUESTION: I know. I hear that stat and I can’t believe it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Isn’t that stunning?

QUESTION: Well, I don’t know. Is it true?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It is true. It is true. Because if you take what we started at the State Department, which was the SMS texting message for $10 cell phone contributions, first to the Red Cross and then to the Clinton Bush Fund, $32 million to Red Cross, $31 million just through that one means of contributing, over $700 million contributed from Americans to their churches or to other organizations that they had confidence in, plus the United States has spent many hundreds of millions dollars in deploying USAID and deploying the military and so much else. So we are already invested, and we don’t want that investment to go to waste. We want that investment to realize a positive outcome.

QUESTION: No shortage of good intentions.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But this time good plans, too. I mean, I might not be as confident sitting here if we hadn’t been working for a year, if we hadn’t made that decision back in January, and if I hadn’t seen the outpouring from around our hemisphere. Every country, even the poorest – little Honduras, little Guatemala – they’ve all contributed something to Haiti. The Dominican Republic, which shares the island with Haiti – and there’s always been a contentious political relationship – has gone above and beyond the call to assist Haiti, so everybody’s invested in this.

And the United States leadership under the Obama Administration has put to rest a lot of old myths. Initially, there was some concern and some of the old ideas being pulled out about imperialism and Yankees; all of that is gone. I mean, I just came back from as trip to Latin America – a lot of positive reinforcement for the way we’ve handled it, for the fact that, yes, we took the lead – only we could have opened the airport, only we could have fixed the port. But we have been sharing – we helped transport medical supplies for Cuban doctors. We are working with Venezuela on this common project. So it’s near us, we have a lot of Haitian Americans, we have a security and immigration challenge, we have a tangled history. We had a plan that we’ve worked on for more than a year, and we have an opportunity to show leadership in our hemisphere in a way that we cannot downplay in terms of its importance going forward.

QUESTION: But the moral obligation and practical reasons to help —

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.

QUESTION: Secretary, thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Nice to see you.

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Remarks With Haitian President Rene Preval After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 9, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. Let me begin by saying how honored we are to have President Preval here at the State Department. Everyone knows how devastated Haiti was by the earthquake of January the 12th. The Haitian people suffered so greatly and the Haitian Government was severely damaged. President Preval, Prime Minister Bellerive, the members of the cabinet, and the presidential staff, along with the people of Haiti themselves, have worked very hard these last two months to recover.

The United States and the international community mounted the largest ever rescue and relief effort. Progress has been made, but not nearly enough, and therefore, we are holding these meetings with President Preval today and tomorrow and the next day to discuss in depth what we need to do still to alleviate suffering and what we will do together to help build back Haiti better. The United States alone in this first phase has supplied nearly $700 million in assistance. Nearly one half of all households in America have contributed something to private relief efforts.

We are preparing for the major donors conference in New York on March 31st, and we are listening very carefully to President Preval and the voices of the Haitian people as to what our next steps should be. President Preval made the very important point that we must work toward elections to ensure the stability and legitimacy of the Haitian Government. I assured President Preval that the United States would work with the international community to hold elections as soon as appropriate.

There are many specific problems that must be addressed, from how we get people into safe housing before and during the rainy season, to how we provide fertilizer and seed to Haiti’s farmers so that they can begin planting, to how we get Haiti’s factories going again and start new factories throughout the country, how we convince other countries to extend the same favorable tariffs that the United States does under the HOPE program.

So this is truly a working meeting, Mr. President, and I want to assure you again that the United States and President Obama and our Administration remain committed to you. We believe in Haiti’s promise and we are committed to Haiti’s future.

PRESIDENT PREVAL: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Madam Secretary. But first of all, please allow me to express my condolences to all of the Americans who were victims during the earthquake of January 12th in Haiti.

And also, please allow me to express my deepest thanks to you, my deepest thanks to the American people, to the American Congress, the American Government, to you, Madam Secretary and to your staff, to President Obama and to Mrs. Obama, for all of the help and support that you have provided to Haiti after the earthquake of January 12th. And of course, the support provided to Haiti by the United States did not start at this earthquake. In fact, it came way before that.

So we must work together to ensure the conditions that will allow the recovery of Haiti. And all of these conditions have to be worked upon – not just the immediate short-term needs but we must also work towards the long term – good governance, all of investments that have to be encouraged.

Today, we are faced with a historical situation that will allow us to rebuild, re-found this country.

In the past, everything had been concentrated and focused on the capital, where the political and economic elites of the country live, and the rest of the country was neglected. That’s why so many people came to Haiti – into Port-au-Prince – in the illusory quest for work that did not exist, and that is why there’s so much shoddy construction, which does not comply with standards, and that’s why there were so many casualties. And that’s why when people leave the provinces, that’s why each time there is a flood, there are so many deaths. Just last Sunday, there were 15 deaths due to flooding.

So this is an opportunity to not only rebuild Port-au-Prince, but first and foremost, to invest and to rebuild in the provinces. And of course, the recovery of Haiti will take a long time, and everybody must be aware of that. To rebuild Port-au-Prince as it was before would be a major historical mistake, and that is the message that I am trying to convey not only to the Haitians but also to my international partners.

So in summary, what I would say – let’s take the time necessary to think about this process about how we should rebuild Haiti. So let’s establish the conditions that will be favorable to a good economic stability and good political governance. Voila.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think we have time maybe for one or two, because we have to be at the White House.

Yeah.

MR. CROWLEY: Lach Carmichael, Agence France-Presse.

QUESTION: Good morning to both of you. For President Preval, please: Secretary Clinton mentioned organizing elections as soon as possible. Could you give us a timeframe for when these elections could be organized? And for reasons fair or unfair, do you think this would help establish your legitimacy more, following a lot of criticism? And how would it help you accomplish goals, even short term goals, for the country?

PRESIDENT PREVAL: (Via interpreter) Political stability is something fundamental for the development of a country. I think that is what constitutes a guarantee for investors, for the population, that there is some guarantees, that there’s some security about their future. We need a parliament that’s operating, that functions, that votes laws. You need an executive power, you need a judicial power. The parliamentary elections had been scheduled for February, but of course, everybody will understand that, due to the conditions, how difficult it will be to respect that timetable and to organize elections.

As you know, the country has been severely impacted. The electoral body has been deeply affected. MINUSTAH, which was supporting us, was accompanying us, has been deeply affected. The OAS has been affected. And of course, there have been many casualties. All of the death toll has not been fully counted. There have been many people. So we have to find a way, and the experts will indeed help us find a way to ensure that by the time of my departure, we will find the right way to organize elections.

We must find the right way. We should not try to do things too (inaudible), because we did have some very good systems in place. We did have some maps that existed. But what we must absolutely avoid is that we have a temporary provisional government that does not enjoy legitimacy. We must have a government that does have political legitimacy.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And we will work —

QUESTION: And what about —

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m so sorry, Lachlan, if you will give your question to P.J. We have to be at the White House literally in two minutes. Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT PREVAL: Thank you. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

I just had to add this cute little choreography at the end.

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Sorry this is so late. Usually I get it in an email but did not today. I just found it at state.gov.

Daily Appointments Schedule for March 9, 2010

Washington, DC
March 9, 2010

SECRETARY OF STATE CLINTON

9:15 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

9:30 a.m. Secretary Clinton holds a Bilateral Meeting with Haitian President Rene Preval, at the Department of State.
(JOINT PRESS AVAILABILITY FOLLOWING BILATERAL MEETING AT APPROXIMATELY 10:20 A.M.)
.

12:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, at the Department of State.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

2:00 p.m. Press Gaggle in the Press Correspondents’ Room (On-The-Record, and Off Camera)

8:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton hosts a Dinner for Haitian President Rene Preval and Mrs. Preval, at the Blair House.
(CAMERA SPRAY PRECEDING DINNER)

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In the wake of his poorly received visit to the Champs de Mars yesterday, René Préval’s government  faces an ever-increasing vote of no confidence among dispossessed Haitians semi-permanently relocated to Port-au-Prince’s largest park in front of the crumbled National Palace.  The question appears to be whether it is the Palace alone that lies in ruins or was the government of Préval so fragile as to have been broken by the natural disaster that visited the capital city and southern cities and towns.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military and U.S.A.I.D. continue to put forth the Préval government as the leader in the relief effort. This article in today’s Washington Post highlights the disjunct in leadership.

As food distribution improves, Haitians want U.S to ‘take over’

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 1, 2010; A01

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — International relief organizations backed by American soldiers delivered hundreds of tons of rice to homeless residents of the Haitian capital Sunday, laboring to ease a food shortage that has left countless thousands struggling to find enough to eat.

But even as food-aid workers enjoyed their most successful day since the Jan. 12 earthquake, the increasingly prominent role of U.S. troops and civilians in the capital is creating high expectations that the Obama administration is struggling to contain.

The needs are extraordinary, and the common refrain is that the Americans will provide.

“I want the Americans to take over the country. The Haitian government can’t do anything for us,” said Jean-Louis Geffrard, a laborer who lives under a tarp in the crowded square. “When we tell the government we’re hungry, the government says, ‘We’re hungry, too.’ “

Yes, and yesterday Préval said, once again, that he lost his house too. These are not words that inspire confidence in leaders. They serve the opposite agenda, that of abdication of responsibility. So what can we and the Haitian people take away, two weeks later, from this meeting?

The WaPo article goes on to say the following,

“The military forces . . . are not here to do any reconstruction. That is not our mission,” said Col. Rick Kaiser, a U.S. Army engineer overseeing emergency repairs to the Port-au-Prince docks, the electrical and water systems, and other battered infrastructure in the hemisphere’s poorest country.

Administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, describe virtually every activity here as “Haiti-led,” although the government is barely functioning and its record was checkered even before the earthquake killed more than 110,000 people and leveled an array of government ministries.

Louis Lucke, the senior U.S. Agency for International Development official in Haiti, stood in an American-run medical complex Saturday with President René Préval and told reporters that “the Haitians are leading the process in all the areas that are necessary” — including food distribution, despite strong evidence to the contrary.

Read more>>>

Well, there are some lessons in history, but it is hard to be certain of what they teach. I am sure that these lessons are guiding our Haitian policy and Hillary’s and everyone else’s insistence that it is the Haitian government leading this effort. The United States Marines occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. If the Haitians have a different opinion and cultural memory of that occupation today as opposed to when I lived there in the 1970s and 80s, it may well have to do with certain more recent events,  from the installation of the democratically elected Aristede to his removal and to our propping of Préval even in the post-cataclysmic meltdown of his leadership and authority. The resentment of the past may have given way to nostalgia, especially now that the road to the north (among three built by the Marines along with the road to the south – now damaged, and the International Road leading to the Dominican Republic) is a prime refugee route to less damaged and untouched areas such as the Artibonite Valley. That is the road you would have taken to visit the Sans Souci Palace of King Henri Christophe in Milot. It is in ruins like the National Palace – an empty shell like the current government.

Last April, when Hillary spoke to the Haiti Donors Conference, I jokingly wrote that the Haitians might well want Hillary as their president but they could not have her because she is ours. One of my problems all my life has been that people take my serious comments as jokes but take my jokes seriously.

Well here is a serious (I feel I must tag and warn) question: What does it say about the First Black Republic that after 206 years of independence the people are asking for a return to colonialism?

There is danger in this.  Haitians must be careful what they wish for.  Certainly our leadership is putting forth a call to Haitian leadership to take charge.  But just as certainly, other less scrupulous powers in the region might well desire of take advantage of a power-grabbing opportunity in the face of a vacuum of authority.  None other than Hillary Rodham Clinton herself provided the example to the Haitian leaders of the kind of face to show to the people.  This was the aggrieved expression we saw the day she returned to the White House following the earthquake.  It was clear to me that she took this disaster very much to heart.  She looked like she had been crying.

1-14-10-4

Her pain for Haiti was written all over her face, and we all know that Hillary’s face always reflects what is in her heart.  She is unable to control that, and we love that about her.  So it is a lesson for all, and especially for the Haitian leadership, that when she stepped onto the tarmac at Toussaint L’Ouverture Airport on January 16, this is the face that greeted her embassy personnel, U.S.A.I.D. staff, and the Haitian leadership and people.

airport_Haiti

No she did not say, “I hurt, too.”  She came to help.  The message was “What can I do for you?”  This is a question the Haitian leadership should adopt and repeat often to the people on the Champs de Mars.   “Sa’m kapab fé pou nou?”  That is what is called public service.  The Haitian people deserve no less from the public servants they elected.

I know the name of the President of Haiti is René Préval.  I wonder who he is.

*Update*

Well it looks like we are going to give Haiti a President after all.  A few hints: His name is Bill,  he is enviably close to the Secretary of State, and he loves Haiti as much as she does.

Reuters reports

Bill Clinton to coordinate Haiti relief efforts:

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, currently the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, will be named international coordinator for relief efforts in the earthquake-devastated country, U.N. officials said on Monday.

Read more>>>

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