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CNN'S AMANPOUR

President and Prime Minister of Haiti Speak About Earthquake Recovery

Aired January 19, 2010 - 15:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:00]

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, one week after Haiti's earthquake, aid is getting in, but who's getting it out to the people? We'll be asking Haiti's president and his prime minister. Both will join us. And also, the U.N.'s top man on the ground.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the program.

Tonight, we focus on a city that the world largely forgot until now, Jacmel, a cultural center on the coast. The epicenter of the earthquake was midway between Jacmel and the capital, Port-au-Prince. And until this week, aid couldn't reach the city because many of the roads were blocked by rubble, and there simply weren't enough helicopters and planes to get there.

The Canadian military says that 9 out of every 10 buildings in Jacmel have been destroyed. And the U.N. says that more than 10 percent of the population, over 3,000 people there, have been killed.

Canadian troops have now arrived after the U.N. asked them to take control of relief and security there. The devastated Jacmel is a far cry from the city that once was considered the jewel of Haiti, known for its colorful carnival and its colonial architecture.

Supplies are now beginning to arrive by road and sea, but the local airport is still not open for big cargo aircraft, the kind of planes used by the Canadian and U.S. air forces.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien has just got there by road, and she sent this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The biggest problem for Jacmel has been getting aid in. The way we came in was a windy mountain road, very tricky to pass. We were able to do it in about two-and-a-half hours out of Port-au-Prince, because the avalanches had been pushed to the side. They had been cleared. Before then, before they were cleared, it was very difficult to get past.

But when you walk down -- this street is called Rue la Brinthe (ph). You can see very similar damage to what we see in Port-au-Prince, the pancake, because, of course, the cement and the rebar, the same sort of materials and the same way the structures are built pancake flat, and so they've had many deaths here in Jacmel.

A similar thing, too, where the folks have basically taken any open space that they can find and set up little camps. We've seen that all over, not the big camps that we see in Port-au-Prince, but smaller ones, because this, of course, is the fifth-largest city in Haiti, but significantly smaller.

Jacmel is an artist town, a resort area. Many tourists come here. And, of course, they were on the verge of preparing for Carnival.

One interesting thing we saw here -- I'll show you -- this papier- mache sort of two-headed dragon. Carnival happens, of course, during the Lenten season. And with the damage that this city has sustained, it's unclear what will happen both with Carnival, of course, and both with any kind of reconstruction here. It's very serious.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Earlier, I spoke with the local coordinator for MSF, one of the top aid agencies in Haiti.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Renzo Fricke of Medecins Sans Frontieres, he's the organization's emergency coordinator in Haiti. Thank you for joining me, Mr. Fricke, from Port-au-Prince.

RENZO FRICKE, MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES: You're welcome.

AMANPOUR: Are you now getting what you need? Are cargo planes landing with your mobile hospitals? Are you able to receive the medical supplies that you want?

FRICKE: We still -- we still experience huge problems to receive the cargo. Still, this night, this last night, we couldn't see to land the plane that was supposed to land. The night before, we were supposed to receive two planes that couldn't land. The night before, it was the same. That's our fourth plane that's not able to land.

But I have to say, first, that we have deployed already our activities. We have made so far more than 3,000 -- we have seen more than 3,000 patients. We've seen more than -- we've done hundreds of operations. So our teams are deployed in Port-au-Prince and in the neighborhoods. But we are still facing huge problem, huge constraints to receive our material, both medical material and relief material.

AMANPOUR: What is the most important thing that you need right now to save lives?

FRICKE: Well, the most important thing, I mean, is many things. I mean, all -- drugs, medical material. Just to give you some example, this morning -- this morning, we had to buy a saw in the market, in the city, just to be able to make more amputations, for our surgeons to do amputations.

[15:05:00]

AMANPOUR: You had to buy a saw?

FRICKE: We need more because -- we had to buy a saw, because our material -- the medical equipment is not coming as it should arrive. So our surgeons, our (inaudible) surgeons are not able to operate with their material. That's why we had to buy an additional saw. We had a saw, but we had to -- we need more material.

AMANPOUR: And what...

FRICKE: So now we're receiving trucks that were supposed -- that -- trucks that -- just arriving now that are bringing the material that was supposed to arrive the night before yesterday, so we're just losing time. We just lost like 24 hours with all the cargo that are arriving.

AMANPOUR: Well, the U.N. has responded to some of your complaints, saying that 24-hour delay is better than -- than nothing and that -- are you able to bring in things by road, for instance, from next door, Dominican Republic?

FRICKE: Twenty-four hours is better than nothing, of course, but, I mean, we are used to -- to -- to work in difficult environments, in difficult conditions, in countries of war or in such -- in such environment with natural disasters.

And we are able -- we are professional humanitarian organization. We're just ready to deploy our means to respond to the constraints we're face. The thing is that we still -- we have -- the understanding we have of the situation, that we don't have with all the -- all the information.

So we received the slots (ph). We received the schedule for our planes to land. And then at the last minute, the plane had just canceled. The planes are turning around the airport during the night, when they should be able to land, and then at the last moment, we get the information from the -- the people at the airport that just the plane is not able to land, so we're just losing time. And then we have to offload the land in Dominican Republic and then all the material -- send all the material by truck. That's the situation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And from Port-au-Prince right now, Haiti's president, Mr. Rene Preval, and Haiti's prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, join us.

Welcome to the program, gentlemen, and thank you very much for joining us. Mr. Bellerive, since you have the microphone...

JEAN-MAX BELLERIVE, PRIME MINISTER OF HAITI: Our pleasure.

AMANPOUR: Thank you very much. Can you tell me what you both are doing right now? And what is that building you're operating in? Is there a government that can actually operate now?

BELLERIVE: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

AMANPOUR: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: Yes. Yes, we have a government, but...

RENE PREVAL, PRESIDENT OF HAITI: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

AMANPOUR: Carry on.

BELLERIVE: Yes, we have a government right now. And I was discussing with the president the first thing that he do just after the earthquake was to try to contact all the ministers and myself, as a prime minister, all the minister. And it was very difficult at that time, because we had no communication, and we had to do it personally, and he send motorcycle to look for us, and we reached the president during the night by motorcycle. And from that moment, we would start to reunite.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Prime Minister, could I ask...

BELLERIVE: And we're working inside...

AMANPOUR: Go ahead.

BELLERIVE: Yes, I'm here.

AMANPOUR: Could I ask the president, Mr. Preval, what he is going to tell the people? He's making his first address to the people today. Now, I'm asking you to relay that question, because he does not have an earpiece, so he can't hear me. Could you ask him to tell me why he's addressing the Haitian people today and what he's going to say for the first time.

BELLERIVE: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: When the earthquake happened, the president himself -- yes, I'm translating -- when the -- the earthquake happened, the president himself, myself and all the ministers, we went all around the street to make an evaluation (inaudible)

AMANPOUR: Mr. -- Mr. -- Mr. Prime Minister?

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: So what we did, it was to go to every neighborhood to evaluate the damages. And we feel that what was more important was to right away to bring some help to the people that was in despair.

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

AMANPOUR: So what is the president going to tell the people? What is...

[15:10:00]

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: So he felt that what was more important at the time was organizing help for all the people that was in despair. But that was your question?

AMANPOUR: No, my question was, yes, but what will he tell the Haitian people tonight or whenever he's going to address them? They haven't heard from their president.

BELLERIVE: OK. (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: The president said that in several occasions he always addressed -- he already addressed the population. But today is seven days since the earthquake, and he plans a little bit later to make an evaluation of the situation to date.

AMANPOUR: How does he evaluate...

(CROSSTALK)

BELLERIVE: ... make it publicly in front of all the media.

AMANPOUR: How do you all evaluate the situation?

BELLERIVE: Excuse me?

AMANPOUR: How do you all evaluate the situation? And do you agree...

BELLERIVE: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: The president say that we made a lot of progress. When the situation happened, there was no -- no communication. All the road were blocked. There is no electricity. There is no telephonic -- no communication. And at -- we -- and now, at the MINUSTAH, also, who was hit, now we can circulate on the road. The telephonic communication are re-established. And the MINUSTAH also have a new leadership, and we are working together to help better the population.

AMANPOUR: OK, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to ask you a question now. Are you satisfied with the -- with the relief effort? Because we're hearing a lot of complaints from Haitian people and from some relief workers that not enough is getting to the people, even though it's coming into the airport.

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: My evaluation -- my personal evaluation is that it was very hard (inaudible) as the president said, we -- the first objective was to re-establish communication not only with our partners, but inside the government. That is done right now. And the next objective is to -- is continue to -- to bring food to all the people and to re-establish -- establish shelter for everybody.

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: But the president (inaudible) not only we establish communication by phone and on the road, but it was a -- there was else concern in the government, as clean the streets and also as take more than 50,000 bodies that were dead and that we find in different places.

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: Now the main concern of the -- the government is to find shelters, find places to build shelters, in order to -- to -- to bring water, food and toilets for all those people. You know, that's for them to live until we can reconstruct.

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: Also, one of the biggest concern of the government is to bring help to all the people wounded at the hospital right now.

[15:15:00]

All the hospital are full -- full right now. But we receive massive help from different partners of the international community.

AMANPOUR: OK.

BELLERIVE: But we still need help to have new hospital rebuilt.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. President, thank you for joining us. Please stand by. We're going to continue this conversation. I want to ask you about the security situation. But first of all, we have to take a break, and we are coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:17:15]

AMANPOUR: Joining me now again from Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, is the president, Rene Preval, and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.

Welcome back to the program. Mr. Prime Minister, I want to ask you both about the security situation. Do you agree with the U.N.'s assessment today that Haiti is now stable and normal, that there have been a little bit of violence, some food stolen from supermarkets, but no other major violence? Do you agree with that assessment?

BELLERIVE: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: The president said that what is more important is that every Haitian has to understand it's a global catastrophe for the country. It's not an individual disaster. It's a national disaster. Everyone was hit one way or another.

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: The president is convinced that one of the first conditions for the security is that every Haitian understand that everybody was a victim in that catastrophe, the government, the MINUSTAH, and all the sector of the population. That's the first condition to ensure the security.

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: The second condition is that the rescue is getting fast to the population. And the -- all the people wounded could find cure in the hospital, the different places. That is the second condition to ensure security.

AMANPOUR: Mr. -- Mr. -- Mr. Prime Minister?

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: So globally, finding water, food is going to lower frustration, and that we're going to consolidate the security, because until now, the people are still understanding the situation (inaudible)

AMANPOUR: OK, Mr. Prime Minister, can I ask you -- Mr. Prime Minister?

[15:20:00]

PREVAL: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

BELLERIVE: A lot of the -- the -- the police headquarters has been hit and the MINUSTAH, also. But since there is coordination between the (inaudible) national police, the MINUSTAH, and the bilateral partners, we are going to continue to enforce security and keep it in the -- in a safe - - the population in a safe environment.

AMANPOUR: So are you satisfied, Mr. Prime Minister, is your government satisfied...

BELLERIVE: Does answer your question?

AMANPOUR: Yeah. Yes, it did ask my question. But I want to ask you whether you're satisfied with the security forces, with the U.S. forces who have arrived, with the Canadian forces, with all the other forces. Are they able to do security and aid distribution?

BELLERIVE: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

PREVAL: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Yes?

PREVAL: On behalf of the Haitian people, I thank President Obama and his wife, Michelle. I thank the secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton, and her staff. I think the President Clinton and all the partners, international partners who are helping us. Without their help, it would be impossible for us to cope with the situation.

AMANPOUR: Thank you, Mr. President. And, Mr. Prime Minister...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: ... could I ask you a question now?

BELLERIVE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: Can you estimate the death toll? I heard -- I heard the president say that you believe that you have removed 50,000 bodies from the street. Do you know any better the death toll since the earthquake?

BELLERIVE: Yes. If the official number, the president say 50,000, but the last number that I receive at my office is 72,000 collected by the Haitian services. That doesn't count that one that are collected by MINUSTAH. That doesn't count the one that the people directly buried -- a lot of people buried their families and all that. But the last official count is 72,000 collected bodies.

AMANPOUR: And my final question to you both, do you believe that Haiti will recover and that the world will keep its attention on Haiti?

BELLERIVE: (SPEAKING IN FRENCH)

PREVAL: I take this opportunity for -- to say many thanks to the CNN and all the people in the United States that are mobilizing to help Haiti. Yes, I think that we will make it with the help of the Haitian people, with the help of the international community.

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister...

BELLERIVE: He thanks you.

AMANPOUR: Thank you. I heard him very, very clearly, and so did all our global audience. And I want to thank you both very much. And you know that the whole world is watching.

PREVAL: Thank you, Mrs. Amanpour.

AMANPOUR: Thank you, Mr. Preval. Thank you, Mr. Bellerive.

And next, our "Post-Script." Obviously, more on Haiti. We return to Jacmel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:24:45]

AMANPOUR: And in our "Post-Script" tonight, we leave you with one more look at the devastated town of Jacmel in Haiti. This time, we hear from a local resident. The film student Quesie Jean (ph), whose school, the Cine Institute, has been documenting the effects of the earthquake on the community.

[15:25:00]

We'll check back with Quesie (ph) and her colleagues at the Cine Institute in the days to come to see how the recovery is progressing in what was once the jewel of Haiti.

For more on the disaster, go to amanpour.com, where a member of our team is texting us live updates from Haiti. You can track his reports on our blog.

And that's it for now. Thank you for watching. We'll be back tomorrow with much more. From all of us here, goodbye from New York.

END