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A New Haiti: Rebuilding Efforts
Aired January 24, 2010 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: Today, we're live from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where the international relief effort has shifted its focus to the survivors and there is a miraculous tale of rescue. A man was pulled from the rubble just last night.
I'm Christiane Amanpour. Welcome to our program.
This morning in Haiti, this most religious of countries, thousands of people flocked to church services.
Survivors mourn the loss of their family and friends. And they also gave thanks for those who are still alive. Perhaps they also thanked God for their resilience and their resolve.
And last night, against all odds, a dramatic rescue. A 24-year-old man, Wismond Jean-Pierre, was pulled out of the rubble of a grocery store 11 days after the earthquake struck this city. It was three days his family had said they heard knocking, three days before they were able to get a rescue crew to there and dig him out.
I spoke with the French lieutenant colonel who spearheaded that effort.
AMANPOUR: How do you think that he survived after 11 days? How does a person survive in a hole like that?
LT. COL. CHRISTOPHE RENOU, CHIEF OF OPERATIONS: Actually, after the race (ph) we had a chance to get into the hole and to have a look. And we found out that he had access to cookies, beer and Coke.
AMANPOUR: How is that possible?
RENOU: The building was a grocery shop. And he was a very lucky man, because he fell down on the food side of the grocery shop. And so he had access to food and Coke and beer, so he could drink and eat. That's the main reason why he was in such good condition at the end.
AMANPOUR: Now, you also, as we were saying, pushed this camera in, and you could see him coming out. Describe for us, a little bit, as we replay that video.
RENOU: Actually, we've got the camera which is specifically done to get into small holes so we can see, have contact, voice and image contact with the victim. And with that camera, we can follow the operation and we can monitor what's going on, everything is going well, if the victim is OK. And on the other hand, to have a look and give advice on what to do.
AMANPOUR: So, Jean-Pierre is dehydrated, he's still in hospital, and he won't be released for a few days. But let's look at that video again. I want to highlight a moment from that amazing rescue.
Look at the picture closely, where you can see the flashlight coming up behind Jean-Pierre, the young man who was being rescued. That light is from a young woman, a small-framed member of the French rescue team.
She was sent down the hole to help push Jean-Pierre out. And she was sent in precisely because she was light, small and quite able to get in.
It's just one of the snapshots depicting the bravery of these international rescue workers. And perhaps a snapshot of how, sometimes, horror can turn into something for the future.
And joining me now is the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten.
Thanks very much for joining us.
KENNETH MERTEN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO HAITI: My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: How is this horror, do you think, going to be used to put maybe Haiti back on the track to a better future?
MERTEN: Well, the horror is actually the right word. It's really hard to comprehend unless you come here and see it.
I think the international community is completely committed to helping the Haitians rebuild their country. They're going to need just about everything, starting from zero.
AMANPOUR: So how is the relief effort? Obviously, in the first days, it was very slow, a lot came in, it was hard to get it out to the people who needed it most. Today, we've seen people lined up, waiting for water. Behind me, you can see all these people in their impromptu shanties.
How is the relief effort now?
MERTEN: I think the relief effort is going quite well, considering the logistical and other challenges we've had to deal with. I would actually take issue with the fact that it started off so slowly. Nobody is prepared for these things.
AMANPOUR: But you wouldn't deny that people were desperate for food and water?
MERTEN: Of course people were desperate for food. After an event like this, people always are. And of course I completely understand.
If I were a Haitian here, I would be, frankly, angry at the whole situation I found myself in. But I must say that I think the Haitians are resilient and they're to be applauded for approaching this in a stoic and dignified fashion. But no, I think the international community will come back and help Haiti. I think people realize this place needs to get back up on its feet again.
AMANPOUR: How long is your focus on the emergency before shifting to long term?
MERTEN: I think we haven't really been able to assess all the needs yet. I mean, there are some obvious needs. The government and the Haitian people have been shattered. I think something like 11 out of 13 ministries, the physical buildings, have simply been vaporized. So the needs are great.
AMANPOUR: What about shelter? I mean, again, we keep pointing not just to this one, but impromptu tents and things being put up all over. What about a formal, organized tent village like the UNHCR often does?
MERTEN: This is something we're working on seriously now with our international partners. USAID, OFTA (ph) and others are working to find out.
Obviously, we want to do something that is -- something that the Haitians will like and that they will use and that they will find helpful. We don't want to put them in a place that they don't find helpful or under conditions that they don't find helpful.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about what we've been noticing. We've seen long lines of Haitian. At the one barely functioning administration office, which is the immigration and emigration, people want their passports.
Why? They want to get out? Where do they want to go? To the United States or places beyond. And yet, the U.S. is saying, don't even think about. We will repatriate you, we will deter you.
That's correct, right?
MERTEN: Well, I think the United States is saying that we want people to stay here and help rebuild Haiti. Those who have -- who want to go to the United States, who want to go legally, obviously, we don't have any problem with that.
AMANPOUR: What if they turn up illegally? What if they manage to get across out of desperation? Is there a humane method, a process to deal with them, or are they just be locked up or repatriated to the rubble?
MERTEN: Well, you know, I don't want to talk about what's going to happen in the United States. The fact of the matter is, I've gone on the radio several times here and talked to the Haitian people in French and Creole and explained to them they should stay here. There's going to be a lot of money here, a lot of opportunities here when the time comes to rebuild this country.
The United States will repatriate people on the high seas because it's a dangerous voyage, because we know many thousands of people have lost their lives over the years attempting that. And that's not something we think people should attempt. There's a legal way to seek immigration to the United States, and we're going to encourage people to pursue those avenues.
AMANPOUR: You say a lot of money is coming in. Certainly, there have been lots of pledges and lots of promises from world leaders.
What about the basics of trying to rebuild this city? Port-au-Prince has been, in many places, destroyed. Who is going to, I don't know, move the rubble, rebuild? How is that going to happen? And will the money go to the people themselves to give them jobs?
MERTEN: It's going to be a communal effort. I mean, we're all going to be pitching in, with the Haitians in the lead. We are going to be putting in place some cash for work programs immediately to help people who help themselves and help us clear the streets, clear the rubble, as a way of employing people, immediately, whose jobs may have been destroyed. And so that will be starting immediately. Over the longer term, I think we need to look at getting the same old story, getting investment down here and getting more jobs.
AMANPOUR: Well, you say same old story, but over the long term, aid has actually been shown not to end poverty here. How are you going to do it differently? What has to change to make this not just another, you know, throwing humanitarian aid with no difference?
MERTEN: I completely understand. You know, prior to the earthquake, the Obama administration had been -- led by Secretary Clinton -- had been looking very carefully at how we can approach Haiti in a slightly different fashion to make our assistance program more effective, to have more of an impact to be felt by the Haitian people and the Haitian government.
I think one of the keys is, is to re-empower the Haitian state. I think many international partners had been, in fact, working around the Haitian state, so that state has sort of shriveled up and almost imploded. And I think we've realized that we need a partner here to work with. And that partner is going to be certainly the state.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you perhaps the unthinkable? Will there be another earthquake? Some geologists are saying that this one is not yet spent, that all the energy has not yet been released.
MERTEN: You know, I have not been talking to any seismologists. I'm not equipped in any sense to answer that question.
AMANPOUR: In the 23 years that you've been focused on Haiti -- and this is your third assignment here -- what do you think they need right now so that things don't go back to the status quo?
MERTEN: Well, that's a great question. I think the Haitians need to focus -- once they get beyond this initial, obviously, emergency relief phase and the immediate reconstruction phase, I think they need to focus on, and I think they were focused on prior to the earthquake, on getting jobs here. I think this is a place which benefits from being very close to the United States market. I think you have a population here that's eager to work, and I think...
AMANPOUR: Quality of work is good?
MERTEN: The quality of work is good. I think this is -- was a very good place for investment.
We had a lot of investors who had been coming down following on the visit by President Clinton last year. That was just about to (INAUDIBLE). And then, unfortunately, now we have this tragedy.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Merten, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. And, of course, the Montreal conference, starting tomorrow, is going to perhaps set in motion some of these long-term plans.
AMANPOUR: Thanks so much for joining us.
And next, we have an exclusive interview with the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominque Strauss-Kahn. He made a dramatic call this week for a new Marshall Plan.
That's when we return.
AMANPOUR: The welcomed sounds of life getting back to normal in many parts of Port-au-Prince, even in the shadow of the destruction, young boys, children at outdoor barber stores. There's an art market that's affixed to the wall, and people are looking at it. Obviously, not many buyers right now. And also, the fruits and vegetables and the other things that the Haitians are bringing out and doing and trying to earn a little bit of money for themselves as they try to get through this disaster.
This is a country that is the least developed in the Western Hemisphere. It is one of the poorest in the world.
It is 149th on the list of 177 countries on the U.N. Index of Human Development. And as of last year, Haiti owed $50 million a year just to service its debt, never mind paying off the principal.
There have been many promises made to the long-term recovery of Haiti, many promises and pledges. But does the world have the appetite for that long-term focus on this country?
Here's CNN's Richard Roth.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The rush to save Haiti, food, medical supplies, troops, diplomats, relief workers, and many of these visitors seem likely to stick around. Can you spell "nation- building"?
MAX BOOT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Nation-building is this horrible phrase which, you know, is like rubbing your fingernails against a chalkboard. But, in fact, it's something that we can't avoid.
ROTH: Haiti is the newest candidate.
ANDREW MACK: There are many, many conditions there that make it, I think, going to be incredibly difficult, even with lots of money going in, to have an effective nation-building program.
ROTH: But just what is nation-building?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nation-building, in the American parlance, is reconstruction of failed or failing states, usually in the aftermath of wars.
ROTH: Sounds harmless, but nation-building is a political hot potato.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation-building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation-builders.
ROTH: A few years later, President Bush sent tens of thousands of American troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they're still there, protecting fragile governments and helping to rebuild schools, roads and more.
The current U.S. president does not favor nation-building publicly. On Afghanistan...
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort, one that would commit us to a nation-building project of up to a decade. I reject this course.
ROTH: American intervention didn't work in Somalia, but did in Bosnia and Kosovo. Nation-building-watchers agree on where it worked best...
ANDREW MACK: Germany, without the slightest shadow of doubt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The heart of Europe's foremost seaport is a bombed-out shell.
ROTH: In 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall proposed helping Germany help itself. Today's equivalent of $80 billion poured in.
BOOT: The Marshall Plan and the rebuilding of West Germany after World War II really shows the two key ingredients that you need to have for successful nation-building. One is long-term outside support. You also have to have great leadership on the ground from the inside.
ROTH: 1945 Germany is not Haiti, but it offers useful tips.
MICHELLE WUCKER, WORLD POLICY INSTITUTE: Europeans were very early in the process given a say in what they wanted.
ROTH: These days, nation-building is often a dirty word, but supporters believe.
BOOT: We have to create a functioning state. And guess what? When you create a functioning state, that's nation-building, even though nobody wants to call it that.
ROTH: Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.
AMANPOUR: Right now, this is not a failed state, but it certainly is a fragile one. And to help it become functional, it has to somehow get some help. Even the Haitian government has said that it cannot cope on its own.
None other than the head of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has called for a new Marshall Plan, one for Haiti. He was in Washington on Friday, and I spoke to him in this exclusive interview.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Strauss-kahn, thank you and welcome to this program.
DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN, HEAD OF IMF: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So is that a dramatic call? Why did you decide to say that? Because it's a huge commitment to a Marshall Plan.
STRAUSS-KAHN: Well, you know, the first thing we have to do, immediately, the urgency is to save lives of injured people and people in the street. And that's why the money that can be provided immediately, as we are doing, which will be dispersed in a couple of days, is so necessary. But that's not enough.
The problem is really the long term of Haiti. This island has been hit by the fuel and food prices crisis two years ago. And then one year ago by a hurricane. And now by the earthquake.
And we really need to do something to rebuild the economy. And the question today, as you show in what you showed a few minutes ago, is to rebuild a viable economy with people working and selling. And that's not going to happen alone.
So we need to have the entire international community working together and have something -- I call it a Marshall Plan, you can call it what you want -- that will be big enough to help Haitians to go forward. But as it has been said by one of your people you interviewed, the Haitians have to be in the driver's seat. It cannot be done from outside.
We can provide resources. There must be ownership by the Haitians themselves and especially by the Haitian authorities.
AMANPOUR: Right. But let me ask you this. As you know very well, from all your experience, not just at the IMF, but at the government in France, that the world has a short attention span, that sometimes when the cameras move away, so does the focus. And beyond that, the world seems to be allergic to the idea of nation-building or a Marshall Plan.
Do you actually think that this is going to be different?
STRAUSS-KAHN: Well Christiane, you're very right. And that's the real problem.
As far as you give some images from Haiti, people are moved and they want to do something. And the risk of that in two weeks or three weeks or one month from now, everybody will forget about Haiti.
But that's not possible. And our commitment has to be a long-term commitment. That's why something which that could look like a Marshall Plan. I don't like so much the word of "nation-building," but something which will really be a commitment by the international community, and a long-lasting commitment is something which is necessary.
AMANPOUR: Let me just go quickly to something else you mentioned, the loans. Both the IMF -- you've proposed a $100 billion loan -- has said that that will be interest-free, at least until the end of 2011. The World Bank has said that they will stop or not demand payments on their loan of $38 million for the next five years. But many are calling for debt relief for Haiti.
Why shouldn't Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, have its debt relieved and wiped out?
STRAUSS-KAHN: That's absolutely right. We are not allowed in the IMF to make grants. That's why we make loans.
But for this loan, for instance, there is no repayment which is scheduled before five years from now. And I'm advocating the fact that that in this five years' time, we will have time to build a debt cancellation for Haiti.
It's impossible to ask a country like Haiti to repay debt when they are in the situation we have seen. So it's not only an economic problem now, it's more a humanitarian question and also partly a philosophical problem.
Can the humanity avoid to help a country in such a situation? My answer is no. So we have to help them immediately with what we have as a tool.
The only tool I have is a loan I give them, a loan with no repayment for five years, zero interest rate. That's for immediate need. But then we have to build something stronger and, of course, debt cancellation, in my view, has to be part of it.
AMANPOUR: And do you see how this so-called Marshall Plan, or whatever you want to call it, how it should operate? There is something of a blueprint that's been drawn up by Haiti's government which talks about targeting infrastructure, basic services, agriculture, and things like that.
What is your blueprint, if you could give one, for how this development would be enforced and would operate?
STRAUSS-KAHN: Well, the IMF is in close relationship now with the Haitian authority. And as I told you, they happen to be in the driver's seat.
But we see clearly that Port-au-Prince is really destroyed, and part of the economy has to be rebuilt in the countryside, around the city, where the cities have been hit not as hard as Port-au-Prince. So, rebuilding the economy in the rest of the country is something which needs infrastructure, investment, banks working again, which is not the case today.
So, to go as close as possible to a normal economy. And that has to be done rather rapidly. Of course, it needs a strong international commitment, but I do believe that this is possible.
AMANPOUR: So I was going to ask you, why do you believe that it's possible? Not just the international commitment, but that something will make a difference here? Many people look at Haiti and say, we've been throwing money at this country for decades and look where it is today.
Do you see signs of hope here?
STRAUSS-KAHN: That's right, but that's been kind of a piecemeal approach, where day after day, you have another catastrophe and some money has been proposed and some effort has been made, with some reserve, but then comes another catastrophe. So too much is too much.
Now there's something special with Haiti that we need to take into account, and I think that the conference that's going to take place in the coming days, under the leadership of the U.S., the French, the Canadian, is something which will be very useful. And I hope that the decision can be made not only to have for the immediate needs, but to have for the long term and rebirth of the Haitian economy.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Strauss-Kahn, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us from Washington.
AMANPOUR: So right now, the focus, as you've heard, is really to get these people from hand to mouth.
And right behind me -- you've seen CNN correspondents standing here for the last 12 days -- is the impromptu tent city that has sprung up here. It keeps getting bigger and bigger, and has also spread to right outside the presidential palace, which has collapsed, posing a quandary, because apparently, now, they want to move some 400,000 to 500,000 of these squatters somewhere else, but we don't know where, we don't know how or when that will start. We do know there's an exodus, though, on buses, on cars, bicycles, however they can into the countryside.
Up next, we'll look at Haiti's troubled past.
AMANPOUR: It's hard to believe amidst all this destruction, but for the last few years, Haiti was beginning to turn the corner. It was beginning to show modest signs of progress. But, of course, as we've also been reporting, this earthquake is the latest tragedy to strike Haiti. The country has a long and complicated history, going back more than 200 years.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): In 1804, African slaves in Haiti overthrew their French rulers, creating the world's first black republic. But decades of turmoil followed until American President Woodrow Wilson sent U.S. Marines there in 1915, and that was the start of an occupation that lasted almost 20 years.
The Haitian military then seized power and ruled the country until the dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier declared himself president for life in 1957. His son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc," took over in 1971, but he was ousted 15 years later.
And then, after more instability and unrest, former Catholic priest John-Bertrand Aristide won Haiti's first pre-election in 1990. But his presidency didn't last long. He was overthrown in a military coup a year later. Many Haitians then tried to flee to the United States, but were forced back, and fighting broke out in Haiti.
And then, in 1994, the U.S. sent thousands of troops to maintain order and to restore democracy and Aristide's presidency. But Aristide was overthrown again in 2004. U.N. peacekeepers returned and Haiti was making small, but significant, steps towards progress until the earthquake struck.
AMANPOUR: And for more of this country's history, its economics, its geography and its politics, go to Amanpour.com.
And next, the latest news headlines from around the world.
Plus, the U.N.'s man if charge in Haiti tells us how he's coping after the loss of so many of his colleagues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How difficult is it emotionally? I mean, you lost your head of mission, your deputy head of mission, people in all the departments.
EDMOND MULLET, U.N. ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL: Yes. It's more than 60 of our international staff were killed, plus national staff also. So it's been very difficult to put the mission back on its feet, but it's something we have to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Here, at what was once the U.N. headquarters mission in Haiti, the recovery operation is now over. Right here, this was once a six-story building. It collapsed within seconds of the earthquake striking, and with it went not just the head of mission and all the important departments here, but the brains of the operation, the people with the most experience here in Haiti. The people who could have been deployed immediately to deal with the disaster of the earthquake, wiped out in one fell swoop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to our program, where we are live from Port- au-Prince, Haiti, this week.
The Haitian people, of course, suffered an unspeakable tragedy when the earthquake struck. I sat down with the U.N.'s man in charge now, Edmond Mullet.
AMANPOUR: How difficult is it emotionally? I mean, ,you lost your head of mission, your deputy head of mission, people in all the departments.
MULLET: Yes. It's more than 60 of our international staff were killed, but national staff also. So it's been very difficult to put the mission back on its feet.
AMANPOUR: And a lot of pressure, because there's been a lot of -- obviously the focus on what can the U.N. do, how do you keep order, and most importantly, how do you facilitate the distribution of such vitally needed aid? And there's so many complaints still that it's slow.
MULLET: I know. And also because of the logistics nightmare, because the airport is the only one landing strip.
AMANPOUR: And we're here, and every two seconds we're hearing the planes now.
MULLET: Now, yes. I mean, the Americans have now taken control of the airport. An airport that would have probably 14, 15 flights a day has now more than 160 flights a day. Now it's open 24 hours a day, but we have more than 1,000 flights waiting for slots in order to land.
AMANPOUR: One thousand?
MULLET: Waiting to land in Port-au-Prince all over the world. I got messages today from Beijing and from Moscow and everywhere, people in India, and people trying to send assistance here, but there's no place to land. And the two main ports in Port-au-Prince were also destroyed. The Americans now have brought a floating barge with a floating port, and that will help to bring more assistance.
AMANPOUR: To offload things.
MULLET: That's right.
AMANPOUR: So you think that will speed things up?
MULLET: Absolutely. And now, with the Dominican Republic, they have opened the border completely. I mean, no papers, no documents, no nothing. They've opened a special lane for humanitarian assistance coming from the entire world to the Dominican Republic.
So this is really the lifeline for Haiti right now. So now we're getting all this food and assistance, but we need also how to distribute that. So we don't have enough vehicles. In the beginning, we didn't have enough fuel. But all that is coming together now.
AMANPOUR: What do you need most now to connect all those supplies that are dropping from the sky with the demand out in the cities and the countryside?
MULLET: I need manpower. I need soldiers. And this is what I think the presence of the American troops on the ground is going to be very important, and Canadian troops also, because they're the ones who will be distributing this assistance.
And what we need is cars and trucks and vehicles to reach the people, something that -- and we didn't -- we need fuel also. In the very beginning, we didn't have any fuel. Now we're importing some from the Dominican Republic, but those have been some of the limitations we've had.
AMANPOUR: And how are you getting the trucks?
MULLET: Well, for example, President Clinton, who is the special envoy of the secretary-general for Haiti, called me the other day and he said, "Buddy, what do you need?" And I said, "Mr. President, I need trucks, I need pickups."
"How many?" And I said, "Well, I need 100." "What type?" "Three-ton pickups." "OK, you've got it. I'm going to talk to GM, talk to Ford, talk to my friends, and I'll send them to Miami and SOUTHCOM will send them to you."
AMANPOUR: So the military's going to ship them over here?
MULLET: Yes. I believe -- I mean, President Clinton has done that already, and they're on their way. So this is the kind of generosity and solidarity that we see from many, many people in many countries.
AMANPOUR: What do you think when a lot of pictures, a lot of focus is on some incidences of violence? You know?
MULLET: I think that they have happened, but I think they're very isolated incidents. I think the population in Port-au-Prince and other affected areas have responded in a very responsible way and a very calm way and a very dignified way.
And, true, if a supermarket or a shop is there and people are hungry or thirsty, I mean, they just go in and grab something. But we've had very, very few incidents of violence. Nothing different nor nothing worse than before the earthquake.
AMANPOUR: What is the official death toll? There's so much guesswork and speculation. What is the official death toll?
MULLET: The government is saying now around 113,000, official toll. But we will really never know exactly.
At the very beginning, the first days, I mean, nobody was picking up bodies on the streets, on the roads, everywhere. So many people just were digging, I mean, holes and burying their own people in their own yards, in their own gardens. Many others also took these dead bodies to near the garbage dump site, which was really not really dignified. So what I did is ask our force commander, the Brazilian General, for the Brazilian engineers to dig these...
AMANPOUR: Mass graves.
MULLET: ... mass graves. And we made five of them.
And we've been working with the Red Cross, following the Red Cross protocols, taking pictures of the victims, trying to identify them, keeping records of that. So this is another part that has been done.
But also, as the world has seen, I mean, all these concrete slabs, these houses, buildings are down there. It's going to take years to, I mean, pick up all that. And many bodies are underneath.
AMANPOUR: Well, that is the question. What is going to happen with all -- I mean, what is going to happen with all that rubble that's from here to...
MULLET: Well, what we have to do right now is to put people to work. So UNDP is putting in place this program of food for work and cash for work. We're going to pay $3 daily to these people so they can pick up all the -- I mean, the rubble and the pieces of everything, and they can also participate in the reconstruction of their own country.
AMANPOUR: Is $3 enough?
MULLET: For Haitian standards, I mean, it's already something, because they used to get $1 a day. So now they're going to get $3 a day. But the important thing is for them to, when they get home at night, they have something in their pockets and they can assist their people and feed them. But also, this is related to security, because you keep people busy, et cetera, and this will, I mean, help stabilize the country, I believe.
AMANPOUR: How concerned are you about the future, more earthquakes? This is an earthquake-prone zone.
MULLET: It is. It is. And some experts have been telling us that the movements of the plates that aren't -- it's happening now.
It's not only tremors or earthquakes here, or aftershocks here, but we have them all over the region now. And this slippage of the plates could continue. So this is a risk, this is a problem that we have to assess and be aware of.
I mean, it's not the end of it. It might happen again.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Mullet, thank you very much, indeed.
MULLET: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And for more, go to our Facebook page, where we're filing status updates every day.
And coming up next, we will have an interview with one of Haiti's leading novelists.
And first, we want to look at all the people who are trying to get out of Haiti. Will there be a mass exodus as people try to escape what's becoming very, very harsh conditions for them?
More when we return.
AMANPOUR: Here in Haiti, many survivors are clamoring for passports now so that they can leave the country. Many of them are the better educated and the better off. But the U.S. says that it will turn back any Haitians who try to enter without visas.
Many are already living in the U.S. illegally, and they are being allowed to stay by the U.S. government for now.
CNN's Ed Lavandera reports on the immigration story from Miami.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the frenzy inside a Catholic church inside the heart of Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood. Thousands of Haitian immigrants, many in the United States illegally, are applying for what's called Temporary Protective Status, or TPS. It allows Haitian nationals to live in the U.S. legally for the next 18 months.
For years, Haitian-Americans lobbied for TPS, but many advocates now see an opportunity to make bigger changes, to ease years of immigration restrictions toward Haitians coming to the United States.
IRVIN DAPHNIS, HAITIAN LAWYERS ASSOCIATION: This now is an opportunity for Haiti to change.
LAVANDERA: Horrifying images like these have been common in the ocean waters between the United States and Haiti. It's a dangerous and deadly journey for many who try to make it to American shores. Every year U.S. Coast Guard officials say about 1,600 Haitians are stopped on the high seas and sent back home.
Irvin Daphnis (ph), with the Haitian Lawyers Association in Miami, says if more Haitians could work legally in the U.S., it would help their country recover from decades of poverty and corruption back home.
IRVIN DAPHNIS (ph), HAITIAN LAWYERS ASSOCIATION IN MIAMI: Haitians are going to be able to be in a position financially to help Haiti themselves.
LAVANDERA (on camera): When the Obama administration approved temporary protective status for Haitians already in the U.S. before the earthquakes, it was expected that some 30,000 people would apply. But immigration officials now say that number could top 200,000.
(voice-over): U.S. officials have been quick to temper any hopes of vast changes in immigration laws towards Haitians, who may now try to come to the United States.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are not going to be accepting into the United States Haitians who are attempting to make it to our shores. They will be interdicted. They will be repatriated.
LAVANDERA: U.S. officials say emergency plans are in place to handle a mass exodus of Haitians fleeing the earthquake-ravaged Haiti. But so far, there have been no signs of Haitians jumping on boats.
LT. CHRIS O'NEILL, U.S. COAST GUARD: It's very, very dangerous and dynamic. And I can't stress enough how important it is for people in Haiti to stay home, stay safe, help rebuild your country. And we'll help you rebuild it.
LAVANDERA: But many Haitian-Americans say help rebuilding should include opening more doors to their beleaguered countrymen.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Miami.
AMANPOUR: And joining me now from Miami is a leading Haitian-American novelist, Edwidge Danticat.
Welcome to the program, Ms. Danticat.
And I just want to ask you, you have left to the United States for a long time ago, you've left family here. Did you lose anybody in this earthquake?
EDWIDGE DANTICAT, AUTHOR: We did lose a cousin and his son and other family that we still haven't heard of. But we got more -- more survived than we lost. So we're very thrilled about that.
AMANPOUR: And what about this immigration story? We have seen and we've been outside the offices here where people are trying to get passports. What concerns you and the Haitian diaspora about it?
DANTICAT: Well, we -- living, especially in Miami, where the immigration policy here has not favored Haitians, necessarily, there has always been a sort of double standard with -- Haitians, if they get here, are usually detained. And we're hoping that in this moment of crisis, that this won't be the case, that if someone is able to get here against all the odds and the obstacles, that they will be allowed to actually position themselves to present a case where they can actually remain here and become productive citizens.
AMANPOUR: And you've heard, of course, the secretary of state say that that won't be the case. You heard, perhaps, my interview with the ambassador, who said that won't be the case. They don't want them to risk their lives, they say, on the high seas.
Do you not agree that it's very dangerous to try to get in illegally?
DANTICAT: It is very dangerous, and I think the people -- it shows the desperation when people attempt it.
Now, the perception is that there is a big exodus, but if we look back, for example, when there were those four storms in Haiti last year, there was no exodus. And of course this is a very different and unheard of before situation, but this notion that everyone is going to get out is not necessarily true.
Now, we also have people who have applications waiting. We would love to see those expedited so that people who are already in the process can come. But it would be great, also, if the United States could show the same kindness it has shown to other people after these tragedies and allow certain possibilities that perhaps didn't exist before the tragedy, like Honduras after Hurricane Georges and other things. The TPS is going in the right direction, but we need also more opportunities.
AMANPOUR: Ms. Danticat, you, yourself, have an experience with -- I think your uncle was trying to get out of Haiti some four years ago. What happened to him?
DANTICAT: Well, he came to Miami, and at the airport was detained, because that is the policy, particularly for Haitian immigrants. When they come, if they ask for asylum, they are detained immediately.
And he was an 81-year-old minister, and he was detained. And he died in the custody of the immigration service.
Now, his son, my cousin, Maxa (ph), who was with him, is one of the victims of the hurricane. He was the head of his family. And this is someone who is now lost.
Now, my particular story, I think, is one of so many. And this is what this week, as we go from people being rescued and being saved, we're looking to the next stage of rebuilding, is that's the -- for people here, the immigration story is a very big part of it.
AMANPOUR: So, just to be clear, how did your uncle die?
DANTICAT: He died -- he was detained by the Department of Homeland Security and his medication was taken away, and he died in their custody.
AMANPOUR: What recourse was there to that? How did you pursue that?
DANTICAT: Well, there was really no recourse. There was an investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security declared itself innocent of everything, so there was nothing really that could be done.
But I'm not -- mine is not the only story like that. There are so many families in the same situation. And we're trying to avoid, in the wake of this disaster, other stories like that. And that's why I think it's important to have a humane policy, that if people do get past all these obstacles and make it here, that they're treated humanely, especially after all that they've suffered.
AMANPOUR: Edwidge Danticat, thank you so much for joining us from Miami.
And next, our "PostScript." We'll be right back.
AMANPOUR: Now our "PostScript."
This program will be live from Haiti all week on CNN International, continuing to focus on the emergency and the growing discussion about the obligation to help this ravaged country long term develop.
Thank you for watching. Please join us on TV and on the Web all week.
Good-bye for now from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.