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Christiane Travels to the Southern Haitian Town of Jacmel

Aired January 25, 2010 - 15:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, as foreign ministers meet in Canada to map out strategy for Haiti, we go to a badly damaged town on the southern coast that could be a cornerstone for recovery.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour. Welcome to our program, live from Haiti.

Almost two weeks after the earthquake, we're seeing the first pictures now inside the ruins of the presidential palace, while the government continues to face questions about its legitimacy. At the flattened Montana Hotel, Mexican rescue workers are still searching for survivors, even though the official rescue operation has been called off.

And as many victims are being buried in mass graves, the difficult task of disposing of bodies continues. The U.N. is paying people $3 a day to go and collect bodies from the rubble, and some private citizens are even having to bring body bags. Some bodies are having to be burned right where they land.

And nearly 2,000 miles away, in Montreal, Canada, foreign ministers today are discussing the country's long-term future. The Haitian prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, there said that the aid effort has only just begun.


JEAN-MAX BELLERIVE, HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I can simply tell you that the population is in need of more and more and more to confront the massive task of reconstruction.


AMANPOUR: As Canada hosts the reconstruction conference, the Canadian military is leading the aid effort in the Haitian town of Jacmel. It was severely damaged in the earthquake, and it's separated from the capital, Port-au-Prince, by a mountain range. And because of the landslides, aid couldn't get there by road.

But we just traveled there to see how the Canadians are managing.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Jacmel's tiny airport -- just a landing strip, really -- is suddenly the logistical hub for the international airlift to southern Haiti. The Canadian air force has been running it since last week, bringing in French rescue helicopters, supplies from the U.S. Navy, and even squeezing in the old Hercules workhouse, bouncing to a hard halt on the short runway.

MAJOR KEVIN SKIRROW, CANADIAN AIR FORCE: We have 330 feet for them to come in, but all of our air crew pilots are very highly trained.

AMANPOUR: Major Kevin Skirrow's in charge here. Their best day saw in 80 flights.

(on-screen): How difficult is it, getting big aircraft like this behind you in?

SKIRROW: How difficult?


SKIRROW: We were -- we were able to clear out some trees. We had some permission from the local authorities to clear the approach path.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Once down, water, food, medical supplies are offloaded, yes, and even checked by a Haitian customs official, and then aided by Haitian boy scouts, put on trucks, and driven here to the house of American evangelical group Joy in Hope.

Michael Regal (ph) explains they're trying to speed these basic supplies to the people: military rations, MREs from the U.S. Navy, and water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got about 5,000 gallons of drinkable, potable water right now. And we've emptied this room twice.

AMANPOUR: Nearby, trucks from the U.N.'s World Food Programme deliver rations to a tent city that sprung up in Jacmel's soccer stadium. Women wait with their babies for high protein powder.

While back at the jetty, the Canadian army has set up a small emergency medical clinic in the shadow of destroyed buildings. Now they've seen the scale of the disaster here, they're already ramping up their presence.

L. COL. BRUCE EWING, COMMANDER, CANADIAN FORCES, JACMEL: So instead of about 200 personnel, we're sending in up to 2,000, with a lot of them going up to Leogan (ph), where it was the epicenter of the -- the earthquake.

AMANPOUR: Today, a Canadian reverse osmosis water purification system is set up at the jetty, and the Canadian ship Halifax patrols Jacmel's coast. But it is this Caribbean coast and beautiful beaches that hold the most hope for the future, this unique 19th century architecture, and Jacmel's status as Haiti's cultural capital that the people and the government already hope to rebuild into a thriving tourist destination so that, in the future, it's paragliders and not army helicopters that will be flying from these beaches and pleasure yachts, not relief-laden warships, that will be docking at the jetty.



AMANPOUR: Tourism was one of the main pillars of the Haitian economy, as you can see from these photos of Jacmel. The town was known as the jewel of Haiti, famous for its carnival and its street life, right there on the Caribbean coast.

And joining me now here in Port-au-Prince, the president of the Haiti Tourism Association, Pierre Chauvet.

Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: It might sound strange to be talking about reviving tourism right now, but as you look to the future, how are you going to do this? And can you do it?

CHAUVET: Yes, we can do it, because, you know, Haiti is not Port-au- Prince alone. Some part of Haiti has been hit by the earthquake, Port-au- Prince, Jacmel, and we figure about 20 percent of the landmass of Haiti has been affected.

Yet the other areas of Haiti will be there to sustain the rest of the country in the future with tourism, which is a very decentralized industry.

AMANPOUR: Why do you think people would be attracted to Haiti in the first place, even to a Caribbean coast?

CHAUVET: Well, because for all I have done about Haiti's tourism, Haiti's motto has been it's a unique destination.

AMANPOUR: It's a unique destination?

CHAUVET: Haiti is unique.

AMANPOUR: In what way for, let's say, tourists coming from -- from the United States? And by the way, something like 500,000 tourists have been coming here each year in recent years. Is that correct?

CHAUVET: Correct. And they're mostly going to the (inaudible) Labadee, in the north coast of Cap-Haitien. And I take this opportunity to really thank Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise, who have maintained their calls at Labadee, because the jobs created by these calls are really helping the Cap-Haitien economy, and they're also helping the rest of the country with this income.

AMANPOUR: Well, you -- you -- you put your finger on this controversial issue before I could get to it. Many people have said, how is it decent for these mega cruises to come and offload sunbathers and jet- skiers while the rest of the country is trying to survive an earthquake? But you say, no, they should keep coming.

CHAUVET: They should keep coming, because it creates jobs. It creates taxes for the government. It creates dollar income that we need. And a lot of families in Port-au-Prince have gone to their relatives in Cap-Haitien. And they need this income to maintain their survival.

AMANPOUR: But let's try to -- let me just push you a little bit on that. Apparently, Haiti makes only about $6 per -- per head per day off of these tourists who come onboard. It's not like they're actually contributing much to the Haitian economy because it's all fed and eaten on board.

CHAUVET: Well, the tax has been raised to $10 recently when they built a new pier last year, when (inaudible) came. But (inaudible) the people also buy a lot of souvenirs. A lot of arts and craft being sold in Labadee, as a matter of fact, much of it from Jacmel. So the whole of Haiti benefit from these tourism dollars.

AMANPOUR: So now you are in the -- in the private sector when it comes to tourism. One of the big stories before the earthquake was that this country had signed an agreement with two leading hotel chains. Tell me about it.

CHAUVET: Yes. We're very proud to know that two hotels, mostly in the Jacmel area, have signed with hotel chains for -- to be like franchise. And as a matter of fact, one of them is still standing. The Cap Lamand (ph) hotel is still operating in Jacmel. And hopefully, the new construction will also prevail (ph).

AMANPOUR: So depending on what they come out of various donors conferences, various billions, maybe, being promised to Haiti, how much do you think it will take to reconstruct the tourism industry? How long?

CHAUVET: It depends where. For instance, we have different touristic poles in Haiti, touristic zones. What we call the Cote-de-Sarcade (ph), which is about 300 rooms by the beach, has not been affected. As a matter of fact, they're ready to play their part and be housing for all the support we're getting, for the medical support so they could be used for housing (inaudible) have not been affected, as well as the mountain resorts we have.

So it's not (inaudible) Port-au-Prince area that has been affected (inaudible) suburb of Port-au-Prince, some hotels have been affected, but the (inaudible) should be operating in about three months, and Villa Creole (ph) is operating, as well as some of the hotels.

AMANPOUR: And how do you think this tourism -- do you think enough of it can be revived and even improved to really be a pillar for the Haitian economy?

CHAUVET: The tourism industry, you know, a logistical industry. We do provide transport. We do provide accommodation, as well as food. So all that is needed now -- we need accommodation for the doctors so they can be used at -- in the hotels, they can be fed by the hotels. When the restaurants, members of the associations, they want to play their part. And the rest of the country is ready to serve.

AMANPOUR: I think people who've been looking at this disaster since January 12th and thinking that this is a major emergency situation -- which, of course, it is right now -- but not many people know that, over the last few years, Haiti was beginning to show some signs of progress. Tell me about what the tourism industry had seen in terms of international investors. What was the situation before the earthquake struck?


CHAUVET: Well, the tourism (inaudible) as a whole (inaudible) been affected for the past few years (inaudible) political unrest. But for the past 12 months (inaudible) that there was a lot of support to -- so that the tourism could go back the way it was before, mostly from the U.S. side.

But from the European side, there has always been an interest, as well as from Asia, where always we see people coming through the D.R. to Haiti to visit our cultural and historical (inaudible) lots of visits from Asia, Japan, Taiwan and China, in the Caribbean tours that they have.

So recently (inaudible) our industry is maybe the only one that has a plan. There is a tourism master plan. And we're working hand in hand with the ministry of tourism to have it implemented. And this...

AMANPOUR: What is the master plan?

CHAUVET: The master plan is about (inaudible) different zones in Haiti. So there are seven zones that have tourism potential. So when I talk about (inaudible) that's a zone. When I talk about (inaudible) in the northern part of Haiti, like where Labadee is (inaudible) that's a different zone.

AMANPOUR: How are you going to -- as you know, P.R. is as much important as the -- the physical attributes of the country -- how are you going to sell this country as a tourism destination that is not just one that comes in on cruise liners, something that really can give even more investment and visitors?

CHAUVET: Our cultural and historically uniqueness. Haiti is really a different -- has always been a different island in the Caribbean. We have a unique history, a unique form of art, and it has always attracted a very high level of tourism.

AMANPOUR: And how are you going to get it really up to speed? I mean, right next door, sharing the same island, Dominican Republic has got a multibillion-dollar-a-year tourism industry. Before the earthquake hit, yours was about $50 million. How do you think and do you think you can catch up?

CHAUVET: We can. As well, in fact, we're getting lots of support from the Dominican tourism industry, sending lots of relief to Haiti, lots of friends there, and we appreciate their support. And also in the past, we always had programs combining the two countries.

So (inaudible) in the roundtrip within the whole island of Hispaniola visiting two countries on the same voyage. So this will also be part of the future of the tourism in Haiti.

AMANPOUR: All right. Pierre Chauvet, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.

CHAUVET: Thank you a lot.

AMANPOUR: And as we continue this program, to see the difference in Jacmel, which we were just focusing on, between now and when the earthquake first struck, go to, where we have a video that was shot just hours after the disaster.

And next, while many talk of a Marshall Plan, whose responsibility is it to lead the reconstruction effort for Haiti? We'll be talking to a regional leader who's at the international conference in Montreal right now.




HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: As part of our multilateral efforts to assist Haiti, we should look at how we decentralize economic opportunity and work with the Haitian government and people to support resettlement, which they are doing on their own as people leave Port-au- Prince and return to the countryside from which most of them came.


AMANPOUR: The U.S. secretary of state, along with foreign ministers and other international officials in Montreal say that the Haiti conference is only a beginning. So will it generate enough momentum to get the country back on its feet?


Joining me now, live from Montreal, Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim. His country leads the United Nations peacekeeping force here in Haiti.

Welcome to our program, Mr. Amorim.


AMANPOUR: Can you tell me, sir, what has the Haitian government asked, if anything, of the international donors and officials like yourself?

AMORIM: Well, I think the full assessment of what's needed is still to be done. Of course, we know now for the emergency that we need a lot of water, food, tents for giving shelter to people, but, of course, the full assessment has to be done. And that's why we are having donors' conference probably towards the end of March. And I think that's the moment when we can see not only what's needed for the emergency, but also for the reconstruction.

AMANPOUR: Where will that donors' conference be held in the end of March?

AMORIM: You ask where? Well, I think it will be New York, but this is still -- the conference is still going on as I talk to you, so maybe there's a change, but that's what I think.

AMANPOUR: And can you confirm that the Haitian minister, as reports indicated, has asked for some $3 billion for reconstruction?

AMORIM: Well, I have not heard the -- I have not heard the number (inaudible) but it would not surprise me, because, of course, if you think of the needs that Haiti has -- you are in Haiti, right, so you have seen the total destruction of the capital. You see also things that were needed even before the earthquake happened, I mean, the total disorganized way in which the urbanization took place.

And, of course, they need also to structure help for -- for Haiti so that it can also be productively inserted into the international economy, not depend purely on foreign aid. That requires many things, capacity- building, opening of markets, and we, as Brazil, are ready to do that, as we have shown with our troops, the loss of life that we had, but we are even more committed. Just today, the Brazilian congress approved almost to double the number of troops that we'll have in Haiti.

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you, when you were here, you talked about doubling Haiti's -- rather, doubling your country, Brazil's, financial aid to Haiti. Today, I spoke with one of the leaders of the Haitian -- the leader of the manufacturing industry here, who said that, for instance, it would take $25 million of soft loans right now to for sure get the garment industry back on its feet. Will you -- will anybody provide that right now?

AMORIM: Well, I think the World Bank was here, the -- the Inter- American Bank was here. This money that you're mentioning is peanuts for the World Bank, I would say. The most important thing is to guarantee markets, because if you guarantee markets, then the entrepreneurs will come.

And we have offered to do on a reciprocal basis with the United States to give free access, free of quotas, free of tariffs, and with favored rules of origin so that the garments can be produced in Haiti and sent to Brazil and sent to the United States.

AMANPOUR: So you've talked about and you said Haiti is the world's responsibility. What do you mean by that?

AMORIM: Well, I mean by that more or less what all the people during the Enlightenment (ph) thought about Lisbon, with the difference now that we live in a globalized world and we cannot -- we cannot endure, we cannot see a disaster of the size of Haiti, with the poverty that exists in Haiti, and not do anything.

You know, people have long thought of security and development as two different things, but Haiti is a case in point in which, if you don't act for development, for emergency now and development immediately, you'll be having an enormous security problem. We want to avoid that, not only for our sake as for the sake of the continent or -- or of the world, but for the sake of the Haitian people.

AMANPOUR: You are obviously a key regional leader. You have a huge involvement here, not just with the U.N. forces, but with other investments here. Do you not think that either yourself or perhaps Canada, some country needs to take the lead or some sort of institution needs to be able to -- to sort of coordinate a recovery fund?

AMORIM: Well, the one institution to do that is the United Nations. And if you are in Haiti, you can see the work, for instance, of the UNDP in having money for -- for -- for jobs, for work, which is already putting movement to the Haitian economy.

One of the things that surprised me when I was there on Saturday was not only to see the disaster -- which, of course, was shocking -- and the destruction and the misery, which I knew before the disaster even, but also the fact that the Haitian economy starts already to work.

I mean, you see street markets, you see people going around, and that's precisely because this money for jobs is taking place. So this is the immediate thing.


But in the medium -- medium term, you have to support industry, you have to support agriculture, you have to re-forest Haiti. I mean, we speak a lot about climate change. Why not to think on micro-climate and make a big program, financed by the World Bank and others, to re-forest Haiti, as it should be?

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you this. Today, the prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, said that Haiti is ready to take the leadership of this reconstruction. But many people, business leaders who I've spoken to, have said that there's no way right now that it can do that because of how it itself has been devastated.

AMORIM: Well...

AMANPOUR: What do you think actually needs to be done? Because I know there's a lot of sensitive talk about Haiti being in the lead. But -- but many are saying that, actually, you know, they really need to be -- to be led.

AMORIM: Well, Christiane, you have been in several places. Haiti is not Kosovo at that time. It is not -- it's not Afghanistan. Haiti -- some time ago -- Haiti is a country that has an elected government. You have to distinguish between the government, which has to have the lead, and the administration machinery. These have to be reconstructed, and these need the support of the international community.

So what we cannot lose sight of is the central role of the elected leaders of Haiti. Well, to help them with -- with the cadres, with the administration, this is our task, but following their priorities. That's what we have to do.

AMANPOUR: You know, a lot of people are asking, where is our government? Clearly, everybody knows that the presidential palace, many of the ministries were destroyed, and that now they're regrouped in that police headquarters near the airport. What would you advise in terms of public reach-out to the people, the Haitian government, if you could right now?

AMORIM: Well, I think the government, in spite of all the difficulties, should appear more to the people. I think it is important, because, after all, they are the ones who transmit the needs of the Haitian people to us, to the international community.

Of course, you have seen they are now -- the presidential palace, if you could call that way, or the prime minister's palace is a small place, police station near the airport. I think immediately we have to give better conditions for them to operate, even physical conditions, I don't know, maybe provisional.

And in the meantime, also help reconstruct the national symbols. I think this is very important so that the Haitian people feel also not only that they are receiving food and water, but also they are recovering their self-esteem.

AMANPOUR: And, finally, how does the world ensure that all the money that is put in, in the past doesn't sort of end up like it has, really not ending poverty, and just being good money thrown down in many, many occasions, down a well? How do you rethink your attitude as an international community to reconstruction, rebuilding, and permanent development?

AMORIM: Well, we have many projects, for instance, Brazil and Haiti. And we work in coordination with the World Bank. We work in coordination with a UNDP, for instance, on a very important program that we have together with India and South Africa for the collection of solid residue, which is then transformed into fuel. So -- and this is part of something that the UNDP now has adopted.

Of course, these are very concrete projects, so in a way, you can -- executing them is controlling them. It's not just giving money to the -- to the Haitian authorities. Of course they need money also for budgetary support, but I believe nowadays we have developed ways of having a good oversight of that.

And, believe me, in these five or six years that we have been deeply involved in Haiti, we don't think that this is a major problem. Of course, everyone wants to be sure where the money goes, but I don't think this is a major problem. The real question is really to have the money to have good projects and to conduct it properly together with the Haitian authorities. And the...


AMANPOUR: And how can Haiti be...

AMORIM: ... provided they also work in -- yes, please. Please.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us from Montreal, Canada. Thank you.

AMORIM: Thank you. Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: And to see more of how relief is being distributed in Haiti, go to our Web site, An interactive map shows where aid, shelter and supplies are right now.

And next, our "Post-Script." A strong message today from Haiti: Production back online. We'll explain when we return.



AMANPOUR: Now our "Post-Script." You're just looking at a live picture of the tent city behind us and some of the kids there, some of the laundry, some of the subsistence survival that's going on. But there's another story, as well, in Haiti. And this week, we're examining the long- term prospects for recovery. It's all -- all already showing positive signals before the earthquake, for instance, in the garment industry.

We found a factory that's already back in production. And tomorrow, we'll explain how this can be come the backbone of an economic revival here in Haiti.

For now, that's it for our report. Thanks for watching. We'll be live in Haiti all week, and we'll continue our focus on the international effort to help this devastated country. Goodbye from Port-au-Prince.