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Coronavirus Death Toll in the U.S. Passes 58,000; U.S. Economy Shrinks by 5 Percent; Former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D-ND), is Interviewed About Deaths and Economy in the U.S.; Farm Communities Failing in U.K.; Tourist Destinations Faces Challenges During Pandemic; Interview With Chef Eric Ripert; Interview With Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley; Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 29, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Coronavirus has now killed more Americans than were killed over two decades in the Vietnam War, while the economy shrinks for the first time in six
years. Former Democratic senator, Heidi Heitkamp, on the struggle facing small, rural businesses.
And we look at farm communities falling on hard times here in the U.K.
Plus, the untold stories of coronavirus around the world, the prime minister of Barbados tells us about the unique challenges facing her small
island holiday destination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC RIPERT, CHEF: What I really, really strive for is to think about others and try to make a difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Restaurants are among the hardest hit businesses. Michelin starred chef, Eric Ripert, tells our Michel Martin about closing his own
doors an helping out those in need.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
The coronavirus pandemic is more deadly for Americans than the Vietnam War as the death toll passes 58,000. And now, perhaps unsurprisingly, news that
the U.S. economy has shrunk for the first time in almost six years by nearly 5 percent. This follows China's economy contracting for the first
time in nearly half a century. And when that happens to the two biggest economies, the whole world feels it. Including many small businesses across
America which employ half the country's private workforce. This week, the U.S. government reopened the pipeline for small business loans but there
are reports of delays and problems with the approval process.
My first guest is the American business woman and former Democratic senator, Heidi Heitkamp. She has years of experience working with rural
communities and local businesses in the conservative state of North Dakota and is the co-founder of the One Country Project, which is dedicated to
developing America's rural areas. She is joining me now from her home in Mandan, North Dakota.
Welcome to the program, Senator Heitkamp.
Can I start by asking you this phenomenally -- I mean, gee whiz terrible figure, that it took two decades for that number of Americans to be killed
in war at Vietnam, and just 11 weeks for that number to pass. And it may be the tip of the iceberg because we don't know the full death toll anywhere.
Just your reaction to this.
FMR. SEN. HEIDI HEITKAMP, (D-ND): I think it's tragic because many people believe it was avoidable with the right kind of early action. And so, I
think many Americans and certainly those of us in North Dakota who have lost a loved one will have time to mourn finally together when we decrease
our social distancing but also, we'll have time to reflect, was this preventable. And I think everyone is shocked by the numbers. You know,
there's a constant comparison with this as the regular flu. COVID-19 death toll compared to the regular flu.
We have to remember that this has happened to our communities and to our country in less than two months. And so, the tragedy also arguably is being
understated because we see massive increases in the rate of death that aren't attributed right now to COVID-19.
AMANPOUR: Right. That seems to be happening in a number of countries, including this one where I am in the U.K. But let me ask you because, you
know, you say that it was preventable. But as you know, the president and his people are constantly standing up saying, no, we did everything right
and this is a success story, including Jared Kushner, the president's son- in-law, his adviser on many things including the management of this crisis. And he said this morning that all the milestones that we wanted to reach
have been reached and this is a success story. Just react to that.
HEITKAMP: Well, I think that I can't react the way I would have. I lost a loved one or a grandparent to this. But I think it is incredibly tone deaf
about what's happening in this country to say that we have been successful. We only need to look to South Korea which had its first case diagnosed --
known case diagnosed the same day that the United States of America has and they were arguably much better at bending the curve and protecting their
And so, I think we will have plenty of time, hindsight is 20/20 always. But I think, right now, no one in the United States government should be
bragging about the results that we're now experiencing given the death toll and the number of cases that we have of COVID-19.
AMANPOUR: And yet, they do brag, Senator. Certainly, the president brags every day about what a great job that they're doing. And it is remarkable
how few politicians, obviously, considering the seriousness of pandemic are willing to say the emperor has no clothes. It took a journalist yesterday
in the White House to ask the president the following question about the results of his leadership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLIVIA NUZZI, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: If an American president loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died in the entirety of the
Vietnam War, does he deserve to be re-elected?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes. We have lost a lot of people but if you look at what original projections were, 2.2 million, we're probably heading
to 60,000, 70,000, it's far too many. One person is too many for this. And I think we have made a lot of really good decisions. The big decision was
closing the border or doing the ban. People coming in from China, obviously, other than American citizens which had to come in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that will be the president's and his people's rational, we did the right thing, we took the big decisions, we closed flights from
China. Is that enough? Do you buy that rational? Because that is the rational from the administration.
HEITKAMP: Absolutely not. I don't disagree with the president that people who were living in China, American citizens, needed to come back in. But if
he was aware of the challenge, why didn't he quarantine those people as they were coming in? All you had to do -- when he announced the ban on
European travel, you have the pictures and all of America saw literally people standing shoulder to shoulder trying to get through our customs,
many of whom came in without any testing.
And so -- I mean, we will have time to go back and take a look. But I think what America's going to remember is that these little flimsy but important
PPE masks that we count on to change every doctor changes before the next patient, we didn't even have enough of those in the United States of
America. And so, clearly our supply chain broke down in terms of having pandemic supplies. The president failed to continue the work that was done
by previous administrations on pandemic planning. And the president himself has not been consistent in delivering a message.
And you see this in the polling. I don't think people are going to change their mind between now and a month from now regarding the presidential
actions as it relates to his handling of COVID. Now, with that said, we should always be looking forward. We should always be looking at what do we
need to do right now for both our economy and for our health care system and how do we get back up on our feet both health-wise and economically.
But let's not let people rewrite history in real-time. This president's trying to rewrite history and I don't think the people are going to buy it.
AMANPOUR: You know, you say now may not be the time to have some of these, you know, discussions. But, you know, now is the time of life and death.
And I'm going to come back to that in a minute. But I first want to first ask you about the big issue of small businesses and that's clearly
something that you're very, very, you know, concerned about, you're working on rural communities.
There's been all these, you know, different bills passed in Congress, nearly or more than $3 trillion. And yet, small businesses are still being
kind of left out in the cold. I mean, there's money directed to them but they're having a really, really hard time still accessing that money. And
some of the bigger businesses, publicly traded on the stock market are getting some of that money.
Can you just figure out for those business people and those listening to this why their money is blocked in this pipeline?
HEITKAMP: I think part of this has to do with distribution. The government could have basically taken a look at all the -- what's called a 940, which
is a form you file if you have employees as a business and said, can we directly help you? They went through banks and there's been reports, yet
unconfirmed, that the larger banks basically went to the bigger customers, the customers that they wanted to hang on to and basically put them in the
front of the queue, put them first in line for these dollars.
But I think there's something underlying all of this. And yes, there are businesses who can't get these loans but then there are businesses who are
saying, am I ever really going to reopen? I was living kind of hand to mouth. I was doing OK month to month, especially for restaurant businesses.
Not those that are Michelin rated. But the Moms and Pops who run the diner in towns like Harrington and say, you know, is this something -- am I going
to take on the responsibility of spreading the virus? Am I really going to continue to work 12-hour days only to see my equity disappear in one crisis
And so, there's a measurement that people look at in this country, it's the consumer sentiment measurement. And that measurement has taken the largest
percentage dive in the history of actually keeping track, that's University of Michigan's measurement. And so, if you're a small business, are you
really going to have customers if you do reopen? And are you just going to say, I'm done?
AMANPOUR: Yes. What are you saying, Senator, that some of the businesses are just going to, you know, close forever and kind of maybe they don't
need this money that's being put for them or what exactly are you saying? In other words, what's the recourse for these small businesses to get the
money as opposed to the bigger ones getting it?
HEITKAMP: You know, there's small business and then there's --
AMANPOUR: Their money.
HEITKAMP: -- (INAUDIBLE) right? So, let's talk about that small manufacturing concern, that's part of a supply chain for Boeing. And
everybody thinks Boeing manufacturers, all these parts themselves. Boeing is a huge contributor to small business because they basically buy their
parts and most of their inputs on planes from smaller businesses.
Those businesses are looking at the airline industry and saying, is this really something that I can still take risk and now reinvest with some
additional dollars, not just those dollars that would keep my employees going, but the dollars that I need for inventory which aren't covered by
PPP? And so, there's those business concerns and they're thinking about their inventory, they're thinking about a lot of the things going forward,
the age of their workforce saying, is it worth it?
I think you've got the small businesses that really are the heart of rural America, those small cafes, restaurants, hair salons, dry cleaners who are
never going to recapture the lost revenue. And so, I think that when you go back and take a look, this is going to be a lot more complicated than
simply not having access to the Payroll Protection Plan dollars. And we're going to see what kind of small business survives all of this.
Now, understand this. When you look at 2019, we already saw a decrease in the number of new businesses being started in this country. So, small
business has been struggling for quite a while in spite of the president's claim that it's a greatest economy in the history of the world.
AMANPOUR: So, what do you see coming out of this for the area that you're most particularly concerned about, rural communities, farm communities? You
know, you're the farm belt, the rust belt over there. You know, we see and we hear all these stories of -- I mean, you know, many, many vitally needed
hospitals around rural America being closed down.
When you consider the economy shrinking, we have said for the first time, you know, in six years but it's the biggest, most huge, most severe
contraction in about 12 years, what is going to happen to that part of America where you are?
HEITKAMP: Well, let's take a look at the decrease, the first quarter decrease in GDP in the United States. Half of it was driven by health care.
When you go back and you take a look at the level of private employment in rural areas, it's driven by health care. So, it shouldn't surprise us that
as health care struggles, so will rural America employment and rural America struggle.
And when you can't do elective procedures, when people are afraid to go to the doctor, when there isn't enough work force to basically respond to
health care needs, you're going to have rural health care in crisis, which it has been for a number of years now and now, this has added to the
difficulties. But also, the baseline economy for many of my counties in North Dakota is agriculture. And agriculture was struggling before this,
driven in part by what some people think was a misguided trade war with China. But agriculture's been struggling for a long time.
And now, we see even the parts that were trying to recover like dairy and livestock really seeing rock bottom prices and seeing supply chains
disruptions that could in fact bankrupt many, many farm producers and that's going to have a ripple effect through entire ag economy here and
entire rural economy. So, our two big industries, agriculture and health care, have been hit the hardest in this pandemic but they also were
struggling before the pandemic happened.
AMANPOUR: So, let's take, you know, another part of the food chain. The president has said that, you know, he invoked an executive order to allow
meat processing plants to start up again. Some say, you know, to remove the liability by the owners. But there's a whole controversy brewing in the
U.S. in the wake of that now. Some saying that their workers won't go to the plants even if they are ordered or allowed to reopen.
What are you -- I mean, what is your take on that? Because clearly that's a big part of American agricultural economy, as well.
HEITKAMP: I think that workers want to work and they want to provide that all important essential service of food but they want to know that they're
going to do in it a safe environment. And I think that's one misstep of the president, again. Instead of ordering people back to work, instead of
giving liability, why not say these are the conditions under which you should reopen, the conditions that will keep your workforce safe and that
will allow you to continue to provide the necessary food for this country?
You know, it's interesting. One of the things that I think is being exposed in all of this is that some of the most essential workers in our country
are some of the lowest paid. And again, people ordering people back to work who have never struggled to decide how they're going to pay the rent or how
they're going to put a meal on the table seems a little tone deaf. And I think that instead of looking at it from the owners of the plant's
perspective, look at it from the perspective of the worker and respond to their concerns.
And when you respond to their concerns, they'll go back to work. But when you simply order people to go back to work, they're just going to say, I
guess, slavery was outlawed in this country in the mid-1800s and we're not going to work and you can't make us.
AMANPOUR: Well, yes. Let's go back a little bit to some of the original questions and you talked about things that have not really been resolved,
things like PPE for the health care workers. And I just say that, you know, obviously, here in the U.K. that's been a big problem as well.
But from abroad, people look at the United States and there's increasing articles and observations about the U.S. and they say that how is it
possible that the most powerful country in the world has nurses or at least some pictures that we have been seeing of health care workers having to
wear garbage bags to protect themselves or having to share, you know, their clothing or having to recycle and wash their masks, all those terrible
things that we have heard, and we know that they have died on the front lines.
It is a question that's perplexing people around the world. Including the very real fact of a lack of American leadership to gather a global response
to this. And I just want to read you very well-known columnist for the Irish Times, Fintan O'Toole, has said, for the first time, we feel pity for
the United States. Yes, we have admired the U.S., we have hated the U.S., we have had very many complicated relationships with the U.S. But now, we
feel pity because of the leadership. He wrote, the U.S. went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages, precious weeks of warning about
what was coming. The world's best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex
with stunning logistics capacity and most of the world's leading technology corporations. And yet, it managed to make itself the global epicenter of
What do you make of that? I mean, that is -- that's something that's really being looked at from abroad. I wonder what you make of that.
HEITKAMP: Well, I mean, this is -- this is just my opinion. But we started out this administration with an America first, which I have said really
translates to America alone. And when you think that you don't have any connection to the global world, you tend to believe that you're insulated
or isolated and that America can go alone. And one of the things that we're learning is that we are all interconnected in ways that we haven't been in
And so, I think that we cannot be successful in the United States of America without working with our global partners and our global allies. And
last time you and I were together I was in London and I was giving a speech about whether America first will become the predominant American public
policy or foreign policy. And honestly, I don't know. I don't know what the reaction is. But this pandemic has really resulted in two ways of thinking.
We should have closed down our borders and we never should have engaged globally or because we didn't engage globally, we are now suffering at a
much greater level than what we would have.
And the example I always give is Ebola. When Ebola had its outbreak in Western Africa, even this president, now President Trump, criticized
President Obama for standing in public health workers and sending in the American military. I think it was a brilliant strategy on President Obama's
behalf because it literally contained and helped us better understand how to prevent the Ebola crisis from happening in our country.
But if you don't think that you have any interconnection, you aren't going to take the steps necessary. And I think it is -- yes, I think it is a
failure of not only domestic policy but this as being a failure of the foreign policy.
AMANPOUR: Yes. It's even worse than that, Senator, with respect. They had the playbooks, the national security person wrote it, had it. They had it,
all the playbooks, they just didn't take it off the shelf. And that's my last question to you.
Do you think, finally, that this president is a danger to the people of the United States and to the world? Certainly, one of your former colleagues,
Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican himself of Arizona, has said that he thinks so and he thinks a sound defeat, not just a defeat, a sound defeat
of the president in November is vital to save not just the country but also the Republican Party. What do you make of that?
HEITKAMP: Well, number one, I agree with him that it's -- if this is a very close election, we will continue to have a debate about these failed
policies as if they were the correct policies. And so, a big defeat is absolutely necessary to re-establish our global position but also to get
our country unified and back together.
You know, we have talked a lot about the negative. Let me tell you about the positive. American business basically telling the president, we are not
going to reopen until we have tests and can protect our workers. If you look at what happened in Seattle when they had the first outbreak, in
Washington State of the pandemic, the business community coming together and taking leadership in an altruistic kind of way, sacrificing a lot of
their profitability for public health.
And so, there's a lot of really good news, positive stories in the United States of America. Unfortunately, you know what they are? They're work-
arounds. They're work-arounds from a failed central policy coming from the federal government. And I think that history will tell the tale. But I
think we will look back on this time and say, the worst thing that happened was electing someone who believed he alone could solve a problem.
AMANPOUR: And what a problem it is. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us this evening. Thank you so much.
HEITKAMP: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, rural communities here in the U.K. are also feeling the pain. With pubs and restaurants closed indefinitely, demand for certain
products has dropped dramatically. Like in parts of the United States, some dairy farmers are even dumping milk and many farm laborers are seasonal
hires, many from Eastern Europe. But with coronavirus travel bans on top of Brexit, these E.U. workers can't get here. So, farmers are having to get
creative. Training up furloughed British workers from other fields to till their fields instead.
Nic Robertson has this report from a lettuce farm in Eastern England.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: In the garden of England, the County of Kent, a crisis looms. Lettuce harvest has begun.
Row upon row ripe for picking. Any other, year this would look like locked in profit, but not this. COVID-19 is killing markets and cutting off
workers from farms. McDonald's, now shuttered, normally stuff their chicken wrap with this specially grown Apollo lettuce.
NICK OTTEWELL, LAURENCE J. BETTS LTD: Potentially, there's 25 or 30 tons a week of crop there that currently we don't have a home for.
ROBERTSON: What does the rest of the season look like? What did you reckon?
OTTEWELL: We break even this year. I snap your hand off.
ROBERTSON: That bad?
OTTEWELL: That bad.
ROBERTSON: Bad is an understatement. Nick Ottewell who's managed the 7,050 acres, one of the largest lettuce producers near London for over a decade.
COVID-19 isn't just costing him sales. It's cut him off from his regular annual migrant workforce.
OTTEWELL: It's seasonal work and British people haven't wanted to do seasonal work for whatever reason. And (INAUDIBLE) we relied on migrant
workers for decades now.
ROBERTSON: As the lockdown tightened, Ottewell helped fly some of his regular skilled Romanian seasonal workers in early, but is still down 45
workers. The government says it is acutely aware that the fresh produce picking season is beginning now. They estimate that only one-third of the
total migrant labor force is in the country. And they're hoping that furloughed workers will help out with the harvest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This lot has a lot of false fingernails --
ROBERTSON: Ottewell is skeptical but giving it a shot with the 50 local e- mail applicants to these eight inductees for training. The farm needs them until fall. Sally Penfold, 45, lost her restaurant job, says she is good to
SALLY PENFOLD, ACCEPTED FARM JOB: For me, this is security. This is money coming in. And it's giving me something good and honorable to do. I'm going
to be outside in the sunshine.
ROBERTSON: Industry experts, the Alliance of Ethical Labor Providers, say 55,000 farm job applicants following the outbreak of COVID-19, only 150 got
placement. Most couldn't commit the time. Ottewell knows he's gambling, saying each worker costs $1,200 to train. Money he can't spare.
OTTEWELL: I'm so nervous because I've been working this industry my whole adult career and all of my experience tell me that people are going to
think that they can just turn up, treat it like a bit of a fun thing to try for a couple of weeks.
ROBERTSON: As we talk, some of the prayers answered. Three Romanians arrive, recently COVID-19 unemployed. Let go by a local restaurant.
OTTEWELL: That was quite fortuitous. They were working at an Indian restaurant and most of the restaurants had to shut. The first question I
asked those three was, are they going to commit for the summer? And they said yes. So, I said, OK, let's go.
ROBERTSON: This a summer like no other. Will there be tossed salads? Much now depends on the British worker.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Kent, England.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And we will have much more on the food industry coming up when - - which -- restaurants are likely to be among to be the last to reopen. Our Michel Martin talks to a celebrated chef of New York's La Bernardin, whose
doors are not closed.
But first, from Afghanistan to South Africa to Bangladesh, many coronavirus stories have attracted far less attention like Barbados, for instance, that
Caribbean island and long-time holiday destination. With global lockdowns and travel bans, it, too is suffering from the sudden stop in tourism.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley has long been public about the dire dangers that Barbados faces as she says due to its small size and vulnerability to
economic and environmental shocks. And she's joining me now from Bridgetown, Barbados.
Prime Minister, welcome to the program.
I just wanted to ask you how your country's doing in terms of infections, in terms of deaths and to ask you whether -- I think you have had some
quite severe lockdowns and how that's working there.
MIA MOTTLEY, BARBADOS PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much, Christiane, for having me.
We are fighting up not just here in Barbados but in the Caribbean. At this point in time, I'm actually chairing CARICOM, which is a state organization
of 15 countries from Bahamas in the north to Guyana and Suriname in the south, from Barbados in the east, to Belize in the west. And I can pretty
much speak on behalf of all of us that this has been the most destabilizing event for the countries, probably since World War II. I mean, we have heard
you speak about that and others in the U.K., speak about the fact that this is for them similarly the most destabilizing event.
Each of our countries regrettably has cases, each of our countries. We -- in our own case, we have just about 80 and we have just about seven deaths.
Half of the people just in the half have recovered. But alongside with the pandemic is the very real result of people being able to live and to eat.
And I notice it's not just the Caribbean. I have seen stories coming out of Africa and Asia and elsewhere. And this is a real balance.
And listening just now to the last interview, both interviews, it is clearly a problem across the world. Our situation is perhaps a little more
unique because we suffer a number of risks. One, we are a highly indebted region. Largely because we are perhaps the most travel dependent and trade
dependent region in the world with almost half of our GDP coming directly and indirectly and our jobs from tourism.
Secondly, we are also on the cusp of the climate crisis. In fact, we are four weeks away from the beginning of the hurricane season. But what is
little spoken about is that the climate crisis has also resulted in droughts and sargassum weed which is meant a number of our hotel
establishments and restaurants who are already suffering before this pandemic.
And now we add this global pandemic, so that this is a peculiar moment for Caribbean states, not just Barbados. And it is one in which we hope we can
summon the rest of the global community to recognize that it is now more than ever that we need to recognize that global leadership is needed and
that we need to accept that these islands, as well as those in the South Pacific, are vulnerable.
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, look, you just heard me talking about global leadership.
I just want to get your take, as, you know, the prime minister of a significant Caribbean tourist destination, just a very well-known island
nation there. In general, your big, big, big neighbor to the north, the United States of America, generally takes global leadership, whether it's
Ebola, as you heard, whether it was the global financial crash of 2008.
Whatever it might be, it's usually the U.S. It's been absent on the world stage. Does that make any difference to you in the Caribbean, to you
particularly in Barbados?
MOTTLEY: I think it does generally, but I think that, beyond the U.S., it is genuinely a time for all countries to step up and for all global
If there's one thing that I'd like to see coming out of this is a global leadership initiative. Look, 75 years ago, the United Nations was formed on
the 24th of October. We used the opportunity of post-World War II to create a number of vital institutions to be able to bring countries together, to
protect the most vulnerable, the weakest among us.
We also used it to create the Bretton Woods Institutions, which we are relying on. But we need to repurpose these organizations and, in having a
global leadership initiative, make sure that we are really reacting to what is real.
We are told that we can access concessional funding or grant funding only if we have historic per capita incomes that are below certain levels. Well,
Christiane, that is like telling me I should use my blood pressure reading from two years ago to determine whether I'm vulnerable tonight to a stroke.
It is absolutely futile. And we have been carrying on this thesis and argument for over 30 years. We had problems when the WTO was formed. We
recognized, for example, that much of our domestic production would shut down and it would make us more open.
When we had 9/11, we had other issues that were imposed on us on a one- size-fits-all prescription. Now we have this pandemic. We need global leadership similar to what we had post-World War II to become -- to be able
to recognize that we need a plan that protects not just the strongest among us, but also the most vulnerable.
And what should we really be spending money on? Do we make -- does it make sense to continue to build large military constructs, when, as a result of
a mosquito or a pandemic, our populations can be put at risk? Doesn't make any sense.
Does it make sense to see wildfires and hurricanes (AUDIO GAP) floods every year? Doesn't make any sense.
AMANPOUR: You're leading me straight to the sort of reimagining how the world emerges from this crisis. Will there be priorities reorganized?
But just before I get to that bigger picture, I want to ask you, you are and you explained how dependent your country is on tourism for all aspects
of business and the economy.
And just in terms of that vulnerability and the vulnerability of many, many other countries around the world, which don't have developed health care
systems or solid economies, what will happen to you and to regional islands and even you mention Africa and other places, if this pandemic, A, lasts
longer, much longer?
Can your health care systems -- can your health care system survive it, and your economy, your island?
MOTTLEY: I think that's the big issue.
A number of our health care systems are being repurposed in order for us to be able to deal with the issues and to stay ahead of the curve, to use the
recent jargon. But, really, where we are feeling it more than ever is in the shutdown.
To have a hotel with no revenue coming in, to have no airplanes landing from Jamaica and Bahamas in the north right down to Barbados and Trinidad
in the south, these things are having a devastating impact, particularly on the smaller islands in the Eastern Caribbean and, to a lesser extent,
Barbados, so that now we have to see how we can hold our people up, because, if you don't have a successful neighborhood, all of us are at risk
in terms of public health, all of us are at risk in terms of lack of security, all of us are at risk of migration.
So that we really, really need to be able to understand that this is about lives and livelihoods, this is about staving off the pandemic, but it is
also about keeping people fed and keeping people being able to live.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, you have been quite forward-leaning, A, in the public warnings and your desire to reshape priorities in the models by
which your success is judged.
For instance, you have called for there should be a vulnerability index assessing potentially how exposed a country is to future economic and
public risks, like climate change. I wonder how that would work.
And you have also -- you're asking for natural disaster clauses in your sovereign debt contracts. Explain how -- what that all means and how it
would protect you and other vulnerable countries.
On the vulnerability index, the commonwealth secretary has, in fact, settled on a framework since 30 years ago, 1989, 31 years ago. We believe
it needs to be revisited, but we believe that you can't determine whether we need access to funding.
Let me give an example. This Caribbean region has to pay out 8.8 billion U.S. dollars in debt over this year and next year. It is going to have...
AMANPOUR: Well, we are -- we're having some technical difficulties there with our connection to Barbados. I don't know whether we can get the prime
minister, back, but for the moment, we're just going to carry on, because...
MOTTLEY: I'm here.
AMANPOUR: She is back. Oh, good.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Mottley, we did the unheard of. We got you back in the middle of this Internet connection. We're working from home and it
is all a little out there.
But you know what? I just want to ask you a last question, because we were interrupted on that one, but we get the point.
You have also launched an initiative of women leaders to help people through this pandemic. I wonder whether you're the first female prime
minister of Barbados. And you have probably seen that a lot of female leaders have been held up of having done a really good job, whether it's
the prime minister of New Zealand, the chancellor of Germany, some of the Scandinavian and European countries and yourself.
Anything about female leadership that you would like to tout in a case like this, in a situation like this?
MOTTLEY: Simply that we care. We care. And we have to care, because, in the same way that we want people to take care of the most vulnerable in a
household, we want it in a country.
And I'm asking you to help us do it internationally. That's why we need a global leadership initiative from Pope Francis and others right back to
world leaders. That's why we need to be able to look at our debt and restructure it and repurpose.
That's why we need to look and see that moral leadership is important in this world today. And that's why we need to ensure that the Caribbean does
not remain invisible and dispensable, nor the South Pacific.
And if our voices have to be spoken over and over and over to make this point, we shall not tire to do so, because what is at stake is human lives
and the wellness and well-being of global civilization, as was envisaged 75 years ago, when the United Nations was established.
Thank you. Thank you, Prime Minister, for that.
MOTTLEY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, thanks for joining us, especially with that powerful last appeal.
MOTTLEY: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, it is not just tourism that's taking a big hit. Restaurants are going out of business all over, too.
In March, Eric Ripert, co-founder and the executive chef of the three- Michelin-Starred New York restaurant Le Bernardin, laid off his entire team. Since then, he's been helping City Harvest. It's a nonprofit
organization that's feeding those in most need.
And he tells our Michel Martin that, while the future is uncertain, he is optimistic that his restaurant will serve dinners again.
MICHEL MARTIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chef Eric Ripert, thank you so much for speaking with us.
ERIC RIPERT, EXECUTIVE CHEF, LE BERNARDIN: Thank you for having me. My pleasure.
MARTIN: Well, really difficult times here, and you were one of the first restaurants in New York to close, even before there was an order. Can you
just walk us through what those couple of days were like for you? What is it that finally made you decide to close?
It was a process, obviously. And I was watching the news, and every day we had a lot of new information about the virus, the impact on the community.
And I was starting to be very worried about our clients, our employees, the purveyors. And I thought that it was becoming a very dangerous environment.
And, therefore, on March 12, I met with the entire staff, and I said, tomorrow, we take a decision if we are staying open or not, but I feel
that, despite all the hygiene that we have and all the efforts we are making, it is not right. It's dangerous.
The following day, on the March 13, I called the entire staff and told them that we were closing the restaurant.
MARTIN: We have heard these stories from people all over the country, really all over the world, but very few of us have actually had to call 137
people together knowing that this is their livelihood and tell them to go home.
And if you could just describe what that was like for you.
Well, it was extremely emotional. Most of those employees worked with us for many, many years, some of them since 1986, when Le Bernardin opened.
As you can imagine, we create relationships, friendships. And we are a very big family. And when I had -- it was actually 150 employees surrounding me
in a big room.
And I was speaking to them. And, actually, I still have the chills about it. And they were all looking at me. I felt terrible. I felt terrible about
them, about the fact that we were closing, they would not have a job.
I felt terrible about potentially them getting sick and so on. I didn't know, but I was very affected by delivering this bad news to them. And, at
the end, they came to me, and they -- many of them hugged me, which they shouldn't have done, actually, when you think about it.
But they came and they said, we're going to be fine. Make sure that you are OK. They, basically, were supporting me in this difficult decision. And it
felt good a little bit for a few seconds, but, really, really, I was thinking of them.
And the rest of the night, we were serving clients. And I couldn't help thinking about closing the doors and having people unemployed.
MARTIN: And I saw that you were raising money for them, that you had a campaign, like a GoFundMe campaign for them. How did that go?
RIPERT: So, we did have a GoFundMe campaign. And we raised more than $226,000.
They actually -- as we speak, this week, we are cutting the checks and they're going to receive about $1,200 each, more or less, which is already
something that we are very happy about. And we're trying to find some solutions to have some more help for them for the summertime.
MARTIN: I want to ask you about an issue that's been very much in the news, which is that it seems that a number of the large restaurant chains
received large sums from the release act that was passed by the Congress and signed by the president.
Did you get any of that, any of that money under the CARES Act?
RIPERT: Yes, we did apply, and we did get some money. And I believe we going to have to give back that money to the government.
MARTIN: You're going to have to give it back, or you're choosing to give it back?
RIPERT: We are still waiting to take a decision.
And I will tell you why we believe we will have to give it back. It is because that money is a loan. And to have this loan forgiven, you will have
to rehire 75 percent of your employees by June 30.
We had 180 employees. We are not even open. It doesn't look like we are going to open in May. We may not even open in June. If we open in June or
in May, we will need only 40 employees.
And, therefore, this loan doesn't apply to my restaurant, but to 99.99 percent of all the restaurants in America. We cannot rehire entirely our
teams by June 30 and spend 75 percent of that money just on payroll, especially in big cities like New York, where we have to spend a lot of
money on the rent.
We have to spend a lot of money on many other aspects of the restaurant. So, this loan that looks pretty good for restaurants, when you think about
it, is absolutely not practical and not well-thought at all.
And whoever has the money, keep in the bank for now just in case, but my friend restauranteurs and myself know very well that it's not made for us.
MARTIN: Who does it work for? National chains, or who does it work for?
RIPERT: Well, it definitely doesn't work for a lot of independent restaurants, most of the independent restaurants.
National chains, depending on what they are doing, if you have takeout, it is the nature of your business or, for instance, McDonald's, if you can go
with your car and pick up your burgers and the fries -- and I don't want to necessarily focus on that brand, but I'm using them as an example -- for
them, it's the same amount of employee as before, basically.
They can rehire 75 percent of their work force. But the little guys and the restaurants like us, again, like I mentioned previously, we cannot do that.
So it's not well-designed. Also, it's something else that we haven't addressed, but all the restaurants, most of the restaurants in America have
business interruption insurance. Those insurances are not giving one penny to any of the restaurants that paid for years and years and years their
MARTIN: And why not? Why are they not giving out any of these payouts? It would seem like this is what it's designed for.
RIPERT: It's all -- exactly. What is it designed for, right?
So we are asking the government -- and I have some friend chefs who even had a call with the White House and said, this is not right. We are paying
business interruption insurance, and now it's always a little line here and there that prevents the insurance to pay the restaurant when they need it.
And we are waiting for -- to see what's going to happen. We -- when I say we, many, many, many restauranteurs have come together and are even doing
lawsuits against the insurances, but nothing is happening.
MARTIN: You're saying that the mechanisms that already exist to address these issues aren't being used.
Well, who do you hold responsible for that?
RIPERT: I don't know who's responsible for that. What I know is that the insurances have decided not to pay.
MARTIN: Chef, can I just pivot to you for a minute?
I mean, you have been in this field since you were 15 years old. You went to culinary school, if I -- do I have this right, when you were 15 years
old. This has been -- this isn't really a job for you.
RIPERT: It's a lifestyle.
And have you -- I don't know if you have even had the idea that there might not be the work that you dedicated your life to doing. I mean, you were in
New York during 9/11. You have seen other crises before.
This is different. It is not happening in just one place in one time. This is everywhere. So, have you thought that perhaps the work that you have
dedicated your life to might change fundamentally?
RIPERT: I'm thinking that it's going to be very uncertain, until we find a medication or a vaccine.
And it looks like it will take time. It's going to take maybe a year or maybe a bit more than that. For one year, we're going to be struggling and
we are going to have to be creative. We are going to reopen our business at one point, for sure.
And we will have, unfortunately, to run probably with a smaller team than what we had when we closed. And we're going to have to be very flexible,
with some limitations that we may have, for the well-being of everyone. And we will obviously follow those directions.
I'm talking about social distancing, wearing masks and gloves and so on and cleaning up all the time. So, that will be the very immediate future, in a
But I know that, in a year from now, in two years from now, after probably or so the financial recession, potential depression, we will see life
coming back to a certain normality.
MARTIN: There are some people who might be listening to our conversation that say, well, restaurants are a luxury. People should eat at home.
What do you say to that? Why do you think restaurants matter?
RIPERT: Well, restaurants matter because it's millions and millions of people working in our industry.
Our industry also brings billions of revenues, contributes tremendously to the industry. We are supporting the farmers and the fishermen, and we are
supporting many people down the line, right? We are all interconnected.
And restaurants are part of the life of cities as well, in the country, same thing. It is not just going to nourish yourself, but it is about a
lifestyle, about being able to socialize, about the life of the cities or the centers where we live or the community where we live.
Restaurants are a big part of that. And when restaurants are closed, everybody's suffering from that, like I said before, from the little farmer
to the big company who delivers to everyone in the neighborhood, or to the landlords, to -- everybody's feeling the impact of not having the
We are part of the life of the people a lot.
MARTIN: Before we let you go, how are you doing?
RIPERT: Well, I'm doing pretty fine, considering.
I feel myself very lucky. My family didn't get sick. I didn't get sick. I have food on the table every day. This is -- it is remarkable when I look
at how much suffering it is out there, just that, by itself, makes me feel very privileged.
MARTIN: You're being a bit modest because, I happen to know that you have also been personally helping to distribute food, volunteering at a group
called City Harvest, which takes, as I understand it, food that hasn't been -- still good food that hasn't been utilized by the restaurants helps to
redistribute it to people who need it.
I know you have been personally -- you and your wife, I understand, have been personally volunteering with them.
RIPERT: City Harvest is important, because City Harvest is the biggest food organization in the world and the oldest, and is dedicated to feed
many New Yorkers.
Right now, as you can imagine, we are more than three million people who are in need of food. City Harvest has delivered millions of pounds, and
this year, will deliver probably 68 million pounds of food to people in need through mobile markets in all the boroughs, and delivering to the food
And this is important as well. So I'm helping City Harvest as much as I can. I also try to inspire people to cook at home with the limited resource
that they have, finding ingredients that are not necessarily expensive or exotic, something that is found anywhere.
And I'm making those small videos on my Instagram and Twitter on social media to inspire, but mostly to help people to do something at home to
nourish their family.
MARTIN: What's been the favorite thing you have cooked so far in one of your videos?
RIPERT: Well, as soon as you touch pasta, that's it.
And I made pasta with tomato sauce not too long ago, and it was a frenzy on social media about that pasta. But I teach people how to cut a roasted
chicken, because a lot of people don't really know how to do it properly. And it's very simple and basic. So I did that a couple of days ago.
I tried to have balance in between vegetables and meat protein and so on. So this is what I try to do on my social media platform.
MARTIN: I don't want to gloss past the fact, chef, that has not been an easy couple of years for you. Your lost your very dear friend Anthony
Bourdain just a couple of years ago.
And this is, you know, suffering upon suffering. Can you help us understand how are you seeing your way through this? Like, what's your North Star?
What's keeping you going and feeling that there will be light at the end of this?
RIPERT: My faith and my will and the understanding that I have -- the little understanding that I have about life, that nothing is permanent,
everything is impermanent.
And, therefore, you go through life with some good times and some very challenging times. And you mentioned Anthony Bourdain. And, as you can
imagine, it was extremely emotional for me to lose my friend.
I have seen many bad things in my life, and I have experienced a lot of good time. And, again, I know that nothing lasts forever. And during this
time in this life, I think by having compassion and trying to help people makes you stronger. It gives you a strength that you may not have if you
are more centric about yourself and feel bad about yourself.
So, in this difficult time right now what -- and in all time, actually, what I really, really strive for is to think about others and try to make a
difference, try to have an impact, obviously, positive difference and positive impact.
And that makes me go through all the obstacles that I encounter in life.
MARTIN: Chef Eric Ripert, thank you so much for speaking with us. And I do hope we will speak again in better times. hand good luck.
RIPERT: Thank you very much. We will have some better times, I promise. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And we really must believe that we will have better times.
And, finally, let's remember the legendary jazz musician Duke Ellington. He would have been 121 years old today. He was, of course, a pioneer of big
band jazz over a career that spanned half-a-century.
Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions, including his signature tune, "Take the A Train." To this day, it is considered one of the most famous
hits of swing era.
And we want to leave you with that tonight now.
Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.