Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login

CNN's Fareed Zakaria & Experts On Haiti's History Consider The Best Way Forward For Haitians

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Political Videos Donate to DU
Turborama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 10:14 PM
Original message
CNN's Fareed Zakaria & Experts On Haiti's History Consider The Best Way Forward For Haitians
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 11:08 PM by Turborama
Run time: 10:41
Posted on YouTube: January 18, 2010
By YouTube Member:
Views on YouTube: 0
Posted on DU: January 18, 2010
By DU Member: Turborama
Views on DU: 933
Adding the full transcript as this clip misses the important part at the beginning about Haiti's history...

AREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

We begin today with Haiti. I want to go beyond the terrible images that you've seen in the last days, tragic as they are, and try to help us understand this tragedy and how it came to be this way.

Everybody surely knows by now that Haiti is the poorest country in the entire Western Hemisphere. But that's not the whole story. You see, Haiti has been marked by violence, turmoil and tragedy from the start -- until recently, when things turned up, only to be dashed by this earthquake. And that start informed the tragedies that have befallen this country ever since.

So, a quick history lesson, one that I think is fascinating on its own merits and is essential to understanding Haiti today.

The island that came to be known as Hispaniola was discovered by Europeans when Christopher Columbus landed there in 1492. Two hundred years later, in 1697, the French gained control of the western third of this island. African slaves, growing sugar and coffee and tobacco there, became a veritable gold mine for the French.

But then, in 1791, the slaves revolted. It's been called the Vietnam War of its time, a ragtag band of insurgents defeating one of the greatest militaries of the age. None other than Napoleon Bonaparte sent tens of thousands of his French troops. They all tried to beat back the rebellion, and they all failed.

On New Year's Day, 1804, the last defeated French ship left the island, and the slaves declared victory. And Haiti, the nation that emerged, is the only nation in the entire world that was founded by slaves.

But the elation from emancipation didn't last long. The nation was very poor, made poorer by the French who demanded a large indemnity for losing the war. The plantation system, along with much of the rest of the country, had been ravaged by the war. And the vast majority of the population didn't know how to do anything but farm for a master.

Furthermore, the world was wary of this nation of half-a-million newly freed blacks. The United States, for example, didn't recognize Haiti for the first 58 years of its existence until 1862, a year after the U.S. Civil War began. And that was the official beginning of what continues to this day to be a difficult relationship.

In 1915, the U.S. sent in a landing force to occupy the island nation. The Haitian president had just been assassinated. The country was in a state of chaos. And some say that America simply wanted to protect its investments there.

Whatever the reasons for coming, the Americans stayed for almost 20 years. And it was an often brutal occupation. The Americans under Franklin Delano Roosevelt withdrew, but essentially of their own volition, in 1934. Haiti remained a troubled and deeply chaotic place.

Sixty years later, the Yanks were back. In 1994, under the Clinton administration, the American military went in again. This time they came to restore democracy. And two years later, Haiti saw for the first time in its then-almost 200-year history, a peaceful transition of power from one democratically elected president to another.

But then, the earthquake. And late Wednesday afternoon, of course, America returned again -- this time, not just with military might, but with aid workers, search and rescue teams, doctors, nurses and much more.

The response from the rest of the world has been strong. But the response from America has been extraordinary. It's a wonderful example of the power of America to do good, and do it fast.

So, on today's show, a different kind of panel on Haiti -- some smart writers and novelists, all intimately familiar with the island nation, to discuss many of the issues I've just raised.

Then, Wall Street. The former governor, Eliot Spitzer; Bush speechwriter David Frum; Stephen Dubner, half of the Freakonomics team; and the author, Naomi Klein, about Wall Street's big bonuses and financial reform.

Then, Christine Lagarde, the powerful finance minister of France, with her drastic solution to the problem of banker bonuses.

Let's get started.


ZAKARIA: Now, to discuss how Haiti may go on from here, joining me are, from Boston, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, Tracy Kidder. He is the author of, among many other works, "Mountains Beyond Mountains," a book about an extraordinary man named Paul Farmer and his efforts to bring hope to Haiti.

From Washington, Madison Smartt Bell, who has written more than a dozen books, including "Toussaint L'Ouverture," a fascinating biography of the leader of the Haitian revolution.

And in Los Angeles, journalist Amy Wilentz, who lived in Haiti through the '80s and '90s, reporting on its political turmoil and unrest.

So, what should happen going forward? Tracy Kidder, you saw one man trying to make a difference. But a lot of people feel, all right, you put in a lot of money, help as much as you can. But the long-term solution has to be to give Haiti's economy some kind of internal strength of its own, some internal vitality.

From what you saw, what's the solution? What will allow Haiti to stop being a kind of basket case, always dependent on Western aid, and to really become a viable nation economically, as well as politically?

TRACY KIDDER, AUTHOR, "MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS": Well, you know, the only honest answer is to say that I don't know. I'm not a development expert, though I don't trust them particularly, either.

But I do think that there's really no hope unless the effort to rebuild is well-coordinated, and unless it involves the Haitians, and unless it begins to strengthen Haitian institutions. The Haitians are perfectly willing to do this.

I think that part of what's required is that these, particularly the aid organizations and the United States USAID, which, you know, badly needs reforming, that they understand that the only way to help Haiti out of this mess is to instill expertise and infrastructure.

Part of the problem in Haiti, it seems to me, now, is these 10,000 or more NGOs, private aid organizations working there, without any coordination. Basically, they've taken over a huge percentage of the functions of a government. But it's the worst kind of government you can possibly imagine -- no coordination and no accountability at all. Because the whole point is to try to make these kinds of efforts Haitian.

ZAKARIA: Amy, what is your thought about this issue of the cultural conditions in Haiti that make it backward?

Because there's a lot of people, you know, Sam Huntington and people like that, who used to study culture and development. Haiti was the poster child of a place with a kind of culture that was inimical to economic success. There's just all kinds of attributes that meant they didn't take pride in possession, they didn't work hard, all this kind of thing.

Well, you lived there.


Speaking of pride of possession, they do have pride of possession. They're a deeply, deeply capitalist country, from the littlest guy on the street to the richest man on the top of the mountain. So I don't agree with that.

And what I think is that Haiti had two problems. One is, it came of age at a time when, to be an independent black nation was not appreciated by the slave-holding countries that still existed. And the other is that, in a Christian world, there were a lot of people in Haiti who were following African traditional religion. And this also was not appreciated in the rest of the world.

So, I think when you see Pat Robertson saying that Haiti is cursed because of its culture and the pact it made with the devil, you know, these are very retrograde attitudes toward Haiti. And Sam Huntington can be put in that pile, I think.

But what worries me is not so much these big thinkers, supposedly, and big, eloquent church people. What bothers me is the normal person, the average person, who also has adopted these attitudes toward Haiti, not realizing what they come from. And they come from prejudice.

ZAKARIA: Madison, what is the attitude in Haiti about foreigners coming in to help? Because this is a country with a very long suspicion -- some would say deservedly so -- of foreign powers.

Do they view these NGOs, by and large, as a good thing? Or is there a deep-seated suspicion of foreign involvement in Haiti?

MADISON SMARTT BELL, AUTHOR, "ALL SOULS' RISING": I think that they're totally willing to cooperate with getting help that really is help.

But one of the problems that does occur is that people from our religious right go down there, because they want to combat the devil -- which to Haitians is their religion, one of the great religions of the world, I'll say -- and that also, we in the United States -- just another example, there are all sorts of things like this -- we tend to export our political divisions there, thus creating confusion in our foreign policy with them.

ZAKARIA: Amy, what do you think of this issue of anti- Americanism, and how they will view the American involvement, particularly beyond the purely relief efforts, but ones, perhaps, to restore political stability?

WILENTZ: It's definitely -- they're caught between a feeling of wanting to remain proud and independent, and utter devastation caused by this earthquake. So, what's happening is, this is an opening for, you know, things that Haitians otherwise would not want, like the Marines coming in again.

They're an extremely practical people. They're going to say, OK, we need this now, we need the help. And it's going to be clear very soon, if not already, that they're going to need the help for rebuilding the country, too.

I hope that it can be, you know, cooperation of the willing, so that the United States is not the only one there. Taiwan has been a long supporter of Haiti, and they can help out.

TRACY KIDDER, AUTHOR, "MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS": So many of the attempts to help Haiti turn out to be self-serving, even though I think they're well-intentioned, many of them. And I mean self-serving -- obviously, it's financial. I think some of these are just rackets. But I think many are very good.

But if the purpose of the mission to Haiti is religious, or even educational, for the people who are conducting the missions, that's beside the point. That's not what they should be doing there. They should be trying to help the Haitians become stronger, so that all of these -- all of their projects can become exclusively Haitian.

And that means working with the government. And the usual excuse for not working with the government is that it's corrupt, or it's weak. But, of course, that's all the more reason to work with the government.

This stuff is not -- it's hard to do. No one ever said it would be easy, you know.

ZAKARIA: Madison, you've written a lot of novels about Haiti 200 years ago. If you were to write one today, what is the sort of central conflict, dilemma, that you see that you would want to pick up? And if you were to write "All Souls' Rising" about Haiti today, what would it be about?

BELL: One of the reasons this earthquake disaster is producing such horrific loss of life, is that for 30, 40 and 50 years, people have been moving out, or essentially being starved out of the countryside, coming down to these poorly constructed slums around the capital. And those are the people who are getting killed now, and the vast majority, I'm afraid.

For me, one of -- not every idea that Aristide had was good. But the idea of working toward some sort of agricultural auto-sufficiency was a good idea, not an impossible idea. It would lead to reforestation and ultimately, I think, a decent amount of control of the Haitian people over their own destiny. That sounds less like a novel than a political program. I'm sorry.

ZAKARIA: Amy, if you were to...

KIDDER: Those are also good novels, Madison.

ZAKARIA: Amy, if you were to write a book or article going forward, what is the -- what is your solution, long-term solution for Haiti? How do you get it to be more viable?

WILENTZ: Well, you know, self-respect and involvement -- these are the key issues in Haiti. I totally agree that the Haitian government has to be empowered.

Well, you can't be a grown-up unless you're allowed to behave like a grown-up. And that is really what has to happen in Haiti. The parents can't just keep bossing everybody around. People have to be allowed to take control of their own lives.

And I think that, you know, the only possible, small silver lining in this terrible, terrible catastrophe, is that it provides an opening for new ways of thinking about Haiti. And it's put us all on your show to talk about new ways of thinking about Haiti. And I believe that the Obama administration, which has Haitians at a very -- Haitian Americans -- at a very high level, has the capacity to really think in new ways about our relationship with Haiti and about empowering Haitians to take control of their own fate and rebuild their country.

ZAKARIA: Amy Wilentz, Madison Smartt Bell, Tracy Kidder, thank you all. A very, very important discussion about a tragedy in Haiti. Thank you.

Transcript from here:

Full show:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Rhiannon12866 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 10:27 PM
Response to Original message
1. K&R. Thanks so much, missed this today...
And I always like hearing what he has to say. Fareed Zakaria is, for lack of a better term, is pretty much "a citizen of the world..." :-)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Mr Rabble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 12:10 AM
Response to Original message
2. In 1994 America went to Haiti to restore democracy? He actually said that?
FZ is a hack of the highest order. He sat there and claimed with a straight face that we restored democracy.
What he fails to mention is that we were "restoring" democracy after "we" overthrew the democratically elected government there.

What a joke.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
GeorgeGist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 11:50 AM
Response to Original message
3. Just enough chatter ...
to sound like an expert discussion, while not engaging in much critical thinking.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Sun Oct 22nd 2017, 08:23 PM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]

Home » Discuss » Political Videos Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators

Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC