Interview With Jeff Glor of CBS

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
January 17, 2010

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, your overall impressions, what you’ve seen today, and what you got out of the meetings here with the Haitians and with our U.S. leadership.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Jeff, thank you. Thanks for the great job your network is doing, like everyone else, covering this. I had very thorough briefings with our team on the ground, both by our ambassador, the general in charge of our troops here. And they brought me up to speed, gave me a thorough understanding of what is working, what needs to be improved, the big challenges that we face.


And then I had a long meeting with the president and the prime minister, going into great detail about all of their priorities. The key is better coordination. As you know, their government was devastated, but they’re going to do their very best with our help and the help of others to get back on their feet.


QUESTION: How much were you hampered, though by Haitian disenchanted or ineffective government in the past, chaos over a number of years, dating back for as long a we can remember, with chaos and poverty here? Do they have the systems in place to overcome this and to work with the donor countries like us and to make this work?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the real sadness of this latest tragedy is that over the past year there has been such an improvement in government capacity following those four hurricanes. The Haitians can’t get a break. It’s just horrible what is happening. But the government was working closely with us, with the United Nations, and with other countries, and we had a really effective plan that we were implementing. Now it’s back to the drawing boards to some extent, but the understandings and the approaches are in place. So as we work on coordinating our aid programs better, we’ve got the benefit of having worked closely with President Preval and others for a year now.


QUESTION: Does it frustrate you to come here? We’ve been out on the streets and seen unbelievable, unimaginable scenes. Does it frustrate you knowing you’ve been here in the past as a private party, a citizen with your husband (inaudible)? Does it frustrate you that you can’t get out there to see firsthand?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Not on this first trip, and I’ll tell you why. Because we’re still in the midst of trying to save lives. We’ve got those search-and-rescue teams, nearly 30 of them, all over the city. There was a man rescued, brought in just a few minutes ago. So I did not want to do anything that would interfere with the operations, so it was appropriate for this first trip for me to stay put, to meet with everybody. But I’ve been getting hourly reports. I feel very well informed. I’ve obviously been glued to the television watching everything. So – and because I know it – if it were a place I had never been before, then it would be a little bit disconcerting. But I know it; I see in my mind’s eye what’s been described and I feel such a responsibility to make this work.


QUESTION: Are you surprised at the slowness of getting foodstuffs and water to people and medical supplies on the street? We’ve been on the streets. People have come up to us and begged and begged (inaudible).


SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I mean, I’m not surprised because this is very difficult to do under even moderately positive circumstances which don’t exist. I mean, the earthquake was devastating. The infrastructure was destroyed. This airport has one runway. The ports are not operational. When you add up everything we’re fighting against, I think we’re doing a better job every day.


QUESTION: Can we increase the pledge money, the $100 million and military assistance coming in here (inaudible)?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as President Obama said, this $100 million is for the emergency phase of this. The reconstruction we’re going to be working with all of the other donor partners.


QUESTION: And do you think President Obama will try to come here?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t speak for the President. But clearly, he is committed. Mrs. Obama is committed. This is going to be an ongoing effort by the United States. And we’re very grateful to the American people for the generosity that has already been demonstrated.


QUESTION: And the final question. Can we take in or accommodate people in the U.S. for short- or long-term (inaudible)?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, yesterday the government granted temporary protected status so that Haitians who are in the United States without documentation will be permitted to stay. But no others will be taken in. But we will work to make sure that everybody knows that. What we want to do is start building and creating shelters so that people will not feel the need to leave.


QUESTION: Thank you very much.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Good to talk to you.

PRN: 2010/T19-6