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Interview with Former U.S. Secretary of State and Women's Voices Summit Host Hillary Clinton; Interview with "The Hours" Soprano Renee Fleming; Interview with NYT Bureau Chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Natalie Kitroeff. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired December 01, 2022 - 13:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to "Amanpour." Here is what's coming up.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I remain very confident that working together, we can forge that better future for all of



AMANPOUR: Former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, joins us tonight. Her take on a world in crisis as she hosts a summit empowering

women's voice. Then.




AMANPOUR: Hitting a high note with superstar soprano, Renee Fleming. We discuss her long-awaited return to the MET in the hours. Also, ahead.


NATALIE KITROEFF, NYT BUREAU CHIEF FOR MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, AND THE CARIBBEAN: I talk to people who said they were boiling leaves to eat.

Boiling salted water to eat. Drinking rainwater.


AMANPOUR: "The New York Times" Natalie Kitroeff tells Hari Sreenivasan about the humanitarian calamity plaguing Haiti.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

From Iran to Afghanistan and beyond, women are standing up and resisting an intense crackdown on their rights and their freedoms. Women's equality,

"The unfinished business of the 21st century" is an issue we cover often on this program. And now, is the focus of a summit hosted by the former

Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, her daughter and vice chair of the Clinton Foundation.

Friday's event will bring together advocates, artist, political and policy leaders from around the world to address defending and advancing women's

rights, they say. The agenda, including voting rights, health care, peace, the workplace and more. It is a fight that Hillary Clinton has led for

decades, most famously with her call nearly 30 years ago at a U.N. women's conference in Beijing and often quoted and repeated ever since.


HILLARY CLINTON, THEN-U.S. FIRST LADY: If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women's rights

and women's rights are human rights once and for all.


AMANPOUR: And Hillary Clinton is joining me now for an exclusive interview from the Clinton Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Welcome to our program. And, you know, that was such a rousing statement you made that I think took the world by surprise when you said it in

Beijing. And I just wonder when you hear it again and you see what's happening now to women around the world, what do you think as you say,

unfinished business?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, what I think, Christiane, is that we have come a long way since I made that statement

back in 1995 on so many fronts. But we are also in a period of time where there is a lot of pushback and much of the progress that has been, I think,

taken for granted by too many people is under attack. Literally under attack in places like Iran or Afghanistan or Ukraine where rape is a tactic

of war, or under attacks by political and cultural forces in a country like our own when it comes to women's health care and bodily autonomy.

AMANPOUR: We're going to go around the world with you in a second. But first, about -- precisely what you're talking about and where you are.

Arkansas itself, I believe, rapidly moved to make a woman's right to choose illegal in your state or your former home state. And you are hosting this

conference. Talk to me about the confluence of both these events. This pushback on American women's rights at the same time as you're trying to

figure a way forward.

CLINTON: Well, you're absolutely right. We are here at the Clinton Presidential Center. With an exhibit that is just astonishing and the

breadth and depth of its look at the history of the fight for the vote. To raise our voices. To claim our rights. And I think that's a conversation

that should happen everywhere.


Not just with people who agree with you. But we have work to do to try to defend our rights, to stand up for them. And what we've seen particularly

since the Dobbs decision across our country is that when voters, both men and women but led by women have a chance to vote on these draconian

abortion restrictions. They do not accept them. They overturned them. They certainly want to limit the reach of the government into the most intimate,

private parts of our life.

So, I'm thrilled to be back in Arkansas. It's a state that means a great deal to me. It's where I got married. It's where my daughter was born. I

have so many friends. And the Clinton Presidential Center is a real source of bringing people together and talking about tough difficult issues.

Because we have to continue talking and listening to each other.

There will be, I hope, opportunities for us to really learn about how we can move forward instead of being pushed back. And so, we will be here at

the summit tomorrow. The exhibit will be up into the late spring but we're going to keep the conversation going here and everywhere we have a chance.

AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about that because, you know, keep the conversation going. Persuade everybody, et cetera. But, I mean, how much

persuasion can we expect when it comes to our -- and I'm speaking as a woman, basic rights. Whether it's in the United States or around the world.

As you said, they are human rights.

At what point should these be enshrined even in the American law and constitution even. I mean, I'm probably exaggerating. But it's

extraordinary in 2022 that this basic right of women, half the world's population is still at risk.

CLINTON: You're right and it's why the United States Congress just this week passed a federal law protecting the right of gay marriage. The right

of interracial marriage. To try to enshrine at least a federal right to those fundamental human rights. And I think we have to have that

conversation going because, as you could see, with that vote in the Senate, I think, a dozen Republicans voted with all the Democrats. That would not

have happened 10 years, 20 years ago. I know.

So, in a democracy when things don't go your way, when you suffer setbacks, you need to remember that there is no permanent political victory or

defeat. You have to keep fighting for these fundamental rights. You have to try to enshrine them in law as best you can. And in our system, at both the

federal and the state level.

So, we'll see what happens in states like Arkansas and so many others when we face real world problems. As we have seen already where women with

miscarriages go in for medical care and are turned away. When maybe, God forbid, a woman dies because that health care is denied her. I just believe

that the fervor of the interests that are saying there should be absolutely no choice for women in half the states or more of our country will run

right up against reality.

As it has in elections in Kansas and Kentucky and Montana, California, and Michigan, where voters got to vote on these extreme measures or trying to

prevent them from ever being imposed in their states. And right now, it's obvious that, you know, the great majority of Americans believe the Supreme

Court, local states, legislatures, et cetera. Have gone way too far.

AMANPOUR: So, you mentioned Ukraine, and of course you are former -- you were secretary of state, you dealt with these issues around the world. And

we, as you mentioned, that rape and other assault is being used as a weapon of war there. And the testimonies are truly, you know, barbaric as western

leaders have called them. We've had the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska here in the U.K. to highlight precisely this at a special

conference. I would like to play just a little bit and get you to react.


OLENA ZELENSKA, UKRAINIAN FIRST LADY (through translator): We have documented thousands of crimes including sexual violence. The youngest girl

who was raped by the Russian occupiers was four years old, the oldest survivor was 85. These are the victims we know. How many victims we still

don't know about?



AMANPOUR: And you now, Madam Secretary, that this is a story that we saw in Bosnia, we saw it, you know, in many parts of war-torn Africa. In all over

the world, we see this. And I'm wondering what can be done to stop this, beyond accountability, if it ever gets that, and hopefully it will. There

must be something that the U.S. in the rest of the world can do to force education on people's military. Is there?

CLINTON: Oh, this is such an outraging and heartbreaking problem, Christiane. Because, of course, there should be an absolutely rejection of

using sexual attack of any kind as a tactic of war. But sadly, we have seen it not just in the past, but in the current times from the Congo now to

Ukraine. And I think we have to continue to hold the leaders accountable and continue to speak out about what this kind of barbaric treatment says

about a military and about a leadership of a country that would, at least, permit, if not, condone such attacks.

But the real challenge for us is to keep supporting the brave people of Ukraine, especially as they fight back and pushback the Russian occupiers,

the fewer Russian occupiers who are on their territory, the fewer women and girls who will be subjected to rape. And I hope that as we move into the

winter, which we know will be especially brutal for the people of Ukraine, that we don't lose our commitment or our absolute passion to help them with

every tool that they need, with military means, with humanitarian aid.

And I also think it's time for the United States and NATO to take another look at providing more defensive weapons. Because what the Russians are

doing is trying to literally bomb the Ukrainian people into submission by destroying their power generators, their electricity grid. They will not

succeed. But the suffering will increase.

So, anything that can be done to give the Ukrainian military more means of rebuffing these brutal bombing attacks, we need to be looking much more

closely at doing that.

AMANPOUR: So, you think, and you would support the United States giving more sophisticated, you know, anti-missile defense systems. And also, the

U.S. has called several times, I've spoken to senators on both sides, that their big ally, Israel, should do the same thing with the Iron Dome that

the U.S. provides, et cetera. What would you say to your -- you know, your own country and to allies in this regard, and others in Europe as well?

CLINTON: I would say exactly what you said, it is time to give much more sophisticated defense measures. And I know there is a new government in

Israel. And they are rightly concerned about Iran, and because they are, they need to understand that Iran and Russia have now made an alliance,

where Iran is assisting Russia, particularly with drone technology, to reap even greater destruction on Ukraine.

I now believe it should be understood to be in Israel's interest to try to undercut and prevent Iran from succeeding because of Iran and Russia deepen

their military alliance outside of Syria, where they've also been working together for a number of years, that is very dangerous for the entire

world, but in particular, for Israel.

So, Iron Dome, other means of defense. I think defensive measures are called for and wherever they come from, the United States, other NATO

nations, Israel, now is the time to send a very clear message to both Russia and Iran. That their behavior, their bombardment of Ukraine, they're

learning lessons that they could maybe apply in invading, occupying or bombing other nations will be stopped right now.

So, yes, I agree completely with those calls and I hope that there's a lot of conversation going on to try to move forward on that.

AMANPOUR: So, on Iran, because clearly the whole world is watching the very brave women and girls their stand up for their rights, and we've also seen

the crackdown. We also know that this is all sort of complicated for the United States with all sorts of other policies trying to get Iran, you

know, to come back into the Nuclear Accord, which, by the way, it was a U.S. president who brought the world out of that.


I spoke to the current secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, on this program yesterday and asked him what more the U.S. could do to support the rights

of Iranian women. Obviously, the U.S. isn't going to intervene, you know, militarily to overthrow any government. But what do you think, if you were

secretary of state, the U.S. can do? And I think you were during the Green Revolution.

CLINTON: Yes. Well, first of all, during the Green Revolution in 2009, we made a decision based on the best intelligence and information we had at

the time that overt American support for the protests would actually hurt those protests and the protesters themselves. So, behind the scenes, we

tried to keep social media operating so that people could communicate and organize.

Now, I think it's very different than it was 13 years ago. What's happening now deserves our full-throated support. And I think every time anyone

speaks on behalf of the United States government, they need to be saying that they stand with the people of Iran, particularly with the women and

girls. I also think we should continue to take whatever action is possible through international bodies.

I was part of a group of women leaders who called for the U.N. to kick Iran off the U.N. Commission on the status of women. They should never have been

on there in the first place. And I believe we're moving toward that actually being accomplished, at least it better be because it's the right

thing to do. But I also believe that we need to keep the world's attention focused.

I did an event last week with a group of Iranian American women and artists who were really pleading to keep eyes on Iran. Don't lose focus uncovering

what is happening inside. And, Christiane, I want to thank you for refusing to put on a hijab to continue an interview with the president of Iran,

because we need to be standing with the people of Iran.

Now, you know that the issues are much more than even the oppression of compulsory hijab, but that is a symbol of what that oppression means to the

lives, the freedom, the opportunities of the women of Iran. So, this is something our government needs to keep speaking out about.

And finally, I would not be negotiating with Iran on anything right now, including the nuclear agreement. I think that, frankly, horse is out of the

barn. When Trump pulled us out, we lost the eyes that we had on what they were doing inside Iran. And I believe that they started those centrifuges

spinning again and I think it's unlikely that any agreement would be agreed to, and I don't think we should look like we are seeking an agreement at a

time when the people of Iran are standing up to their oppressors.

And we are giving them hope and heart. And I think we're doing something else. We're sending a message to whoever the few possibly concerned people

are about what's happening to the tens of thousands of Iranians being imprisoned and the many hundreds who are being killed that maybe they are

willing inside to speak out, not just within the government, but more importantly, with the clerics to say that this is not sustainable. We have

to move back from this. You can't premise a theocracy on covering up women's hair.

That doesn't mean we are going to overthrow the regime and they are going to leave peacefully, but I'm hoping that there can be some kind of internal

discussion that might lead to, you know, more freedom, but also less oppression. So, all of that is going on at the same time. And the U.S. and

others need to be on the side of the protesters and they're very legitimate demands for the freedom that they deserve as the human rights of them and

their fellow citizens should be recognized.

AMANPOUR: And in next-door Afghanistan, obviously, the United States have stepped up fully behind Ukraine but not so behind Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, the country was handed back to the Taliban. And now, there are terrible draconian anti-female laws coming down the pipe, despite all

the pledges that were made a couple of years ago. I mean, that must really make you heart sick, even though it's a democratic president, democratic

administration that took this decision.

CLINTON: Well, it was that came finally to the decision to evacuate but it was our Republican president and Republican secretary of state who signed

the surrender agreement that really laid the groundwork for where we ended up. So, there is enough responsibility to be, I think, allocated across our



But the bottom line is that the Taliban have so clearly demonstrated they are not going to abide by any agreement, written or oral, that they gave to

anyone outside the country or within. They, too, like the Ayatollahs in Iran, seem to think that their legitimacy depends, in large part, on

keeping women out of sight, out of any kind of public role.


CLINTON: So, I think that we've got to do what we can to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe inside Afghanistan and support those who are

protesting and trying to change the behavior of the Taliban. That's not yet right.


CLINTON: We don't know exactly what's going on inside Afghanistan, but we should be on the side of those who are, you know, trying to --


CLINTON: -- you know, if not, change the regime, force more openness.

AMANPOUR: Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state, thank you. And, of course, Raising the Voices of Women at your conference in Arkansas. Thank

you so much for joining us.

Now, another woman raising her voice, the acclaimed American soprano, Renee Fleming, is one of the greatest opera stars of our time. Five years ago,

she stepped back from the standard repertoire in a bid for more creative freedom.

Now, she's making a triumphant return to the metropolitan opera for a new work, "The Hours." It's based on the book by Michael Cunningham and on the

film starring Meryl Streep. It follows the lives of three women across time, each impacted by Virginia Woolf's literary masterpiece, "Mrs.

Dalloway." And we spoke about why she chose this as her comeback role at the MET.


AMANPOUR: Renee Fleming, welcome to the program.

RENEE FLEMING, SOPRANO, "THE HOURS": Thank you, Christiane. It's great to be here.

AMANPOUR: Well, I want to ask you how great it feels to be back at the MET. I think five years after you officially, sort of, walked away from that

kind of performance and production to pursue other opportunities.

FLEMING: Correct. And it's really wonderful to be back, and especially post -- not completely post-pandemic, but post the period in which none of us

were working. We -- I was grounded for almost two years. So, I'm thrilled to be here.

AMANPOUR: So, that must have been very difficult.

FLEMING: Yes, I mean, difficult for me, also a bit of a gift for the first six months. But for young artists, very horrible for them, in terms of

livelihood, in terms of career development. It was a very difficult time. A lot of mental health issues that people were suffering from in our business

and in all of the performing arts.

AMANPOUR: And I know you're actually involved in that side of things. And I'm going to ask you in a moment. But first, "The Hours." People know it

from the film, people know, I guess, the Virginia Woolf book, "Mrs. Dalloway." Just give us a prese of the story and of your role. You are

Clarissa Vaughan in this.

FLEMING: Yes, and also the Michael Cunningham book, "The Hours", which won a Pulitzer Prize.

AMANPOUR: Of course.

FLEMING: So, I -- there is all of these sources -- there's a lot of source material. And Virginia Woolf's life, in general, is so fascinating. But I -

- Clarissa Vaughn is an amalgamation, actually, of several characters in "The Hours" of "Mrs. Dalloway." She is, in a way, Mrs. Dalloway, the name


And she is, kind of, the glue, I would say, to the story. And she's constantly trying to support her friend, Richard, who is dying of AIDS.

They were -- had an affair when they were young. She regrets some of the choices that she may have made early and questions them, as do all of the



FLEMING: It's a beautiful story. And of course, again, that Clarissa's love, Richard dies of AIDS and is dying, and commit suicide in the story is

also very relevant right now. We're having such an epidemic of suicide, especially with young people.

AMANPOUR: It just touches on so many points. Just what you've said in the last 30 seconds. So, I want to first start by playing a clip. And this is

actually you in the midst of preparing this party for Richard.



AMANPOUR: That voice, Renee, that is something. And it --

FLEMING: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I mean, it's quite staggering. And you are one of the most well-known sopranos of your time. Talk to me a little bit about, that

really because I was fascinated to read, you know, your parents were both musical and teachers and you thought you might want to be a jazz singer.

But you turned to opera. How did that come about?

FLEMING: Well, jazz actually was something that I was passionate about and frankly, all different genres, which is why in my career, I did expand and

branch out and try other things. And I was on Broadway twice. And so, that's always been really interesting to me to explore the different facets

of my voice. But definitely classical music and opera, the foundation of what I do and have been always.

I would say how that happened, of course, is that I discovered that I love the practice room. I love the history of what we do, and I loved wrestling

with the fact that we are trying to create virtuosity from an instrument that's in our bodies that is -- goes with the flow in terms of how we are

feeling every day. And also, that we are never amplified. We don't use microphones. So, we have to kind of transport the voice across the

footlights into a huge haul over the orchestra in the chorus. So, it's a feat.

AMANPOUR: You also said something which I find interesting, that it -- I guess, maybe it's for you, maybe it's for sopranos, I'm not sure. But your

voice was fully developed not very, very young, but in your 20s and 30s. Is that right?

FLEMING: It takes a huge amount of training to be good at what we do because we are linguists. I sing in probably 12 different languages. We're

also -- we have to learn styles from the last 300 centuries -- three centuries. And we also have to manage to kind of be in period productions

where movement and costumes are all a factor in how we present ourselves. It was -- It's a major learning curve. It's not just the voice. You have a

lot of work to do to get onstage at the MET.


AMANPOUR: And of course, you're not just singing, you're acting as well, right? In this particular instance, you are stepping into the Meryl Streep

role who played it in the film. So, how did that come -- was that in the slightest bit intimidating?

FLEMING: You know, I've done this before when I sang in "Streetcar Named Desire", which was a role that actresses famously were afraid of. They'd

have nervous breakdowns if they performed her. Opera is a different animal. It can't be compared to acting because we have music that sets the tempo.

It sets the volume. There's so much that is given to us in a way that kind of removes some of the pressure.

When I've done straight theater -- and I've -- I did a play actually on Broadway, it's terrifying because underneath you is silence. So, if you

don't say a line, there's nobody -- you know, there's nothing that can happen. You've let your colleagues down. Whereas in opera, the music

continues and people can jump in. It's like a river, it's a flow and people jump in where they're supposed to.

But you still -- you have to act and you have to look realistic. We are now on camera. It's a very different landscape than a generation ago when

people could stand in sing. They called it park and bark.

AMANPOUR: That's what they used to --


AMANPOUR: Oh boy. Park and bark. That is a good one. But you were talking about, you know, these very developed roles for women in this particular



AMANPOUR: And I know from what I've read that you had a huge amount of input and collaboration with the composer. But also, I think you've said

that, you know, in many operas, as we know, the soprano is there as a beautiful object, often a victim of having been killed or died of disease,

or something like that. You know, trapped in the lake as a nymph. And they're here one minute and gone the next. Talk to me a little bit about,

you know, the roles of women in general, compared to this one in "The Hours."

FLEMING: Right, historically women were property. They were certainly marginalized, they were the subjects of stories, but not necessarily active

participants with agency. And unless they were crazy or were sorceresses, those are really good roles, yes. But, yes, a lot of mad scenes have ended

operas in history. So, to do something that's relevant on tells the complex history of women, a true, more realistic picture, and a relevant picture of

women's lives is something I really try to create in the repertoire and the music that I choose.


This composer, Kevin Puts, who's so terrific. I mean, the music in "The Hours" is extremely beautifully crafted. There are moments of such

exquisite beauty in this piece that you could cry. Several -- I mean, the end, the trio with the three women is -- everybody talks about that.


AMANPOUR: Can I ask you because at the beginning you mentioned like so many of these stories, there is the mental health component. And you work with

the National Institutes of Health in the United States. Tell me what is it that you're coming up with that particular organization on this issue?

FLEMING: Well, the National Institutes of Health is working with the Kennedy Center, where I'm a consultant adviser. And we have really sought

to create a platform for science with the audience at the Kennedy Center. And it's just -- it's gone so well because people generally want to learn

more about why music is effective. Why the arts have a place and should have a place in our health care system across the boards.

But mental health, in particular, because there is a tremendous, I would say, epidemic across the world, in the globe, everywhere, is something that

warrants much closer attention in terms of just psychologically. How our lives -- how we're integrating various health care interventions. And how

we, as artists, can be helpful.

And also, artists we, ourselves, need help because it takes -- we have to be so exposed and vulnerable, and when we're presenting. And I've heard

from a lot of creative people in the last few years that they really, really struggle.

AMANPOUR: Did you struggle at all because not only are you the exact -- sort of, you know, profile of what you -- the type you've just been

describing. But you've also one of the rare women, we know that in music across the world, women are always in the minority whether it's orchestras

or whatever. Now, we know that the New York Philharmonic is moving towards equality and has really upped the numbers of women.


AMANPOUR: But the statistics are staggering over the ages. And I just wonder, because there's a famous quote from you when you said, performing

at La Scala, the great opera house in Milan, is like a blood sport. What -- how did all that impact you?

FLEMING: It -- you know, I've -- I always felt very fortunate because for the most part, every opera has a soprano. And the sopranos and tenors are

typically in the leading roles because the heights of our voices are more thrilling for the audience and have been historically. Also, much more


So, I kind of felt like I was in good shape. But then I started to look around and realized that women are definitely -- and also, you know,

frankly, diversity has been a real focus in the last four years, I would say. And a little longer than that, in a way. But creating an equitable

spectrum of different kinds of people throughout all of our arts organizations is so important because it says to the public, we are

actually in the right place for. And we are in a hard place. We're in a place that really wants to be supportive of everyone.

And that's beginning to change. People are definitely well-intentioned. It's happening. But for instance, you've never saw conductors. And never --

and still, they're just starting now. And there are a lot of people being put forward. And also, people of color, you have to have this type of

diversity. But not just singers, because that's easier to do. But from top to bottom.

AMANPOUR: And I just wonder, because we are going through a period of terrible war here in Europe. You know, reading about the orchestras in

Ukraine and et cetera, how music is a vital element in these kinds of situations that it has not just a healing, but a regenerative quality. But

also, artists can be banned for taking their musical risks. Their artistic risks.

FLEMING: Yes, yes. I mean, I was shocked to read recently that a Ukrainian conductor was just murdered in -- at his front door. So, this is a kind of

period of time where musicians are really at risk. And many of them are here and are working, and have left the entire region, and are working in

Europe and in the U.S. So, we want to protect them as much as we can.

And we also -- we don't want to hold everyone responsible. I mean, young Russian performers, for instance, we want to make sure that they are able

to continue to perform.


And it's so tragic because Russia, in particular, was -- and Ukraine were completely open. We had such a tremendous exchange of musicians and talent,

incredible voices coming out of both those cultures. And now, that's all going to be shut down for God knows how long.

AMANPOUR: As you know, the famous Anna Netrebko, the Russian soprano, she was dumped by the MET, obviously, after the invasion --


AMANPOUR: -- because she was deemed, you know -- well, Peter Gelb, the director general said, Netrebko has demonstrated over a period of many

years that she was kind of in lockstep politically and ideologically with Putin. She, of course, has released a statement denouncing the war. The

parliament in Russia has called her an enemy of the homeland. Do you have a thought on whether she should have been canceled from the MET?

FLEMING: She was really unwilling for a long time to be negative about Putin. And I think that's what made it so difficult for her. I think it's

unfortunate. I miss her voice. I miss her presence at the MET. But Peter Gelb feels very strongly about supporting Ukraine. You know, and we all do.

It's a terrible situation for artists.

I have been lucky to tour around the world, no matter what was happening politically, and of course, there have been very unpopular choices America

has made in my lifetime as a performer. And have yet been welcomed by other cultures and treated as the -- I would say, cultural ambassador that I

always felt that we are and should be.

AMANPOUR: Really fascinating. Thank you so much, Renee Fleming. And "The Hours" right now at the MET. Thank you so much.

FLEMING: Thank you, Christiane. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And if you are not in New York, it'll screen and cinemas worldwide on December 10th. Turning next to Haiti, a country deep in a

humanitarian crisis due to cholera and hunger. Natalie Kitroeff of "The New York Times" joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the current dire situation




Natalie Kitroeff, thanks so much for joining us. You just reported from Haiti. Give us a sense of what is happening on the streets right now. How

bad is it? From the reports we're getting, it looks like there's already a civil war?

NATALIE KITROEFF, NYT BUREAU CHIEF FOR MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, AND THE CARIBBEAN: Yes, Hari, it is horror on the streets of Haiti. Right now. When

I was there, there was a camp right near the airport, it was filled with thousands of people who had fled their homes because of gang violence.

And you saw on the streets, children who were recovering from gunshot wounds, sleeping on cement and cardboard. You had mothers who had witnessed

their husbands being killed in front of them. And these are folks that are still struggling to survive because the violence has not stopped. Gangs

continue to take over ever growing swath of Haiti's capital.

And the result is a humanitarian disaster. There is a cholera outbreak that is spreading, in part, because the gangs have made it so difficult for aid

workers to deliver basic care in the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince. And hunger has reached, for the first time ever in Haiti, catastrophic levels.

Which has left thousands facing famine-like conditions. So, it was a level of despair that I think Haitians would tell you they have not seen in their


SREENIVASAN: Recently, the government took extraordinary step of asking for foreign intervention. Now, exactly who the government is, what authority

they have, we will talk about that in a minute. But that's pretty remarkable. Where is, I guess, the world in thinking about whether or not

there should be external forces to try to decrease this unrest?

KITROEFF: Right, it was a remarkable request, of course, because Haiti has a long and sometimes brutal history of foreign intervention. Intervention

from forces from abroad that have not ever brought long-term stability to Haiti. And where there's deep resentment and bitter memories of recent

attempts to come in from the outside and stabilize the country.

You know, that history is on the minds of the International Community, as this request is being considered. It's obviously also on the minds of

Haitians. The United States government is looking at what's happening in Haiti and many within the Biden administration have begun to fear that this

crisis has become so acute that it will no longer for a long stay within Haiti's borders.

There's a sense that what could be on the horizon is a mass migration from Haiti. And we are already starting to see those numbers climb.


Numbers of Haitians who are getting on overcrowded boats and heading for the United States. These boats often capsize. And what experts tell you is

that we could see a tragedy at sea soon.

And so, the Biden administration wants to try to send a multinational force to Haiti, but the administration doesn't want to send U.S. troops. And so,

it's been trying to convince other countries to lead such a mission. But so far, no one has been eager. There's been a lot of reluctance.

SREENIVASAN: You know, just as a refresher, tell our audience who is fighting on the ground and why.

KITROEFF: So, gangs have existed for decades in Haiti. This is not a new phenomenon. But they became these armed groups much more brazen and

powerful under the previous president, Jovenel Moise. And when Jovenel Moise was assassinated last year in 2021, in July, that left a power vacuum

that the gangs really stepped into.

And over the ensuing months, more than a year, they have gained power, they have gained territory, and they are fighting one another. These gangs don't

exist on their own. They are not actors that just have their own interests. Experts will tell you that they have long been supported by the political

and economic elite with money and other kinds of support, which use these armed groups for their own ends, or to facilitate the free flow of goods

throughout the country.

And so, this is a mess that is really entangled into the political crisis that is also gripping Haiti. Which is part of the reason that the call for

intervention has been seen skeptically by many critics of the government.

SREENIVASAN: So, if there were foreign troops on the ground, would that automatically tip the scales in the favor of the government right now where

there's a prime minister who -- what -- has not been sworn in?

KITROEFF: That is the fear. That is certainly the fear that if you send in foreign forces, this will only add legitimacy or perceived legitimacy to

prime minister Ariel Henry, who, yes, has been in power for more than a year without being confirmed by parliament, and is seen by many Haitians as


Now, there are also Haitians that I spoke to, especially the folks who are deeply in the grips of the violence, who recognize that sending foreign

forces could strengthen Mr. Henry. It could do that. They also recognize that this won't be a long-term solution. We but they are so desperate, some

Haitians, for just the briefest respite from the torment of daily life, that they're willing to accept security help from abroad, despite deep

resentment and reluctance.

SREENIVASAN: If you can paint us a picture, how does the average Haitian get by right now? I mean, where are they getting food from? I mean, some of

the images from that story, the trash has not been picked up and it's just piled up on the sides.

KITROEFF: Yes, it's a really difficult existence now. Haitians who are living in the country's vast slums in the capital, there is fight for

survival every day. I mean, even sometimes leaving your house can be risking your life in this scenario. And, you know, as we said, this is a

hunger crisis as well. I talked to people who said they were boiling leaves to eat, boiling salted water to eat, drinking rainwater.

You know, there is a lot of solidarity, I found, among regular Haitians who help each other out and give each other the little that they have. And so,

I think that has kept a lot of people alive. I talked to one woman who had fled her home barefoot, running out of her home, who has never gone back,

because her neighbors alerted her that gang members were coming to rape her. That is survival, you know.

There are folks who are just relying on each other to survive right now, but it's certainly a struggle. Obviously, you do have some wealthier

Haitians in different strata of society that have different, you know, ways of surviving. The wealthy often travel in armored cars. Sometimes with

security details. You can still drive right into violence. But there is a level of protection that is afforded when you're, you know, in a different

social strength.

SREENIVASAN: Partly because of Haiti's history, there are a lot of NGOs, charities on the ground. Are they able to help in any way, or are they just

as stifled by the lack of ability to move?


KITROEFF: There are a lot of organizations that are on the ground, it is true. And we, you know, we were in a Doctors Without Borders facility, you

know, they're doing a lot of work there. The World Food Programme is, you know, doing distributions. There's a presence and there's, you know,

Haitians -- there is a Haitian health organization called KESQ (ph) that is treating cholera really bravely.

But I do think that Haiti has become less, I think, a center of attention. If you compare to the post-earthquake period, the aid workers told me, aid

workers who had been there for a while, told me they felt this period was different. I think there is less attention on Haiti right now and less

resources, they told me, being devoted to what is happening on the ground.

SREENIVASAN: I know the United States and Canada have tried to impose sanctions on some of the individuals they feel are connected to this

violence in these gangs. Any of that worked?

KITROEFF: Yes, this has been a strategy pursued by the United States and Canada. And the idea is that, you know, while you're not kind of having any

presence on the ground or any kind of really significant presence on the ground, there is a way of affecting the conditions on the ground by

imposing financial penalties on those who you believe are supporting the gangs. So, you choke off some of the assets to funding and some of the

general support from those in power.

And I think Canada and the United States believe that that is working, to a certain extent. I think there are some Haitians, when I was there, who will

tell you that when the first sanctions were announced mid-October, there was a sense that things kind of maybe calmed a little bit for a moment. You

know, I think it remains to be seen the extent to which that alone will work.

SREENIVASAN: Do you think that there's a tipping point where outside intervention will become inevitable?

KITROEFF: I think we are in a different era, right, than maybe a decade ago when intervention from abroad, and especially from the United States, was

seen as this universal good. If you go into countries and you are trying to, sort of, save people, that that will work. There's a lot more

skepticism about that now. But I will say that if we begin to see ever growing numbers of Haitians fleeing the country on boats that are unsafe,

in scenarios that produce really tragic consequences for those migrants, we may start to see the pressure ramp up on the Biden administration.

SREENIVASAN: Give us an idea -- I mean, the perspective of just -- I guess, give us a scale, if you can, of how many more Haitians are leaving on boats

now than, say, three or four years ago. What is -- what might be considered normal?

KITROEFF: Right, so in last -- the last fiscal year, which ended in September, so you saw about 7,000, a little more than 7,000 Haitians

intercepted at sea by the Coast Guard. That's a four-fold increase from the previous 12-month period. That is huge. That is a big jump. And the numbers

in October are continuing to go up.

So, it may sound -- you know, that is a fraction of the total Haitians that arrived in the United States. A lot arrived by land, right? I mean, a lot

are not only coming from Haiti, they're coming from other countries that they've migrated to. But when we're talking about people leaving on boats,

thousands every year starts to be a lot.

And the reason for that is that it's really dangerous to make that journey. And it can cause the kind of tragedy that, you know, is very difficult, I

think, to witness. Where the United States government and the U.S. public might be more used to seeing people crossing by land, you know. Might be

more used to these images. Those images of people coming by sea in boats that are way overcrowded, I think that all -- do think that it's a shocking

thing to witness.

SREENIVASAN: One of the parts of your story in the past few weeks that has been really disturbing is the rise of cholera. What do the hospitals there

have to work with? And how are people being treated if they can get to those hospitals?

KITROEFF: Well, hospitals in Haiti have been in a really tough situation for months. So, you know, gangs had shut down the main fuel terminal, the

main port in the country for two months. Everything on Haiti runs in fuel because there's really no functional electrical grid. So, you know, diesel

generators power hospitals and hospitals couldn't get fuel.


And so, that caused a really big hole in the medical system for months. Fuel is now flowing in the country, but there is still this problem of

violence that prevents, that makes it extremely difficult and often prevents doctors from even entering certain neighborhoods.

Cholera is eminently treatable. It is a disease that kills you because it dehydrates you. The treatment is rehydration. Sometimes intravenously, but

rehydration. And so, what you need is to be able to get close to people so that you can immediately rehydrate them. But if you cannot get close to

people, and for them to get to you is -- risks their lives, you're facing a scenario in which people are left to die at home.

And so, I would say there is a know-how in Haiti to combat cholera because cholera came to the country, scientists say, with U.N. Peacekeepers who

brought it in 2010. You know, caused around 10,000 deaths over time. This country knows actually how to beat back cholera. It's just that when you

don't have the ability to even provide the care, you can't save lives.

SREENIVASAN: When you were traveling inside, there were images from basically inside what looked like an armored vehicle. What is the national

police doing? Did -- I mean, were the out of the streets patrolling? Did they stay in the car, so to speak?

KITROEFF: Well, we traveled with the Haitian national police to the area of the support that had been taken by the gangs. We traveled there right after

the gangs had been dislodged from the port. And the port is open. You can go to the port. The police can, you know, patrol the port. But the port is

surrounded by the biggest slum in Haiti, which is called Cite Soleil. Has about 300,000 people who live there. And that area is completely controlled

by two different gangs.

And so, when -- in the armored vehicle, we traveled just a few, you know, minutes outside of the port to the shantytown that is surrounding it. The

police would not leave the armored vehicle. It was too dangerous to get outside. In fact, they put their AR-15s outside the hatches in the armored

vehicle when we stopped, because they were looking for hidden gunman.

So, the police are trying, but, you know, they are -- they have -- their arms are less powerful. You know, they are outmanned, outgunned by these

gangs. And they are underpaid as well. So, it's hard to imagine this force. I talked to the police chief. He told me, I can use all the support I can

get. These officers are trying often, but it's very difficult to confront these groups. They are armed, essentially like militias.

SREENIVASAN: It seems like when you're talking with some of the folks, they want to figure this out without outside help. And some of the people were

just so fed up that they are like, anybody, help us.

KITROEFF: That's right. It's a really contentious moment. And the request for foreign intervention comes from a government that many believe has left

them in this position, has brought them into this situation. And so, to then ask for help from the outside, obviously, it's viewed under those

conditions by the people who are living in the scenario that they believe the government has contributed to.

So, you talk to Haitians who have not been able to go out and sell anything, who have lost family members, whose children are recovering from

gunshot wounds, and they will tell you, we need help and we need it right now. And you talk to those who are, you know, looking at the political

crisis and its relationship to what is going on, and they say, how could foreign troops solve this problem? When it is so deeply ingrained into the

system that is governing us right now?

SREENIVASAN: Natalie Kitroeff of "The New York Times", thanks so much for joining us.

KITROEFF: Thank you, Hari.


AMANPOUR: It's so important to keep that spotlight on.

And finally, tonight, a tribute to Fleetwood Mac's legendary singer, songwriter, Christine McVie. She has died at the age of 79. She was the

magic behind some of their biggest hits, including "Little Lies" and "Everywhere." And her bandmates posted their own touching tributes, Stevie

Nicks wrote, a few hours ago, I was told that my best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975, had passed away.


While band founder, Mick Fleetwood said, this is a day where my dear sweet friend, Christine McVie, has taken to flight and left us Earthbound folks

to listen with bated breath to the sounds of that songbird.

And we want to leave you now with the sound of that much loved some. So, thanks for watching and goodbye from London.