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President Obama’s Newsweek Haiti Essay: ‘Why Haiti Matters’

Posted by: Audiegrl

In the tragic aftermath of Haiti’s 7.0 earthquake, images of the disaster break our hearts and remind us of the fragility of life. What America must do now—and why

By President Barack Obama in
In the last week, we have been deeply moved by the heartbreaking images of the devastation in Haiti: parents searching through rubble for sons and daughters; children, frightened and alone, looking for their mothers and fathers. At this moment, entire parts of Port-au-Prince are in ruins, as families seek shelter in makeshift camps. It is a horrific scene of shattered lives in a poor nation that has already suffered so much.

In response, I have ordered a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives in Haiti. We have launched one of the largest relief efforts in recent history. I have instructed the leaders of all agencies to make our response a top priority across the federal government. We are mobilizing every element of our national capacity: the resources of development agencies, the strength of our armed forces, and most important, the compassion of the American people. And we are working closely with the Haitian government, the United Nations, and the many international partners who are also aiding in this extraordinary effort.

We act for the sake of the thousands of American citizens who are in Haiti, and for their families back home; for the sake of the Haitian people who have been stricken with a tragic history, even as they have shown great resilience; and we act because of the close ties that we have with a neighbor that is only a few hundred miles to the south.

But above all, we act for a very simple reason: in times of tragedy, the United States of America steps forward and helps. That is who we are. That is what we do. For decades, America’s leadership has been founded in part on the fact that we do not use our power to subjugate others, we use it to lift them up—whether it was rebuilding our former adversaries after World War II, dropping food and water to the people of Berlin, or helping the people of Bosnia and Kosovo rebuild their lives and their nations.

At no time is that more true than in moments of great peril and human suffering. It is why we have acted to help people combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Africa, or to recover from a catastrophic tsunami in Asia. When we show not just our power, but also our compassion, the world looks to us with a mixture of awe and admiration. That advances our leadership. That shows the character of our country. And it is why every American can look at this relief effort with the pride of knowing that America is acting on behalf of our common humanity.

Right now, our search-and-rescue teams are on the ground, pulling people from the rubble. Americans from Virginia and California and Florida have worked round the clock to save people whom they’ve never met. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen quickly deployed to the scene. Hand in hand with our civilians, they’re laboring day and night to facilitate a massive logistical enterprise; to deliver and distribute food, water, and medicine to save lives; and to prevent an even larger humanitarian catastrophe.

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Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton Lands in Haiti, Pledges Cooperative Effort

Posted by: Audiegrl

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, third from right, meets with Haiti's President Rene Preval, third from left, to discuss conditions in the country

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, third from right, meets with Haiti's President Rene Preval, third from left, to discuss conditions in the country



U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Saturday with Haitian President Rene Preval and promised that U.S. quake relief efforts would be closely coordinated with local officials.

Clinton’s remarks appeared designed to counter any notion of a too-intrusive American involvement in the aftermath of the quake, while also assuring Haitians the humanitarian mission would continue as long as it’s needed.

We are here at the invitation of your government to help you,” she said at a news conference at the Port-au-Prince airport. “As President Obama has said, we will be here today, tomorrow and for the time ahead. And speaking personally, I know of the great resilience and strength of the Haitian people. You have been severely tested. But I believe that Haiti can come back even stronger and better in the future.”

Haiti's President Rene Preval, right, answers questions from the press as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, looks on in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010

Haiti's President Rene Preval, right, answers questions from the press as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, looks on in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010

Clinton, the highest-ranking Obama administration official to visit since the magnitude-7.0 quake struck Tuesday, arrived in a Coast Guard C-130 transport that carried bottled water, packaged food, soap and other supplies. She was accompanied by Rajiv Shah, the U.S. Agency for International Development administrator who is acting as the top U.S. relief coordinator.

Clinton also met with U.N. officials and U.S. civilians and military personnel working on the relief effort. She said she and Preval discussed his government’s priorities: restoring communications, electricity and transportation.

And we agreed that we will be coordinating closely together to achieve these goals,” she said, adding that she and Preval would issue a communique on Sunday outlining cooperation between the two countries.

Preval said he was encouraged to see former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush together with President Barack Obama at the White House earlier Saturday in a joint plea for international assistance to Haiti.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens to Haiti President Rene Preval during her visit

He noted that U.S. aid has already arrived, and he told reporters he met a survivor who was pulled from the rubble Saturday and receiving care from American medical teams. He thanked Clinton for her visit and for Obama’s continued support of Haiti.

Mrs. Clinton’s visit really warms our heart today,” he said.

During the news conference, officials noted the clatter of military helicopters landing and taking off nearby.

That’s a good sound,” Clinton said. “That means that good things are going to the people of Haiti.”

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more about "Clinton Speaks in Haiti", posted with vodpod</div

We had a very good meeting about all of the priorities of the Haitian government and the Haitian people,” Clinton said after a brief news conference following the meetings.

She said air efforts are focused on providing water, food and medical help. She also stressed the importance of restoring the country’s communications networks, electricity and transportation.

A man carries an elderly woman who needs medical attention in Port Au Prince

A man carries an elderly woman who needs medical attention in Port Au Prince

We agreed that we will be coordinating closely together to achieve these goals.”

In an interview with CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, Clinton said “every day we are making progress and I expect that to continue.”

In addition to the immediate needs, Clinton said the focus will switch next week to long-term recovery and reconstruction, telling Gupta she believed that Haiti, with the help of the international community, could be a better place than it was before Tuesday’s quake.

Helicopters fly over the heavily damaged Port-au-Prince Cathedral

Helicopters fly over the heavily damaged Port-au-Prince Cathedral

The U.S. Coast Guard plane she arrived on was carrying 100 cases of water, 100 cases of meals-ready-to-eat, and food and toiletries for about 140 U.S. Embassy staff members. Fifty Americans, who have been waiting to be evacuated, will fly back to the United States when Clinton departs.

Clinton landed hours after President Obama announced Saturday that former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush have agreed to lead an effort to raise funds for Haiti.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks to CNN’s Sanjay Gupta in Haiti about the relief efforts.

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