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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
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KEITH BUSH, EXONERATED AFTER 33 YEARS IN PRISON: And that’s how I got into the prison system and I never got out until I was 49 years old.
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AMANPOUR: Thirty-three years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. What the case of Keith Bush says about the mischarge of justice for American
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SERGIO JARAMILLO, FORMER LEAD PEACE NEGOTIATOR IN COLOMBIA: Stability in Colombia should be a number one priority of the U.S.
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AMANPOUR: It was the longest war in the Western Hemisphere, and now a fragile peace between the State of Colombia and its FARC rebels is under
threat. What this means for the region and for the United States.
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YOUSEF BASHIR, AUTHOR, “THE WORDS OF MY FATHER”: Today, I’m glad to tell you this, he was the best human being I have ever known.
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AMANPOUR: “The Words of My Father” Palestinian-American, Yousef Bashir, looks back at growing up in Gaza and that his own father’s struggle for
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
It’s a miscarriage of justice so heinous that it’s hard to believe. Imagine spending not one, not two but three decades locked up for a murder
you did not commit. That is the unfortunate real-life story of Keith Bush. At 17 years old, Bush was arrested for the murder of a teenage girl on Long
Island in New York. Bush says, police beat him and coerced a signed confession, but the jury found him guilty anyway.
Thirty-three years later in 2007, Keith Bush walked out of prison. But it was only last month that he was fully exonerated after it came to light
that prosecutors actually had another suspect and never told the defense, that witness testimony was recanted, and the DNA evidence under the
victim’s fingernails showed no link to Bush.
There’s a huge focus right now on miscarriage of justice in America. The new Netflix series “When They See Us” tells the story of the Central Park
Five case and failure of the U.S. justice system then and during the 1980s, the horrors of which still resonate today. The statistics are chilling, 95
percent of elected prosecutors are White and Black people are seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than White people.
I have been talking to Keith Bush about this and his harrowing experience, along with Nina Morrison, who is senior litigation counsel with the
Keith Bush and Nina Morrison, welcome to the program.
Keith, can I just ask you the obvious question, you have been exonerated after all of these decades. How does it feel to be a free man and have
nothing anymore hanging over your head?
BUSH: Well, you know, for me it’s a process. When you do so many years of incarceration for something you didn’t do, the trauma, you know, remains at
the core of your being. But when you’re able to overturn your conviction and enjoy the feeling of freedom, you know, it’s something that I have to,
you know, just take it step by step because I still feel the traumas of my past.
AMANPOUR: Can you take me back all of those years ago, you’re 62 years old now, you were 17 when this happened, what do you remember from when the
police first knocked on your door when this nightmare started for you?
BUSH: Well, there’s a lot of memories associated with that. And the first thing I remembered is a terrible tragedy that occurred in my community.
And it was my responsibility as well as the responsibility of the people in the community of people to find out, would help and then try to help find
out who did this terrible thing to Sharice Watson.
So, when the police knocked on my door, you know, I was willing to help in any way that I could and I thought by putting my trust in authorities, I
was doing the right thing. But as it turned out, that would become the basis of my nightmare.
AMANPOUR: That is also a very profound way to put it, you know, you thought you would put your faith into law enforcement, and instead, they
twisted that faith and played on it. You signed a confession, but afterwards said you had been coerced and beaten. Tell me about what
happened to you in the police interrogation room, what led you to sign that confession.
BUSH: You know, like that’s — you know, that’s a difficult thing for me to deal with. Even now to look back at that experience brings a lot of
trauma. But [13:05:00] one thing I can say is that when I was kidnapped and held incommunicado for like 11 hours, that I was totally unprepared for
a predicament like that and I had no way of trying to outthink or think my way through that process and I was overwhelmed by the psychological and
ultimately by the physical abuse of these officers.
And, you know, it was like being trapped, you know, in hell. And eventually, what they did to me to force me to sign that signature on that
document would change my life forever. But at no time in those hours that I was held incommunicado did I ever stand before any of these officers and
said I committed this crime. I never admitted to committing this crime.
So, when people say my confession or that I confessed to this crime, I did not confess to this crime. What I did, I signed a signature to stop them
from physically abusing me. And in fact, I didn’t know what that confession said until maybe a week later when it was first brought to my
attention. I just know I signed something.
BUSH: And signing that, that was my biggest mistake in life. And I ultimately had to pay almost 40 years of my life of suffering because of
AMANPOUR: And you were only 17 and you weren’t even allowed to call your mom.
BUSH: Well, they didn’t. I requested that on a number of occasions and they wouldn’t allow me to call my mother. But you also got to keep in mind
that I was a young 17. So, intellectually, I was not at the level where I can really comprehend the magnitude of what was happening to me. I was
just trying to call my mother for guidance that most kids would do in a predicament like that.
AMANPOUR: Oh, my goodness. Nina, to you. You’re with the Innocence Project who does so much work on these cases. Now, neither you nor the
project were involved in the case. However, you did look into the DNA evidence during the exoneration process.
You know, we, as I said, are in the Central Park Five era, the film has come out, there’s been so much focus on overzealous prosecutors and
miscarriage of justice and the — inordinately high rate of Black miscarriage of justice towards Black people by overwhelmingly number of
White prosecutors. Just put it in context to us, and when you listen to what Keith just told me, it beggars belief in the United States at this
NINA MORRISON, SENIOR LITIGATION COUNSEL, INNOCENCE PROJECT: It really does. I mean, I think one thing that Keith’s case shows both on the front
end and back end, meaning at the time of his original wrongful arrest and prosecution and conviction and his ultimate exoneration more than 40 years
later is the incredible power prosecutors wield in our justice system, both to do harm and to make it right.
Because this is actually a story in which prosecutors concealed evidence pointing to someone else, the person who current law enforcement says is in
all likelihood the man who actually murdered the victim in this case. They concealed evidence, really good evidence pointing to someone else that the
jury never heard about. And then four decades later, a newly elected prosecutor provided that evidence to Keith’s lawyers and did a full
reinvestigation of the case and came forward and didn’t just say he didn’t get a fair trial, they actually stepped up and said he’s innocent.
This exoneration would not have happened without the tireless efforts of Keith and his lawyer for over a decade but it also may not have happened
was there was not a prosecutor’s office in Suffolk County that said, “We’re going to take a look at this.” And put dozens and dozens of hours into
going back and looking into this and making it right, and I think they need credit where credit is due.
AMANPOUR: Well, I think that is the good news, obviously, in a pitiful and shameful situation. But you’re right, I mean, there is a whole sort of
movement in the United States, it seems anyways, to reform this wayward and, you know, wrong-headed prosecutorial zeal.
Keith, let me just ask you, and I know nothing will make up for it but I don’t want to keep, you know, I guess dig into your trauma. But do you
have the right to claim for every year that you were wrongfully incarcerated, a payout. Do you plan to do that? And I think it’s
something like a million dollars per year is owed to you.
BUSH: Yes. I’ve discussed that with my attorney. But first, let me say that’s not why I was constantly pursuing this and there’s no amount of
money that can bring back, you know, the joy that was taken [13:10:00] from me when I was kidnapped. But I will say this, that, you know, that’s
something I’m currently discussing with my attorneys and my family, and we’ll probably do something like that.
But more importantly, I plan to raise the question of accountability, because you do have some of these officers who still are living and yet,
although the criminal justice system is trying to make some corrective changes to improve upon itself, there is not this question of
AMANPOUR: Yes. And, Keith, you mentioned accountability and detective is still alive. August Stahl, who arrested you, is definitely not
apologizing. And apparently, according to court documents, he used some ugly racial language saying that, “In fact, you should have been executed.”
He denies now in — to the press that he ever said anything like that. But he says that he has no doubt that he got the right person for that murder.
You know, after all of these years and your exoneration and the Suffolk County District, you know, prosecutor, what do you say to Detective Stahl
BUSH: First of all, Detective Stahl’s fate is in the hands of the creator. Detective Stahl also testified in this trial, he raised his right hand and
he swore to tell the truth and he did so in God’s name. Detective Stahl lied on the witness stand and he’s accountable, you know, to God and
hereafter. Detective Stahl made some statements that was very disturbing 44 years after what he did to me in 1975.
And if Detective Stahl was so convinced that they got the right man, how did they get the confession wrong? Because the facts of the case clearly
showed the way the confession was constructed by these officers, that it could not have occurred that way.
AMANPOUR: One other thing I read and I find it, I mean, so shocking is that even at your parole hearings, you refused to confirm and confess and
admit. And because of that, you say, you were given even more years, maybe a dozen extra years in jail because you would not confirm and confess to
this crime and apologize at a parole hearing.
BUSH: Let me just say this, that — and this is a known fact, there are no people incarcerated. whether they are murderers, rapers, robbers, burglars
or drug dealers, they are — none of them that — has been abused or mistreated more so than someone who can — maintains their innocence, and
that happens from the beginning of their incarceration through the whole process.
Parole frowns upon the claim of innocence. They have done so for many years. I have been very fortunate to overturn my conviction. But the
truth of the matter is, and I know this personally, there are individuals who have done just as much and more time in prison as I have for
maintaining their innocence and these guys have life sentences like I did, parole release is a consideration. And because I had a life sentence, you
know, these guys have life sentences, they have been systematically denied parole because parole frowns on innocence, like every other aspect of the
criminal justice system, and it’s difficult to prove that.
If you look and study that, you’ll find that you got guys that are sitting in there probably with 40-something years because they continue to maintain
their innocence. And I know some of them personally.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, let me just play this because it goes to the heart of what you’re saying. There was a very famous case a few years ago, the
Louisiana prosecutor, Marty Stroud, made headlines when he spoke to “60 Minutes” and spoke out with a very emotional apology for sending an
innocent man to death row.
Glenn Ford was eventually released after 30 years, but then he learned he had lung cancer and only months to live. And here’s the exchange as played
on “60 Minutes.”
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MARTY STROUD, LOUISIANA PROSECUTOR: I was arrogant, narcissistic, caught up in the culture of winning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Win regardless of the facts, the truth?
STROUD: Looking back on it, yes. There was a question about other people’s involvement. I should have followed up on that. I didn’t do
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were on death row for 30 years.
GLENN FORD: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever come close to an execution date?
FORD: It came within a week because a judge said he was retiring and he wanted [13:15:00] to put a death date on me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, look, it’s just so shocking but it does play right into my next question to you, Nina, because Ava DuVernay, the director, has done
“When They See Us,” which is about the Central Park Five and the miscarriage of justice and she’s worked before for the American justice
system, and she says she thinks this system is actually working as these prosecutors and these others actually intended to. Listen to this.
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AVA DUVERNAY, CREATOR, CO-WRITER & DIRECTOR, “WHEN THEY SEE US”: I mean, a lot of people talk about the system being broken but I don’t believe the
system is broken, I believe it’s working exactly as it was built to work and it’s important for forward-thinking people who actually care about true
justice to analyze this, to understand how it was built, what the context for it is in the past and now, to work to dismantle it in the future. It
really can’t be reformed. It has to be completely overhauled.
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AMANPOUR: So, on that note, Nina, even though there is this movement amongst prosecutors to dig into these cases and to, you know, look at what
previous prosecutors have done to correct and exonerate, I mean, the whole system needs overhauling, doesn’t it?
MORRISON: Absolutely. I mean, we have seen a system for decades that tolerated injustice and we have seen people coming within days of
execution, people being executed for crimes they didn’t commit, people losing decades of their lives and they get out and we say, “That’s so
horrible. How did this happen?” And then we want to ask them about, “What did you have for lunch? And how is it being reunited with your family?”
And too often we just try to move on, and that’s unacceptable.
You know, as long as we have a system where we tolerate public defenders that have to handle 200 cases, that don’t have money to hire forensic
experts to look at the crime scene evidence, who have to force 90 percent of their clients to take plea bargains because they don’t have the
resources and courts don’t have the resources to take those cases to trial as the constitution requires, we are all so responsible for a system that
is going to see more men like Keith Bush.
And then there is the question of accountability. You know, I really believe that most people in the justice system, the vast majority,
including police and prosecutors, you know, wake up in the morning and saying, “I’m going to go out and convict an innocent man today or woman,”
they don’t. And they do their best to get it right.
But as, you know, Marty Stroud, the former prosecutor, very eloquently said, there has been a culture of win at all cost where people who do that,
who secure the most convictions get promoted and if they get caught red- handed cheating or breaking the rules, they are often thought don’t get caught again or try to do it differently next time. And they don’t lose
their law licenses, they don’t lose their jobs, and that absolutely has to change.
AMANPOUR: And I’m afraid a culture of racism.
MORRISON: And it’s very hard to measure the extent to which racism pervades every aspect of our justice system, but we know it is there, we
know it. You know, Keith had a jury that was composed of 11 White people and one African-American, and they were still out deliberating for three
days with the evidence that they had.
And one can only imagine if he had a jury of his peers, would he even have gone to prison in the first place? We see it in charging decisions, we see
it in the sentences people receive and, you know, we all have to make a commitment to take it head on.
And for those people who have not seen Ava’s series “When They See Us” on Netflix, it is extraordinary. It’s very hard to watch, I will say, even as
someone who’s done this work a long time, I had to stop it a few times and catch my breath, but it is required watching.
AMANPOUR: I can’t thank you enough for joining us, Keith Bush, thank you so much. And you too, Nina Morrison, thank you very, very much indeed.
And, Keith, we want to congratulate you. I understand that you’re engaged and I hope that you live your life with happiness now.
BUSH: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.
MORRISON: Thanks, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And now, from criminal justice in America to post-war justice and reconciliation in Colombia.
After half a century, 200,000 deaths and millions displaced, Colombia’s 2016 peace deal was celebrated around the world. The United States have
played a key role getting them to this place. But now, that peace is at risk.
Roughly a third of the fighters in Colombia’s former FARC rebel army have taken up farms again, drug trafficking in on the rise and pockets of
Colombia are still under the control of guerrillas and paramilitaries. All this comes at a critical time for the country. More than a million
migrants have spilled over the borders from neighboring Venezuela, which is engulfed in its own deep political and economic crisis.
Sergio Jaramillo played an instrumental role in negotiating peace on behalf of the Colombian government. And I have been speaking about this worrying
escalation of violence and threat to this hard-won peace deal.
Sergio Jaramillo, welcome to the program.
JARAMILLO: Thank you very much for having me.
AMANPOUR: This was a big, big deal when the peace was signed finally between Colombia [13:20:00] and the rebels. Just put it into context.
JARAMILLO: Well, it was a very big deal. I say it’s a miracle actually that such a large insurgency, 10,000-plus, and well-funded insurgency would
lay down arms in a textbook fashion with U.N. verification and security council on top.
I mean, if you look at what’s going on in the rest of the world, comparable insurgencies, the Taliban in Afghanistan, our American friends have spent
almost $2 trillion and they are now negotiating their exits, it seems. So, you know, it was a very improbable (ph) thing, it was very, very hard to
And if you look at what’s happening with the FARC itself and how it transitioned into politics, that bit of the peace process is working very
well. They have transformed into a political force.
AMANPOUR: So, what’s not working? Because we hear that, I don’t know, 3,000 or more have taken up arms again, that there isn’t the rural
investment and economic replacement, if you like, to sustain them.
JARAMILLO: Yes. So, the deal was not just about the FARC’s disarmament because no guerrilla negotiates just simply its own disarmament, it’s about
more. And what it was about was putting an end to the historic conflict in Colombia by addressing the factors or causes that kept the violence going.
So, that’s why we agreed to do a rural development program, that’s why we agreed to address differently the problem of drugs and similarly, to expand
So, all of those things that don’t have to do directly with the FARC transformation are doing much less well, and the secretary general of the
U.N. is right to call it a critical juncture now.
AMANPOUR: This is what I asked the new president less than a year ago when he was in New York, Ivan Duque. I asked him, “Are you going to basically,
you know, dismantle this peace process?” This is what he said to me.
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IVAN DUQUE MARQUEZ, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT: I have said it publicly, we want to fulfill the word of the Colombian State for people who are making the
transition. To legality, we will fulfill the word. We will help them succeed. But people who want to remain in criminal activities will be
brought to justice.
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AMANPOUR: So, unpick that statement because it sounds perfectly normal, we want it to succeed, we want to honor the Colombian State, as you just
mentioned, but people will be brought to justice if necessary. Which part of that do you not agree with?
JARAMILLO: Well, first of all, the government tends to say, whenever it’s addressing an international community, that it will implement the
agreements. But when you actually look at what’s going on, that’s not what’s happening. Just take any — take the first point, which was the
issue of rural development.
JARAMILLO: We agreed to set up a fund with 3 million hectares to distribute to small workers, campesinos, and none of it has happened.
AMANPOUR: The peasants, so to speak.
JARAMILLO: Peasants, yes.
JARAMILLO: That’s not happening. We agreed to give titles of formulized 7 million hectares, Colombia — 55 percent of the Colombian countryside has
no titles. So, people can’t access credits, it makes life much more difficult and dangerous because it’s easier to take away their property.
What the government is doing on that front is almost nothing —
AMANPOUR: But see, the question still is why? I mean, what sane person would want to undo and unravel a peace process that was so he hard fought
and hard negotiated? You were one of the main negotiators. That was, you know, as you have written yourself, one of the longest conflicts ever, it
exhausted all of the superlatives, it’s the oldest, the widest, above all, the one that left the most victims.
After Syria, Colombia has the largest displaced population, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
JARAMILLO: Exactly right.
AMANPOUR: What’s not to love about a peace process?
JARAMILLO: Well, politics. Because the politics are not in sync with peace because Colombia is actually, in this sense, no exception. We have
the same politics in Italy, the same policies in this country, the same policies in the U.S., of polarization, and that takes over, it fills all of
AMANPOUR: So, you’re saying these people who are not fulfilling the terms are ready to see cocoa production and cocaine, you know, drug lords
empowered, they are ready to see a peace process collapse and more civilians killed and maybe more kidnappings, the whole return to that
really disastrous state of affairs for Colombia. I mean, that’s what you’re saying.
JARAMILLO: Well, what we have to recognize, there is a difference between the president who, as I said in my view, is trapped, and his own party,
which is actually a minority party. Does not — he does not have a majority in Congress that has — was built on very, very radical positions.
So, the government tries a little bit, tries, but its own party in Congress pulls it into the radical direction and brings a lot of instability into
the peace process.
AMANPOUR: I just want to play something President Santos, you know, the one who actually made this deal with you helping him there, said to me just
after the historic handshake [13:25:00] with the FARC, which is as you said about 2015.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS, FORMER COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT: Being a country in war, you can simply show the trophies to the people and people will applaud you
continually. Making peace is much more difficult because you have to convince people who have been victims, that want revenge to change their
way of seeing life, to learn how to forgive. That is more difficult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, more difficult is an understatement. Do you think of yourself as a negotiator, President Santos as president, underestimated
either the people’s desire for justice and retribution or political opposition’s desire?
JARAMILLO: I think we did underestimate the strength of the polarization because we had — as you know, we had a referendum like in this country
which we improbably lost by .3 of a percent but we still lost, also by low turnout, only 18 percent voted for the no vote, but still we lost. And one
wonders, well, why is that possible?
And you see the same kind of arguments from this country, completely improbable things that we’re going to hand over the country to the FARC,
that we were going to turn Colombia into Venezuela, that we were going corrupt children, none of this happened. But still the political climate
today in the world, not just in Colombia, is such that it’s very difficult to get these things across, such — even such an obvious thing as peace.
So, I think we did good — evidently, did not do a good enough job for preparing Colombians for what this meant.
AMANPOUR: And just to recap, you lost that referendum but then, nonetheless, it was signed into law.
JARAMILLO: Yes, because in the case of Colombia, those who opposed the peace agreement, and first among them, Former President Uribe, always said,
“We’re not against peace, we’re not against negotiations but we have objections. We want modifications. Don’t break the negotiations but we
So, when we lost, we said, “Very well, you’ve won. What is it you want to modify?” So, we sat down with them, these are the people who are now in
government. We sat down with them for about a month, including a full week locked up in the (INAUDIBLE) interior working on a joint document of 60
things they wanted changed. So, we went back and we negotiated after we lost.
AMANPOUR: With the FARC?
JARAMILLO: With the FARC. And we negotiated 58 of the 60 things. And came back and said, “Look.” You know, this was extremely hard because
obviously for the FARC it was all concessions, concessions, concessions to the government, and they still did it, which was very mature.
But obviously, it wasn’t good enough because Former President Uribe had already noticed that he built a political base with this result and wasn’t
going to sort of go for any kind of handshake and say, “OK. Well done.” And that built the political base and then using also the specter of
Venezuela, facilitated winning the last elections. That’s what happens.
AMANPOUR: Politics party now — yes.
JARAMILLO: Politics trumps peace. That’s the sad lesson.
AMANPOUR: I will tell you, it’s quite a stab in the gut when you think about it. Just tell me what will your country look like if this thing
completely unravels? You’re saying you’re at a critical juncture. I know you are not ready to — you know, to walk on the grave of the peace
process. But what happens if it collapses? Just what will Colombia look like?
JARAMILLO: Well, it will be absolutely terrible. I mean, can you imagine a country — today we have 7 million plus (INAUDIBLE) displaced persons
(ph) in Colombia. I mean, that is massive. And if you look at the situation in Venezuela, which I personally regard as the biggest crisis in
the world today, then you have really an explosive cocktail.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about Venezuela because you mentioned it several times and it’s obviously really big for the United States, for your
continent. It looks like the opposition made a gamble that failed. It looks like the United States and even President Ivan Duque of Colombia made
a gamble that so far hasn’t paid off. In order words, the opposition is going to win by persuading the military to defect and that Maduro’s regime
would fall. It hasn’t happened.
JARAMILLO: If you look carefully at what’s going on, I think it’s fair to say that both sides realize they don’t really have a way out. Because you
might say the government’s strategy is to hang on, sit out the opposition and just continue, and that’s what it’s doing probably. But things are
getting worse and worse and worse. And there’s a real danger of social anarchy exploding in Venezuela. We saw it not long ago in Maracaibo and
the government knows it’s running out of money and it needs a way out, and it knows it has no legitimacy.
[13:30:00] So, Venezuela needs to move into a transition. It needs to move into a transition because nobody is going to support with the resources you
need to change Venezuela with the current government. But the current government is not simply going to go and say “OK, good, here are the keys
to the presidential palace. You can take over.” You need to talk. You need to talk.
AMANPOUR: And they are apparently in Norway. They’ve been talking.
JARAMILLO: They have begun talking. it’s very insipient but I think in my personal view is by far the best chance they have to come to a reasonable
AMANPOUR: I mean the United States has historically invested a huge amount in the Colombian peace process. It said that the Trump administration
doesn’t look very interested in the actual nitty-gritty and hard work of keeping a peace alive.
So they quote a former U.S. envoy to the peace process, you may know him, Bernard Aronson.
JARAMILLO: Good friend, yes.
AMANPOUR: Twenty years ago, Colombia was on the verge of being a failed state but the United States has been crucial in helping turn the situation
around. To walk away now, especially with Venezuela imploding, would be a colossal act of shooting ourselves in the head.
JARAMILLO: Absolutely. Because if you look at it with the perspective of 20 years, Colombia could look actually like the biggest — and I’m not
exaggerating — the biggest foreign policy success for the U.S.
We had bipartisan support since 2000 under Clinton for big support to Colombia, especially in security matters and to the policy of drugs. When
things were right, we had very strong support for the negotiation and very hands-on support, which we always thanked President Obama for and Secretary
Kerry and Bernie.
And then we have a classic negotiation that ends with the grievance disarming. Where else has that happened I would like to know?
AMANPOUR: So what would you say to the current administration which seems to not be focused on this? I mean President Trump is known as a
transactional but he understands deals. There was so much investment as you’ve just laid out by the United States militarily, economically, in
terms of peace negotiating.
Isn’t there an argument to be put to President Trump that this could actually fit right into his sweet spot of that transactional nature of his
belief in foreign policy? Just get in there, keep up the investment, and make it a legacy.
JARAMILLO: Absolutely. Absolutely. Not only that but Colombia actually became a source of stability in South America. We started even helping
security which is such a big issue. This migration that is so big, we started helping the Central American countries, the Caribbean countries to
strengthen their security operations, for example.
And now with the crisis of Venezuela, stability in Colombia should be a number one priority of the U.S. and I think most people in Washington
AMANPOUR: Have you spoken to President Santos as this situation, as you say —
JARAMILLO: Yes, yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: — others may be unraveling. And?
JARAMILLO: Yes. Well, he’s worried. He’s worried. But I think he should be perhaps a bit more worried because again things can really go wrong.
AMANPOUR: >What can he do then?
JARAMILLO: Well, I think there is an interesting situation in Colombia now. Because the government tried some very aggressive moves against the
peace process which were completely unnecessary.
For example, the president decided to veto a critical transitional justice bill that had already gone through the review of the constitutional court.
Almost no president dared to do that and not on such a serious matter.
So, obviously, this destabilizes everything and the FARC thought, oh, there’s no legal security anymore and what ended up happening as expected
was the government was thoroughly defeated in Congress. It’s actually the Colombian courts and Congress that is keeping the peace process alive in
But given that the government has seen that that doesn’t work, there may be a window now to think again and say, OK, now there’s no point on just
wasting our time going against a peace process. Now that they’re in power, let’s try and see if we can leave some of this behind us and just work
towards the future of Colombia. That’s what the president should do.
AMANPOUR: The previous president?
JARAMILLO: Well, that’s what the current president should do. That’s what President Duque should do.
And the previous president has been very careful, Santos, not to do to Duque what he did to him. Because poor President Santos had to govern
through eight years of constant attacks from his predecessor which made life very difficult
AMANPOUR: And compromise the peace. How does it feel to you personally though? I mean you’ve spent so many hours on these negotiations.
JARAMILLO: I think it’s a kind of mixed thing [13:35:00] frankly. I think Venezuela makes a big difference because if Venezuela’s stabilized, then
everything is much easier.
If Venezuela remains what it is and we have a million Venezuelans and hard right using Venezuela to scare everyone — because that actually got going
in Colombia. I mean what Bolsonaro did in Brazil and what even President Trump has done in the U.S., the first one to do that was former President
Rio which is to say if you don’t vote for me, the country is going to turn into Venezuela and that really scares people. It really scares people.
AMANPOUR: Sergio Jaramillo, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
JARAMILLO: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So we turn now from that uneasy situation in Colombia to one of the longest-running conflicts in the world, the Middle East, where the U.S.
also has a massive stake and the Trump administration is slowly rolling out its peace plan.
Yousef Bashir was just 15-years-old when an Israeli soldier shot him in the back outside his home in Gaza. But in the months after the attack, he
would see a different side of his occupiers as a team of Israeli doctors helped him learn to walk again.
Now an adult, Bashir has become an advocate for peace following in his father’s footsteps. He documents his journey in his memoir “The Words of
My Father” and he spoke to our Alicia Menendez about how he has managed to forgive.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ALICIA MENENDEZ, CONTRIBUTOR: You were born in 1989. Describe to me the Gaza of your childhood.
YOUSEF BASHIR, AUTHOR, THE WORDS OF MY FATHER: The Gaza of my childhood was something more of a fairy tale movie in my mind. I saw a beautiful
farm, beautiful house, beautiful family, laughter.
There was a (INAUDIBLE) next to our house but everything was calm and I thought it was going to be that way for the rest of my life.
MENENDEZ: And what changed?
BASHIR: It changed in 2000. In 2000, things changed drastically when the Second Intifada started and the soldiers who were just dancing music toward
the 90s were now shooting for no reason at my house, knowing that we’re here inside the house.
So from 2000 to 2005, that world that I took for granted was never the same.
MENENDEZ: And you’re seeing this through the eyes of a child who’s watching your neighborhood change. Zoom out for us, geopolitically, what
was happening in Gaza at the time.
BASHIR: At the time, the peace talks failed, Camp David, Arafat, and Ehud Barak, they couldn’t make a deal. So the Second Intifada broke out,
especially after the visit of the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon to Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem.
So a lot of demonstrations, a lot of protests against the soldiers, a lot of arrests, a lot of killings. It was an all-out war, something I had
never seen before.
I’ve heard my elders in the house talk about the First Intifada and the previous wars and clashes that happened between Israelis and Palestinians
but this was very my first time to see it in real life with my own eyes.
MENENDEZ: Your father had an unshakable belief in living peacefully alongside the settlers. What is your suspicion about why he believes so
firmly in peace?
BASHIR: I think that he had — he was raised very well by his mother, my grandmother. And he was — had the secret to his — to everything.
I actually mentioned that in the book, it is his connection to God. That was I am a Muslim, I don’t have to make a scene of it. And his connection
and faith in his religion and his creator brought him closer to his house, to his friends, to his family, even his enemies.
MENENDEZ: How did your father’s belief in peacefully coexisting with his Israeli neighbors shape you?
BASHIR: They were difficult for me at the beginning. Because I watched him — I watched him strongly believe that we are from nowhere else but
I mean, I have nine names in my name. My name is Yousef (INAUDIBLE) Bashir.
And as a kid in the book, at 10-years-old and 12-years-old, I didn’t care but he took that to heart. I mean that’s all he spoke about.
And his coexistence with the Israelis was the fact that they are also the children of Abraham. No matter what happens or what we do to each other,
I’m always going to believe in that idea and the concept of the children of Abraham.
MENENDEZ: And did you question his belief in peace?
BASHIR: I sure did. I sure did. [13:40:00] Not that I was born angry.
But at the time, we moved from living happily, building a house. He had his job, family, grandmother. I mean it was a beautiful, beautiful living
situation for me in Gaza.
And suddenly I see the soldiers not just shooting at the house, everything not just happening on T.V. It’s happening in my living room where suddenly
I have to ask for a permit to go to the bathroom.
I have to ask for a permit to come home late. Suddenly, I was even fighting with him about doing teenage things.
MENENDEZ: Right. What you’re talking about is September 2000, you were 11-years-old, your house actually gets taken over by soldiers. There’s a
passage that I would love for you to read on page 56.
BASHIR: Absolutely. A few days later, without any explanation, our neighbors from the base became our house guests. They simply walked into
our home as if we were not there, moved into the upper two floors and set up their guns on the rooftop.
They had taken over our house in the blink of an eye just like that. My older sister shouted at them, where are you going? She tried to block
But they just walked past without even acknowledging her presence. Right then and there, they took over our house. From our top floor, they could
see the whole neighborhood.
They smashed holes through the upstairs wall to set up gun positions. They covered all of the windows with camouflage netting and installed automatic
machine guns at each corner of the roof.
The guns had cameras attached to them so they can shoot whenever they registered danger. We assumed that the guns could shoot on their own,
though we were not sure of that. Instinctively, I knew never to be in their sights.
MENENDEZ: What did the day to day actually look like sleeping, eating, using the restroom?
BASHIR: The soldiers took over the second floor and the third floor every night. At least five nights out of the seven nights a week, they came
downstairs and moved all of us to the living room.
Sometimes that began at 8:00 p.m., at 4:00 p.m. or after midnight, 12 or 1. And they would keep us there for hours. Sometimes, for until the next
morning comes and all we do is run to the bathroom, try to get ready and off to the car to drive to school with my dad.
And sometimes, they’ll keep us there for a week or two without any access to the outside world. And to get food, especially during Ramadan, we had
to — Ramadan, as you know, is a whole festivity at night when you can eat. We had to go to the kitchen, escorted by a soldier, come back with the
foods that my mom would end up just picking a corner in the living room and try to fix us something to eat when it’s time to eat.
But all of that meant nothing to my dad. If you come home without an A on your exams, don’t come home. I don’t care if World War II is happening
here, we are still going to survive and make it because that’s what we do.
MENENDEZ: What was the experience of living with these so-called house guests in your home?
BASHIR: It was incredibly confusing just to call them that was appalling to me. And I blamed my dad for that but he had his own vision and
He didn’t want them to use any reason to take away the house, the land that he spent his life farming and caring about. And my dad, I think he loved
the land just as much as he loved my mom and the rests of us.
So I watched them when they demolished the greenhouses. And this was after a good three years into the whole experience.
And here he is always advocating for peace and no, no, no, we’re not going to turn angry. And I watched him watch his farms get demolished just like
And I said this is it. He’s about to give up and he didn’t. He said — he looked back, he watched the whole thing and he said OK, we will figure out
and try to build it again.
And that was all he said after that. And to this day, I just remember how — is he a real human being? And today, I’m glad to tell you that he was
the best human being I have ever known.
MENENDEZ: Was there [13:45:00] resistance from the broader community to the way that your father chose to treat the Israelis?
BASHIR: There was. There was disagreement. His friends, best friends, they thought that this is difficult. I could never do that.
There was a lot of justified anger that was going on in the house but in the end, they all applauded his stamina and his belief that all he needed
to do is not leave the house.
Some neighbors left and their houses were demolished a couple of hours later. So my dad didn’t want the same to happen to his house.
MENENDEZ: You’re living in the home. You, your grandmother, siblings, your parents, quarantined to a living room, soldiers are on the top floor.
And on top of that, your house also became a satellite studio for international media. What was it like to have that much attention on your
BASHIR: It was — it made me feel normal again. It made me feel that my dad wasn’t all by himself.
And he got nearly half a million postcards from kids in high school, teachers, ordinary people from across the world, India, Canada, U.S.,
England, including Jewish people, who told him we heard about your story and we watched your story and we saw what you’re trying to do and we hope
that you will continue to live in the house.
Watching that — I was a kid, so I wasn’t getting all of the attention. And I wasn’t — I was just always, can I come here? Can I go there?
Whether it’s my dad or the soldiers.
I remembering being impressed that maybe this guy had the plan after all. I’m going to get the attention of the press, I’m going to be who I am, I’m
going to tell them how I believe and how I see the world, including my soldiers who are occupying my house for no reason.
And hopefully that sends a message to the soldiers that we’re not alone and maybe they have to do whatever they have to do but they’re not going to
demolish the house, they’re not going to shoot all of us without anyone noticing. Because many moments, it came close to us thinking they would
just do that.
MENENDEZ: You write about a series of incidents in which you either witnessed violence or props that led to violence. What happens when you’re
BASHIR: When I was 15, I left school. I stayed behind because I tried to make every minute outside of the house count. So I stayed behind to play
some pickup soccer and wear my favorite first authentic soccer t-shirt.
And I saw my dad and three United Nations officers at the tower where the soldiers are, asked for a permit to enter the house. For some unknown
reason, I would never know, I decided to put — drop my bike and sit in on the conversation with my dad, between my dad and the three Americans.
They were granted a permit to visit for 15 minutes. After five minutes or so, the soldier asked them to leave.
And so they without questions got up and walked back to the car. And as I watched their jeep back away from the house in the driveway, my dad is in
front of me and I remember just waving with my hand bye and, boom, the soldier at the tower shot me.
And right then and there, I lost control of my lower half and my dad was just a few feet away from me. I felt he was so — couldn’t be further. I
couldn’t even speak.
I didn’t feel pain. I was trying to figure out what just happened. And I remember my grandmother was 85 or something, attempting to run.
My youngest brother running and kicking and screaming and my mom running and I thought oh, my God, this is it. And he comes back around and shoves
me into the U.N. car and off to the hospital.
MENENDEZ: It was an Israeli soldier who shot you.
MENENDEZ: It was also an Israeli doctor who saved you. How do you reconcile that duality in your own mind?
BASHIR: To watch the people who inflicted a tremendous amount of pain on not only me but the rest of my family and the rest of my people, I’ve known
the Jewish people through the settlers and soldiers my whole life. The best representative of the Jewish people was my dad.
It wasn’t the soldiers. It wasn’t my — it wasn’t the settlers.
And then to watch the very same people ask me with smiley face describes the level of your pain, can you move your toes? Can you lift them? Can
you do? Can you try?
That is, I think, the greatest gift I have ever received in my life, to see the human side of my enemy because that spared me from a great deal of
having to hate them for the rest of my life when the soldier who shot me for no reason. Because that showed me the light of what I could do next.
MENENDEZ: Both the experience of being held prisoner in your own home and the experience of being shot as a 15-year-old, unbelievable story. When is
the first time you shared that story publicly?
BASHIR: At the seats of Peace International Camp in May.
MENENDEZ: Which is?
BASHIR: Which is organized by an organization called Seeds of Peace. They’re dedicated to bringing the next generation of adversary kids from
Israel, kids from Palestine, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, to a camp in Maine to try to provide the future generations of these countries with that
MENENDEZ: The first time you shared your story, what’s the response?
BASHIR: I will never forget it. I remember the Palestinians, the Israelis and the Americans crying together, glad that I was alive.
It gave me hope that maybe despite everything that we have done to each other and despite everything that we will continue to do to each other,
maybe I will use my experience to give that last touch of hope when everything seems like there’s no more hope.
MENENDEZ: After spending the time in Maine, what was it like then to go back to Gaza?
BASHIR: It was hard because here I am, OK, I believe in peace, no revenge, no violence. And I go back to, guess who, the soldiers in the house.
Only this time, I have matured like never before. I have matured. I have matured.
And I treated the soldiers the way my dad treated them. By the time, they are serious and do this, go there. I would just do the same thing as he
did to them, treat them as children.
MENENDEZ: At the end of the book, you write a letter to the soldier who shot you. I would like for you to read a page. It’s 213.
BASHIR: I wanted to hate you but a miracle happened. No, not the miracle that I can walk again. Another miracle.
One that was shown to me through my father’s commitment to peace, my mother’s unfathomable love, and the doctors and nurses who attended to me
with the deepest compassion. It is the miracle of forgiveness.
Without your bullet, I might never have understood forgiveness. You’re created by the same God who created me.
You have the same humanity as I have. You are part of the same family as I am.
I forgive you, my cousin, in peace.
MENENDEZ: A peace offering. Why in the book this way?
BASHIR: Everything that happened in my life was because of a soldier and my father if I’m going to bring it down to two people. And I spoke of the
soldier and my father has toured 20 states throughout my 10 years in this country.
And I have always spoke of the soldier and my father, the soldier and my father.
And I don’t have my father. I like to believe that one day, I’m going to sit in front of a soldier, across from a dinner table, lunch table or
whatever, and tell them what I’ve been doing since the moment he decided to shoot me for no reason.
I think it will be powerful for me and I hope it will be just as powerful for him. Because if I can sit down with the person who nearly killed me
for no reason, then I hope everybody else can get over it and see the path forward.
MENENDEZ: What do you say to those who believe that what is happening in your homeland is an irreconcilable conflict?
BASHIR: I tell them that if God is capable of forgiveness, then why shouldn’t we? The human beings who have done nothing but mistakes.
We do wrongs. I, in the book, talking about that. We manipulate. We — everyone has their own interpretation.
And God said I could have made you into one nation, one tribe. But instead, I’ve made you into nations and tribes so that you get to know one
another, not fight one another or persecute one another or assassinate or imprison one another. And that’s always and forever will be my response to
MENENDEZ: Yousef, thank you so much.
BASHIR: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And as with any peace process, it is precisely that kind of forgiveness that’s key to making it stick.
That’s it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching Amanpour and Company on PBS and join us again tomorrow night.