Hotel Rwanda Essay

This essay has a total of 1586 words and 8 pages.

Hotel Rwanda

I decided to surf the internet in search of inspiration, and I found it on the mediate.com
website. Robert Benjamin's article "Hotel Rwanda and the Guerrilla Negotiator" definitely
caught my eye…particularly since I had checked the DVD out from the library last Friday
but hadn't yet watched it. Benjamin's article piqued my interest enough to do some
additional research on Rwanda, and passion was born.


While a colony of Belgium, Rwanda was separated into two tribal groups which many say was
based on physical characteristics such as the wideness of the nose: the common Tutsi
(majority), and the upper-class Hutu (minority). For many years, the Tutsis were powerful
and mistreated the Hutus. In 1962, Rwanda gained its independence from Belgium, the power
shifted to the Hutus, many of whom wanted to exact their revenge on the enemy Tutsis.


In 1993, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire was put in charge of the United Nations Mission
to Rwanda to facilitate implementation of the Arusha peace accords after they were signed
by the Hutus and the Tutsis. That mission was derailed when the Hutu president's plane was
shot down by Tutsi rebels. The president's assassination was the precipitating event of
what would become known as the genocide in Rwanda.


"When people ask me, good listeners,
why do I hate all the Tutsi, I say:
read our history. The Tutsi were
collaborators for the Belgian colonists,
they stole our Hutu land, they whipped us.
Now they have come back. We will
squash the infestation."
-- ITLM Hutu Power Radio

Then, I watched the movie.

In a recreation of actual events, we are taken to Kigali, Rwanda's capitol, shortly before
the 100-day genocide began. Ultimately, at least 800,000 - some say over 1,000,000 - were
killed.


Paul Rusesabagina is the central figure of the story and Benjamin's designated Guerrilla
Negotiator. Rusesabagina managed the exclusive Hotel Des Milles Collines (owned by a
Belgian company) and developed a network of powerful allies (including a crooked Hutu army
general) - plying them with bribes with the hope they would be available should he ever
need a favor. A Hutu married to a Tutsi, and the father of three young children,
Rusesabagina initially refused to believe the rumors of increasing hostility and brutality
against the Tutsis (routinely called cockroaches by the Hutu rebels). When Rusesabagina
can no longer ignore the growing violence, his wife compels him to include Tutsi relatives
(those who can be found), neighbors, and friends in their exodus to the safety of the
hotel. As the UN refugee camp reached overload, Rusesabagina is continually asked to
provide sanctuary for more Tutsi refugees. Through continued wheeling, dealing, and
manipulation, Rusesabagina is directly responsible for saving the 1,268 lives. He and his
wife adopted two surviving nieces and now reside with them and their own three children in
Belgium.


Benjamin points out that almost every scene in the film showcases the power of negotiation
"as a means of survival even in the face of vile and irrational human behavior", adding
"there is much to be gleaned from the gritty style of negotiation that is compelled in
those circumstances." Benjamin calls this "guerrilla negotiation", adding "borne out of
necessity, not ideology, he or she operates solely by their own wits, earning credibility
and trading on their ability to convey a personal sense of authenticity."


Armed with Benjamin's perspective in my mind, I found it easy to spot the ongoing
negotiation he noted…and just as easily realized I probably wouldn't have categorized it
as such if I hadn't read the article first.


Clearly, Rusesabagina reads people exceedingly well, recognizes what it will take to get
what he wants/needs from them, masterfully communicates what they need to hear, and
triumphs. Perhaps the most moving example in the movie is when Rusesabagina is ordered to
execute his own family and instead manages to buy their safety.


As Americans and Europeans are evacuated, Rwandans are left to fend for themselves.
International news agencies downplayed the seriousness of the11 uprising, and few world
leaders were informed. Even as he initially downplays the seriousness of the situation to
his superiors in Belgium, Rusesabagina unrelentingly hopes that help from other countries
will arrive soon. His hopes are dashed when the UN's Colonel Oliver admits that UN troops
are there to keep peace and have been ordered not to act to stop the violence. As Oliver
tells Rusesabagina, "We're here as peace keepers, not peace makers." With no intervention
or foreign aid from the world powers, the violence in Rwanda continued. According to
Benjamin, former President Bill Clinton "refers to his inaction as the biggest regret of
his presidency."


Rusesabagina is amazingly versatile in his ability to quickly analyze critically dangerous
situations and implement the negotiation style and/or strategy - including deception- with
the best chance of success. Benjamin notes "watching Rusesabagina effectively maneuver and
Continues for 4 more pages >>




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