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Syria Holds on to Fragile Cease-Fire; International Community Skeptical;

Aired April 12, 2012 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Rare moments and calm in Syria after (inaudible) fragile cease-fire. The message is clear as protesters spell out their pleas for help.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: World leaders say the truth is a first step. Tonight, I'll ask three Syrian exiles whether a lasting peace is still just a pipedream.

Also tonight, facing a Florida courtroom, charged with second-degree murder, how the shooting of a black teenager has divided an entire nation.

And child's play may be, but the subject couldn't be more serious. How this viral video out of Mexico is sending a message right to the very top.

Well, we begin tonight with a fragile cease-fire in Syria, a first step on the long road to a lasting peace possibly. Special envoy Kofi Annan says the situation is not ideal, but he calls it a, and I quote, "chance to be seized."

Well, Annan says Syria streets are now relatively calm after this morning's deadline to stop the violence, but he says the regime is not complying with all requirements with his peace plan, including withdrawing tanks and troops from Protest cities.

Well, both the regime and opposition accused each other of violating the truce with sporadic attacks. One opposition group is reporting 21 new deaths.

Earlier we asked an activist in Hama what he's seen today.


MOUSAB AL HAMADEE, HAMA RESIDENT: Nothing has changed concerning the practices of the regime. For example, in El Madiq Citadel (ph) there was peaceful demonstration. And when the demonstration started, soldiers from the historical citadel started dropping fire on the civilians, many of them wounded and they arrested big number of them.

So we can't say that the regime will change his tactics, because they have been using them for 40 years and they can't change in a day and night.


ANDERSON: The message from Hama in Syria this evening.

Well, CNN's Ivan Watson is monitoring the latest on the cease-fire from across the border in Turkey. Our Richard Roth is following developments of the UN in New York where diplomats are demanding Syria's actions match its words. And Nic Robertson here in the studio, CNN's senior international correspondent has been in and out of Syria over the past year reporting from the crisis as it has developed. He's here with me tonight to analyze the prospects of peace and what might happen next.

Let's begin tonight with you, Ivan, in Turkey.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, we talked to a resident in the city of Homs, which has subjected to months of bombardment. And he said for the first time in months he woke up to the sounds of birds chirping, not bombs exploding. And it does seem there was a relative lull in the violence, but activists were very quick to point out that the Syria government had not complied with one of the key steps in the six point peace plan brokered by the United Nations which was to withdraw forces from Syrian cities and towns. And we've seen video of checkpoints, of tanks dug in in those cities and towns not moving.

There have been allegations of violations of the cease-fire agreement. The Syrian state media reporting that a bomb blew up an army bus, killing an army lieutenant and wounding more than 20 others in the city of Aleppo. And Syrian activists have claimed that there were acts of violence committed by Syrian security forces. We've gotten different numbers to the amounts of people that they claimed were killed. We've seen some videos of a funeral in Idlib province.

Now one of the provisions of the cease-fire agreement is to allow independent observers in both the United Nations observer mission has been proposed and journalists like ourselves, but we have not been allowed entry in. We're reporting from outside.

We talked to some of the 25,000 Syrian refugees living in camps here in Turkey, asked one of them if he trusts the cease-fire agreement. Take a listen to what he had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't believe there is cease-fire now. There are a lot of places now still shelling: my town, for example. I talked to my family that is still shelling by security forces and the army.


WATSON: And one final point, the Syrian opposition has lobbied for public protests to take advantage of this lull in the fighting to go out in the streets. We've seen people forming a human SOS sign outside the city of Aleppo. And this will be a big challenge, will the Syrian security forces tolerate protests against the government. The peace plan calls for peaceful -- for allowing political demonstrations in Syria, something that the government has not tolerated in more than a year of violence that has claimed more than 9,000 lives, Becky.

ANDERSON: One other question, marks of course tonight amongst many. Ivan, thank you for that. Ivan is in Turkey covering the story from just across the border there.

Let's get you to New York now and to the United Nations headquarters where plans are in the works to send an observer mission as Ivan suggested to oversee the next stage of this Annan plan.

Richard, what do we know of those plans at this point?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORREPSONDENT: Diplomats are working on it. It could very well be approved on Friday New York time to get initially some monitors on the ground in Syria to determine just how much the Damascus regime is cooperating and perhaps the opposition also too.

The ambassadors here inside the security council listened to a closed door briefing by Kofi Annan by video teleconference, though Susan Rice the U.S. ambassador said that Annan said that Syria was no fully complying on the six points. The ambassador disagreed and also said stop focusing on my government, in effect let's look at the groups that are trying to attack the Syrian government.


BASHAR JAAFARI, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO UN: As far as the Syrian government is concerned, I could confirm to you and stress upon this that the Syrian government has ended the violence on its side. So -- and we expect those who have influence over the armed groups to do the same.


ROTH: That has been a steady theme from Syria's representative here in New York. But much of the focus remains on just how much is the government doing to cooperate. It's a six point plan, and very few diplomats here are willing to give Syria many points for cooperating. And there's still a lot of caution.


SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UN: Its track record up until today has been dismal, we hope -- but we clearly remain cautious in our assessment that today becomes the start of a new way forward. But I think frankly we have a year's worth of evidence that leads us all to enormous skepticism.


ROTH: President Obama, President Sarkozy of France in a statement both calling on the Syrian government to fully implement the Annan plan. As Ivan, and as you Becky, have discussed there's still a lot for the government there to do. They are trying to get together these observers in the next few days to go there. They'll be unarmed and only then if things remain calm would a larger monitoring mission be established on the ground.

Back to you.

ANDERSON: All right. Richard Roth out of the UN for you this evening.

Let's get you some perspective on all of this from our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson here with me in the studio in a just a moment.

First, though, I want to get you a very different takes on this -- let's call it fragile cease-fire deal. I spoke to some Syrians living here in London earlier on today. Listen to this.


AMMAR WAQQAF, SYRIAN SOCIAL CLUB: My name is Ammar Waqqaf. I'm a management consultant in the UK. I'm part of a group called the Syrian Social Club in London. And we promote regime reform, modern regime change.

RIM TURKMANI, SYRIAN ACTIVIST: I'm Rim Turkmani. I'm a student (inaudible) to work in London. And I work for building the Syrian state opposition (inaudible). We want a peaceful transition of power in Syria.

ANAS NADER, SYRIAN STUDENT ACTIVIST: My name is Anas Nader. I'm a medical student here in London. I work closely with several groups (inaudible) by Syria to get information and raise awareness.

ANDERSON: Is this a tactical cease-fire by the Bashar al Assad regime?

WAQQAF: It could also be a tactical one from the opposition side, or from the armed group side, or from the regional players' side we don't know. But I think it's sort of a needed halt of the activities to see where to go next.

NADER: I think it's tactical. And I think they're buying time with that. In many ways it's a sign that they're feeling the pressure, they're feeling the heat and they want to try to calm down the international community by acting like they're willing to cease-fire. That doesn't mean that they're going to change their methods or that they're willing to give a true chance for the opposition.

TURKMANI: I think they were forced to do it.

ANDERSON: What happens if this cease-fire doesn't hold?

NADER: I think it's time to move on to an immediate international pressure and maybe even an intervention of some sort.

ANDERSON: What sort of intervention are you talking about? Boots on the ground, no-fly zone?

NADER: No, no, no. What most Syrians want at this point, and may the opposition of the Free Syrian Army would basically supporting the Free Syrian Army logistically and providing them with arms.

TURKNAMI: Hundreds of people are being killed every day. We have to stop the bloodshed. We shouldn't just keep calling for things that may happen. Nobody seems to be willing to interfere in the international media. I can argue for hours with you why this is not a good thing, but there is nobody ready to do it.

WAQQAF: That would exclude, really, any solution that would, you know, multiply the number of dead we have already in Syria.

ANDERSON: Assad has signed up to a peace plan, which pledges peaceful protest going forward. Does anybody buy that potential?

WAQQAF: I would love to see peaceful protests very much. Would somebody want to protest, then please let them be peaceful.

TURKMANI: I don't think the regime is honor--

NADER: I don't think the regime will ever allow protests. They fear the protests. They know that the minute they actually allow for open protests to come down the street hundreds of thousands of people are going to be on the street. And that's going to be the beginning of the end for them.

And to give you an example, I mean just a few days ago we probably all heard the story of that one woman in Damascus came down the street with one sign. It didn't even say down with the regime. All that sign said, stop the bloodshed. I mean, it could be a sign for both sides. And she's been arrested. And no one knows where she is right now.

And that's one woman, not tens or hundreds of thousands, just one woman in the streets of Damascus.

So this regime does not, does not want any form of protest.

WAQQAF: I think we tend to forget it is the duty of the government to, you know, protect its citizens.

NADER: They did by arresting that woman, by holding that sign--


WAQQAF: That's just one story.

NADER: Every day there is mortar shelling on civilian areas in Homs.

TURKMANI: Even if there are armed groups inside this area, does this give the regime the right to bomb it using weapons that kills left, right, and center, doesn't distinguish--

ANDERSON: In a word, yes or no?

WAQQAF: Obviously no.

ANDERSON: Is this now, or has this developed into, a sectarian conflict?

NADER: Sadly I think we might kind all agree on this one. But I think it's the consequence -- actually yes. But I think it's the consequence and the result of the regime. First of all, 40 years of divide and conquer kind of policy. But even more now by even spreading more fear among the minority.

TURKMANI: it's not a sectarian conflict yet. There's a sectarian friction, and especially in areas like Homs, but it's not sectarian war yet.

ANDERSON: You support a regime, which has no sense of inclusivity so far as the sectarian nature of its population.

WAQQAF: I disagree a little bit. I think the state is pretty much inclusive to all sects. Everyone is really representative rather than represented really in terms of ethnicity, in terms of sectarian issues--

ANDERSON: That's just simply not true.

TURKMANI: The regime is not inclusive politically. It may have people from different religions and ethnic backgrounds in its front, but it doesn't mean that it has different people from different political backgrounds. Essentially have no place for me, have no place for -- and this is the most important thing.

ANDERSON: A final word from each of you.

WAQQAF: Well, in a sense I would want this peace plan to work. I don't think it will very much, but I would want it to work. I would want international community to put some pressure on all parties, not only the Syrian government. And I hope that if this somehow works then probably this would be, you know, a door open to a peaceful resolution of this conflict.

TURKMANI: If we all rally behind it, this will work.

NADER: I don't trust regime. I don't think it will work. I will gain international help.


ANDERSON: Well, some say the real test of the Syrian cease-fire could come tomorrow, Friday. Activists are urging demonstrators to go back on the street en masse after Friday prayers.

Let's bring in Nic Robertson as I've been promising for some final thoughts now on this story. A cease-fire of sorts, Nic, at this point 18 hours after the deadline was enacted. Having listen to that discussion and given what we know of the situation on the ground say your thoughts on what happens next?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORREPSONDENT: Tomorrow is going to be a very, very difficult day. This is the day, traditionally Friday when there are the biggest protesters now people will feel sort of emboldened, activists will feel that they can come out and they've got something to prove to show to the world while the world is still watching can we go out and get the freedom that the peace plan calls for? And if the answer turns out to be no, they're going to want the world to see that.

I spoke to an activist in Damascus this evening. He said some protesters, anti-government protesters had already tried to go to the parliament, which is likely to be one of the focus bases, government buildings, that they tried to do today and some of those people were arrested. So that's going to be the test.

And while the cease-fire is fragile, it can really go any way. There are no UN monitors there on the ground yet to even see what's happening.

ANDERSON: This story continues. Nic Robertson, always a pleasure in the studio for you, our senior international correspondent in and out of Syria for the past year covering the regional story of the decade.

Still to come tonight, it's the case that galvanized American and social media and continues to do so. Will we ever know exactly what happened the night Trayvon Martin was shot dead? We're going to talk to a legal and social expert for to get some answers up next.

And there's a verdict in Germany for the brother and sister who had four children together, then went to court to defend their right to be a couple.

And violence in the streets of Mexico, but unlike any you've seen before, kids take on adult issues of gun (inaudible) and corruption in a video, well, let me tell you it's gone viral around the world. That and more still ahead with Connect the World continues. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Very warm welcome back.

You're watching CNN, Connect the World with me Becky Anderson.

Now the media scrutiny may be white hot, but George Zimmerman made a subdued appearance today in a Florida court room for the Trayvon Martin murder case. The man who fatally shot the unarmed teenager will be arraigned next month. His lawyer did not ask to have Zimmerman released on bail, or bond.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Zimmerman, you're appearing here for your first appearances -- or first appearance at this time for a charge of murder in the second degree. And you are represented by Mr. Ramirez. Is that true?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember your right to remain silent, all the other rights that he has told you about. You have to say nothing. And we'll go forward here on some procedural matters only at this time.

After reviewing the short affidavit for probable cause, I do that probable cause for the charge as put in the information.


ANDERSON: All right, well, this case is already being tried in the court of public opinion. I'm going to talk to a legal expert later in the show. But the ramifications of a case which really has divided an entire nation. But first, these are some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight.

And the UN security council says it is deeply alarmed by the escalating conflict over an oil field in the Sudanese border region. Forces from South Sudan have seized the field from Khartoum earlier last week -- or this week. And earlier issued in a series of conditions for pulling out of the area. Sudan's ambassador to the UN says his country is ready to retaliate.

A New president has taken office in Mali. He will be in charge for just 40 days. Dioncounda Traore has pledged to keep the country intact following a military coup there three weeks ago. Rebels have since declared an area north of Mali an independent state. Mr. Traore says he will like to talk to the rebels, and if that doesn't work government forces will wage total war to retake the territory.

A brother and sister from Germany who had four kids together have lost a long legal battle. The court ruled against Patrick Stubing and his relative Susan Karolewski on Thursday after they fought for years to get their incestuous relationship legalized. CNN's Fredrik Pleitgen spoke to them back in 2007. Here's a little of what he reported at that time.


FREDRIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All of a sudden, Patrick starts yelling at his sister. He doesn't like her attitude, he says. When I see her make that face, I can't take it, he yells.

Both are aware the camera is present. Susan says nothing and simply takes the verbal abuse.

This shows the pressure Patrick is under, he himself later explained. But the siblings appear to be genuinely in love, hugging and cuddling up often during breaks in our filming.


ANDERSON: Well, Patrick has already spent more than two years in jail in Germany where incest is illegal.

Well, the new man in charge of Sony says he will layoff 10,000 workers. Kazuo Hirai says the changes are aimed at bolstering the company's consumer electronics division. The company Sony finished its fiscal year with a $6.4 billion loss after losing ground to rivals like Apple and Samsung. The CEO has promised more focus on gaming on mobile products.

A lawyer represented -- or currently represents alleged News Corp. hacking victims in UK is about to launch three cases in the United States. Art Lewis told CNN one of his clients is an American citizen and all three believe their phones were hacked on U.S. soil. Public outrage over hacking led to the closure of the News of the World newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International.

It's time to take a very short break on this show Connect the World here out of London. Still to come, though, in the run-up to the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend, Formula1 drivers are speaking out about this week's controversial Bahrain race. It's the story we've seen all week. We're committed to it. Don Riddell will be with you with more on it after this.


ANDERSON: Right. Well, 25 minutes past 9:00 in London. You're watching Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

Now it's looking like this Bahrain Grand Prix will be on next weekend. That at least is what the sport supremo Bernie Ecclestone wants. And some of the drivers are now supporting that stance. What do the teams think? When will a decision be made for sure? Do we know any more than we did at this point last night? It's a tough one isn't it?

Don Riddell -- Don Riddell -- sorry Don -- with us from CNN Center with the very latest. I'm so confused by this story, I put your name wrong. And we've being doing it for four days.


No excuse -- look, I will let you off?

ANDERSON: Blame Formula1 and Bernie Ecclestone. Go on.

RIDDELL: It's become such a complicated story hasn't it? I mean, we are starting to get a bit more clarity with Ecclestone saying today that he thinks the race will be on. He wants it to be on unless the Bahrain authorities call it off. And they're going to have to make a decision pretty soon. I mean, it is seriously started to overshadow the Shanghai Grand Prix this weekend. And they're going to have to make a decision for logistical reasons pretty soon, because the race is next weekend. So as soon as they're finished in Shanghai, the teams will be packing up on Monday and heading to Bahrain if they're going. So they need to know as soon as possible.

Some of the drivers are coming out and kind of making sort of positive noises. It's interesting that a lot of them are not, Becky, they are still deflecting the question. There was an interesting scene in the press conference today when six drivers were all asked if they had any moral concerns about racing in Bahrain and all six of them sat there absolutely still and didn't even say a word.

But we have managed to get a response from a couple of them. This is what the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher had to say.


MICHAEL SCHUMACHER, 7-TIME WORLD CHAMPION: I have some good friends over there. And I feel perfectly well to go over there. I feel very safe.


RIDDELL: Becky, last year Red Bulls Australian driver Mark Webber was the only one to speak out against the race. He has been quoted today. He says, "I want to race. We need to trust the people making the decisions. If we had a choice would we go? That is what I would like, to go there and do. But saying that you cannot ignore the fact that all of us in the backs of our minds want it to go down smoothly and don't want to be involved in the unrest."

We do understand that the teams are going to be meeting with Bernie Ecclestone on Friday. I don't think the teams are entirely comfortable with going. That should be a very interesting meeting. You'd love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yeah, absolutely. And we may -- may get more clarity on Friday, of course, before the Chinese Grand Prix.

Very quickly, we (inaudible) time last night. We couldn't talk about the football that was going on in England. I can't remember a more competitive end to the season, towards the end of the season. We're used to Alex Ferguson of Man United playing mind games, aren't we Don, with his rivals. His biggest rivals now taking a page out of his book.

RIDDELL: So it would seem, or at least we will give Roberto Mancini the benefit of the doubt, because what he actually came out and said last night was rather unusual. Going into last night's games Manchester United had an eight point advantage with just six games left to play. United lost, Man City won meaning there's only a five point gap with five games to play. And of course Man United and Man City still have to play each other.

So you would think it was a good night for City, but this is what their manager said afterwards.


ROBERTO MANCINI, MANCHESTER CITY MANAGER: United is a fantastic team. And I don't think that they can lose five points. For us it's important that we finish well this season for us, because this season is the best season after '68. And this is important.


RIDDELL: He doesn't think United can slip up. But they just lost their first game in nine games. So maybe Mancini is just rather delicately piling the pressure on at Old Tratford.

ANDERSON: Well maybe he wants Ferguson's job? Mancini you work for City! They pay you a lot of money. My goodness, all right. Well, I think it's mind games being played there.

A lot going on with five games, as you say, to go. Don, always a pleasure, thank you for that. Don, back with World Sport an hour from now.

Still to come on Connect the World, opinions flying as the man who pulled the trigger in the Trayvon Martin case appears in court. We'll bring you more on that.

Plus, drugs, murder, and corruption but with kids. It's the latest video storming the web, a political stunt, or is it wake up call for Mexico's leaders many say they need?

And a few of us will do it once, let alone three times. We speak to the teenager who's just completed another mission to the top of the world. Find out why -- why -- he does it.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. These are the latest world news headlines from CNN.

Special envoy Kofi Annan says Syria is relatively calm after a cease- fire took effect about 18 hours ago. He, though, is demanding the regime there fully implement his peace plan which, amongst other things, calls for the withdrawal of tanks and troops from protest cities.

The man who fatally shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in the US will remain in jail until he's arraigned next month. George Zimmerman made a brief appearance today in a Florida court room. His lawyer did not ask to have him released on bail or bond.

The UN Security Council has expressed deep and growing alarm over an oil dispute on the Sudanese border. Sudan has threatened to retaliate after South Sudan seized the Heglig oilfield earlier this week.

And a brother and a sister in Germany has lost a legal battle over their incestuous relationship. The siblings had four children together, but a court has now ruled against them.

Those are the headlines this hour.

The killing of Trayvon Martin has gripped the United States, but now the world also watching. The man who pulled the trigger looked solemn and very -- said very little when he appeared before a judge a short time ago.

George Zimmerman faces a second degree murder charge in the February the 26th shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Now, the 17-year-old was carrying a bag of sweets or candy and a mobile phone when he was gunned down. Today, his mother spoke out to supporters.


SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: You probably don't understand how much you guys mean to us --


FULTON: But it's the support that we need -- we need this kind of support.

CROWD: Amen!

FULTON: Our son was not committing any crimes.


FULTON: Our son is your son.


FULTON: I want you guys to stand up for justice and stand up for what's right.


FULTON: This is not about a black and white thing.


FULTON: This is about a right and wrong thing.



FULTON: Justice for Trayvon.


ANDERSON: Well, Zimmerman's arrest on Wednesday marked a turning point in this case. Right now, we're going to take a moment, my colleague Jonathan Mann is just going to remind us how this story has evolved. It's a story that has triggered debate across America and globally via social media. Have a listen to this.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America has a mystery, maybe a murder on its hands, tangled up by a particular kind of law and the legacy of racism.

It began on a quiet night in a small Florida community in February. A volunteer neighborhood watchman spotted a teenager and called the police.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Hey, we've had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there's a real suspicious guy.

(END 911 CALL)

MANN: George Zimmerman, 28, had called the police a lot before, but that night, he did something more. He later said that 17-year-old Trayvon Martin attacked him. When police arrived on the scene, they say Zimmerman was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. Zimmerman told them he'd shot Trayvon Martin, and Martin was pronounced dead soon after.

It's not clear exactly what had happened, but it is clear that Florida's Stand Your Ground law, like many others across the country, allows anyone who feels threatened in a public place to respond with force.


MANN: Americans from all walks of life were drawn into a national debate about the death of a young, unarmed African-American --

CROWD (chanting): No justice! No peace! No justice! No peace!

MANN: -- and the legal right to self-defense of a man who said he'd been attacked. Even the Obama administration was drawn in with a federal investigation.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.

MANN: Authorities didn't arrest or charge anyone for weeks. The local police chief stepped down temporarily and a newly-appointed special prosecutor stepped in.

ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Today, we filed an information charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second degree.

MANN: Zimmerman is now behind bars. His lawyers say he will plead not guilty.

Jonathan Mann, CNN.


ANDERSON: Well, this Trayvon case -- Trayvon Martin case is stirring raw emotions and plenty of opinions. Special prosecutor Angela Corey addressed the so-called hot button nature of the case when she said, and I quote, "We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition."

But if this case hadn't caused such a media firestorm, would George Zimmerman ever have seen the inside of a Florida courtroom? Well, attorney and commentator Tanya Acker joins us now, live, from our New York bureau.

The public prosecutor has tried to make it clear that her decision to charge Zimmerman was not linked to public reaction. Do you think this would have got this far without the global response that we've seen?

TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY AND COMMENTATOR: Becky, I think there's very little question that the case would not have gotten this far. If you'll remember, Trayvon Martin was killed on February 26th and it took weeks of public pressure, it took weeks of social media pressure in order to really get this case to get the public and media attention that ultimately resulted in this public outcry.

ANDERSON: You listen to Trayvon's mum and she said this is not a case about black and white or black or white, and yet, there are many people who say this has stirred up long-standing debates, not least around the States, of race relations, Tanya, in the States.

Let me just quote for our viewers and your sake a poll conducted over the past week by Reuters. It's an online poll of nearly 2,000 Americans. A huge majority of African-Americans, 91 percent, believe that unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin was unjustly killed while only a third of whites think so. It was about half and half when it came to Hispanics.

Is this a case of -- or is this a race case and, if so, is it -- is it understandable that it stirred this race relations debate once again?

ACKER: Well, Becky, we do have to be very careful, and we have to be careful in the media about how we describe this, what motives that we ascribe to George Zimmerman. There's been a lot of controversy over what he said to the 911 operators when he called Trayvon -- when he called to report Trayvon Martin.

There's been dispute over whether or not he used a racial slur. Some people heard it, some people have not heard it. A news producer at another network was fired for allegedly editing the tape --


ACKER: -- to suggest that Mr. Zimmerman proffered information about Trayvon Martin's race when instead he was asking that -- he was responded to the racial question in response to a 911 inquiry.

But by the same token, there's been a lot of concern over whether or not this unarmed young man would have been -- would have come to Mr. Zimmerman's suspicion had he not been African-American.

Mr. Zimmerman had called 911 about 46 times over the last several months, not always to report allegedly suspicious conduct by African- Americans, but often men of color were involved in those calls.

There's been a huge divergence of opinion as to whether or not he was motivated by race. It's hard to get into his head, but there is a question about the fact that this --


ACKER: -- unarmed man was found killed and the police officers assumed -- that came to the scene assumed that he was the criminal.

ANDERSON: This is fascinating stuff. There is another issue here, and that is this Stand Your Ground law, which many of our viewers will find absolutely outrageous, I think, who may never have heard of this around the world. Maybe I'm being slightly partisan, here.

Some say the Stand Your Ground law was in part to blame for Martin's death, although others disagree. Here's what Jeb Bush, who originated this law and was the former Florida governor had to say. He said, "Can we expect to see any review -- " Sorry. This is what he said.

Stand Your Ground legislation, he brought into law in 2005. Since the case, he "this law does not apply to this particular circumstance. Stand Your Ground doesn't mean 'chase after somebody who's turned their back.'" Can we expect to see any review of self-defense or gun laws as a result of this case, do you think?

ACKER: Well, this law is incredibly unpopular with judges and prosecutors in the region. Many of them complain that it inhibits their ability to prosecute certain types of crimes and to -- certainly, in particular, gang offenses.

But what's interesting, Becky, is that the authors who wrote this law -- and you pointed out Jeb Bush was certainly a supporter -- but the authors of this law maintain that it does not protect Mr. Zimmerman's conduct.

The Stand Your Ground law, as the governor pointed out, does not permit you to go after and pursue someone who you believe to be suspicious and to provoke a confrontation, and that's really what's going to be at issue here.

So, certainly while lots of people may properly take issue with the law -- I'm not a big fan of this law -- this law does not necessarily protect --


ACKER: -- George Zimmerman's conduct.

ANDERSON: Tanya Acker, you're a pleasure and a delight. Come back again. Good to have you on the show.

This is CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. Still to come, a daylight robbery. Protesters clashing with police. They're not scenes you'd normally associate with kids, are they? And that's the whole point.

After the break, we're going to take a look at a viral video that's come out of Mexico, kids asking their leaders for a better future. And let me tell you, this has gone viral around the world.







ANDERSON: Kids using guns. Kidnappings. Knife crimes. You're watching the latest viral video that is sweeping the web. It aims to show what daily life is like on the streets of Mexico using children to act out the horrific scenes of violence and corruption.

The film urges the country's leaders to make Mexico a better place ahead of the presidential elections there. Almost 2 million people have watched so far. The dramatic images have provoked -- well, they've provoked a mixed reaction.

The clip ends with a young girl asking Mexico's four presidential candidates if they're just in it to win, or if they are serious about improving the country. Our Senior Latin American Affairs Editor, Rafael Romo, is following the story for us live from CNN Center.

Some viewers, Rafael, have slammed this as political manipulation. Others think it's a wakeup call. Whatever it is, it's unique. And while we talk, we're just going to show some of the -- some of the lines that we've got from viewers via Facebook and online around the world. Your sense of what we've seen today in this video?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, it's been explosive in Mexico, and really in other parts of the world, because you mix children in a reflection of reality, and it is a very shocking reflection of reality, and then you have an explosive mix. And that's what happened in Mexico.

But the creators of this video say, hey, this is just reality, and we're using children to make a point that if we don't do anything about it, this is going to be the future. Here you see a child being kidnapped very much in the same fashion that we have seen thousands of kidnappings in Mexico.

In this next scene, you see a drug lord being arrested, and this is a mirror of what happened to a drug lord not to long ago by the name of La Barbie, who was arrested in the same fashion. And Becky, he was even wearing the same polo shirt that you see him wearing there.

ANDERSON: This is fascinating stuff. What you're seeing from Rafael is about sort of 30 or 40 seconds of what is a four minute video. I urge everybody to take a look. It is there online.

It's amazing stuff and brilliantly put together for all the right reasons, although one assumes the Mexican tourism board isn't going to like this very much, Rafael. Just how has the story of drugs and violence affected the numbers of incoming visitors to the country, out of interest?

ROMO: Well, Becky, we've been taking a look at the numbers and, interestingly enough, Mexico's tourism industry is thriving. Last year they had 23 million people visited, and as you will see in the next report, this year, they're expecting even more people to go to Mexico.


ROMO (voice-over): With festive music and a carnival atmosphere, Mexican tourism authorities greet thousands of international tourism operators to the seaside resort of Puerto Vallarta.

SANDRA PEREZ, MEXICAN TOURISM AGENT (through translator): The message we would like to send to the world is that we are a wonderful country that has a lot to offer beyond the ugly things that we have seen.

ROMO: Mexico has seen a dramatic increase in drug violence in the last six years reflected in more than 47,000 deaths. Surprisingly, the violence hasn't driven away American or other international tourists.

RODOLFO PEREZ NEGRETE, MEXICAN TOURISM BOARD: 22.7 million international tourists visited Mexico last year, which was a record number, it was a banner year. And customer satisfaction in Juarez is highest.

ROMO: The vast majority of those international tourists are from just across the border to the north. According to statistics from the US Commerce Department, 20 million Americans traveled to Mexico in 2010, the latest year for which that information is available.

There have been challenges for tourists. In February, 22 Carnival Cruise Lines passengers were robbed of valuables and their passports during a shore excursion in Puerto Vallarta, the same destination where the tourism convention took place. But officials say this is an isolated event.

NEGRETE: We take them very seriously. We're working with the local and state authorities of Jalisco and Puerto Vallarta to make sure this man is brought into justice, and he will be brought into justice for sure.

And we're always constantly, like any other tourist destination in the world, trying to upgrade our security infrastructure.

ROMO: And tourism operators around the world seem to believe the future will be better. Seven thousand of them flocked to Puerto Vallarta this year to see what Mexico has to offer, compared to 4,000 last year. That's despite a US State Department travel warning to Americans to avoid all but essential to all or parts of 14 of 31 Mexican states.

Tourism Secretary Gloria Guevara says those fears are misplaced.

GLORIA GUEVARA, MEXICAN TOURISM SECRETARY (through translator): Sometimes something happens in a small town near the US border, and people ask me how safe it is to travel to Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, or Los Cabos, for example. It's like asking if I shouldn't go to New York because something happened in Miami.


ROMO: And Mexican tourism officials have high expectations for 2012. They say tourism revenue will exceed $16 billion this year, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. Rafael, thank you for that.

And all of this, of course, comes as leaders head to the sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena in Colombia this weekend. US president Barack Obama will meet with over 30 regional leaders in the US-led war on drugs looks to -- set to top that agenda. Watch this space. We will report on that as we get more from it.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, the teenager who has trekked to the North Pole, not once, but three times. Our Big Interview with the young explorer, up next.


ANDERSON: Well, a 17-year-old Eaton student has just made history as the youngest person to make not one but three journeys to the North Pole. California-born Parker Liautaud has arrived at the top of the world a full week ahead of schedule after trekking just six days. My colleague Monita Rajpal caught up with the young explorer just before he set off on what was his latest expedition.


MONITA RAJPAL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sub-zero temperatures, shifting ice, and polar bears. The Arctic is not the kind of place you'd expect to find a teenager, which is what makes Parker Liautaud such an extraordinary young man.

PARKER LIAUTAUD, EXPLORER, ONE YOUNG WORLD: So, right now, I'm about to do my third expedition to the North Pole, and this is another scientific expedition, and we're looking to try to do the first-ever analysis of isotopes at the North Pole through -- in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency. And this is actually largely part of a larger sort of more significant mission to do with climate change.

RAJPAL (on camera): How did you get into this?

LIAUTAUD: Well, I actually did an Antarctic expedition when I was 14.

RAJPAL: As one does when they're 24.


LIAUTAUD: And -- after that, I was sort of thinking to myself that -- there was a lot of stuff that I saw on that expedition that really inspired me, and I thought that after a certain time, I had a responsibility to try to see what I can do and act on the issue.

RAJPAL (voice-over): A year later, Parker had set up an environmental campaign known as the Last Degree and was on his way to becoming one of the youngest people to ski to the North Pole in near record time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice, Parker, good job! Take your time.

RAJPAL: Parker is also looking to make history on his latest expedition, with the help of the internet.

RAJPAL (on camera): I understand you're going to be live streaming it as you arrive. What is the big goal here?

LIAUTAUD: If the technology works as, theoretically, it should, we'll be live streaming the arrival at the North Pole of this expedition and hopefully bring together people through social media from around the world to drive this call to action.

RAJPAL (voice-over): While in the Arctic, the young explorer will also be contributing to the science that supports the need for action.

RAJPAL (on camera): And you're doing all of this, and you still have to graduate high school.

LIAUTAUD: That's right. I mean --

RAJPAL: How are you balancing the workload here?

LIAUTAUD: I guess it's taken me a couple years to balance it, and I know that in the last -- in the first year, I did an expedition, it wasn't so easy, and gradually, I learned how to balance the workload. I have exams when I come back from this expedition.

RAJPAL: You mean, you're not going to be -- let go from doing exams at all? That wasn't enough of an examination?

LIAUTAUD: No. National -- national exams, that's sort of -- everyone does it, so I'm -- I'm even looking forward to that step, being able to come back and actually buckle down and work for that.

RAJPAL: What about the other part of your life, the fun part of your life. That's good for your academics, but what about fun?

LIAUTAUD: I'm not going to lie. Fun has taken a bit of a hit.



RAJPAL (voice-over): For the sacrifice, though, Parker has earned a global platform. He's an ambassador for One Young World, a Davos-like forum that brings together leaders of the future.

RAJPAL (on camera): When you look at what's been done to our environment, is there a sense of, perhaps, blame that your generation may place on the previous generations of what we've been doing because of this need to compete and to manufacture and to be the best in the world?

LIAUTAUD: I would hope that the efforts wouldn't be focused on blame or on looking at what we've done in the past of in terms of where the faults are, other than in a way to analyze how we can do better.

I would hope that my generation would look towards the future and look at our current situation and say, well, look, in order to survive and to meet the needs of the population that we have now, we've had to do certain things a certain way.

How do we innovate and look for new sources of energy, more renewable sources of energy that actually apply to the world as a whole instead of a small portion of highly-developed countries.

I would hope that my generation would see an opportunity in working forward towards these goals instead of looking back and placing blame on anyone.


ANDERSON: Amazing stuff. I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. World news headlines up after this.