Return to Transcripts main page
CONNECT THE WORLD
Spain Hits Record Unemployment; Pep Guardiola Steps Down As Barcelona Manager
Aired April 27, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World, a grim reality for Spain: one in four people are now unemployed there forcing some out of their offices and onto the street to sell whatever they can.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is connect the world with Becky Anderson.
ANDERSON: Well, unemployment is on the rise, a credit rating on the slide, and guess what, Spain is also in recession. This hour, is Germany's insistence on (inaudible) austerity really the only answer for Europe's woes?
Also tonight, another security scandal for the U.S. as a former Brazilian prostitute alleges yet more bad behavior oversees.
And a daring escape from his own house, how this Chinese dissident fled to freedom.
Tonight, spare a thought for Spain. One in four Spaniards is spending this Friday evening wondering how to pay the rent, put food in the fridge and keep the family going. That is because a staggering 5,640,000 there now have no jobs. On top of that, it could cost Spain more to borrow money from now on. Credit ratings agency Standard & Poors has slashed the country's rating two notches and further downgrades may lie ahead.
So the jobs are still disappearing and Spain already had the worst unemployment rate in the EU. But no one can remember a time when skilled, hardworking people were forced to choose between their dignity and survival.
I want to kick this off tonight with CNN's Madrid bureau chief Al Goodman who takes a closer look at the consequences of what is this EuroZone debt crisis.
AL GOODMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These hands used to work in construction, now they sell tissues.
Jose Antonio Melgar was laid off four years ago when Spain's construction boom started to go bust.
His unemployment benefits have run out. At this corner of Madrid provides his only income.
JOSE ANTONIO MELGAR, LAID OFF CONSTRUCTION WORKER (through translator): Sometimes I have to leave here because I'm depressed. My spirits are so low. And when that happens, I get angry very easily.
GOODMAN: Yet he keeps coming back every weekday. Hundreds of cars pass, everyone rushing to work or school. Most drivers give nothing. But those who do offer money can get something back, not just tissues, but a peace of his mind.
MELGAR: Excuse me, it's my age, man. I'm 53. Experience doesn't count. You need to be young.
GOODMAN: Yet he's still looking for work. His sign pleads for a job even as he's become a fixture at this corner.
ANTONIO CANAS, COMPUTER SCIENCES TEACHER (through translator): He's been here a long time. I think he's a normal guy without work. And that's why I give to him.
GOODMAN: This man also recognizes Melgar and gave money this day. Then he got out of his car to talk more about Spain's economic crisis.
QUICO VIDAL, BRAND CONSULTANT: There are more of us see ourself in him. He could be us. It's not a foreigner, someone from somewhere else, he's part of here working-class becoming the new poor.
GOODMAN: This intersection where Melgar asks for money is very close to the office of the Spanish prime minister over there. But he says the economic policies of the current prime minister, a conservative and the former prime minister, a socialist, have done nothing to help him get a job.
He's slightly more optimistic about the conservative prime minister, even though Spain just officially slipped back into recession.
The crisis also worries these municipal employees will feel lucky to still have work.
ANTONIO GARCIA, MUNICIPAL WORKER (through translator): It's just going to get worse and if we lose our jobs, we could end up like this man.
MELGAR: I am an optimist. I don't think this will last. It cannot be like the plagues of Egypt. I'm not throwing in the towel.
GOODMAN: He says he collects hundreds of dollars a month right here, enough to pay a modest rent and his meals, keeping the crisis at bay for now.
Al Goodman, CNN, Madrid.
ANDERSON: Well, it is not just Spain and Jose Antonio Melgars of this world are feeling the pain. It's a pretty bleak picture across all of Europe. It takes kind of sort of what the continent looks like at present. Here in red we can see that both Spain and Greece experiencing unemployment of over 20 percent. Now these countries in yellow have got jobless figures of between 10 and 20 percent, that's bad enough, isn't it. That includes countries like Portugal, Ireland and France.
These countries doing a little bit better in blue. Unemployment of around 6 to 10 percent. And there is a part of Europe, it's called Germany pretty much, where you've got unemployment under 6 percent.
That all looks pretty discouraging, doesn't it? Take a look at the map in terms of recession. These are countries effectively making negative income. Almost half of Europe is in red, that means half of Europe is experiencing negative growth.
Flat growth, well you can see a swath there, that includes major players like France, of course, and Germany interesting. And it's only these countries on the periphery here of Europe that are growing, those are the ones that are in green.
Well, last week Germany's central bank said EuroZone countries should take growth concerns aside and forge ahead with budget cuts in order to bring back some investor confidence effectively.
Really? Well, people are suffering. Politicians are frustrated. And the EuroZone debt crisis, well it doesn't seem to be budging, does it. Which leads me to the question of this hour. Austerity or growth?
Well, let's get that debate growing, shall we. My guest tonight, Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenberg Bank he believes in cuts, joins me here in the London bureau. From Newport Beach, California, we are talking to the CEO of the world's biggest manager of bond funds, PIMCO's Mohamed el-Erian who is pro-growth, or sort of at least.
MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CEO, PIMCO: Yes. I mean, the numbers are grim. I mean, just think, Becky, it's not just that one in four Spaniards are unemployed, over 50 percent of the young are unemployed and at that age, if you're unemployed you become unemployable. So we need to strike a better balance. And it is about a balance.
One thing that is very striking watching the European debate from the United States is that people are forced into corners for all growth or all austerity. It's not. It's a balance that has to be struck.
ANDERSON: Well, certainly Mohamed, and I think I agree with you is that to a certain extent, though, it's been the leaders who have been prepared to be put into these boxes.
Christian, why is Mohamed wrong, if you believe he is so? And why do you believe austerity -- because I know you've said this in the past, is the only way to go?
CHRISTIAN SCHULZ, SENIOR ECONOMIST, BERENBERG BANK: Well, the German central bank is in a sense right, because what we need in Europe is confidence. And not so much confidence of the rest of the world in Europe, but confidence of Europe in itself.
ANDERSON: But there is no confidence, Christian.
SCHULZ: Well, if Europe just worked together, it has all the money, it has all the resources to sort itself out. It's just the problem that all the moment all the resources are in Germany and all the need is in Spain. So we have to make sure that the money flows from Germany to Spain. And for that we need the commitment of Spain to go through tough reforms, because otherwise Germans will not be sure that Spain will pay the money back.
EL-ERIAN: Yeah, I think people forget that solvency -- because that's what we're talking about, debt solvency -- has a numerator and a denominator. Numerator is debt and deficits. The denominator is growth. If you don't grow, then you don't overcome solvency.
I think the confusion is this notion that only austerity is hard. No, structural reforms are hard. The reason why Germany is so much better off is because it went through difficult structural reforms, pro-growth. And what we need to see in Europe is a better balance between pro-growth structural reforms and budget austerity.
ANDERSON: Let's remind ourselves, Mohamed, today that the U.S. has had a go, of course, at spending its way out of this recession. It didn't seem to be doing too badly, but we've had, of course, today of numbers showing slowing growth in the first quarter.
So when the Americans look to Europe and say, come on. This is not the way to go. What you're saying is, well, you've got a bit of both, yeah?
EL-ERIAN: Yeah, I am. And the U.S. is not a good example. I mean, I complain a lot about the U.S. The U.S. has been growing based on liquidity injections. We have a labor market that's not functioning properly. We have a housing market that's paralyzed. We have a debate on public finances that polarized.
So what today's number in the U.S. tell you here is that we also have a problem, because we're not going fast enough and we're growing still on debt rather than income.
ANDERSON: Christian. Sorry, let me stop you there. Let me stop you there for a moment.
Angela Merkel, Christian, has said today that growth at least will be on the agenda at the next EU summit, but I don't suppose you or I would be brave enough to suggest she's going to do a 180 on this. This is going to be lockstep austerity all the way isn't it, possibly with a little bit of a nod and a wink to growth if it were?
SCHULZ: I think Angela Merkel would like growth quite a lot. And I agree with Mohamed it's about structural reforms. There are two ways of getting growth. One is a short-term stimulus, just spend more, borrow more. And the other one is long-term through structural reforms through labor market reforms. And I think Angela Merkel, given the German experience, is all in favor of structural reforms she's just not in favor of spend and borrow and that's something that the new French president or the likely new French president seems to favor.
ANDERSON: Yeah, ripping up the fiscal compact at this point would mean, what? That certainly is what Francois Hollande has said he wants to do, if indeed he becomes president of France. What would happen if that were to occur?
SCHULZ: Well, if the fiscal compact is renegotiated by the French, then the confidence of Germans into the reform process and the rest of Europe would be shattered. And that would mean that the money that we need to flow from Germany to the rest of Europe simply won't flow.
ANDERSON: Because of course that's what it's all about. Germany and Angela Merkel say, listen, we need this austerity in order to get investor confidence back.
But Mohamed, really, what Christian is saying here tonight it's all about German confidence in the EuroZone, isn't it? It's not about investor confidence going forward.
EL-ERIAN: I would say he's right, but partly right. There's something even more important, Becky, if I may, is the confidence of the citizens. So look at Greece. For the last two years they have been told that they need to go through austerity, but they don't see any light at the end of that tunnel. And if you don't see the light at the end of that tunnel in terms of growth and jobs, you're ability to put up with austerity is much lower. And I think that's the problem that we don't have a vision into how all this is going to come together.
ANDERSON: Does that worry you, Christian? I mean, you see the Jose Antonio Melgars of this world, a man who was in the construction business until four years ago selling tissues on the streets of Madrid. He sees no end in sight to this poverty. 50 percent of youngsters in Spain unemployed today.
SCHULZ: I have a lot of sympathy for these people, because I remember that in the early 2000s when Germany also many young people were unemployed. And these people in Spain are not unemployed because of austerity, they're unemployed because of a housing boom that Spain had which collapsed and therefore many people went unemployed in the construction industry.
Austerity and structural reforms are what is supposed to get out of the crisis at some point. It will take a long time, a lot of patience from people. And I hope that Germany and the other countries would support them on that way, but we need the commitment from these countries that they will pay back the debt at some point, otherwise we won't see the transfers from Germany to Spain.
ANDERSON: Christian and Mohamed, always a pleasure to have you on. We thank you very much indeed for talking to us tonight in a debate that I can tell you will run and run here in Europe.
Our top story tonight, Spanish unemployment hits a new record with one in four Spaniards now out of work. This is an economy back in recession. We are only 10 days ago, Germany urged EuroZone nations not to worry about growth, stick to austerity they said, investor confidence will return. Well, they say that to (inaudible) in a debt crisis not to worry about growth is like telling a man in debt not to worry about getting a job. And that is delusional, not my analogy, one in the leading article in The Atlantic magazine today. I didn't know (inaudible) myself.
You're watching Connect the World live from London. Still to come, as the Secret Service tries to put the wraps on a growing sex scandal, there's new allegations that suggest Colombia may be just the tip of the iceberg.
After more than 18 months held captive at his home, the man known as The Barefoot Lawyer, he found authority in China and escaped.
And the moment two American icons met for the first time. That, and more after this.
ANDERSON: You're back with CNN, this is Connect the World. I'm Becky Anderson for you. 17 minutes past 9:00 in London at least. Welcome back.
The U.S. Secret Service is facing a new set of rules after a prostitution scandal continues to get worse. A Seattle TV station is now reporting that at least a dozen agents and some military specialists visited strip club in El Salvador before President Obama's visit last year. And just like in Colombia, there are allegations of heavy drinking and prostitutes.
Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee spoke to CNN about some of the changes the Secret Service is now facing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, (D) TEXAS: We're going to be saying that no foreign nationals. The agency right now will be saying no foreign nationals will be allowed in your room. It'll be absolutely illegal in terms of your job for you to in essence attend or be associated with any place of bad acts. And then finally a professional development officer, or personal officer is going to go on every trip that the agents take out of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: All right. Well, there's word of yet another sex scandal involving Americans oversees, this one in Brazil. And we're going to have a report on that coming up in just a few minutes here on Connect the World. Please stay with us for that.
Before we get there, though, a look at some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight.
Nine people have been killed in a suicide bombing in Damascus, that according to Syrian state media which calls the attack a terrorist bombing. Now it was reported that the bomb hit the Medan (ph) district, injuring dozens of others. The opposition says most of the victims were government forces.
A man has been arrested after a security alert that brought part of London to a standstill around lunchtime today. Armed police were deployed after a man began throwing items out of an office window. Witnesses reported he had gas canisters strapped to his body and have threatened to blow himself up. No one in the end reported hurt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAK CHISHTY, LONDON POLICE COMMANDER: The course of this, there's a number of people who are inside the building left peacefully. After contact with our specialist police negotiators, the man came out of the building and was arrested at 3:00 pm this afternoon. He is now in police custody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: A terror investigation under way in Ukraine after a wave of explosions there on Friday morning. Ukrainian news agency says at least 27 people were injured in four blasts in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk. It puts the spotlight on security ahead of the European football championships this summer, which of course Ukraine is co-hosting.
A group of coffee shop owners in The Netherlands have lost their legal fight against so-called cannabis cards. New rules are due to come into force on May 1 aimed at preventing foreigners from buying the drug. Only card carrying locals would be allowed into cannabis selling cafes. Now shop owners argued that the rule was discriminatory, but a district court disagreed.
New Yorkers got a little taste of space on Friday when the Shuttle Enterprise swooped pretty low over the city as part of its final flight carried by especially modified 747 jumbo jet. The shuttle flew close to the Statue of Liberty on its way to John F. Kennedy Airport. Enterprise is the latest shuttle to be piggy backed around America as NASA sends the fleet into retirement. Next month it'll be floated down the Hudson River on a barge before being moved to the city's space museum.
At this point, we'll take a very short break. I'm sure that headline wrapped for you. When we come back, though, when success still isn't good enough, why Barcelona's coach was calling it quits after this.
ANDERSON: All right. You're watching Connect the World live from London. I'm Becky Anderson for you here.
After four years as Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was -- simply stuns the football world when he announced he will be leaving the club in June. Guardiola masterminded the most successful spell in the club's history. He called his spell in charge a privilege. He also said it felt like an eternity and described the job as extremely demanding. I'm sure that's a complete understatement.
Let's take Mark McKay from CNN Center to drill deeper into -- Mark, I guess the first question around all of this is why did he go?
MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, how about burn out, pure and simple, Becky? For even relatively -- a young 41-year-old coach like Guardiola, he wanted to wait until the Champion's League and the La Liga races were both settled. Well, they were both settled this week. And neither of those crowns are within reach, so he has decided that now is the time to step aside. He'll actually leave at the end of this current season.
You mentioned it, Becky, amazing, a remarkable four year run that included corralling 13 major trophies including two, count them two Champion's League crowns. But on the job, sometimes 24/7, have clearly taken its toll on Guardiola. And he said as much when he met the media Friday in Barcelona.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEP GUARDIOLA, BARCELONA MANAGER (through translator): I am convinced that the person who takes my place will have the things that I no longer have. It's not because I don't have the skills, it is basically because this job demands to be here, playing a match, every three days without much rest for four years and increasing pressure. A coach needs to be strong, he needs to have a life, he needs passion, and all the necessary energy to show that he is enjoying every match.
TIM STANNARD, JOURNALIST, FOURFOURTWO MAGAZINE: If you look at the difference in when he took over the club some four seasons ago, he had his hair. He often jokes about that. When people said are you going to be here like Alex Ferguson, he said just look at my head, of course I'm not. He's turned gray, it's disappeared. He looks a lot older.
Even that press conference with knowing the stress was almost over, he looks better. So I think he would have gone had they won the league, had he wont the Champion's League, however I think the decision was harder for him now, because he feels maybe he's leaving Barcelona in the lurch, leaving them with a bit of uncertainty in the future and maybe letting the fans and the players down.
But he's had such incredible success with the club. I think they'll just wish him all the best, wish him a good holiday, however long it lasts, and maybe in the future he'll be returning there. He'll always be welcome back at the Camp Nou.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKAY: Guardiola said that he would indeed come back as a coach somewhere, sometime, but not immediately. His assistant Tito Villanova will take over next season, Becky. Whomever gets that job full-time at the Camp Nou will certainly have huge shoes to fill.
ANDERSON: Yeah, I know. And I think a lot of people are slightly surprised by the youngling as it were taking over. The details are long time happening, he knows the club and he knows the job.
All right. That's what the journalists are saying and that's what the man himself, that's what Pep has said, what are fans saying tonight?
MCKAY: Well, you know, the end of an era perhaps this team and their supporters have been so spoiled over the Pep Guardiola era, haven't they, Becky? And it is a tough pill to swallow. It's going to be a very difficult weekend for many in Barcelona.
They've taken their thoughts to Twitter. We have one that really put it in kind of a football context for you. We can bring up the tweet today from Blue from Spain, "Guardiola's press conference stats: microphone possession, Guardiola 70% -- 20% Reporters. Result? Guardiola is out."
We'll have much more break down this in sports, expanded analysis on Pep Guardiola stepping aside with Don Riddell in World Sport in just over an hour, Becky.
ANDERSON: Good stuff.
Mark, all the pleasure, thank you very much indeed. What a day for Barcelona Football Club and its fans. We with him well.
Still to come on Connect the World this former Brazilian prostitute is suing the U.S. embassy (inaudible) in one is a string of embarrassing allegations involving American officials and sex workers overseas. That story is coming up after this short break.
Also, blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng makes a daring escape from right under the noses of his captors.
And from Mumbai to Copenhagen and back, what secrets Indian super chef Sanjeev Kapur picked up on his Nordic adventure, the last of his fusion journey after this.
ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Becky Anderson, these are the latest world news headlines here on CNN.
Nine people were killed on Friday in a suicide bombing in Damascus, that is according to the state media in Syria. It was one of two blasts to hit the capital on the same day. Opposition members say most of the victims were government forces.
Spain's unemployment rate has jumped to a new high of nearly 25 percent -- 24.4 percent -- that is for the first three months of this year. Before today's report, Spain already had the worst jobless numbers in the eurozone. The country's credit rating was also downgraded.
Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng has -- is said to be in hiding in Beijing after escaping from house arrest. Family members say they are already being punished. The government is not commenting at this hour.
Barcelona's celebrated manager is stepping off the pitch. Pep Guardiola says the constant pressure of the game has worn him down and he's resigning. He led Barcelona to two Champions League finals and three Spanish League titles in just four seasons. Won those two Champions League finals, of course.
Those are the headlines, but that is not all for us of course.
Well, the US Secret Service is facing yet another sex scandal, and the details are going to sound familiar. Once again, it involves government agents, strip clubs, heavy drinking, and prostitutes. Well, a Seattle TV station is reporting that that happened in El Salvador last year, right before President Obama's visit there.
The Secret Service is already facing allegations of a sex scandal recently in Colombia, and now, there are reports of bad behavior from Brazil. As Shasta Darlington reports, a former prostitute there is sharing her story.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, we're in the Brazilian capital where we traveled to a working class suburb to meet the woman at the heart of the latest prostitution scandal involving US security.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): The photos show a broken collarbone and what appear to be tire marks across her abdomen. Romilda Aparecida Ferreira uses these pictures to tell her story.
Ferreira says she worked for three years as a call girl and as a stripper at the nightclub Apples in Brasilia. On December 29th, she and three coworkers left the club with a group of Americans from the US Embassy security team.
"We had drinks and chatted, and then we each set a price," she says. In Brazil, prostitution is legal. The police report says the men, three marines and one embassy employee, called for an embassy van and driver to pick them up.
DARLINGTON (on camera): But the lengthy police report has contradictory accounts about what happened next. After they left this strip club in the van, Ferreira says she was violently thrown out of the car by one of the marines after she argued with the Brazilian driver.
Other witnesses say she was rudely forced out. Now, the marines say she simply stepped out of the car and injured herself when she tried to get back in.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): Everyone agrees the van took off while Ferreira was holding onto the door handle.
"That's when it dragged me and ripped the skin off my leg," she says. "I let go, and then the back tire drove over me, literally right over me."
According to the police report, the van stopped and the other women got out. Then, with the embassy staffers inside, the van drove off, leaving Ferreira in the road.
This week in Brasilia, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the men were disciplined.
LEON PANETTA, US DEFENSE SECRETARY: They are no longer in this country. They were reduced in rank and they were severely punished for that behavior. I have no tolerance for that kind of conduct. Not here or anyplace in the world.
DARLINGTON: Questions about prostitution made for awkward moments at the US State Department briefing.
VICTORIA NULAND, SPOKESWOMAN, US STATE DEPARTMENT: Members of the foreign service are prohibited from engaging in notoriously disgraceful conduct, which includes frequenting prostitutes and engaging in public or promiscuous sexual relations, or engaging in sexual activity that could open the employee up to the possibility of blackmail, coercion, or improper influence.
So, the degree to which any employee requires investigation, that's the standard that they're held to. And what a subject to be talking about on bring your kid to work day.
DARLINGTON: Ferreira says she's no longer working as a prostitute. She says she turned down an offer of $2,000 from the embassy for medical expenses because it wasn't enough for a broken collarbone, three broken ribs, and a punctured lung.
Meanwhile, her attorney is preparing a civil suit.
"It's not a question of money, it's a question of honor and reputation," he says. "If money will make them suffer and recognize how much pain they've caused, then let it be money."
Machado says Brazilian prosecutors are considering criminal charges against the Americans, including assault. But since the men are no longer in the country, it's not clear whether they would ever face trial in Brazil.
DARLINGTON (on camera): Both the criminal and the civil lawsuit will likely be launched within the week, Becky.
ANDERSON: Coming up after the break, released from prison just to be held captive in his own home. So, how did blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng finally escape his captors? It's quite the most remarkable story, and it's coming up after this.
ANDERSON: Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng has escaped after 18 months under virtual house arrest. Chen, who is blind, slipped past tight security in his isolated village home and is now said to be safe in hiding in Beijing. From there, Stan Grant files this report.
STAN GRANT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Free and with a harrowing tale to tell.
CHEN GUANGCHENG, CHINESE ACTIVIST (through translator): I finally escaped. All the stories online about the brutal treatment I received from authorities I can personally testify, they are true. The reality is even harsher than the stories that have been circulating.
GRANT: Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist kept under Chinese police guard and day and night for the last 18 months, had staged a bold escape. Now in hiding in Beijing, supporters say he's in a safe place.
But in this video posted online, Chen himself has a lot to say, directly addressing China's premier, Wen Jiabao, with allegations of brutality at the hands of the state.
CHEN (through translator): They broke into my house and more than a dozen men assaulted my wife. They pinned her down and wrapped her in a blanket, beating and kicking her for hours. They also violently assaulted me.
GRANT: Chen says he and his family were denied medical treatment. He accuses police of harassing his daughter. Chen says he was powerless.
CHEN (through translator): They said they don't care about the law. "We ignore the law. What can you do about it?" They repeatedly let people to my house, attack and rob us.
GRANT: Chen Guangcheng is a self-trained lawyer. He defended the rights of poor village women against alleged forced abortion. He was targeted by Chinese authorities after organizing protests. Chen was arrested for disrupting traffic and other charges. He was jailed for four years.
Since his release 18 months ago, his home has been vigorously guarded. This is what happened when we tried to visit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRANT (on camera): We've been stopped.
(MAN SHOUTING IN CHINESE)
GRANT: We've been stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRANT (on camera): Activists say Chen finally plotted his escape. For months, he lulled police into a false sense of security. Chen lay on his bed for hours, getting police used to his long absences.
Then, he made his break. Waiting for him at a nearby rendez-vous, supporters and a car. They smuggled him into the vehicle and brought him to Beijing.
HE PEIRONG, ACTIVIST (through translator): We learned that he had escaped and needed our help. That's why we went to pick him up and drove him to Beijing and kept him in a safe place.
GRANT (voice-over): He Peirong agreed to speak to us over Skype. She said she feared for Chen's safety, often bursting into tears. Within hours of this interview, He Peirong herself vanished. Other activists tell CNN she's been arrested.
HE (through translator): I'm not concerned about my own safety. I hope they'll arrest me, not my friends. When Chen told me he wants to stay in China, I told myself I'll be willing to stand by him no matter what happens next. Chen also said, as long as he's not free, no other Chinese will feel safe.
GRANT (on camera): Activists say after discovering Chen missing, police moved in on his family, and there was a violent scuffle in the village. Chinese authorities have not responded to CNN's calls for any comment, but to the Communist Party, Chen is a criminal, an enemy of the state.
GRANT (voice-over): For now, Chen is free, but he is a man still in fear.
CHEN (through translator): My worry's only deepening. My wife, mother, and children are still in their evil hands.
GRANT: Chen finished his statement with an appeal to Premier Wen to no longer ignore his suffering.
Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.
ANDERSON: Well, before his escape, Chen's situation was already receiving international attention. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had repeatedly called for his freedom. Despite Chen officially being a free man, visits to his home were barred.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
This scuffle happened when the actor Christian Bale and Stan Grant tried to visit in December. Just wanted to show you that again, because that's the sort of thing you see out of there.
Joining me now is a man who's been in direct contact with Chen since he escaped, Bob Fu, who is the founder of the human rights organization ChinaAid. At this point, Bob, what can you tell us about his whereabouts and how he is?
BOB FU, FOUNDER, CHINAAID: Yes, for a blind man like Mr. Chen, had to climb a wall up his home and walk miles and several hours to get to safety, finally, and we were able to, with other friends, he was able to be transported to a safe location. So, right now, we can tell that he's in a 100 percent safe location and environment in hiding.
ANDERSON: All right. And you're not prepared to say where he is, and that is totally understandable. There is also increased concern for the activist who helped him, He Peirong. What do we know of her and her whereabouts at this point?
FU: Yes, I'm also very concerned about He Peirong's safety because I might be the last one. She dropped a message at 11:00 yesterday morning on April 27th in Beijing time that she said the Chinese public security agents have arrived. So --
ANDERSON: Where was she? She was at home, was she?
FU: -- presumptively, she's in their hands. Yes, at her home.
ANDERSON: And you haven't heard from her since?
FU: No. I have not heard from her any since. She just lost contact. So, I can be safely say she's in the hands of the Chinese security.
ANDERSON: You got in touch with Chen back in February 2011, I know, when he first -- you first heard about the ordeal of his imprisonment. What was it specifically that he had done that the Chinese were so offended by?
FU: I think really the trigger was his detailed documentation of the brutal practice of the -- terms of the -- more than about 100,000 cases of forced abortion and forced sterilization in his own county. That was the direct trigger, angered the authorities.
And of course, over the years, he has been a strong advocate for the rule of law and basic human rights, especially for the vulnerable people.
ANDERSON: You're well aware -- you had -- what it feels like to be persecuted in China. I know in 2002, six years after you were persecuted, you were forced to flee to the United States from China.
To your mind, does China's rule of law, has it improved or deteriorated over the past few years? Certainly China would have the rest of the world believe that things were improving on a human rights basis. Are they?
FU: By all accounts, unfortunately, in the past couple of years, the Chinese rule of law and human rights record have been rapidly deteriorating. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of the people impacted with maybe 20,000 Chinese human rights defenders that talked, and some were kidnapped, some were tortured, some are still in prison as we are talking.
ANDERSON: Well, we're going to have to leave it there. We thank you very much, indeed, though, for joining us on what is the most remarkable story. Bob Fu out of the States for you this evening.
You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. When we come back, he's back in Mumbai and he is cooking up a storm. Indian super chef Sanjeev Kapoor fuses spice and simplicity in a dish inspired by his Fusion Journey to Copenhagen.
ANDERSON: Sanjeev Kapoor left Mumbai for Copenhagen to explore the simplicity of Nordic cuisine. Well, now he's back home, blending the bold flavors of India with the subtleties of the Danish kitchen. It's the end of his Fusion Journey. Take a look.
SANJEEV KAPOOR, CHEF, "KHANA KHAZANA" TV SHOW: I'm chef Sanjeev Kapoor from India, and I've been cooking for over 25 years, now.
Welcome to Sanjeev Kapoor's kitchen!
From an Indian perspective, taste is paramount, and our savory dishes are more salty, our hot dishes are more hot, our sweet dishes are more sweet, out sour things are more sour. So, the subtlety that Nordic cuisine has is something which is lacking today in India. So, my expectation is a lot, and I know that after that, once I come back, I'll have so much to work on. I'm really excited.
I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, to meet Rene Redzepi.
RENE REDZEPI, HEAD CHEF, NOMA: Welcome to Denmark.
KAPOOR: Oh, this is fantastic!
A legend of Nordic cuisine and head chef of the world's best restaurant, Noma.
REDZEPI: The tradition of Indian cuisine is it's more of a cooked cuisine, whereas right now, we're in a very raw state. Taste it, it's quite pungent.
And I want to show Sanjeev that where our -- kind of the foundation of Noma started.
See, it's kind of pretty, yes?
KAPOOR: What really captured my attention was the farm to table approach. Finding ingredients in their natural habitat and creating dishes that really bring out those raw, fresh flavors.
REDZEPI: This is a type of rose.
KAPOOR: During my time in Denmark, I was constantly thinking about how I could return to India to create a new dish inspired by what I saw, smelled, tasted, and learned in Copenhagen.
Now I'm back in India. I have come to this farm just outside Delhi to source the best natural ingredients that India has to offer.
Oh, mustard flowers. They look lovely. And mustard seed is in this, so let's see this.
I think these flowers would also look nice on the dish. No particular smell, but the seed inside these pods -- very interesting.
And luckily, I found these lovely leaves, fresh mustard, which is my favorite. It's not too sharp, yet it's pungent. It is very mustardy, very nice. And this is something which I have grown up with.
The taste that I get here is very different. The market is --
KAPOOR (through translator): Do you cook with these mustard leaves?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes.
KAPOOR (through translator): What do you prepare?
KAPOOR (in English): I don't know at this time what I'm going to use this with, but I just love this.
KAPOOR: I'm going to try using these farm-fresh mustard leaves, which I picked up, and they just look outstanding, smell very good, very nice, fresh. But I've never cooked them the way I plan to cook them here with Norwegian salmon, so I hope I can do some justice to the freshness of these leaves.
You have set direction, you know how people behave, you know how ingredients behave. It's very predictable. Here, it's a very contrasting taste, flavors, and textures. So to use something as pungent and as sharp as mustard with something which is silk-smooth Norwegian salmon.
The contrast is a lot, but that is something which should work in India because people like international flavors and taste, and with the Indian fashion, a lot of freshness of greens. I must admit, I have not tried this before.
The final outcome of all this is a fairly simple dish, Norwegian salmon featuring lots of fresh mustard leaves.
That's what Rene's brand of Nordic cuisine is all about, simplicity. It's all about fashion and appreciation for the ingredients themselves. Just by focusing on Mother Nature, one leaf to the next, I was able to return home and bring new enthusiasm and approach to what India has to offer.
ANDERSON: And that is what this is all about. For next week, we are in for a new adventure. We follow a Lebanese photographer who swaps the fashion houses of Paris to document the Sami people of northern Sweden.
And you can find a lot more out about all of our Fusion Journeys on the website, cnn.com/fusionjourneys. Their stories, their photos, their videos, and much more. Sadly, in this case, not their food, though. Not physically, anyway.
What is on your mind? The team at CONNECT THE WORLD would love to hear from you. Facebook.com/CNNconnect, have your say. You can tweet me @BeckyCNN. Two very big stories tonight. Obviously, the European crisis continues, Spain's unemployment at one in four, now. And the Chinese dissident story, also a good one. Let us know how you feel about both of those.
In tonight's Parting Shots, you will have heard that curiosity killed the cat, but you might not have heard about curiosity injuring a puppy. Well, that is what's happened in Arizona when an eight-week old dog had to be rescued by a good Samaritan after his first encounter with a cactus. Phil Han has the story.
PHIL HAN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER (voice-over): Talk about a prickly start to life. This eight-week old puppy was found covered in hundreds of cactus spikes from head to tail. Nicknamed Cactus Jack, the brave dog was treated by the Arizona Humane Society, who removed up to a five-gallon bucket worth of spines.
After several hours of being de-spiked, doctors said Cactus Jack was lucky not to have any permanent damage. More than 70 people vied to become Jack's new owner, but only one of them became his new mom.
SARA MESSERSCHMITT, CACTUS JACK'S NEW MOM: This story just was heart- wrenching, heartbreaking, but the thing that just drew my heart to it was the fact that he just kept wagging his tail.
HAN: While most of the potential pet parents lost out, the good news is that eight of them ended up adopting other puppies.
Phil Han, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: And she is prickled pink. I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thanks for watching. The world news headlines up after this. Stay with us.