Return to Transcripts main page


Kidnapping in Mexico; Poultry Plant Fire in China; Queen Elizabeth Marks 60 Years; Senator Takes Sons to Deserted Island

Aired June 4, 2013 - 12:30   ET


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: This is in the state of Tamaulipas, and he has not been seen since.

He disappeared, his father by the same name, Armando Torres II, and his uncle, Salvador Torres, all disappeared the same day.

The family says that they got a phone call, a mysterious phone call, the very same week, saying they had been kidnapped, but they have not had any communication ever since.

One member of the family spoke with CNN affiliate KGBT and this is what she had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bring it to Mexico's attention. This is a Marine. here on this side, that's a war hero. I don't want to lose that hope that he's alive, but at the same time it is like a big reality.


ROMO: Now, Suzanne and Michael, you'll probably notice that our affiliate had to cover her face because she's afraid to speak in public. That gives you an idea of how terrorized are people in that part of the country.

Now let me tell you a little bit about Tamaulipas, this state just south of Texas near the Gulf of Mexico. I was taking a look at some numbers regarding kidnappings in Mexico. Out of the 20 cities and towns with the highest number of kidnappings, five of those 20 are located in Tamaulipas.

Why, you may ask. It is because it's been a fight between two very powerful cartels, trying to control that territory, as you can imagine, trying to control drug routes into the United States.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CO-ANCHOR, "CNN AROUND THE WORLD": So, Rafael, we were talking about this before, but obviously if you have the 11 who were kidnapped in Mexico City, that startling statistic, 26,000 people kidnapped in six years, should people be going, traveling, visiting Mexico?

ROMO: The answer is it all depends where you're going. There are places in Mexico where the murder rate is lower than Canada. You can go to places like Cancun where, yes, it has seen its share of violence, but it is minimal compared to the states along the border where you see most of the turf wars between the cartels. So it all depends where you go.

There are other places like Acapulco, which used to be a very safe place, not anymore. So it changes year to year.

But for the most part, Americans are not being targeted just because they are Americans. Sometimes American citizens, like in this case, gets in some sort of situation.

But the suspicion there is that, according to the family, whoever attacked this family was after the piece of land that the family has owned for generations and, again, a strategic point for the cartels trying to smuggle drugs into the United States.


MALVEAUX: OK, Rafael, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

HOLMES: It's amazing stuff.

All right, have a look at these pictures. This is extraordinary, water up to the second floor of stores and restaurants, historic flooding threatening much of central Europe.

MALVEAUX: Up next, we're going live to Germany to see how one town is coping with all of that water.


HOLMES: All right, a wildfire about 60 percent contained now and people returning to their homes, this is happening north of Los Angeles, but the fight goes on in other western states.

MALVEAUX: This is Evergreen, Colorado. This is where firefighters got a call about a building on fire and ordered evacuations.

Now, in New Mexico, fire has burned 8,000 acres, forced about 100 families from their homes.

Now to the Midwest where folks dealing with terrible flooding, watch this. This is the Mississippi River, already 10 feet above flood stage. In the St. Louis area, parts of Grafton, Illinois, also under water.

HOLMES: Remember when that thing was almost out of water.

All right. Crews helped hundreds of people get to safe ground after a levee broke. This happening in the town of West Alton in Missouri.

Crews are out checking on other levees to make sure they hold now. The next couple of days nail-biters. More rain in the forecast for Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

MALVEAUX: Flooding also a huge problem today across central Europe. In the Czech Republic, the fire department says seven people have died. Water levels have peaked in Prague, but cities downstream also now at risk.

HOLMES: Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, visited swamped towns today and promised $130 million in emergency aid. Water levels passed a 500-year record in the historic town of Passau. It was the highest level since 1501.

Meteorologists warn Dresden and Mesissen may also flood.

MALVEAUX: Southern Poland getting slammed as well after heavy storms last flight. Fire crews have been helping folks sandbag their homes as well as their communities.

And now on to this poultry processing plant fire that left at least 120 people dead. This happened yesterday in China, and today, families who lost their loved ones, they want some answers.

Our Nic Robertson, he's got the details.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Overcome by grief, a mother lying in the road, her only child is dead.

Where so many lost their lives at this industrial poultry farm, there is anguish and anger.

As this lady tells us, her aunt is still missing. A policeman shuts us down.

We are told to move away from the crowd. Across the road, another relative of a victim of the chicken farm fire is manhandled away from us.

This lady shouts at him not to leave, but to tell reporters the truth. When he does go, she cries out, "My sister-in-law died right there. I have nothing to fear now. They died such a horrible death because the door was shut."

Another relative quietly tells us workers couldn't get out, adding that they'd complained about the doors before.

At the nearby hospital, more anxious relatives scrutinize a list of survivors. Inside, police control the corridor to the injured. Relatives huddle nearby.

My cousin only just got out alive, this lady tells us. She went to one door. It was locked. She went to another, and just managed to get her arm out through a tiny hole before she was overcome and collapsed.

As we wait, this woman wheeled off for surgery. She tells us she can barely talk. Her jaw, arm, and leg were damaged jumping from a window. Meanwhile, close to the farm, a scuffle between families and police. The crowds have been growing through the morning, passions are rising, tempers are flaring, and it's now developed into a sort of a stand-off with the police line and the people here anxious to know about their relatives kept back from the chicken factory.

When we talked to this man, the reason for so much anger becomes clearer. Huang Chu Fen's (ph) wife is missing. He tells us she went to work at 4:00 a.m. and has had no news since.

Everyone is trying to add their story, but he persists. No one liked working there, he says, 16-hour days, not enough toilet break, no holidays, for a little over $300 a month.

Left with only anguish and no answers, anger is rising. Bitter authorities are blocking them rather than finding their loved ones.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Mishazi, China.


HOLMES: A disturbing story there for those poor people.

Well, coming up, Queen Elizabeth, marking the 60th anniversary of her coronation, all eyes on the woman carrying the queen's future heir, however.

MALVEAUX: We're going to have highlights of today's service up next.


MALVEAUX: You're watching "Around the World" on CNN.

Lately seems like the stock market loves Tuesdays.

HOLMES: Yeah, the Dow has been posting gains every Tuesday for the past 20 weeks now.

So will today be another "super Tuesday?"

MALVEAUX: Let's take a look where we are, where we stand. The Dow down 36.

HOLMES: Down, yeah.

MALVEAUX: Thirty-six points or so, so that ...

HOLMES: A quarter of a percent. People say they have the "super Tuesdays" because of "miserable Mondays," which are traditional, too. I think 12 out of 18 have been down on Monday. Anyway.

MALVEAUX: Just want it up, up, up.

HOLMES: Yeah, exactly.

MALVEAUX: Of course, big day for Britain's Queen Elizabeth, today marks 60 years since she was crowned in Westminster Abbey, a lot of people watching.

HOLMES: It was. It was a rainy day. Today, it was sunny.

The royals and 2000 of closest friends and subjects went back to the abbey for a celebratory service.

MALVEAUX: The coronation service had all of the pomp and ceremony you'd expect for such momentous occasions.

Well, historian Kate Williams joins us from London. She's the author of "Young Elizabeth, the Making of Our Queen."

So tell us about how the day unfolded.

KATE WILLIAMS, AUTHOR, "YOUNG ELIZABETH, THE MAKING OF OUR QUEEN": It's been a pretty big day here in Britain. It's not a public holiday. People are really excited to celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth II.

Of course last year we celebrated her accession (ph) 60 years on the throne. But because your queen, the queen has to wait a year before she's crowned. The actual coronation was in 1953.

So, we're going back right now to 1953, when she was a young mother of two. Britain was a completely different place. Most of it was manual labors. Britain's transformed hugely.

And what was really different about the coronation was that it was the first big televised event. So television was a novelty in Britain. We all crowded around our screens, desperate to watch it. And because there were no satellites, it had to be flown over the Atlantic so that the Canadians could watch it, too. So, remembering that day and the fact that she's been on the thrown for 60 years, she's heading to be our longest reigning monarch and perhaps eventually the longest reigning monarch in the world.


MALVEAUX: That's awesome, Michael, take a look at those pictures.

HOLMES: Yes. You love that. That's beautiful, isn't it, the old times.

MALVEAUX: Like old - yes, old television. Really nice.

HOLMES: Kate, I've got to ask you, as you say, longest reigning -- approaching that anyway. We have seen in other parts of Europe monarchs step down. Now, you know, wishing her a long life and good health, Prince Charles is getting on a bit himself. He's 65, I think. Is she likely to step down, I mean but some people say she's so serious about the responsibility, she's doing it for life?

WILLIAMS: Good question, Michael. Unfortunately for Prince Charles, there's no way that the queen is going to step down. She's determined to do it to the end, unlike Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands who, as you say, she did abdicate. Queen Beatrix (INAUDIBLE) secular job. The queen sees it as a religious duty. That in the coronation ceremony, she was anointed by God to be the queen and it's God's gift to her and only God can take it away. So she's said herself, she'll keep going and only if she loses her mind, (INAUDIBLE), will Charles take over. So, it's very unlikely. So it's very possible we won't see Charles come to the throne until he's in his 80s and that also means that William, too, will be old.


MALVEAUX: Uh-huh. And, Kate, we've got to ask you this about the other Kate, Catharine, duchess of Cambridge, and the royal baby bump. What does she look like now? And to we have any sense if it is a boy or girl?

WILLIAMS: It is looking bigger and bigger. There were some people early along in the pregnancy saying, oh, there's not much of a bump, but it's getting big. You know, there's definitely a baby in there. And, well, Prince Harry has suggested it's a boy, but he just could be -- we know how Prince Harry, how he's a joker. He could be playing a joke.

But what we -- what I hear is that Kate is going to have a baby shower. Now, mums-to-be in Britain, we don't have baby showers. It's not our custom at all, where it's say common in America. So if Kate has a baby shower, perhaps we're going to start a new trend in Britain and we're all going to have them too. And perhaps if you'll - I mean customary at a baby shower you find out what the sex is. Perhaps some of those people there will tell us.

HOLMES: Yes, and very quickly, before I let you know, I've been talking about the old and the new when it comes to the royals. Prince Philip, he actually canceled, I think, an event but did show up to this. I mean he's getting -- he's 92. He looked a bit - he looked pretty frail today, I've got to say.

WILLIAMS: You're right, Michael. I mean, you know, 92, I mean all of us would want to look like him at 92. But I think often in Britain we forget he is getting on. It's a very difficult job. This is hard work for him. And I think increasingly the queen and the duke of Edinburgh are going to step back a bit from the more arduous travel and let Charles and Camilla take over because, you know, he's 92, she's 87. Most people by that age would just want to be, their feet up by the fire and doing the crossword.

HOLMES: Or even be around would be a good thing.

WILLIAMS: Exactly. Yes, fingers crossed for me.

MALVEAUX: All right, Kate, thanks.

HOLMES: Thanks.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: That is really, really great. Love those old pictures.

HOLMES: Yes, it's fantastic. MALVEAUX: And really interesting to see.

HOLMES: Major televised event.

MCGUIRK: Blast from the past for us.

Being in Congress comes with a lot of headaches, you know, but one senator, he's actually found a way to survive all the stress.

HOLMES: Yes, coming up, how he unwinds on a deserted island survivor style.


HOLMES: Well, it's the ultimate vacation, isn't it, resting up on a private island. That would be nice, wouldn't it?

MALVEAUX: Yes, you would think that's the way it goes. But this one senator here, he visited an island that didn't have any running water, electricity or hotels. Kind of rough living.

HOLMES: I've been in - I've been in places like that, I think. He took two of his sons. It was a -- what they call a survivalist trip, right?

MALVEAUX: Yes. Brian Todd, he's got an amazing adventure. This is the south Pacific. Watch this.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They speared crabs in the surf, spear-fished off breath taking reefs, subsisted on what they caught, plus coconuts, for four days. They marooned themselves on a deserted Pacific island and lived to make a most excellent video out of it. This isn't "Survivor." And while this guy may look like Matthew McConaughey, this isn't Hollywood's latest summer blockbuster either. This is Jeff Flake, Republican senator from Arizona, on a survivalist trip last week with his two youngest sons, 15-year-old Tanner and 13- year-old Dallin.

TODD (on camera): What is the inspiration for this?

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Well, four years ago I took a similar trip about 20 miles from here, just a different island, and stayed for seven days and seven nights. My first thought after getting off that island was, where's a cheeseburger? And the next thought was, this would be a lot more fun with my kids.

TODD (voice-over): Just getting there was ambitious. From Phoenix, to Hawaii, to Kwajalein (ph), to the tiny thousand foot wide island of Biggarenn. It was 10,400 miles round trip. What did they bring with them?

FLAKE: We brought no food and no water. We brought some desalinator pumps to pump sea water.

TODD: Plus, a lobster trap that was lost to a shark. One of those apex predators also provided the Flakes with their most dramatic moment.

FLAKE: I speared a grouper, quite a big one, and it riggled off - or riggled the spear out of my hand and I had to dive down about 20 feet to retrieve the spear with the fish on the end of it. By that time, four sharks had closed in on the fish. And we were about 50 yards out, but we didn't want to lose our meal. So, we grabbed the spear and Dallin and I hightailed it for shore. And with the sharks in pursuit.

TODD: They made it back safely. Sleeping under the palms and stars in hammocks might seem to most of us like the best part. Nope.

FLAKE: The best part was actually every night we had to pump water for about an hour and both boys would sit down with a pump in their hand and the lead would be put in the ocean and we'd just watch the sun set. And there were no cell phones, obviously, no texting, no distraction.

TODD: Flake and his wife have five children. The two oldest are married. The middle one's in college. During the last campaign cycle, Flake wasn't around much and promised this trip to his two youngest boys.

TODD (on camera): What does your wife think of all of this, and is this going to be a Flake family tradition from now on?

FLAKE: You know, she was, obviously, worried at the dangers, but she valued the time that I would be able to spend with the boys more than the risks there. And so she was a good sport about it. She says I'll go back to that island when there's a hotel on it.

TODD (voice-over): In fact, Senator Flake says that the last time he did this four years ago, he got some very good advice from his wife. She suggested he keep a journal and share it with the media to quell any skepticism about the trip. That's because that came just around the time then-South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was caught lying about a supposed hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail when Sanford was really in Argentina with his girlfriend.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: All right, got some news just crossing now. France's foreign minister, his name Laurent Fabius, he's announced that they did lab tests on some samples taken out of Syria, French lab tests, and that they got the results of those tests and it shows to them with certainty, he said, that sarin gas had been used in Syria. The wording was "several times" and in "a localized manner." The quote was, "France now has the certainty of the results." He said that they passed them on to the United Nations relevant bodies as well.

MALVEAUX: And what's interesting is what he doesn't say. He doesn't say who used the sarin gas against whom.

HOLMES: Yes. MALVEAUX: Whether or not it was the government or it was the rebels. But that would be very important in terms of how France, U.K., and the United States responds to this news. But this would be the first time that they would confirm sarin gas was indeed used.

HOLMES: Saying with certainty from lab tests, from samples that were collected by a U.N. fact finding mission. Of course the U.N. separately saying that they now have great certainty that both sides have used toxins at various points in this conflict. Worrying stuff.

MALVEAUX: All right, we're going to move on to the woman circled here in this picture, named Joan, and she is from California. But that is all that a Boston bombing suspect knows about this woman that she says saved her life. We're going to hear more about this mystery coming up in the next hour in the CNN NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: Plus, all kinds of mishaps on cruise ships lately. Are they safe? "Anderson Cooper 360" investigates the cruise industry tonight, 8:00 Eastern. Don't miss that.

We'll be right back.


MALVEAUX: My favorite story. Dinosaurs found in Wyoming. The remains of three triceratops located near Newcastle.


MALVEAUX: This is -- a rancher spotted the skeletons and lead scientists actually to this one particular site.

HOLMES: Yes. At least one of the three is almost completely intact. Now, that's going to excite a scientist. It could be the most complete skeleton of the triceratops ever found.

MALVEAUX: And just in case you don't remember from science class, triceratops, it's a three-horned plant eating dinosaur. Lived about 67 million years ago. Very cool stuff.

HOLMES: Yes, good news. Yes, very cool.

All right, that will do it for me. Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. I'm out of here, but you're sticking around.

MALVEAUX: All right, CNN NEWSROOM starts now.