Return to Transcripts main page


Pope Confirms Gay Lobby; French Air Traffic Controllers Strike Grounds Planes; Greek Government Shuts Down Some Public Channels; Obama Calls for Dream Act Support; Mexico's Dreamers Meet Parents; Swimming from Cuba to Florida

Aired June 12, 2013 - 12:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: More than 4,000 ancient manuscripts, 16 mausoleums have been destroyed.

Some of the mausoleums were listed among the U.N.'s World Heritage Sites. In the spring of 2012, al Qaeda linked militants invaded them.

Pope Francis has confirmed the existence of what's called a "gay lobby" in the Vatican. Now the pope made the comment to a private audience with Catholic officials from Latin America and the Caribbean. Now notes from that meeting were published on a website.

I want to bring in our senior Vatican analyst John Allen to help us explain what actually happened here.

First of all, explain to us what the term "gay lobby" -- what does that mean? I understand it was first coined by an Italian newspaper earlier in the year.


Yeah, look, I mean, it's no secret that there are gay people in the Vatican. Some of them have been caught up in some very highly public and, in some cases, embarrassing scandals.

But this term, "gay lobby," came up last year during the Vatican leaks scandal when the $64,000 question was, who's behind it.

And the Italian media floated the theory that maybe it's a network of homosexuals in the Vatican who are leaking stuff not because they're gay, but because they have a secret to keep and, therefore, might be vulnerable to exploitation and blackmail.

So when people use this term, and when Pope Francis uses the term, that's usually what they have in mind.

The concern is not that anyone is gay. The concern is that somebody who has something to hide, whether it's about sex or money or anything else, might be subject to pressure to work against the pope's interest.

MALVEAUX: So there have been long rumors here that the gay lobby drove Pope Benedict from the church. Did Pope Francis -- is he giving any credibility to that notion or to that theory? ALLEN: Well, Pope Francis hasn't addressed it, but the Vatican has. They shot it down repeatedly.

They have insisted that the motives for Pope Benedict's resignation were the one's that were stated, that is, that he's old and he's tired.

And, look, I have talked to lots of people who have had contact with Pope Benedict since his resignation. Of course, he's now living in a former monastery on Vatican grounds. They will tell you that the physical decline is striking.

The guy obviously is aging. He obviously is weakening. He obviously is increasingly frail. And so most people say that theories that there is something else going on here as to why Benedict made this stunning decision to resign just don't pass the smell test.

MALVEAUX: And the Vatican, how is it responding to all of this, the fact that the pope is even talking about a so-called gay lobby?

ALLEN: Well, I mean, as you said in the setup, Suzanne, this was a private meeting between leaders of religious orders from Latin America and Pope Francis in which he didn't have a prepared text.

He was speaking off the cuff as he is wont to do. I've actually written a piece about the perils of an impromptu pope, and I suppose this would be another case in point.

But the Vatican's position is that this was a private session, so they're not confirming or denying any reports about what he is alleged to have said.

MALVEAUX: All right, John, thanks. We really appreciate it.

Coming up, an air traffic control strike in France causing travel headaches. This is across Europe. We're going to tell you how long this strike might last.


MALVEAUX: There are a lot of people who want to fly in and out of France today. They can't. That is because an air traffic controllers strike there keeping thousands of flights there on the ground.

Richard Quest is joining us from London. Richard, there goes our trip from Paris. What's going on in? Tell us.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL'S "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Not so quickly, no. You'll be able to get there tomorrow.

The three-day strike or dispute by air traffic controllers disrupted large swathes of European air space, not just those flights in and out of France, because a lot of air traffic, of course, has to go across France.

But the third day of the strike, which is tomorrow, has been called off because of sympathetic responses from the French and German governments.

This is a dispute about liberalization and modernization of the air traffic system in Europe, so-called "single European skies."

And the French air traffic controllers, Suzanne, say the proposed changes, they question whether they are safe -- are they safe, but also they say jobs will be put at risk. It's a classic dispute.

MALVEAUX: So you say they expect to end the strike tomorrow. Why are they going to end the strike? Why don't they continue?

QUEST: Because they say that the French and the German -- the proposals on the reform of the European air traffic system have been by the commission, the executive body.

And now the air traffic controllers say that the governments involved, the French and the German governments, are sounding sympathetic and, since any proposals by the commission will have to be approved by the individual governments, they are hoping, of course, they be scuppered. They will get rid of them.

Now when I spoke to the French air traffic controllers union earlier today, they basically said it was an attack. It was an attack on the social way of life, the European model, liberalizing all sorts of things from meteorology services, air services.

And what they say is this is not the way forward, that safety could be at risk.

Needless to say the European commission say nothing like that.

MALVEAUX: And, Richard, how many people are impacted by this? It looks like certainly a lot of cancelled flights, delays, all that.

QUEST: You've got the lot. Imagine Ohio and that whole middle belt all being out of service for several hours, if not days, and air traffic either had to go around or down and around and you couldn't go right across the middle.

That, effectively, is what happens for large parts of European air space when you get something like France, Spain or Germany with air traffic control problems.

The dispute has cost tens of thousands of passengers trouble and strife. It's delayed and canceled a thousand -- several thousands flights, and it will take several hours to get things back to normal.

It's an old-fashioned dispute over working conditions and reform of the European air skies.

MALVEAUX: And, Richard, one final question, would it impact anybody who's coming from the United States who wanted to fly to France or fly to Europe that would also be interrupted as well?

QUEST: Well, yes and no. In theory, of course, because a lot of flights going into France would be controlled by air traffic controllers. At the higher levels as you go over France, not so because Euro control controls the upper elements.

So not as much on the -- so it's the short- and medium-haul delays, but of course, if you're flying in from the United States and you're hoping to make a connection at Charles de Gaulle, today you'd have had severe trouble. Tomorrow things will be a lot better.

But I would still have a good book and a packet of sandwiches.

MALVEAUX: OK, Richard, have a good book and a packet of sandwiches.

All right, thank you, Richard. Good to see you.

Coming up, a long-awaited reunion of students in the United States with their families who aren't allowed to cross the Mexican border. You've got to see this.


MALVEAUX: So imagine this. If you turn on the TV, the news, this is what happened in Greece. Yeah, that's right. The government shut down some of its state-run channels because of budget cuts. And, as you see there, literally, like, the anchors had to get up and leave. Yeah.

The decision means more than 2,500 employees -- not a laughing matter -- are going to lose their jobs. A government spokesman said the station will open again, but with a much smaller staff. Employees protested that move.

And opening statements got under way in the trial of alleged mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger. He is charged with 19 counts of murder.

The prosecutor described Bulger as a hands-on killer who ran a massive operation. They say that Bulger was the leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang in Boston.

He was in hiding for more than 16 years until his arrest in 2011.

An immigration bill has cleared its first hurdle. This is on the Senate side. It would give millions of people living illegally in the United States a path to citizenship.

Yesterday, President Obama urged lawmakers to support the Dream Act his executive order puts in place. That expires next year.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is not an abstract to me. This is about incredible young people who understand themselves to be Americans, who have done everything right but have still been hampered in achieving their American dream.


MALVEAUX: Our Rafael Romo is taking a look at how current immigration is affecting many, many families. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: A tearful hug made incomplete by a wall. This is no ordinary wall. These metal bars separate Mexico and the United States at Nogales, Arizona.

EVELYN RIVERA, COLOMBIAN IMMIGRANT: Love has no border. The love of a mother and her daughter can't be separated by borders, can't be separated by anything, and for them to remember that they have families as well.

ROMO: Twenty-four-year-old Evelyn Rivera is an undocumented immigrant. Her mother, Yolanda Ravi (ph) was deported to their native Colombia. They're meeting for the first time since she was expelled from the U.S.


ROMO: Rivera has been able to stay in the country thanks to an executive ordered issued last June by President Obama. It allows immigrants who are in the United States illegally, after being brought here by the parents as children, to stay in the U.S. until June of 2014.

OBAMA: This is about incredible young people who understand themselves to be Americans, who have done everything right but have still been hampered in achieving their American dream.

ROMO: Back at the border, Gorte Teodoro meeting her 25-year-old daughter Renata for the first time since the Brazilian woman was deported.

GORTE TEODORO, DEPORTED MOTHER: I just asked why. I just want to be with my kids. I live in America (INAUDIBLE) 50 (ph) years, 50 (ph) years. Why deport me?

RENATA TEODORO, BRAZILIAN IMMIGRANT: I just want to be with my mom. I want her to be there at my graduation. I want to go to movie nights again with her.

ROMO: The reunion of three young immigrants and their deported parents was not a random event. It was coordinated and some expenses paid by United We Dream, an immigrant's rights organization trying to send a message to Congress as lawmakers debate a new immigration bill.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: And Rafael Romo joins us. So, it's really fascinating. And walk us through this, if you will, how this happened, because you say these are children on one side who are on the U.S. side, meeting with their mothers who had all been deported but from three different countries. How did they arrange something like that?

ROMO: Well, there's an immigrant's organization called United We Dream that coordinated the entire event. This was not a random event. And they got in touch with the three mothers, one in Brazil, one in Colombia, one in Mexico. They all have essentially the same case. They were deported a number of years ago and they hadn't been able the see their children face-to-face during that time.

So they connected the mothers and the children. They transported them to the border and that's how the meeting took place. But our viewer saw that they were talking through those metal bars at the border in Nogales, Arizona. The three mothers traveled to northern Mexico and that's how it happened, that's how the meeting took place, but with the bars in between them.

MALVEAUX: So how many people are in that kind of circumstance, that situation, where they are separated from their parents and really couldn't meet them unless they had a special arrangement to meet them there at that border?

ROMO: Yes, the most updated information comes to us from the Migration Policy Institute. They did a study a year ago on this and they say that nearly 1.8 people under the age of 30 who were brought to the United States by their parents would qualify under the Dream Act that -- which has failed several times in the Senate.

Now, a lot of questions, where do they come from? Most of them, three out of four, come from central America and from Mexico. The rest from all kinds of different countries. There are immigrants from Africa, from Asia, but most of them from Mexico and central America.

MALVEAUX: And what is the Dream Act? What is - you know, when you look at the expiration of the executive order, what happens after that expires?

ROMO: Really somebody has to do something after June of 2014, otherwise all these kids are eligible for deportation if there's no bill, if immigration reform fails in Congress. So they're literally in limbo. They only have 12 more months for something to happen otherwise their hope expires at the end of this executive order by the president.

MALVEAUX: And, finally, so I would imagine those three that you featured in the piece, they're the lucky once. They're fortunate because they're able to be reunited with their mothers there. How would that happen? I mean how -- would someone have to apply to that organization and say look, you know, my mom, you know, was separated, can you make that happen for me? That looks like a very difficult thing to do, to pull off.

ROMO: These are young people who have been very vocal about their situation and who have been working, coordinating efforts to raise public awareness about their situation. So these are some of the kids who have been very, very active. You have seen them in protests, in different public events talking to congressmen, going to the capital, during different things and that's the reason why they got the attention of United We Dream and that's how the meeting actually ended up happening.

MALVEAUX: All right, it is really - you know, it's powerful visuals. You see the emotion there. I mean, obviously, they are getting the message out there.

ROMO: Yes. And to think that they hadn't seen their mothers in years, that's got to be very, very hard.

MALVEAUX: Yes, it is a very emotional issue. I mean it shows - it's not just numbers. It really shows the human impact of this issue.

ROMO: That's right.

MALVEAUX: All right, Rafael, thank you. We appreciate it.

ROMO: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Diane Nyad, she tried to do this four times. Wasn't able to do it, however. Now an Olympic swimmer from Australia is going to give it a shot. We're talking about swimming from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. We're going to go live to Havana right after this quick break.


MALVEAUX: We are following live pictures. These pictures out of Turkey here, Istanbul. The crowds gathering there. This is in Taksim Square. This is where yesterday, about this time, a lot of tension between riot police and demonstrators in that park. And we saw violence erupt inside of that park. It went on for hours and hours and hours. It turned quite violent as there were water cannons and tear gas that was used on those protesters. Well, so far, still a peaceful scene there in that square. But again, you're looking at the numbers grow minute by minute. So we're keeping a really close eye on what is taking place there, whether or not there will be some sort of standoff between those demonstrators, those protesters and the riot police as we saw about 24 hours ago.

And this. One of those extreme record sports that have a lot of people trying it, not everyone succeeding. As a matter of fact, everybody has failed the Everest of marathon swimming. We're talking about Cuba to Florida with no help. And there is a big thing here, no protection.

All right, there she goes. Australian woman Chloe McCardel, she is in the water, determined to be the first swimmer to make the hundred miles all by herself without the protection of a shark cage. That is right.

I want to go live to Havana, Cuba, right now. Our Patrick Oppmann.

So, OK, Patrick, we just saw her jumping into the water there. She wants to make history. You know, it's been - it's been tried before. It is a tough, tough swim. What makes this something that so many people want to try and have not been able to do?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I really don't know, Suzanne, because it doesn't sound like a lot of fun. Chloe McCardel expects to be in the water for 60 hours surrounded by sharks, jelly fish, literally being cooked by the unrelenting Caribbean sun. Why anybody would want to keep doing this, much less try again and again, it probably is a question without an answer. But Chloe McCardel said she's very excited to be doing this. You know, no flippers, no shark cage, no protection really from (INAUDIBLE), other than some sun screen she slathered on this morning. You know, she said that this is probably the toughest swim that anybody can attempt, but she's not intimidated by it.

MALVEAUX: What's the likelihood that she's going to succeed? What do we think of her chances here?

OPPMANN: You know, so many people have tried it and have failed, but Chloe McCardel, and all the other swimmers, are positive that someone will pull it off. They wouldn't keep trying if they didn't think it was possible. And what she said makes her attempt a little bit different is that she has a technical team that's the most advanced technical team. Literally dozens of scientists who will be giving her updates throughout this swim, trying to keep her out of way of currents and storms, other things that have kept other swimmers from accomplishing this.


OPPMANN: But here's the really amazing thing, Suzanne. Chloe McCardel didn't learn how to swim until she was 10 years old. Now she's into hour three of, you know, this 60 hour swim. So she's certainly making up for lost time.


MALVEAUX: All right. Well, we're going to have to leave it there. We talked to Diane Nyad multiple times about her attempts there. Four times she was not able to do it and it was the jelly fish, the jelly fish that got her ever single time. All those stings. Pretty tough stuff for her. But we wish Chloe the best and we'll be rooting for her as well.

So, if you think using hand free means you're driving safely while you're talking on the phone, you're wrong. Coming up next hour in the newsroom, we're going to prove it to you.