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U.S. Declares Genocide by ISIS in Syria and Iraq; Aid Worker Dodges Airstrikes to Help Civilians; Politicians React to Trump's "Riot" Warning; Trump's Presidency on Global Risks List; Freedom Project; Kremlin Unhappy with New Trump Ad; Scans Indicate Hidden Chambers in King Tut's Tomb; Rousseff Appoints Predecessor as Chief of Staff. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 17, 2016 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:00]

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ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST (voice-over): At the INTERNATIONAL DESK, the U.S. says ISIS is committing genocide in Iraq and Syria.

More politicians weigh in on the possibility of violence in the U.S. election.

And Brazilians are outraged about their former president's new job.

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CURNOW: Hello and welcome, I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks for joining me.

The atrocities committed by the terror group ISIS are well documented. Now the United States is declaring that its actions in Iraq and Syria are

genocide.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made the announcement last hour. Kerry singled out the murder of Shia Muslims, Christians and Yazidis. You recall

these images of thousands of Yazidis, trapped on Iraq's Mount Sinjar in 2014. Kerry said the U.S. would support efforts to bring ISIS to justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I am neither judge nor prosecutor nor jury with respect to the allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity and

ethnic cleansing by specific persons.

Ultimately the full facts must be brought to light by an independent investigation and through formal legal determination made by a competent

court or tribunal.

But the United States will strongly support efforts to collect, document, preserve and analyze the evidence of atrocities and we will do all we can

to see that the perpetrators are held accountable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: John Kerry speaking there just a little bit earlier. CNN's Ivan Watson was there when the Yazidis were airlifted from Mount Sinjar. We'll

hear from you in just a moment, Ivan.

But first, let's go to CNN's Elise Labott at the U.S. State Department for more on this designation.

Hi, there, Elise. The label "genocide" is a very specific legal term.

Why is the U.S. using it now?

What does it really mean?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Robyn, I don't think it gives the U.S. any legal obligation to take any action. But at the same

time I think what Secretary of State John Kerry was saying is that it's important to call these acts what it is so that there could be protection

for minorities.

And as Secretary Kerry said I think that now that there's this legal determination, the U.S. wants to work with the U.N. Security Council and

the International Criminal Court to try and bring some of these atrocities to court.

But as Ivan will tell you, from being on the ground, while this is an important recognition for those minorities, for the atrocities that have

been committed to them, it doesn't necessarily provide any additional tools for the United States.

I think what it will do is put pressure on the Obama administration not only to take a more aggressive line towards ISIS -- although Kerry started

his remarks by saying what the U.S. and the 6-some member coalition have done against ISIS -- but I think it will also give weight to calls by

humanitarian groups and some members of Congress who are looking for the U.S. to take in some more of these ethnic minorities as refugees to the

United States.

CURNOW: Yes, I think that's a good point.

But in terms of the Yazidis and other minorities, Ivan, Secretary of State Kerry there saying that he wants justice.

But what does this mean for people who want justice?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It might provide some kind of symbolic comfort for people to hear that the crimes that were

committed against their communities have been determined by the U.S. as genocide.

But it doesn't really help the hundreds of thousands of people who are homeless, who are living in refugee camps across the Middle East.

It doesn't help the relatives of at least 3,000 Yazidis as of last August, who were still missing, either believed to be dead or kidnapped by ISIS in

a year after ISIS mounted its August 2014 offensive, in which it sent hundreds of thousands of Iraqis running for Iraqi Kurdistan and for safety

to escape ISIS.

So again, you still have many, many people who have been uprooted from their homes, who do not have a chance of going back home, whose communities

are being decimated in Iraq and in Syria.

These are ancient communities. These were areas that had very heterodox, different ethnic groups, different religious groups, living side by side.

And many of those communities have been purged from their homelands and we don't know if those places will ever look as kind of beautiful and colorful

and diverse as they --

[10:05:00]

WATSON: -- did before ever again -- Robyn.

CURNOW: I just want to ask Elise a question here because I think what is very important about this designation, Elise, is that Ivan says it's

symbolic. He's been on the ground. He's seen the impact of what it means for a genocide to be committed in front of his eyes in the way these

Yazidis were being focused on.

Let's talk about the actual implications. You've said that there might be more pressure.

Will there be more pressure to give victims of ISIS some sort of special refugee status to the U.S.?

Hot political issue, talk about justice, the International Criminal Court, the U.S. is a signatory to their own statute when it comes to the

International Criminal Court. This really does just seem like a very symbolic and no real impact on the ground for the people who are living

through ISIS' atrocities.

LABOTT: In terms of the justice implications, Secretary Kerry was quite clear that the U.S. is going to do all it can to help support groups who

are documenting these types of crimes to send it to a court.

Whether that means that everyone from ISIS who committed these atrocities will make it to an International Criminal Court, that's probably pretty

unlikely.

I think but any efforts that are being made to document and bring some of these at least senior members of ISIS, who committed a lot of these

atrocities, to justice, the U.S. will help; even though it's not a signatory to the court, it does comply with U.N. Security Council

resolutions and has in the past, whether it's Syria, whether it's other issues, has helped in the documentation.

In terms of more action, I think this gives weight to someone like Secretary Kerry, who has been pushing for more aggressive action against

ISIS and even in Syria, he said it's not only important to call these crimes what they are but it's important to stop it.

And so when Secretary Kerry has this kind of legal definition in his pocket, I think when he goes to the president, when he's in these national

security meetings, I think it gives more weight to his calls to do more. You do have a president who is very reluctant to take more action.

So I think that there's going to be some push-and-pull there.

But certainly those calling for more aggressive action towards ISIS or in Syria will -- this will give weight to their cause.

CURNOW: Indeed.

And, Ivan, to you, we talk about there, whether this is going to give weight to more action in Syria. Let's also remember the last time the U.S.

designated a crisis, a genocide was Darfur in 2004. And that designation didn't change the mandate or the policy on the ground.

And, Ivan, do you think an excess of -- an extra bit of aid will make this --

(CROSSTALK)

CURNOW: Do you think this will make an impact, at least like you say, to those Yazidis? You saw them and their plight.

Do you think more aid will help?

WATSON: Of course. There are hundreds of thousands, millions of people who are desperate, who have been made homeless. These are massive refugee

populations. So of course it will help.

In his address, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry did point out that the U.S. intervened to stop a broader slaughter. And that' is really what

happened in August of 2014.

When ISIS was advancing in parts of Northern Iraq and sending hundreds of thousands of people fleeing for safety, the U.S. did intervene militarily

and it did probably prevent a wider slaughter.

What has been striking in the aftermath of that is that ISIS has been very public about the massacres it has carried out against -- be they Iraqi or

Syrian government security forces or members of these religious minorities that it considers to be infidels.

It has been very public about its enslavement of thousands of Yazidi women and girls in the 21st century, justifying the use of them as sex slaves

with printed pamphlets that were distributed at mosques throughout the city Mosul, which ISIS captured more than a year ago.

So this was another point that John Kerry alluded to, that ISIS has been very public about its genocidal policies.

The Yazidis -- the community that's borne the brunt of the savage attack, they are a minority. They are only about 600,000 of them worldwide while

the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government says they are currently housing around 400,000 of them, a strong sign, Robyn, of how they were ethnically

cleansed from their homelands -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Ivan, Elise, thanks so much for your perspective.

Now I want to bring in one of our journalists who just actually returned from Syria. Clarissa Ward went undercover into rebel-held areas where

virtually no Western journalists have gone for more than a year. Clarissa joins us now from our New York bureau.

Clarissa, you've seen first-hand --

[10:10:00]

CURNOW: -- what people there are going through.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Robyn, and it's not just Western journalists who aren't getting into these hard-hit areas. It's

Western aid workers, it's large aid organizations, it's incredibly difficult to move around in these areas, both logistically and from a

security point of view, as we found out for ourselves. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WARD (voice-over): It's a Tuesday in Syria. A British aid worker, Talpir Sharif (ph), is making the dangerous drive to Aleppo.

TALPIR SHARIF (PH), AID WORKER: It's really important that we drive with the windows open because any kind of explosions that land close to us, the

last thing you want is shrapnel of glass and so on and so forth landing in our faces.

WARD (voice-over): He's traveling to the devastated city to deliver an ambulance but it isn't long before he's diverted. Four airstrikes have

hit. Sharif (ph) runs into the wreckage to see what's needed.

SHARIF (PH): This was a house right here. Look, it's all houses.

WARD (voice-over): Remarkably, no one has been injured or killed. But the sound of another jet means it's time to leave.

SHARIF (PH): (Speaking foreign language). Everybody out. Let's go, let's go.

They say that the plane is in the sky. We can hear it. They are saying a tactic that it uses when ambulances turn up, they'll hit the same place

again. So we're just going to try and get to a safer place.

WARD (voice-over): Sharif (ph) is one of just a handful of Western aid workers living in Syria.

SHARIF (PH): Most of the big aid organizations, they don't want to go into the line of fire, in a sense. This is something that we have to do. This

is something that is a human response. If we don't do it, then who will?

WARD (voice-over): In the relative safety of an olive grove near the Turkish border, he told us that religious conviction played a big part in

his decision to come here three years ago.

SHARIF (PH): We need to look at what do the people really want and if the people are Muslims, this is not me saying it. If the people are Muslims

and they want some form of Islamic governance, then it's important that we help them to establish that.

WARD: Is that what they want?

SHARIF (PH): In my opinion, that's what I believe. And you can ask. You can ask. You can go around and ask the people, what do you want. And I

don't think the people will settle for anything less especially after all of this bloodshed, their right of self-determination.

WARD (voice-over): For many of the 6.5 million displaced people in Syria, there are perhaps more immediate concerns. Most live in sprawling tent

cities along the border. Conditions in the camps are brutal. There's a lack of food and clean water and they become more crowded every day.

SHARIF (PH): We've just recently done a survey of this camp. Just this camp here alone, which is a conglomeration of about 40 camps, is around

80,000 people.

WARD: Eighty thousand people?

SHARIF (PH): And this is just one on this border. There's another one over -- not too far from here, another maybe 65,000-70,000 people.

WARD (voice-over): Sharif's (ph) favorite project is this smaller camp that houses roughly 100 widows and their children. Syria is now a country

full of widows and orphans, some still too young to understand what has happened to their country, others who have seen too much, all of them

dependent on the mercy of others.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WARD: And, Robyn, you saw there the images from that orphan camp. I just wanted to give you a sense of some of the numbers with regard to Syrian

children and how they are being impacted by this conflict: UNICEF says that 2.6 million children in Syria are no longer in school, 8.4 million

children affected.

And one in three children inside Syria were born since the war began. That means they have only known war and conflict their entire lives -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Devastating. Thanks so much, Clarissa Ward there.

Moving on, Germany says a possible threat has forced it to close an embassy and school in the Turkish capital, Ankara. The foreign ministry has also

shuttered a consulate in Istanbul. This follows Sunday's suicide bombing that killed at least 35 people in Ankara.

An offshoot of the PKK rebel group claimed responsibility for the attack. The Kurdish Freedom Falcons also claimed another bombing that killed 30

people in Ankara last month.

You're watching the INTERNATIONAL DESK. The possibility of a Donald Trump presidency is raising alarm bells from a group that assesses global risks.

We'll talk to one of the analysts from that group -- that's next.

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[10:15:00]

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CURNOW: Welcome back. You're watching CNN.

Donald Trump's opponents and supporters are reacting to comments the U.S. presidential candidate made on CNN, warning of violence at a contested

nominating convention. Phil Mattingly has more from the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you would have problems live you've never seen before.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump, warning his supporters could riot if he's denied the Republican nomination in a live

interview on "NEW DAY" Wednesday.

TRUMP: We're way ahead of everybody. I don't think you can say that we don't get it automatically. I think it would be -- I think you'd have

riots.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The GOP facing the very real possibility of a contested convention if no candidate makes the delegate threshold for the

nomination.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: That would be an absolute disaster. I think the people would quite rightly revolt.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Former presidential candidate Ben Carson, who has endorsed Trump, reiterating that sentiment.

DR. BEN CARSON (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's no question that there would be a lot of turmoil if the establishment tries to thwart

the will of the people.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But party leaders are downplaying that possibility.

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, RNC: All of these stories are going to continue and everyone's going to have opinions and they're going to get people

stirred up. But those delegates will vote on the first ballot, as they are bound to vote under the law.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): -- and dismissing Trump's warning if his supporters are ignored.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I assume he's speaking figuratively. I think if we go into a convention, whoever get's 1,237 delegates becomes the nominee. It's

plain and simple.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): With the Republican field winnowing, Trump now attempting to look more like a general election candidate, dropping his

first attack ad aimed at the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, painting her as too weak to go up against opponents of the U.S.

Trump foreshadowing his plans to go after Secretary Clinton earlier this month during FOX's last GOP debate.

TRUMP: I have not started on Hillary yet, believe me, I will start soon.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): This week, he's pledging to skip their next debate, forcing FOX to pull the plug.

TRUMP: How many times did the same people ask you the same question?

I won't be there, no.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: That was Phil Mattingly reporting there.

All the heated campaign rhetoric from Trump has caught the attention of "The Economist." Its global forecasting service just released a list of

top 10 global risks and a Trump presidency is on it. It describes the risk as a moderate probability with a high impact potential.

Mike Jakeman is a global analyst for "The Economist" intelligence unit and joins me from CNN London.

Hi, there. So you're saying Mr. Trump is as risky -- a President Trump is as risky as terrorism to the global economy?

MIKE JAKEMAN, "THE ECONOMIST": Yes. That's exactly what we're saying. We have to bear in mind all of what Mr. Trump has said that he would do,

should he become president, and assess what the likely impact of that would be on global economic growth.

We know of course that in order to enact some of these policies, Mr. Trump's got hurdles to overcome, one of which, of course, is coming

president and second of all, it's persuading Congress that his ideas are in the best interest of the U.S.

But nonetheless, we have to consider his popularity, which is rising all the time and the fact that --

[10:20:00]

JAKEMAN: -- this is what he says he wants to do.

CURNOW: And let's talk about what he says he wants to do.

Why do you think it's dangerous?

Let's unpick it.

JAKEMAN: OK. Well, he says that he wants to introduce a massive tax cut for the richest Americans. That means that the government would have a lot

less revenue to play with in order to provide basic public services.

He said that he wants to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, which would lead to a severe labor shortage, bearing in mind the U.S.

unemployment is now below 5 percent.

And also he says he wants to introduce high tariffs on Chinese and Mexican imports, which of course would raise the price level for a whole range of

staple goods in America, all of those three things we think are bad for U.S. growth and because obviously the U.S. is so important to the global

economy, it would repercussions well beyond U.S. shores.

CURNOW: When you talk about repercussions, you also say that he would add to instability in the Middle East, stir up trouble with Beijing.

JAKEMAN: Yes, exactly. He's taken already -- taken a much more hawkish line towards jihadi terrorism than has the Obama administration. And he's

already talked with urgency about the need to label China a currency manipulator, which is something that the Obama administration has always

sort of stood back from doing.

They have been careful in their wording about how they deal with China. The U.S.-China relationship is of course the most important in the world.

So both of these sort of aggressive hawkish positions are a worry to us.

CURNOW: Thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it, Mike Jakeman there from "The Economist" intelligence unit.

You're at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. Still ahead, for decades, Egyptologists have been searching for Queen's Nefertiti's tomb. Now they are 90 percent

sure they are on the right track. Stay with us for that story.

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CURNOW: All this week, CNN's Freedom Project is shedding light on a dark part of the tea industry. Some of the young tea pickers in India make so

little money they fall prey to human traffickers. Today in our three-part series, journalist Muhammad Lila talks to a convicted trafficker who admits

to selling girls into domestic slavery or worse.

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MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For many trafficking victims, this is where their modern-day slavery begins.

Loaded onto crowded trains, heading for a life of bonded labor. But for the people behind it all, it takes months of planning.

LILA: Do you still remember her, her face?

LILA (voice-over): Pola Jen (ph) is a convicted trafficker who spent four months behind bars, admitting he tricked young girls from tea plantations

with promises of a better life.

He agreed to talk to us. And as we drive through town, he describes how he was the middleman, taking three girls to Delhi, knowing they might never

come home.

LILA: How much money were you paid for taking these girls to Delhi?

LILA (voice-over): It works out to less than 200 American dollars per girl.

LILA: Do you think it's OK for people like you to traffic these girls, take money and send these girls away and they never come home?

POLA JEN (PH), HUMAN TRAFFICKER: (Speaking foreign language).

[10:25:00]

LILA (voice-over): Traffickers like Pola Jen (ph) specifically target young girls on tea plantations. He says it was an easy way for him to make

some quick money.

To find out why, we head to the nearest police district.

LILA: Subinspector Bora (ph).

SUBINSPECTOR BORA (PH): Yes.

LILA: Nice to meet you. I'm Muhammad with CNN's Freedom Project.

LILA (voice-over): When girls go missing, it's Subinspector Bora's (ph) job to find them.

LILA: So he just said there are about 20 or 30 cases of trafficking just in this one district alone.

LILA (voice-over): Most of them are girls who work and live on tea plantations, sometimes making just pennies a day with no education and no

hope for a better life.

LILA: Why are there so many cases of trafficking involving families or girls from these tea gardens?

LILA (voice-over): "If you ask me," the subinspector says, "people who work on tea gardens are finally poor, they're uneducated and they have a

lot of debt. So they need a lot of money."

And that makes them perfect targets. Hundreds have been tricked by phony placement agencies, who promise them jobs and money that they can send

home.

Instead, they are sold into bonded labor or the sex industry with no way to escape.

Back at the railway station on the very same platform where he took those girls away, this trafficker insists he's a changed man.

LILA: If you had the chance to do it again and you knew 100 percent that you wouldn't get caught, would you do it again?

Would you put more girls on a train like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

LILA (voice-over): But beneath his remorse there's an even darker reality. For every ex-trafficker like him, there are dozens more waiting to take his

place -- for the CNN Freedom Project, Muhammad Lila, in Guwahati, Northeastern India.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Well, all around the world, people are trying to make a difference in the fight against human traffickers like those you just saw. On our

website you can find stories of hope from courageous survivors and links to charities helping in that global battle. Just go to cnn.com/freedom.

Well, still ahead, a potential break in what apparently was a promising relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin says a

new Trump ad demonizes Russia. You'll see it. That's next.

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CURNOW: Hi. Welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Here's a check of the headlines.

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CURNOW: Russia is weighing in on the U.S. presidential election. Russian state TV appears to have thrown its support behind Donald Trump, the

Republican front-runner and Vladimir Putin have been trading compliments for months. But the Kremlin is not happy about a newly released Trump ad

that suggests a shift in tone.

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CURNOW: Well, for more on that, our Matthew Chance joins me now from Moscow to discuss this.

So tell us more about this video and specifically the Kremlin reaction to it.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a bit bizarre, if you ask me. As you are seeing there, it shows Vladimir Putin

throwing an opponent during a judo bout. It then cuts to Hillary Clinton barking like a dog. And then it shows Vladimir Putin in a different

context altogether, laughing hysterically.

I can tell you, in real life, the Kremlin are not amused at all. And in fact they have issued a relatively stern statement as a result of this

video, the spokesman for Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov (ph), saying that, I don't know whether Vladimir Putin has seen this but our attitude towards it

is negative.

He said it's an open secret -- I'm reading from the statement here.

"It's an open secret for us that demonizing Russia and whatever is linked to Russia is a mandatory hallmark of America's election campaign. We

always sincerely regret this and we wish that the electoral process in the United States was conducted without such references to our country."

And so the Kremlin, despite the relatively warm words towards Donald Trump in recent weeks on state television, is now pretty angry about the way it

is being cast yet again by this Republican presidential hopeful -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. So let's talk then about the compliments and the previous tone.

The question, has the bromance then hit the rocks?

CHANCE: Yes, that's certainty a possibility, isn't it. And you're right. The criticism from the Kremlin today does cut against the grain when you

look at just how Donald Trump has been characterized in the state media, particularly over the past couple of weeks actually.

Just last weekend there was this flagship television show on state television every weekend. Just last weekend it was basically endorsing

Donald Trump, saying that he was the -- I've got it written down here -- he was the candidate who was the most anti-establishment candidate who would

be ready to cooperate with Moscow.

Donald Trump has of course been very complimentary about Vladimir Putin as well, saying they would probably work well together. Putin has returned

that compliment saying that Trump is very a talented man as well. And so there has been -- the media has commented on this a lot -- something of a

bromance, an exchange of compliments between these two figures. But that now really does appear to have hit rocky ground.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks for that perspective from Moscow, Matthew Chance as always, thanks.

Archaeologists may be closer to solving one of the biggest mysteries of Ancient Egypt. They have been searching for the long-lost burial site of

Queen Nefertiti, who rules over Ancient Egypt at the height of its power.

Now some believe new evidence of hidden chambers behind the tomb of King Tutankhamen could provide answers.

Our Ian Lee joins me now live from Moscow.

What are they saying?

[10:35:00]

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Egypt's minister of antiquity says that this potentially could be the discovery of the century. And really it

could be the greatest discovery of all time here in Egypt. It all depends on what's behind those two walls in King Tut's tomb.

Today at a press conference they say that they have found what they believe to be about 90 percent sure that there are two chambers hidden behind the

walls. They say they have detected metallic and organic material behind the walls.

Now King Tut's tomb, going into it, it's pretty unimpressive. It's fairly small compared to the other tombs in the Valley of the Kings, which are

five, six, seven times larger.

So if this tomb is, in fact, similar in size to those tombs, it could be a treasure trove of antiquities. This is something they are going to be

looking into. Later this month they will be scanning the tomb again with a better machine, a digital machine that will determine the thickness of the

walls. If they are 100 percent sure that there are two chambers there, then they are going to start discussing how to get to them.

CURNOW: And why do they think it's Queen Nefertiti?

There we see her bust, one of the most extraordinary faces, most memorable faces and probably one of the most copied pieces of art.

Why do they think it's her?

LEE: Yes. She's arguably one of the most famous queens, only challenged by Queen Cleopatra. But Dr. Reeves (ph), who is leading this

investigation, believes that Nefertiti is there. She was a family member of King Tut, although the minister of antiquities has another theory. Take

a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think maybe we will find the tomb of the mother of King Tutankhamen or (INAUDIBLE) oldest sister or maybe her grandmother. I

don't know, but one of the family of Tutankhamen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: So really it is quite the mystery of what is behind those doors. They are moving carefully but really it could be the next big thing in

Egyptology.

CURNOW: Indeed. And Egyptians seemingly very confident about this.

Ian Lee in Cairo, thank you very much.

And of course we'll have much more news here on the INTERNATIONAL DESK after this short break. Stay with us.

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CURNOW: You're watching CNN. Now to the latest maneuver in Brazil's political corruption probe. The former president has just been sworn in as

his successor's chief of staff. Many Brazilians see this as a ploy to keep him from being charged. Our Latin American affairs editor, Rafael Romo,

joins me now here --

[10:40:00]

CURNOW: -- at the CNN Center.

So what does this mean?

Is it to protect Lula from prosecution?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, President Dilma Rousseff says no but her critics say this effectively shields the former president

from prosecution because he's now going to be one of about 700 ministers and senior officials in the government, who cannot be prosecuted except by

Brazil's high courts.

So if there's a case against them, it's going to take years and years and years. And in the meantime, he can be part of the government of President

Dilma Rousseff without really having to worry about.

Now it is a very delicate moment for Brazil, Robyn, because there's been all these protests in the last couple of weeks, asking for the resignation

of the president herself.

As a matter of fact, there were protests last night. We heard Monday the rumors that she was trying to incorporate the former president, Inacio Lula

da Silva, into the government and it was confirmed yesterday; when that was confirmed, the federal judge in charge of the investigation released these

secret recordings of a phone conversation between the president and Lula, where they were talking about him being named minister in her government.

Now nobody is alleging any sort of wrongdoing there but still indicates that it might have been in the works for a long time before this morning.

CURNOW: Indeed. And there you're seeing some images of those protests, people are angry. It's not going to go away, is it.

ROMO: No, it's not going to go away. And we're talking about cities like not only the capital of Brazil, Brasilia, but also Sao Paulo.

And in other cities the scenes you saw were people banging on pots, calling for the resignation of the president. Now in all fairness, we need to say

that she not the only one involved in a corruption scandal. Out of 594 members of the Brazilian congress, a third are under scrutiny for some sort

of violation of ethical rules or an investigation into corruption. So a big, big corruption scandal in Brazil.

CURNOW: Indeed. And as we're speaking, this swearing-in ceremony has been taking place. Controversial; what has though been the response by the

president to this?

ROMO: The one thing that caught my attention of everything she said, she called Lula her friend, a good addition to her government. But the one

thing that caught my attention was when she said, the screaming of the scam artists in the streets -- meaning the protesters -- will not take the

government off course or put the government on his knees.

So instead of trying to calm people down, this is more of a defiant sort of attitude towards the protesters on the streets -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, thanks so much, Rafael Romo, appreciate it.

Green is the color of the day as the patron saint of Ireland is celebrated around the world. Thousands of people will be lining the streets of New

York in the coming hours for the city's 255th St. Patrick Day parade. This year the mayor is participating since a ban on gay participants was lifted

by parade organizers.

And revelers in New Zealand and Australia celebrated with traditional Irish dancing and of course Guinness beer. St. Patrick is credited with

converting the people of Ireland to Christianity.

Well, that does it for us here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. Happy St. Patrick's day. I'm Robyn Curnow. Don't go anywhere. "WORLD SPORT" is up

next.

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