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Brazil in Crisis as Rousseff Faces Impeachment; Iranian Activist Fights for Human Rights from Exile; Remembering the Genius of Dame Zaha Hadid; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 7, 2016 - 14:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: is the party over in Carnival country?

Months ahead of hosting the Olympics, political scandal has brought thousands on to the streets in Brazil.

Plus: standing up to the Iranian regime and surviving brutal intimidation. I speak with Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi.


SHIRIN EBADI, NOBEL LAUREATE (through translator): They put one of their agents, who was a female and in front of my husband and they tried to

seduce him and then they filmed it. And based on that film, they arrested my husband and sentenced him to death by stoning.


AMANPOUR: And remembering the brilliant architect, Zaha Hadid, with another design legend, Diane von Furstenberg.


DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, DESIGNER: She was a major architecture even herself, the way she stood and the way she was and the world will not be

the same. But thank God she has left a huge body of work.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Is Brazil on the brink of a breakdown?

Certainly Dilma Rousseff has been braving out a serious threat to her presidency for months now. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to

the streets, for and against her impeachment, on questionable budget decisions.

A perfect storm, though, of scandal, the worst recession in nearly a century and a health crisis have fired up the people as their country

lurches from one big crisis to the next, even as it's just about to host the biggest and most expensive sporting event in the world, the Olympic


What are the president's chance of survival?

In a moment my interview with the former foreign and defense minister, Celso Amorim, who is standing by in Rio.

But first, Paula Newton takes a look at how things got this bad.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a stroll on the beach and at first it seems nothing's changed. Brazil's cliches endure.

Its gorgeous beaches, its fun-loving attitude, its image as the country of the future.

NEWTON: But you take a closer look and you wonder, what happened?

Well, it's a political and economic drama so devastating, it's shattering many of those cliches.

NEWTON (voice-over): First up, the economy, slashed by Brazil's worst recession in a generation, one that could turn in an all-out depression by

year's end. Unemployment is close to 10 percent. Thousands of businesses have closed.

Nasiza Hosha (ph) has been running this Rio restaurant and bar for more than a half-century.

He tells me, "Of course, we are living through a crisis and the scope of it is the worst I have ever seen."

Could things get worse?

They just did, with a crushing political drama. Brazilians are outraged by a scandal so sordid it already implicates more than half the

country's national politicians in a kickback scheme, allegedly orchestrated by the state-run national energy conglomerate, Petrobras -- and that's not


Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is cornered by a budget scandal that could see her impeached within weeks; her predecessor, Luiz Inacio

Lula da Silva, once revered as a savior of modern Brazil, also under investigation for kickbacks.

Brazilians are devouring news from Watergate-style wiretaps in every corner and crevice of their everyday lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's sad but it's -- they're thieves.

NEWTON: How can you guys cope?

How will you cope?


NEWTON: Embarrassing?

The whole thing?


NEWTON (voice-over): And to crack confidence still further, Brazil is coping with Zika, a mysterious virus stalking the country, one that may

cause a devastating neurological disorder in hundreds of newborns.

In Brazil's already challenging favelas, there is fear.

"We're worried about the situation," she tells me, "and we're trying to cope with it."

NEWTON: So we have a country shattered by economic despair, demoralized by a political crisis and plagued by Zika. And through all

this, in just a few short months, Brazil welcomes the world for the Olympics.

NEWTON (voice-over): So we went to the Museum of Tomorrow, Olympic legacy project -- incidentally, its construction also implicated in the

kickback scheme -- to find out how Brazilians plan to deal with it all.

NEWTON: So you're going to put it on pause?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Pause, no, Olympic Games. OK.

NEWTON: Start the circus again?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. No, it's a mess.

NEWTON (voice-over): A mess and a reminder that even with the Olympics coming, Brazilians are struggling to hold on to those classic

cliches that once made them so proud -- Paula Newton, CNN, Rio.




AMANPOUR: Celso Amorim is Brazil's former foreign and defense minister and he joins me now from Rio de Janeiro.

Welcome to the program, Mr. Amorim.

So, of course, the question on everybody's mind, can President Rousseff survive this?

Will she survive it?

CELSO AMORIM, FORMER BRAZILIAN FOREIGN AND DEFENSE MINISTER: Well, I hope so and I'm very confident that she will but you never know. I mean,

Congress is very divided, opposition is very strong, with big support of the media in Brazil.

But let us see. I think the defense was very well presented, I think it was very clear that she committed no crime, certainly no responsibility

crime as they are called in our constitution and there's no reason for her to be impeached but it will be up to Congress to judge. But I'm confident.

AMANPOUR: OK. So she's not touched by the Petrobras scandal, she's not being accused in that. But they are saying that there's tricky

accounting that dealt with the budget and all of that.

Why do you think congress is saying that is an impeachable offense?.

Does it really measure up to level of an impeachable offense?

I ask you because many foreign observers don't believe so.

AMORIM: Well, personally, I don't believe either. Of course, I don't want to be disrespectful to the Brazilian congress because it's part of our


But I think, in this case, a great number of them are following a wrong track. I mean, they actually -- most of them never accepted

President Lula then and the Brazilian elite, the ruling elite never accepted Lula, a metalworker, as president, nor did they accept Dilma, who

used to fight against the military dictatorship, as presidents.

Of course when the economy was going well, all of that somehow was tolerated. But now that the economy is not well, for several reasons,

maybe some mistakes also but mainly I think because of the end of the so- called commodity boom, everything is coming to a head.

And, well, and I think people who lost election now are trying to have President Dilma ousted by other means.

AMANPOUR: Well, the other means that you say have been described by President Dilma and others around her around her as a potential

undemocratic coup. But let me ask you this. You talk about the economy. For instance, "The Economist" newspaper says that there's the worst

recession since the 1930s and much to do with mistakes that she, herself, made in her first term.

Do you agree with that?

AMORIM: Well, I think there are a combination of things but certainly the hand of the -- first, the crisis, that Brazil at the time was one of

the countries that was better out of the crisis. But maybe some measures that were taken then and maybe one or two years afterwards should have been


But I don't think this is the main cause; as I said, the main cause, of course, is that we were enjoying the benefits of the commodity boom. I

mean, having money for everybody, for the rich and the poor, and so the redistribution measures, which are necessary in Brazil, because Brazil's a

very unequal society, were somehow tolerated.

At the time that all of these became less available, the elites didn't tolerate any more. And I think this is probably one of the reasons, maybe

the main reason why they want now to oust not only oust Dilma Rousseff but also to act against President Lula, because President Lula's still a very

popular figure.

He's, as I said, a metalworker, who was able to not only to come to power but he came to power without being domesticated, so to say, by the

elite. He conducted social reform, a very active foreign policy in which I was involved, I must say. And I think many of the things that he did, like

talking to Cubans and talking to Iranians didn't please.

Of course, when President Obama talked to the Cubans and talked to the Iranians, he was very applauded. But you know ---


AMORIM: -- things were not done at another level --

AMANPOUR: Sorry to interrupt you, wrong things, let me ask you about this, because obviously a lot of Brazilians and others -- no, let me just

ask you this, let me ask you, sir -- President Rousseff asked President Lula to be her chief of staff and a conversation was leaked by the court,

by the prosecutors.

You know, there are a lot of people who say, despite all of this, even though she's not touched by the Petrobras scandal, asking Lula to be chief

of staff was a backhanded way of trying to protect him from prosecution and was a step too far.

I mean, do you agree that that's the case, it was a step too far?

AMORIM: Well, I don't think this is -- anyway, speaking personally -- I don't think this is really the main reason. I think --


AMORIM: -- that's not that Lula should come back somehow to help the government, because he has a bigger capacity for policy maneuvering and

dealing with all the different sectors, because you have to see the political system in Brazil is a very difficult one because you normally

have one party; now it was the PT and the Workers' Party and in the past was another party, but they have to deal with parties that only exist in

order to make deals.

And I think this is a very difficult thing to do. And in any case, I think President Lula had a large view and a large dialogue -- a big

dialogue with the different sectors of the political spectrum and I think that was the main reason that made Dilma, President Dilma thinking of

bringing him in government, not to save him from prosecution.

By the way, he's still liable to be prosecuted in the Supreme Court, even if he's becomes the chief of staff. So I think all this is a bit of a

construction in order to defeat the government and also to attack the image of President Lula.

AMANPOUR: Well, there's so many questions still to be asked. And we will continue to watch this develop. Thank you so much for joining us.


AMANPOUR: And when we come back, Iran's first ever Nobel laureate, Shirin Ebadi, forced into exile yet determined to continue her perilous

campaign for human rights in the land of her birth. We'll be right back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Iran took away her job, her husband and her home but human rights activist Shirin Ebadi says that she will never give up.

The 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner has dedicated her life to improving Iran's rights record. She was the first-ever female judge there; demoted,

though to lawyer after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

I met her in Tehran 20 years ago, when she was defending the mother of a little girl, Aryan, who had been killed while in the care of her drug

addict father, who, under Iranian law, got custody of her in their divorce.


EBADI (through translator): If Aryan's father had strangled her to death in front of everybody, he would not have been punished.

AMANPOUR: It's incredible. And the clerics, the courts didn't understand that, that here was a completely unsuitable situation but yet

the child had to stay with the father until she was killed?

SHIRIN (through translator): The court is responsible for the murder of Aryan, the law is responsible for the murder of Aryan. It wasn't just

her father who killed her.


AMANPOUR: And that was Shirin Ebadi's signature case. She won, enshrining important child custody reforms and it led to her Nobel Prize.

Now exiled and under such mortal threat in Iran, she's written a new book, "Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran."

She joined me here in the studio to talk about her incredible story.


AMANPOUR: Shirin Ebadi, welcome to the program.

Let me start by asking you about latest news out of Iran.

This week, Amnesty International --


AMANPOUR: -- says that 90 percent o/ the executions that it recorded over the last year have been carried out in Iran, Pakistan and Saudi

Arabia. The human rights chief of Iran, Mr. Larijani, told me that they're going to look at moderating the law, especially number of drug offenders

they execute.

Do you think Iran's death penalty rate will come down?

EBADI (through translator): Executions in Iran are very high. For many years the government has been saying that they want to actually end

the death penalty for drug smugglers but they have not done anything positive so far and there has not been a bill submitted in that regard to


But nevertheless, the opposition to death penalty Iran is very high at the moment.

AMANPOUR: What about imprisonment?

There just seems to be so many people being taken into prison, not just Iranians in Iran but Iranian Americans, for instance.

The latest is an 80-year-old man, who works for UNICEF; his name is Baquer Namazi. And he's gone there to try to visit his son, Siamak, who

is a businessman, and who is also in prison.

And now this guy, Baquer, who apparently has health problems, nobody knows what's happening to him, what his condition is.

Why is this happening?

He's a U.S. citizen.

EBADI (through translator): Baquer Namazi is like Jason Rezaian and Hekmati, is a kind of a hostage of the Iranian government. And, in my

opinion, the Iranian government will also release him but in return for concessions.

And I must also add that there is a Lebanese Iranian, known as Nazar Zaka, is also in prison in Iran. And he was invited by the vice president

to take part in a seminar in Iran.

And as he was leaving Iran and he was, in fact, on the way to the airport when the security forces actually kidnapped him and took him to

prison. And he has been in prison -- Nazar has been in prison for over eight months and he's a Lebanese American.

And, as I said, he had come to Iran on the invitation of the Iranian vice president.

AMANPOUR: But what do you think the U.S. and Europe should do, now is there going to be more business ties?

You know, Iran is going to open up to a lot more worldly connections than it did before this deal.

What pressure can or should the world put on the human rights conditions in Iran?

EBADI (through translator): The most important problem Iran has is the foreign policy and its intervention in other countries; for instance,

the forces that it has been sending to Syria for many years.

And it interferes in Bahrain, in Yemen, in Iraq. With regards to domestic policy, I must say that, unfortunately, violation of human rights

in Iran is growing every day and the presidency of Mr. Rouhani has not improved the situation.

AMANPOUR: Why not?

Because he has promised to bring more freedoms. He is a moderate; people did elect him because they thought he would be different.

EBADI (through translator): Even if Mr. Rouhani wishes to do so, he doesn't have the power because, based on the constitution, it is the

supreme leader, Mr. Khamenei, who has the absolute power.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about your own personal situation. You no longer live in Iran. You don't feel safe. They entrapped your husband;

they destroyed your marriage; they've taken away your property. They accuse you of all sorts of violations.

How painful was it when they used your husband against you?

EBADI (through translator): Based on a dirty scenario that the security forces had actually prepared, they put one of their agents, who

was a female. And -- in front of my husband and they tried -- tried to seduce him. And then they filmed it and, based on that film, they arrested

my husband and sentenced him to death by stoning.

And while he was waiting for this stoning sentence to be carried out, they said to him that the only way you can be -- you can free yourself, if

you appear on television and confess.

And after a few rehearsals that they made him do, that film was actually broadcast and they broadcast that film twice to make sure that

every Iranian has seen it.


EBADI (through translator): And after they had broadcast the film, the presenter said, look, this woman, who is your heroine, how she is

behaving and look at what has happened to her husband and how he has been judging her.

AMANPOUR: How do human rights lawyers continue in Iran today?

EBADI (through translator): I can say that human rights activities in Iran are taking place underground.

AMANPOUR: More than 10 years ago, when you won the Nobel prize, did you ever think you would be in this state, that instead of being able to

practice in Iran, you'd actually be in exile?

EBADI (through translator): In any case, I knew that it would not be easy to be a human rights defender in a non-democratic country and I had

prepared myself for any eventuality.

Unfortunately, though, my colleagues remain behind bars and they closed down my center. But this is the price we have to pay if we want

democracy in Iran.

AMANPOUR: Shirin Ebadi, thank you very much indeed.



AMANPOUR: Last night, at the Women in the World Festival in New York, women just like Shirin Ebadi were honored; among them, legendary designer,

Diane von Furstenberg, who paid tribute to architect Dame Zaha Hadid, who died suddenly last week.

In her own words now.


VON FURSTENBERG: "I want to be seen as an architect, hopefully a good one, rather than a woman. If people say to me, 'You're OK for a woman,' I

reply with something rude, very rude, always."


AMANPOUR: Well, after a break, in her own words, von Furstenberg imagines a world without Hadid's breathtaking designs.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world of sweeping beauty. One week since Zaha Hadid died of a heart attack in Miami, the world is

still reeling from the loss of one of its finest architects. Today, her family, friends and admirers are gathering at the Serpentine Sackler

Gallery to see a book of condolences in that building that she helped create.

Global couture designer, Diane von Furstenberg, has been paying tribute to a fellow traveler as well. And today I asked her about Hadid's

legacy and her fierce refusal to be defined by her gender.


VON FURSTENBERG: I think she wants to be a woman but she doesn't want to be a woman architect. I think she wanted to be a woman and an



VON FURSTENBERG: And she is not just a regular architect. She is a superstar, brilliant architect. And the world will not be the same. But

thank God she has left a huge body of work.

AMANPOUR: And it is incredible, because, whether male architect or female architect, her designs are really unique. I mean, I don't think

anybody's ever seen these massive, undulating jewels that stick out in any urban environment.

VON FURSTENBERG: She and Frank Gary completed something completely unique, which was the fluidity in architecture. And that is major. I

mean, it's a major turn. I mean she was an incredible architect. And she was lucky to be able to have built so much, which is not always the case.

AMANPOUR: And let me turn to you, because you also are now in the sixth or seventh year of the Diane von Furstenberg Awards and you do that

for female trailblazers in all sorts of different walks of life.

Tell me what was your intention behind those awards and what you look for in the awardees.

VON FURSTENBERG: It's the seventh year that we do that and we do that at the U.N. during the Woman in the World Conference. And it is an

incredible opportunity for me and our foundation, the DVF Foundation, to actually give -- recognize and give exposure and money to women who have

had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire.

AMANPOUR: You said the courage to survive.

Do you think it took Zaha Hadid courage to survive and keep going in that all-male environment?

VON FURSTENBERG: Yes, totally. And I would say that Zaha Hadid completely fits it because she has the courage to fight and the willingness

and the power to survive and the leadership to inspire. So she is -- totally fits into that.

AMANPOUR: Fantastic. Diane von Furstenberg, thanks so much.



AMANPOUR: Legend on legend.

And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can now listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.