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Brazil's Lower House Votes to Impeach President; Children on the Front Line; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired April 18, 2016 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: Brazil, the case against Dilma Rousseff, real or trumped-up?
After last night's drama, she may be impeached just months before hosting the Olympics. The Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, Glenn
Greenwald, joins me from Rio de Janeiro.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN GREENWALD, JOURNALIST: You cannot go around, if you want to have a mature democracy, a mature, stable democracy, and remove democratically
elected leaders who just won a major election 18 months earlier, because they're unpopular or because they're not managing the economy well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Also ahead, the mesmerizing child's-eye view of war from home in Aleppo to refuge in Germany, filmmaker Marcel Mettelsiefen joins me in the
studio with that incredible journey.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
It's South America's biggest economy. It's the continent's most powerful country, one that thought it was rid of a history of violent military
coups. But now Brazil's democratically elected president, Dilma Rousseff, says that she's the victim of a political coup, after congress Sunday night
voted overwhelmingly to send impeachment proceedings against her to the senate.
Dilma's supporters reacted to the vote with shock and sadness, while her enemies and anti-government protesters celebrated.
But what has she done?
Presided over the worst recession in nearly a century?
Allegedly used creative accounting to conceal the hole in her budget?
Tried to hide her predecessor, perhaps to shield him from criminal investigation?
But are these impeachable offenses?
She herself has not been tainted by or even accused of corruption. And she refuses to resign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DILMA ROUSSEFF, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): Those who call me to resign show the fragility of their conviction of the process of
impeachment because, above all, they are trying to instate a coup d'etat against our democracy.
I can assure you that I will not cooperate with this. I will not resign for any reason whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So what is at the core of this political drama that's led to anger and frustration online and on the streets?
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, Glenn Greenwald, lives in Brazil and he's closely covering this constitutional crisis. He joined me
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, Glenn.
GREENWALD: Great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So were you surprised?
Did anybody really think that, at the last moment, she could have got the votes she needed to stave off this sort of impeachment process?
GREENWALD: I don't think the outcome is particularly surprising; I think that the margin was fairly surprising, although, Brazilian politics, like
in a lot of countries, is about momentum and power.
And once there was a perception that they had the votes, a lot of last- minute undecideds switched to the pro-impeachment side so that they can be on the winning side.
I think what did surprise people, though, was the tenor of the proceedings in the house. It was extremely raucous, very ugly. You had pro-
impeachment advocates standing up and hailing the 1964 coup and the right- wing military dictatorship that followed.
One prominent right-wing congressman, who is expected to run for president, specifically praised the chief torturer of the military regime, who, of
course, tortured Dilma Rousseff, the president, before then voting to impeach her.
So it kind of was a very polarized and a very ugly tenor to these proceedings that reflects this wider sentiment in Brazil that really has
split the country in a very dangerous and unstable way.
AMANPOUR: Even the vice president, who may have to step in, is himself accused of all sorts of misconduct and wrongdoing. And I just want to read
this to you because it is extraordinary.
Of the 594 congress members, 352 face accusations of criminal wrongdoing, according to multiple reports.
And then, of course, there are all sorts of people, including Eduardo Cunha, who is leading the impeachment process, who is accused of perjury
You've got another one, Maluf, who is on Interpol's red list for conspiracy.
You've got another one accused of --
AMANPOUR: -- money laundering. You've got another one, as you just mentioned, you know, who is sort of implicated in all sorts of torture and
others implicated in human rights violations.
Now Dilma herself has called this a coup.
What is going on?
GREENWALD: It's the most extraordinary thing, Christiane, because not only is essentially the entire Brazilian political class that is trying to
impeach her implicated in really serious corruption, I mean, the most surreal thing I have ever seen in my time as a journalist or anywhere else
coverage politics in countries, was that, yesterday, the person presiding over the impeachment proceeding in the house, the speaker of the house,
Eduardo Cunha, whom you referenced, he is somebody who was found to have stashed away millions of dollars in bribes.
There's no non-corrupt possibility. He has no wealth, he has no businesses; millions of dollars stashed away in Swiss bank accounts. He's
somebody who is presiding over the house as they're all getting up, one by one, all of them accused of corruption and saying we must remove the
president for corruption.
And amazingly Dilma herself is one of the few people not accused of any kind of bribery or personal corruption or kickbacks or anything to being
What's going on is pretty simple. Her party, the Workers' Party or the PT, has won four straight national elections, going all the way back to Lula,
who was wildly popular, who was first elected in 2006 and then re-elected - - in 2002 and then re-elected in 2006.
The plutocrats in Brazil, the rich in Brazil have long hated PT, have not been able to defeat them at the ballot box. And so this is their big
chance, with the economy tanking, with this crisis proliferating, with people really upset with the government and the political class.
This is their big chance to finally get rid of PT, which they cannot win in an election. And so they're using these anti-democratic means to do it.
And it's incredibly blatant, what's taking place.
AMANPOUR: Do you think, because even her supporters, certainly abroad, believe that when she tried to hire Lula, her predecessor, as chief of
staff, they thought this was a step too far, that she was trying to shield him from any criminal probes and obviously help her in some way.
Some have said that she should resign. Even though she may not be impeachable or these things that she's accused of don't rise to the level
of impeachable offenses, do you think that she should resign?
Will she be forced to resign?
GREENWALD: I don't think she -- I mean, no. I don't think she will be forced to resign. She's been very clear that she won't. This is a woman
who was put into prison as a dissident during the dictatorship and who was tortured. She's a very strong and willful woman, who has been through a
lot in her life.
And, remember, the election in Brazil was only 18 months ago. It was at the end of 2014. She won that election with 54 million votes. It is true
that she's unpopular.
She's made a lot of missteps. That effort to get Lula into the government, which is really a survival -- a last-minute survival tactic by her to get
somebody with incredible political charisma and a lot of political skill that she lacks, Lula, into government to try and save her, was not a --
didn't have a very good look.
But at the same time, you cannot go around, if you want to have a mature democracy, a mature, stable democracy, and remove democratically elected
leaders who just won a major election 18 months earlier, because they're unpopular or because they're not managing the economy well.
That is a recipe for some really dangerous things when you start tinkering with the mechanics of democracy, especially in a country like Brazil, which
has a very fragile and a very young democracy. They came out of dictatorship only in 1985. And it's really disturbing to watch them
trifling with democracy this way.
AMANPOUR: So we've talked about how the whole system is full of political scandals and corruption. And you've also admitted that her party is deeply
corrupt and awash in its own criminal wrongdoings, even though she's not touched.
So I wonder, what's the way out of that?
But particularly in light of what this professor at the Sao Paulo University has told "The New York Times" about what's going on now, it's
putting a very large bullet in Brazilian democracy, he says.
"From now on, any moment that we have a highly unpopular president, there will be pressure to start an impeachment process."
GREENWALD: Right. It's interesting because I interviewed the former president, Lula, last weekend in Sao Paulo. And he admitted two things to
me in that interview.
He said, number one, it is true that his party, the PT party, which is Dilma's party as well, has a very serious problem with corruption, just
like most of the other parties.
And that, number two, there's this major investigation that's called Lava Jato -- or "car wash" in English -- in which these really aggressive young
prosecutors have asserted judicial independence and have been aggressively putting people in prison, the richest people in Brazil, the most
politically powerful people in Brazil.
The solution is --
GREENWALD: -- to let that investigation unfold and let the people who are guilty be put in prison. The concern is that their intention with
impeaching Dilma is to say to the country, look, we got rid of the corruption problem.
The media pressure, the public pressure, they hope, will dissipate now that there's this catharsis over impeachment and that this investigation will
end and all of these truly corrupt politicians will be unprotected.
So the solution, to answer your question, is to let this investigation unfold, take everybody who's corrupt in all of the opposition parties and
in PT, of which there are many, and subject them to the rule of law and to accountability and put them in prison, as was going to happen prior to the
impeachment of Dilma.
AMANPOUR: An incredible story. Glenn Greenwald, thanks for joining us from Rio de Janeiro tonight.
GREENWALD: Great to be with you. Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: And from that fierce war over partisan politics, next, we go to the Syrian front lines for an extraordinary and rare view of the war
through the eyes of children; their resilience, their resolve and the dark lessons they're learning. We'll be right back.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
Amid the tragedy and the trauma of Syria's five-year war are its most often forgotten victims -- its children. The U.N. estimates that nearly 4
million Syrian children have been born since the conflict started. That is a whole generation that's growing up, knowing nothing but fear, violence,
grief and hunger.
Filmmaker Marcel Mettelsiefen first met four young brothers and sisters and their parents in 2013 as Aleppo was falling apart. His extraordinary
documentary through their words and their eyes gives a dramatically different dimension to what we think we know about this war. Here's a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HELEN, 10 (from captions): This is where the Syrian army is stationed. It's right next to us. So there's not much distance between us and the
army, just a wall, this big. There's hardly anything.
So we're here and at any moment the Syrian army could attack us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): When a shell fell here, I died. When they threw the missile on that house there, I died one big death. I died
and then lived again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The children's father, Abu Ave (ph), used to be an engineer. When the war began, he was one of the first to join the
rebel group, the Free Syrian Army.
He controls a battalion of fighters. They hold a strategic position on a hill overlooking the Old Citadel of Aleppo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So the film is called "Children of Syria," and it airs tomorrow on "Frontline" in the United States and later here in the U.K. on Channel
4. The filmmaker, Marcel Mettelsiefen, is with me now in the studio.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program.
METTELSIEFEN: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: Look, it is extraordinary. I mean, just the sight of what we just showed, the littlest kid, acting out how she thought she'd died when
she heard and felt a shell.
How did it affect you?
And how did you find this family?
METTELSIEFEN: Well, I think it's the most extraordinary family and protagonist I ever been able to film. And just 2013, the first time I came
and met them, I did a different film. It's called "Children on the Front Line."
And I made this with the material four days, it was aired. And I realized I'm able to do a -- pick a film out of four days' footage.
So I decided to follow them and continue their story, which I did for the last three years.
AMANPOUR: Weren't you, I mean, surprised by how expressive they were and how articulate they were, even the youngest?
METTELSIEFEN: Definitely. I think this, talking to them, the way how they opened up, the poetry is quite common in the Arab world. But I think the
way how I was able to connect to these children made me -- I was privileged to follow them and to tell the story.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it's really sad, because the father, they adore the father. They all say throughout the film, at least in the first part of
the film, that there's no way they would leave Syria; they're there for their father. The wife won't leave him. And they're all there.
And then the dad, they say, gets picked up by ISIS.
They haven't heard from him since, have they?
METTELSIEFEN: They did not. There are a lot of rumors that 2014, ISIS came, picked him up. And since then, they never know what's happened to
him. They stayed another year in Aleppo. The mother has --
AMANPOUR: Just hoping against hope.
METTELSIEFEN: --hoping that he will come back, that he will be released. Barrel bomb waves made life in Aleppo just impossible and the mother with
four kids had to decide another big decision, to leave the country.
AMANPOUR: So we have the pictures of them packing up and going, because they're going on to Germany and they're hoping that they're going to get
Of course they have to pass through Turkey. But it took a huge amount, right, for them to decide to leave. Here they are, trying to get through,
and they have to go through rather dangerous front lines.
METTELSIEFEN: Yes. I think the biggest decision for the mother was, after risking everything, sacrificing -- actually willing to sacrifice their
children for the good cause of their revolution; they realized that it was hijacked by the so-called Islamists and that --
AMANPOUR: Because these were what we know as the moderates, weren't they?
AMANPOUR: He was just an engineer; these were the bunch of people who decided that they wanted reform and change and freedom?
METTELSIEFEN: Exactly. And it was daish, the ISIS, who took him. And they risked everything and then they lost. They've been now fighting a war
against two fronts, against the regime and ISIS.
And at the end, she realized she lost everything and she had to leave. That's one of the reasons for a lot of people why they had to go out of the
AMANPOUR: And this video we're seeing -- I mean, it's got some of the sound over it, because it's all translated.
And even as they're leaving, these kids say, I will miss our lovely country, I'll miss the grandmother, I'll miss the food, I'll miss even the
electricity outages. They were very attached to their country.
And yet you also have some rather dramatic scenes in the film, where the girls are playing ISIS, what they know about ISIS.
Tell me how you felt when you saw -- I know you didn't film this bit, right?
METTELSIEFEN: Yes, I was not able to go back in after James Foley got killed. So I trained a cameraman, Seif (ph), who helped me very much in
this filmmaking. And he was able to film how Sara and Para (ph), the little ones, started to imitate all these beheading videos they've seen day
in, day out, on YouTube or on their TV screens.
And there you realize how children adapt on one at a time, playing in empty houses, how they are able to have a normal childhood in the chaos and, the
same time, they're adapting all this violent daily life into their own place.
AMANPOUR: And I just want to play another little snippet that we have, some sound that we've taken from your film. The violence or the idea of
violence followed them, even as they were in Turkey, which was their first port of safe haven.
And the littlest girl, when she heard just a passenger plane, look at how she reacts. This is in Turkey, in Istanbul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): Why were you scared of that, Sara?
SARA (from captions): It sounds like it's going to shell us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): So you're scared of it dropping bombs?
It doesn't have bombs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's incredible, that, right. The trauma, because the barrel bombs and everything they've suffered for all those years at home.
METTELSIEFEN: And this is just one out of a lot of different moments, where I was able to see the effect of this traumatic experience they've
been going through three years, actually, in a city which been bombed on a daily basis.
AMANPOUR: We have some more video of them when they're in Germany, particularly the mum, who is mourning the fact that she cannot see her
And she's talking about how, all the time, throughout their marriage, 21 years, they would have their first cup of coffee together. And she says
the only thing she has really is her smartphone with his picture.
And yet, even as we see this tragedy, we know that Germany turned out well for them. You're German and the little town that took them in is amazingly
resilient and welcoming.
METTELSIEFEN: Oh, definitely. Especially when this family applied, it was before the big wave. They were able to travel rather safely; 30,000
Syrians who were able to get like them by plane, because they got the asylum before reaching Germany.
And Germany showed a huge amount of welcoming. And they have a house. They are going to school. And they're being treated like every other of
these 500,000 Syrians, who are right now in Germany.
AMANPOUR: Marcel, thank you very much, especially good to hear that as we see the wave of sympathy and compassion kind of being exhausted now.
METTELSIEFEN: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Thanks, Marcel.
AMANPOUR: So as we said in Syria, the children we saw role play is based on what they know about ISIS, which are the main villains of this
But 24 years ago, the children I found in the war zone that was Sarajevo, were playing doctors and nurses' roles, reacting to the constant sniping
and shelling that were the hallmarks of their Bosnia War.
An after a break, imagine an escape from this hell, heartfelt deliverance for some lucky parents and their children, from Pope Francis no less.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where you suffered the unspeakable hardship of war, the mortal risk, the fear and loathing as a
refugee. And then comes along your guardian angel with some divine intervention.
It is the stuff of miracles, as Pope Francis himself swoops in and flies off with three Muslim families from Syria from a squalid camp on the Greek
island of Lesbos, to gilded halls of --
AMANPOUR: -- the Vatican, our Ben Wedeman has the story.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pleasures of daily life are once more within the grasp of 7-year-old Kudis
Shikurgi (ph) and her family. They fled their home in ISIS-controlled Deir ez-Zor in Northeastern Syria, first to Turkey and then to Greece.
Their fortunes changed dramatically Saturday, when Pope Francis flew them and two other Syrian families to Italy after his visit to refugees in
Lesbos, Greece. Her father, Ahmed (ph), is still in disbelief.
AHMED AL-SHUKJI (PH), SYRIAN REFUGEE: (Speaking foreign language)
WEDEMAN (voice-over): "We boarded the plane with the pope," he recalls.
"We sat next to him, not in the back. And twice he came to check on us and welcome us. And when we arrived in Rome, he greeted us again."
CECILIA PANI, SANT'EGIDIO CATHOLIC CHARITY ORGANIZATION: (Speaking foreign language).
"The atmosphere on the plane back was unreal," says Cecilia Pani, of the community of Sant'Egidio Catholic Charity, tasked with helping the new
"They ate a good meal of lasagna; the children ate chocolate."
Goodes (ph) is basking in the attention, grabbing our microphone and interviewing her father.
Her mother, Suhela (ph), relieved the nightmare, as she calls life in Syria, is over.
But she recalls a moment of doubt, when she was told they were going to Italy with Pope Francis.
"We were afraid," she says.
"We'd heard many Syrians were being expelled back to Turkey."
The family was in Lesbos for 50 days.
During that time, I asked Suhela, "Did any Arab officials visit their camp?"
"No, unfortunately not, not one," she says.
"We're Arabs. This initiative should have come from the Arabs but the pope was way ahead of them in doing a good deed."
Adjusting to life in this strange land won't be easy. The family's first visit to an Italian supermarket was confusing enough and this is only their
second day here.
WEDEMAN: These are the lucky ones. They essentially came to Europe, walking down a red carpet rolled out by Pope Francis himself: an important
symbolic gesture. But the problem of the refugees remains.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Hundreds of thousands more are desperate to come to what is fast becoming Fortress Europe. Pope Francis can set an example but
he can't tear down the wall -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome.
AMANPOUR: But they are the lucky ones indeed.
And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can listen to our podcast, always see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.