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Obama Makes a Historic Visit to Hiroshima, Athletes from 2012 Olympics Fail Doping Re-Tests, Trump Campaigns in California, Superbug Discovered in the U.S. Venezuela on the Brink, Ground Control to Major Tim, Khadija Ismayilova Free At Last. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired May 27, 2016 - 14:00:00 ET
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[14:01:49]CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, a country on the brink, as Venezuela struggles with shortages and sickness and social
unrest. Our exclusive interviews with the Venezuelan government and one of its fiercest critics.
Plus, Ground Control to Major Tim, watch the space for an out of this world interview.
Tim Peake the British Astronaut, heading soon back to earth.
MAJOR TIM PEAKE, ASTRONAUT: I saw planet earth shortly followed by a moon rise. And it was just the most incredible feelings. The -- you know,
to be in orbit and see the planet for the first time, it was spectacular.
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. One of the
main stories this week came from Venezuela, a nation that is teetering on the edge of failure. It should be among the richest countries in the
world. Instead, it's in a state of emergency, with shortages of all basic necessities, including good governance. Shortages have also crippled
health care, with deadly results, as our Paula Newton found at one hospital in the north of the country.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN RESPONDENT: You are about to get a rare look inside one of Venezuela's largest public hospitals. A searing view of the
catastrophic conditions stalking patients the moment they step inside. The true state of these hospitals is contentious. The doctors granted us
access because they want you to witness just a fraction of the suffering and indignity their patients endure every day.
We're just following the doctor here. He's working here, so (INAUDIBLE) life and death.
As we rush through corridors, Dr. Ronnie Villasmil details the long list of shortages. Medicines of all kinds, syringes, saline solution, IVs,
gurneys, even cleaning and sterilization supplies. And then he takes us to meet Jose Luis Vasquez
"I was shot so they could steal my bike," he recounts. The bullet came in and came out the other side. And then he goes on to say there's
only a make shift drain for his lungs. The hospital has no gauze, no needles and he had to buy this himself. And then he shows us where he
keeps his money. Counting out the cost of his needle, the equivalent of $10 he can't afford.
Places of healing rendered horrific by years of unending financial misery. Here, you find the human cost of Venezuela's deepening crisis.
AMANPOUR: Now because of these shortages, 50 percent of the operating theaters in Venezuela are not able to do their vital jobs. Paula also saw
the harsh reality of struggling to survive on basic government rations. And being forced to buy food and other necessities on the black market as
if doing drug deals.
NEWTON: La Cola, the line. This is how Venezuelans spend most of their time now. In line not for luxuries, but basics. Your next meal,
soap for your next load of laundry. Diapers for your baby's next nappy change.
These types of lines are popping up all over Caracas. People here are looking for flour and pasta. Some of them were here this morning and were
told the store had absolutely nothing. And that's the kind of scavenger hunt that's happening throughout Venezuela. People just trying to find the
basics and can't find them.
We're not allowed to shoot inside, but outside people tell us they line up for hours and still get nothing.
"We are hungry, we have needs, we have no food. Look at this line. Mothers who are hungry, we need food, medicine, we can't find anything.
What's finishing us off? Hunger," she says.
We followed one customer on a shopping trip as covert as any drug deal. But he's buying food. Black markets have opened up in so many
neighborhoods. People just can't get the essentials.
Products are marked up at more than twice their fair value than on supermarket shelves. It's also illegal. And the reason is, neither buyer
nor seller wish to be identified.
Few can afford it though, so Venezuelans walk the line, spending much of their lives now in the Cola, the Queue. Already one of the most
detested and humiliating rituals in this country's history. Paula Newton, CNN, Caracas.
AMANPOUR: But we got both sides of the argument on this show this week in two exclusive interviews. Luis Almagro, Secretary-General of the
organization of American States is a fierce critic of the President Nicolas Maduro. They have been hurling insults like dictator and traitor at each
other. Now, on the government side, we spoke to Bernardo Alvarez-Herrera. He's Venezuela's Ambassador to The Organization of American States.
Ambassador, welcome to the program. I mean, sir, you cannot look at what our reporter found there, people having to trade on the black market
for diapers as if they were doing drug deals. You cannot look at the figures, 481 percent inflation, according to IMF Projections. And all
these absolute catastrophic figures are not conclude that Venezuela is an economically failing State. Do you agree with that?
BERNARDO ALVAREZ-HERRERA, AMBASSADOR: No, not at all. Let's go, for example to some figures. Venezuela has been able, for example, to honor
the external debt. In the past 18 months, we were -- we were able to pay more than $30 billion in external debt. We still -- what we have is a
problem of our national income dropped by almost 60, 65 percent. And it has been a very difficult situation and a big adjustment. And we have been
trying to do the adjustment in a way that, you know, the classic IMF recipe are trying to get a way that is less brutal to people. And --
AMANPOUR: But, Mr. Ambassador --
HERRERA: We are doing this -- yes?
AMANPOUR: I don't mean to -- I didn't mean to interrupt you, but you say less brutal. I mean, those are pretty awful pictures to see of
ordinary people who simply stand in line all day. I mean, that's the kind of stuff you see from totally failed states like Zimbabwe or others that
have -- that have collapsed and imploded.
HERRRA: But this is -- but this is -- this is not the same. For example, this program of direct -- of direct providing of food to more than
7 million people, that every two weeks, they receive all they need, the most poor people in Venezuela. Of course there are problems of
availability of product. And one of the problems is that we have kept prices low to people in order to help them in this situation.
But situation is going to be evolving. Prices of oil are getting better. We are dealing -- we are making some deal with important partners
of Venezuela. And situation should improve in the next few months.
AMANPOUR: Or --
HERRERA: We are not denying that there is a big -- difficult situation but there is a lot of things that the government is doing right
now to try to control and to try to move ahead on this situation.
AMANPOUR: Mr. Almagro, welcome to the program. You're saying basically --
LUIS ALMAGRO: Yes.
AMANPOUR: -- that you support the opposition, which dominates the National Assembly in Venezuela. You support the -- no, no, no. The recall
referendum. I'm asking you that. Is that true?
ALMAGRO: No. What I am saying, let's go from the very beginning of this case. Here, I will have to present a report based on the denounces
made by the National Assembly of Venezuela. This report will take into consideration problems as you mentioned, the shortage of food, the shortage
of medicine, also the cases of corruption that may exist. Public poverty is a must according to inter-American charter.
The human rights situation based on oppression. And then, of course, a way to move ahead for Venezuela. And that is recall of the referendum.
What we say is that this recall, referendum recall is not -- it doesn't belong to Maduro, or it doesn't belong to Capriles. It belongs to the
people of Venezuela. And these people need to resolve their own situation and they want to have a decision about it.
AMANPOUR: All right.
ALMAGRO: That's why it cannot -- that's why it cannot be stolen from them. This decision is very important. To make it happen, to make this
AMANPOUR: OK. You mentioned Capriles, as in Henrique Capriles who's a governor there and also narrowly lost an election to Nicholas Maduro.
Because of what you say, Nicolas Maduro, the President, has called you a traitor. And you have both been hurling insults back and forth. Let me
just read your open letter to President Nicolas Maduro.
You have said "I am not a traitor. I am not a traitor to ideas. I'm not a traitor to principles." And then you go on, "But you are, President.
You betray your people and your supposed ideology with your rambling tirades." And you said, "You betray the most sacre d principle in politics
which is to subject yourself to the scrutiny of your people."
So, obviously, you can imagine, this has caused a great uproar around Latin America. Your own organization, members of the OAS have said that
you've overstepped your boundaries of impartiality and neutrality and that you need to retract those statements.
Do you retract what you were saying about and to President Maduro?
ALMAGRO: Well, in fact, I received only one letter about that point that you are mentioning. And -- OK. The thing is that, what we are
talking there is about principles. And these principles are deep concern. Everybody has agreed about these principles. Everybody has agreed that you
have to respect the decision of the people. That you have to follow the constitution. That you are -- the subject of the rule of law.
So what we are saying there, we are not insulting anybody. So, we shouldn't retract. Because retracting about that, we track -- it would
mean retracting about the facts that they -- these should go into the consideration of the people for their final decision.
ALMAGRO: That we should keep fighting -- we should keep fighting for -- against corruption in the -- in the continent. So, it means that we
have a different approach in this -- in this matter. And that is my deep concern.
AMANPOUR: Now, from these earthly trials to extraterrestrial ones. The international Space station's mission began in 1998. But for the first
time, it's getting an extension. An inflatable room for the astronauts outside the capsule. They had a few snags, trying to
blow it up on the first attempt, but they hope to complete the mission this week.
And coming up. Calling Major Tim. A conversation in time and space. After a break.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. Now, what really goes through an astronaut's head when the countdown begins? Major Tim Peake would know,
as this country's first astronaut aboard the International Space station six months in, it's a boyhood dream of his that's come true. But he is
coming back down to earth soon as he told me when he joined me from space.
Station, this is CNN. How do you hear me?
PEAKE: Good afternoon, CNN. This is Tim Peake on board the International Space station. I hear you loud and clear.
AMANPOUR: Wonderful. Well, welcome to our humble studio all the way out there in space. Let me ask you, what was it that inspired you the most
to do what you're
doing now? Was it that fantastic first moonwalk by Neil Armstrong?
PEAKE: You know, there's been many inspirations throughout my career. And yes, as a small boy, I looked up to the stars and often
wondered about place in the universe and the solar system. I'm most fascinated by space. And then as a teenager, it was a passion for aviation
that took over. And the first time I ever sat in a glider, I knew I wanted to be
a pilot. I was just very fortunate that I was able to fulfill my dream of becoming a pilot. And then later in life of course, having worked
my way up to being a test pilot, I found myself in the right time, the right place. I had the qualifications that the European Space Agency were
looking for and I was able to fulfill that early boyhood dream of becoming an astronaut.
AMANPOUR: Well, it is indeed a rare privilege to be out there. It's an amazing thing to just be able to talk to you. What did you feel when
you first saw the earth from space?
PEAKE: It's the most incredible feeling. The first time I saw the earth was just a few moments after insertion into orbit. In the Soyuz
capsule, we had the main engine cut-out. And that's quite a jolt. You get launched forward into your seats. And then suddenly everything starts
floating. And you realize you're in weightlessness. You're in orbit around planet earth. And I was able to loosen my straps and let myself
float up out of the seats so that I can have a look out of my window on the right-hand side Soyuz.
And I saw ourselves just before we went into the night part of the orbit. I saw planet earth shortly followed by a moon rise. And it was
just the most incredible feeling to be, you know, to be in orbit and see the planet for the first time. It was spectacular.
AMANPOUR: Is launch scary? I mean, do you ever feel scared when you're actually, you know, on the launch pad and taking off?
PEAKE: You know, we've trained so long and so hard for that moment, and we're just focused on our procedures and making sure that everything
goes smoothly through the -- through the launch sequence. So, there is really no time and no place for any fear or apprehension at that stage.
You're simply just executing a plan. But I was very conscious of trying to also absorb every feeling, every emotion, that, you know, knowing it's such
a special event so that I could, kind of, record it. And I did a diary that evening after launch
so that I would remember everything that I felt during the launch.
And it was just the most incredible feeling. And that feeling of power and acceleration as the rocket accelerates, it's just addictive. And
I found myself being pushed back into the seat. Especially during the first stage and the third stage. And it really was a wonderful feeling of
AMANPOUR: Well, I wonder if you can talk and execute some movements up there at the same time. Every child's fantasy is to be able to
somersault in space and do all those things that you do. And while you're doing that, I wonder what are the most profound, philosophical and personal
lessons that you've learned in your six months in space.
PEAKE: Gosh, you know, some of the things you learn up in space, really, is what we do in training as well. Is just to be methodical and to
work slowly and accurately. That's the best thing you can do as an astronaut. You know, we're really in a very privileged position up here.
We have an enormous responsibility with regards to the science that we're trying to do. And so we just have to try and be as professional as
possible. But we've got the wonderful support team from mission control down in Houston, and in Munich and in Russia and in Japan as well.
Everybody is helping us on the ground to execute the plan.
So, really -- so, it's all about team work. And your -- you know, the most important thing is being a good team player and finding your place in
that team. And I'm going to do a somersault like you asked me to, whilst you ask me the next question.
AMANPOUR: Excellent. Good. Good. Good. Because I want to know, beyond weightlessness and proving that yet again, what was the most
important scientific experiment you conducted, or the contribution to science that you've made?
PEAKE: You know, it's very hard to, kind of, pin it down to one most important experiment. There's been over 250 experiments during expedition
46 and 47. Some of the most enjoyable experiments (INAUDIBLE) more hands- on for the astronauts. For example, airway monitoring, where we use our own air log that we use for spacewalking, we used it as a hyperbaric
chamber so that we could reduce the pressure in our lungs and investigate airway inflammation. That was quite exciting.
Also, we've done some flame combustion experiments up here which were exciting. There's a lot of medical research going on in micro-gravity at
the moment. Growing things like protein crystals. I think that's fascinating research. And we'll have huge benefits for people back on
AMANPOUR: You obviously, as a Brit, have got an enormous amount of attention. You've run a marathon, you presented Adele with an award from
outer space. But it was actually a British woman who was the first British astronaut in space. What do you think of her blazing that trail?
PEAKE: Helen is a huge inspiration to me and I had the pleasure of speaking to her on Friday night actually. We're quite close and of course,
she was celebrating her 25th anniversary since her Soyuz TM-12 mission 25 years ago to the Mir space station. And -- so, it was great to be able to
speak to her. I've also got one of her books up here with me that was signed by Yuri Gagarin as long with her crew and is now being signed by the
international space station crews.
She really -- you know, she paved the way. She -- what she achieved at her young age as well going into space, was absolutely incredible. And
I'm just very happy now that the UK government is funding human space flight. And I'm able to come on this mission as a member of the European
Space Agency which is a great step forward for the UK.
AMANPOUR: Well, you've just mentioned in one sentence, the UK and Europe. So I have to ask you, as a scientist, as an astronaut, what do you
think the effect of Britain, if it chooses to leave Europe, could be on what you do and on science in general?
PEAKE: You know, it won't actually have any effect on what we do with regards to the European space agency and this international partnership.
And that's something that is one of the, you know, strongest messages that we have in the life of the international space station. Is that, it really
cuts through all barriers. It's such a strong partnership. And of course, the UK will still be part of the European Space Agency. That won't change
all. And European space agency is still part of this international partnership with -- up here with the international space station.
But what I would say is, of course, that, we can do things in space that we couldn't possibly do as one nation. And this is the model that we
need to take forward. Certainly when we're looking at going to the moon and further to Mars and ultimately, to explore our solar system, we need to
be forging together in partnerships in order to share our strengths and be able to move forward.
AMANPOUR: Fantastic. Major Tim Peake, thank you so much for joiningg us from space.
PEAKE: It's been a real pleasure talking to you and thank you very much. Have a great afternoon.
AMANPOUR: And when we come back, another journalist struggling to expose the truth, jailed for her efforts but free at las?t. Now
investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova
speaks to me from Azerbaijan. That's next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine fighting a world of injustice. The award-winning investigative journalist, Khadija Ismayilova was finally
freed yesterday after being detained on trumped up charges in Azerbaijan. It's not the first time she's been targeted by the government. Previously,
they hid a camera in her bedroom and blackmailed her with sex tapes. But on the eve of her 40th birthday, Khadija tells me, she had been expecting
to celebrate behind bars. Khadija welcome to our program.
KHADIJA ISMAYILOVA, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: It is great to see you out, to see you free, to see you talking. And I want to know, first and foremost, how you feel.
ISMAYILOVA: Well, it feels great to be in freedom. It feels great to be with family, to be with friends and to be back to the work -- to my
work. So, it's -- I'm feeling great.
AMANPOUR: Was it scary? Take me, if you can, inside jail and to that moment when you knew you were going to be spending what you thought were
years in jail.
ISMAYILOVA: I tried to keep my spirit high. I tried to concentrate on what I will do further. So, what I did, I started studying Spanish. I
translated the book. I've been writing articles and smuggling them when I could. So, that's what I was doing. And if you are not concentrated on
difficulties of prison life, then it passes easy.
AMANPOUR: You did face trumped-up charges, nonetheless, you spent a lot of time of your life in prison. Would you do the same thing again? In
other words, have you been intimidated to pull back in your journalism going forward, or will you keep doing investigative work and the kind of
work that you're known for?
ISMAYILOVA: Well, absolutely, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't go back. I wouldn't refrain from journalism. U would do my job as I have been doing
and even more. I wouldn't agree to stop my job in return for freedom.
AMANPOUR: And you are going to turn 40 on Friday. Firstly, happy birthday, and did you ever see -- think you would see your birthday in
ISMAYILOVA: No. I actually asked my family to bring me two cakes to celebrate it in prison.
[ laughter ]
AMANPOUR: So whatever happens tomorrow, it's going to be better?
ISMAYILOVA: Well, whatever happens tomorrow is definitely better. Well, I'm aware that a lot of people were going to celebrate my birthday.
And I actually didn't like my birthday before I got imprisoned. I like them now. I like my birthday now. So it's good to be in freedom. It's
good to enjoy being among family. It's good to be among friends and it's great. I mean --
AMANPOUR: I'm so happy. We're very happy to hear you so happy and still determined to continue your important work. And we're pleased that
after all of this you're free. khadija ismayilova, so good to welcome you from Baku in Azerbaijan.
ISMAYILOVA: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And her next stop is the European court of human rights because she wants to get the remaining 2 of 4 false charges dropped.
That's it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.
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