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Latin-American Leaders Call Fidel Castro Revolutionary, Mentor; Syrian Regime Forces Advance In Eastern Aleppo; Fillon Wins French Conservative Primary Runoff; Trump Claims Without Evidence That He Won Popular Vote; Analyst: Castro Death Will Bring Little or No Changes to Cuba; Human Trafficking Survivor in Mexico Is Now an Activist; Southern Europe Hit by Torrential Rain, Flooding. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 28, 2016 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Sadness in Havana, celebrations in Miami and more reaction from around the world, as we consider the legacy of iconic Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: An exodus from Eastern Aleppo, as Syrian regime forces reclaim key parts of the city.

ALLEN: And Francois Fillon dismisses President Hollande as pathetic, as so-called, "French Thatcher" prepares to complete for the presidency.

VANIER: From CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

VANIER: Cuba is commemorating Fidel Castro just the way he took power, loudly. 21 gun salutes will fire in Havana in Santiago de Cuba early Monday, as well as Sunday, the day of Castro's funeral.

ALLEN: Canons will be going off several times a day to - straight through Saturday. And Castro's ashes will be paraded back along the route he and his rebels took to seek power nearly 60 years ago.

VANIER: But for all the splendor planned by the government, people on the streets in Cuba remained reserved.

ALLEN: Our Ed Lavandera is there. He has more on the mood in Havana.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the street of Havana, Cuba, a muted and subdued response to the news that Fidel Castro has cried. We have seen this play out over the weekend. We have not seen an outpouring of grief or any kind of real emotion taking place on the streets. In many ways, you get the sense that people are being very cautious, trying to figure out what they can or can't do, what they should or shouldn't do, that that is something that Cubans here in Havana are trying to figure out, whereas the government says it is officially beginning the process of a nine-day mourning period that will begin on Monday with the ashes and the remains of Fidel Castro who was cremated Saturday morning, not many hours after the official announcement was made Friday night that he had died at the age of 90.

There will be a procession of people who come to the plaza of the revolution. This is the plaza where popes have held mass and this is where tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Cubans are expected to appear and show their -- pay their respects. After that, the remains of Fidel Castro will be caravanned across the island from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, on the far eastern edge of the island where that is Fidel - where Fidel Castro's remains will be interred on Sunday. So, this is a - the beginning of a long week of memorialization of Fidel Castro. And it has been interesting, in the initial hours in the first day after Fidel Castro's death, in state media, state-run television played very little about this news.

It is just now we're beginning to see constant coverage on state-run television, and the memorials that have been playing on the broadcast television here for quite some time. So, all of that beginning to play out here in Cuba. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Havana, Cuba.


ALLEN: Havana may be quiet but little Havana in Miami, Florida, is anything but.

VANIER: The Cuban exiles have been celebrating since Castro's passing. They are hoping that the passing of Fidel may herald a freer future for their home country. Our Boris Sanchez reports.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to believe from the response that we've seen here from Miami's exiled community and the response that we've seen in Cuba, that both communities are responding to the death of the same in extremely stark contrast. As I step out of the way, we're standing here in Calle Ocho and Cafe Versailles, this is the heart of the exile community in Miami. The demonstrations are still going. They had a D.J. they're playing music a short while ago. The crowd noticeably smaller than it was Saturday and Friday night when the news of Fidel passing away first broke. I should tell you Elian Gonzalez, the boy that was at the center of a custody battle between his family here in the United States and his father in Cuba has come out and spoken favoribly about Fidel and reflecting upon his passing away, saying that he was a father figure to him. Of course, Elian Gonzales being a sensual figure in - what many saw as a saga, a drama between the United states and Cuba. His voice is certainly an interesting one. Here is him again reflecting on the passing of Fidel Castro.

ELIAN GONZALES, SUBJECT OF INTERNATIONAL CUSTODY EXILE (through translator) : He is a father who like my father, I wanted to show him everything I achieve. That he would be proud of me. That's how it was with Fidel. If learn something, I wanted him, and there are still many things I want to show him.

[01:04:54] SANCHEZ: Of course, Elian Gonzales was forcibly taken from his family's home here in Miami and sent back to Cuba. People here don't really care for him as much as they used to when he was a child. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they see him as a propaganda tool for the Castro regime as a prop, who's not really an objective voice when it comes to value in Castro's legacy. They also say it's hypocritical that his mother and several other people that he cast his hopes and dreams into the ocean with to try to escape. Cuba would try to get him off the island, only for him to fully embrace the exact system that his mother died trying to get him out of.

Despite that, celebration here continues in Miami, it will continue from, I believe, for the next I will likely continue to diminish as we've seen today. Borris Sanchez, CNN, Little Havana.

ALLEN: Last hour, I spoke with Ann Louise Bardach, an author and journalist who was intimately familiar with Castro and his family. Castro had once joked with her about his death and his legacy when she interviewed him, just when he was turning in his 70s. Here's how she remembers that interview.


ANN LOUISE BARDACH, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: That was a very funny moment in that very long interview in '94, in which he said "revolutionaries do not retire any more than writers do," very pointedly. And he was by then in his early 70s. What he was saying in that interview, which was quite a big "vanity fair" piece at the time, because he had stopped giving interviews for a period, what he was saying "I met my greatest challenges as a - as a leader, as a comandante after the age of 60 because he was referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had been a very generous sponsor and patron of Cuba to the tune of billions of dollars for decades and he had lost that.

And Cuba was very adrift and the poverty was everywhere. So, he was loathed to give interviews. And eventually, you know, two trips, I met him first for like a half hour and then he gave me the second one, a kind of long, three-and-a-half-hour interview, which covered many, many topics.


VANIER: And we'll also be bringing you reactions to Fidel Castro's death from across Latin America later this hour, including how world leaders are responding, not just in Latin America but also in Asia.

ALLEN: We turn now to the Syrian War, the Syrian regime and his allies appeared to have launched a long-threatened ground assault on Eastern Aleppo.

VANIER: And they punched through rebel lines and entered two eastern neighborhoods over the weekend. That's a breakthrough for government troops who have not held a significant part of the city's east in more than four years.

ALLEN: Civilians have been fleeing, some taking shelter in government-held areas, others told CNN they have nowhere left to go. Activists say dozens of people were killed, hundreds wounded as regime

forces entered Aleppo, Eastern Aleppo Saturday. The city and its countryside were also reportedly pounded with thousands of artillery shells.

VANIER: Our CNN International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen has more on this offensive from London.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are arguably some of the most significant gains that the Syrian government's military forces have made over the past five years that this civil war has been going on.

Now, Eastern Aleppo, for both the Syrian government as well as the opposition, is one of main battlegrounds in this civil war. It's the last urban stronghold where the rebels actually still hold a significant amount of territory, and therefore, the rebels want to defend it almost at all costs and, of course, the Syrian government and its allied forces that include Hezbollah, also include the Iraqi Shia fighters and Iranians, they want to take it almost at all costs. And that's why you've seen a major bombing campaign happening on the eastern district of Aleppo. Some 46 people killed in Aleppo and the surrounding areas on Saturday alone.

You also have artillery shelling as well, which obviously leads to a dire situation for the civilians that are still trapped inside that area. The United Nations believes that up to 250,000 people might still be trapped inside Eastern Aleppo, and UNICEF says 100,000 of those could very well be children. And of course, for them, more than any of the others trapped in there, the situation is very much catastrophic. Of course, they can't go out and play, of course, they can't go to school. Apparently, in some cases, people have set up playgrounds in basements to try and allow these children to have at least a little bit of respite from the civil war. At the same time, food is running low, medical supplies are in very short supply as well, as the U.N. says, there's many who have been wounded, many people with medical conditions who can't get any treatment, and also, who can't get out to get any sort of treatment as well.

[01:10:02] So, a very difficult situation, but for the Syrian government forces, taking this one district in Eastern Aleppo and also being able to enter and take parts of another district, that is a key military victory. Some of those places have been held by the rebels since July of 2012, and the Syrian government forces haven't been able to get in there. So now, it seems as though they're making progress and many people that we've been speaking to say they're quite surprise at how fast that progress seems to be going. So, at this point in time, it looks as though, the tide really seems to be tuning in favor of Syrian government forces, not just in the battle of Aleppo but generally in Syria's civil war. Fred Pleitgen, CNN London.


VANIER: I spoke about Aleppo earlier with Andrew Tabler. He's the author of "In the Lion's Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington's Battle with Syria." He's also a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. I asked him if the government push into Aleppo was the beginning of the end for the rebels.

ANDREW TABLER, AUTHOR AND SENIOR FELLOW AT WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: This is expected. The rebels have been surrounded for several months, they've been squeezed by the Assad regime, who has brought in Shia militia from all over the Middle East, combined with Russian air power, and they're squeezing their pocket. This is the regime's answer to the revolution. They're called - the regime calls them "ceasefires". The - what they're known internationally is "siege and starve tactics" and they're being used by the regime to squeeze and starve this pocket in East Aleppo where roughly a quarter of a million Syrians are residing.

VANIER: Yeah. Siege-and-Starve tactics, tell us about the civilians, what we know and what could happen?

TABLER: Food is rapidly running out. We expect that they're not going to be resupplied, absent some sort of miraculous offensive by the rebels to break the siege, which they have tried over the last few months. We're going to see a lot of Syrians in that pocket trying to make a decision, a hard decision about whether to stay or whether to go. It's dire times to the revolution, which entered Aleppo in 2012 and thought that they were taking over Syria's largest city.

VANIER: What will be left of the anti-Assad groups? And I know that they're not a homogenous coalition, if they do lose their foothold in Aleppo.

TABLER: So, we have a combination of local militia, some salafist organizations and then some jihadist organizations which are closer to jahbat fatasham, the Al Qaeda affiliate. As Russian bombardment has continued in the last year with the regime, Shia militia have come in. Many in those in the opposition have gone over to jahbat fatasham, the Al Qaeda affiliate, thinking that they would support the revolution while no one else would. And we're in this very interesting situation where Russia and Iran are helping the Assad regime squeeze this area and violate humanitarian law, while extremists who are opposed to western interests are those that are trying to help the rebels and to liberate those areas and to relieve those areas of humanitarian strangulation.

VANIER: By the way, you mentioned Russia and Iran. But Russia is saying that its war planes are not participating in the war effort in Aleppo, they're not bombing Aleppo, that's what they're saying.

TABLER: Well, it - you know, of course, these things bare greater scrutiny but the regime still carries out airstrikes on those areas. And the local forces are indeed, even by their -- you know, by their own advertisements and postings online are backed up by Shia militia from Iraq, Lebanon, with Lebanese Hezbollah and Afghanistan's. So, you know, it's hard to deny that this arrangement of forces is the one that's surrounding this pocket of rebel-held territory East Aleppo.

VANIER: Andrew Tabler are joining us from Washington. Thank you very much. We appreciate your insights. Thanks a lot.

TABLER: My pleasure.

ALLEN: Francois Fillon will lead the French Conservative Party. And next, France Presidential Election, we'll have a report from his campaign headquarters coming up here.

VANIER: And a trafficking survivor story. Ahead, the challenges she faced to reach safety from abuse.


[01:15:00] KATE RILEY, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN WORLD SPORT headlines. Sunday in Abu Dhabi, (INAUDIBLE) number 21 and the end of the Formula One Season, and a new world champion. Nico Rosberg had been runner-up to his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton for the last two seasons. All Rosberg needed was a podium finished to take the title, Hamilton would take the Grand Prix win, but Rosberg sealed the world championship with a second place finish and first world title of his career.

Another title to be decided on Sunday was out on the Davis Cup. This time in Zagreb, host Croatia came into the final day with a 2-1 lead over Argentina. In the first match, the Croatian Marin Cilic would take an early 2 sets to 0 lead over one Martin del Potro, but the Argentine would storm back to win the last three sets to take the five-set thriller and level the finals at two. And in the final match, Federico Delbonis would win it in straight sets to give Argentina its first ever Davis Cup title. And in the premier league on Sunday, Manchester United took on West Ham on Trafford. West Ham would strike first in just 81st second minute by United veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahhimovic would equalize 20 minutes later. The United's manager, Jose Mourinho got dismissed for the second time this month for kicking a water bottle in frustration. It would end 1-1. And that's a lot at all your sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley.


ALLEN: And welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. Conservative voters in France have picked Francois Fillon to represent their party in next year's Presidential Election. The former prime minister was the front-runner after taking the lead in the first round of voting last week. He remained on top in Sunday's runoff with about 66 percent of the vote.

VANIER: His rival Alain Juppe, pillar of the French Conservative Party for decades and the front-runner in this primary for many months, conceded defeat and now pledges to back Fillon.

ALLEN: Well, just a month ago, Fillon was considered an unlikely bet for the presidency but he defied all expectations. CNN's Melissa Bell has more from Fillon's headquarters in Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: It was here that Francois Fillon made his victory speech tonight. A victory that no one had quite seen coming. Going back, just 10 days, it has been expected that Alain Juppe will take on Francois Fillon to get the party's nomination looking at the next year's presidential election. In the end, Francois Fillon came from nowhere, came very much from behind with his very right-wing, thatch-right economic program and social conservatism to take the party's nomination. His supporters say that he simply ran a very effective grass roots campaign far from the cameras, which saw him spent three years getting across France and speaking to the people.

[01:20:05] In the end, he seems to have tapped in to the electorate's desire for change. And what's certain is at given his fairly right- wing platform, the Republican Party, will now be looking ahead to next year's Presidential Election. I hope it's getting (INAUDIBLE) and the far-right, and that Francois Fillon, if he wins that next electoral hurdle, will be then taking on the French system itself.

VANIER: And that was Melissa Bell reporting from the Fillon headquarters, the campaign headquarters last night. Now, let's bring in esteemed French Journalist Christine Ockrent, she's been a keen observer of French Politics for decades, and she joins us live from Paris. Even as the country wakes up to this new political landscape. Madame Ockrent, until a few weeks ago, Fillon was sometimes perceived and described, including in national media as this sort of gentle loser, someone who couldn't compete with the real conservative heavy weights, you know, Sarkozy, Juppe. How come nobody saw him coming and how did he pull off

CHRISTINE OCKRENT, FRENCH JOURNALIST: Well, I wouldn't say he was seen as a gentle loser. After all, he'd been Prime Minister under Sarkozy for five years, but he was certainly seen as a rather plain candidate who in no way could actually control the party's system, which was very much in Sarkozy's hands. But as Melissa just pointed out, Fillon, who is a discreet man, went about working very hard, and that paid off. He spent three years travelling in the country and actually stating media attention and doing indeed the sort of (INAUDIBLE) campaign, that worked. And also, he performed the extremely well in the TV debates, the primary debates. Now, this being said, it is, of course, the conservative primary but that represents about 10 percent of the votes that Francois Fillon would need in order to win the first round of the Presidential Elections coming up at the end of next April.

VANIER: What do you make of his image as potentially the French Margaret Thatcher? He ran on this campaign of radical economic reform and that is something that comes up time and time again in French politics. It seems that every election cycle, this idea that the French economy needs to be overhauled.

OCKRENT: Yes, indeed. The economy needs to be overhauled. As you know, we have a very high unemployment rate, next to 10 percent, taxes are extremely high, and there's indeed a sort of fatigue with these constant reforms which don't lead anywhere. And so, I think that Francois Fillon, who has fairly, you know, the same program, as indeed Alain Juppe who he defeated so markedly last night. He promises to do in six months what all of his predecessors didn't manage to do in the previous years. And that means, you know, lowering taxes, being more pro-business, curbing the power of trade unions, probably eliminating the very generous welfare system, which we still enjoy in France, and that will be very, very harsh to the French.

And that means that the presidential campaign, which has actually started last night, will be primarily on these economic and social issues with the far-right hitting at the social cost of Francois Fillon program, and also, of course, the left. Now, the left is in such shambles now that we still don't know, whether Francois (INAUDIBLE), the president, will be a candidate, and we don't even know whether his Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, might try and run against the president, which would be quite unprecedented.

VANIER: All right. Christine Ockrent reporting - speaking to us from Paris. As France wakes up to a new political reality. Francois Fillon will be leading the conservative party to the next presidential election. Thank you very much for your time.

ALLEN: Well, in the U.S. Presidential Election, winning the Electoral College apparently wasn't good enough for President-elect Donald Trump. Now, he's insisting he also won the popular vote, even though Hillary Clinton beat him by more than two million ballots.

[01:24:49] VANIER: Fueling his irritation is an effort by the Green Party to recount votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Trump won all three states and a recount probably won't change that, as acknowledge by the Green Party itself. Still on Sunday, he unleashed a barrage of tweets to complain. Without offering a shred of evidence, this is what he alleged; "Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire, California. So why isn't the media reporting on this? Serious bias -- big problem!"

ALLEN: He went even further with this tweet, "In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." And again, he offered no evidence to back up his claim.

VANIER: And Senator Bernie Sanders who lost to Clinton in the Democratic Primary, defended vote recounts even if they don't change the outcome of the election.

BERNIE SANDERS, FORMER U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Green Party has the legal right. Republicans have requested - I think the governor of North Carolina right now is thinking about doing a recount. That's a legal right, they do it. I don't think that Hillary Clinton who got 2 million more votes than Mr. Trump in the popular election, thinks that it's going to transform the election. But do people have the legal right to do it? Yeah, we do.

ALLEN: Bernie Sanders there. The Latin American leaders are mourning Fidel Castro. How they're paying tribute to the long-time Cuban leader? We'll have that story just ahead here.

VANIER: Plus, communist leaders in Asia reflect on Castro's lasting impact.


ALLEN: And welcome back to our viewers around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier with the headlines at this hour.


[01:30:22] VANIER: Cuba is marking the life of long-time leader, Fidel Castro, with a week of tributes. 21-gun salutes will be held in Havana on Monday and again on Sunday before his funeral. On Wednesday, Castro's ashes begin a ceremonial journey across the island following, in reverse, the route he traveled to power in 1959.

And leaders across Latin-America called call Castro a revolutionary, some look to him as their mentor.

ALLEN: CNN's Shasta Darlington is following that angle for us from Rio de Janeiro.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fidel Castro was a charismatic but very controversial figure and that goes for Latin-America as well. But perhaps here in this region more than anywhere else, he was also a larger than life idol during the 1970s and 1980s for many people when the military dictatorship seized control in many countries in South America, when civil wars were sweeping through central America. Some people even fled the violence and sought refuge in Cuba.

Of course, he went on to become a populist leader. And even after Cuba lost its main ally, the USSR, Fidel Castro's Socialist Cuba survived and he reinvented himself as a mentor for a new generation of leftist leaders, from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to Evo Morales in Bolivia.

He stood up to the regional superpower, also the global super power, the United States, for some 50 years, railing against their policies and ideologies, and showing a region that was sick of being considered America's back yard, that they are could be independent, that they could set their own course, which is why today not only the leftist governments but even centrist presidents have come out and paid their respects to the history of Fidel Castro, to what he has done for this region.

You heard from presidents in Chile, in Argentina. The center right government here in Brazil calling Fidel Castro a man of convictions. And of course, in Nicaragua, where they've declared nine days of mourning and, in Venezuela, three days of mourning where the President Nicolas Madura says, now, it's our turn, we are going to keep the revolution alive. It does seem increasingly difficult, however, as the countries in Latin-America continue to shift to the right. And the one man who really embodied that leftist ideology has now passed.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.


ALLEN: Asian leaders are also paying their respects, among them, China's president, who says Beijing has lost an intimate and sincere friend.

CNN's Alexandra Field has that.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fidel Castro's death has been marketed by sorrow in some places, celebrations in others. But in Asia, there are shows of support and solidarity from the leaders of Communist governments. Chinese and Vietnamese state news agencies both carried their leaders' reflections on the late Cuban Communist revolutionary Fidel Castro.

In Vietnam, Castrol is being called a close comrade and a brother who stood side by side with Vietnam during its past struggle for national independence and reunification as well as current national development. Vietnam's president may have been the last head of state to visit with Castro. He traveled to the island earlier this month. Castro himself visited Vietnam once in 1973 during the war, and twice after that in 1995 and 2003. Those trips served to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Castro made just one state visit to Beijing in 1995 and China's President Xi Jinping visited Cuba in 2014. Today, he's calling Castro a great leader for the Cuban people, an intimate and sincere friend who made historical achievements for the world of Socialism. China and Cuba suffered tension during the Cold War era as the Chinese further developed their economic relationship with the U.S. But over the last two decades, that relationship has warmed. China stands today as Cuba's largest trade partner.

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, also paid respects to Castro, calling him a prominent political activist who made distinguished contributions to accomplish calls of independence against imperialism. North Korea will have a three-day mourning period for Fidel Castro starting today.

Alexandra Field, CNN, Hong Kong


[01:35:15] VANIER: I want to bring in Reggie Thompson, a Latin- American analyst for Stratfor, an analysis platform on geopolitics.

Reggie, I wanted to talk to you after I read your analysis on Cuba this week. You say that the passing of Fidel Castro will change nothing or very little for Cuba. My question to you, however, is this: When you have somebody like Fidel Castro, who is so entirely defines his country -- Castro was Cuba, Cuba was Castro -- when that happens with his passing away, don't you think that some change is nonetheless possible?

REGGIE THOMPSON, LATIN-AMERICAN ANALYST, STRATFOR: So the passing of Fidel Castro is best understood in the context of being symbolic, for Cuba itself but also for the Latin-American left. However, what's really going to shape the immediate and political and economic future of Cuba will be the discussion between the government of the United States and the government of Cuba on the very important subject of lifting the trade embargo. This is something the Cuban government has been pushing for a very long time. And Fidel Castro has been out of power now since 2008, formally, but since 2006 in practice and other individuals in the government, most notably his brother, Raul Castro, have now been steering the country toward a path closer to the United States.


VANIER: With a view to lifting that embargo?

THOMPSON: Excuse me?

VANIER: With a view to lifting that embargo?

THOMPSON: Yes, that is one of the main goals that the Cubans are trying to push at this point. However, the embargo is underpinned by United States law and the Cuban government does not meet some of the human rights stipulations in that legislation, most notably the Helms- Burton Act. So, at this point, it's a matter of whether the United States, whether in Congress, there will be enough traction to push through legislation to amend or repeal Helms-Burton. So really, at this point, it's going to be a negotiation.


VANIER: Let me interrupt you for a second. I want to make sure our viewers understand what this mean. The Helms-Burton Act said, in the late '90s, for the embargo to be legally lifted, Cuba first has to become a lot more Democratic and start respecting human rights by American standard.

THOMPSON: Exactly.

VANIER: Do you see Cuba in the near future conforming to those standards?

THOMPSON: That's a bar that's going to be really very difficult for Cuba to meet as the country exists right now. I mean that really is part of legacy of the Castro government. It's a one-party state. It does not meet, as it is right now, the standards that the United States has stipulated in that act. So, it's going to be a controversial topic of discussion in Congress over the next few years. Because there is a momentum from segments of the business community, from individual congressional officials to get the ball rolling on that. But there is going to be resistance, obviously, from members of Congress and it's going to be a thorny topic. So, at this point, really, what we have to watch is how that negotiation proceeds. There has been the amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations that occurred in 2014 but that's not a lifting of the embargo. It's just a small crack in the regulations underpinning the embargo. VANIER: That's slightly loosening trade ties as you explained in your

piece but you also explained that has already begun to help the Cuban economy, correct?

THOMPSON: Yes, the economy has felt an effect from the loosening of some of those restrictions. You have more people coming into Cuba, more spending money, more services set up to cater to them. Overall, that's a positive thing for Cuba. However, they're still next to the largest consumer market in the world and they're legally locked out it have for the most part. Even though you've seen an influx of tourists since 2014, as far as the Cuban government is concerned, they want to get in on that, they want more of that. And that's really what these negotiations are going to be aimed at.

VANIER: All right, Reggie Thompson, Latin-American analyst for Stratfor, on why Fidel Castro's pasting isn't going to change much for the country, at least not in the near future.

Thank you very much.

THOMPSON: Thank you for having me.

ALLEN: And ahead on CNN NEWSWROOM, a trafficking survivor uses her brutal experience to raise awareness. Coming up, how her message is traveling around the world

[01:39:40] VANIER: Plus, parts of southern Europe have been inundated by days of torrential rain. We'll tell up what's ahead for the region in the full weather forecast.


VANIER: This week, the CNN Freedom Project is focusing on the people creating the demand for human trafficking. We begin with a story of one trafficking survivor in Mexico who is now an activist.

ALLEN: Rafael Romo reports her journey to safety was long and especially difficult because many of her abusers were in positions of authority.


(through translation): That little face you see there, that was my face at the age of 12.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRSEPONDENT (voice-over): She travels the world telling her story.

CARLA CASINTO (ph) (through translation): They would beat me with sticks. They would beat me with cables. They would beat me with chains.

ROMO: Her name is Carla Casinto (ph).

CASINTO (ph) (through translation): I'm a human trafficker survivor. I'm 24 years old. They forced me into prostitution starting at age 12.

ROMO: By her own estimate, she was raped more than 43,200 times by the time she turned 16.

After being forced to work as a prostitute for four years, she was rescued during a police raid and taken to a shelter.

Over several years, she says, she went from being a victim to a trusted volunteer who would help and give advice to other victims.

When we first met Carla in early 2015, she was still recovering from her deep emotional wounds and harrowing memories of sexual abuse.

CASINTO (ph) (through translation): There were people who would laugh at me because I was crying. I had to close my eyes so that I wouldn't see what they were doing to me.

ROMO: She said she wants the world to know human trafficking is part of today's reality and every child is at risk. Carla says some of the money who abused her were in law enforcement.

CASINTO (ph) (through translation): The uniformed police officers entered the room we were in. We had to do everything they asked us of. The whole thing lasted three or four hours.

ROMO (on camera): What was going through your mind at that point thinking that those who were supposed to protect you were abusing you?

[01:45:13] CASINTO (ph) (through translation): I thought they were disgusting. They knew we were minors. We were not even developed. We had sad faces.

ROMO (voice-over): Rosie Orosco (ph), a former Mexican congresswoman who now fights against human trafficking, says men in position of power were among Carla's worst abusers.

ROSIE OROSCO (ph), FORMER MEXICAN CONGRESSWOMAN: She had clients that were judges, priests, pastors, police. So, she knew that she could not run away to go to the authorities.

ROMO: Now Carla is not only surviving but thriving, speaking publicly against human trafficking in different countries.

CASINTO (ph) (through translation): I never imagined that the girl who used to stand up at a corner wearing short skirts and high heels, the one people would consider a prostitute, would feel so strong. Nowadays, many people are listening to me and it's not only here in Mexico.

ROMO: Last July, she told her story to Pope Francis at the Vatican during a conference about modern day slavery.

CASINTO (ph) (through translation): It's one of the greatest experiences I've ever had.

ROMO: In the end, she says, her main goal is raising awareness and protecting girls and boys so they don't fall prey to human traffickers like she did.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Mexico City.


ALLEN: And sadly trafficking is a global problem. Coming up Tuesday, what the city of Oakland, California, is doing to combat it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're very excited to be announcing the launch of

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The site aims to crack down on demand for the sexually exploited by encouraging people to photograph the license plate numbers of vehicles belonging to suspected sex buyers.


ALLEN: More on this new initiative Tuesday here on CNN, the next part of the new CNN Freedom Project series, "Tracking Demand."

VANIER: Also ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, not what you want to see when you look out the window. We'll tell you how northern Italy and other parts of Europe are dealing with several days of flooding.




[01:51:06] ALLEN: And welcome back. Parts of southern Europe are mopping up after extreme flooding over the past few days.

Pedram is here with that story for us.

Hello, Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI: AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hello, Natalie. Good seeing you.

This is a story that has developed for so many days in a row now. You look at some of these images where we see just two of several hundred people stranded across the area. There are rescue operations under way. This unfortunately has led to several fatalities. The severity of the floods is incredible. When you look at the volume of water of these rivers, the rivers bursting their banks and taking over communities. A lot of it has to do not only the rain falling from the sky but the infrastructure and building patterns. Let me zoom in towards the northern and western corner of Italy. We take you out near the Piedmont Region and the city of Turin. Right along the foothills of the Alps, we've had tremendous growth in terms of buildings being put down and removal of farming industry. The water settles down in the lowest spots. You look at different areas and vantage points around this town, you see elevation going up around it. All of that water wants to flow downstream and the rivers begin bursting their banks. That's precisely what's happened here over the last couple of days. This storm has literally parked in place for the last week across this region, pumping in moisture across the Mediterranean. This pattern was first noticed by Daniel Rex, a meteorologist, and developed and learned this and he learned if you have a storm in place, if there's a high pressure from north, it will inhibit it from moving. Heavy rain continued and culminated late last week into this weekend and early this week. If you visited this region of Italy, a lot people will tell you about the 1994 floods and the different color bars indicate the rainfall amounts from various people across this region. Same sort of a setup in 2006. History literally repeating itself. You see what's happened with the rivers and tributaries. Those are severe floods, high levels of water, all of which have now receded over the past several days. At least some improving conditions. We'll see showers scattered about. Damage has already been down.

And on the opposite end of the speck truck, you take a look at what's happening across the southern United States. Extreme and exceptional drought in place. Some of these areas have not seen rainfall in 40 to 60 days, including right outside of the CNN Center here. The drought situation across the southern U.S. is worse than what's happened across the southwestern United States and California. But there's big changes in the forecast. This is wonderful news. It shows you the disparity of where an area doesn't need rainfall, like Italy, getting tremendous amounts, an area that really wants it, and is going to get at least some of it here in the coming few days -- guys?

ALLEN: Finally.

VANIER: Pedram Javaheri, from the CNN International Weather Center, thank you. Always appreciate your input.

JAVAHERI: Thank you, guys.

VANIER: Now just before we wrap up the show, we figured we'd show you some pictures from Thailand, one province in particular where people have been giving thanks for these guys, monkeys.

ALLEN: Because they're just so cute. But for the 28th year have provided truckloads of fruits and vegetables for the monkeys. They credit the monkeys with bringing tourism dollars to the area. So, this is their gift back.

VANIER: And typically, as we're seeing here on these pictures, there are hundreds of visitors at the event and, typically, some find the monkeys' sort of touchy feely behavior is a bit much for them.


[01:55:19] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isn't there just a little bit because one bite me like yesterday. But I guess it was just a bit fun. Where the other was really kind and friendly. So, they're fun but I guess you still need to be a bit careful.


ALLEN: Yeah, they're cute and cuddly, not so much up close sometimes.

VANIER: Just a monkey bite.

ALLEN: They're having a little festival.

All right. That will do it for us this hour. I'm Natalie Allen.

VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier. Thank you very much.

The news continues next with Rosemary Church and George Howell.

You're with CNN, the world's news leader.