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Nicolas Maduro's Regime In Venezuela Rocked By Accusation Of Crimes Against Humanity. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 16, 2017 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRSITIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Today, Nicolas Maduro's regime in Venezuela flam by accusation of crimes against humanity. His ousted
attorney general joins me as he dumps more than a thousand documents at the international criminal court. Plus the cover seen around the world. First
the first time, the editor of British Vogue is black and a man. Adwoah Aboah is the model who gave face to his vision, I ask her how.
AMANPOUR: Good evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York. She is the highest ranking Venezuelan
official to ever turn on the Maduro regime and today, she's brought that fight to the international criminal court at the head.
Venezuela's ousted chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega is accusing President Nicolas Maduro and four other senior officials of crimes against humanity.
Arriving with her aids who were carrying arm loads of documents, she says she brings more than 1,000 pieces of evidence of allegedly state sanctioned
political murders, torture, illegal detentions, disappearances.
Venezuela is buckling under a collapsing economy, food shortages, a lack of medicines and healthcare. Just this week, it defaulted on its massive
loans. In a moment, my exclusive with the former attorney general, but first, CNN's Paula Newton takes a closer look.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Her transformation has been astounding. From loyal government operative to one of Venezuela's most damning
defectors. Luisa Ortega Diaz was a loyal savviest for nearly two decades, cursed in the side of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and then as
attorney general for his successor, Nicolas Maduro.
But this past summer after months of defying her own government, she was ousted as Venezuela's chief prosecutor and fled to Columbia fearing
retribution. Mrs. Ortega apparently did not leave empty handed. For weeks now on her blog and on international trips, he has been denouncing Maduro's
regime claiming indisputable truth of a corrupt government and police state engaged in human right's abuses, even torture.
As a judicial leader privy the government secrets for so long, she could indeed pose substantial threat to Venezuela's government. On her blog, she
has already released what she says is evidence that Odebrecht, a Brazilian company so minor in scandal in Brazil ran a vast bribery scheme in
Venezuela helping to elect some in Mauro's inner circle. Odebrecht hasn't commented but the Venezuelan government says it's investigating.
Miss. Ortego is a complicated figure that poses real challenges for international authorities. How much can they trust her evidence and how
complacent has she been after so many years at Maduro's side? Miss Ortega oversaw the prosecution and imprisonment of opposition leader, Leopoldo
Maduro regime claims she is the fugitive who must return to Venezuela to face her own questions about corruption. Through all this political
scandal, Venezuela's crisis is only deepening with food rationing and deplorable medical shortages adding to the economic misery.
Ortega says she's confident she can play a pivotal role in helping her country turn to stability and democracy. She say's she wants any
transition to be peaceful but is not hopeful that it will be. Paula Newton, CNN.
AMANPOUR: So, as we said, Ortega has now ramped up her fight and taken it against the Maduro government all the way to the international criminal
court at The Hague where she joined me for an exclusive interview.
AMANPOUR: Luisa Ortega, welcome to the program. You have turned against the government with a vengeance; you're accusing them of crimes against
humanity, murder torture, arbitrary detentions. This is an incredible accusation against your government.
LUISA ORTEGA, FORMER PROSECUTOR GENERAL OF VENEZUELA (WITH TRANSLATOR): No, I'm not acting with vengeance I'm acting according to justice, to the
principles of universal rights of internal rights, the rights of the Venezuelans so the right victims have to be protected. So the rights of the
victims - to have recognized in terms of crimes committed against them. The rights the Venezuelan people have who are suffering a tragedy at this
I believe it's an act of justice were doing. Not only myself, but also the entire group that is accompanying me, that is why I've acted this way at
the international court.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Let me take your charges and accusations individually. You say you're bringing as many as a thousand exhibits to
present, and the numbers are extraordinary. You are claiming that in 2015 1,777 people were murdered presumably political murders. In 2016 4,767,
from June of this year 1,746 murders and you say under the order of the executive branch.
Mrs. Ortega you were the highest ranking law and order justice official there as Attorney General. Are you saying that the government of President
Maduro. His military, his civilian defense forces are responsible for these murders that you're alleging?
ORTEGA (through translator): Yes, that is the evidence we have. It will be according to the court to evaluate them in terms of the exhibits of the
autopsy protocols, technical inspections, medical and legal reports, declarations from witnesses who certify them as such. We always wanted to
investigate these facts in Venezuela but we always encountered constant obstacles from government and the judicial branch to impede justice to be
Incredible things have happened. I can give you references, for example a truck from the National Guard that ran over a group of young people and
went right over them. This is a violation and to be able to bring justice to those who killed Venezuelans, those who've tortured and gone after these
people. This is why we have to resort to the International Courts - the International Penal Court here in The Hague.
AMANPOUR: Mrs. Ortega how did you get these pieces of evidence that you are presenting, these exhibits that you call. How did you get them out of
Venezuela, how do you have them in your possession?
ORTEGA (through translator): Before this happened I took steps to certify the evidence. Not only certify, but preserve. We digitized and had them
stored for an eventuality such as this. They're now being very useful for a moment like this, and hopefully justice will be served for Venezuelans
who are suffering at this moment. I am doing all this for my country, my people. For the people who live in Venezuela, for the Venezuelan citizens.
AMANPOUR: Mrs. Ortega I obviously have to ask you, you were the Attorney General from 2007 to 2017 when you - when you left. Why didn't you do this
justice as you're calling for while you were in office and in a position to be able to do something? What prevented you from doing that then?
ORTEGA: The penal actions cannot be prevented. One has to act once they were committed. What I'm trying to say is that it's impossible to have
justice in a country where there is a judicial branch, and executive branch, that are protecting those that create the crimes. That is why I'm
resorting to an international request, it's impossible to have justice, why? The Republic forces oppose to them, they will resort to actions to
AMANPOUR: You were a very committed Chavista, you were a loyal acolyte of Hugo Chavez. You worked for the Maduro regime. Are people going to wonder
what is your motivation, do you think you're going to be taken seriously inside Venezuela and even in - in the international community at The Hague?
ORTEGA (through translator): The problem with justice is a serious problem in terms of human rights. It's a delicate subject, and it doesn't matter.
Human rights for all those viewing this, human rights is not a matter of ideology, it doesn't have to do with political posturing. Violations can
be against a Democrat a Republican a person from the left or right it doesn't matter who. What's important is that they should be sanctioned and
repaired. And avoid that these violations be committed.
AMANPOUR: So how - how do you reconcile your past as Attorney General with what you're saying right now? In that you were there and you oversaw the
arrest warrant for Leopoldo Lopez, who as you know spent three years in jail the main opposition to your doing, now still under house arrest. How
do you reconcile what you were doing as a government official with what you're doing now?
ORTEGA (through translator): I was never part of the government. I've never had any military ties, and I was never part of backing the executive
AMANPOUR: So do you think it was right for Lopez to go to jail?
ORTEGA (through translator): I've got once we met such an opinion (ph). The opinions I met are the results of a sentence of a trial. It's up to
the courts to absolve or condemn.
AMANPOUR: But do you think the courts were independent?
ORTEGA (through translator): They would have to respond to that. I would not be able to respond to that.
AMANPOUR: Do you believe that the revolution - the democracy that you believed in - tipped into a dictatorship? Are you prepared to acknowledge
ORTEGA (through translator): At the moment, we're in a dictatorship. Living in a dictatorship, Maduro's government is a dictator, a tiptocracy
(ph). They're criminals. Unfortunately in regards to the people of Venezuela, how did we come to this? Obviously the corruption, the
violation of human rights.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you this question? It appeared that President Maduro became more and more paranoid, more and more afraid of the United States
and used the United States as a political weapon to justify what he was doing inside the country. Listen to the exchange that I had with him
during an interview just a few years ago.
Do you really believe they want to reconquer Latin America?
NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): Of course. Of course I do. They want the, first of all, the economic count for that,
the political control through political classes and a leader govern some of our countries, and they want to have the military control because,
regrettably, the US Elite have a project. Try to study the agronomy (ph) and the control, and in the world of today it is impossible.
ORTEGA (through translator): Yes, those are a fantasy. There are external enemies. As you can see, those are responsible in terms of living in
Venezuela, the inflation, lack of medicine, food, and eletramities (ph) which Venezuela has. They say it's because of imperialism. They always
look for someone else or something else to be responsible. He never gives a response as a statement which he's not.
The problem we have is because they don't admit they have not unwell or that they failed at a certain thing. They never say that, but instead they
put the blame on somebody else, and that is his own fantasy. Those are defense mechanisms to justify the capacity he has before the government.
AMANPOUR: Louisa Ortega, former Attorney General of Venezuela, thanks for joining me from Dehaye (ph) tonight.
ORTEGA: Thank you, (inaudible).
AMANPOUR: An, of course, we ask the Venezuelan government to respond to Ortega's claims, but we have not heard back. From one failing repressive
state to another, the latest now from Zimbabwe where 93-year old President Robert Mugabe remains under house arrest by the military. Our David
McKenzie is in the capital Harare where he's continuing to dig into what's actually happening there. He sent us this report.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The cautious drive reveals a new reality here. Different serious firepower over here from the
Army, and that's quite extraordinary because all of this is parked right outside the headquarters of the Presidential Guard. That's rarely a sign.
They're hemming them in, and - and look there's some more military over here to check point (ph). Be careful.
The Presidential Guard once said that it would die from Mugabe, but now like the rest of the country, it takes its orders from the Army. The
question "how long will the soldiers remain on these streets?"
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF ZIMBABWE: I think it'll appear that he has lost all power.
MCKENZIE: Our position leaders like Morgan Tsvangirai asking "will free elections ever happen?"
Is this a coo that has happened in Zimbabwe?
TSVANGIRAI: The military said it's a coo. (inaudible)
MCKENZIE: But the tanks are on the streets?
TSVANGIRAI: Yes, but what I can say is that it is unconstitutional. But whatever you want to describe it, it's unconstitutional because you can't
force the trivial (ph) government by any means other than through the ballet books.
MCKENZIE: Yes we are. How are you, man?
From the capital, Zimbabweans are holding their breath.
Good, man. How are you? How are you? What do you think what's happening right now in the country?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
MCKENZIE: You don't know what's happening?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) what do we know is that it's (inaudible)
MCKENZIE: Robert Mugabe has been in power longer than most Zimbabweans have been alive. Any descent was stamped out while Mugabe presided over in
near collapse of this economy.
TSVANGIRAI: That's why the people was that they didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
MCKENZIE: For so long they've seen desperation. So they dare not hope for too much. Do you think Robert McGarvey should leave? Just something
better. David McKenzie, CNN, Harare, Zimbabwe.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Zimbabwe in the balance and still to come on tonight's program, I speak to the trail blazing cover girl from British
Vogue Adowa Aboah now armed with it's first black and first male editor. That's next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back, when she was growing up, the British garnian model Adowa Aboah did not see girls that look like her in the glossy pages of
fashion magazines. Now she is the face of the glossiest magazine of all. The cover of Edward Enninful first edition of British Vogue, his own break
through appointment as both black and male is redefining the notion of beauty.
This week on a publicity tour in New York, Aboah talked to me about her tough childhood, trying to fit in and what being this cover girl means to
her. Adowa Aboah, welcome to the program.
ADOWA ABOAH: Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: So that was a spectacular cover. What was the phone call like?
ABOAH: It was a text message and I was in my room and he sent me a text message and said guess who's going to be my first cover and I was like is-
I mean are you joking? I was like I could not believe it.
AMANPOUR: Do you feel that you didn't get the opportunities and the chances because you're mixed race?
ABOAH: When I first started there definitely was no room for a girl that looked like me.
AMANPOUR: Is it a good time to be a diversity character in England right now?
ABOAH: Yeah, completely, as long as it's not a fad, as long as it's not a trend and definitely with Edward it's not. He has been advocating
diversity for years and years and years. And so, and he's also highly outspoken and he has that continuous dialog that makes it authentic and
I mean if I can think about when I was younger and I was looking at magazines I wish that I could open up a magazine and I saw, that I'd be
able to see more women and girls like myself. Because it really was highly detrimental to the way that I viewed myself and the insecurities that
followed me from the age of 14 up until, you know, I kind of got my life sorted out at 21.
AMANPOUR: Tell me what happened.
ABOAH: I just, I went to a boarding school that was pre dominantly white and I was like oh I'm in this bubble and there are these new rules and I-
why haven't I got long straight hair and maybe these clothes I'm wearing aren't particularly cool anymore and I need to try and fit in, you know I
was basing my worth on male attention at that time as a teenager would and all the girls that were admired and fancied looked nothing like me.
AMANPOUR: That sent you over the abyss didn't it? I mean there was drugs, there was drink, tell me about that period.
ABOAH: I remember the day I just made this - I just decided that no one was listening to me. The school wasn't concentrating, they weren't taking
into count how lonely and insecure I was and my parents weren't necessarily listening to me in terms of how much I hated the school and I just remember
the day it came and I was just like I'm not going to speak anymore.
I'm not going to be honest and I'm not going to tell anyone that I'm having an awful time because it's too painful to - that no one's listening. And,
that - and then drugs came and very quickly it was this constant avoidance of reality.
AMANPOUR: What do you want to be or say to young girls?
ABOAH: The first time I ever shared my story I had no idea that it was going to have such an impact. I spent so much of my teenage years not
talking at all about anything that was going on in my life. So, to now have this platform and to be able to speak openly and to be able to be raw
and honest about everything that's going on in my life.
And, not fearful about making mistakes or saying that everything isn't perfect.
AMANPOUR: We live in the Instagram world where as far as I can gather all these young people who are on it get one message only and that is oh, isn't
everybody fabulous. Oh, isn't their life fabulous and better than mine. Isn't everybody happy? Is that really - is that it? Is everybody happy
ABOAH: And, I think that's what's so scary. I'm so happy about that I didn't have social media when I was at school. They're looking at a life
that is completely unrealistic at the best of times we only post what we want people to see and sometimes I can even fall into that.
AMANPOUR: I wonder what you make of people of like Solange Knowles or Lupita Nyong'o who have had to criticize and take issue with the magazines
which try to change their hair.
ABOAH: That was a main - one of the main reason I've decided to cut all my hair off. I was so bored of sitting at the chair and watching in the
mirror as all these eyes kind of like suddenly were so fearful the fact that I had layers and layers and layers of hair.
And, it was humiliating to be sat there and them not know what to do. It was hear actually.
AMANPOUR: You really cut your hair off for that reason?
ABOAH: You know it goes back to school. I was so bored of relaxing it to fit in. I had braids, I didn't like the braids. I - when I relaxed it it
felt different. It didn't feel - it didn't flow in the wind. It still was coarse and I - it was this continuous - it felt like my hair was this
metaphor for this continuous strive to fit in and one day I just decided that I just needed to cut it all off.
AMANPOUR: You are incredibly active in the mental health issues and it's something that everyday we see that our world needs more of. What are -
what are you giving to it and what do you hope that it gives to other people?
ABOAH: It's so hard to explain that. Life is amazing and you've got the cover of English Vogue and you're doing this and you've got this attention
but you wake up and the world feels like it's falling to pieces. And so, what I hope I'm doing with Girls Talk and what I hope I'm doing with being
part of Heads Together I just hope that I'm continuing the conversation.
AMANPOUR: And, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
ABOAH: Yes, exactly like you said. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
AMANPOUR: Well, congratulations. You deserve every single minute of it. Brilliant.
ABOAH: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Deserve, indeed. Now to the European Parliament which is paying tribute to a brave journalist naming its Strasbourg press room after the
Maltese reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia. She was killed by a car bomb last month after doggedly investigating corruption in the corridors of power.
And, when we come back, imagine Meryl Streep lending her voice to all journalists in danger.
MERYL STREEP, ACTOR: I only ask the famously well healed Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee
to Protect Journalists. Because we're going to need them going forward and they'll need us to safeguard the truth.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight. Imagine a world where journalist are giving the awards and Hollywood A listers are handing them out. Last night
at the committee to protect journalist gala here in New York, the most iconic actress of our time with three Oscars under her belt, Meryl Streep
took to the stage to honor the women and men of the free press.
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MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: I really came here tonight to thank you, that's all. Really. Thank you. Our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you. You
are the fourth estate, you are our first line against tyranny and state sanctioned news. Thank you. You intrepid, underpaid, overextended,
trolled, and uninstalled, young and old, battered and bold buttoned souled, hyper alert, crack caffeine fiend.
AMANPOUR: What a timely shout out of support from a great woman, Meryl Streep. And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can listen
to our pod cast at any time. See us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Face book and Twitter. Thank you for watching and good bye from New