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European Union Launches Pledging Marathon; Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, is Interviewed About COVID-19 and the European Union; No Lockdown in Sweden; Spain Begins to Lift Restrictions; IFEMA Closes Down; Brazil President, Jair Bolsonaro, Under Fire for His Handling of the Pandemic; Experts Warns That Brazil will be the Next Deadly Spot; Global Petition to Save the Amazon; Interview With Photographer Sebastiao Salgado. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired May 4, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION: We want to raise $8 billion, and we all know this is just the beginning. We will need
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A global fund-raiser for COVID vaccines and treatment. My interview with the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen.
Then, an eyewitness to the plight of Brazil's indigenous people. The great photographer, Sebastiao Salgado, joins us with a desperate appeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX STAMOS, DIRECTOR, STANFORD INTERNET OBSERVATORY: It seems like there's -- one of their goals is to erode American soft power and to build
up Chinese soft power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How China is using coronavirus to get ahead. Our Hari Sreenivasan with Alex Stamos from top Facebook exec to directing the
Stanford Internet Observatory.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
Across the world, countries are stepping gingerly out of lockdown. Italy, France and Spain all beginning to reopen after draconian restrictions to
stop the coronavirus. But experts are warning, the fight won't be won without treatments or a vaccine and scientists don't expect to have that
But in a bid to speed up crucial research and get the world's best minds on it, the European Union has launched a pledging marathon today. The event is
cohosted by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway and Saudi Arabia which represent it is G20. But notably absent are some of the world's
biggest and most advanced scientific and economic powers, the United States, India and Russia are not there.
Master of ceremonies for the fund-raiser is president of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen. The first female head of the European
Union and a former doctor, just a few months on the job, coronavirus has and probably will come to define her term.
In an exclusive interview, we spoke about today's launch and I also asked von der Leyen whether the initial me first reaction to the coronavirus by
member states could threaten the very existence of the European Union.
Ursula von der Leyen, welcome to the program.
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Good evening. A pleasure to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, let me start by asking you, you're launching an appeal for a big global coordinated vaccine appeal. You want to try to raise, you know,
$8 billion in the service of this effort.
VON DER LEYEN: Yes, well, we all know that this virus knows no borders and no nationalities and it kills people and we had to lockdown our economies.
So, the only way to fight this virus is to find a vaccine. And not only to find and produce the vaccine, but also to make sure that it is deployed
then in every corner in the world.
And this is a big global endeavor and we need money for that. And therefor, we aligned the stakeholders like the W.H.O., the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation, the Welcome Trust, just to name a few, and CEPI and Gavi are supporting this. And we aligned the countries, mainly the G20. We have co-
leads, for example, the presidency of G20, Saudi Arabia, but also the incoming presidency, Italy, and as co-leads, France, Germany, Norway, the
United Kingdom, Canada and many, many other countries are joining that. And indeed, we want to raise $8 billion and we all know that this is just the
beginning. We will need more.
AMANPOUR: It looks like what people have been since the beginning, some kind of global taskforce to really coordinate many things, but in this case
vaccines. I know that the U.S. government has not been particularly reliable as a leader in this moment, but it is just not willing to
participate. Have you ever come across that kind of reaction of the United States in a global crisis like this?
VON DER LEYEN: Well, the United States are doing a lot domestically, what research for vaccine is concerned. And indeed, they are informed about our
global initiative. And I hope that in the one or the other way they decide to join.
But for sure, the American footprint is there because we have outstanding American scientists and philanthropist that are joining our call for
action. And I'm very glad about that. So, we invited the whole world and I think the whole world is joining.
AMANPOUR: I ask you because you're obviously being really diplomatic. The whole world is joining except for the United States government, which
doesn't want to join. I'm trying to figure out why not and whether in a case like this, U.S. leadership is, in fact, you know, necessary and does
the world miss it? What will be the effect of not having the kind of galvanizing power and the throw weight the United States can delivery like
it did in the Ebola crisis, like it did during the PEPFAR, the AIDS crisis for the developing world and many other things? What do you think might be
the result of not having that U.S. leadership?
VON DER LEYEN: Well, I think it's, first of all, a test for all us in a multilateral activity to join forces. That's what we do and let's see who's
joining finally. I still hope that perhaps the American government will join forces with us in one or the other way. But important is that all of
us, we decide to give our share and to make sure -- and this is so important, to make sure that this vaccine is not only found and developed
but it's manufactured in zillion doses that are necessary and that we make sure that it is deployed in every corner in the world to a fair and
affordable price. I think this aim is something we should really align the whole world.
AMANPOUR: Commission President, you are yourself a doctor, you have also had a lot of experience in public health policy. When you look at this
desire to get the world out of the lockdown it is in now, is it just a vaccine that can make that happen?
VON DER LEYEN: Well, until we have found a vaccine we have to work in -- with other circumstances. So, we are all more or less in an economic
lockdown, indeed, which does an enormous harm to our economies. And what we are doing now is that we carefully lift measure after measure. But by
lifting one measure, then we control for one or two weeks whether the virus flares up again or whether it's stable. We can contain the virus and then
we are able to lift the next measure.
And this has to go in a coordinated way. Of course, it depends on the epidemiological situation in the region. But in the European Union, for
example, we have a roadmap to exit. So, to coordinate, when to ease border measures, when to -- how to deal, for example, with the big question of
tourism within the member states, how to make sure that equipment, the medical equipment is there. So, step by step we lift those measures.
This will take time. We have to learn to live with the virus until, as I said, we will have a vaccine and this will be a new normal.
AMANPOUR: As you yourself pointed out early in the crisis that, for instance, when Italy was in desperate need, you know, it was like, you are
on your own, babe. I mean, it was basically France and Germany did not want to share their resources, their masks, their equipment and this and that.
You know, you said at the time, when Europe really needed an all for one spirit, too many initially gave an only for me response. You know, you have
-- you did, you felt you should apologize to Italy later on for that. Where do you think Europe is as an entity right now?
VON DER LEYEN: I think what we saw at the very beginning what I explain this looking inwards and trying to protect the own people is a reflex that
is understandable. It did a lot of harm but it was understandable. As I said, it took a few days and then everybody realized that they harm
themselves and that we can only fight this virus together. And since then, I must say it's heartwarming to see the rise of solidarity and helping each
So, doctors from Poland and Romania going to Italy, patients from Italy being treated in Germany and France. Masks being produced in fashion
companies in Bulgaria, spread all over the European Union. Ventilators coming from one member states to the other. So, we saw an enormous amount
of solidarity and it was like we realized again that together we have an enormous power to fight whatever crisis and that it feels good to stand up
together and to stand close to each other.
So, this was, in the very end, in a very difficult story, a positive experience again what unity can prove strong, how unity can prove strong
and I think this -- and hope -- I hope this will be deep in the memory of the European people.
AMANPOUR: Except, with due respect, President von der Leyen, there is no unity when it comes to the economic recovery that you are trying to
organize as head of the commission. There are many powerful countries who resent the idea of trying to, let's say, bail out or whatever you want to
say it, loans, grants, bailouts to some of the more -- you know, some of the more hurting countries who are in the southern part whether it's
Greece, whether it's Spain, whether it's Italy.
How are you going to solve that? Because that is a fundamental existential issue for Europe and it was that, the lack of generosity, if you like,
economically back then in 2016, et cetera, that contributed to this rise of nationalism and populism we have seen play out over the last several years.
VON DER LEYEN: Well, I see that differently. I think it is OK that 27 member states who are very different discuss how to move forward together.
But we saw a very fast reaction for the immediate response to the actual crisis. So, the first point was inject liquidity in the economy, for
example, by unprecedented flexibility of state aid or of European funds that could be used and to secure jobs.
So, the whole 27 member states agreed to put on a 100 billion program. So, that in member states that are hardest hit, employees can stay in the
companies if there is no work anymore to do. Get European subsidized for their salary but the knowledge stays in the company. So, that when the
economy picks up again, these companies are healthy and can start working again. These were strong signs of solidarity. And if you take the overall
amount of the reaction up to today, it's 3.4 trillion euros that have been invested, injected in the economies in Europe for first response.
And yes, you're right. Now, it is the second step. It is the question of the recovery. And there we're working together on a scheme that is a bit
like the Marshall Plan, and the aim is indeed to have a huge investment package for the European Union, mainly for the member states, who are the
hardest hit by the crisis.
AMANPOUR: And part of that, I think, you said that there must be a massive amount of attention and resources paid to a green recovery, that you're not
giving up on that, which is a very integral part of the European Commission's priorities for the continent.
VON DER LEYEN: Yes. For us it's very important. If we do have this recovery program, this huge investment package, that we stick to our
policies. It is digitalization, it is the European Green Deal and it is resilience.
And indeed, if we look at the European Green Deal, we do not want -- in the recovery, we do not want to fall back in a fossil fuel black economy but we
want to bounce forward into a clean, sustainable economy, a modern economy. And I think it's also a part of thinking anew after this crisis. For
example, investing in the circular economy to make us more independent of raw materials and being more circular in the production processes. So, to
give more back to the planet than we take from the planet.
And it's also so that this is for us a growth program, a growth model, this green economy, because we know, for example, renovating houses, to have
them energy efficient is good for the people, it's good for the construction industry and good for the climate, or investing in clean cars
and renewable energies. So, to kickstart our economy again, we want these future proof technologies. And last but not least, industry is asking us to
be accountable and reliable, what the European Green Deal is concerned because we all think this is our growth strategy for the future.
AMANPOUR: I need to ask you a question, very important question about China and its performance and its efforts now to rewrite the narrative.
Here's the thing. An E.U. report on Chinese and Russian COVID-19 disinformation was due to be published. And on the 21st of April, Politico
publish an exert which read, China has continued to run a global disinformation campaign to deflect blame for the outbreak of the pandemic
and improve its international image. Both overt and covert tactics have been observed.
OK. This is the E.U. report that they saw. But the report was then not released until the 24th of April and the passage I've just read was
omitted. It was removed. And the organizations, they all spoke to E.U. officials who said Beijing repeatedly made threats and formal complaints
about the report which led to it being watered down.
Now, this is standard Beijing operating procedure. They do try to and often succeed in getting, you know, any critical versions of their activities
scrubbed. Is that what happened?
VON DER LEYEN: No. This is an independent report done by the external service. And indeed, what I think what we will have to do, I was talking
about lessons learned, if there's one lesson we have learned, that is that we did not have robust data. And this is a worldwide endeavor to really, in
the next months, work on how can we establish a system that we have true, robust, reliable data from all over the world when something like that
happens and that we have a functioning prevention system so that we can react way better in the next health crisis that might occur. This is one of
the bitter lessons we have learned from this crisis.
AMANPOUR: There are loads of lessons. I just want to follow up on this because a European diplomat has said that the Chinese are already
threatening with reactions if the report comes out. You said it's an independent report but the E.U. foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, he's
asking for a full and formal explanation to the European parliament.
I'm just trying to figure out. Is the E.U. kind of censoring itself with this report?
VON DER LEYEN: No, not at all. What I think is important is that we have very clear -- our position and you know that there were many critical
voices, for example, concerning material coming from China that was not fit for purpose. So, there are points when there are critics to have been --
that have to be issued at the level of the European Union. It happens. And we do that and there are other points that go well.
So, I think we should go step by step, look at the material that is there and then respond in a very open, very frank manner, sometime it is
positive, sometimes it's negative and critical and both has to be completely OK.
AMANPOUR: You talked about data and, of course, everybody wants facts and data right now, and people don't want sort of conspiracy theories and
guesswork. Just as a doctor, I just wonder what you thought when President Trump stood in front of the world and suggested people inject or somehow
ingest disinfectant last week as a way to stave off coronavirus.
VON DER LEYEN: Well, never ever do this. This is dangerous, plain and simply. It can be deadly. And this is very clear. And I think this has been
immediately said very clearly. So, these are things that, as I said, are very, very dangerous.
AMANPOUR: I can't push you to tell me how you react to the leader of the world's only superpower actually advocating that.
VON DER LEYEN: Well, as I said, you asked me about the fact and the fact itself is that I think this is not something we should ever think of.
AMANPOUR: All right. President of the E.U. Commission, thank you very much indeed for joining us. Ursula von der Leyen, thank you so much for being
VON DER LEYEN: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: And just to remind, the United States government is not taking part in this fund-raiser. Ursula von der Leyen hopes that at some point
they will join. But an update, the event has seen world leaders pledge $8 billion to fight coronavirus.
Now, until there is a vaccine or treatment, scientists say coronavirus will always be with us. It's how we deal with it that counts. So, the whole
world is watching the different approaches. Everyone knows Sweden was the European outlier that didn't have a lockdown at all. The country ended up
with a highest infection rate and death rate of all its neighbors.
Correspondent Phil Black has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To visit Sweden now is to enter a strange land where people can just hang out together. Seek shelter from the cold in
cozy restaurants. Go for a drink or a coffee.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has been crowded all over, all the bars and restaurants and so on.
BLACK: You can shop for fashion and beauty products or even allow a hairdresser to invade your personal space.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sooner or later we'll get corona, I think.
BLACK: You have accepted that that will happen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BLACK: And in the meantime, it is important to look good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Right.
BLACK: That sums up the authority's approach here. COVID-19 is going to be around for a while and society must find a way to live with it. So, no
forced lockdown. Instead, an emphasis on personal responsibility. Please work from home, keep to yourself in public. The official rule in bars and
restaurants is stay an arm's length apart. No gatherings of more than 50 people. Elementary and middle schools are still open, while most high
school students and college students' study at home.
Anders Tegnell is the state epidemiologist driving the policies here. He claims success in flattening the curve and keeping serious cases within
hospital capacity. And he says it's a good thing. His agency estimates 26 percent of Stockholm's population has now been infected because in theory
that means more immunity.
But you insist that herd immunity has never been a goal?
ANDERS TEGNELL, SWEDEN'S CHIEF EPIDEMILOGIST: No, but it will help us achieving our goal, which is slowing down the spread as much as possible so
that we can keep in good health care running.
BLACK: But for a small country, Sweden is already paying a big human cost. More than 2,500 people have died here. Vastly greater numbers than
neighboring countries which imposed much tougher restrictions.
TEGNELL: That is true.
BLACK: What do you take from that?
TEGNELL: Yes. That we need to investigate and try to understand why. We know for sure one of the reasons why is that we have this huge amount of
cases in our homes.
BLACK: It is a disturbing trend, around half of those who have died here lived in care homes. The Swedish government admits they failed to protect
the elderly. The open policies are broadly popular here but there is anger too especially among those who have lost so much to the virus.
MIRREY GOURIE, FATHER DIED FROM CORONAVIRUS: I'm so sorry. It hurts when I his name.
BLACK: Mirrey Gourie buried her father Joseph on Monday. She says he and many others would still be alive if Sweden had chosen a different path.
GOURIE: There is people dying and there is a human being like me, like you, like my dad. They're not just statistics and numbers.
BLACK: Sweden's experience will inform governments around the world as they plot their exits from lockdown, but authorities here say it's still
too soon to judge their actions because they, like everyone, are struggling to deal with a threat they're only starting to understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that was Correspondent Phil Black with Sweden's dilemma.
Let's now look at Spain, which today is beginning to lift its restrictions. It did lockdown hard but late and had one of the worst outbreaks in Europe.
Over 25,000 deaths from COVID-19. Correspondent Scott McLean is there as Spain closes its biggest makeshift hospital now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the moment the last patients were discharged from Spain's largest field hospital, a proud moment for a
country that lately has had little to celebrate. 73-year-old, Patrocinio Gonzalez Dorado, spent three weeks here, Miriam Martinez was in the bed
next to hers.
MIRIAM MARTINEZ, PATIENT (through translator): I think we are doing better. The fact that we are the last patients finishing with the virus, a global
tragedy, but what is important is that we are here.
MCLEAN: The sprawling convention center turned hospital has seen 4,000 patients in the 6 weeks since it opened. The number of active cases in
Spain is shrinking and the death rate is a fraction of the peak. At one point, Madrid was using two ice rings as temporary morgues, both are now
closed, so are five of the 13 hotels being used as hospital wards. Two others are no longer accepting patients.
The closure of IFEMA comes as Spain is preparing to reopen. Children are now allowed out for an hour per day. And in some parts of Spain, restaurant
patios will open Monday. The government says it's confident its careful approach can avoid a second spike in cases, but not confident enough to
dismantle the beds and infrastructure inside IFEMA, which will stay in place for at least another month. After that --
EDUARDO LOPEZ-PUERTAS, IFEMA GENERAL MANAGER: Then we start dismantling with beds and equipment. But we will still keep all the installations that
are already done just in case.
MCLEAN: Spain's crisis is far from over but the closure of its biggest hospital might be a sign the worst has come and gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Correspondent Scott McLean reporting from Madrid.
From Europe now, we turn to Brazil where President Bolsonaro one stub the trump of the tropics is coming under fire for his handling of the pandemic.
In the past few weeks, Bolsonaro has been attending rallies with hundreds of supporters in defiance of social distancing, and he sacked his popular
health minister. More than 100,000 people have contracted the virus in Brazil so far and 7,000 lives has been lost. But the president doesn't seem
to care. Just look at this exchange with a reporter last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We have past the number of dead in China. Brazil.
JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): So what? I'm sorry but what do you want me to do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It is really shocking. It's hard to listen to that, a government leader saying, so what. Many experts are warning that Brazil is the next
deadly hot spot as the virus rips through tightly packed favelas or slums. Far from the cities, though, the country's indigenous people are also
especially vulnerable. Health experts are warning the communities in the Amazon region are in danger of "being wiped out" by the virus.
And now, a big group of artists, celebrities including Paul McCartney, Madonna and Orpah Winfrey have written an open letter to President
Bolsonaro, urging him to prevent a coronavirus genocide.
The acclaimed Brazilian photo journalist, Sebastiao Salgado, is behind the global petition. And he is joining me now from Paris.
Sebastiao Salgado, it is so good to have you and your expertise on this program.
So, I want to first ask you. This is your home country. What are you most worried about? Why did you feel you need to make this appeal?
SEBASTIAO SALGADO, PHOTOGRAPHER: You know, Christiane, the Indians in Amazonia, they don't have (INAUDIBLE) for the disease that come outside of
the rainforest. The disease of the white people always eliminate thousands, tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in
And now, it's huge danger, that the coronavirus come inside the Indian territory and can become a real genocide. It is a vast territory.
Impossible to drive the medical assistance there inside if they become sick. It is what you are applying with (INAUDIBLE) is that the Brazilian
government, they count from inside the Indian territory, the thousands of gold diggers that are inside of the territory. Loggers, religious sectors,
farmers, they -- after the President Bolsonaro took out all (INAUDIBLE) to come inside the Indian territory.
The Indian territory is more or less open. And now, with the coronavirus, that the institutions are completely paralyzed, we are assisting a real
invasion of Indian territory. And to avoid that the disease has reached the Indians, we are applying that Brazil government create a taskforce to put
out of the Indian territory all this invader that can drive the disease there inside and we be real huge disaster.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, because you're obviously a very prominent person and we saw the reaction from the Brazilian government. And they --
you know, they have put out a reaction to us. They said, what you've done is very well intention and you're a very famous photographer but you're a
little bit behind the times because they say their government has already, and I'll read it to you, stepped up enforcement in the area to avoid
visiting and illegal mining, the government has also produced in all 274 indigenous languages the necessary guidelines for diseases prevention by
tribes and recently a plan for, you know, $1 billion investment for those Brazilian communities has been drawn up.
How do you respond to their response to you?
SALGADO: See, we have a government that's the champion in the world in fake news. That's just fake news. That is not true. You see, I'm in
contact, direct contact today, this afternoon, direct with Indian organizations in Brazil, and they are all desperate. There is no action of
the government there inside.
There is religious sector, evangelical sectors flying inside Indian territory, with no authorization, with helicopters, what is completely
When I come to photograph in Amazonia, I must do a quarantine of at least 10 days before to reach one Indian tribe. And now the door is open. All in
the state of Horama (ph), we have about 20,000 gold diggers there. They invaded the territory.
And the action, what you are applying is that a task force, it puts these guys out there, because we have a big chance that the Indians become
contaminated by the coronavirus.
But what government say is what they said. You remember, last year, during the fires, when we put fire in Amazonia, that the president of Brazil tell
that the people that put fire, where the normal governmental organization that were assisting the territory, assisting Amazonia.
And all in this government is based in fake news. It is not true, just not true, what they said.
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, let me put it in the hand of an elected leader, because the mayor -- well, first of all, I want to show these pictures,
which are truly, truly awful, and they go to what you're saying..
Overhead drone photos were taken last week of Manaus, which is the capital of Amazonas, what you're speaking about now. And they had a mass grave for
140 dead, a mass grave. And it was very, very disturbing to look at.
And certainly from overhead, you can see the scale of the digging and what they had to do to try to bury the bodies. And we have also now received a
tweeted message from -- not us -- it was on Twitter -- from the mayor of Manaus, who's begging for outside help, including he's appealed to the
young environmentalist, activist Greta Thunberg.
And this is what he said. I'm just going to play a little bit of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARTHUR VIRGILIO NETO, MAYOR, MANAUS, AMAZONAS: I am the mayor of Manaus, the main city of Amazonas state, the biggest state in the whole Brazilian
I'm telling you that we are needing help. We have to save the lives of the protectors of the forest from COVID-19. We are a front of a disaster,
something like barbarism.
And I know all your influence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that's an appeal to influential Greta Thunberg.
You are the influential Sebastiao Salgado. And all the others who signed on with you, they are very, very, very scared there. And we know that a 15-
year-old boy in one of the remotest tribes died of COVID earlier in -- well, last month, in April, and about three or four native -- of the native
population have died.
So, I want to ask you, because if this is all going on, and with your experience, is it too late to protect those vulnerable people?
SALGADO: No. I don't believe that it's too late, if the action we take now.
We take these invaders outside of the Indian territory. It is possible to protect them. But we must have a quick action. For me, we -- very important
to be here with you tonight, because I want to apply all the organizations, all the governments around the world to do a pressure in Brazil.
You remember that, last year, during the fires, was the outside pressure that made the government react. And we must do this pressure. As the mayor
of Manaus said, we must carry influence from outside, because the government, they are having one very strange behavior to answer the
It's necessary our country to act together to fight the big disease. There is a complete of behavior in Brazil. The mayors of the big city, the
governors of the states are taking the correct position, isolating the people.
In the government of Brazil, the president, Bolsonaro, is exactly fighting the other direction. And it's becoming very difficult. It's become very
desperate in Brazil.
Brazil's is a country of more than 200 million people. And when you see that is one of the most important points of the disease today -- when you
see the number of the dead people, it's very small. But the scientific groups are feeling that it's minimal 10 times more that you have a figure
that's presented in Brazil.
Well, Sebastiao, it's already much more than China. And it is a very high number already in a continent which actually doesn't see very much debt,
because many of the other Latin American countries have imposed very serious restrictions.
But, again, I want to ask you, because the government says that you're behind the times, they have done all this protection, they have taken the
measures that you're asking them.
But, recently, President Bolsonaro, he has compared these indigenous peoples -- quote -- I'm sorry to say this, but to animals living in a zoo.
I honestly cannot believe my eyes or my ears when I'm even repeating this and when I read this.
So it really does seem that there's just no care from the presidential palace to this vital area. Everybody knows that the Amazon are the lungs of
the world, are the center for biodiversity, where we can find all sorts of elements and plants for medicines and the kind of stuff we need right now.
You are also asking for a petition to be signed. There's some 200,000 signatures so far, I think, unless you have an update. Again, what do you
hope the outside world can do in this particular case for these particular people in that region?
SALGADO: You know, Brazil is a big exporter of all material. It's a big agriculture -- the biggest exporter of agricultural products in the world.
It's not difficult to do a pressure in Brazil. I believe that every government in this world must do this pressure, because, if you lose the
Indian population would be a huge loss for the humanity, probably the biggest concentration of culture in the world. We have about 200 different
languages that we speak in the Amazonia forest.
We have only in Amazonia and Brazil about 102 group of Indians that never had contact with outsiders. They're completely isolated groups.
If the history of the humanity that lives inside of the Amazonian forest, we must protect them. Humanity cannot lose the Indians of Amazonia.
Of course, that Brazil's not the only country in Amazonia. There is nine Amazonia countries, but Brazil hold about 65 percent of the Amazonia
territory, of the Amazonia bio-ecosystem.
And that is very important to protect the groups, and that we must act now. That is the moment to do. And that -- I invite everyone on this planet to
sign the petition that we send to come with us together in this pressure in the direction to save this population.
And I just want to end, as I thank you, by quoting what you have said. "They are the beginning of humanity, the prehistory of our humane
existence. These people inside the Amazonian forest, we must protect them. If the coronavirus comes, we can lose a huge reference point for humanity."
Sebastiao Salgado, you are a great eyewitness to just about everything in your time. Thank you so much for being with us.
And now with coronavirus comes another epidemic as well. And that is disinformation. And a huge row is brewing, as the Trump administration
blames China for unleashing the virus on the world.
Just this weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there is enormous evidence that coronavirus came from a Chinese lab, which is not the
conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies.
And, in March, a Chinese government official also used social media to accuse the U.S. military of starting the outbreak, a huge amount of
And our next guest was the former chief of security at Facebook. Alex Stamos is now director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. And he's also
a security consultant for Zoom.
He joined our Hari Sreenivasan to talk about these disinformation campaigns.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alex, what's your most recent research showing about the state of misinformation in the time of
ALEX STAMOS, DIRECTOR, STANFORD INTERNET OBSERVATORY: So, there's a really interesting thing happening here, which is, for the first time in history,
for a very, very long time, all of the countries in the world have the same number one concern.
And so we -- normally, when we see misinformation from a China, from an Iran, from a Russia, they all have very different areas of focus. But,
today, every single country in the world, whether democratic or autocratic, is very concerned with defending their performance during COVID, and, in
some cases, of using COVID as a tool against their kind of longstanding adversaries.
And what we have seen is a massive shift by countries towards COVID as the topic of the day. Now, in some cases, that's because they actually have a
message they want to push about COVID.
So, such as in the Chinese example, there are a lot of messages about the competence of the Chinese Communist Party that they want to push. In the
case of actors such as the Russians, it seems like it's much more opportunistic.
Their goal is to use COVID as a hook to pull people in and to build these online communities that they then use for different political purposes
SREENIVASAN: So, let's talk some examples here, giving some examples of how the Chinese or the Russians are using social media now to try to get
their point across.
STAMOS: The Chinese example is really interesting, because the Chinese narrative has continued to shift since the emergence of COVID in December
So, at first, the goal of Chinese messaging was to downplay the severity of the crisis. Then there was a significant shift around the time when the PRC
shut down Wuhan and other major cities, in which the messaging shifted to, this is a major crisis, but the Communist Party's in charge, and the PRC is
reacting with incredible efficiency.
One thing that a lot of Americans saw during that time was social media messaging about the capabilities of the PRC government. And so I think a
lot of people remember the videos of hospitals being built in seven days, videos of drones going around and police in the streets.
There's a kind of a viral video about a drone yelling at a grandmother to go back home. These were videos meant to show that the Chinese Communist
Party has organized China in a way that gives them great capabilities, but also to kind of subtly reinforce the idea that the authoritarian control of
China is perhaps in the best interest of the rest of the world, because it allowed the Chinese to contain it.
Since then, the Chinese have pivoted now to be very, very anti-American. And you see an official line about America handling the COVID crisis very
poorly. Unfortunately, the things they're saying are generally true, right?
So it's hard to call it disinformation. They're just highlighting actual failures in American policy. But the other more covert messaging is around
the idea that the virus did not actually arise naturally in Wuhan, but is an American weapon.
And so that's been a much more kind of insidious and quiet message that they have been trying to inject, is to raise doubts about the idea that
this is a virus of Chinese origin and trying to start to come up with alternative theories that they're planting in alternative media, in certain
kind of conspiratorial groups online, to help -- to convince a number of people that perhaps it's not as simple as this coming out of a Wuhan
market, which I believe is still what scientists have -- believe is the most likely explanation of where the virus has come from.
SREENIVASAN: So how are they taking that message? Is that something that the Chinese government is sending to its own citizens, saying, hey, this
could be America's fault, or are they trying to send that to American citizens and everyone else in the world?
STAMOS: It's both.
The Chinese propaganda capabilities are quite different domestically vs. foreign. Domestically, the Chinese have what they call the 50 Cent Army,
which -- referred to informally as the 50 Cent Army, which is a group of people who have volunteered to push the Communist Party and the official
And they receive messaging that allows them to flood lots of channels in Chinese language with that messaging. Those people generally don't speak
English or any other language. They are not very effective in pushing propaganda elsewhere.
So, outside of China, you often see these messages being pushed either by the official state media organs, like CCTV, CGTV, Xinhua and with the like,
or by representatives of the Chinese government who are just asking questions on social media.
And the target is sometimes Americans. But it looks like to us that the majority of the English language content that the Chinese state media are
pushing is really meant at the rest of the world.
And it seems like there's -- one of their goals is to erode American soft power and to build up Chinese soft power. They are using this as a
opportunity to highlight the ways that China has reacted well and the United States has reacted poorly.
They're also highlighting the ways that China is exporting aid. And so if a plane lands in a country in Africa, that will be highly, highly touted
across the continent in a variety of languages by Chinese state media of, look, while America flounders, China is helping out the world.
SREENIVASAN: The idea that the United States is responsible for the coronavirus, is that a response of escalation to United States saying that
perhaps the Chinese started this virus in a lab and pushed it out or it escaped?
STAMOS: It's possible.
I don't think you can understand the Chinese actions without also looking at the actions of President Trump to blame the Chinese for the virus in
ways that have not been supported and to try to shift global responsibility onto the country where it initially emerged.
And you're right. I think a lot of this is responsive and is part of their -- it's part of their plan to blunt some of the criticisms from the United
States. And so I do think it's -- there is a certain amount of this that you have to consider fair.
When the president of the United States is able to get on stage and to say things about China that are -- many of which are not true, and then to have
that covered by free media, then there is some need, if you're the Chinese, to fight back with state media or paid media.
SREENIVASAN: Where are the Chinese advertising these messages in the United States?
STAMOS: So, in the United States, they are advertising on social media, mostly on YouTube and Facebook.
And so these companies have policies around covert propaganda. They have policies that you cannot go create fake groups , create fake accounts, push
narratives from fake identities. These identities do not lie about who they are. It says right there that they are Chinese media outlets.
Now, some cases, they're not explicit about their link to the Chinese Communist Party. But any China watcher understands that these are official
media organs. And they are spending money to amplify their message on American platforms.
SREENIVASAN: So, the social media companies are taking advertising from Chinese state actors to spread disinformation?
STAMOS: So, it's not always disinformation, to be clear.
A lot of it is true fact that is manipulated and interpreted in a way that pushes the edge. But we do have to be careful. I would say it's safely
propaganda. But, yes, they are taking money to amplify these messages from Chinese state actors.
One of the great ironies here is that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and all the other major American social networks are blocked by the People's
Republic of China, and so that the Chinese people do not have the ability to go on Facebook and criticize their leaders.
But Chinese state media are able to use Facebook to reach out to the world to push their message. I think there -- that asymmetry is something that
needs to be looked at.
SREENIVASAN: About Facebook -- I know you work there for a number of years -- is there enough incentive for Facebook to take misinformation and
disinformation off the network, regardless of whether it's a state actor or it's an individual or a group that is spreading falsehoods?
STAMOS: Facebook and the other companies have been much more aggressive about taking down speech by actual Americans that they deem to include
dangerous theories about coronavirus.
So, for example, you can't -- you're not supposed to be able to run an ad that says, buy bleach, bleach will -- by drinking bleach, you will kill
And so they have taken those steps on things that are clearly factually inaccurate. But, on this kind of issue, it becomes difficult for them to
have a content-based policy, because the stories, when you look at especially what the Chinese are pushing, are somewhat subtle in how they're
They're not including crazy claims, like eradicating yourself with U.V. will kill the virus. And they are actors who are explicitly who they are.
And so it's kind of finely tuned to go around all the policies that the companies have created to keep them from wading in, from making political
Our position is, in a situation where a country is known to be an autocratic country and is known to be manipulating social media in a way to
control their own populace, in those situations, you can make rules that apply only to those actors, even if the content itself is not that
And I think that's the direction they need to go here is, they need to add another category of propaganda they're looking for not, just propaganda
from fake accounts, not just propaganda that's harmful, but propaganda from actors that are aligned with autocratic states.
SREENIVASAN: Recently, the Federal Trade Commission lobbied a fine, $5 billion, against Facebook. It was just approved. It's the largest fine in
history for the FTC.
But a lot of people look around at any of the financials for Facebook and say, that's relatively a drop in the bucket for millions of people's
information being shared inappropriately through actors like Cambridge Analytica and others.
Does it make a difference?
STAMOS: So, I don't actually agree with the FTC's goal here.
The FTC is supposed to both look privacy issues, but also competition issues. The truth is that the Cambridge Analytica scandal is one of the
most overblown privacy scandals in history. It's somewhat of a media -- the media is very focused on the scandal, and then skipped some actually
Like, last year, we found out that most of the major phone companies in the United States were selling people's GPS locations. This was a story for
like a week. It's still going on today, right? And that's much, much more impactful than Cambridge Analytica.
And the problem is the FTC is chasing the media. They're chasing the story. And the focus on Cambridge Analytica obscures the fact that the APIs that
were abused in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the interfaces to get to Facebook's data, are also the -- one of the only mechanisms by which you
could have a competitive social network.
And so there's a balancing act here between requiring Facebook to keep data private, but then also requiring Facebook to allow for competition to
exist. And that's the balance that I think the FTC has missed in their consent decree.
The amount of money is not what matters. What matters is the rules that they are supposed to follow. And if you look at those rules, they have
effectively created for Facebook a get-out-of-jail-free card for competition, because the FTC has required them not to create mechanisms by
which other companies can access Facebook data.
And as the ownership of that data is the -- is the ownership of the social graph that gives Facebook its dominant position in the space. And so I
think the FTC is actually really aimed in the wrong direction. And it's the mass U.S. media that's driven this by focusing on Cambridge Analytica, and
not all of these other issues that are much more quantitatively impactful in people's lives.
SREENIVASAN: While you're a consultant for Zoom today, you have worked at most of the big tech companies at some point. You have a relationship with
them for years.
Knowing what you know now and having been outside of that for a couple of years, are the tech companies in Silicon Valley better prepared now to
prevent what happened in 2016 from happening again at the 2020 elections?
STAMOS: So, I think the companies are better prepared for exactly what happened in 2016.
The question is, is that relevant to 2020? What we have found in our research is that the Russians have changed how they're acting and other
countries act in very different ways from a propagandist perspective.
So the same Russian groups that used to create hundreds of fake accounts and run them from St. Petersburg will now do things like hire locals to
post under their own names, but to post Russian propaganda.
So one of the reports we have written in the last year was about this kind of activity in Africa, that we found people related to Yevgeny Prigozhin,
who is the Russian oligarch who ran much of the propaganda campaign in the U.S. 2016 election, that his teams are going out, and they are finding
locals in Egypt, in Sudan, in Madagascar, who then are acting on their behalf and are creating content that is culturally and language accurate
and specific, but is pushing pro-Prigozhin propaganda.
And so that is much harder to defeat, right? And that is why I think that companies need to have a much broader view of what propaganda looks like,
and also have to be really careful to work with democratic governments on trying to pull back the veil on these kinds of groups.
The other issue I'm really worried about is the focus of the Russian propaganda in 2016 was about driving divisions in the political positions.
My fear in 2020 is that their goal will be to invalidate the election, that their goal will be to make people believe that the election was rigged in
one way or another.
And I originally thought the way they would do this would be by hacking the election systems. That's something that has not improved that much since
2016. There are good people in the federal government working on this issue, but they don't have a lot of power to get localities and states to
act in a secure manner or to cooperate with one another.
And so we have some fundamental changes that need to be made. It's honestly too late for 2020. This is something that Congress should have taken up in
2017. There were bills, and they were all blocked by the Senate majority leader.
So it's really unfortunate Congress hasn't acted. And so, because of the insecurity of these systems, and the fact that we might have a highly
disruptive election because of COVID -- we are going to have people doing lots of vote by mail, people not showing up in person and doing absentee
because they're afraid of the virus, this creates kind of an underlying unease about the validity of the election already that I'm afraid Russia
and other countries might step into.
SREENIVASAN: Alex Stamos, thanks so much for joining us.
STAMOS: Yes, thank you, Hari.
AMANPOUR: It is actually disturbing to hear Alex Stamos say it's too late to protect 2020.
And, finally, on this program, we have been talking to athletes and artists of all kinds from around the world about finding inventive ways to stay on
top of their game during lockdown.
In Havana, Cuba, photographer Yamil Lage shows a rooftop can be the perfect space to practice, from a dancer finessing a routine, to martial arts
training. Lage also captures this violinist serenading his neighborhood and Cuban pentathlete Leydi Laura Moya showing how important it is to find the
time and the space to keep doing what you love.
That is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media.
Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.