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WHO's Annual Meeting Via Teleconference; Independent Investigation into Coronavirus Outbreak; Dr. Atul Gawande, Surgeon, Brigham and Women's Hospital, is Interviewed About Coronavirus Investigation; NASCAR Comeback Race Honors Front Line Health Workers; Interview With Former Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long; Interview With Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired May 18, 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)
DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We must treat this coronavirus with the respect and
attention it deserves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: As blame games and coronavirus conspiracies rule the day, calls for an independent investigation into the outbreak. This and lot more with
the eminent U.S. surgeon and author of "Being Mortal," Dr. Atul Gawande.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Each story will take us on a grand adventure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Family bonding in lockdown. The inimitable Julie Andrews and her daughter on their new podcast bringing our favorite children's books to
Plus, as COVID inflicts deep wounds on Latin America, Hari Sreenivasan speaks to Ecuador's former foreign minister.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London.
Amid an ongoing uproar of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, the WHO is holding an annual meeting in Switzerland by teleconference, of
course, and the director-general said the world has been humbled by a very small microbe and he's renewing the call for unity to defeat it.
But more than 100 countries are calling for an independent investigation into the outbreak and its spread,, putting the United States which has the
most deaths and infections in the spotlight and China, where Beijing has faced intense scrutiny ever since COVID erupted there first. But president
Xi Jinping faced down his accusers insisting the system acted with openness and transparency.
In this rare and exclusive interview with China's leading medical expert, Correspondent David Culver finds an unusual admission of the authority's
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the U.S., many have turned to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert as
that medical voice of reason. In China, it's Dr. Zhong Nanshan, the well- known respiratory expert speaking exclusively with CNN.
DR. ZHONG NANSHAN, CHINA'S LEADING MEDICAL EXPERT: I cannot compare with faucet who is the adviser of the president. Always been standing beside the
CULVER: Perhaps he does not physically stand next to President Xi Jinping, but Zhong has the trust of the China's central government. His advice
sparks near immediate action. Take for example Wuhan's unprecedented lockdown. On January 18th, five days before the city was shut down, Zhong
traveled to the original epicenter of the outbreak, he questioned the local health officials.
NANSHAN: At very beginning they kept silent.
CULVER: Zhong who gained international praise for his work on SARS 17 years ago believed this rapidly spreading novel coronavirus far more
devastating than portrayed by Wuhan health officials.
NANSHAN: I suppose they are reluctant to answer my question. The local authorities didn't like to tell the truth at that time.
CULVER: Publicly, Wuhan health officials as late at January 19th labelled the virus as preventable and controllable. Zhong pressed harder for the
actual numbers and when he got them, he headed to Beijing January 20th, he briefed the central government. And within hours, he was addressing the
nation in this live interview and state-run CCTV. Zhong revealed that human to human transmission was likely. And as proof of that, he said the virus
had already infected multiple medical personnel.
NANSHAN: That's very dangerous signal showing this kind of disease, very contagious. So, I suppose at that time the central government listened to
our command, objection and advice.
CULVER: Within three days Wuhan went into a harsh lockdown that lasted 76 days. Yet even with China's central government now taking the lead, there
is still skepticism over the official numbers. Zhong believes it's partly political and said the Chinese government would not been fit from
NANSHAN: The government had got the lesson from the outbreak of SARS, 17 years ago. They have announced one stat that all the cities, all the
government department should report the true number of diseases. So, if you do not that, you will be punished.
CULVER: What do you believe to be the origin of this virus in particular?
NANSHAN: I think the origin is very difficult to draw any conclusion at the moment. But I believe this kind of disease is originated from animals.
CULVER: U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have said they have evidence that it leaked from a lab, namely the Wuhan
Institute of Virology, an origin theory many international medical experts and even U.S. intelligence say is highly unlikely.
Now, it seems more and more medical experts do not believe that it originated there. Do you feel that with certainty?
NANSHAN: I don't think so. It took up two weeks to make very close and (INAUDIBLE) check-up that prove nothing about that. no. I don't think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the Dr. Zhong's main focus now is preventing a second wave.
In Washington, the White House has repeatedly tried to deflect blame but many say the numbers speak for themselves. 1.5 million Americans have been
infected and nearly 90,000 are dead. Dr. Atul Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and he's a staff writer at "The New
Yorker." His powerful book "Being Mortal" about aging and death has never been more prescient as coronavirus causes all of us to engage with
mortality in a way perhaps we never did before. And Dr. Gawande is joining me from Boston.
Welcome back to our program.
I want to ask you whether you think at this stage it's useful to try to figure out where this virus came from in terms of is it a Wuhan lab, is it
not? What do you think of this call for an investigation, an independent investigation, into the WHO and the rest of it?
DR. ATUL GAWANDE, SURGEON, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: The investigation of the response I think could be useful. I think the lesson, over and over
again, when it -- at the moment when it started to the response over the first few weeks to response today is that when you suppress truth, when you
suppress the facts of when's happening with spread, it ends up harming life, it ends up making matters worse. And we keep to seem to have relearn
that over and over again.
AMANPOUR: So, the secretary of health, you know, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, Alex Azar, said to the assembly, in an apparent
attempt to conceal the outbreak at least one-member state made a mockery of their transparency obligations with tremendous cost for the entire world.
You know, China was not named, you know, as a target of this investigation but it's already, you know, fired back and said, it's premature to
immediately begin an investigation.
Again, what do you think? When you look at this, when you have obviously done a huge amount of observation and research and you're now, you know, in
the mitigation phase in the hospital there, what do you think about its origin? Where do you think it started?
GAWANDE: Well, I don't think we have enough information about the origin. It's clear it came from animals. I think the evidence is that it started in
animal species transferred to humans. There is a lot of inconsistencies about whether it emerged in a wet market or somewhere else in the very,
very beginning. And understanding that and understanding where we went wrong in detection and how we could fix is important.
And then in the response as it spread, then the refusal of the Chinese government in the beginning and the WHO to recognize human to human
transmission was occurring really understanding why that happened. And then even to today, we still are in a phase where we are not always willing to
bring the truth forward and allow public health authorities and clinicians to speak about what they see. So, this is critical.
AMANPOUR: When you say we, do you mean the United States? Because, obviously, there's been, you know, firings, there's been demotions and even
the CDC is being sidelined many say. I mean, this is the world's pre- eminent global sort of medical and scientific location for precisely these situations and pandemics and yet, it's kind of nowhere to be seen.
GAWANDE: Yes. Now, now we're -- in the United States now, I'll say that we here is us. We are the epicenter of disease in the world and we are still
behind on being able to make testing happen, acknowledge that we are short and then create a national strategy to make -- push testing forward, to
have a consistent set of messaging about what it takes to reopen effectively.
You know, we're in this -- we are struggling in a strategy that is not effective. When you shift from saying, OK, we are going to lock down and
contain the disease to saying, OK, now we are going to live with the disease, but then you have the White House saying to the CDC, you cannot
release the 63-page blueprint for averting harm and then water it down to six vague flowcharts that are laid out. People --
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you because you are, you know, obviously at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. In relation to, you know, trying to contain
it, how is it going in Boston, in Massachusetts? And what are your fears with the exiting plan? Have you seen any, I don't know, spikes? Is there
anything that worries you about the current plan in your state?
GAWANDE: Well, so, we're in Massachusetts which has been a hot spot. And I think, actually, I'm quite optimistic about our potential to be able to
reopen gradually and effectively. And the critical part for reason for optimism is, I'm in a hospital system where we have 75,000 workforce. We
have been at work through the pandemic. We're larger than 75 percent of the populations of U.S. counties and we have managed to keep our hospital
setting and the workforce safe.
It is not that it's perfect, but we have kept the hospital from being a source of transmission. How do we do that? There's a basic combination
therapy, a kind of drug cocktail of four things that we have implemented. And when you put them together -- each of them are flawed, but when you put
them together, we're finding it works. And those are social distancing at work, being able to make sure you have proper hygiene, third is screening
We haven't been consistent about doing that in the broader population but we've -- every day I come to work here, I am asked, do I have any of the
key symptoms, including just the sniffles. And if I do, then I need to stay out of work and get a test before I can come bark. And then the fourth
element is masks, and we all wear masks now at work. I've got mine here somewhere. And we're expected to be, you know, when we are out and about,
that's what we're doing. And that has worked.
When we think of translating that into the public, you are now seeing that roll out. You know, on CNN just mentioned, Apple is rolling out exactly
these four pillars, distancing, masks, screening and hygiene. And I have reasons to be very optimistic that can work. We need leadership at state,
federal and international levels that start saying do -- how are we all looking out for one another and making a culture, because fifth component
is, we have a culture here where we are backing each other and supporting each other to make sure that these four things happen.
AMANPOUR: So, that's really important. I mean, you have laid out essentially a game plan for how to most safely live with this thing until
there's a vaccine, until there's some kind of therapeutic. When you look around the wider United States, I mean, what do you think might happen if
others don't do this? Because you can see that there are other states, other areas that are coming out of lockdown but not with the kind of
rigorous five-point plan that you have just outlined.
GAWANDE: Yes. I think it's worrying to me that people have not -- as we come out -- discuss coming out of lockdown, number one, that we're doing it
in many cases prematurely. But even in the places where we are doing it in a graded fashion and waiting for the numbers of cases and hospitalizations
to come down, we are not talking enough about the idea that you have to know how to do each of these things well.
For example, hand washing. It is far more effective that when you have a hand washing at least 10 times a day, every time you go in to a space with
a group of people you should sanitize your hands going in, sanitize going out and every couple hours while you're amongst people in a workforce or
elsewhere. Or to take another example, masks. It is a huge flashpoint. The value of masks is they protect you from me because the way we now know the
virus spreads primarily is when I sneeze, cough, talk, breathe, the small respiratory droplets that get sent out can carry virus, and we are
infectious because we know we have symptoms. So, masks have been a flashpoint.
That said, the evidence so far suggests that if most of us wear masks, so it's 60 percent of us or more wear masks, that are at least 60 percent
effective, which a double layer cloth mask that fits well is, that will shut down the virus. And so, we will yell and scream -- there will be
people who will not follow along. We don't need perfection. We just need to put these pieces together enough that we're able to shut it down.
AMANPOUR: Well, here's a question. Are we -- you, in the United States in a position to not just not have perfection but to have enough to create a
shutting down mechanism? And you talked about leadership and international cooperation. I just want to play a snippet of a speech that President Obama
gave to graduates over the weekend. I mean, most of it was for the graduates but he did acknowledge and talk about the lack of leadership in
the United States. Let's just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FMR PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: More than anything, this pandemic has fully finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so
many of the folks in charge know what they're doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I mean, Dr. Gawande, that is a pretty, you know, harsh indictment from a former president. Obviously, he didn't name names. But is
it a problem? When you talk about masks and the fact that the top leaders are not modeling that, President Trump is not modeling that, and other
issues, is that a problem in a situation which could actually, as you have just pointed out by massive percentages, get this thing under control?
GAWANDE: It is a problem. First of all, you need a president who is not actively encouraging people to flout guidelines, to take off their masks,
to get out into settings when we still have hundreds of thousands of active infections in -- currently in going on in the United States.
And so, it works against the principle that, you know, we are moving to a phase where we're trying to say, we know how to avert harm, need the
leaders to back that capability. You can't be embarrassed about wearing a mask. You can't suppress detailed guidance that helps people know what to
do while at the same time implementing in the White House the rules that everybody should know.
That said, what I've been impressed by throughout this whole process is that in many countries where you haven't had adequate leadership, the
public is learning at an incredible speed. They locked down before many places had shelter in place orders. Florida shut down just as effectively
as Massachusetts. And you saw the curve come down, the curve of deaths, the curve of hospitalizations and you're seeing those bend. And I think the
public responds to whether the virus is actually dangerous still, whether it's out there or not. And people are going to be cautious coming out and
they're actively learning.
I see out on the streets and in many, many communities people are wearing masks, they're learning how to pay attention, right? When you -- if you
have a sniffle, that is an indication that you could have coronavirus and need to stay home. What we haven't gotten good at doing is recognizing
there is more and more testing capacity. Go get a test before you go out in public or into the workplace and wear a mask until you have that, if you
have any kind of mild symptom whatsoever.
AMANPOUR: Can I get back to the work that I named at the beginning, "Being Mortal," your book and the rest of the work you've done on that. And you
examine what it means and how your, you know, theories of care, particularly terminal situations, have evolved over the years.
So, I just want to ask you because, clearly, you know, everybody is in this situation right now. Just give us a -- what is the heart of your kind of
revelations to yourself and what you want us to know about it?
GAWANDE: Here's the thing that you would have thought it wouldn't have taken a book of interviews to find. And that is that people have goals and
priorities for their life besides just surviving. Those goals and priorities differ between people and differ over time and if -- and we need
to ask people what those goals and priorities are in order to ensure that our care that we're providing is not out of line with what actually matters
We around the world ask people who are facing serious illnesses, chronic illness or terminal illness, that we ask those questions less than a
quarter of the time. And as a result, care is often out of line with people's goals and then you get suffering. So, here we are in the middle of
a terrible pandemic, it is most dangerous to people who have a serious illness. My mother is 83 years old and has medical issues of her own. And
we have to have that -- we have had that conversation. What really matters to you? What are you willing to go through? What are you not willing to go
through as you consider treatment? What's the minimum quality of life you consider important?
And the result of that is that it's not about, you know, quantity of life versus quality of life. When you are able to say, I know what matters to me
about my quality of life and want to protect that, the evidence is, you don't end up living shorter. When the treatment aligns with that you care
about, your quality of life, you live at least as long and often longer.
And that matters in this pandemic because as you face the possibility of being infected yourself. Anyone of us, we need to ask, what do we care
about? If we have kids, who's going to -- who would take care of the kids if both parents or you're a solo parent would become ill and you're
incapacitated? What really matters? These things are things we are all starting to talk about.
AMANPOUR: And dignity, obviously, is a big part of this. But I just want to ask you finally because I don't know whether you have noticed, but it is
quite alarming to see every aspect of this politicized, I mean, tribal politicization, including the death figures. Some are saying they are
higher than they should be, others are saying they're lower than they should be. What is your commentary on that and what do you think the actual
death numbers are going to be revealed as, higher or lower than nearly 90,000 that exist right now officially?
GAWANDE: Yes. So, first of all, this goes back to the very beginning of our conversation. Our resistance to hearing bad news is -- can be dangerous
and the reality is that the death numbers are going to turn out to be much higher than we understand. Partly because so few people have been tested
and as we understand -- you know, so that means some people are dying from coronavirus that aren't ending up in the counted numbers. And we're going
to find that those numbers are even higher.
And that is not the end of the world. It just means that is we double down on what we learn doing works and being honest with ourselves. What's
working, what is not working, how bad is it getting?
Hope is not about denying that there is bad news. Hope is about being able to say, I can wake up every day, look at the cards I'm dealt and know I'm
going to be able to make the best of it. And I think we have the ways to do that.
AMANPOUR: Well, that's a good note to end on. Dr. Atul Gawande, thank you so much for joining us tonight. And some of those methods for exiting must
be implemented of course as some states now operate a slow return to normal.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, NASCAR, was officially back on Sunday after a two-month hiatus, called the real heroes 400, the
comeback race honored front line health workers and it is part of a collaborative initiative among a dozen sports leagues called The Real
Heroes Project that pays tribute to medical professional fighting COVID-19. The heroes today, of course.
And now, around the world in lockdown, many are also enjoying some mandated family time and many are turning to books for solace. Every child's
favorite nanny, beloved by families for generations, Julie Andrews wants to help families' bond during these exceptional times. And her famous and
comforting voice has come to Julie's Library, a new podcast where she reads children's books along with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, who's a
children's author and also producer. And they're both joining me now from the respective homes in New York.
Julie Andrews, Emma Walton Hamilton, welcome to the program.
JULIE ANDREWS, ACTRESS AND AUTHOR: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Can I start by asking you -- it's good to talk to you again. We spoke a little while back when your latest memoir that you did with your
daughter Emma, "Homework" came out and we're following the conversation now. Who knew we would be talking in this situation? So, tell me, Julie,
first, what made you go to this library? Sorry?
ANDREWS: Well, in fact, Christiane, this was something that Emma and I had been planning. We were going to do a podcast for children's entertainment
and hopeful partial education and joy quite a while ago. But because of the virus and it was brought forward and escalated a little bit, and it's up
and running and hopefully, helping families have some entertainment time with their children and maybe grandparents are joining in. I don't know.
But it is not just children's stories. It is everything to do with bringing children into the podcast. Emma, I'll let you explain a little bit about
that if you want. You'll take it from there.
EMMA WALTON HAMILTON, ARTS EDUCATOR AND CHILDREN'S AUTHOR: Sure.
AMANPOUR: Emma, before you do -- sorry. Go ahead.
HAMILTON: No, no.
AMANPOUR: No, I just want to put it out there that, you know, there are a lot of prime ministers and leaders who have actually specifically addressed
children. You know, the prime minister of New Zealand, the prime minister of Norway, they have actually held news conference for them. They've talked
about the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny being essential workers. So, it's really relevant, Emma, and I wonder, you know, whether you can expand
on that and the kind of work that's gone into this podcast.
HAMILTON: Absolutely. Thank you. It is really relevant. Children are -- as we all know, are experiencing the effects of this extraordinary time as
much as adults, perhaps even more so. And what we're hoping to do in addition to providing, as mom said, some entertainment and some joy is to
provide an opportunity for some social, emotional conversation and learning.
And so, the books that we choose and that we read, we also have conversations about, and we have guests who we invite into the library to
speak with us about the social/emotional themes in the book and invite children to call in as well and share their ideas and favorite words and so
forth. So, our hope is that the impact of the podcast is sort of multi- directional.
AMANPOUR: And, Julie, we talked about, you know, hoping to help people bond. I mean, this is a time when kids and parents and grandparents of all
sort of generations suddenly got locked down together in many cases, not everybody. I know you two are separated. But it's kind of a wonderful time
for families, this sort of gift of time to be able to bond. I wonder if that's part of what sort of drives you in this that helping families' bond
and being the sort of facilitator?
ANDREWS: Well, I'm wondered actually if we're getting back to some basics again that maybe we lost for a while because it is making us think and
rethink what family bonding is all about. I'm sure it's -- at times I know with my own daughters and their children, it's stressful, with young ones,
particularly, having them home and keeping them entertained.
But I do think it's rather wonderful that getting back to sharing again, things that you can talk about afterwards and discuss. I do think it's
lovely that those kinds of things that are at the moment in full force it seems and I'm so happy that it's being picked up or that people enjoy it. I
think I would enjoy -- I'm looking for product myself. Glued to my television. And you.
AMANPOUR: And -- yes. Emma, I wonder because -- obviously because of the situation that you grew up in, your parents separated and divorced, and
there was a period of time when actually were separated, you know, from coast to coast and now, you're separated, as well. Just talk to me a little
bit about, because you remain incredibly close, you collaborate professionally. You're obviously very close as mother and daughter. Perhaps
draw on some of your experiences as a kid being separated from your mom for a while that might comfort kids today.
HAMILTON: Well, it's interesting, Christiane. When I was a child and my parents were newly separated, one of the things that my mom did was she
came up with the idea that she and I would write a story together and I would then bring it to my father during the holidays when I went to visit
him for him to illustrate, and after which mom would bind it together for me as a sort of cherished family memento that suggested that we were still
a family even though we weren't together anymore.
And many years later, that book became one of the books that we revisited and published together. And so, I think it's probably no accident we
continue to be creative together. And I think that to the extent that families can look for opportunities to have creative time together, whether
it's writing a story or drawing pictures or listening to a podcast or cooking together or gardening together, just general creative together
time, I think it's so, so important now more than ever.
AMANPOUR: I mean, talking about creativity, you probably know the great relationships experts, Esther Perel, and I had her on the program a few
weeks ago. And she actually addressed, you know, the kids' role in today's crisis. Let me just play a little bit and we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ESTHER PEREL, RELATIONSHIP THEREPIST: Children are our guides in this moment. They are able to continue to understand that freedom in confinement
comes through our imagination. They are talking to dragons, they are talking to kings, they are talking imaginary people all the time. We need
to access our imagination because that's the one place where we are currently not confined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It's an amazing way to put it. And, Julie Andrews, you have been, you know, creatively and imaginatively this inspiration for kids for
generations and for families. And I wonder what kind of stories you're telling and what you think of Esther Perel saying kids and that kind of
imagination, you know, hopefully are guiding families right now.
ANDREWS: To who are you addressing the question? Both of us?
AMANPOUR: You, Julie. No, i'm asking you, what kind of stories of fantasy and imagination that you are trying to tell.
Well, we're sticking mostly in our particular podcast to picture books. It sounds unusual, but fairly recent within the last 10 years picture books.
It's complicated, because, of course, so much of our picture books are the designs and the beautiful illustrations.
But we search for books that we can capture vocally, and then with sound effects and music and discussion afterwards, hopefully bring those books to
life, and then maybe children will be interested enough to go out and try to find the book.
And they are always available. We always make sure of that. It's an absolutely fascinating process to go through the books and find the ones
that we feel do make a contribution.
But whether it's through reading or even walking in your garden with your children and discovering what colors are lying under the bushes or growing
or noticing things is all part of what that wonderful woman has just said. The imagination is your freedom.
And I'm really thrilled to be a part of that. And I know Emma is too. We're passionate about children's books and words and the magic that they bring.
We have been doing it now for about 20 years, Christiane. So, this is just an offshoot of a lot of things that we have been doing for quite a while.
AMANPOUR: Before I get back to Emma, I just want to ask you about the tech quality of what you are doing.
Did you know how to set all this stuff up? We have a great picture of, I think, a closet or something where I think your grandson helped you just
start doing these podcasts in isolation. How did that work?
ANDREWS: I'm in my office, but I -- in fact, my grandson has -- for recording purposes, we were recording at a nearby very wonderful sound
But because of the virus and everything shutting down and being careful, we decided to try and do it from home. Well, there's all kinds of things, as
you well know, like bounce-back and all the things that matter in terms of sound.
And so my wonderful grandson, Emma's son Sam, built me a little recording studio in one of my closets. And it's -- I go in there, and I'm completely
surrounded by everything from throws and blankets. And then the closet is stuffed with pillows and a desk and a microphone.
And I go in and kind of swaddle myself, so that there's no sound problems. Works absolutely fine. And I think Emma's in a similar closet in her house.
But we do let ourselves out once in a while, and thought a lot about it, but it works, believe it or not. The things you can find when you really
have to make do is amazing. And thank God for Sam..
AMANPOUR: Exactly. You have to make do with a little help from your grandson. That's great.
Emma, you co-wrote with your mother her autobiographies, her memoirs, "Home" and "Home Work."
And, obviously, there are a lot of stories about -- this -- people are portraying as a war, this battle against virus. But your mom was 9, I
think, when World War II ended.
From your perspective, as a kid, when you were growing up, what stories did she tell you about that previous dramatic, you know, battle that either
resonate now? Or how did you think of them when you were a kid growing up?
EMMA WALTON HAMILTON, ARTS EDUCATOR AND CHILDREN'S AUTHOR: Well, they were very much a part of the fabric of my childhood.
Both my parents grew up during the Blitz and had very specific stories of air raid shelters and, you know, doodlebugs flying overhead, and, of
course, the story that my mom tells in her memoir about being appointed the person in her little town to sit atop of her air raid shelter with a
whistle and blow it soon as she could hear that doodlebug approaching.
So those were stories of my childhood absolutely. And what I think I took away and understood most from those stories was the resilience that having
lived through those times gave to my parents.
And both of them today talk about how similar this time is, living with the unexpected, the idea that you never know what is going to happen, and, you
know, living in that kind of fear of the unknown.
And I hope that one thing that mom has talked a great deal about is that, when the war ended, there was this phenomenal celebration where, you know,
people just poured out into the streets and lights were turned on, and it was -- you could make sound and express joy.
And I very much look forward to a moment like that in our current situation. I hope it happens.
ANDREWS: And, Christiane, if I may...
AMANPOUR: That would be great.
ANDREWS: ... add to what Emma is saying is that I think, actually, Emma, you said to me, by helping with the first memoir especially, that you
learned so much more about the war that you really hadn't -- you had heard it from me, but hadn't really heard about the other things that happened.
And I think it was a bit of a revelation for you, wasn't it, darling?
WALTON HAMILTON: Well, it certainly was. It made it that much more personal, of course.
AMANPOUR: I'm really glad that you're talking across me. It's brilliant.
ANDREWS: Yes. Sorry.
AMANPOUR: It's brilliant.
I wish we could go on.
AMANPOUR: It's good. It's good.
ANDREWS: ... so similar to the bonding during those days in the war. And it is wonderful that we do come together like that.
AMANPOUR: Yes. It is a great lesson.
Thank you so much, Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. Thank you very much for joining us.
And we are going to turn now to a country battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreak in Latin America. Bodies are dumped in the streets in
Ecuador, as the health care system faces near collapse, and funeral homes struggle to cope.
Guillaume Long was Ecuador's foreign minister. He was also ambassador to the United Nations. He's currently a senior analyst at the Center for
Economic and Policy Research.
And he's speaking to our Hari Sreenivasan about Ecuador's unfolding crisis and the challenges facing Latin America, as coronavirus grips that region.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Christiane.
Guillaume, thanks for joining us.
First, give us an update. Where is Ecuador in this pandemic now?
GUILLAUME LONG, FORMER ECUADORIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, Ecuador, I think, is one of the worst cases of COVID-19 in Latin America.
It has certainly the highest rate of infection per capita. And, obviously, it's a smaller country in Latin America than other giants. So, in absolute
terms, it has less amount of cases. But in relative terms, it is huge.
And, in fact, even the Ecuadorian government is starting to recognize in indirect ways that, you know, its official figures are way under-reported.
And we are probably talking five or six times more deaths from COVID-19 than the actual figures that have been reported.
And the way to look at that into more detail is by looking at the average, average of the death toll, average that you would have normally had for
these months, so essentially March and April, and comparing it with the national death toll that you're having right now.
And you're having, you know, five, six times, even seven times more deaths than you would normally have in a normal year. So it's a real tragedy. It's
been not just a sanitary crisis, but a mortuary crisis, because the system collapsed, and now a little bit more under control.
But it's a major tragedy, particularly in Guayaquil, the city Guayaquil in Ecuador, which was the epicenter over this phenomenon.
SREENIVASAN: The images that we saw several weeks ago from Guayaquil just so stunning to anybody on the planet that started to watch them.
It seemed that there was such an intense fear that people had, even the funeral parlors had, of dealing with the bodies, where people were
literally left on the side of the road.
LONG: This has to do with a number of factors.
I think, certainly, the government was late implementing the right kind of measures. And there was a lot of flip-floppings. But then there are more
kind of long-term factors as well. So, institutions have been collapsing over the last couple of years.
There have been big major budget cuts in the health system, with -- we don't exactly know the exact number, but probably around 10,000 health
workers laid off in the last couple of years, major cuts in the health budget.
It's actually been accompanied by an IMF structural adjustment program reform, so questions to be raised there, and then a general lack of
leadership. And then, as you said, fear kicked in. Fear kicked in, particularly in the funeral parlors. A lot of them closed down, shut their
doors, stop attending people with the deceased, the member -- with deceased family members.
And so this created this kind of snowball effect. The state didn't intervene in these funeral parlors, didn't act on time, and before long,
you had people with bodies in their homes, and then bodies on the streets, and then bodies at the entrances of hospitals and malls, and so on and so
Eventually, the government created this task force to deal with this phenomenon, but it was too little too late. And, you know, hundreds of
bodies were abandoned on the streets of Guayaquil, which is a terrible tragedy. And Guayaquil being a sort of southern tropical city, with often
temperature in the high 90s or low 105 Fahrenheit, kind of 30, 40 degrees Celsius, it made the problem worse.
SREENIVASAN: The IMF has approved close to $650 million for Ecuador.
How do you make sure that that money gets to the people who need it?
LONG: Yes, so the original plan of the IMF was over $4 billion.
And over the last few months, Ecuador's not been able to deliver the kinds of reforms that the IMF was asking for. You may recall there were huge,
historic protests in October of last year against the IMF program. So the IMF program has been very unpopular in Ecuador.
This meant that the Ecuadorian government wasn't able to deliver the kind of reforms that the IMF was expecting. And so money has been slow trickling
in to Ecuador. Now there's this new offer of a few 100 million in order to deal with the crisis itself.
But Ecuador is in a really awkward spot right now. It promised IMF reform. It hasn't been able to deliver it. And it's kind of been abandoned by the
people, because it's the most unpopular government since -- probably since the democratization of Ecuador in 1979, with a government that probably has
-- and we will have to see what the latest figures are, but depending on the pollster, between 10 and 15 percent approval ratings, 7 percent
So, abandoned by the people from below, if you like, but also abandoned them from big capitals from above. So, lenders, the IMF, nobody really
trusts this government anymore. And this is the worst-case scenario for a government facing this kind of -- well, this pandemic and this crisis.
SREENIVASAN: Your economy, I think, had maybe 2.2 percent GDP growth last year. The IMF is expecting possibly a 6.3 percent drop this year.
How does Ecuador get through this, with already such a weak economy, with essentially two months of decreased productivity?
LONG: Yes, I mean, it has to be extremely creative.
It has to go for major non-cyclical policies. It's got to free liquidity from the central bank. It's got to break a few taboos, unfortunately. It
hasn't -- it's been late in paying state workers, public civil servants. But it's been very quick at paying bondholders, right?
And this is something that goes beyond Ecuador. There have been several calls from Latin America, from the region for a moratorium on debt
repayment, for the issuance of SDR, special drawing rights. The IMF seems to be in favor of that. This would mean several billion for the region, $6
billion for Ecuador, probably $20 billion for Argentina.
Without these things, it's going to be a disaster in Ecuador and in Latin America at large.
SREENIVASAN: Let's talk a little bit about the politics here too.
I mean, former President Correa was recently convicted on bribery charges. He's in Belgium. He denies these charges. But he's also prohibited from
coming back into the country. He's going to be arrested if he returns.
So, on top of a pandemic, you still have some political uncertainty here. What has to be done to try to move the country forward?
So, I think the main goal of the Moreno administration has been to try and avoid a Correa comeback, right? So they have done this through essentially
the judicialization of politics and trying to nail him for what I would think most serious jurists have considered to be bogus charges.
And they try to speed the process up, because September is the deadline for the presentation of candidacies for February 2021 elections. And if Correa
manages to president its candidacy, he can't run for the presidency, because Moreno has already managed to change the constitution barring him
from doing that, but he could run for vice president, he could run for Congress.
And if he manages to enroll for the February 2021 elections, then you're going to have an emboldened political party, Correa's political party, with
him on the ticket somehow. And this is what Moreno wants to wants to avoid.
So, before September, they have to make sure that he has a guilty verdict, which -- beyond appeal, because right now Correa can still appeal. And that
would definitely bar him from running. It would take away his political rights for 25 years.
So, it's a race against time. They are really speeding up the whole process. So, the judiciary in Ecuador is under lockdown right now because
of COVID-19, and yet the Correa trial is going forward.
SREENIVASAN: I should point out for audience that you worked with the Correa administration.
Do you feel any sense of responsibility for any of these long-term problems that Ecuador's had that go past the administration that's in power now?
LONG: I mean, sure.
I mean, I'm -- I feel that we made a great mistake in choosing current President Lenin Moreno as Correa's successor, because, at the end of the
day, he comes from our party. So, yes, there's a great sense of responsibility there.
But in terms of the policies themselves, it's been a U-turn. It's been a 180-degree U-turn. The health budget has been slashed. Everything we were
kind of doing has been reversed. So, I don't think we have that responsibility, per se.
I mean, the new government came in, and they did what they thought they should do. And, unfortunately, it's been pretty disastrous.
SREENIVASAN: Now, President Moreno in another departure from his predecessor, has tried to make nice with President Trump.
He met him in Washington, is in talks with a trade deal. Is it working?
LONG: I don't think it's working, because President Trump has little to offer Ecuador right now. There's been no significant increase in aid and
SREENIVASAN: The administration will say, hey, we just sent down a bunch of ventilators. That was asked for.
LONG: Yes, I think that's, you know, sort of very meager help, compared to what Ecuador was expecting from cozying up to President Trump, right?
So, I don't think this is really significant help. I think the United States is facing a difficult situation itself right now. And I think the
Ecuadorian government could be asking for other things. For example, it could be asking for a suspension of deportation flights right now.
There have been a number of deportation flights to Ecuador. But, sure, it would be risking the rest wrath of the Trump administration. Right now, I
don't think the United States is playing a key role in supporting Latin American countries through the pandemic.
On the contrary, it's actually exporting COVID-19 through these ICE air flights, more than 260 ICE air flights in the last three months or so,
during a pandemic, with a lot of deported Latin Americans being infected with COVID-19, being deported back to their home countries, which is a
SREENIVASAN: So, has the United States deported COVID-positive people back to Ecuador?
LONG: Yes, so, in Ecuador, we don't have any concrete information, because the government appears not to have been testing. The people who are
deported, arrive in Ecuador don't seem to have been tested. So we don't really have information there.
But we know that, elsewhere in Latin America, deportees coming from same detention centers where Ecuadorians have been held have tested positive.
So, the best example is Guatemala, where deported Guatemalans have been testing -- tested upon arrivals, up to 64 percent of them testing positive
in two successive flights landing in Guatemala.
That's a huge amount of -- Guatemalans are saying that up to 20 percent of Guatemalans infected with COVID-19 came from the United States as
deportees, right? This is a huge amount.
So there's no reason to think that this is not the trend throughout Latin America. These detainees come from an ICE detention center across the
United States, where we know, because there's been also a number of samples that have been taken, there's roughly a 50 percent ratio of these peoples
that are in ICE detention centers infected with COVID-19, living in largely cramped -- in close proximity with each other, in cramped conditions, which
means that spread of the virus has been a big problem.
It's been large -- it's been widely reported in the United States there has been a big problem in ICE detention facilities.
SREENIVASAN: You were ambassador to the U.N. for a while. What does the funding, or lack thereof, from the U.S. do to an agency like the World
LONG: Yes, so it's a terrible blow to the WHO.
U.S. funding to the WHO is around $400 million a year. So, its -- WHO budget is around $2 billion. So, $400 million is a huge amount. It's a
fifth of its overall budget.
And it's the worst time to do it, because if the WHO a role to play, it now that it has to play. So, certainly, I think it's rather cynical on behalf
of the Trump administration to be doing this right now, particularly saying the WHO was slow in responding, when even after the WHO had declared a
public health emergency, the Trump administration was saying, this is not a big problem, when, actually, the Trump administration was still kind of
engaging with this kind of negationist approach to the problem.
And even after the WHO declared it as a pandemic, you saw the Trump administration trying to minimize the risk.
So, I think it's particularly ironic and particularly cynical on behalf of the Trump administration to attack WHO in these terms and to cut budget
right now. And I think it's fundamentally for domestic political gains.
The Trump administration is going to use COVID-19 pandemic to attack foreign agents and try to make this a foreign problem, focusing on China
and also on the WHO.
I think this is campaign mode, and this is the only reason why it's happening.
SREENIVASAN: Does the U.S. administration have a legitimate concern over those the WHO's kind of soft-gloved approach to China, when it did matter
LONG: Again, I think it could have -- it could have more legitimate criticism of the WHO if the U.S. had actually heeded what the WHO said from
the beginning, right?
So it's hard to say, you were too slow, when, when they actually did say something, the U.S. ignored it, right? So there's a great deal of cynicism
Now, there's a debate as to whether WHO was too soft on China or not. I mean, we can have this debate. WHO is not a perfect organization. I know
quite well. I was, as you said, an ambassador to the U.N.
But, right now, the WHO is playing a crucial role, particularly in the developing world. For Latin America, the WHO role is very important, and
it's now that it needs the most amount of funding. If it needs to be reformed, let's reform it.
But if we want it to be more successful, we're not going to need more -- less funding -- sorry -- for the WHO. We're going to need much more funding
for the WHO, because $2 billion a year is really nothing, in the context of the kinds of threats that we're seeing the WHO is going to be facing
increasingly in the future.
SREENIVASAN: When you look across the region, does the pandemic threaten, I guess, democracies overall?
LONG: Yes, I think that's a major risk.
Last year was punctuated throughout the region by widespread protests against what I would call right-wing governments, but some of them have
very right-wing governments, right, the Bolsonaro government, I would argue the Moreno government in Ecuador, the Anez government in Bolivia, and so on
and so forth, Haiti, the Moise government.
And there were a series of unprecedented protests in Latin America, certainly the biggest protests in my generation in Ecuador, huge protests
in Chile that were ongoing for months. This was unprecedented in decades.
And so a lot of these governments have felt threatened. And I think several of them have probably maximized the possibility, the opportunity that's
been afforded to them by the lockdown, the different types of states of emergency that have been decreed, the curfews.
A number of countries have got curfews, right? In Ecuador, there has been a curfew from 2:00 p.m. onwards. Nobody can be out on the streets. And that
certainly demobilizes people politically.
You're even seeing countries delaying elections. In the case of Ecuador, the elections are planned in February, but the government is already trying
to say, well, maybe February is too soon. This is highly suspicious, right?
So I think a number of governments are trying to maximize this crisis for political gains as well and cracking down on the opposition, certainly.
SREENIVASAN: Guillaume Long, thanks so much for joining us.
LONG: Thank you for having me on your show.
AMANPOUR: That's very worrying.
And also, in Latin America, Brazil has the worst outbreak in the region, with more than 240,000 cases.
Last week, we had the ousted health minister on the program to talk about accusations of incompetence against the Bolsonaro government's handling of
Now we learn that his successor has resigned, as cases continue to spiral upwards.
And, finally, today is International Museum Day. It's a time to celebrate the importance of the arts. So many cultural sites have closed, of course,
because of the pandemic, but some are starting to reopen their doors, from St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, to the Acropolis in Athens, to art
hubs in Berlin and Paris.
Meanwhile, Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum is bringing a Rembrandt masterpiece commonly known as The Night Watch to our homes. This digital image is the
largest and most detailed photograph ever taken of the nearly 400-year-old painting, which shows a local militia group. And it's considered one of
Rembrandt's most famous works.
That is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcasts, and across social media.
Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.