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YOUR WORLD TODAY
U.S and Mexican Presidents Holds News Conference; Subprimes Head South
Aired March 14, 2007 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The U.S. president set to conclude his tour of Latin America, but clearly, he hasn't made a believer out of everyone.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: In Zimbabwe, an opposition activist is hospitalized and in intensive care. What really happened to Morgan Tsvangirai?
We'll have a live report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It burst that bubble. It's like it took that pin of discrimination and sexism and ageism and went pop.
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CLANCY: Once upon a time, you couldn't trust anyone over 30. But these days, gray hair is where it's at.
CHURCH: Well, it's noon in New York and 10:00 a.m. in Mexico City.
Hello and welcome to our report broadcast around the globe.
I'm Rosemary Church.
CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.
From London to Los Angeles, Hong Kong to Harare, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.
CHURCH: Hello there. We are awaiting a live news conference from the U.S. and Mexican presidents in Merida in just a few minutes from now. And we will of course take you there as soon as it gets under way.
CLANCY: That's right.
And also, we're keeping an eye, of course, on the U.S. financial markets. They continue to be difficult to gauge.
They've been up and down this morning. You see now the Dow industrials trading about 35 points below break-even level. It's been seesawing all day.
We'll have a report amid all this concern about the U.S. housing market.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm worried, because it seems that problem with subprime mortgages are spilling over to the general economy.
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CHURCH: Well, depending on where you live, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Very few countries have mortgages like Americans do, and it's just a small minority of Americans that have the kind of deals that are doing all the damage.
Jonathan Mann has some insight.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: All of a sudden, the news is full of talk of subprime mortgages, mortgages designed for people who have substandard credit. And the subprimes are heading south.
They are mortgages like the NINJA. NINJA stands for -- well, not one of those -- someone who has no income, no job, and no assets. NINJAs don't stand a chance in a regular bank, but some can buy houses with a subprime.
So can people who need to really stretch to make their rent. Stretch mortgages are another subprime designed for people who bend over backwards and use as much as half of their paychecks to make their house payments.
Or, then there are liar loans, also known as no-doc mortgages, which are designed for people who don't want to offer any proof or documentation of their income. Would you lend money to someone like that? Well, people are.
Just have a look at what big institutions are doing. U.S. lenders did just over $150 billion worth of business in subprime mortgages back in 2001. The number just kept going up.
It went up in 2002, it went up again in 2003. And look at that. It's just about doubled.
Then it went up more in 2004, doubling again in 2006. By then, it was four times what it had been just four years earlier.
Impressive numbers, but in a slowing economy, subprimes are the first to default. And default is what we are all seeing now. And the numbers are stunning in their own.
Gerri Willis explains.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The subprime home mortgage market continues to be a source of weakness.
(voice over): You've heard the news. You've seen the headlines. But how did this happen and what does it mean?
A 30-year fixed rate mortgage used to be the staple for buying a home, but in recent years, with interest rates low and the housing market booming, lenders have lowered their lending standards, creating a wave of new products for eager homebuyers. Adjustable rate mortgages have become commonplace in the industry and are used most extensively for subprime loans.
Adjustable rate mortgages, or ARMs, enable subprime borrowers, those with tarnished credit records or fixed income, to get into the market because of lower short-term rates. Usual one, five or...
MANN: We're going to break into that report and go back to Jim.
CLANCY: All right. We're going to take you directly now to Mexico, where the U.S. president, George W. Bush, is, along with Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president, speaking now.
Let's listen to what they have to say.
FELIPE CALDERON, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): As leaders of sovereign nations, we have talked in a respectful environment and a cordial environment about very diverse and complex issues of our bilateral agenda. We coincided in sharing our co- responsibility, which now more than ever happened to be a shared responsibility.
We reiterate our commitment with democracy, with the defense and respect of human rights, the promotion of free trade, with the rule of law, security, sustainable development; and, in particular, our fight against poverty.
From this platform of understanding, we have covered in detail each of the issues of our bilateral agenda. I would like to express my gratitude to President Bush that we have talked so openly, with the sincerity and respect of both countries that are not only neighbors, but they are pursuing to do what true friends should do.
We have talked, for example, about the strengthening of a task force that will be directed to the transition of full trade of sensitive products such as corn and beans.
We talked about the need to cover the phenomenon of migration as a factor of prosperity for both nations -- orderly migration process. And we acknowledged the effort that President Bush in his administration is doing in order to promote within the Congress a comprehensive migratory reform that will acknowledge the rights of the migrants and workers, that will allow orderly and legal programs for temporary jobs and will allow the reunification of family ties.
We have expressed our concern for protecting and guaranteeing human rights of those who cross the border -- and, above all, about the enormous relevance of generating, in Mexico, opportunities that the citizens need for their development.
We shared the need of having a safe border that will close the gates to drugs, arms and terrorism and that will open its doors to trade, prosperity and trade.
Our borders should be a tightening and closing point.
The borders should bring us together and not separate us.
For this, we are considering the possibility of establishing new cross points and border bridges that will speed up the transit of goods and people.
Both presidents have agreed to coordinate, in a better way, our actions in order to confront organized crime on both sides of the border.
Mexico and the United States are nations that are joined together in the pursuit for better levels of well being for its people. We do have the means and, in this meeting, we have seen the political will in order to reach shared goals.
I'm fully convinced that, from this visit on, we will be able to start a new stage of the relationships that take place between Mexico and the United States.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: In the past few days, a very -- a series of friendly and very productive meetings -- that's what the people of our respective countries expect.
They expect people to work out differences in a constructive way. They expect leaders to seize opportunities for the benefit of our respective peoples.
And the spirit is very strong, to work together. I appreciate so very much the fact that, during our meetings, we reaffirmed the values of democracy and transparency and rule of law that guide both our countries.
We discussed ways to make our nations safer, both nations safer and both nations prosperous.
President Calderon is taking a tough stand against organized crime and drugs, and I appreciate that.
I made it very clear to the president that I recognize the United States has a responsibility in the fight against drugs. And one major responsibility is to encourage people to use less drugs.
When there is demand, there is supply. And to the extent, Mr. President, that we can continue to make progress to reduce drugs, it will take pressure off of Mexico.
So we have a responsibility. Mexico has a responsibility as well, and the president is working hard on that responsibility and we agreed to work together.
Mexico's obviously a sovereign nation, and the president, if he so chooses, like he has, will lay out an agenda where the United States can be a constructive partner.
And the other place where we can work together is in the region. And so the president, who is a very strong leader in Central America, for example, will work with the United States and the Central American countries to develop a regional plan. To be successful in Mexico -- it could be transferred to the south, in which case we wouldn't have the security we would want.
So, Mr. President, thank you for your leadership on this issue. I'm looking forward to working with you on it.
We talked about the economy. My view is, is that when Mexico grows, the United States benefits.
And obviously, to the extent, Mr. President, you're able to put forth you're innovative policies, we applaud your efforts. I appreciate so very much some of the innovative ideas that you're putting forward.
As I said last night in the dinner, I appreciate very much the fact that you're focusing development in the south of your country.
Obviously, there's a lot of discussion about trade. People in my country are concerned about trade. People in Mexico are concerned about trade. There are strong protectionist sentiments in the United States. I will work, Mr. President, to reject those protectionist sentiments, because I believe trade is one of the best avenues to help common prosperity.
And any time we have trade relations, there will be complications. And I pledged to the president that we would work together to ensure a smooth transition to full trade in dealing with sensitive issues, such as corn and beans.
Education is an important issue that is -- for our two countries. And I appreciate your commitment to strong education.
The United States can help. I am a big believer in student exchanges between our two nations, on both sides of the border.
And one reason I am is because I think it's, you know, important sometimes for people to gain -- gain an accurate perception of my country by coming to my country.
I love the fact that students travel back and forth.
Mr. President, this morning I met with some students that are funded through USAID programs who have come to the United States to take different courses in different subjects and then have come back to Mexico to lend the expertise that they have gained to improve the communities in which they live. This is a vital program that the United States must continue, in my judgment, in order to help people realize the great benefits of education.
We spent a lot of time on -- on the important and sensitive issue of migration.
I say sensitive because obviously this is an issue that people can use to inflame passions. I say important because a good migration law will help both economies and will help the security of both countries.
And the reason I say that is that if people can come into our country, for example, on a temporary basis to work, doing jobs Americans aren't doing, they won't have to sneak across the border.
And by the way, a system that encourages people to sneak across the border is a system that leads to human rights abuses.
It's a system that promotes coyotes and document forgers. It's a system that allows for the exploitation of citizens who are trying to earn a living for their families.
And so, Mr. President, as we discussed, I will work with Congress, with members of both political parties, to pass immigration law that will enable us to respect the rule of law and at the same time respect humanity in a way that upholds the values of the United States of America.
I appreciate your hospitality. It's been a very warm greeting, Mr. President. I thank you and your good wife for being so kind to Laura and me.
I look forward to future conversations. Muchos gracias.
CALDERON: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
QUESTION: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
CALDERON: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
QUESTION: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
BUSH: Thank you for the question.
We spent a lot of time talking about Mexico's role in the world. Mexico is a respected nation. President Calderon is a respected leader.
But our conversations focused on democracy and rule of law and prosperity and how to improve the lives of our fellow citizens. We spent time talking about social justice and concern for the poor.
One of the reasons I've come down here again is to remind people in this important part of the world that the United States cares deeply about the human condition; that we spent $1.6 billion of bilateral aid last year, most of the money going to social justice programs.
And that doesn't include programs like the one I saw in the highlands of Guatemala where our military was providing basic health care for citizens.
So, Mr. President -- Mr. President and I spent time talking about how to advance a hopeful agenda, one that will lift the spirits of people.
And I respect the role Mexico plays. I mean, Mexico will lead diplomatic efforts for the common security and common prosperity, and that's an important role.
CALDERON: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you. The attorney general acknowledged yesterday that...
BUSH: Hold on, Roger. The world wants to hear your voice.
QUESTION: Thank you.
The attorney general acknowledged yesterday that there were mistakes in the firing of prosecutors. What's his future in your Cabinet? Do you have confidence in him?
And, more importantly -- or just as important -- how effective can he be in Congress going forward when he's lost a lot of confidence among Democrats and who doesn't have many defenders among Republicans?
BUSH: I do have confidence in Attorney General Al Gonzales. I've talked to him this morning. And we talked about his need to go up to Capitol Hill and make it very clear to members in both political parties why the Justice Department made the decisions it made; make it very clear about the facts.
And he's right. Mistakes were made. And I'm frankly not happy about them because there is a lot of confusion over what really has been a customary practice by the presidents. U.S. attorneys and others serve at the pleasure of the president.
Past administrations have removed U.S. attorneys. It's their right to do so.
The Justice Department recommended a list of U.S. attorneys. I believe the reasons why were entirely appropriate.
And yet this issue was mishandled to the point, now, where you're asking me questions about it in Mexico, which is fine. I mean, if I were you, I'd ask the same question.
This is an issue that -- and so -- let me just say, Al was right. Mistakes were made. And he's going to go up to Capitol Hill to correct them.
I appreciate the fact that he's taken some action, because any time anybody goes up to Capitol Hill, they've got to make sure they fully understand the facts and how they characterize the issue to members of Congress.
And the fact that both Republicans and Democrats feel like that there was a -- you know, not a -- not straightforward communication troubles me and it troubles the attorney general. So he took action, and he needs to continue to take action.
QUESTION: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
BUSH: They talked about (inaudible).
Excuse me. I wasn't there.
BUSH: No, that's a legitimate question. And the question is, why now? Why do I think something positive can happen?
Well, first of all, the legislative process takes a while in the United States. I don't know about Mexico, Mr. President, but sometimes legislators, you know, debate issues for a while before a solution can be achieved.
And we had a very -- by the way, we haven't had a serious debate on migration until recently.
The law was passed in 1986 and then there really wasn't a serious debate until pretty much starting after the year 2000, if my memory serves me well.
I've always known this is an important issue, because I happen to have been the governor of Texas. And so, I'm very comfortable about discussing the issue, and have elevated the issue over the past years.
And members of Congress have taken the issue very seriously. But it's hard to get legislation out of the Congress on a very complex issue. A lot of Americans were deeply concerned that the United States was not enforcing our laws. They felt like there wasn't a commitment to the rule of law.
Over the past year, I believe we have shown the American people that there is a strong commitment to the rule of law.
And I think members of Congress are now feeling more comfortable that the country's committed to rule of law, which then makes some more open-minded to my argument, which is that if we can have migration reform, it'll make it less likely somebody will feel like they have to sneak across our border and, therefore, take pressure off the border.
In other words, security for the country, border security, will be enhanced by a good migration law. And then it'll make it easier for us to focus our assets on drugs, terrorists, criminals and guns moving both ways.
I believe -- I feel pretty good about it. I must -- you know, I don't want to predict legislative successes, but I can tell you my mood. And my mood is optimistic because the mood in the Congress seems like it has changed from skepticism last year to knowledge that getting a comprehensive bill will be in the nation's interests.
Secondly, I'm optimistic because Republicans in the Senate are working with Democrats in the Senate. We're facilitating that work. The administration is very much involved with helping the senators find common ground to the point where we move a bill as quickly as possible out of the Senate so it gets to the House of Representatives.
I'm a -- I'm not a betting man. I don't like to bet because, when I do, I usually lose.
But I'm an optimistic man in this case about getting comprehensive reform. And a bill is in the interests of both countries.
CALDERON: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President, President Calderon.
On the dismissal of U.S. attorneys, there have been allegations that political motivations were involved.
Is political loyalty to your administration an appropriate factor? And when you talked to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last year, what did you say and what did you direct him to do?
BUSH: Thanks. I've heard those allegations about, you know, political decision-making. It's not true.
Secondly, just so you know, I get asked -- I mean, I get complaints all the time from members of Congress on a variety of subjects. A senator, congressman, congressperson so and so -- and there's, you know, there's occasionally frustration with the executive branch. And they will pull me aside and say, you know, "Are you aware of this?
"Are you aware of that?"
And I did receive complaints about U.S. attorneys. I specifically remember one time I went up to the Senate and senators were talking about the U.S. attorney. I don't remember specific names being mentioned.
But I did say to Al last year -- you're right; last fall. I said, "Have you heard complaints about A.G.s? I have" -- I mean, U.S. attorneys, excuse me.
And he said, "I have."
But I never, you know, brought up a specific case, nor gave him specific instructions.
QUESTION: But might he have inferred that your discussing it with him was a need for him to take action?
BUSH: You're going to have to ask Al that question. But, as I say, I discuss with my Cabinet officials complaints I hear. Members of the Senate come up and say to me, "I've got a complaint," I think it's entirely appropriate and necessary for me to pass those complaints on. Now, I don't every single time.
But I -- people view their moment with the president sometimes as an opportunity to unload their frustrations about how things may be working in their state or congresspersons, how things may be working in their district.
And whether it be the attorney general or the secretary of state or other members of my cabinet, I pass those complaints on at times.
And what Al did was and what the Justice Department did was appropriate. U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president. In other words, they're appointed by the president. They can be removed by the president.
What was mishandled was the explanation of the case -- cases to the Congress. And Al's got work to do up there.
And the thing I appreciate about the attorney general was he said publicly -- you know, that they could have handled it better, mistakes were made, and took action. And, obviously, more action needs to be taken. That's what I discussed with him on the phone today.
CALDERON: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
BUSH: No, no, hold on a second. Excuse me, Tony.
One reason I didn't bring up energy is because energy is -- it belongs to sovereign Mexico. And I'm confident that the president will make the best interest for -- for the people of Mexico, working with the Congress.
In terms of opening up NAFTA, renegotiating NAFTA is a mistake, in my judgment. NAFTA has worked. And there is a mechanism in place that the president just described about how to resolve sensitive issues.
There will be sensitive issues on a frequent basis when it comes to trade. And the best way to resolve those is through negotiations and discussions, recognizing the sensitivities on both sides of the border.
But trying to renegotiate a treaty that has been incredibly important for both sides of the border, in my judgment, would be a mistake.
You don't want to weaken NAFTA; you want to make sure it stays strong in order that prosperity continues to expand and people benefit on both sides of the border.
QUESTION: President Bush, you said the other day that you want to, first -- on immigration, want to first find a coherent Republican position in the Senate.
Most Senate Republicans voted against last year's bill in the Senate. What changes are you willing to make? And would you be willing to forego a path to citizenship as part of that bill?
President Calderon, it's been reported you have relatives working in the United States. What have you learned from their experiences? Do you know -- do they want to become citizens? And do you know: Are they there legally?
BUSH: The -- what was your question again? -- no.
Michael Chertoff and Carlos Gutierrez are negotiating with Republicans, helping Republicans find common ground. And this isn't the appropriate place to be conducting negotiations.
It is the appropriate place to talk about the spirit of moving the bill forward. And obviously we would like to be able to convince "No" voters that it makes sense to be for a comprehensive immigration policy.
I feel strongly that it's in our interests -- national interests -- to get a bill done.
BUSH: That's why, after all, I gave the address to the United States from the Oval Office on this very subject.
And the -- you asked about amnesty. Look, amnesty's not going to fly. There's not going to be automatic citizenship. It just won't work. People in the United States don't support that, and neither do I. Nor will kicking people out of the United States work. It's not practical. It is not a realistic solution. Some may articulate that, but it's empty talk.
And so, therefore, there's got to be a middle ground, a reasonable way to deal with the 12 million or so people that have been in our country for a period of time. And that's where a lot of the discussions are taking place.
And I think we can find a rational way forward, somewhere in between automatic citizenship and kicking people out of the country.
It's in our interest we do so. I mean, we are a nation of law. And therefore, if we can change the law for the better, we ought to do so.
And so, Mr. President, back to the man's question, over there, I'm optimistic. But he helped -- his question was somewhat insightful -- very insightful -- because what he pointed out was the legislative challenges that we face.
He also made it clear in his question that the administration is very much involved with working with Republican senators to help find common ground between Republican senators and Senator Kennedy, who is emerging as the lead senator on the Democrat side.
I will tell you, if we can find that common ground, we have a very good chance of getting the bill out of the Senate, because Senator Kennedy is one of the best legislative senators there is. He can get the job done.
I know firsthand, because we reformed our education system, Mr. President, with his help in 2001.
Not to slip in another issue, but we do need to get No Child Left Behind re-authorized, I'm looking forward to working with Senator Kennedy on the re-authorization.
CALDERON (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Yes, I do have family in the United States, and what I can tell you is that these are people who work and respect that country. They pay their taxes to the government. These are people who work in the field, they work in the field with vegetables. They probably handle that which you eat, the lettuce, et cetera.
These are people who respect the United States. These are people who have children, who want these children to be educated with respect for the land where they live and with respect for Mexico.
I am from Michoacon. And in Michoacon we have 4 million, 2 million of these Michoaconos are in the States. We want them to come back. We want them to find jobs here in Mexico. We miss them.
These are our best people. These are bold people, they're young, they're strong, they're talented, they have overcome tremendous adversity. We're working so that they can come back to their country someday.
And I'm saying this for all Mexicans, not only those Mexicans that I am related to by blood, by land, soil, air.
And I want to say that I am fighting so that instead of having our people cross the border to find work, we want investments to cross the border and come over here. The U.S. economy is capital-intensive.
We are labor-intensive. We can give democracy to our people if we find sound basis so that we could also find those factors which can give jobs to our people.
I have said this and I will continue to say this. I hope -- and I hope that some day everybody will believe as I do. I believe in work. I believe that I will see all of these people coming back and embrace them, knowing well that we live in countries that defend liberty and freedom.
Thank you so much to all. Have a nice day.
CLANCY: There we see the hand shake. President Felipe Calderon leaving the stage first, followed by U.S. President George W. Bush.
A lot to talk about. A very interesting press briefing there. But the headline is not going to be about trade, it's not going to be about Mexico. It's going to be about fired U.S. attorneys, prosecutors who lost their jobs because the attorney general let them go.
That debate really renewed there with the president coming out and just saying, mistakes were made, I'm not happy. Clearly very troubled by all of this. And clearly saying that he's sending Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, right up to Capitol Hill, to answer some questions and reassure people.
And the president there denying there was any political motivation for any of this.
CHURCH: That's right. But at the same time, standing by Alberto Gonzales, his attorney general. But then on the other side, he said that he has received complaints about U.S. attorneys, interesting slip of the tongue there where he said he's received complaints about the attorney general.
But interesting, so that was one side, the headline that came up. Of course the other side, immigration, saying that he was going to push that comprehensive immigration law through. But we've heard a lot about that.
CLANCY: We certainly have. And one of the Mexican journalists put it to him very bluntly, saying, how can, or why can Mexicans believe that this reform would take place, because they saw before -- six years ago, President Bush sat down with former Mexican President Vicente Fox, he made the same promises, he wants to get this legislation through.
He said, he's not a betting man; he's not going to go out on a limb for all of this. But at the same time, he says he has a belief that because it's in the national interest of the United States, that a comprehensive reform bill would come in. The president's not even sure - he's not even taking a position here. He said, first of all, there won't be any amnesty. And then he said, neither will kicking people out work.
And those are the two extremes in this discussion, looking for a middle ground always.
CHURCH: He's very optimistic, though, isn't he? And thinks it's going to benefit both countries. We're going to take a short break now. We'll have more of YOUR WORLD TODAY after this. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Hello, everyone, welcome back. In just a moment, we are going to go to our Elaine Quijano in Mexico. This just after we've watched that press conference between U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
But just want to bring out the big board just for a moment, have a look at the markets. We see there the Dow down 87 points, and now this takes the Dow down below the 12,000 mark for the first time since November. So, we're keeping our eye very firmly on that. And we'll keep you updated on the movement there, down 92 points there. All right, over to you, Jim.
CLANCY: All right, we just saw that move while President Bush was standing alongside President Felipe Calderon of Mexico. They were talking about trade; they were talking about a lot of things.
Let's bring in our White House correspondent Elaine Quijano, now, she's in Merida and she has been with the president. How is all of this playing out down there? We saw that they tried to, at one point, draw the president in, talking about what was really going on with Hugo Chavez, the president didn't have any of it. How would you assess this trip overall?
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting to note, Jim, that at a time here in Mexico specifically when President Bush is already facing a skeptical audience here about his political clout back in Washington, and particularly his ability to get an immigration deal done in the United States Congress, he is having to answer on the road here in Mexico, questions about a domestic political controversy.
President Bush being asked at that news conference just a short time ago about how the U.S. Justice Department handled the firings of several U.S. attorneys, and specifically, about how Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the top law enforcer in the United States, law enforcement official in the United States, handled the situation.
Now, this is a controversy that has been brewing for some time. But President Bush being asked about that today, being asked specifically about whether or not he has confidence in his attorney general. Here is now President Bush responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I do have confidence in Attorney General Gonzales. I talked to him this morning, and we talked about his need to go up to Capitol Hill and make it very clear to members in both political parties why the Justice Department made the decisions it made, make it very clear about the facts, and he's right, mistakes were made. And I'm frankly not happy about them, because there is a lot of confusion over what really has been a customary practice by the president. U.S. attorneys and others serve at the pleasure of the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP) QUIJANO: Now, just to give a little bit more background for people who may not be familiar with how this works in the United States, as the president noted, U.S. attorneys, prosecutors, do serve at the pleasure of the president.
But there have been questions swirling about whether or not the firings of these U.S. attorneys was in fact politically motivated. And as a result, some members of the U.S. Justice Department who testified on Capitol Hill, we are now learning, perhaps did not provide the full picture of the communications that took place between people within the White House, and people within the U.S. Justice Department.
And so now, the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales has come out, as President Bush noted and said that mistakes were made. President Bush under a tremendous amount of domestic political pressure to respond to this. The White House, in fact, yesterday taking the unusual step of putting out the counselor to the president on camera, Dan Bartlett, to talk about some of these controversies and the president of course did not want to be focusing on it at this point in time, Jim.
As you know, immigration, other issues, the strengthening of the relationship between U.S. and Mexico, all of that was supposed to be the president's focus. This was going to be an opportunity for the president to demonstrate that, in fact, he wants to focus more attention on Latin America, but clearly being dogged by questions back in Washington -- Jim?
CLANCY: Well, I'm wondering, too, and correct me if I'm wrong because I was listening there. At the very end, when we talked about getting through a comprehensive bill, you know the rank and the bitterness that has been involved in this whole immigration debate. And there, the president of Mexico, Mr. Calderon, being pointedly asked, do you have any relatives living in the United States that are illegal aliens? The president didn't deny it. He said yes, they're working there, they're working with their hands, they're paying taxes, and they're respectful of the country. But he didn't say they were legal. Where did that come from?
QUIJANO: Well, you know, it's interesting, because I heard that, as well. And this is the dilemma that President Bush does often cite, is that what do you do if in fact there are people who are already within the United States borders and who perhaps, not suggesting that I know about President Calderon's relatives, but what do you do with people who may be in the United States illegally?
The president, President Bush has said time and time again, it is just not practical to simply deport the millions of people. But what you are seeing there, certainly is an interesting dynamic, because President Calderon, as you know, noting his conversations with President Vicente Fox, his predecessor.
There were many here in Mexico who were quite disappointed to see that the relationship between President Fox and President Bush yielded nothing in the way of comprehensive immigration reform. President Calderon has wanted to shift the focus away from just the immigration issue itself, but clearly a sensitive, sensitive issue, as President Bush himself noted today -- Jim?
CLANCY: All right, Elaine Quijano there. Fascinating story on immigration and trade, but all overshadowed by U.S. domestic politics and that controversy over the fired prosecutors. Elaine, thanks for putting it perspective for us.
CHURCH: Well, to Zimbabwe now. And first we saw him battered and bruised. Now we're learning more about what happened to Zimbabwe's main opposition leader in the latest government crackdown on. Morgan Tsvangirai, who's hospitalized, in intensive care, says police beat him repeatedly on the head, back and arms. Aides say he's undergone a brain scan for a suspected fractured skull. Tsvangirai and dozens of activists were arrested Sunday after police broke up a prayer rally. His party spokesman described the scene to us at a police station that day.
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WILLIAM BANGO, MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE: They were pushed into an open area where there were about 50 others there, being assaulted with an assortment weapons, and they were targeting him. So they slashed him there.
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CHURCH: Well, many countries are condemning the police actions, including neighboring South Africa, which usually avoids direct comment on Zimbabwe's affairs. Jeff Koinange is following the story from Johannesburg.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Battered, bruised and bloodied. That is how South African newspapers described the condition of the leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai was arrested at a prayer vigil Sunday, along with about 40 other opposition figures. The government says the meeting defied a ban on political gatherings. He says he was repeatedly beaten in the head, back, knees and arms by police.
Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, was later rushed to the hospital in Harari, where he is in intensive care. Doctors say he has a suspected fractured skull and lost a lot of blood. His lawyer says his injuries are serious.
OTTO SAKI, ATTOREY: He is undergoing quite a number of scans and tests within the hospital to ascertain the extent of injuries that were suffered. There are some reports that some of the members that we've had in custody were beaten up by the police, they may have to have limbs amputated. They have infections in some of their joints. There are all sorts of reports that for as long as we're able to get a final say from the doctors, we're still very much concerned with the information that we are receiving.
KOINANGE: The international community has reacted with outrage to these images. Among the most vocal, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who demanded the immediate, unconditional release, calling President Robert Mugabe's regime ruthless and repressive.
Rice's statement continued: "We hold President Mugabe responsible for the safety and well being of those in custody."
Zimbabwe's southern neighbor South Africa issued a much milder statement, calming on President Mugabe's government to ensure respect for the rule of law, but not condemning it.
(on camera): South Africa's almost hands off approach to the situation in Zimbabwe has angered many here, who would prefer to see Africa's economic and military powerhouse being more proactive. South Africa though insists on what it calls a quiet diplomacy, referring to work behind the scenes to encourage reform rather than directly confronting Robert Mugabe.
(voice-over): Right now, that approach is not much comfort to Morgan Tsvangirai and his colleagues. Jeff Koinange, CNN, Johannesburg.
CLANCY: All right, that's our report for this hour. Stay tuned, if you are watching us in the United States, Don Lemon and Kiran Chetry are going to be along in just a moment.
CHURCH: That's right. I'm Rosemary Church, we have more for you. For the rest of our audience, more of YOUR WORLD TODAY.
CLANCY: Thanks for being with us.
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