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Interview with Bianca Jagger

Aired May 18, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 30 years, Bianca Jagger has campaigned for human rights, social justice and the protection of the environment. Growing up in Nicaragua, she learned what it's like to live under a political dictatorship and is now committed to speaking out for those without a voice.

Her marriage to Rolling Stones' singer, Mick Jagger in the 1970s put Bianca in the media spotlight and she's used that attention to her advantage, speaking at big events, like the G20 protest rallies. As the founder and chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, she's been supporting tribes in India who say their rainforest home is threatened by an international mining firm. And in Ecuador, she's assisting locals in a legal battle against oil giant, Chevron.

A fierce advocate for communities and individuals in the face of injustice, Bianca Jagger is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: Now working entirely under the umbrella of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, I caught up with your Connector of the Day earlier on and I began by asking her a great question from one of our viewers, Keira, who wanted to know what Bianca thinks is the most -- or the single most important human rights cause.

It's a difficult one.

Here's what she had to say.


BIANCA JAGGER, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Probably that's one of the most difficult questions I've been asked. But let me take the right to life and the death penalty because that is an issue that should not exist today and that should have been abolished and should not be allowed in any democracy today.

ANDERSON: Can I get you to talk about some of the issues that you've been dealing with?

I know you've visited, obviously, in India recently to help support the rights of the Kondh people, for example.

Can you explain what you've been doing there?

B. JAGGER: There is a tribe called the Kondh in Orissa. And they are fighting for the survival against a very powerful mining company called Vedanta. They believe that the mountain where they live is sacred because they live in harmony with this mountain.

So why am I fighting and supporting the Kondh people?

One is the survival of the tribal people. Two is it will affect the environment. Three, it will affect the water sources for many people in the entire region. And one of the issues that I work on with the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation is the importance of understanding that we cannot continue to support irrational exploitation of natural resources at the detriment of indigenous people of tribal people, of communities, because we do that in the name of development.

ANDERSON: Carlos Goya from Managua has written to us. He says: "What is your opinion on the current situation of human rights in Nicaragua, more particularly in regards to Nicaraguans being able to have free elections with clear rules and international supervision?"

B. JAGGER: Well, I oppose and I have denounced the government of Daniel Ortega. He has infringed on many of the civil liberties of the people. But I do hope that we will have fair elections in Nicaragua and that we will be able to have a leader that could bring Nicaragua out of the poverty in which the people of Nicaragua live today.

ANDERSON: Carmen Paun has written to us, asking: "Do you think that humanity will manage to reach any of the millennium development goals by 2015? And if so, which ones?"

B. JAGGER: It is really an embarrassment for the leaders from the developed world that even today, they have not been able to achieve this 0.7 percent of the GDP for the developing goals countries. And I hope that President Obama and I hope that now Prime Minister David Cameron will really get going and will get serious about making the commitment that the millennium development goal will be achieved and will be a reality by 2015. .

ANDERSON: Were you disappointed, though, by the politicians who originally bought into those?

I mean politicians come and go, of course.

B. JAGGER: I am concerned that we continue to pursue policies that continue to endanger the environment, that continue to destroy the natural resources and that continue to make it more likely that one day we will be unable to avoid catastrophic climate change.

ANDERSON: Tumalaca has written in, Bianca: "Why do you still use the Jagger surname?" And he or she asks: "Is it for connecting humanitarian issues with The Rolling Stones?"

B. JAGGER: Well, unfortunately, they're not very connected to humanitarian issues and I wish that Mick will be listening and that he will be doing something, that the next thing that The Stones will do will be about a humanitarian issue or about climate change.

But no, I was born in Nicaragua. And I think it's something to do with my traditional upbringing. There was a time when I thought about it.

And I thought should I change my name from Bianca Jagger to Bianca Perez-Mora Macias.

But I said to myself, it would be very difficult. The media will never take that name. And then Bianca Jagger is a pretty name. And, you know, I have lived more with that name, than with Bianca Perez-Mora Macias. And, therefore, that's what I kept.

ANDERSON: Good for you.

Just a couple more questions.

Simon asks: "How many Rolling Stones' concerts did you see? Which was the best one? Is it true they asked you to become a member of the band and that you were going to play the bongos?"


B. JAGGER: No, unfortunately, I was not asked to be a member of the band. But I think one of the best ones was one of Mick's birthdays in New York. And I remember that I was hiding behind the piano. And then I had some cakes that I was throwing at them and then hoping that they wouldn't get me with the - you know, a cake back at me.

ANDERSON: You were throwing cake.

B. JAGGER: So I think that was one of the greatest concerts that I remember.

ANDERSON: The last question. I want you to talk about your work in the Ecuadorian Amazon, because I know that's also an important issue to you.

B. JAGGER: I went to Ecuador in 2003 to visit an area in the Ecuadorian Amazon that was devastated by Texaco, which today is known as Chevron. They left behind about 1,000 oil pits unlined.

The contaminated water sifts into the water sources and contaminated rivers, lagoons. And they're still contaminated today. And so people drink, bathe and cook with that contaminated water, which has resulted in people suffering from cancer, spontaneous abortion, leukemia. And it has destroyed the area where they live.

But what is interesting and important is that there is a trial ongoing today in Ecuador for about $6 billion. And if Chevron loses that trial, it will send a clear message that companies such as Chevron can no longer act with total impunity and that they will be held accountable for the crimes they committed against the environment and against the people who live in those areas.


ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff from Bianca Jagger for you.

And I must just pause to put Chevron's case across regarding the situation that Bianca was talking about there in Ecuador. In a statement on their Web site, the company says -- and I quote -- "Chevron is fully aware of the challenges faced by the residents of this region and it's sympathetic to their plight. However, Chevron firmly rejects the notion that it should be held accountable for addressing the overall problems of the region caused because the government and the state oil company are unwilling or unable to shoulder their responsibility."

Well, you heard Bianca Jagger discuss her favorite Rolling Stones gig just a few minutes ago. Well, her ex-husband, the band's legendary front man, Mick Jagger, sat down with CNN Larry King to talk about why he is still rocking.


LARRY KING, HOST: How do you account for the longevity of The Stones as a success?

MICK JAGGER, ROLLING STONES: Well, I think that The Stones were very lucky. You know, you always need a lot of luck. And I think that they were in the right place at the right time. And they'll -- and we, you know, are quite -- when we work, we work very hard. So -- and I think, so you need all those things. You know, it's no good just being hard-working. There's lots of people who are hard-working. But you've got to be hard-working on your game and be lucky.


ANDERSON: Mick Jagger -- it's a rare and revealing one-on-one with the rock icon. That is Rolling Stones front man, Mick Jagger, on "LARRY KING LIVE" Wednesday, 10:00 in London, 11:00 in Central Europe, right here on CNN.