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Mexican Drug Cartels, Vigilante Groups, Mexican Authorities Clash In Bloody Violence

Aired February 5, 2014 - 15:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: And tonight, deep inside Mexico's deadly drug battle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): As we told you, we are a necessary evil. Unfortunately -- or fortunately -- we are here. If we weren't, another group would come.


ANDERSON: We take you to the very heart of a ruthless drug cartel to learn how a teacher became one of Mexico's most wanted men. And the human costs behind the soaring violence. How some of the communities that has suffered most are fighting back.

A very good evening from Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson for you. A cold-blooded murder, crystal meth and a voluntary band of vigilantes who decide to take on a notorious drug cartel that's wrecked havoc on their home state. It may sound like a story straight out of the movies, but in Mexico's Michoacan, that is the reality of daily life.

It's in that western state where for the past year citizens have confronted the tyranny of the Knight's Templar, an organized crime group that not only controls the production of crystal meth, but also engages in large-scale extortion. And that has prompted the Mexican government to act.

Last month, it deployed thousands of troops to the region hoping to establish some sort of central authority over the citizen militia there. And on Tuesday, President Henrique Pena Nieto announced a multi-billion dollar investment plan for the region to tackle some of the root causes of the problem as he sees it. But the government's carrot and stick policy may be too little too late.

Tonight, Guillermo Galdoes, a reporter for Britain's Channel 4, brings us face-to-face with the tragedy of Michoacan and introduces us to the man leading the Knight's Templar, Sovando Gomez. Also known as La Tuta he is a former school teacher turned crystal meth drug lord.

And a warning that some viewers might find graphic images in this report distressing.


GUILLERMO GALDOS, CHANNEL 4 NEWS: It's early evening. We're driving through the lawless state of Michoacan on our way to meet one of the most wanted men in the whole of Mexico. I wanted to investigate this state that's effectively ruled by a drug baron. His name is Servando Gomez. His nickname La Tuta.

He leads the notorious Knight's Templar drugs cartel. They have carried out thousands of gruesome murders among people who don't opey their rules.

La Tuta is on the run, $2.5 million on his head. A former school teacher who turned to cooking crystal meth, he's Mexico's answer to Breaking Bad.

As we arrive, all cameras are turned off. Then, there he is whiskey in hand and a gun in his back pocket. He insists we talk in front of a white board to disguise his hideout.

The atmosphere is tense. We are surrounded by heavily armed guards. So, I try to make some small talk.

(subtitles): "Breaking Bad" means turning bad in English. And for me, it's one of the best TV series ever.

SERVANDO GOMEZ, KNIGHT'S TEMPLAR LEADER (subtitles): Listen, if you knew hot it is made, you'd think the people who take it are really stupid. It's made from acid, the acid from car batteries.

GALDOS (subtitles): Yes, it makes your teeth fall out.

GOMEZ (subtitles): Everything falls out.

I repeat -- we are not going to fix the world. And that's business. There are people who dedicate themselves to business. But we all know that this is business.

GALDOS: Despite its beauty, the state of Michoacan is riddled with violence. La Tuta rules here like an unofficial governor. This is his kingdom. Everything has been corrupted. The Knight's Templar rule through a mixture of fear and intimidation.

Thousands have died.

Even the Catholic Church is afraid.

MONSENOR JUAN ESPINOZA, MORELIA DIOCESE: (subtitles): All those who live and work here in Michoacan live in fear. It's a fear we all have. We don't trust anyone. We feel fear when a van comes towards us or when strangers approach. Of course it scares us. And some of my brother priests have suffered difficult situations because of the organized crime.

GALDOS: With guns and money, La Tuta has a bizarre celebrity status. Despite being on the run, he makes the occasional public appearance. He hands out money to the mothers. With money, you can buy entire towns here.

GOMEZ (subtitles): Ever since I was a little boy, I was always altruistic. My mother told me 35 years ago that I would never have any money because I was always giving it away.

As we told you, we are a necessary evil. Unfortunately -- or fortunately -- we are here. If we weren't, another group would come.

GALDOS: La Tuta's web stretches from the capital in Morelia to the vast sea port of Lazaro Cardenas on the western coast. Although the port is in government hands, the cartel still does business here with the export of illegal iron ore. We secure rare access to a mine run by the Knight's Templar. We spoke to one miner who told us about their clients.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): The companies that are exporting the minerals are Chinese. They know the minerals are illegal, but they found their own little pot of gold. The companies you call illegal sell the minerals to legal companies so it can be exported.

GALDOS (subtitles): So they launder the minerals?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): Yes, they do.

If it's $13 million per ship, and we have around 30 ships per year, imagine how much money that is.

GALDOS (subtitles): And how much of that money is going to organized crime?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): 50 to 75 percent.

GALDOS (subtitles): It's a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): Yes.

GALDOS (subtitles): So they make more money from iron than they do from drugs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): Of course, of course, of course.

GALDOS: Astonishingly, La Tuta confirmed that he does do business with the Chinese.

(subtitles): What do you think of the Chinese?

GOMEZ (subtitles): Like everyone, they have the right to do business and expand their markets. Or to create more employment or more industry. The Chinese have some huge transnationals. They are really tough (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

Not one Chinese businessman has been kidnapped.

GALDOS: The Knight's Templar are entrenched in every aspect of the state economy. But in some villages, ordinary citizens are fighting back. They had enough of the cartel and its cruelty. They call themselves self- defense units. In other words, armed vigilantes protecting their communities because they say the corrupt local police are failing to do it. They're enemy is La Tuta and his men.

(subtitles): La Tuta?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): La Tutal.

HIPOLITO MORA, SELF-DEFENSE UNIT LEADER(subtitles): How can someone who chops off heads be well? Someone who blackmails, who robs honest people, a man who kills women and children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): Our movement began because of the Knights Templar.

MORA (subtitles): Look what we've achieved in just eleven months without training, without intelligence. We've advanced a lot.

GALDOS (subtitles): How many towns have you taken back?

MORA (subtitles): About 15.

GALDOS (subtitles): How do the self-defense units finance themselves?

MORA (subtitles): With some lemon farms. They were abandoned by the Knights Templar. The lemons have a good price nowadays. Without help from any cartels or drug traffickers.

GALDOS (subtitles): Do you think you can finance this war with lemons?

MORA (subtitles): Yes.

GOMEZ (subtitles): And if they say that the problem is me and the Knights Templar, and that we are responsible for everything that is happening in Michoacan, well, let the federal and state institutions take action against us and establish the rule of law. We completely agree with that.

GALDOS: Over the past few months, Michoacan has descended into anarchy. In mid-January, the government finally acted. The army and the federal police were sent in to the state to stop the violence and disarm the vigilantes, exactly what La Tuta wanted.

They vigilantes refused to give up their guns. The army opened fire. And that's why today, in the village of Antunas (ph), they are burying their dead.

The victims, two men, shot, their families say, by the Mexican army.

The dead are serenaded like war heroes. Lining their route, is a guard of honor and members of the vigilante groups. Their weapons are proudly on display.

Everyone here is against La Tuta and the Knights Templar.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitles): Oh, my boy, my beautiful boy.

GALDOS: It's a village united in grief. They feel they've been totally abandoned, caught between the government and the Knights Templar.

Rodrigo Perez (ph) was 28-years-old. His grieving mother Juana (ph) told me about the day her son died.

JUANA PEREZ AVILES, VICTIM'S MOTHER (subtitles): It was about 10:30 when the shooting began. People started running and no one knew what to do. People started running and no one knew what to do. I started looking for him. I saw a woman carrying him. I didn't understand at that moment. The only thing I saw was that it was my son.

I don't think I will be able to cope with this pain. When do you think I will see my son again? Never.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (subtitles): Daddy. Daddy. Please, don't leave me.

AVILES (subtitles): Don't go, my little boy. My boy. My boy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (subtitles): These people gave their lives for Antunez. That's why we want justice. The town of Antunez wants to be free.

GALDOS (subtitles): What would you say to the leader of the Knights Templar?

AVILA (subtitles): If I had him in front of my, I would say, sir, don't be so cruel. Don't spill so much blood. I wouldn't want him to feel this pain.

GOMEZ (subtitles): I don't want to fight with anyone. We want peace and tranquillity. We don't want to be the people who are blamed for causing problems in Michoacan. The problems in Michoacan are caused by self-defense groups and vigilantes. They are creating the situation. They are stealing, blatantly.

GALDOS: My audience with the man who runs Michoacan was coming to a close.

(subtitles): How is it that a teacher ends up where you are?

GOMEZ (subtitles): It was a healthy, honest job. But for me, with my hyperactive nature and aspirations, it wasn't satisfying. That's how things worked out, and here I am.

GALDOS (subtitles): How does it feel to be one of the most wanted men in Mexico? Are you scared?

GOMEZ (subtitles): As a human being I'm scared. Be sure of that. I what I represent and what I am. And one day something will happen to me. If we've made mistakes, I ask for forgiveness. I know that even if I apologize, not everyone will forgive me.

Yes, I am a criminal, and I know they won't forgive me.

GALDOS: Her agony is Mexico's agony. To date, more than 100,000 people have died because of the drugs war in this land. La Tuta is still at large. The vigilantes and the army are still looking for him. One might wonder why they haven't found him yet.


ANDERSON: Coming up next, are vigilantes the only solution? We'll explore what other actions can be taken to tackle Mexico's drug crisis with Anna Maria Salazar who is a former head of anti-narcotics at the U.S. Defense Department.


ANDERSON: You're watching Connect the World live from Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson. Welcome back.

Now tonight we are bringing you a never before seen look into the murky and violent world of drug cartels in Mexico. And the people who have taken it upon themselves to take a stand. We introduced you to this man, La Tuta, a former teacher turned drug lord now leading the Knights Templar cartel. His group dominates the economic and social life of the entire state of Michoacan.

And to discuss the significance of tonight's report and what it tells us about the reality on the ground I'm joined by CNN's Rafael Romo who has also met with the vigilante groups in Michoacan and seen the way that they are fighting back.

Rafael, good to have you with us.

What's the scale, the scope of these vigilante groups, these self- defenders as they call themselves?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have a presence in at least 20 communities in the Mexican state of Michoacan. They have organized. It all started about a year ago with the town of Antunez, the town that I had an opportunity to be in a couple of weeks ago.

And to understand where the vigilantes come from, Becky, you have to understand what they had to endure for half a decade. And what they were telling me is that the traffickers would come up to them and say for every box of limes that you sell you have to pay me an amount of money. For every square meter of your home you have to pay me an amount of money. For businessmen, for every so much money of profit you make every month you have to pay me money.

And the last straw, Becky, and this is something that it was very difficult for me to hear, somebody told me they would come to somebody's home and say I like your wife. I'm taking her. And oh, by the way, I like your daughter too. I am also going to take her away. That, Becky, was the last straw. That was the moment where the vigilantes could no longer stand the situation and decided to take up arms and fight the cartels. And many of them die trying to fight them, Becky.

ANDERSON: Rafael, why can't the authorities find La Tuta?

ROMO: That's the question that the vigilantes have. They told me, I have -- this is the vigilante speaking -- we have told the government where they are, we have told where they're hiding, and they don't come to pick him up. And the main challenge for them right now is returning the properties that the cartels took from the people.

I had an opportunity to talk to Hipolita Mora. He's one of the main leaders of the vigilantes. And this is what he told me, Becky.


ROMO: Hipolita Mora is the leader of yet another vigilante group that is currently recovering properties the drug cartel took from the rightful owners.

"We're keeping this movement alive with the same resources the Knights Templar used in the past to attack us," he says.

When asked if he's afraid to die.

"I'm not afraid," he says. "We're all going to die anyway."

The same morning he spoke with us, a town resident came to personally say thanks to Mora.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they're doing the right thing. I think it was a very brave thing to do, because they stood up for everybody.

ROMO: Grace Vigas (ph) says Mora and his people recovered the lime orchards that the drug cartel had taken from her family.


ROMO: Now Mora told me for years and years and years we asked the federal government to come and help us and they ignored us. And Becky, they said it was not until the situation exploded and we had this explosion of violence in the state of Michoacan that they finally ended up doing something.

ANDERSON: So, the president sends in thousands of army troops last month, still can't find La Tuta, even though these guys on the ground tell you that they know where he is. Guillermo was able to talk to him for his report that we saw earlier on in this show.

The president also announcing a multi-billion dollar investment plan for the region to, as he puts it, tackle some of the root causes of the problem there. Is this government's carrot and stick policy, do you think too late?

ROMO: Well, the main problem here, Becky, is that the level of corruption is to a degree that is very hard to understand for an outsider.

For example, many of the federal police officers who were serving under the previous administration of Felipe Calderon were in fact on the payroll of not only the Knights Templar cartel, but maybe other cartels in other parts of Mexico. And so when intelligence came in telling the government where a drug lord was hiding, that information circled back to the cartel before the government could do anything.

And so when you have a situation like that, when you don't really know who is who and who is your enemy and who is your friend, it is very difficult to catch these people.

Now we're talking about a multi-national business, drug trafficking I mean, of $30 to $50 billion. So just that should give you an idea of the power they have to corrupt Mexican officials, Mexican military and the Mexican federal police.

So it's a problem that Mexico is slowly but surely beginning to tackle, but this is only the beginning, Becky.

ANDERSON: OK. We're going do more on this story in this hour. For the time being, Rafael thank you very much indeed for joining us.

We are going to take very short break. Back after this.


ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from Abu Dhabi. Here this hour, the headlines.

Today was the deadline for Syria to remove virtually its entire chemical weapons stockpile. That hasn't happened, not even close. An international watchdog says Syria has shipped out only 4 percent of its arsenal. Syria says it is still committed to seeing all of its chemical weapons destroyed by mid-year.

Dozens of families separated by the Korean War are expected to be reunited later this month. Officials from the North and South Korea agreed today to hold the reunions. They are set to be held between February the 20th and the 25th.

Fierce winter weather continues to batter large parts of the US northeast and Midwest regions. A state of emergency has been called in New York. Around 120 million people are affected, and three more significant weather systems are expected to blanket the same areas over the next ten days.

Well, police have arrested four people who may be connected to the drugs found in the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment. During the raid, they uncovered 350 bags that usually contain heroine. The actor was seen withdrawing large amounts of money from several ATMs the night before he died, and investigators found close to 50 bags of heroine in his New York home.

Tonight, we've been bringing you a never-before-seen look at the murky and violent world of drug cartels in Mexico. Cold-blooded murder, crystal meth, people who've taken it upon themselves, as well, to take a stand against cartels.

We introduced you earlier this hour to this man, La Tuta, a former teacher turned drug lord, crystal meth man, now leading the Knights Templar cartel. His group dominates the economic and social life of the entire state in Mexico of Michoacan.

This crisis extends well beyond the state of Michoacan, though, and the solutions to it shouldn't be limited to vigilante groups, self- defenders, as they call it. To find out how deep the problem is, I'm joined, now, from Mexico City by Ana Maria Salazar. She was US President Clinton's special envoy for the Americas and headed the US Pentagon's anti- narcotics unit for some time.

I asked this question of our reporter earlier, and I'll put it to you. Why haven't the authorities found La Tuta yet?

ANA MARIA SALAZAR, FORMER US DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR DRUG ENFORCEMENT: Let me just, before you go on, I was the assistant to the US special envoy for the Americas. You kind of gave me a raise.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

SALAZAR: But I did work --

ANDERSON: Thank you.

SALAZAR: -- I did work at the White House at one point.


ANDERSON: All right. You know your stuff. Go on.

SALAZAR: Why haven't they caught --


SALAZAR: Why haven't they caught him? Well, there are a couple of reasons. One, they're very powerful. These are among the most dangerous and violent organizations in the world. They would be a threat or challenge for any major democracy in the world. I would even say if they were in the United States or in England.

ANDERSON: All right.

SALAZAR: Two, they -- control the state of Michoacan. And when you exercise control, it's very difficult -- I mean, you let whoever you want in, and you let whoever you want to record you. You saw this video --


SALAZAR: -- which is very, very disturbing. So, it's -- and there aren't authorities strong enough in Mexico up until now that really can go against them within the rule of law. Now, if you declare war --


ANDERSON: All right. And --

SALAZAR: -- if you declare an insurgency, you would have maybe some of the legal tools to do it, but Mexico won't do that.

ANDERSON: Let me just stop you there for a moment, because you brought up a very good point. And the question simply is this: how was this allowed to happen? There are many in Mexico who are convinced that the authorities to some degree are complicit with these cartels.

And quite frankly, when a reporter for a British news network is able to find and have a chat with La Tuta, the head of Knights Templar, and yet the authorities not only can't find him but are actively rounding up those trying to defend themselves from the cartel, then it's easy to see --


ANDERSON: -- where that school of thought comes from, isn't it? How do you explain the army's --


ANDERSON: -- lack of success in netting these guys? Come on.

SALAZAR: Absolutely. You get -- there are two or three layers of problems here. The first layer, of course, you have the local authorities and the local police, municipal police, who traditionally had been working with these organizations.

Then you have the federal police, who at different points have been coming in and out. And now you have the army, which has been increasing their presence in the last couple of weeks.

Things have changed in Michoacan, I would say, in the last three weeks because of this statement by the president and this program that they're trying to implement. The president, in fact, was in Michoacan yesterday, trying -- kind of announcing this huge program.

So, things have changed, but you are absolutely right. The only way you can explain the violence and the power of these organizations is that at different points, these organizations have been receiving support, if not by local authorities, by federal authorities.

ANDERSON: Yes. All right. Let's get a sense of the scale of this problem before we continue. Let's have a look at the numbers. Mexican president Felipe Calderon decided to launch a war against the various drug cartels in 2006, you'll remember. That strategy --


ANDERSON: -- coupled with infighting between the cartels --


ANDERSON: -- themselves has led to 100,000 deaths across the country, most of them innocent civilians. Let me just give our viewers these other numbers, Ana Maria. One of the main reasons for Mexico's drug crisis lies outside its borders to the north, namely the massive demand for drugs in the US.

Ninety percent of all the cocaine that enters the US goes through Mexico. The country also a main supply of marijuana and meth in the US. And just in the past couple of days, we've all been reporting on the media the spike in heroine that's making its way north across the border.

That insatiable thirst for drugs in the US translates into a lot of cash for these cartels. They make between --


ANDERSON: -- some people say $19 billion, others say $60 billion from US drug sales every year.


ANDERSON: So if not the criminal justice system, because you say that doesn't work, if not these vigilante groups, because they're being rounded up by the government, by the army at this point, then what? What is the solution at this point?

SALAZAR: This -- let me give you -- there's a huge debate about these vigilante groups, by the way. They're not rounding them up anymore. In fact, the army is legalizing them, which raises, as you know, Becky, a whole other number of very, very interesting issues.

Because one, you have people trying to defend themselves. You hope that these are people, just civilians, and not people who come from other organizations, who are trying to fight the cartels for territorial control.

But you also have the fact that these organizations, not only the Knights Templar, but the Zetas and other organizations, not only live off of drug trafficking, they live off -- you saw that report -- they live off of ore and minerals that are being exported to China, the trafficking of women, the trafficking of people, car-jacking, kidnapping, extortion.

So, the reason why I highlight this is that even if we legalize drugs all over the world tomorrow, I promise you, we would still have these organizations, because they have the know-how and the control, and they would just participate and they would go into other activities. So, it's kind of a two prong. You have to -- I think there is a lot of responsibility --

ANDERSON: All right.

SALAZAR: -- not only from the US, but by Europe, too, because a lot these drugs are going to Europe, but also the fact that Mexico needs to strengthen its criminal justice system and its ability to go after these organizations.

ANDERSON: Yes. Fascinating. And with that, we're going to have to leave it for this evening, but we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

I'm going to move on tonight to a blistering report that accuses the Roman Catholic Church of covering up decades of sexual abuse. A UN committee says that the Vatican systematically -- and that was their word - - adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children worldwide. As Isa Soares now reports, the UN is demanding that the Vatican take immediate action.


ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a blunt and uncompromising report that hits the very heart of the abuse scandal. The United Nations today criticizing and lambasting the Catholic Church for shielding abusive priests from prosecution.

In its 16-page report, the UN called on the Vatican to immediately remove all clergy who are known or suspected child abusers and turn them over to civil authorities. It calls to hand over its files on the pedophiles and the church officials who concealed the crimes, and report all suspected cases to the authorities.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: In one way, this is nothing new. The Catholic Church has been living with this cancer of the child sexual abuse scandals for more than a decade. And so on that level, it is certainly scathing, but it's unoriginal.

SOARES: Still, it could be damaging for the Catholic Church, as the report accuses it of systematic cover-up.

KRISTEN SANDBERG, CHAIRWOMAN, UN COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD: The Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the church and the protection of the perpetrators above children's best interests.

In its concluding observations, the committee in this regard has highlighted the practice of offenders' mobility, they were moved from parish to parish when things were discovered.

SOARES: For the victims of sexual abuse, this report has been a long time coming.

MIGUEL HURTADO, SUVIVORS NETWORK OF THOSE ABUSED BY PRIESTS: They have doubted our stories, they have doubted our motives, that our motives were because we were after money or we were to destroy the church or attack the church.

SOARES (on camera): The United Nations report is the most extensive critique of the alleged abuse taking place within the Catholic Church, but it's non-binding. So now it really falls in the hands of Pope Francis and the hope that in this instance, he can bring change and continue to win over his critics.

SOARES (voice-over): Vatican insiders say that the church quietly has been taking measures. In December, Pope Francis set up a commission to fight child abuse in the church.

ALLEN: Immediately, there's going to be a lot of blowback in Catholic circles that will say this is the usual secular ax-grinding against the church. But long-term, what one hopes is that this report will strengthen the hand of reformers in the church against those who are still in denial.

SOARES: Well, the Vatican has been quick to respond to the UN report, saying it will seriously consider the recommendations.

HURTADO: That the United Nations have said that there has been a systematic cover-up and that the needs of the church have been placed over the needs of the children, it -- well, it feels like a validation.

SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: I want to get you some reaction, now, from someone who's suffered deeply from clerical abuse. Colm O'Gorman actually sued the Catholic Church after years of sexual abuse by his priest in Ireland. He wrote about his horrific ordeal in the book "Beyond Belief." And he joins us tonight.

I wonder, one of our commentators there wonders whether this will strengthen the hand of reformers. I ask you that, and also, the criticism in some quarters, at least, is that there is nothing new in this report. Does it go far enough, do you think?

COLM O'GORMAN, AUTHOR, "BEYOND BELIEF": Evening, Becky. Well, I think first of all, it is probably the bluntest and most objective, given the quarter of its -- that it's come from, critique of the Catholic Church and of the Vatican's central responsibility for the cover-up of the rapes and abuse of, as the report says, tens of thousands of children worldwide.

And it's really important here that we're not talking about allegations, we're talking about observations on the part of the committee. In other words, findings in the view of the committee that this is what happened. And it's the authority of the committee that's incredibly significant.

I think it's also intriguing to look at the response of the Vatican to the report. It says it's going to look at the recommendations.

And yet, at the same time, it dismisses the view that at this moment, at this very moment -- and this is what's very significant about the report -- that the Vatican and the Catholic Church has not put in place effective mechanisms, both to respond to past abuse, but also to ensure that children are safe and protected within the church today.

And above all, it makes what I think is the most significant observation, and that is that the Holy See can no longer dodge responsibility for what happens in dioceses or religious orders or congregations, wherever they might be in the world, because as they rightly point out, all of these entities operate under the ultimate authority, the supreme authority, of the Holy See. And therefore, it is responsible and must take responsibility.

ANDERSON: Those who have been abused in the past -- and I know that you are one of them -- I just wonder whether you buy this line: this has been going on for years, some say hundreds of years.

When I ask whether you really think will strengthen the hand enough of the reformers, I guess the next question -- or the subsequent question to that is, are there enough reformers in the church to make this happen?

O'GORMAN: Well, I think that's the most important question. Where are the reformers? I think there is some sense that Pope Francis will adopt a very, very different approach. But we need to see that. And he's put in place a commission, that's valuable.

What's important is to find out exactly who will be on this commission. To what degree is he prepared to open the Vatican up to scrutiny and accountability? What kind of transparency will we see? The committee has demanded, for instance, that the Vatican should open up its records and make its records available for independent scrutiny.

If this pope -- and if there are sufficient reformers within the church to insure that we'll see real and meaningful change, that's what we'll see. I'm not confident about that. But I do think today is an incredibly significant and important moment that has been a very long time coming, where the Catholic Church is being held accountable in the one place, frankly, where it can't dodge accountability.

Because up until now, it's used its status as a sovereign state to avoid responsibility in civil jurisdictions and national jurisdictions where it's claimed --

ANDERSON: All right.

O'GORMAN: -- either sovereign or diplomatic immunity. And now, really, it's hoisted by its own petard. It's a state party to a binding international treaty, and it's going to have to be accountable for its gross violations of the rights of tens of thousands of children worldwide.

ANDERSON: Colm, it's a pleasure having you on. We thank you very much, indeed.

Live from Abu Dhabi, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. It's a little windy out here this evening at -- what is it? -- 43 minutes past midnight. Coming up, ready or not, here they come. Athletes arrive in Sochi with just two days left to go, but is the city ready?

And he's one of the most famous singers in the world, and he keeps popping up in London, quite literally. Find out why after this break.


ANDERSON: The man suspected of masterminding twin terror attacks in Russia is dead. State media reports police carried out an operation in the restive North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, killing the man in a shootout. Now, the attacks on Volgograd's public transport system in December left 34 people dead and sparked major security concerns ahead of the Winter Olympic Games.

Well, in Sochi, athletes are now arriving for those Games, which start -- well, they start in less than 48 hours. We've got the Opening Ceremony on Friday, of course. The Olympic torch successfully reaching the city today, as you can see here, and after traveling an epic 123-day journey across 35,000 miles.

Well, US snowboarding star Shaun White has dropped one of his events. He's decided against taking his chances in the Olympics' first-ever slopestyle competition -- that is a slopestyle competition -- and instead will focus on the half pipe events. He voiced his concerns over the slopestyle course before he made that decision.


SHAUN WHITE, CHAMPION US SNOWBOARDER: Generally concerns about the course. It's been interesting to see how it's developed and changed over the past few days, and I guess the big question is if it will continue to change. Because every day, they have a riders meeting, they give feedback, and sometimes there's changes, sometimes there's not.


ANDERSON: Since White's withdrawal, the IOC issued a statement defending that course, saying his decision to not participate had nothing to do with safety concerns.

Well, worries over security, slopes, stray dogs and sub-par hotels, it's been a long list of negatives, isn't it, so far for Sochi? Can these Games get anything right?

Well, our next guest has been to more than a dozen Summer and Winter Olympics and has been credited with turning the London 2012 Olympics into a success. Former marketing director of the IOC, Michael Payne, joins us now from Sochi.

Listen, there's always a lot of stories in the run-up to any of these events, but this has been a particularly worrying period of time, hasn't it? Are they going to get this right?

MICHAEL PAYNE, FORMER MARKETING DIRECTOR, IOC: Becky, I think, as you say, there's always an awful lot of background chatter in the lead-up to the Games. What we're seeing here from the IOC's standpoint is, frankly, nothing new. And it really starts once the Opening Ceremony begins and the Games are defined, then, by the 17 days of sports performance.

Certainly the feedback you're also getting from the athletes who are coming into town are seeing facilities like they've never seen before, very positive feedback from the Athlete's Village. The media TV facilities and press center is also getting very high reports.

There's always issues around the fringe, and the organizing committee is working flat out to get them right. But you've seen that before London, even before Lillehammer, probably the most successful Winter Games ever. The week before was not a pretty picture.

ANDERSON: Listen, viewers have been with me for the last hour, they'll have seen how windy it is here in Abu Dhabi where it should be about 20 degrees. On the ground in Sochi, there is no snow. Of course, the mountains have got a little, they've got snow machines. Was this the right place to hold the Games, do you believe, at the end of the day?

PAYNE: I think you've got to ask that question following the Closing Ceremony. The ski conditions happening on the mountain, I think, are excellent. The weather challenges, if you go back to Vancouver four years ago, was awful weather and rain, really forcing postponement of events. The weather conditions here for these Winter Games currently are looking an awful lot better than they did four years ago in Vancouver, Canada.

ANDERSON: All right. Listen, we've talked about the weather, we've talked about whether you think they're going to get this right in time. There's also, Michael, been a lot of controversy over the country's anti- gay laws, of course. The group All Out wants Olympics sponsors like Coca- Cola and McDonald's to publicly denounce Russia's law. I spoke to its co- founder, Andre Banks, earlier.


ANDRE BANKS, CO-FOUNDER, ALL OUT: What happens when they go abroad? What happens when they're sponsoring an international event like the Olympic Games, and they have an enormous opportunity to speak out in support of Russians who are facing real consequences, real violence, and real oppression.

They're staying silent, and I think what we've said and what many people have joined us around the world in saying is that Coke should have the same values overseas as they have at home.


ANDERSON: When I was talking to Andre, he pointed out that was Article VI in the IOC Convention, which, Michael, points to the fact that these Games should be about participation for all. And their gripe is that they want these companies to come out and say unless you willingly have gay athletes and gay fans, then these companies quite simply shouldn't be there.

How do you feel about the, as the IOC chairman put it today, or the president, the politicization of these Games? It's not the first time, of course, is it?

PAYNE: Well, you say -- right. It's not the first time, and the politicization of the Games has been there for the last century. I think President Bach has been very clear in the IOC leadership about the IOC's values and that all athletes, no matter what gender, what sex, what position, are welcome. And they've received all the assurances and everything from President Putin.

But it amuses me, this gay debate. You go back to the Games in Atlanta. Two years before the Games in Atlanta, when they had the volleyball in Cobb County, there was far more draconian proposals coming from the local community anti-gay and a whole boycott of sponsor products back then. So, it's -- it's not exactly a new issue.

ANDERSON: All right, you make a very good point. On a scale of one to ten, then, briefly, preparations, security, how things look going forward with, what, less than 48 hours to go, what would you give them?

PAYNE: Well, these will be my 17th Summer and Winter Games. Security is always an issue. There's been, obviously, a lot of debate about the issue and risk coming here, but I've got to say, I've never seen such an invisible level of security that has been so discreet.

You're not seeing tanks on the streets, you're not seeing a lot of armed military, which you saw in London, you saw in Salt Lake after 9/11. I think so far the Russians have found an excellent balance between what is clearly a ring of steel outside the city, but within the Olympic environment --


ANDERSON: Right, OK --

PAYNE: -- and venues, not having security suffocate the atmosphere.

ANDERSON: Five, eight, or nine, sir?


ANDERSON: Five, eight, or nine? Go on.

PAYNE: Yes, I think --

ANDERSON: What number?

PAYNE: I'll give it an eight. I'm going in with an eight.

ANDERSON: Good on you. All right. Good. Thank you.

PAYNE: Eight.

ANDERSON: Always a pleasure. Thank you. Eight out of ten, says a man who knows.

Well, he's holding gigs across the city of London, not our last guest, but how much does a ticket cost for a Prince concert? Find out after this.


ANDERSON: There's the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Tonight in Abu Dhabi, very windy and slightly chilly evening out here, but we battle on for you.

Seven years ago, pop icon and musician Prince was in London performing at one of the city's biggest arenas, and last night, he made his return, but with a twist, let me tell you, showing up in a discreet corner of London, he announced a surprise show, and what a show it was.

Well, around 300 people got to see him play with his band. Prince said that it won't be the last "pop-up" gig or "guerrilla" gig for London. And Londoner Stephen Budd one of the lucky ones there last night, joining us now from London.

This -- it was the second of two guerrilla gigs, as he calls them. The first one was in somebody's front room. How did you find out what was going on, and how did you get a ticket?


STEPHEN BUDD, ARIST MANAGER: Well, the first gig that was an acoustic gig that he did in the front room of Lianne La Havas, who's an English singer-songwriter --

ANDERSON: Unbelievable.

BUDD: -- an amazing English songwriter who he's hooked up with recently and been writing songs with, et cetera. But this -- my -- I got to be there quite randomly.

I was in bed last night at around about 11:30 having the first early night for about a month. And looked at Twitter and -- as you do just before you're about to go to sleep.


BUDD: And it said "Prince is about to do a gig in the Electric Ballroom in Camden. He's going to be on stage in about 45 minutes." So, I thought, I'm about ten minutes from there.


BUDD: And I pulled on my trousers --

ANDERSON: Now, listen --

BUDD: -- put this shirt on --

ANDERSON: Go on, go on.

BUDD: -- ran down there, and managed to get in.

ANDERSON: And got in. So, how was it?

BUDD: I did get in.

ANDERSON: Was he any good?

BUDD: It was --

ANDERSON: I mean -- what? Go on, go on.

BUDD: Yes, yes, it was incredible. It was -- really, they -- when I got to the venue, there was about 1500 people outside. Luckily, I knew somebody who worked at the venue. I work in the music business, I manage band and run festivals, et cetera.


BUDD: But I -- so I knew somebody there, they let me in. It was a nod and a wink thing, and I got in, and there was about only 75 people inside. So, when he started playing about 20 minutes later, he was playing to an audience of 75 people. They only let the other people in --

ANDERSON: Unbelievable.

BUDD: -- for the last song. So, it was quite spectacular to see him in that really intimate environment, and he looked amazing, as you can see from the pictures here. He looked like Jimi Hendrix in his prime.

ANDERSON: Amazing.

BUDD: The new songs were incredible, sounding a bit like --


BUDD: -- Led Zeppelin at some point. And it was extraordinarily exciting. And he's doing a series of these shows in London.

ANDERSON: Fantastic. All right, listen my live, I've got to -- I've got to get out of this show and we've got to take a break and pay for it, but listen, well done you. I wish I'd been there. I saw him in the late 80s, unbelievable. Thank you, Stephen.

I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD, thank you for joining us.