Return to Transcripts main page


Pope to Hold Mass in Cuba's Revolution Square; Refugees Cross Border Into Austria Overnight. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 20, 2015 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:06] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Just after 7:30 a.m. there in Havana, Cuba. About 90 minutes until the beginning of the celebration of mass there at Revolution Square. Live pictures in Havana. Thousands upon thousands are gathered to celebrate mass with Pope Francis.

He landed last evening. Let's take a look at his travel through Havana. You see the Popemobile waving there to the thousands of people who lined the streets, waving flags and cheering and welcoming him there.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And theme of his journey is peace and reconciliation, as well as better relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

CNN's Chris Cuomo joins us live from Havana's Revolution Square this morning.

We see what is going on there, Chris, but I'm wondering if you can give us a sense of how it feels there. What is the energy like?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You know, this is one of those situations where you have to be there to really get it, because the energy that is coming off this crowd is significant. When they are saying prayers, there is such intentionality in the words and goes far beyond any dogma of religion and this is about hope, not just about faith for the people here.

They have come so many, because they're Catholic, yes, and they heard word of this image of Jesus being in Revolution Square for the first time. You know, you see it there. You see how far back the crowd goes. You hear them talking about that. The message below saying come to me from Jesus -- that means something to Catholics here. There is suppression of faith.

Yes, Castro said yesterday that religious freedom is a central tenet of the constitution, but it hasn't been the reality. The country they say is moving in the right direction but at what rate?

And yet you also have this being about hope. These are people are here to hear the pope and hear his words. Now we know what he is going to say today a lot people to hold on, regardless of their faith.

So, let's get out into the crowd, that's where Ed Lavandera is. And he's been looking around for people here, with unique stories of what brings them here today.

Ed, who do you have for us?


Obviously, this papal mass here in Havana comes amid great change between Cuba and the United States. For one mother and son from Miami, Florida, coming here was a day decades in the making.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Martha Serra Mohr stares at a sight she has not seen in 46 years. She left Cuba as a 10-year-old girl. Her father saw no future in Fidel Castro's government. This weekend, she came home for the first time since leaving with her family in 1969.

MARTHA SERRA MOHR, CUBAN EXILE: It's a dream come true.

LAVANDERA: As soon as she walked off the plane, Martha touched the ground.

MOHR: If I wasn't sick, I would have kissed the ground. That's what I feel like doing, feel like kissing the ground, yes.

[07:35:00] LAVANDERA (on camera): Why?

MOHR: You know, here is my country. Here is where I was born. Here, you know, here I am.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Martha is in Cuba with her son Felice Gorordio to see Pope Francis. She promised to make this special journey with him after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The diagnosis planted a sense of urgency to bury decades of anger and anguish.

LAVANDERA (on camera): So many older Cuban exiles saying I'm never setting foot here while the Castros are here. Was that hard for you to do?

MOHR: Not really. I've come to a point in my life that we need to forgive. My family, you know, we had people in prison, you know, hurt by the regime. I think it's just time. You know, it's time to forgive, to forgive and to let this young people live.

LAVANDERA: Filice started visiting Cuba 12 years ago. At first, his mother couldn't stomach the idea but he kept coming back to discover family roots and reach out to the younger generation in Cuba.

FELICE GORORDIO, SON OF CUBAN EXILE: What struck me was the lack of hope and desperation of young people here. So many of which had just given up hope for a better life for themselves and their families.


LAVANDERA: And, Chris, you know, Felice and Martha, his mother, they represent so many families in Cuban exile community in the United States have been going through as they watched this political change between Cuba and the United States unfold. They will out here in this VIP area this morning. We haven't had a chance to find them just yet, but Martha is worried how she is going to hold up, given her condition and cancer treatment. She had just gone through a round of chemo before doctors gave her the clearance so she could make the trip here this weekend -- Chris.

CUOMO: Boy, Ed, what a wonderful story. Thank you. It's so symbolic of the pull to come back to Cuba and tension of when it is right, and why it is right, thank you for that.

I want to bring in John Allen.

You know, I met her and her son last night. I didn't even know they were in Ed's story. She was brought here because of her faith and promise there was something different. You pointed out to me, John, that the pope calls himself a missionary of mercy and that image of Jesus is relevant to that also.

This is very point specific for the pope.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Yes, that's right. That image of Jesus we see on the other end of revolution square this morning is called the divine mercy and tradition of Jesus Christ. The beams you see coming out of his body represent the body in blood and also represent his mercy flowing out to humanity.

So, from one end of the square to the other the pope is driving home this message of mercy for a people who often feel like they are experienced anything but mercy much of their lives.

CUOMO: Did it seem like a visit on the plane when you were coming over with the pope or very much a mission for him?

ALLEN: Very much a mission but traveling with the pope is something of an adventure. The papal plane in many ways is not nothing to write home about. The food is mediocre and the seats are uncomfortable but the in-flight entertainment is spectacular.

CUOMO: Suffering is purifying, John!

ALLEN: He comes back to the press department and gives a short message to the press corps. And then he does this sort of swing through the entire compartment and coming by to say hello to everybody and people have adopted the custom of giving him gifts. Yesterday, a Spanish TV crew that won an Emmy for their image of the conclave gave him an Emmy. I mean , the guy behind him needs a luggage cart to bring the stuff he collects during these swings.

On the way back, of course, we expect he'll do this twice on this trip. Flight from Havana to Washington and also Philadelphia to Rome. He will do one of these no holds barred and no taboo and everything on the press conference and is the lines from this papacy to "who am I to judge?" from regard to gay people and Catholics don't have to breathe like rabbits and on and on. Bottom line on the papal plane trip, Francis has become must see TV.

CUOMO: Well, look. It's a refreshing difference. The question is what is that message and how far does he go and what we want to see. John, stand by as we do the coverage. Back to you guys.

PAUL: Thank you, guys. Good information there to hear about the pope on the plane.

BLACKWELL: I like the way it was characterized. The food and seats are bad but the in-flight entertainment quite memorable.

PAUL: Spectacular.

BLACKWELL: Let's take a serious turn in the States. Cracking the case of Baby Bella's death. How forensic science was used to identify this toddler whose death sparked outrage across this country.

PAUL: Also, talk about a long journey.

[07:40:01] Refugees trekking late into the night across Europe, hoping to find a better life away from the how forensic science was used to identify this toddler whose death sparked outrage across this country.

Also talk about a long journey. Refuges trekking late into the night across Europe, hoping to find a better life away from the journey and away from the oppression and CNN was there walking with them.


PAUL: The mystery murder case of Baby Doe, Bella Bond is her name, got a big break with the arrest of her mother and her mother's boyfriend. Both have been charged in the 2-year-old's death and a law enforcement source tells CNN, the boyfriend, 35-year-old Michael McCarthy said he punched the toddler because he thought she was possessed.

Now, Bella's official cause of death hasn't been determined. It's not cleared if the beatings is what killed Baby Bella.

Let's talk to forensic expert Laurence Kobilinsky, and HLN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson, about all of this.

Joey, I do want to start with you. We know that the mother is charged as an accessory. Depending on what they find, is there still an opening there that she could face a murder charge.

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: You know what happens, Christi, good morning. Good morning, Doc Kobilinsky.

What generally happens is that the prosecution is always in a position to upgrade charges, depending upon further findings and further investigations. To this point, Christi, to be clear, apparently, they've assessed it, that is the prosecutor, and they feel the father is allegedly responsible and, therefore, he is being charged with the murder.

[07:45:00] And to the extent that she knew about the murder, concealed, harbored and aided him after the fact, she is being charged with her charges.

But in the event there is a finding that she otherwise participated or assisted in the death, then absolutely those charges could be upgraded at the prosecutor's discretion.

PAUL: OK. Dr. Kobilinsky, I'm wondering from you, what will forensics tell us? Will they be able to determine, based on the fact her body had been there and we don't know for how long, exactly how she died?

LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: That's a very good question. We know that the child was partially decomposed. Assuming there is soft tissue that remained on the body, it could very well be that the autopsy has already demonstrated the cause of death but it hasn't been made public.

You can punch a child and rupture some vital internal organs and cause death, and if they do know that, we will certainly hear a lot of that about at trial. They are certainly going to have to have more than a confession from Michael McCarthy if they are going to get a conviction for murder.

PAUL: Joey, one of the things so disturbing here is the thought of this man punching this 2-year-old, this tiny 2-year-old, and with that said, what, if it is determined, that the punches did not kill her, does the murder charge still stand?

JACKSON: Well, it would if the child is dead and how it occurred and how is the otherwise, healthy and normal and active and beautiful child, you know, end up in a bag just discarded. So certainly they will have to, that is the prosecution, establish the cause of death, but many times, as Dr. Kobilinsky can tell you they have to establish that the death was intentional and therefore, as a result at his hands she died but there could be a number of reasons that an autopsy could establish that things that happened to her body that were the ultimate cause of death and ultimate punch to the stomach and we will learn that throughout the case.

PAUL: All right. Lawrence Kobilinsky and Joey Jackson, we so appreciate your insight. Thank you, gentlemen.

JACKSON: Thank you, Christi.

BLACKWELL: Every day, thousands of migrants make this dangerous journey to seek out a better life and some traveling in complete darkness. If not for the light on this camera, that's what these people would be walking in. And CNN is there. You see Ben Wedeman here. We have this story and you'll want to stay with us for that. >

Now to live pictures in Havana at Revolution Square where in just a little more than an hour, Pope Francis will deliver mass in front of a crowd expected to be more than a hundred thousand. We are live at the top of the hour.


BLACKWELL: Right now, rescuers are searching for missing migrants after their boat sank near a Greek island. Of 46 people onboard, only 26 survived. All of this to escape the war-torn and poverty-stricken Middle East.

Now, the journey, as you know, hasn't been easy. One survivor says it's almost as if they don't exist.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we were at sea, I didn't have any hope. I said I'm dead. Right now, I'm dead. Nobody helped me. Even Turkish police saw us, but they didn't care. The Greek police saw us and they didn't care. At the moment, we -- all of us thought that we were useless, we are not human.


BLACKWELL: Now, let's talk about the thousands of migrants who cross into Austria seeking refuge after shuttling for days between bordering countries that were unable or in some cases, unwilling to offer them shelter. The journey started with the train ride from the Croatia- Hungary border. And then a two and a half mile hike to a small village.

And CNN senior international Ben Wedeman was with them every step of the away.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're walking through the village on the border on the way to the Austrian border, which is about four kilometers from here. Speaking to these people, of course, they've had a difficult trip. They've been on the train since the morning. They've been provided with little in the way of food or water. They're very anxious to know where they're going. They arrived -- they had no explanation as to where they are or where they're going or what their fate will be. And we were basically the only people to provide them with the bare minimum of information.

So, now, they're going to be walking this four kilometers, it's, of course, quite late at night here, but nonetheless, these people are walking at quite a good pace given the difficulty of their day so far. Their journey, basically they got on the train near the Hungary and Croatian border. It has come straight through. They say none of them have been registered or given their fingerprints.

And, basically, this is what we've been seeing throughout the day here. Hungary has no desire whatsoever to keep these people here in the country, and they're doing their very best to move them along. They're on their way to Austria. We understand from the Hungarian Red Cross on the other side of the border, there are buses and ambulances and doctors waiting to attend to them. We also have seen that the Hungarian Red Cross and some volunteers from the U.K., Muslim volunteers from the U.K., have come with and brought with them a lot of supplies as well.

This is sort of a multinational effort, but, yes, by and large just like me, they are in the dark in terms of awareness of what they're doing and where they're going. They're so exhausted at this point from this trip. They're just following whoever leads them. Hopefully, they say, to some country where they'll be welcomed and eventually be able to settle down.


PAUL: And we'll obviously continue to follow that story and let you know what is happening there.

But we do also want to take you to Cuba where hundreds of thousands of Cubans are filling Revolution Square. There's a live picture for you. All of them waiting to hear Pope Francis deliver mass. That's happening in about one hour. Some of these folks have been standing out there for more than four almost five hours at this point.

We're taking you there live. Stay close.


[07:58:20] PAUL: Well, apparently, revenge is in the air today on the NFL gridiron.

BLACKWELL: The fans are -- where am I supposed to --


BLACKWELL: CNN sports anchor Coy Wire here with us this morning to talk us through it.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: I'll break it down for you real quick, guys. AFC game of the week, my former team, the Bills are hosting the Patriots. The Patriots have been like the big brother. They won 11 out of the past 12 years.

So, the Bills want revenge for over a decade of past dominance but today Tom Brady and the Pats might want revenge for what Bills fans did earlier this week. Check it out, you heard the bullets important material, well, the Bills gave the Pats billboard material. "Mr. Brady is so shady. Deflates balls and acts like a baby."

It is on at the Ralph Wilson Stadium today 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

Now, NFC game of the week, a rematch of conference title between Green Bay and Seattle for the Super Bowl trip on the line last year and Packers blew a lead that sent the game to overtime. It's tonight at 8:30 eastern. They'll go toe-to-toe at Lambeau where the Packers with the perfect 9-0.

It's game day, so I'm going to leave you now and warm up my seat.


PAUL: Bye. Coy! Thank you, for giving us a couple of minutes there.


PAUL: And thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


BLACKWELL: Several big stories this morning starting with this, live pictures here Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba. The faithful, and as we heard, the hopeful there, tens of thousands packing into the square awaiting a Sunday mass celebration by Pope Francis.