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CONNECT THE WORLD
Francois Fillon Wins Party Nomination in French Presidential Election; Castro's Remains to Tour Cuban Countryside; Syrian Government Forces Make Big Gains in Rebel-held Aleppo. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired November 28, 2016 - 10:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:19] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Cuba is in mourning, paying tribute to its late leader. What does Fidel Castro's death mean for the island
nation? This hour, we look at Cuba after Castro. We're live in Havana for you up next.
And gaining ground: Syrian government forces push into rebel-held eastern Aleppo. We'll have the latest on the fighting up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRACOIS FILLON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): Our country will go far because no one can stop a people that stands for its
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Francois Fillon is victorious in France. The conservative candidate will likely face right-wing leader Marine Le Pen. The latest on
the presidential contest is coming up.
Hello and welcome to Connect the World. It is just after 7:00 in Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson. Neither sorrow nor joy: a muted mood in Cuba
this morning as people begin paying their respects to the former leader, Fidel Castro.
In the past hour, the sound of 21-gun salutes rang out in both Havana and Santiago de Cuba. They were part of a series of events to honor Castro
ahead of his funeral on Sunday. Tens of thousands of Cubans are expected to pay their respects.
Well, the leader of Cuba's Communist revolution died on Friday at the age of 90. Let's head to Cuba's capital, where my colleague, Robyn Curnow, has
the very latest -- Robyn.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CRORESPONETN: Hi, there, Becky. Thanks so much.
And, yes, here in Cuba, it certainly has been a quiet, cautious, very muted last few days since Fidel Castro died. This is a city, a country, that you
can normally hear music ringing out. It is a very vibrant place. Over the past few days, it has been quiet. And it has certainly been a country
trying to fathom what is going to happen next, what a post Fidel Castro Cuba will be like.
Well, we have the story covered on all angles. Nic Robertson is with me here in Havana, and also on the ground in the Plaza de la Revolucion is our
And Patrick Oppmann, if you can hear me, I want to go to you first. What is it like down ther Fidel Castro's ashes have been laid out. People are
walking by, coming to pay their respects. Tell us what it's like.
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, it is a scene of somberness and perhaps some weariness. It's the first day that Cubans can
come and pay their respects to Fidel Castro and an iconic leader, the leader most Cubans knew for most of their lives until
his brother Raul Castro took over after ten years. So, we are seeing tens of thousands of people on both sides of this plaza beginning to line up.
This line goes four blocks. It will continue on through the next hours and day. And of course, people are bringing signs that say
hasta siepre (ph) "until the final victory," comandante (ph). There is a weariness, there is a sadness on
people's faces. Some of those people, of course, have been told to come here by the government, but other really do have a heartfelt grief that
they tell you that they feel for Fidel Castro. He loomed so large over this island. And we're starting to see some diplomats pull up, the
Venezuelan ambassador just came in with a long entourage of cars.
On the right just behind me is the ministry of defense, that's where we've just been told that Fidel Castro's ashes are being kept. And of course,
this is the the most sacred place in terms of the revolution in Cuba. Che Guevara was brought here after he was -- his remains were returned to
You have to think, Robyn, that over the years, this is where Fidel Castro came to address his people. He would get up on stage, speak for hours,
hundreds of thousands of people would pack the square and listen to his speeches often, on days like this, in the blazing sun. And this is where
he came when he had urgent news to communicate to the Cuban people. And he has come here one last time, Robyn.
KURNOW: And this is also going to be a very symbolic process of Fidel Castro, his ashes being taken back to where it all started. Tell us about
the journey that is going to take place over the next few days.
[10:05:06] OPPMANN: Yes, very much, in a poignant way. Fidel Castro is going full circle. When he came to Havana after the revolution, it was, of
course, he was in Santiago, the other end of the island, where he'd fought in the mountains. And after his troops
forced the dictator, Fulgencio Batista from the country, many people thought that Fidel Castro would rush go Havana to sort of the capital and
But of course Fidel Castro was always had the long game in mind. And he very, very slowly, over a period of about a week, took a very slow approach
to Havana, stopping in every town, shaking hands, making sure people saw this triumphant arrival, something out of the history books really. And
that was really, for the Cubans, where many people first saw that Fidel Castro was not going to be someone who was going to hold power for a short
time, but this is someone who very clearly wanted to show the island that he was in control and that he would be more than just a military leader or
president, but he would just be this Omnipresent force, someone who manipulated the media so well.
And so he will retrace the journey, Robyn, after a massive rally here tomorrow. He will go back very, very slowly across the island. And we
expect people in the little towns -- this was really his base, Robyn, people in the countryside, people who did not have electricity before the
revolution took power, people who lived in abject poverty. These are the people that you go there today and don't think their lives seem that much
better, but they disagree, they say that Fidel Castro brought some level of progress into places that had been forgotten.
So, as he travels across the island, his ashes are taken down to Santiago de Cuba, about 700 miles from where we are now, it will be again a very
slow, very mournful process. And the government knows that the eyes of the world are on this country today, and they really want to strike
the right tone. and this is the moment for the country to say good-bye to Fidel Castro.
CURNOW: Thank you so much, Patrick Oppmann there, right by Fidel Castro's ashes.
I have with me Nic Robertson. And it is striking, these images that we're seeing here in central Havana, because people are coming to pay respects
today, leader, a man who certainly defined, or was one of the defining figures of the 20th Century, and epitomized the Cold War divisions.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It didn't just -- his influence didn't just reach all across Cuba, its 11 million
population, it reached into South America. It reached all the way into Africa. He sent troops to Angola. He helped credited -- help liberating
So, you know, this is a man whose vision for Libya -- the vision for Cuba and for what it meant for the world, stretched right around the world.
But it is more for Cubans, I think, at the moment, that are going to sort of struggle with the changes that his passing will herald. His brother Raul
Castro has really picked up the reins and carried on much more in the same vein. But if the country is really to engage fully economically with the
United States, as we've seen the beginning of that process, there would have to be significant changes, the Helmsberg and Congressional Act of 1996
says there need to be free and fair elections here in Cuba before the country can really have those full trade and travel connections with the
At the moment, Raul Castro says he'll step down in 2018. But we hear no plans and see no path to free and fair elections at the moment. So that
imprint that went wide around the world won't be forgotten, but it is going to be longest remembered and felt here.
CURNOW: And certainly. I mean, in terms of his revolutionary ideals, Fidel Castro never let those go, did he? And that revolution certainly
But also, paradoxically, created a much more educated Cuba, but a Cuba that was definitely poorer and more impoverished, and that's very, very obvious
ROBERTSON: Absolutely, paradoxically. I mean, look at the health care system here. It struggles for certain medicines, struggles for surgical
implements, for the right size of catheter, the right size of, you know splint to help brace a fractured leg
CURNOW: That sort of thing.
ROBERTSON: That sort of thing, yet it is a massive earner for the government. The government earns an estimated $8 billion a year from Cuban
doctors working around the globe, an estimated 37,000 in 77 different countries. They did a deal with Brazil a couple of years ago. Brazil
wanted 4,000 additional doctors. The deal was worth $270 million to Cuba, rate now today, Brazil, out of an estimated 14,500 foreign doctors, 11,500
are Cuban. That's a lot of soft power. That's a lot of that influence that you were talking about before.
But it has been at the cost of something here. There is a joke, you know, he may have delivered on part of the health care, part of the education,
but he couldn't deliver on the economy to put food on people's tables three times a day.
So, there are huge paradoxes.
[10:10:00] CURNOW: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Nic Robertson. We'll be checking in with ou throughout the day. Thanks so much.
And while you see these very powerful images of Cubans lining up to pay their respects to Fidel
Castro, his ashes are there at the place of the revolution. In Miami, there is celebration, there is partying. There has been outright joy at
the announcement of the death of Fidel Castro.
Our Boris Sanchez has been monitoring the atmosphere there and he joins us now.
Boris, what's happening there?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Robyn. Things are actually pretty quiet right now on Calle Ocho, outside Cafe Versailles. This is the
heart of the Cuban exile community here in Miami and where we've often seen demonstrations and protests at different, key points during the history of
Cuba's and Fidel Castro's regime over the island.
We are expecting to get a demonstration later this week, on Wednesday night at 5:00 p.m., at a Bay of Pigs memorial that's just down the street from
But over the weekend, there were three days of non-stop partying. There were people banging pots and pans, waving flags, dancing in the streets,
chanting and celebrating something that many here say was a long time coming, something that they have been waiting for for
quiet a long time.
The contrast between the reaction here and the reaction in Cuba could not be more stark. And a lot has to do with the fact that so many Cuban-
Americans and so many Cubans in exile here in Miami risked so much to flee the system that Castro created. I heard you speaking a moment ago with Nic
Robertson, and the perspective that Castro's reforms led to positive changes in Cuba in terms of health care and education, but many people here
felt that those promises and those reforms ultimately led to a much worse system, a much more restrictive system when it comes to human rights, when
it comes to freedom of the expression and freedom of commerce.
I'll give you an example. My grandfather was in the Cuban revolution. He fought in a faction separate from Fidel's. When the revolution ended and
Fidel took power, leading the country in a Communist direction, my grandfather spoke out against him. He started organizing against him,
again for Democratic elections. That didn't work out well for him. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiring against the revolution.
And my grandfather considered himself lucky. Many of his friends, thousands of Cubans, were put in front of firing squads, more than 1,000 of
them by some estimates, without even facing a judge, without a trial.
So you have to imagine that for people here, again, this was a moment that they had been waiting for for a long time. Many of them hoping that this
perhaps marks a shift in Cuba's history, not necessarily immediately, not something that's going to make a political impact right away, considering
the fact that Raul Castro has said that he is going to maintain the head position in Cuba until at least 2018; but over time that this could lead to
at least a healing of wounds, not just of the exile community here, but the division between the people that have fled Cuba and those
that are still there, and potentially, that this could mean that the political philosophy of the leaders on the island will
eventually change once a Castro is no longer in charge, Robyn.
CURNOW: Boris Sanchez, thank you so much for that fascinating perspective there from Miami.
I'm Robyn Curnow in Havana. You're watching CNN. Much more news with Becky Anderson after the break. Stay with us.
[10:15:51] JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Bombs, hospitals, drops chlorine gas again and again and again and again and again.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD, PRESIDENT OF SYRIA: Push the terrorists to Turkey or to kill them, there's no other option.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: The future of Aleppo is being decided right now. All out war for control of
Syria's largest city is burning what's left of large parts of it to the ground. The army and other groups, they are leading and carving through
the rebel-held parts faster than anybody thought they would, after punching through the front lines less than 48 hours ago.
Check out just how badly disfigured the city looks in this drone footage -- thick smoke still rising over it, as the fighting only gets worse.
CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has been going in and out of Syria for the last few years and he joins us now, live from London.
Fred, is it all over for those in East Aleppo who oppose the government?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it certainly looks as though there are significant gains being made by the
Syrian government. And really, many people -- and certainly I am surprised by the pace at which the rebel defense lines seem to be collapsing there in
the east of the city.
It looks as though, Becky, what the Syrian regime and, of course, we always have to say, its allied forces, as well, including Hezbollah fighters,
including Iraqi Shiite militias, including, of course, Iranians, as well, they seem to have been able to cut the eastern part of Aleppo in half, to
drive a wedge between the places that were held by opposition forces and then are now seemingly able to control most of the northeastern parts of
Aleppo that have been under rebel control for a very long time.
So, these are significant losses for the rebels. It doesn't mean that everything is over in those parts of Aleppo. But certainly, this is a
devastating blow to those rebel forces, seeing many of them retreat very quickly, which is also quite surprising, because that is such an urban
environment. And of course, we know, Becky, that combat in urban environments usually does favor the defenders. And so it is quite
remarkable to see the quick speed at which the Syrian armed forces seem to be able to move through there.
ANDERSON: Fred, you were there recently. Just how many rebels are we now talking about? Is it clear? And why is it that citizens, and life must be
so hard. We show these pictures day in, day out. One can only imagine living in this sort of apocalyptic environment that so many of these in
east Aleppo now have to live in.
Why didn't people take the opportunity to leave when they were offered that opportunity?
PLEITGEN: Well, you know, I think a lot of people didn't leave -- and we always have to remind everybody that there was a sort of pause that was
going on in the fighting about a month ago when the Russians then said that the Syrian government had put up what they call humanitarian
corridors for people to get out. And many people, or almost no one, actually took that chance, almost no one left the eastern parts of Aleppo,
and simply because they don't trust the Syrian government.
They fear that if they go out, they could be arrested, captured, possibly even killed by Syrian government forces. Of course, we also have to
understand that many of the people who are still in eastern Aleppo might have family members who are fighting among the rebels and so, therefore,
they believe that they might be under threat, as well.
As far as the rebels themselves are concerned, there are various figures that are out there about
how many rebels might actually still be left in the east of Aleppo. Usually centering around 9,000
to 10,000 that are possibly still in there, with about 900 of them possibly being from what used to be Jubhat al-Nusra, so certainly, the defense force
is still there. But right now, it really seems to be collapsing, Becky.
ANDERSON: And who are they supported by, just briefly?
PLEITGEN: Well, a lot of them were supported by -- some of them were supported by the U.S.
others, of course, were supported by some Gulf nations, as well. You have the Saudis giving some
money, giving some weapons, also. And then, of course, you have the role that Turkey also played in trying to funnel weapons to these rebel forces.
It's generally countries that obviously want to see a different government in Syria, who were and possibly are still supporting
these rebel forces.
But we also need to see -- and you know very well that the eastern part of Aleppo, of course, has been under siege now for several months, since
about July of this year, so it's been very, very difficult to get any sort of resupplies to those rebels that are caught in there. The siege, of
course, was broken for about two weeks by forces that came in from the western side of Aleppo. But since then, it's been difficult for the rebels
to get any sort of resupplies and to try to resupply not just their ranks, but of course also very much the weaponry and the munitions.
[10:20:43] ANDERSON: Fred Pleitgen is on the story for you today. Fred, thank you.
Well, some of the other stories on our radar today. And a lawyer for South Korea's president says she can't comply with the prosecutor's request to
meet on Tuesday because, well, she's too busy. There are growing demands for the president to resign over a corruption scandal. As many as 1.5
million took to the streets again other the weekend.
Retailers hoping for an online sales boost as cyber Monday takes place around the world. It comes hot on the heels of what is known as Black
Data shows more customers opened their wallet over the weekend, but on average spent less than in 2015.
And if you are traveling from Germany this week, watch out for disruption after the country's biggest airliner announced more strikes. Pilots from
Luftansa will walk out on Tuesday and on Wednesday. They say they are not being paid enough and talks to reach an agreement have so far they say, and
talks to reach an agreement have so far failed.
Dismay and anger have shaken Britain to its very core over the last few years, as some of the country's most well-known and well-loved celebrities
were found to have been pedophiles. Well, now, there is possibly another scandal. The group that's in charge of football in England is looking into
claims by some footballers that they were touched in a sexual way when they were kids.
At least 20 of them have come forward so far. CNN's Don Riddell is covering this story closely for us from CNN Center. Erin McLaughlin is in
London for us outside the country's football headquarters. Erin, what is the very latest as we understand it?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, the scandal certainly seems to be growing over the weekend. The FA released a
statement detailing the nature of this ongoing investigation that they are conducting. They said that they're focusing on what the FA a knew, when
they knew it, what they should have done during the relevant time period. They're also focusing on the information that individual football clubs may
They're also carrying out an audit of current practices to make sure nothing like this ever happens again, that in addition to helping the
police. Several investigations have been opened up into this scandal here in the United Kingdom. So, those are all some of the things that are
underway, investigations that have yet to have been complete, as officials try to get a handle on the extent of
They've actually opened up, the FA has opened up a hot line, a number for victims to be able
to call. Former football players calling in. In the first few hours that they opened up that hot line, over 50 phone calls had been received.
Now, one of the former coaches at the center of this scandal is a 62-year- old, Barry Bennell. He has been convicted on three separate occasions and sent to jail for child abuse. Some of the victims that have come forward
in recent days have alleged that he raped them multiple times.
Now, we understand that on Friday, he was found unconscious inside his hotel room. Taken to the hospital, current condition, according to the
ambulance service, not clear. They're not giving out any further information on his condition, Becky.
ANDERSON: Erin, thank you.
Don, I know FIFA getting involved now, not just the English FA, and this isn't a new story, to a
certain extent, as Erin was just suggesting. There is a legacy here. Just fill in the gaps. What's the context for all of this?
DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yeah, you're right. This isn't new at all. These are historical allegations. The story actually surfaced in the UK
back in the late '90s, when Barry Bennell was convicted for the second time in 1998. But it is only now that some of the players who were affected are
actually coming forward. And we know that athletes who get to the top of their professions have had to make incredible sacrifices to get to where
they ended up.
We now are learning that some of these players have had to endure absolutely unimaginable horrors. And the testimony we're hearing from
footballers like Paul Stuart and Andy Woodward are absolutely horrific.
We're talking about potentially six or seven football clubs implicated, at least four UK police
departments are now looking into this. We've heard 10, 20 players coming forward. Over 50 calls to the hot line. This could go so deep. I really
fear that we're just beginning to get a handle on this, with the amount that we're now learning.
And of course, the question that's going to be asked is, why has it taken this long? Why was more not done before? There was a documentary made
around the time Bennell was convicted for the second time. And the producer of that, Deborah Davis, is now saying that the Football
Association ignored so many warnings. And I think this is going to be key to what we're going to hear over the coming days and months.
And to give you a context of how bad potentially this is, one of the players that's come forward is a man called Jason Dunford. Now, he was 13
when he was the captain of one of Bennell's teams. And he was saying -- he was kind of one of the lucky ones, because he stood up to Bennell and
basically told him to get off. The result was that it ruined his career. And he didn't end up becoming a
professional footballer, but this is his testimony, and this is quite frightening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON DUNFORD, FRM. MANCHESTER CITY YOUTH PLAYER: It's overwhelming. This is getting bigger by the hour. The amount of response I've had, support
we've had. And there is some players, ex-professional players who have been contacting me over the last 24 hours who are on the verge, hopefully,
of coming forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIDDELL: Hundreds and hundreds of players potentially, Becky, that we may end up hearing from or hearing about in the coming days, and so many
questions that have to be answered.
ANDERSON: All right. Don, thank you. Don Riddell on the story for you there. Erin out of London.
Breaking news for you from a major university in the United States, Ohio State University has issued an active shooter alert, as it is known, to its
staff and students. A student CNN is in contact with says three or four of what sounded like shots rang out and then sirens could be heard. Here's part of what the 19-year-old student told us,
quote, "my roommate and I heard about three or four gunshots from across the street and soon after we heard a bunch of police and now
ambulances pull up across the street. We can see the police cars from our dorm" -- that's their dormitory. "I live on campus, and the place where we
think the shooting happened is across the street in a class building."
And the more we get on that, of course, we will bring to you.
We're going to take a short break. Back after this.
[10:30:38] ANDERSON: Yeah, breaking news from a major university in the United States. Ohio State University has issued an active shooter alert to
its staff and students. We're just getting a little more on this. A student CNN is in contact with says three or four of what sounded like
shots rang out and then sirens could be heard. These are visuals from the scene. Here's part of what that 19-year-old student told us in the past
My roommate and I heard about three or four gunshots from across the street, and soon after, we heard a bunch of police and ambulances pull up
across the street.
Let me get you to my colleagues in the U.S. now for more.
(SIMULCAST CNN USA)