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Electoral College Set to Vote Today; Malaysia Warns Myanmar's Treatment of Rohingya Problem For Region; John McCain: Russia's Interference Threatens U.S. Democracy; South, Central America's Migrant Crisis Overlooked. 8:00a-9:00a ET

Aired December 19, 2016 - 08:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:19] IVAN WATSON, HOST: I'm Ivan Watson in Hong Kong. Welcome to News Stream.

As tensions rise between Moscow and Washington, I take a special look at a region fearful of a rising Russia: the Baltic States.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from eastern Aleppo. We'll show you how desperate the situation is inside the city.

And Donald Trump's victory in the U.S. presidential election. He's set to be confirmed by the electoral college, but we'll show you why some are

under pressure to change their votes against Trump.

First, the latest on the U.S. election. Some U.S. senators want an investigation to find out if

Russian hackers tried to help Donald Trump win the presidency. An assessment by U.S. intelligence suggests Russia was behind the hacking.

Senator John Mccain says Russia's interference threatens U.S. democracy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: This is serious business. If they are able to harm the electoral process, then they destroy democracy. The fact is,

they are hacking every single day in other areas of our military and all kinds of different aspects of American life that they are able to

penetrate.

We need a select committee. We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to find out exactly what was done and what the implications of the attacks

were, especially if they had an effect on our election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Meanwhile, the Kremlin is getting tired of hearing about it. Our Matthew Chance is in Moscow and he joins us now. Now, Matthew, what is the

Kremlin's position when it comes to all these accusations coming from the U.S. government?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Ivan. Well, as you said, they've consistently been denying any connection with these hacking

allegations ever since they first surfaced back in October at the height of the U.S. presidential campaign.

Back on Friday, the spokesman for Vladimir Putin said it was indecent that U.S. officials kept on making these allegations without providing any

evidence at all, saying, look, you know, unless they can come up with evidence, they should stop talking about it.

We spoke to the Kremlin earlier on today and they said they have got nothing further to add to that. So, you get a sense, you know, they are

getting quite frustrated here, officials in Russia, that these allegations continue to be made, but with no concrete evidence that anyone could point

to to say, look, definitely this is a straight line between the Kremlin and the hacking.

Now, that's also, by the way, a position that's been adopted by the Trump administration in waiting, as well.

And so, yeah, a lot of frustration all around, but remember, it's not the issue of hacking as such that is the controversial aspect of this whole

scandal. It's the fact that information was gathered, allegedly by Russian intelligence agencies, and then it was dumped in a partisan way in public

arenas like WikiLeaks to try and influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential

election. So the idea that Russia had its thumb on the scales of that presidential election is something that has really outraged politicians and

people across the United States.

WATSON: Well, Matthew, Russia, like any other modern country today, it does have cyber offenses and defenses when it comes to hacking and

cyberattacks. Would it ever realistically claim responsibility for these or any other tools that the Russian government might have for promoting the

Kremlin's narrative beyond its borders?

CHANCE: No. I think it's very unlikely that a country like Russia or any country, indeed, would say, yes, we've got this multi-layered approach to

weaponizing information and we're deploying that weapon against perceived rivals in the world.

I think the assessment here, if it is the Russians that carried this out, and there's a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing towards them, of

course, this is a relatively cost-free exercise in terms of what can be achieved. It's very difficult to trace. The Russians, as I say, have

consistently been saying there's no evidence linking us with that. And I think they probably have a point in the sense that it's very easy for

accomplished programmers and accomplished hackers to hide their footprints and to misdirect investigators as to what the source of the hack was.

But I think it's also certainly true that Russia has demonstrated, and you'll have seen this when you traveled around the region, Russia

demonstrated it does have a sort of very aggressive attitude when it comes to information. It uses fake news. It uses trolling on internet sites to

disrupt the narrative and to influence the debate in favor of Russia. It uses hacking. It uses data dumps. All sorts of techniques and tools that

is it has at its disposal in order to try and manipulate the debate in its favor.

And the argument with the U.S. presidential elections is this was an immensely successful

operation on the part of the Russians, and they actually got their man into the White House. I mean, this is the fear, this is the allegation, that

many politicians in the United States and many ordinary Americans have right now about the outcome of the presidential election.

WATSON: Thanks, Matthew.

I want you to stand by for a moment, because it's not only the U.S. that makes accusations against Moscow and the Kremlin, the concern about Russian

aggression is something that's very familiar for the Baltic states. They are small former Soviet republics, controlled for years by Moscow. And I

traveled to Latvia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad to look at the tensions in this region along Russia's border.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: War games in the snowy fields of eastern Europe as U.S. soldiers train in Latvia.

25 years ago this was part of the Soviet Union. Today, Latvia is part of the European Union and also a U.S. military ally in NATO.

These are live fire exercises, that's why I've got to wear all this extra protective armor. Military commanders say they are trying to show that

they are a force of deterrence and their number one potential threat, Latvia's much bigger neighbor to the east.

COL. GREGORY ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY: Origins are really in response to Russian activity in 2014, when the strategic situation changed.

WATSON: He's talking about Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula, after Russian

forces drove Ukrainian troops out of this corner of Ukraine in 2014.

Russia's land grab frightens people in former Soviet Republics like Latvia, where there are still bitter memories after a half century of Soviet

occupation.

JANIS GARISONS, SECRETARY, LATVIAN STATE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE: Our main aim is to protect our sovereignty and everything -- protect our statehood. If

Russia is so peaceful and regards us as neighbors, good neighbors, why you should put a (inaudible) and more force on your borders?

WATSON: But there are two sides to this tension. We traveled from Latvia, across Lithuania, to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave in Europe that's cut

off from mainland Russia.

In Soviet times, this was a heavily militarized place, closed off from the outside world. Kalinengrad was recently thrust back into the spotlight

after Russia deployed nuclear capable missiles here. Russia's top diplomat defended the move, arguing it's the U.S. that's threatening

Russia.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, it's our territory. But the plans of the United States, not only to -- well, they quadrupled, I

think, the money allocated to support military deployment in Eastern Europe. Then they moved NATO infrastructure next to our borders.

WATSON: Kaliningrad is still the headquarters of the Russian navy's Baltic fleet and Moscow has been flexing its own muscles, performing military

drills in the region.

In 2014, western governments punished Russia's actions in Ukraine with economic sanctions. They've contributed to a broader economic crisis in

Russia that's got everyone we talked to worried about the future.

"Of course I feel bad when they always blame Russia for everything that's gone wrong in the world," says Constantin Smirnov (ph). This

confrontation, he tells me, is not good for anyone.

Rival militaries maneuvering along opposite sides of increasingly tense borders in a land that still bears scars from the last time armies fought

here.

The countryside around Kaliningrad is dotted with dozens of old German churches like this one, abandoned and in ruins after the Soviet army

invaded and conquered this land. Reminders of what happened the last time tensions spun out of control in this part of Europe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[08:10:05] WATSON: Now let's go back to Matthew Chance in Moscow.

Matthew, I heard many accusations in Latvia, a member of the NATO military alliance. In Ukraine, a country that's been at war with separatists backed

by Russia, accusations of meddling in their internal affairs, accusations of Russian imperialistic policies.

What does Moscow say in response to those accusations, which have been going on for years?

CHANCE: Well, when it comes to Latvia, for instance, there's a large ethnic Russian minority in that country, and the Russian position is this

ethnic minority of Russians is not given adequate protection under the law of Latvia, and it has discriminated against by that nation and so it

intervenes diplomatically to try and, it says, protect the rights of ethnic Russians.

It's a similar argument they used in eastern Ukraine and in Crimea, of course, in 2014 when Russia backed an uprising in the east of the country

and, of course, annexed part of Ukraine, the Crimean peninsula where it has -- which was the base of its -- still is the face of its Black Sea fleet.

And so this idea that there are ethnic Russians in these countries, that Moscow assumes responsibility over, and will intervene in their defense,

whether invented or otherwise, as it did so in Ukraine, is absolutely terrifying for these countries that as you pointed out have endured or

endured in the past, you know, decades of Soviet rule.

They fear that an expansionist Russia could move again against them as indeed it has in the case of Ukraine. And so these fears are very well

founded.

What we're seeing and what's interesting is with the Trump presidency about to take place, you know, he's spoken very sympathetically about Russia's

point of view. He's spoken about NATO expansion and about the use of NATO, saying he wouldn't necessarily jump to the defense of the Baltics if they

were attacked. That must be very worrying for a country like Latvia.

He's spoken about looking again at the recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea. That's, of course, music to the ears of the Kremlin, but it

would be seen to perhaps encourage Russia and their military expansionism in that part of eastern Europe.

And so we're at a very concerning moment when it comes to Russia and eastern Europe. There's a great deal of insecurity what a Trump presidency

is going to mean for that region.

WATSON: Absolutely, Matthew. I heard a lot of unease and concern from leaders in some of those former Soviet states. Matthew Chance, live from

Moscow, providing very important perspective at this rather momentous period in history. Thank you very much, Matthew.

we continue our special look at a changing russia's impact on the world all week here on cnn. And I'll have a report from Ukraine. Even though there

is a cease-fire in place there, there's still tension between Ukrainian and Russian forces, and that's coming up later this week.

Now, the U.S. is dealing with another diplomatic flap, this one with China. The Pentagon says China has agreed to return a U.S. underwater drone it

seized in the South China Sea, but details of the transfer are still being worked out.

Beijing says it opposes U.S. naval activities in the area.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUA CHUNYING, CHINESE FOREIGN MILITARY SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): First, I want to say we strongly dislike the term"steal," as it's entirely

inaccurate. As for what really happened, it was made very clear in the statement by the defense ministry spokesman. The Chinese navy discovered

the device and identified and verified it in a responsible and professional manner. Whether the device was lifted out of water or dragged in water, I

think the key point was that the Chinese navy did so in a responsible and professional manner and they did so to prevent it from harming navigational

and personal safety of passing ships.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Donald Trump has reacted to the news by turning to his favorite social media: Twitter. But his response has drawn harsh words from the

Chinese state media. Matt Rivers has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Will the seizure of this U.S. navy under water drone by a Chinese naval ship really played out along the entirety of

the weekend. We found out about it on Friday, it was on Saturday that the ministry of defense here in Beijing confirmed what had happened and said it

would be returning that drone to the United States. And then it was President-elect Donald Trump's turn to weigh in.

He tweeted twice about this issue with the second tweet appearing to be a little more aggressive saying that the United States should just let China

keep the drone and not worry about getting it back.

And then on Sunday it was the state run media here in China. It was their turn to weigh in on all of this. And it was the state-run tabloid newspaper

called the Global Times which is known for its provocative use on issues like this that really stood out to us.

Let me read you some of the editorial that was written about the subject. It read in oart, quote, "The tone of bystander fanning flames in Trump's

second tweet is particularly worrisome that he might treat the relationship between super powers as a game, given that he has not been in the White

House, the official Chinese rhetoric about him so far has been measured. But this restraint will not last when he officially becomes president if he

still treats China the way he did today."

And that really matters because state-run newspapers in China are just that, they are state-run, nothing gets published here even if it is an

editorial without the sign off of communist party sensors.

And so while you might not see a spokesman with a ministry of foreign affairs getting up and making a provocative statement like that, the fact

is that this is a state-run newspaper expressing state views.

Now, a big question here that's remaining in Beijing, is how will this incident affect U.S./ Chinese relations going forward. If you look at what

has happened over the past couple of weeks. It's just the latest negative incident frankly in terms of the relationship between both sides, and it

all surrounds the incoming Trump administration.

Donald Trump taking a call in early December from the president of Taiwan and questioning the one-China policy and then tweeting about this latest

incident and it's drawn the eye of the Chinese government.

And so whether that is part of the Trump's administration plan moving forward, we're still not sure this kind of tough take on China. But it is

safe to say here at least on the Chinese side of things that the Chinese government given their statement statements in what they're saying in state

media not really happy so far with the take and the track of the incoming Trump administration.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[08:16:58] WATSON: Let's turn now to Syria, that's where thousands of stranded people have now been evacuated from eastern Aleppo. Turkey's

foreign minister says 4,500 residents made it out safely Monday morning. The latest evacuations are part of a complex deal.

Government forces have demanded that villagers be allowed to leave two Shiite towns in exchange for allowing the Aleppo evacuations to continue.

The evacuations simply can't come soon enough for the wounded at one makeshift hospital. ITN's Simon Israel filed this report earlier. And a

warning, some viewers might find this report disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON ISRAEL, ITN REPORTER: They said they needed 50 ambulances for 120 patients, today, they were promised only two, under the renewed evacuation

plan. Yet, in every corridor in every corner on every inch of floor lie the injured, the sick and the dying in this makeshift hospital basement.

He's been waiting a week and the bleeding won't stop. As the hours tick by, still no news, no ambulances, no buses. The desperation, the urgency

increases. This man wants his friend to be treated as a priority, now they've been told only two ambulances will be coming.

"Two cars are only enough for four cases. Nothing more than that. The rest of the injured people are still in the only field hospital left inside the

city. The rest of the injured are all over the streets and no one are listening to our calls."

And then there are the babies whose cries have barely heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She's two months old, just arrived here in the hospital. They were at the checkpoint for three hours and the

weather was very cold. They couldn't cross and they came back, just cramps now, there's no pediatrician and no basic medicines.

ISRAEL: Their releases from Aleppo has been hanging on one crucial condition, the freedom of hundreds of others in the besieged pro-Assad

villages of Foua and Kefraya. A convoy of buses was laid on.

But then a Sunni extremist faction intervene and set fire to the fleet before it could reach those villages.

"We won't let you evacuate this year, you pick," said one attacker, "they've only come out when they are dead."

Back in the rebel enclave of eastern Aleppo tonight, all hope has been crushed. And the sick and the injured have returned to their precarious

existence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Now we are cleaning the hospital preparing all the rooms to start working again. And we are -- or we will

stay here now. And we don't know if we will leave. And no hope but all to leave.

[08:20:24] ISRAEL: But that is not the picture Syrian state TV is broadcasting tonight. It shows half a dozen buses with it said militants

and their families waiting a checking to cross into the west of the city and free them. Yet one person can be seen on the coaches or on the road

side.

The injured and the vulnerable are supposed to be their priority in an evacuation from a war zone where civilians and fighters live alongside each

other. Tonight, by any account they were not.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: Still ahead on News Stream, a formal vote to make Donald Trump the next U.S. president. That takes place in the hours ahead. The outcome is

usually taken for granted, but not this time. We'll tell you why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WATSON: Welcome back to News Stream. Broadcasting live from Hong Kong.

Let's take a look now at politics in the U.S. That's where Donald Trump's path to the White House is taking its last steps. Members of the U.S.

electoral college are to meet in the hours ahead to formally elect the next U.S. president. They'll vote state by state. Congress is to tally the votes next month, on January 6th, and

announce the result.

Typically, the electoral college honors the results of the November election, and that's expected to happen this time around, as well, but some

electors have faced pressure to flip and vote against Trump.

One of those electors from Texas says he plans to do just that. And our Kyung Lah has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The threats keep coming to Christopher Supran, from raping his wife and daughters with a knife before

killing him, to warnings on social media, to messages on his cell phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You better get your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) straight. We coming after you.

CHRISTOPHER SUPRAN, TEXAS ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTER: People have put out my home address, they've put out my home phone number. We're now at a place

where oh, you're not going to vote the way I want, I'm going to kill you.

LAH: All because Supran is a Republican Texas elector in the Electoral College. He's a so-called faithless elector. The conservative lifelong

Republican will not vote for Donald Trump even though the GOP easily won Texas.

Why not vote for Donald Trump? I mean, isn't that what you're supposed to do?

SUPRAN: If I'm a rubber stamp that's exactly what I'm supposed to do. This is, unfortunately, the first time I think we've needed to use it as a

nation but it's time to pull the brake.

[08:25:04] LAH: He claims that goal of stopping Trump has made him the target of a smear campaign. Supran says he was a Dale City, Virginia

volunteer paramedic at the Pentagon on 9/11. He says Trump supporters are alleging he was never there, a claim he calls outrageous. The Dale City

fire department says Supran was a volunteer member from 2000 to 2002 but can't find a record of where he was on 9/11.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These electors are charged with a constitutional responsibility.

LAH: The electoral vote is something we usually never pay attention to but 2016 has been anything but usual.

BRET CHIAFALO, WASHINGTON STATE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTER: Bottom line, he hasn't won yet. The only vote that matters when it comes to president has

not happened yet.

LAH: Bret Chiafalo, Democratic Washington State elector, formed the Hamilton Electors the day after the election, now trying to urge Electoral

College members across the country to block Trump from 270 votes. For that to happen, 37 Republican electors must flip. Supran is the first Republican

to publicly flip but Chiafalo says he's heard from others.

CHIAFALO: We believe that there's a -- there's a large group of people who are staying silent out of fear or maybe because they haven't made a final

decision. But we do believe there's dozens of Republican electors who are seriously considering not voting for Donald Trump.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The tellers will announce the votes.

LAH: But even if that remote possibility happens the House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, elects the president. He's

still going to win.

SUPRAN: He's still going to win.

LAH: So isn't this all pointless then?

SUPRAN: Not if you're trying to vote your conscience. Not if you're trying to do the right thing and bring up the issue. I've been hoping he would

become the president we all want him to be but he keeps proving me wrong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: Now, Kyung Lah joins us live now from Austin, Texas. Great to see you, Kyung.

A question for you, if electors like this man that you interviewed break with tradition and their

party and vote against Donald Trump, could they face any possible penalties?

LAH: It varies state by state. Here in the state of Texas, Ivan, nothing happens. There's nothing in the state rules or the state legislature, or

state laws even that says he has to vote for Donald Trump, that he has to go the way the party voted here in this state.

So he basically could do whatever he wanted. He said he could put in the name Mickey Mouse if he wanted. But he is probably going to fill in

somebody he thinks is notable, who is a Republican. In other states, though, for example, Bret Chiafalo, who is a Democrat in the state of

Washington, who you heard in my story, he faces a $1,000 fine, that's why they've started a fund to try to help these electors if they face these

fines, if they have to go to court, some fund to help them out -- Ivan.

WATSON: that's remarkable.

Now, let's assume that Donald Trump does formally, officially win the electoral college. Historically, how strong will his electoral mandate be

going into the next four years?

LAH: Well, if you look at the numbers, it isn't particularly strong. It's not particularly notable in being higher than any others, despite what he's

tweeted out, despite what he's said publicly in his thank you tour.

He's not going in with a mandate, neither the popular vote nor electoral vote. So, that is something that they are going to have to deal with, the

incoming administration.

This -- what we're seeing today is simply a thorn in his side. This last Hail Mary pass to try

to stop him really speaks to the discord in this country, the division inside this country and how he will not be entering the White House with

any sort of mandate, Ivan.

WATSON: All right, Kyung Lah live from Austin, Texas. Thank you very much, Kyung.

Coming up on News Stream, Malaysia warns an entire region could be in danger unless Myanmar changes its treatment of the Rohingya. We'll have

the latest next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(HEADLINES)

[08:32:34] WATSON: Malaysia's foreign minister has spoken out against Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority, saying it threatens

the region's security and stability. Speaking at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Yangon, his statement follows

multiple reports that the Myanmar army has burnt down Rohingya villages. Our Saima Mohsin has all the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORROESPONDENT: Myanmar's treatment could undermine regional stability and security and is grown to be of huge

concern, that's according to Malaysia's foreign minister at the unprecedented meeting. Simultaneously, while ASEAN's foreign ministers

were meeting in Yangon, Amnesty International released a damning report that says that Myanmar's military actions in Rakine State could amount to

crimes against humanity.

Now, the human rights organization has based their findings on interviews with people that have

told them of unlawful killings, multiple rapes, also photographs, video evidence, and even satellite imagery that they say reveals how entire

villages have been burnt down, reduced to scorched earth.

But in what's become almost a standard response to dismiss these kind of allegations, Myanmar's government says that Amnesty International based

their report on unsubstantiated allegations, made up photos, and made up captions that were floating in the mass media, even

accusing them of stoking up international uproars, inciting extremism, hatred, and armed attacks would definitely not solve the problems in

Rakine.

But Amnesty International isn't alone, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says that Myanmar's denial are highly insulting to the victims.

UNHCR spokesperson says...

RAVINA SHAMDASANI, UN HUMAN RIGHTS SPOKESWOMAN: The high commissioner warns the government of Myanmar that it's shortsighted, counterproductive,

and even callous approach to handling the crisis in northern Rakine, including its failure to allow independent monitors to access the worst

affected areas. This could have grave long-term repercussions for the country and the region.

MOHSIN: But some action has been agreed. Indonesia's foreign minister after the meeting said that Myanmar has allowed ASEAN members to provide

humanitarian assistance inside those in Rakine State. The details, though, aren't known yet.

Saima Mohsin, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[08:35:19] WATSON: Coming up on News Stream, while the world looks at Europe and the Middle East, the migrant crisis this South and Central

America has taken a back seat. We give it some attention next with a special report after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WATSON: Welcome back to News Stream. While western Europe is being flooded by refugees from Syria and other troubled countries, there's

another migration crisis in the Americas. Thousands trek through Central America hoping to reach a better life in the U.S., but on the way they face

the threat of human traffickers.

Shasta Darlington has today's CNN Freedom Project report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The buzzing border town of Paso Canoas, the main crossing between Costa Rica and Panama long an

important trade and tourist route.

In recent months, however, the town has seen an unprecedented influx of migrants. Tracking north from South America. Thousands of them many

originally from Africa and the Caribbean bound for the United States.

Closing a logistical and humanitarian nightmare for the government of Costa Rica, Communications Minister Mauricio Herrera Ulloa spearheading the

effort to process them.

MAURICIO HERRERA ULLOA, COSTA RICAN COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER: At this moment Costa Rica is absolutely overwhelmed with immigration situation. No one

were prepared or was thinking in the possibility that received 10,000 people from Haiti or for Africa.

DARLINGTON: Cy Winter of the International Organization for Migration is in charge of border management for north, south and Central America. He

worries that migrants will lose patience with the bottlenecks and look for another way across the border putting them at risk for human trafficking.

CY WINTER, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION REPRESENTATIVE: I can't get through the front door so they go through the window. And by doing that

they end up unknown to the state, and so a country doesn't know the person, the person doesn't have access to the services of the country. And that's a

core vulnerability that can be capitalized on by traffic.

DARLINGTON: Costa Rican officials say they're trying to process the migrants as quickly as possible. They're admitting 1 to 200 day, but there

is a waiting list several weeks long before migrants can receive a laissez- passer, the document that allows them into the country.

Once the migrants finally have those papers in their hands they're brought here to this warehouse that use to hold fertilizer. But now they can hold

up to 250 people, they get free meals, a roof over their head and a mattress to sleep on.

The shelter is just a few kilometers north of Paso Canoas. Many here say they were on the road for months before getting stuck on the Costa Rican

border. They're tired, frustrated and running out of money and they've heard the situation on Costa Rica's northern border isn't any better.

That's because Nicaragua has closed its borders to documented migrants, forcing thousands there into deplorable conditions and makeshift shelters

and tent villages.

[08:40:43] WINTER: The Costa Rican authorities are working to accommodate. They've got some 5,000 people and they're expecting that the number will

rise.

DARLINGTON: To stem the growing human trafficking concern in Costa Rica, the government has been cracking down on trafficking. At the same time, IOM

officials are trying to prevent human trafficking from happening in the first place.

They are meeting with migrants offering counseling and advice as new arrivals continue to pour in. Like these brothers who just arrived in Costa

Rica, optimistic and unaware of the backlog they're about to face.

WINTER: They, of course, want to go to the United States. That's all they're talking about. If they proceed as they are, i if they do run the

risk of becoming vulnerable, I thought them that they could easily become victims of labor exploitation.

DARLINGTON: None of the migrants I spoke with had even heard the term human trafficking. Winter says many people in this population are so accustomed

to being exploited but they don't recognize it as modern day slavery.

And to tens of thousands of migrants on the move throughout Central and South America, he fears this crisis is not likely to end any time soon.

Shasta Darlington, CNN in Paso Canoas, Costa Rica.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: Now, on Tuesday, Shasta Darlington introduces us to a migrant who has landed in Costa Rica, bound for the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): A lot of roads, lots of (inaudible) and a lot of walking, too. I pass Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and

Panama before arriving in Costa Rica.

DARLINGTON: Yolanda says she arrived four days ago, hoping to quickly receive a lesser passe (ph), the document she and her husband need to

legally enter Costa Rica and transit north to the next border, only to discover they'll have to wait six weeks just for an appointment with Costa

Rican immigration officials.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Catch the rest of the story Yolanda (ph) story on Tuesday. It's all part of the Freedom Project's series Perilous Journey, only on CNN.

And that is News Stream. I'm Ivan Watson. I want to wish everybody a happy holiday and hopefully a peaceful new year. Don't go anywhere. World

Sport with Alex Thomas is next.

END