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CONNECT THE WORLD
Mother of All Protest in Caracas. 11:30a-12:00p ET
Aired April 19, 2017 - 11:30:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:31:34] ZAIN ASHER, HOST: I want to go straight now to CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson who joins us live now from
outside 10 Downing Street.
So, Nic, I guess the calculation is, listen, Theresa May is popular. She's leading in the polls ahead of Labour. Why not make the most of it?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The calculation is that to make the most of it now, because there's a window before the real
negotiations begin with Brexit and she's seen that actually getting to the point of triggering Article 50 has been, you know, not as plain-sailing as she wants. All that
combined to take that opportunity now means as they come into the final phase of the Brexit negotiations in the runup to what would have been the
general election then, her position, her party's position, will be much stronger because there are unknown questions about the Brexit negotiations,
and she believes that it will make her position stronger in those negotiations, because she believes her opponents across the European Union
table won't be calculating, well, she's going to get held back, you know, with her domestic politics from pushing for this issue or this issue.
So, her calculation seems to be there is an opportunity. The situation is looking good for me. Let's go for it.
ASHER: And it is also interesting, Nic, because you have Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn actually backing calls for a snap election, and it is
interesting because a lot of people saying that the Labour Party actually stands the most to lose here.
If the Conservative Party ends up picking a lot more seats, what is the future for Jeremy Coburn?
ROBERTSON: This may be the end of the road. And certainly that is what pundits are saying, already the bookies already putting odds on who might
be the next leader of Labour.
You know, his supporters have sort of given him a year more in the leadership, this was almost a year ago. And he's being put to the test
sooner than his party had had anticipated that he would be. You know, this will be a test of his leadership. And I think for all those in his
party, the parliamentary representatives, in particular, have been pushing to get rid of him, but haven't been able to because of a broader party
rules and the broader mandate that he has from the party members might be the end of the road for him.
And the arguments he was making today in the prime minister's discussion, he hasn't been doing well for the economy, that they haven't been doing
well for the health service, for education, but these are the issues he's been fighting Theresa May on in the prime minister's question time for the
last number of months. And effectively, what it's bought him and his party is a lower rating in the polls.
So, it's hard to see how unless he significantly changes his narrative that he's going to turn things around.
So, this isn't - this is going to be a test of Jeremy Corbyn as well, and he may not measure up as well as his supporters would hope.
ASHER: But he's backing that snap election nevertheless. OK, Nic Robertson, live for us there. Thank you so much.
And I want to bring you now another story that we are following, We are tracking mass anti-government protests that are happening as I speak right
now in Venezuela. The country is struggling under the weight of an economic crisis. These are pictures of the protests. It's being called,
rather, the mother of all protests.
You see the people there wearing white. They are the opposition. And they are accusing Preident Nicholas Maduro of turning the government into a
dictatorship. And recently the main opposition leader was actually banned for politics for 15 years. The president, though, is deploying armed
forces in preparation for today's rally. And his supporters, as you can see there, in red, his supporters are wearing red, they are also gathering
I want to go straight now to journalist Stefano Pozebon who joins me live now via Skype from Caracas.
So, Stefano, thank you so much for being with us.
Venezuela is dealing with a political crisis and also a major economic crisis that we've been reporting on for several months now. Just explain
to our audience what is - what it likely to change as a result of these protests today?
OK, it looks as though we do not have our Stefano Pozebon who is a journalist that was going to be joining us from Caracas, as you can see
there. As you can see there, these are live pictures from Caracas, Venezuela where it's just gone 11:30 in the morning. The people there
wearing white and the mutli sort of colored Venezuelan flags there are the opposition.
They are the ones opposing President Maduro's crackdown on the opposition. And we will try and get Stefano Pozebon back later on in the show.
I want to turn now to tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Vice President Mike Pence is ruling out direct negotiations with Pyongyang for
now. He spoke to our Dana Bash in an exclusive interview about North Korea's nuclear and ballistic weapons programs. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Will the U.S. actually sit down in any way, shape or form for diplomatic negotiations with the North
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, whether you go back to the agreed framework of the 1990s or the...
BASH: Well, Not that, just looking forward, whatever version it would be. Will there be any negotiating whether it's direct -- I mean, you can answer
that. Could you see a direct negotiation with North Korea and the U.S.?
PENCE: I think not at this time. The policy that President Trump has articulated was to marshal the support of our allies in the region here in
Japan, in South Korea, nations around the world and China who have taken the position now for decades of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
BASH: You've got your rhetorical strategy down and so does the president, but is it a rhetorical strategy in search of an actually practical,
PENCE: I think it's -- I think it's imminently practical. I think the president's direct engagement with President Xi of China and the fact that
now you've seen China turning back coal shipments from North Korea, making changes in the ability of people to travel by air from Pyongyang into China
and other measures that they may well take in the future is -- demonstrates the kinds of hands-on diplomacy that President Trump has brought to this.
And that's what it will take. And the only thing we need to hear from North Korea is that they are ending and ultimately dismantling their nuclear
ballistic missile programs. They fail to do that, we've made it clear. All options are on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: All right. I want to go back now to those anti-government protests happening right now in Venezuela. It looks as though we do have journalist
Stefano Pozzebon who is joining us by phone, because as you saw there we did have problems with that Skype connection.
So, Stefano, can you actually hear me?
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, I can hear you loud and clear now. Thanks for having me.
ASHER: No problem, great to have you back.
So, just explain to us - I was asking you before the Skype froze, explain to us what you think is likely to change as a result of the protests we are
seeing today, the so-called mother of all protests is what it's being nicknamed.
POZZEBON: Exactly. So, the opposition - today is an important day for Venezuela, because it's where back in the 19th Century is when the struggle
for the independence started. So, it's already a national holiday. And about three weeks ago, the opposition called for a massive show of force by
taking Caracas - Caracas street and literally overflooding it with protesters.
Right now, I'm in (inaudible) which is in the east of the capital. And what I'm seeing is mainly
protesters from middle class areas, families, small children are here, gathering together and trying to
show that the vast majority, trying to - what they're trying to sure is that the vast majority of Venezuelan are not in support of President
Of course, now the government has called for their own election - their own march that we're having through (inaudible) taking place right at the same
time in they are trying to show the vast majority of the children are not in support of the president.
ASHER: And actually we're just looking at pictures from the other marches that people - I just want to explain to our audience, the people who are
wearing the red caps and the red t-shirts, they are actually pro-Maduro supporters.
The earlier pictures you were looking at were part of the opposition.
So, Stefano, just explain to us how I'm looking at how much a military presence are you seeing where you are, where the opposition is marching.
POZZEBON: So, where I am now, there is not that much media presence on the street. Now what's the significance of this march is that the opposition
has been trying for years to march toward the government building in the west of the national capital. And that has never been allowed. So far we
have seen a big military build-up towards these buildings to once again block the march as it will move from the east of the city, which is a
mainly opposition-controlled area towards the west, which is where most government buildings and to the west, where the most government buildings
such as the parliament, the presidential palace are located.
We will see that later this afternoon probably these people who are on the street right here in the east, will try to reach the government opposition
- the government-controlled area and the national guard and military is trying to prevent the opposition to reach these government buildings, which
is a massive symbolic signficance for Venezuela.
ASHER: All right. Stefan Pozzebon, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
POZZEBON: Thank you for having me.
ASHER: Of course, any time.
Well, you are watching Connect the World. Still to come on the program, a former NFL star who was convicted of murder and ends up committing suicide
in prison. We will have more on this tragic and shocking story after the break.
ASHER: You are watching CNN and this is Connect the World with me, Zain Asher. Welcome back.
A former American football star has committed suicide in prison. 27-year- old Aaron Hernandez, for our international viewers who may not be as familiar with him - he was a football player. He played for a number of
years with the New England Patriots and had a promising career. But more recently he was serving a prison sentence for murder. But he was acquitted
of a separate murder charge just last week. And he was found hanged in his cell.
I want to go straight now to New York and speak to CNN's Jean Casarez. So, Jean, just explain to us the circumstances of his death. Just looking at
my email here, just got word that the Hernandez family atorney says that they will be investigating the circumstances of his death. What more can
you tell us.
JEAN CESARAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Jose Baez is saying that there was no indication at all. This is one of his attorneys in the murder
case that he was just acquitted of on Friday, that there was nothing to show that he would be prone to be wanting to commit suicde here. And so
the family is asking, and they will be leading an investigation as well as the state of Massachusetts. The commonwealth is leading an investigation
right now also.
But it was 3:05 this morning when prison officials at the correctional institution in Shirley, Massachusetts went to his cell and found Aaron
Hernandez with a bed sheet around his neck tied to a window in his cell. But the unusual thing was that according to prison
officials there were a lot of items that were against the door of his prison cell as if not wanting someone to get in.
But they did get in. They tried to resuscitate him. Emergency personnel arrived at the scene. He was transported to the University of
Massachusetts emergency room. He was pronounced dead a little after 4:00 this morning. But the ironic thing was, on Friday, he had just been
acquitted in a double murder case in Massachusetts. He had a new attorney, Jose Baez, who said that he was going to try to get his conviction of Odom
Lloyd (ph), that was a murder conviction from 2015, going to try to get that
overturned. So things were really looking up for him.
On the other hand, Zain, after he got the acquittal, he went back to his prison cell because serving a life-term day for day of the murder of Odom
ASHER: Both tragic and complex. Jean Casarez live for us. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.
All right, still to come here on Connect the World, Donald Trump congratulates Turkey's president while the EU gives him the cold shoulder.
We'll look at the very different responses to a referendum, that dramatically increases President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers. That's
ASHER: Welcome back. You're watching CNN and this is Connect the World with me, Zain Asher. One phone call has landed Donald Trump in a world of
controversy. He is under fire for congratulating Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the referendum that dramatically increases his powers.
Mr. Trump, on that phone call did not mention any of the concerns about the contested
vote or its consequences.
But, in fact, his own State Department ended up noting the widespread voting irregularities, even though the president did not. The State
Department warned Turkey to protect democratic rights and freedoms. Meantime, the White House is defending Mr. Trump's call saying that he is
aware of the concerns. He knows about them, but he specifically wanted to focus on Turkey's critical role in fighting terror and fighting ISIS. And
we are seeing a much more muted response in Europe. Many leaders there are troubled by this referendum and the direction that Turkey seems to be going
in. President Erdogan is sounding increasing hostile towards the EU, even though Turkey is in talks to join the bloc. He's even floated he's floated
the idea that Turkey could join a security alliance with Russia and China instead of the EU.
Let's talk more about this with Amberin Zaman, a public policy fellow with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She joins us live now
So, thank you so much for being with us.
So, do you think that President Erdogan is effectively, in some way, closing the door on EU membership with this referendum?
AMBERIN ZAMAN, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: Well, he's certainly wielding that threat, but but he also knows that the European Union needs Turkey very
badly because of all the Syrian refugees that he occasionally threatens to unleash on them. Let's not forget that they concluded this deal, Turkey
and the European Union, whereby Turkey would receive billions of euros in exchange for becoming something of a holding pen for all these Syrian
You know there are about 3 million of them in Turkey, and some of them radicalized
[11:50:16] ASHER: So, from your perspective, in terms of Turkey's direction and Turkey's future, how does the country heal from this?
Obviously, it was a very close margin. There's certainly a disputed vote. How does the country go about healing? How does President Erdogan unite
both sides of this divide.
ZAMAN: Well, he's not showing any inclination so far to unite. In fact, his rhetoric remains quite polarizing. He's openly dismissed regulations
of the irregularities rather than saying, well, we'll look into this. He sort of said well it's too late, guys. He's likened it to a football match
and said when you win, you win. That's it.
So the prospect of healing seems a pretty distant one at this point. If anything, I think Turkey is more sharply divided than ever before. The
good news is the fact that this vote was so close points to the fact that despite all the adversity that the opposition faced, they were still able to muster 48 percent. That's pretty big considering that
so many people have been jailed, the press has been muzzled, and the no- campaign was under heavy pressure.
ASHER: So the opposition is, in a sense, emboldened just because of how narrow the yes vote won by.
ZAMAN: I'm afraid I didn't catch that. Is what? The opposition is -- emboldened sorry.
ASHER: Yes, is the opposition emboldened by the fact that the vote was won by so - such a narrow margin.
ZAMAN: Well, they should be heartened by it. And the main opposition party, in fact, petitioned the supreme court electoral board to in fact
cancel the referendum result, though that was predictably overturned, but you do get a sense that, yes, indeed they're emboldened. They're claiming
the victory as their own. But the main problem unfortunately remains that the opposition Turkey remains deeply divided. At one end, you have ultra
nationalists, and at the other end of that spectrum, you have Kurdish nationalists.
And in the middle, you have liberals, secularists, how do you you unite all these people? How do they coalesce around, you know, around an opposition
that is unified?
ASHER: Is there essentially a plan for that to be able to unite the different fractions of the opposition then?
ZAMAN: Unfortunately, the only person who seemed to be able to get close to doing that, who is the leader of the biggest pro-Kurdish bloc in the
parliament, who managed to get votes from secularists, liberals, Kurds, even religious conservatives, he's currently in jail now.
ASHER: All right. Amberlin thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate that.
ZAMAN: Thank you.
ASHER: And Turkey is clearly a country split in two. And just as the political differences divide the country in half, so the Bosphorus Strait
slices through Istanbul, its largest city by far, the city spanning captivate millions new to the streets every single year. Among them? The
photographer Andola Rahman Jigar (ph). Take a listen.
UNIDENITIFIED MALE: I'm a designer photographer. I took these photos four years ago when I came to Istanbul for the first time in my life.
I chose Istanbul for many reasons. First, for somebody who came from Yemen, like myself, you
find lots things in common. It's close from my home and it's in the center of the world map.
There is another interesting fact about people in Istanbul and in Turkey in general that this community is diverse by default. Each area in this city
has its own flavor. I prefer the Asian part of the city. I feel that people there are a little bit calmer than the European
If you noticed a big (inaudible) is wearing green and watching the sea, that is my favorite photo.
[11:55:03] ASHER: An incredible city, but there's actually somewhere you can even go right now for free. Let me introduce you to our Facebook page.
There it is, CNN Connect the World. All you have to do is go to Facebook.com/cnnconnect. We have got the very best parts from today's
show, all the stories we are following, including of course Becky Anderson's interview with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Just get in
touch any time you want. And if that's not enough, you can also reach me directly. I always try and response to my tweets. My Twitter handle is
All right, I am Zain Asher, and that was Connect the World. Appreciate you watching. Have a great week.