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U.S. calls out china for trade with Pyongyang; Trump Speech to Outline Vision for Transatlantic Ties; World Leaders Face Major Challenges, Divisions; Arab Gulf Diplomatic Crisis Reaches Impasse; Arab States Reject Qatar's Response to Demands; Venezuela Rocked by Violent Protest and Clashes; Tweeted Antics Showcase Tough Styles. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 6, 2017 - 00:00   ET

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


[00:00:10] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone, this is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour the world is on notice. The United States telling the U.N. it is time for more economic pressure on North Korea and leaves the door open again to military action.

A world of problems awaiting 20 leaders as they converge on Germany this week, how Donald Trump's leadership in particular will be put to the test. And lawmakers bloodied in Venezuela after government's orders stormed the national assembly.

Hello and welcome to our viewers around the word. I am Michael Holmes. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

Welcome, everyone. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley says the world is on notice. North Korea's latest missile launch is a clear and sharp military escalation and U.S. could respond with military action. The Pentagon says the missile is one the U.S. had not seen before, a two-stage rocket that could possibly Alaska.

U.S. President Donald Trump is in Poland right now, he's going to be meeting in the coming days with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, also China's Xi Jinping in hopes of resolving the crisis. CNN's Michelle Kosinski begins our coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Emergency meeting at the United Nations.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I must say that today is a dark day. It is a dark day because yesterday's actions by North Korea made the world a more dangerous place. Their illegal missile launch was not only dangerous but reckless and irresponsible.

KOSINSKI: Kim Jung-un has been undaunted despite the unprecedented sanctions the U.N. imposed a year ago, on the already isolated nation. The latest launch of new technology, heralded as a 4th of July gift to the American bastards, an intercontinental ballistic missile that flew more than 500 miles, one that could be capable of reaching the United States. HALEY: It showed that North Korea does not want to be part of a peaceful world. They have cast a dark shadow of conflict on all nations that strive for peace.

KOSINSKI: And the U.S. issuing a strong warning to other countries, especially China that continue to feed the North Korean regime with steady and even increased trade.

HALEY: There are countries that are allowing, even encouraging trade with North Korea in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Such countries also like to continue their arrangements with the United States, that's not going to happen, time is short, action is required. The world is on notice.

KOSINSKI: China and Russia though have been resistant to putting the plan go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): We are against any statements or actions which could lead to an escalation and harming of antagonism. We call for all interested states to act with restraint rather than provocation and warmongering.

KOSINSKI: And it's not secret why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump's challenge is going to be to really get to China and Russia to help box in North Korea, but so far, there is basically no leverage because the Chinese want to keep North Korea exactly the way it is.

KOSINSKI: And now China and Russia have agreed to work together on the matter, putting out a statement yesterday that was essentially a review of U.S. method, calling for the U.S. and South Korea to stop working together on missile defense and end their joint military exercises.

The Pentagon's response, a review of its own, video showing missile defense exercises in action, which is planned to continue. Today South Korea released yet another defiant visual, simulating an attack on the North. As the Trump administration amps up its rhetoric, it remains unclear how far the U.S. will go to stop North Korea.

HALEY: Their actions are quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution. The United States is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies.

KOSINSKI (on camera): So on the one hand you have Russia and China in there advocating for dialogue, even without preconditions which the U.S. has been against, saying that you need to be creative with diplomacy. They oppose the kind of rhetoric and stance that the U.S. has put out there. But in response, the U.S. says, because nothing has worked it is time to do more. Telling the Security Council that, if you're going to sit there and not vote for additional sanctions against North Korea then you are holding hands with Kim Jung-un.

[00:05:14] Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Let's take you out not to Seoul in South Korea, CNN Paula Hancocks. So, Paula, essentially you have the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. calling out China trade with North Korea, talking about new measures to put to the U.N. but no detail on what they might be. How is all of this playing out the region?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Michael, we heard from the factory president, in Germany right now, he was very pro-dialogue, pro-engagements with North Korea. He's now calling for tougher sanctions on North Korea since this ICMB threat. So we're certainly seeing the fact, toughening up his talk when it comes North Korea. He's also said that, his assessment that they have made a lot quicker progress than previously expected when it comes that nuclear and missile program. We heard a similar thing from the -- the spokesperson just this morning in a briefing, saying that that they believe that they have made a significant progress in miniaturizing nuclear warheads.

And of course this is crucial because if you put a nuclear warhead unto that ICBM then North Korea has its stated goal of being able to hit mainland United States with a nuclear tipped ICBM. No we also heard from the Defense Minister, suggesting that nuclear test number six could be just around the corner. So all these concerns, you have the United States also, as just mentioned, pointing that the military option is an options still, there are some within the U.S. trying to pull back from the military discussion.

HOLMES: Two options, some rather interesting comment from a U.S. commander saying, you know, self explain to you anything, keeping it from war.

HANCOCKS: Well that's right. This is a General Vincent Brooks, the head of the U.S. forces in Korea, under the United Nations command. And he's been more outspoken that he usually is, he's usually quite cautious in what he said. This is the statement with his Korean counterpart where he said, "Self restraint, which is a choice, is all that separates armistice and war. Saying that obviously that they're doing those live fire drills which they carried out yesterday to have a response to North Korea's ICBM launch.

Really we're seeing stretched (ph) rhetoric from many sides. We know that there are going to be these continued drills between the U.S. and South Korea. China and Russia's request that they are frozen in return for the North Koreas weapons program being frozen really falling on deaf ears in the United States and in South Korea. It's not an option we have been hearing up until this point. Micheal?

HOLMES: Indeed Paula. Thanks so much. Paula Hancocks there in Seoul.

Well Mr. Trump now just hours away from delivering a speech in Warsaw, Krasinski Square. The White House saying, he will broadly spell out his vision for America's transatlantic ties. Western European leaders are watching these all very closely as you might imagine worried it might be seen as an endorsement of Poland's right-wing populist government. Warsaw has cracked down on opposition media and proposed constitutional reforms that are viewed as moves away from democratic norms.

Melissa Bell is in Warsaw, she joins us now the latest. How are you expecting the day to unfold, what do we likely to hear, as we say Mr. Trump in friendly turf politically there in Poland?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Much friendlier turf than his -- in his last visit Michael to Europe back in May. This time meeting at least with a government that is not totally far from his own positions on a number of questions, including immigration and nation's position with regard to international organizations.

So, the reception from the government here will be extremely warm, there will be a lot of focus as well in crown sizes, customary these days Michael with polls having been encourage really to come out and hear Donald Trump, will make this a big feat here in Warsaw later this morning. They've been on three transportation and great patriotic picnic, also the speech in order to come and hear the American president speak.

This one of the things, according to the press has been offered to Donald Trump, seeing encouraged by the British government to come, was that he would get this friendly reception far from the protest that are likely to great him by the time he reaches Hamburg. And really all eyes will be very much on specifically the language that the chooses, clearly his host want to hear him, much more clearly than he has in the past talk about the facts that the NATO treaty means when one country is attacked the NATO allies come in and help.

[00:10:08] You need only to really have a look at where Poland sits on the map in Europe, giving a sense why that is crucial, and the beyond the specifics of this populist policy that they share. There is also other common ground, skepticism towards Angela Merkel and Germany in particular. But also concern about Vladimir Putin, of course all these will also be extremely closely watched by the Russian President, not only, Michael, the question of security and how clearly Donald Trump restate his commitment to that NATO principle but also the question of energy.

One of the key priorities of the government here is to lessen their dependence on Russian natural gas, American delivery have already begun. Poland will be looking for the United States to give a far stronger signal that intends to allow it to decrease its dependence on Moscow.

HOLMES: All right. Melissa Bell there in Warsaw. Thank so much for that. And Warsaw looks like it could be a bit of a warmup for Donald Trump, ahead of the G20 Summit on Germany. After all, the world is waiting for that main event on Friday in Hamburg. That's when the U.S. president is said to make face to face for the first time with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. CNN's Nic Robertson brings us a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Of the world's 20 most powerful leaders gather in Hamburg, these two will seal the spotlights.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset not a liability.

ROBERTSON: Now in Germany at the G20 they will under intense speculation about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

TRUMP: I would love to be able to get along with Russia.

ROBERTSON: Trump has said so much about Putin in the past four years, 80 comments and counting. Their coming together could offer a filtering of fact from fiction. And now the poll side meeting has been upgraded to a fully fledged bilat (ph). But that doesn't mean President Trump will actually bring up the election hacking.

Indeed, don't count on any of the 20 leaders agreeing on anything significant, they've rarely been less united. Trump's mass global outing at the G7 a month ago saw him discing his partners, flatly refusing to join them endorsing the Paris climate change agreement, a topic in the G20 agenda. He has become not just disengaged but is estranged on the world stage.

Putin who has become a poria (ph) at these events since he invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea can expect more cold shoulders. All this as the host Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor goes to the polls later this year. She needs a successful summit, and she won't be the only one worried of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan who left the last G20 the leader of a democracy and returns an autocrat.

And then the Saudis, arriving with excess diplomatic baggage, a standoff with Qatar is unlikely to grow positively at the G20. The cost of characters is long and so is their list of problems, the British P.M. weakened leading new friends. Perhaps the ray on the horizon, the New French President Macron who bounced into this first global outing in May, signaling to Trump he is not first among equals. A message you'll likely hear in his bilat with Putin too.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Hamburg, Germany.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Well David Rohde is a CNN global affairs analyst and online news director for the New York, joining us from New York via Skype. Always good to see you sir. Donald Trump Twitted back in January, you probably recall, that North Korea nuclear missile capable of hitting the United States won't happen, but it looks like it is happening. Where does that leave the President as he heads to the G20?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think this is, you know, the important week of diplomacy of Trump's presidency. He did kind of, you know, he has tried to say rattling with North Korea, it hasn't worked, Kim Jung-un, you know, continues with his tests. And then he sort of embraced, you know, Chinese President Xi, that appears to not have worked as well. So, this is very high stakes 48 hours for Donald Trump. And it's not clear how he's going to perform. HOLMES: You make a good point that the President put a lot of eggs, so to speak, in the Chinese basket, and pretty much hoping in many ways that they do more, and of course they have not, at least not as much as the U.S. would like. Now the U.S. promising more action in the U.N., the fact is really though that nothing has worked when it comes to Kim Jung-un ambitions.

[00:15:10] Is the most likely outcome here in your view just accepting a nuclear-armed North Korea and then try to contain them?

ROHDE: I think it is unfortunately. Again, China is the critical player and, you know, there's lots and lots of attention of this meeting between Trump and Putin, but, I think the meeting between Trump and President Xi is just as important. You know China remains North Korea's largest trade partner, but most of the reports out of Beijing say that, you know, the Chinese government is more concerned about instability in North Korea, they don't want sort of massive flows of North Korea refugees coming into China, so they're not wanting to cut off trade in the way that U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called for today.

So, essentially, yes, you know, Kim Jung-un succeeds, and I agree with what Nikkie said, you're going to see very little agreement at this G20 meeting, the various international powers are I think more divided than they have been in years on many, many issues.

HOLMES: That's because the options are so limited. It was interesting you mentioned Donald Trump and Mr. Xi. He Twitted of course earlier that trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40 percent in the first quarter, so much for China working with us but we have to give it a try. I'm curious, given that he seem to be fairly chummy with Mr. Xi. What do you make of the tune of that tweet, you know, something that perhaps might work domestically, but how will it go down with the vary base conscious Chinese, and sort of that foreign policy in 140 characters again?

ROHDE: Yes. I don't think it's going to have much impact at all. Again, it might resonate with Americans as you said, but he's not trying to get tough with China, there was these new sanctions the U.S. announced last against Chinese banks that does business in North Korea. There was this -- the U.S., you know, close to an island that China claims as its own in South China Sea. So now, Trump is trying to get tough with Xi and I don't think again that works well publicly with China. They don't want to loose face.

So, for us, you know, strategy is kind of using military force and then he's talking about trade, you know, Ambassador Haley talks about that again, neither of those things seems to be working. He's got to kind of settle down and have clear strategies where I think many rivals, you know, Xi, you know, Putin, you know, European leaders Merkel who don't trust him. You know, he's going to lose his credibility unless he performs very well and is very calm and has clear strategies again in these crucial meetings.

HOLMES: Well to that very point, how much pressure then is President Trump under on the world stage as this sort of America first policy unfold, you've got, you know, a lot of international leaders appealing off, they're looking for leadership else where, all sorts of differences from NATO to climate change. I mean what sort of pressure is he under, what's the world order look like right now?

ROHDE: I think he's on enormous pressure, as I said earlier, this is the most important week of diplomacy of his presidency. And his rhetoric, you know, will be shown as hallow if his threats don't lead to changes in behavior, that's not happening in various places around the world. And then, you know, these meetings are critical and, you know, of course this is creating alliances if there was a more unified approach to North Korea. More sweeping kind of joint, you know, U.S. and European sanctions against North Korea.

That could, you know, if that was done quietly but very broadly and very effectively. Maybe that would lead to a change in China's approach to North Korea, who knows, but you need, you know, either credible threats or very strong alliances and we'll see in the next 48 hours if Trump can produce either one.

HOLMES: Yes. And also coming up, of course that meeting with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin, early indications from the U.S. administration, was that there was no formal agenda, albeit, there were suggestions of the Russian meddling in the U.S. elections might not even be raised by Mr. Trump. The state leverage (ph) always provide advice and tactics ahead of such meetings and woefully understaffed. Do you think Mr. Trump is prepared to handle, a well prepared and very experienced Vladimir Putin?

ROHDE: Look, I think he can. I want to give Trump credit, he's very good at these meetings, he's, you know, done this sort of thing throughout his life, the stakes are obviously much, much higher. So we'll have to see what comes out of the meeting. If he grants the unilateral concessions to Moscow, his political opponents in the U.S. will be all over that. Again, this question of why is he going easy on Russia, but, you know, let's see how Trump performs, maybe he'll handle the meeting well. You know, he's done better in his leaders, visits by foreign leaders in the White House than many expected.

[00:20:03] So, we'll see how he performs. But again, the stakes are just enormous, this is a critical period, again, for him on the international stage and it will impact, you know, I think the rest of his presidency.

HOLMES: David Rohde, as always, thanks for your expertise, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

ROHDE: Thanks.

HOLMES: Well the diplomatic crisis around Quarter, a decisive impasse, we will discuss what could happen next in that Gulf state view.

Also, Venezuela's opposition lawmaker is vowing to keep on working despite bloody clashes in the national assembly. More ahead on this Independence Day attack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back everyone. Qatar Airways says the U.S. has lifted its ban on electronic devices for direct flights from Doha. The so-called laptop ban has been in effect since March, baring passengers from bringing those and other large devices into the cabin. Other regional airlines including Emirates, Etihad, and Turkish Airlines announced that the ban has been lifted.

But four Arab states say their isolation of Qatar will continue. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates all rejecting Qatar's response to their list of demand. Jomana Karadsheh with the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anyone who is hoping for answers out of that meeting in Cairo, the foreign ministers of the Saudi-led alliance was probably disappointed. They did not announce what the next steps are, how they're going to handling Qatar's response to their list of 13 demands. Foreign ministers describing the Qatar response as negative. Take a listen to what the Egyptian foreign minister have to say.

SAMEH SHOUKRY, FOREIGN MINISTER, EGYPT (through translation): This position shows the lack of awareness of how dangerous the situation is, and the importance of committing to the principles the international community has agreed upon.

KARADSHEH: The foreign minister saying they will continue their consultations and announcing that their next meeting will take place in the Bahrain capital Manama, not specifying when that will happen.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Doha.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Mehran Kamrava, Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He joins me now live here in Los Angeles where you are visiting, and welcome. But professor, where does this go from here? You got two sides on this dispute who equally does not want to loose face. What happens now?

MEHRAN KAMRAVA, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY'S SCHOOL OF FOREIGN SERVICE IN QATAR: Well that's the $65,000 question. Everybody is trying to figure out what the next move is. We were all anticipating deescalation today and a face saving option. But that doesn't seem to be in the court at least any time soon.

HOLMES: Why is that, why is nobody prepared to give ground?

[00:25:02] KAMRAVA: Well, it appears as if the demands were really made to untenable, and Qatar being unable to meet them. For example, the closure of Al Jazeera would be political suicide for the Qatari leadership. And the expulsion of the Turkish military forces would be fully untenable for Qatar as well as for Turkey. HOLMES: So can Qatar as a nation withstand the sanctions, can they withstand them if they get worse?

KAMRAVA: They can. It would be very difficult, but they can withstand them. As you know Moody's already today downgraded Qatar's rating to negative. So there is definitely an economic cost to pay for Qatar. But the country does have robust international investments, it's got deep reserves and I think it's got sufficient number of friends globally that would enable it to withstand the pressure.

HOLMES: You know, one of the side effects of this is, that Qatar is getting help economically, in otherwise from Turkey, and from Iran as well. That's just going to anger the Saudis even more, Iran and Saudi Arabia of course traditional foes. How is that going to play out?

KAMRAVA: Well, that is definitely one of the dilemmas that the Saudis are facing. How do you put pressure on Qatar but at the same time don't necessarily push it towards Iran? In a way that Qatar will really leave the fold forever? And I think that is definitely a problem that the Saudis, the Emirates have to deal with.

HOLMES: The primary allegation here is that the Saudis and others are accusing Qatar of financing and supporting terrorist groups in their view. You know, there are those how say that the Saudis have been in the past accused of supporting certainly fundamentalist ideology in the export of Wahhabism around the world. How does -- how is that viewed in a regional sense, that sort of -- that sort of, you know, once size -- who's side is that?

KAMRAVA: Well you raise an excellent question, because none of the parties are innocent of what they're accusing Qatar. Qatar certainly has proxies, and some of those proxies are quite nefarious groups, but so do the Saudis, so do the Emirates, and for that matter the Egyptians themselves in Libya. And so I think that it is, the demand that Qatar sever its ties with some of these extremist groups is a little disingenuous when Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate and Egypt themselves have such proxies.

HOLMES: And, you know, as we all know the U.S. has a very strategically important military base I Qatar. When Donald Trump had visited Saudi Arabia and after that visit, when these all happened, he basically said, almost to credit for Saudi's actions against Qatar, saying yes I knew this was -- did that give cover to Saudi Arabia, did they feel emboldened by what was really support from Donald Trump, despite the U.S. interest in Qatar?

KAMRAVA: Absolutely. Certainly what transpired in Riyadh private discussion between the Saudis, Donald Trump, and the Emirates seems to have precipitated the crisis. And almost immediately after the crisis broke out that we saw policy dysfunction in the United States, with the Secretary of State Tillerson saying one thing then President Trump saying another thing. It appears as if a month into the crisis, United States now is on the same page. And, the state department and the White House are both calling for some sort of negotiated resolution to the crisis. HOLMES: Mehran Kamrava, thanks so much being with us professor. Appreciate you coming in.

KAMRAVA: Thank you.

HOLMES: More unrest in Venezuela as that country's political crisis worsens. Just ahead, we get some perspective from a former journalist who survived a kidnapping there. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:00] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, says it is time for tougher sanctions on North Korea and the countries that do business with Pyongyang. She called the north's latest missile test a clear and sharp escalation and warns the U.S. will take military action if necessary.

U.S. President Donald Trump is in Poland ahead of the G20 summit in Germany. The White House says his speech on Thursday will outline his vision for transatlantic ties. Western European leaders are watching the visit very closely. They've been critical of Poland's Democratic record of late.

Mr. Trump's speech to the people of Poland later Thursday also expected to help frame his planned meeting on Friday with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. The two will talk face to face for the first time at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. The U.S. president heads there later today amid fresh criticism from the German chancellor.

The halls of Venezuela's national assembly turned into a bloody scene on the country's Independence Day. Supporters of the President Nicolas Maduro storming the building on Wednesday and attacking opposition lawmakers and journalists.

At least a dozen people reportedly injured. This violence the latest escalation in Venezuela's ever worsening political and economic crisis.

Here's CNN's Leyla Santiago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Political unrest continues in Venezuela. We are at the border right now with Colombia where you can actually see people coming in from Venezuela into Colombia for what they call survival. Just to find basic goods, things like flour, cooking oil, even toilet paper, things that they can only find if they cross this border.

And when we talk to people, they really talk about how this is an impact of the political unrest, the economic instability that is playing out on the other side of the border. Just in the last few days, we've seen government supporters clashing with opposition groups not only in the Supreme Court, but also in the national assembly and also on the streets.

Protests, very violent protests certainly show the images of frustration, of desperation, of the need for relief.

And as we talk to people, even here on this bridge, they will tell you how they feel about the politics. Standing here, we had people who said "Viva Maduro," in other words, "Long live Maduro," the president.

And we also had people come to us and say, "Fuera, Maduro," "Get out, Maduro."

People feeling very strongly because it's impacting everyday lives as people cross this very border for relief.

We've talked to people who say they need medical supplies just to live. They need food. Very basic things to make it through these days in Venezuela.

Leyla Santiago, Cucuta, Colombia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And joining us now, Peter Wilson, former foreign policy journalist and author as well.

Peter, worrying it seems yet again in Venezuela. We had those clashes in the national assembly. Supporters of Maduro attacking lawmakers. Blood was spilled. The anti-Maduro protests as well.

Do you fear that this is edging closer to civil war?

PETER WILSON, FORMER FOREIGN POLICY JOURNALIST: Yes, I do. I think what you're seeing is a combination of more than two years of anti- government demonstration, protest.

Both sides are becoming very desperate. It's been two years of this type of violence, and the economic situation only exacerbates the situation.

[00:35:00] I think we're very close to a possible civil war breaking out. The government has called for a constitutional assembly. The vote on that will be July 30th.

The opposition, on the other hand, has called for a plebiscite whether or not they'll hold the vote on July 16th. I would suspect that today's attack on the national assembly is tied into the proximity of those two dates. This is coming -- this is reaching a climax.

HOLMES: You know the country very well. You lived there for many years, and personally witnessed how it started going downhill.

You were kidnapped yourself, a victim of the crime there. Tell us about how you saw that spiral. WILSON: It happened very -- in the beginning, it's just small steps were taken. Or like you could see just a very small, incremental increase in the violence, in food shortages, corruption, the collapse of the currency.

In the last two years, that's accelerated dramatically. Venezuela now we have the highest inflation rate, more than 800 percent. The currency is useless outside the country. There are massive shortages of food, medicine, spare parts. It's terrible what's happening in the country. And it seems most of the world is ignoring it. There's other hot spots like Iraq, Syria, what have you. Venezuela has been shunted off to one side.

HOLMES: It's extraordinary to witness.

Mr. Maduro, while one presumes, is safe as long as he has the support of the military.

Do you feel that the demonstrations are having an impact on the Armed Forces' support for the president?

WILSON: Yes, I do. I think in any type of situation where you have soldiers or national guardsmen industry now for three months putting down daily protests, it's bound to sap their enthusiasm for the government.

Many of the enlisted ranks, they are not supporters of the government. The top officials, the top generals, what have you, they are. But I'm sure the rank and file are getting very tired of putting down very violently in many cases abuse of human rights of their neighbors, friends, what have you. So I would say, yes, we are reaching a turning point, I do believe.

HOLMES: And for those who don't know Venezuela well, I mean the extraordinary thing, this is a country sitting on among the world's largest oil reserves. And even with falling oil prices, it does seem extraordinary that you have people without enough food, things like even toilet paper. And I think literally tens of thousands of murders a year as crime goes out of control.

How bad is it for the average citizen and especially given that this should be a wealthy country?

WILSON: It is horrible. I'm in constant contact with my friends from Venezuela. As you say, there's no toilet tissue. So what does the government recommend that we use banana leaves.

Crime, 30,000 deaths, murders last year in a country of about 30 million people. That's nearly a murder rate of -- the number dead, murdered, is three times the rate in the United States and we have 11 times their population.

Violence is spiralling out of control. Food, medicines, you cannot buy aspirin. There's no aspirin to be had. People who have high blood pressure, or facing cancer, HIV, what have you, there's no drugs for them. Today, I was talking to a friend of mine from the village where I lived. And since I left, like five people have died of illnesses -- cancer, dengue fever, things like that. There's no medication. No medicines.

HOLMES: Do you think Chavistas will ever give up power peacefully through elections or whether there may be no other option but armed conflict?

WILSON: No. They will never give up power peacefully. They realize that if they give up power, then their life in Venezuela is over. They will never assume political control again.

This whole -- the last two, three years, Venezuela has gone through a period which they have never seen before of abject poverty, corruption, and crime. If the Chavistas lose control, they will never, ever be voted back into office.

I'm not Venezuelan, but I think I know Venezuela pretty well.

HOLMES: And then just finally, I mean, even if that does happen, Venezuela, tell me if you agree, is going to need years to just recover from the damage done by socially and economically as well.

The economy, as you point out, in tatters. You know, a victim of corruption and all sorts of other things. It would take years to recover, right?

WILSON: Yes, and that's part of the problem. The opposition, which I think is the majority of Venezuelans support the opposition. They have no plan to go forward.

Once the Chavistas are out of power, they have no plan. The opposition is very divided among different types of parties who have different ideas, different visions for what Venezuela should be.

So as a result, if the Chavistas, when the Chavistas are gone, the opposition will splinter. I don't think the opposition has learned much in the 20 years of Chavistas. They have not learned how to govern. They have not put forward a plan, what they would do differently.

So I think Venezuela, whatever happens, is going to be facing a few years, many years of turmoil.

HOLMES: It's a very, very bleak outlook. Peter Wilson in Ohio, journalist and author and former resident of Venezuela.

I want to thank very much for coming on.

WILSON: Thank you, Michael.

HOLMES: Well, Russia's Vladimir Putin rides horses without a shirt, and France's president drops onto a submarine like he's James Bond. Can Donald Trump compete?

Jeanne Moos checks out the macho men of the G20 when we come back.

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HOLMES: When world leaders get together, tough talk is always on the agenda. But in this Twitter-fueled, never-ending news cycle, world leaders are now sharing some macho maneuvers that rival some Hollywood hits.

Our Jeanne Moos brings us these new trends in testosterone.

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JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pick the most testosterone-fueled leader. Is it President Putin, President Trump, or is it France's new 39-year-old president after tweeting out a photo of himself being lowered from a chopper to the deck of a French nuclear sub?

Comparisons were made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bond. James bond.

MOOS: My name is "Macron, Emmanuelle Macron," read one tweet.

OK. It was just a winch, not a jetpack.

But still President Macron dressed in a naval uniform and took part in a missile launch simulation, up periscope.

Tweeted someone, "Coming soon, president drops in on International Space Station. Snaps selfie."

Macron first established his testosterone creed by practically arm wrestling Trump during a handshake.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

MOOS: Of course Russian President Vladimir Putin had his mini sub photo op long ago. He's been fishing and riding horses bare-chested for years. His naked torso has become a regular on SNL.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin is going to be make everything OK.

MOOS: The real Putin has been hang gliding with cranes, tagging tigers. It's as if world leaders are trying to out macho each other. Even if Canada's prime minister was only joking with his push up, it doesn't hurt to know that he can actually do this.

The Trump handshake is his signature tough guy move, surpassed only by the time he pushed Montenegro's prime minister out of the way. But holding a golf club isn't nearly as high in testosterone as holding a gun. And compared to being airlifted onto a sub at sea, the most macho thing we've seen President Trump board was a truck.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

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HOLMES: As only she can do.

Thanks for watching, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. This has been NEWSROOM L.A. "World Sport" coming up next. I'll see you in about 15 minutes.

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