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Two Men Claiming to be Venezuela's President; Maduro Orders U.S. Diplomats to Leave Venezuela; Interview with U.S. House Democrat Adam Schiff; Member States Recognizes Juan Guaido as Interim President Of Venezuela; Interview with Columbian President, Ivan Duque; The Power Struggle in Venezuela; Native American History
Aired January 24, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
The political crisis in Venezuela takes a dramatic turn. The leader of the opposition declares himself president and the United States backs him. We
hear from the president of neighboring Colombia who is also supporting the power grab.
Then, disinvited, Trump State of the Union before Congress is on hold until the government shutdown is over. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff joins
Plus, the retelling of native American history and how this civilization transformed over the past century. Writer and academic, David Treuer,
talks to our Walter Isaacson.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Two men are claiming to be the legitimate president of Venezuela at this hour, after the leader of the opposition and head of the National Assembly,
Juan Guaido, one swore himself into office.
It comes amid dramatic anti-government protests on the streets of Caracas against the incumbent president, Nicolas Maduro, who many blames for the
economic and humanitarian catastrophes that have been plaguing their country.
Minutes after Guaido declared himself interim president, he was recognized by Washington, Canada, Britain and a host of other Latin American
countries, including Brazil and Colombia. Russia though accuses the United States of pouring gas on the fire of this crisis. In response, Maduro has
ordered U.S. diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICOLAS MADURO, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I have decided to break diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist government
of the United States. Out of Venezuela they go. Enough interventionism. There is dignity here. Here there are people to defend this land.
AMANPOUR: But the United States government says they are not going anywhere, with President Trump warning that all options are on the table.
So, let's look at the manmade disaster that led to this dramatic showdown.
Venezuela has the largest known oil reserves in the world. Two decades ago, it became the continent's richest nation. And the fossil fortune
helped cement the political fortunes of the left-wing populist, President Hugo Chavez. But he ruled over a system that was plagued by mismanagement
and corruption. And when the oil price collapsed, after Chavez died in 2030, so did the economy.
And as I discovered, Chavez hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, became steadily more authoritarian as the economy continued to disintegrate.
AMANPOUR: Do you take any responsibility at all?
MADURO (through translator): Yes, I have responsibility of all that is happening in my country, that's why I'm the president. I assume the
responsibility. All countries that have a problem.
AMANPOUR: But in fact, Maduro cast blame everywhere but on himself, while millions of his people have fled the country, running from those desperate
food lines, waiting for dwindling supplies, running from hyperinflation that hit 1 million percent last year and meant dramatic hour by hour price
increases, running from disintegrating hospitals, running from rampant street violence.
They approach us as if we are terrorists. This woman pleaded as riot police looked on. "Gentleman, we're just hungry.
Maduro was sworn in for a second six-year term earlier this month after an election last year, which was marred by widespread accusations of vote
rigging and fraud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, amid this political crisis of fears, of course, of a military crisis there as well, no one knows which side the military will
align with. And in a moment, we'll hear from the president of Colombia who has joined Washington in backing Guaido.
But first, the United States was the leading country to announce its approval of the interim president despite a massive government crisis of
its own and more drama around the Russia investigation. As President Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, says that he'll delay his testimony
in front of Congress, future threats against his family from the president.
However, we hear that the Senate and the House may indeed subpoena him. That is from the Senate Intelligence Committee.
I've been speaking to Democratic Congressman, Adam Schiff, who's chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. We've discussed everything from the
government shutdown to Cohen and, of course, Venezuela.
Congressman Schiff, welcome back to our program.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CA.: Thank you. Great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So, what do you make of all these rather dramatic developments in Venezuela and between the United States? Do you agree with the
president's immediate recognition of an interim self-declared president there, Juan Guiado?
SCHIFF: It's a very unusual step. I think that it may be warranted in these extreme circumstances, where the government there is so plainly
illegitimate, the elections have been fraudulent, it essentially turned into a dictatorship that is repressing its people. So, I support
recognition of the opposition and certainly, supporting the people of Venezuela.
But I do have to say, I am profoundly concerned with whether this administration has the capacity to think through the consequences of what
it has just done. It, of course, means that it throws into question Venezuelan assets in this country, it poses very thorny questions about
Venezuelan representatives in the United States, to the United Nation. And we also have to make sure that we protect our diplomats there and that they
don't become pawns in this struggle.
AMANPOUR: Well, I was going to ask you that because obviously President Maduro has said that he wants to see all U.S. diplomats out, he's given a
72-hour deadline. U.S. is not responding to that, he's done that to other countries also who have joined us in recognizing.
What could happen? I mean, are you concerned about them being taken hostage? Are you concerned about them being -- I don't know, if there's
some kind of military crackdown?
SCHIFF: I am very concerned about their wellbeing and I hope and imagine the administration is taking steps right now to make sure that they're
protected and they're safeguarded.
Again, you know, this is a State Department that is dealing at probably only about two-thirds its strength, it's been hollowed out by the Trump
administration. And this is the problem, when you do that, you don't have the diplomatic resources that you need and when emergencies come along,
you're not well prepared. So, I do have profound concerns about it.
At the same time, we do need to stand with the freedom loving people of Venezuela. Indeed, freedom loving people all over the world. I have to
say also though, I think the administration's policy and other parts of the world has made it more difficult for them to make the case in Venezuela
because this president has so often cozy it up to various autocrats and dictators, it leaves the president and his policies subject to criticism
that they favor right-wing autocrats, they only oppose a left-wing one. We should be opposing autocracy and all its forms.
AMANPOUR: Well, I'm going to get to that in a moment because I know one of your first committee investigations is going to be on that issue of
authoritarianism. But let me just quickly drill down a little bit more on Venezuela.
You know, this probably, as you said, is the right time to oppose san authoritarian and to be on the side of the people and on the side of the
opposition in Venezuela after so much terrible hardship that has gone on for the last many, many years.
But, as you know, the United States has a very complex history in Latin America and there are already people who are saying this is a coup, this is
unacceptable intervention in 2019. Where do you stand on that?
SCHIFF: Well, I think we have to be very careful not to allow Maduro use the United States as a foil any more than they already have in the past.
And for that reason, it's very important that we act in concert with our allies and I'm glad to see that many of our allies are joining us in
recognizing the opposition. I think we should work through the OAS and other organizations and make sure that this is an international effort and
that is not simply positioned as Maduro versus Trump or Maduro versus the United States.
AMANPOUR: The OAS, of course, the Organization of American States. But can I ask you, because some have also said that what happened in the last
24 hours looks very suspiciously coordinated, in other words, Juan Guaido declared himself interim president, then the president of the United States
immediately tweeted support and other allies did as well. It just seemed to all happen in lockstep, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle were ready to be
How read in were you on the intelligence of this, given that you are chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and well can you say to these
SCHIFF: You know, I have been read in, we have been provided intelligence by our agencies on the situation over time and up until recently. That's
not really something I'm able to discuss here. But I do think that the policies that we are articulating in terms of support for the Venezuelan
people are well-grounded and I can only hope that this administration can also execute them well.
We want to, obviously, stay out of any kind of military confrontation. We're not going to get involved militarily. And, you know, my profound
concern is that the presence of our diplomats there not lead to any kind of intervention or justification for intervention. So, we'll be watching this
very carefully in Congress.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, it does happen, certainly for the president and for Congress at a very, very difficult time in the United States in the
capitol where you are right now because this shutdown continues.
But let me ask you what you make of the fact that the president, overnight, has agreed, has basically, you know, agreed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's
terms that he does not deliver his State of the Union while the government remains in shutdown?
SCHIFF: Well, I don't really think he had any choice when he was talking about, "Well, then I will look at alternatives." There is no alternative.
I do agree with what he said this morning, there's no alternative really to giving the State of the Union from the House Chamber.
And there's one thing that this president cares about more than anything else, and that is the pomp and circumstance of the office. He likes to
appear like a president. He doesn't apparently like to act like a president but he does like to appear like one.
So, this matters a great deal to him. And I wouldn't be surprised if at the end of the day when this terrible chapter is written in history books,
the decision to postpone the State of the Union is the one thing that gets his attention. He doesn't particularly care about the hardship that's
being imposed on hundreds of thousands of fellow Americans, he can live with that, he's got a whole history in the private sector of stiffing
people who work for him. But not getting to give this address, that does matter to him and that may prompt him to move with more alacrity to end
this terrible shutdown.
AMANPOUR: So, what can you tell me then, because to that end, there are all sorts of reports, word coming out that the House is looking for ways to
end the shutdown, including in some form or fashion, cobbling together that $5 billion? Tell me what's going on. They also have different suggestions
of what's being -- what's a foot to try to find some kind of compromise way out on the border, on the wall and on security.
SCHIFF: Well, you know, our position has been all along in the remains. You don't shut down the government because you lack the votes for
something. If we start operating that way or establish this president where this president or any other can get what they want when they don't
have the votes by essentially holding the government hostage, we're going to see a lot more of this. So, this has got to stop.
In terms of how it ultimately comes to an end, we're seeing Republicans in the Senate start to break with the president and, you know, we have to give
them more and more of a reason to break. I would hope that the hardship people are doing -- enduring is enough.
It's never been about border security though, that's the problem here. We've always supported border security, we've always been open to
negotiating border security. This is about a fraudulent promise that the president made that Mexico was going to pay for this big beautiful wall
from sea to shining sea, it was never going to happen.
But now, he wants to replace that fraudulent promise with a different fraudulent promise, that no taxpayers are going to pay for it now but
they're going to get reimbursed through his new NAFTA. Well, that's not going to happen either.
But at the end of the day, I think what's going to happen is more and more of the Republicans are going to break with the president. We will -- you
know, I hope give them the opportunity to do that and reopen the government and end this terrible period.
AMANPOUR: Let me just ask you then about this report at NPR that moderate Democrats have written a letter to Nancy Pelosi asking her to make the
president an offer. In other words, you know, open up the government and we'll promise open to debate over border security, guarantee a House vote
by the end of February. Is that something you're hearing?
SCHIFF: You know, I haven't read the letter. But honestly, this is what we've been saying all along, which is, open up the government and we can
have our debate over border security and we can see what we can resolve in terms of border security. That's really always been our position.
You know, we don't, you know, except that the president isn't agree perfectly with what we've been offering in terms of border security. But
at the end of the day, we can't have these discussions while the government is closed and people are going through hardship and our security is
deteriorating and our FBI agents aren't able to do their work and the Customs and Border Patrol can't do their work and our Coast Guard can't do
their work and people are in soup lines. We need to reopen the government and then we can have this debate.
AMANPOUR: I must say, the soup lines and the yard sales and the food stamps for these people, I mean, it really is hitting a note of around the
world. People can't quite believe that this is happening to Federal employees in the United States, now well into a month of this.
But let me move now to the investigation that you are overseeing. One of them, of course, is the allegations of collusion with Russia and the latest
situation with President Trump's former lawyer and right-hand man, Michael Cohen.
So, Michael Cohen was meant to testify before the committee. He says he's postponing it because of "ongoing threats" against his family from
President Trump and President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
You've written a response to that. When you hear that from Michael Cohen, what do you think?
SCHIFF: Well, look I -- and certainly, I understand the concerns that Michael Cohen has over the threats that the president and Rudy Giuliani are
making addressed to his wife, his father-in-law. This is the kind of behavior you see in the mob, it's not what you expect of the president
United States or his lawyer. And it's clearly an effort by the president to try to intimidate this witness.
So, it's so clearly improper and I think just adds to a growing body of evidence of attempted obstruction of justice by the president of the United
States. In terms of our oversight responsibility in Congress though, I've made it clear to Mr. Cohen and his counsel that he'll come back before the
Intelligence Committee, he came before our committee before, he did not tell the truth. We want to hear what the truth is.
So, he's coming back before a committee voluntarily we hope but we are prepared to subpoena him and to come back if that's necessary and we're
going to be doing that fairly soon. So, we expect to have his testimony in the near future.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, that's quite clear on that. Again, let me just bring you back to you use the term mob tactics and you've talked about
a pattern of obstruction of justice and you did actually write a letter saying that, "Efforts to intimidate witnesses, scare their family members
or prevent them from testifying before Congress are textbook mob tactics that we condemn in the strongest terms. The president should make no
statement or take any action to obstruct Congress' independent oversight and investigative efforts."
Just to be clear, are you saying that these threats amounts to obstruction of justice?
SCHIFF: I'm saying that they are evidence of an attempt to obstruct justice. And you can imagine, if any of these things were done in private,
let's say, we learned about a private conversation between the president of the United States and Michael Cohen in which the president said, "If you
testify, I'm going to urge the Justice Department to investigate your father-in-law, maybe investigate your wife," that would be very clear
efforts to intimidate a witness.
The fact that it's done in the open doesn't make it any better. And, you know, it's certainly true, I think that the public has become numb to this
completely improper conduct by the president of the United States and sometimes we just need to wake up and see what's right before our eyes.
But we cannot accept the president of the United States who acts like a mafia don, basically says that people shouldn't cooperate with
investigators, that they are rats that the people we should respect are those that refused to cooperate and go to prison for various Federal
crimes, that people that are willing to testify against him, he's going to do everything he can to have their family members investigated. This is
not conduct that we can tolerate.
AMANPOUR: So, I find it really interesting in light of what you've just said, in light of what's happening in Venezuela, that, in fact, it's not a
Russia investigation that you will be chairing first on your docket. The first up is the investigating the rise of authoritarianism around the
Why did you make that choice and that decision?
SCHIFF: Well, to me, this is always been the much bigger story as we've gotten caught sometimes in the minutia of what Rudy Giuliani says in the
morning and what he contradicts himself in the evening or the twists and turns of the Russian investigators, we've missed the bigger picture, which
is -- not only that Russia has been intervening in many other countries to undermine their democracies but even more broadly than that, there is a
real challenge to liberal democracy around the world, there is a rise of autocracy in every corner of the globe from Venezuela to the Philippines to
Egypt to Istanbul, obviously Russia and Poland and Hungary, all over the world you see a rise of autocracy.
And normally, the president of the United States would be pushing back, would be the champion of democracy and human rights, that hasn't happened
under this presidency. All to off, the president has made common cause with the autocrats.
Here, with Maduro, it is a left-wing autocrat. Most of the autocrats, if not all of them, the president has made common cause with our right-wing
autocrats. It shouldn't matter freedom -- support of freedom needs to be steadfast whether the threat comes from the right or the left and that's
what America has always stood for and ought to stand for that now. I think this is really the ideological struggle of our time, liberal democracy
against autocracy right now.
AMANPOUR: I think many people would agree with you. But can I just end by asking you something slightly more off base and that would be, America's
other obsession is football and your hometown team, the Los Angeles Rams -- I mean, the bottom line is that I am not a football expert but all my team
is and they want me to ask you about the Los Angeles Rams getting to the Super Bowl but on a pretty bad call against the Saints. What do you make
of that and is that something that you might consider investigating?
SCHIFF: It was a terrible non-call. I think that's pretty inarguable and even, you know, both of the football players involved in that play, I
think, acknowledged what a terrible call or non-call it was. And I don't think there's anything for Congress to do about this particularly.
You know, I will say that the one thing that the Rams will have going for them in the Super Bowl that will prevent people from rooting against the
Rams because of that bad call is the fact they're playing the Patriots. And there are plenty of people wanting to root against the Patriots. So, I
will be cheering on our Los Angeles Rams and looking forward to their bad call free Super Bowl win over the Patriots.
AMANPOUR: Well, there you go. Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you so much for joining me.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, of course, the Super Bowl will be February 3rd, just over a week from now.
So, let us turn back to the political power struggle in Venezuela. President Trump is officially recognizing Juan Guaido as the country's
interim president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling on the Organization of American States to follow suit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S SECRETARY OF STATE: All member states who have committed to uphold the Inter-American democratic charter must recognize the interim
The time for debate is done. The regime of Former President Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate. His regime is morally bankrupt. It's economically
incompetent and it is profoundly corrupt.
It is undemocratic to the core.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Columbia is one of those member states to recognize Guaido and it has given humanitarian refuge to nearly a million of its Venezuelan
neighbors. Colombian President, Ivan Duque, joins me from the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland.
President Duque, welcome back to our program.
IVAN DUQUE, COLUMBIAN PRESIDENT: Hello. How are you doing, Christiane? It's a pleasure to be on your show again.
AMANPOUR: Well, talking about something really game changing in your neighborhood, back home in Latin America, do you accept -- well, I know
you've recognized Juan Guaido, the opposition leader, why did you do that and do you fear that Maduro is going to try to galvanize his people and
other nations against what he's calling a coup?
DUQUE: Well, first of all, let me say, Christiane, what we have seen in Venezuela in the last years is the most brutal dictatorship. They have an
elated independent power, they have destroyed any single opportunity of private development and they have also any elated free press. And at the
same time, they have bankrupted the people, people are dying of hunger. And we have received in Colombia more or less a million Venezuelan
So, now, what we have seen in the last days is a joint action from the whole atmosphere saying, "No more dictatorship," and recognizing Juan
Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela, legitimizing the National Assembly as the only legitimate democratic body in Venezuela.
So, I think this effort that has been shown to the world demonstrates that the whole region is saying no more Maduro and we want the international
community to keep on putting pressure so that Venezuela can liberate itself from this brutal dictatorship.
AMANPOUR: So, how do you read the internal situation now in Venezuela, in Caracas? President Maduro, he's now being called former president by the
United States but he claims still to be president and -- I mean, it said the military is standing by him. Can you, from your experience and your
knowledge and your intelligence, tell us what you think -- how you think that will play out?
DUQUE: Well, the first thing that I should say, I think this is the first time in recent Latin American history that we have seen such a big
diplomatic effort from all the countries to support an interim president and to put pressure on a dictatorship to come to an end.
And I see also a big popular support in Venezuela. People who came out to the streets yesterday, giving a strong support to the National Assembly and
giving a strong support to Juan Guaido. I think this international effort and what is happening inside with all population supporting the National
Assembly gives a strong message to the military on not to intervene and let the people's will apply in this case, because the whole world is saying no
more to this brutal repression that we have seen. And the whole world is saying that there needs to be a transition and that the Venezuelan people
need to recover the liberties.
So, I think this effort that we have seen in the region of all the countries working jointly to this transition in the sake of democracy, I
have never seen it before. I think this is funny event that should be applauded and I think the whole international community needs to respond to
this action and need to join they recognition of Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, we say interim, I'm going to ask you what you expect him to do in a moment. But again, you know, obviously, Maduro is calling
on China, on Russia to support him. Russia has already said that the United States, by being so quick to recognize Guaido, is pouring gasoline
onto the fire of this crisis. And this is what the deputy foreign minister told our colleague earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEI RYABKOV, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER: We warn everyone, and not just the U.S. but some others who may entertain these ideas, from this type
of action, the resort to military power would be catastrophic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, he's basically warning the U.S. or anyone not to use military power. I just want to know how you think Russia might affect or
influence the situation, what help it might give to Maduro if asked to do so?
And, you know, I know it's a big stretch but I speak with the Syria situation in hand, it is completely different but Russia did intervene and
it's dominated the situation there.
DUQUE: Well, first of all, let me say, I mean, what we have in Venezuela, as I said, is a brutal dictatorship. And the whole countries of the
hemisphere signed the Democratic Charter in 2001. And basically, what has given legitimacy to this joint diplomatic action is to protect and make
applicable the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
And hand in hand, the Lima Group, at the beginning of January, made a very strong statement giving only legitimacy to the Venezuelan National
Assembly. What happened yesterday was that the National Assembly gave the presidential powers to Juan Guaido and he needs to reestablish the
institutional action in Venezuela and then call for free elections.
So, that's why we have altogether to work in this line of action and I would believe that any other action in the diplomatic sphere that would
come from other countries won't have a legitimacy because we have seen the OAS, the Lima Group and they and the protection and the defense of the
Democratic Charter as the issue that is giving legitimacy to this important diplomatic joint action by most of the countries in the hemisphere with
just few exceptions.
So, I think this is something that has to be applauded and I hope that Russia and China do not interfere in this process because Latin America as
a whole wants this transition for the sake of democracy and for the sake of the protection of the Inter-American Democratic Charter that was signed in
AMANPOUR: So, how would you answer people who have very suspicious about U.S. intentions and point to the past U.S. interventions in Latin America?
And particularly, I'm going to play you a bit of a soundbite from Vice President Pence who just as Juan Guaido was becoming the head of the
National Assembly sort of urged him in all but words to do what he's done. Just listen what Pence said two days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: The United States joins with all freedom loving nations in recognizing the National Assembly as the last vestige of
democracy in your country for it's the only body elected by you, the people.
As such, the United States supports the courageous decision by Juan Guaido, the president of your National Assembly, to assert that bodies,
constitutional powers, declare Maduro a usurper and call for the establishment of a transitional government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Yikes. I mean, President Duque, that is an absolute black and white intervention into Venezuelan affairs. Do you see it that way?
[13:30:05] DUQUE: Well, I don't see it that way, Christiane because there's one previous element that should be considered. I mean it was that
on January 4, the Lima Group made a very strong statement. First of all, recognizing the Venezuela National Assembly as the only valuable democratic
power in Venezuela. And at the same time, calling for free elections and at the same time calling for the dictatorship to end.
If you look what happened afterwards, then it was the OAS who made a strong declaration in the same sense and the same thing happened with the OAS
secretary general. And then all of the countries in South America or most of the countries and most of the countries in Central America and even
Canada also express the same line of action.
Now, what Vice President Pence said two days ago is in total coordination and in total reaction to this effort that has been put before the
international community by the Lima Group at the beginning of January. Yesterday, the National Assembly, the only democratic legitimate power in
Venezuela gave the transitional powers considering the Venezuelan Constitution to Juan Guaido.
And I think now what Juan Guaido needs to do is to reestablish institutional order and call to -- for elections. We also saw a big
popular support yesterday and I think that saw a very strong message for the military not to repress citizenship that is calling for the end of
AMANPOUR: I hear you saying that very loud and clear to the military via this interview. And, you know, let's hope they listen to you and there's
no bloodshed on the streets, no more bloodshed on the streets.
But just for the sake of our audience, put your professorial hat on for a second and just quickly explain to us what is the Lima Group. OAS we know
it's the Organization of American States. But what's the Lima Group?
DUQUE: The Lima Group was established to deal with the Venezuela situation and it's going form with most of the countries in South America and some
countries from Central America. And it's a group that has been analyzing the humanitarian crisis, the migration crisis.
And I consider that is a very important group because most of the countries in South America and Central America are the ones who have more contact
with Venezuela. And this group is taking a lead. The lead that this group has taken is to express that the only valuable power in a democratic sense
in Venezuela is the National Assembly. It was expressed in January.
And then this Lima Group was a group that came to the OAS a couple of days ago and expressed publicly that that should be the same line of action that
the entire American system should follow in order to protect the Inter- American system should follow in order to protect the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
So this Lima Group, for me, is the precursor of this movement that has been expanded to OAS that has become a hemispherical effort. And I hope that in
the next hours and in the next days, we'll have some countries of Europe also recognizing Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.
AMANPOUR: Well, as we speak, Great Britain has done so and we'll see how this ball gets rolling. Of course, what happens in Venezuela has a big
impact on the United States. All of that hemisphere and Central America has a big impact, north of the border as well.
But before I get to that, I just want to ask you, do you know Juan Guaido? Have you ever met him? What kind of a person is he? And he hasn't been
really seen today in the 24-hours since he made this declaration. How difficult -- what does he need to do?
DUQUE: Well, first of all, I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him personally. I've spoken with him by phone and I see a courageous man. I
see a patriot. I see a man who is defending not only the legitimacy of the National Assembly but a man who is highly committed to preserve
institutionality in Venezuela and to do everything in his powers and his legitimate powers to make Venezuela -- enter into a transition for
Obviously, I think he's been chased and he's been trying to be prosecuted by the dictatorship. But I think now the recognition that he has gotten
from the whole world given him energy, more dynamism, and more motivation to keep on fighting for the liberty of his people.
AMANPOUR: And given what you do know about Nicolas Maduro and all that Colombia has suffered during this crisis in Venezuela with so many
desperate plea -- people fleeing to your country, do you think Maduro is going to sort of lie down and take this or is he going to somehow try to
DUQUE: Well, obviously, the dictator sometimes is trying to fight back. But as I said, Christiane, what we saw yesterday is a historical moment in
Latin American diplomacy. The whole hemisphere or most of the countries in the hemisphere publicly recognize this transition in head [13:35:00] of
Juan Guaido and the National Assembly.
I think that's a very important message. And I also saw very important multilateral reactions. For example, the Inter-American Development Bank
also recognize Juan Guaido. So I think that dictatorship is being left alone and now the whole world expects the military not to repress and allow
the people to express themselves and allow the National Assembly and President Guaido to accelerate this transition in favor of the Venezuelan
people, and in favor of the quality of life of all the Venezuelan citizens.
AMANPOUR: You spent a lot of time in the United States. I mean on the one hand, here is the American government, the administration, you know, acting
on behalf of people and that should be welcomed. On the other hand, I just want to ask you in general how you see the United States President Trump's
relationship with, you know, Mexico, the wall, Central America, all these areas that have been putting pressure on the government in the U.S. how you
think that's going to play out.
DUQUE: Well, Christiane, let me respond to your question based on my own experience. I've been the president for almost six months and I have got a
lot of support from the U.S. administration.
Not only to expand trade between our countries. Not only in security coordination but also helping us in developing new opportunities in science
and technology, and even dealing with this humanitarian crisis. We have received support and health care provision to many Venezuelan citizens.
And those are things that I applaud.
So from my experience, I have seen an administration that wants to strengthen their relationship with Latin America. And specifically, I see
an administration that is highly committed to preserve democracy in the region.
AMANPOUR: What would you advise the U.S. in terms of trying to stop the flow of people? It also requires helping sort out issues. You said you've
received a lot of help. But Central America needs a lot of help and people are not just fleeing because they've got nothing better to do, they're
fleeing failing economies, crime, drugs, all of that kind of stuff. I mean surely the U.S. also has a potential for playing a positive role in
stopping the pull factor so-to-speak.
DUQUE: Well, I think the whole region has to recognize it. Sometimes, migration happens due to many reasons. Obviously, when you have an
expansion of poverty, when you have laws of entrepreneurship capacity, that makes the population fly away from its countries.
And we have seen it in that case of Venezuela. Obviously, it's not the same situation in all of the countries in Central America. I definitely
believe that there has to be more investment, there has to be more formal job creation in order to prevent people willing to leave the countries in
seeking for new opportunities.
So if you ask me, and I'm not in the position of trying to give advice, but I would say from my own experience, what I can say from my own experience
in the past as somebody who has worked in development, I think the great preventer of migration is the access to formal jobs, the access to
opportunities, the private initiative, and the expansion of industry and new source of employment.
And I think that should be considered in Central America, in South America. And if you see the case of Venezuela, what has triggered this migration
crisis is the absolute deterioration of the economy, how people have been impoverished by the wrong decisions taken by the dictatorship. And that's
why I believe there's a transition in Venezuela, successful transition in Venezuela.
If there's an opportunity to rebuild the institutions on democracy, it will come behind with the development of new investments. And I think that
could be an also good opportunity for Latin America and specifically, for Colombia and South America.
AMANPOUR: So --
DUQUE: So that will be my response to your question.
AMANPOUR: And just finally, because Colombia well has gone through its own mega troubles, you've had a long long war with the FARC, Marxist
Guerrillas. That has been -- there's been a peace settlement but there's still others who are out there, the ELN for instance.
And there was a big car bomb attack last week. You lost many, many people and you've taken part in a Peace March since then. What can you tell us
now about this? Do you think you're going to see another sort of explosion of terrorism in Colombia? I mean is the peace process dead?
DUQUE: Well, one thing that is important is that in that case of the process with FARC, as I said many times and I had the opportunity to share
this idea with you in September when you invited me to your show, is that we are committed to help the people that are in their [13:40:00]
reincorporation cycle that were former ferity members.
We're also committed of taking a private initiative to the con -- to the parts of the country that used to be under violence. And we're also
committed that those people who are genuinely in the process over incorporation have productive activities.
Now, in the case of ELN, ELN had a peace process with the previous administration. And for 17 months of negotiation, they responded with more
than 400 criminal attacks and more than 111 assassinations. That shows us there is no winning that's for peace.
DUQUE: And now they respond with this brutal attack. So my commitment is to face this organization, bring them to justice, and that act of terror
will now be left in impunity.
AMANPOUR: All right. President Ivan Duque of Colombia, thank you so much for joining us on this important day. Thank you very much. Now --
DUQUE: Thank you so much, Christiane. It's been a pleasure to be here.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
And of course, we asked the government of President Maduro for its reaction to these dramatic dramatic events but it hasn't responded yet.
Now, it is commonly said that to understand the events of today, we must turn back the pages. And our next guest begins his story in 1819 and the
massacre at Wounded Knee. David Treuer is a Native American writer. He grew up as part of the Ojibwe tribe on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in
And he's now welding memoir with his history and a new book, "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee". It's a timely counter-narrative of life for modern
Native Americans and he tells our Walter Isaacson why he believes America is at war with itself.
WALTER ISAACSON; CONTRIBUTOR: Welcome to the show.
DAVID TREUER, AUTHOR, THE HEARTBEAT OF WOUNDED KNEE: Thank you.
ISAACSON: Tell me about your background.
TREUER: Well, it's an odd one. You know, my mother is Ojibwe from Leech Lake Reservation and that's the reservation where I was raised, where I
grew up. And my father is an Austrian Holocaust survivor. He's Jewish, was Jewish. He passed away a couple years ago.
And he had a lot of life adventures which are too long for our program and really deserves a book of its own. And wound up on the reservation in the
'50s with his first family. He was teaching high school on the reservation.
And for my father, he described it as feeling like he was finally coming home. He said, "I was rejected in Austria and I had to flee for my life.
And I was rejected and ridiculed as a small strange foreign Jewish boy in Ohio" where they'd settled during the war.
"I've been rejected all my life. And when I finally made it to the reservation, I felt like I belonged. I understood the people here and they
understood me and we understood each other without having to talk about it."
So for my father, it was a homecoming when he arrived there. And he made a life there. He was such a fascinating guy. He had a kind of attitude in
the '50s that no one else did.
When he taught high school, he walked into his classroom at Cass Lake High School with, you know, predominately native students in his class. And he
just assumed that his native students were smart, capable, interesting and that they could work hard. He had very high expectations of his students.
And that was not the norm.
When my mother went back to I think Cass Lake High School for her junior year, her first day in the hallway, the principal passes there and he says,
"Well, Peggy, what are you doing here?" She says, "Well, I'm back at school." He says, "Why?"
Because it was -- you could legally drop out of school after your sophomore year and most -- or many native students did and there's no expectation
that you would continue on and graduate. But my mother wanted to and like she did. Much less go on to nursing school like she did and then on to law
school to become the first American-Indian woman judge in the country.
So my parents were really fascinating people and really hard working. And what's interesting is, on one hand, I mean the country did its best to
destroy my mother and my mother's people. And on the other hand, it saved my father's life.
So I grew up in my family knowing the two faces of this country. And I guess implicitly understanding that it's not one or the other, that our
country is always both. It's at war with itself all the time, between its good intentions and its stated ideals and its practice, and the ways in
which it falls short of those ideals.
And in my book, I guess, is also an attempt to wed those two disparate strands of the American practice closely together to notice them. And so
we can, you know, do better.
ISAACSON: You know your book is titled "Heartbeat at [13:45:00] Wounded Knee." And it seems to echo Dee Brown's book, you know, "Bury My Heart at
Wounded Knee". Tell me why you did that.
TREUER: Well, Dee Brown's book, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", it was published in 1970. And it's -- it is to date the best selling book about
American-Indian history ever published, millions of copies in print. It was hugely influential from the moment it was published. It's never been
out of print. It's a big book and it sort of squats over the literature in impressive fashion.
But I remember reading that book in college and I remember some of the things that he said in the prologue to that book, something like my book is
about the Plains Wars or focuses on Plains Wars. I started in 1850 and I ended in 1890 at the massacre at Wounded Knee where -- and I'm almost
quoting the culture and civilization of the American Indian were destroyed, period.
And then he goes on in the prologue to say at the very end, "So if you happen to travel to a modern Indian reservation and see the hopelessness
and squalor and poverty, perhaps by reading this book, you will understand why."
And I remember reading that in college and being really, really upset. And this was back in 1990 and '91 and I thought I'm not dead and my family is
not dead and my tribe is certainly not dead and not destroyed. Our culture isn't destroyed. Our religion isn't gone. We have all these things.
But that's the common assumption. That is the widely held belief that, for all intents and purposes, American Indian life ended in 1890 at that
massacre. And when the frontier was closed in the following year officially by the federal government, and that everything that we've been
doing since then is not really living, it's a kind of afterlife of perpetual suffering.
ISAACSON: As an identity and as a minority group, Native Americans can be somewhat invisible. And by that I mean if you walk the street, nobody
would say, "Oh, he's a Native American." So you can always assimilate or pass or whatever. How does that affect the Native American experience?
TREUER: Well, that's the thing is that there is no Native American experience and it's in part what the book is about. You know there are
millions of us and so we have millions of different experiences.
There are native people like me who grew up on a reservation. There are native people who've never been to the reservation. There are native
people who grew up in cities and who grew up in the suburbs.
There are native people who are educated and those who are not. There are those who practice the religion and those who don't. There are some who
are Christian. There are some who aren't. There are some who are incredibly stupid and some who are brilliant.
There isn't a native experience. There are just native experiences. And that is in part what I'm trying to show in the Heartbeat of Wounded Knee
are the ways in which our lives are nuanced, complicated, layered, and incredibly diverse.
So if you asked that question to any number of native guests on this show, that you'd probably get as many different answers to that question.
ISAACSON: So does it make sense then to even think about a Native American identity?
TREUER: I don't know if it makes any sense to talk about a Native American identity. But I think we can talk about Native American experience in that
many of us in aggregate have experienced and contained within us a set of historical experiences and the legacy of certain events in the past.
We have shared experience which unites us and makes us different from other groups in the United States certainly. In terms of identity, this is --
it's too varied.
TREUER: What is the urbanization move that happened to many ethnic groups? What has that done to the ability of Native Americans to feel they have
some shared experiences?
TREUER: Just about half of all natives live off of reservations. Of those who live off, some live in cities but some live in suburbs, some live in
small towns, cities of about 10,000, 20, 30,000 people. So there's a whole range of off-reservation experience too. It's not just the reservation and
say Los Angeles.
But there -- you know, but now for the past 70 years or since World War II, we have -- we experience a significant migration to cities for the same
reasons that African-Americans migrated from the south to urban centers in the north during the Great Migration for economic opportunity, to escape
our experience of, I guess what you could also call a kind of Jim Crow existence, in or near reservation communities.
And native folk who've moved to cities have had a range of different experiences. Some just moved back almost immediately. It didn't work for
them. Some have stayed and made lives, rich ones.
And that's another thing that the book is also about, which is other ways in which, you know, not only are native communities, [13:50:00] not just in
America, but of it. We have been changed and shaped by this country. But this country has been changed and shaped by us in fundamental ways.
ISAACSON: We've just elected the first two Native American women for Congress.
TREUER: Yes, it's amazing. I'm so happy. The first two Native American women to join Congress. We have Peggy Flanagan in Minnesota who is the
highest elected American Indian in an executive position. She was elected as lieutenant governor of Minnesota.
It's an incredible time to be native. And not only how lucky for us but how lucky for their constituents, how lucky for the people of Kansas to
have David as their representative. Who better would understand the ways in which the needs of Midwesterners have been ignored, have been pushed to
the side, the ways in which the communities in Kansas have been put second to the interests of multinational corporations in the form of agribusiness,
Her experience as an American Indian woman and the kinds of structural inequality and disenfranchisements which have visited native communities
over the decades and centuries are some of the same kinds of disenfranchisements which are being visited upon Middle America right now.
So who better to lead them? Who better to help them?
ISAACSON: So you think the narrative of the American Indian in some ways is part and parcel of all the narratives of America about
disenfranchisement, fitting in ethnic groups --
ISAACSON: -- and dissimilation?
TREUER: No spoilers. But for me, the thing that I hope people take away from the book more than anything is that if you want to understand America
broadly, you have to pay attention to American Indian history.
There's a way in which people read Indians in fiction or nonfiction as a -- and the way people read us, the reasons why they read us are kind of like
as a liberal act or as an act of atonement for the transgressions of the country, right. They read us as almost like they're doing community
And that's kind. That might be compassionate but it's not the best reason and the best way to read us or to think about us. If you want to
understand how power works, look at the ways in which policy has affected native people. If you want to understand the power in importance in the
Constitution of the Supreme Court, look at federal Indian law.
I think the author's name is Charles Wilkinson. And he wrote a book about federal Indian law. And he noted in his book, in the 1970s and '80s, the
Supreme Court heard more cases about federal Indian Law and tribal sovereignty than any other category of law, more than banking, more than
immigration, more than capital punishment, more than abortion,
The court came to be what it is and worked the way it does and understand itself the way it does by way of thinking about us. So you need to think
about us if you want to understand the Supreme Court and how it works.
If you want to understand the relationship between the federal government and states, you have to consider the relationship between the federal
government states and sovereign Indian nations. Because it was in that three-way battle in Georgia, in the early 19th century in what became known
as the Marshall Trilogy, this trilogy is Supreme Court decisions about Indian removal.
You have to know that history to understand the beginning of the battle between state and federal power and Indians' place in that battle. So that
pay attention to us.
ISAACSON: The narrative of America really does begin with the indigenous people.
TREUER: Yes, the first act of, you know, of the colonists to protest the British was not just to dump tea in Boston Harbor. They dressed up as
Mohawk Indians, in face paint and buckskin and then dumped the tea in Boston Harbor.
ISAACSON: David, thank you so much.
TREUER: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
AMANPOUR: And that is a great image, the story there of an important thread that runs through the rich tapestry of the American experience.
But before we go, the United States has just requested a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the crisis in Venezuela. Join me tomorrow
for my interview with the Iranian American Journalist Jason Rezaian and his [13:55:00] story of life in the terror on prison and as he says, being a
bargaining chip in a geopolitical game.
But that is it for now. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast. See us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks for watching. And goodbye from London.