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Battle Rages Against ISIS in Last Syrian Enclave; Civilians Flee ISIS Enclave in Syria; General Votel Says Tens of Thousands of ISIS Fighters Remain; Senators Warren and Klobuchar Join Crowded Democratic Field for President. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 11, 2019 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, on this Monday. We are live from CNN London. I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, exclusive new footage of

the fight to take ISIS's last enclave. CNN crew so close to the front lines the camera shakes at an incoming explosion. Full story ahead.

Another CNN exclusive this hour. The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard tells us Iran can defend itself against any invasion. And with the

country crippled, the struggle to survive is pushing some women in Venezuela to take the most desperate measures.

At one time, ISIS controlled more than 80,000 square kilometers of territory in both Syria and Iraq. It appears, though, we may be just days

away from all that territory being gone. U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters are staging what may be the final assault on ISIS in eastern Syria. CNN is on

the ground, close to the front lines. Here's some exclusive reporting from our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman just a short time ago.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have to leave our position now because the morning began with heavy exchange of machine

gunfire followed by loud explosions. We went up to the roof and started to take incoming rounds, then some sort of explosive device landed just next

to the building we were in. Now we have to pull out because it appears that there's been a serious ISIS counterattack and we've seen some of the

SDF troops pulling back as this goes on, although some of the officers are urging them to go forward. What ISIS fighters were doing was taking

advantage of the early morning fog, which is often their tactic, to try to make advances. It appears they have and that's why we have to move back.


GORANI: And Ben Wedeman joins me now live from eastern Syria. He's on the phone. Ben, we were showing the viewers some of that exclusive footage

your crew shot close to the front lines. How close are these fighters from completely overrunning ISIS territorially in eastern Syria?

WEDEMAN: Last night, Hala, it appeared they were confident it wouldn't take too much more time. We were speaking with some of the S.D.F.

officers who were directing the battle and they told us perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, but the count era tack took everyone by surprise. It

appears that day of victory is going to be not quite as close as they thought. The revel of resistance which on Sunday was relatively

manageable, so to speak, today really changed the whole picture. As you saw, the pictures, we saw some of the S.D.F. fighters pulling back. We

understand that they did move a few of their positions and, therefore, the battle which we're predicting will be done by perhaps mid-week may take a

longer than that. And another and complicating factor is we have been hearing from S.D.F. officers for the last week that they were, quote-

unquote, only about 1,500 civilians left inside. What we saw today was a convoy of 21 trucks. It had 700 people who were left -- within the last 48

hours. We spoke to a spokesman for the S.D.F. he told us they indeed may have underestimated the number of civilians inside. He said there are

probably still thousands. We spoke to some of the civilians who managed to leave today. They said some of the civilians are being held as human

shields by is.

[14:05:00] Those remaining are in dire conditions because of the constant airstrikes and bombardment with -- it is not just the anti-is coalition.

It is over the border from Iraq, the Iraqi army. And, therefore, it is dire, not only from that danger, but they also said that it has amounted --

the supply of food is desperately low. That some people are eating grain that is normally fed livestock. Hala?

GORANI: Ben, this surprising counterattack -- and you caught at -- at least we heard some of it on the footage that your crew was able to film.

It forced some of the S.D.F. forces to kind of take a few steps back. You yourself as well. What does that tell us about how much fight ISIS still

has left in it in that tiny little portion of Syria?

WEDEMAN: It tells us there is still a capacity to counterattack against the overwhelming odds. It is hard to underscore just how intense the

coalition airstrikes are on this town. It seems like the entire horizon before you is under bombardment. They can still stage these attacks,

counter attacks, they can take advantage of the fact it was early in the morning, it's very misty. It's hard for the coalition spotters to see

targets on the ground. They are able to circle the S.D.F. position they were stable to take in the last 48 hours. They still have weaponry, enough

to slow down this advance and we understand that the fighters who are left inside, are some of the most battle- hardened experience they have. One of

the commanders was telling us the other day and other places like that, ISIS is throwing young fighters with very little experience, into the

battle, into the "frontline," thank you now we thank you. The S.D.F. is facing some of the most experienced fighters ISIS has and therefore this

fight is going to be a hard one. Hala?

GORANI: Ben Wedeman, live in Syria with exclusive Syria. The last few remnants as the territory continues to shrink. So, Syria has become a

battle of control between so many sides and so many countries, of course you have the U.S. supported fighters against ISIS. Ben was saying they're

not just taking hits from the S.D.F. They're taking hits from the Syrian regime, even across the Euphrates from Iraqi forces as well. You have Iran

on one side. You have countries that are allied with the United States on the other side as well. A fight to take back that last ISIS enclave will

not mean the end of the group as well. That is something to remember.

General Joseph Votel, the top US military man in the Middle East says there are tens of thousands of ISIS fighters scattered across Iraq and Syria.

And in this, he differs very much from Trump who has repeatedly said that ISIS is almost gone. He is in Cairo. This is what he said.


GEN. JOSEPH VOTEL, COMMANDER US CENTRAL COMMAND, MIDDLE EAST: They talked about tens ever thousands that have been dispersed and disaggregated from

the area. There is leadership there. There are fighters there. They still have some access to resources and, of course, they still maintain

this kind of diverse ideology.


GORANI: So Votel there met with leaders in Egypt. This was on a plane to Cairo. CNN reporter Ryan Browne is there. It's interesting, military

commanders and even cabinet secretaries are time and time again disagreeing publicly with the President of the United States about ISIS and whether or

not it is completely defeated. Usually you don't hear this type of disagreement aired so publicly. Why is it happening now?

RYAN BROWNE, PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, I think President Trump has been focused almost entirely on the territory that ISIS controls. I just saw

from Ben Wedeman's report, this small enclave ISIS has in Syria, it does appear despite the voracity of that battle it will lose territory over


[14:10:00] The U.S. military is focused largely on the threat, the wider is threat and the fact there are thousands of remaining fighters spread

throughout Iraq and Syria. Has in Syria, it does appear despite the voracity of that battle it will lose territory over time. The U.S.

military is focused largely on the threat, the wider is threat and the fact there are thousands of remaining fighters spread throughout Iraq and Syria.

That they are shifting to a guerrilla style, insurgency style threat in addition to conducting terrorist attacks. It very much remains a threat.

The U.S. military saying there needs to be continued pressure applied against the remnants of is. The general telling a group of reporters

including CNN's Barbara Starr, it is going to be difficult to maintain that pressure would you tell us troops on the ground. President Trump seems

keen to withdraw all troops in Syria, 2000 there. It's going to be a lot more challenging for the U.S. to maintain counter terrorist pressure on the

ISIS groups that are still very much there in Iraq and Syria.

GORANI: All right, Ryan Browne at the Pentagon. Thanks very much.

Losing its territory, but if there is a withdrawal of troops, analysts will explain later. Could they come back to pockets they are forced out of.

One reason the U.S. wants to stay involved is Iran's influence in the region. Tehran celebrated the 40th anniversary by defying to keep the

United States -- a message that works very well at home. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is ahead with more. You spoke with the Republican guard there,

tell us what you learned today as the country is marking this 48th anniversary.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, what we heard today was more confrontational from what we heard two years

ago, certainly one year ago. You can see from Rouhani and the military and Revolutionary Guard as well really are trying to show they are militarily

strong and that they are capable of fighting, for instance, also, against the United States if they have to. You're absolutely right. At this 40th

anniversary celebration, I was able to speak to the head of Iran's revolutionary guard core, Mr. Joffrey and he told me that Iran is ready to

repel any sort of attack against it, whether it's from the United States or any other power. Here's what he had to say.


MOHAMMAD ALI JAFARI, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARD (through translator): With the missiles we have right now, with the

progress in high technology and with the self-reliance we have achieved in various fields, also with the growth of the population in Iran, we have the

power and capacity to defend against any kind of invasion. After 40 years now that we have expanded our defense systems, and we have developed

military technologies in various fields, of course, they know conflict with Islamic Republic of Iran would fail.


PLEITGEN: That is a big bone of contention in the Middle East. The Israelis say they believe it is a threat to them. The U.S. says it's a

threat to other Middle Eastern allies it has here. Of course, one of the things the U.S. is saying they are afraid if indeed the nuclear deal

completely falls apart which the us has pulled out of, Iran might be able to tip nuclear missiles with a warhead. Iran digging in their heels saying

they are going to continue to develop this program. They believe it is fundamental to their defense. You can see that Iran is very much on a

confrontation course, especially currently with President Trump in the White House. It's something this leadership is very much aware of. And

speaking to folks there at that event, it's something they are very aware of as well. A lot of people very angry at the United States for pulling

out of the nuclear agreement for the hard line that the Trump administration is taking. At the same time, of course, we have to say,

Hala, at events like this, this is a country that is in major economic turmoil. A lot of folks in this country extremely concerned about their

well-being and economic security as well, Hala.

All right, Fred Pleitgen is live in Tehran. Thanks very much.

What does this mean for the region? There is a lot going on and a lot to break down. Lina joins me in the studio. I don't know if you were able to

see ben's reporting from eastern Syria. Territorially it looks like a matter of days now and ISIS will have lost control over the territory that

it had once, tens of thousands of square kilometers. What does that mean for the group?

[14:15:00] DR LINA KHATIB, HEAD OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE: Unfortunately for us, it doesn't mean the end of

the group. I think we have to be very careful. Just because ISIS is about to lose the territory it's held, doesn't mean they won't try to retake

territory on a small scale. Also, this doesn't mean the group is eradicated.

GORANI: What about the U.S. withdrawal, will that give them more of an opportunity to reform and try to take back some of that land that it's

losing now?

KHATIB: Yes, well absolutely. Of course, the U.S. has been the major force fighting ISIS in that area as well as Kurdish forces on the ground

that are also fighting. And these Kurdish forces, without the U.S. being there, will not have the capacity that they have now. So, this will make

them vulnerable and will give ISIS an opportunity to regenerate.

GORANI: And what about the Syrian regime itself? We were hearing from ben some of these civilians who were caught in the middle are not just getting

pounded from U.S.-backed fighters against is, but also the Syrian regime forces.

KHATIB: Yes. Sometimes we unfortunately forget that in that side of Syria, we're not just talking about a terrorist group and an anti-ISIS

coalition. There is also the regime being very active and continuing to target civilians. So, with the U.S. withdrawing, also the regime will feel

more comfortable acting in that area, as well as in that area we have forces backed by Iran, militias that are also very active, and that will

also benefit from the U.S. withdrawal.

GORANI: And also, the fact that ISIS is losing this ground means that it will employ tactics that Al Qaeda and Iraq used for many years which is a

guerrilla-style insurgency, targeting or hitting soft targets and increasingly hurting civilians as well.

KHATIB: Absolutely. They are already doing this, and they are already engaged in insurgency attacks against the Kurds who are fighting them as

well as anti-is coalition international targets. And the frequency of these attacks and the number of these attacks have increased in the last

year. So, we're likely to see more of this, even if ISIS loses territory. It will not be the end, neither for the civilians nor for the many forces

trying to fight ISIS.

GORANI: Would it make a big difference if the U.S. reversed course and stayed?

KHATIB: I think so. Because the U.S. there means that the Iranian-backed militias crossing from Iraq won't have, you know, as much freedom with the

U.S. being there. They will also not have as much access to resources in the northeast. The northeast has oil fields. And also, ISIS will not have

much of an opportunity to have a free access to the Syrian desert.

GORANI: Russia seems quite happy that the U.S. is withdrawing. Turkey as well. I mean, it just seems like the fighters on the grounds are the ones

who are unhappy. Why would Turkey be satisfied with a quick U.S. withdrawal?

KHATIB: Well, because Turkey ultimately views the Syrian conflict from the prism of the Kurdish issue. It wants to crackdown on the Kurds. Without

the U.S. being there it gives them an opportunity to so. It seems to me very few positive outcomes will come out with the U.S. withdrawals.

GORANI: The U.S. officials have repeatedly said the Turks have given us assurances, they won't target the Kurdish fighters who are battling against

is. Should we now believe them?

KHATIB: I think they will take any opportunity they can because that's why they entered this year in conflict in the first place. It wasn't about

regime change in Syria. It was about trying to use this as a way to say Turkey needs to secure its southern border with Syria, meaning crackdown on

the Kurds and mainly prevent them from having autonomy. And, therefore, Turkey, I think, may give promises, but at the same time it can also argue

that the U.S. had given it promises that were not delivered, so ultimately, it's a political game.

GORANI: A last question on Iran. It's the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution. They are clearly -- have as a clear goal the spreading of

their influence, strategic, political influence, first in Iraq, now clearly in Syria. Are they winning strategically at this game, the Iranians?

KHATIB: They are now present and engaged in more countries than ever in the region. However, this doesn't mean that they are succeeding because

this is coming at great cost, especially with the U.S. pulling out of the nuclear deal with the Iranian economy being under significant strain.

Also, with Russia only partnering with Iran and Syria for pragmatic reasons. This is going to be a long-term alliance. The story is far from

over from Iran's ambitions. I think they are going to face tough times ahead.

[14:20:00] GORANI: Whoever said Middle East politics was complicated was right. It is always a pleasure having you on the program to explain it all

and put it all in context. We appreciate it, Dr Lina Khatib is Head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House.

Till to come, U.S. President Donald Trump heads to the southern border as yet another government shutdown looms. He's rallying his base as progress

on a border funding deal stalls.

Also, the situation in Venezuela is getting so desperate, that some women are doing the unthinkable, selling their bodies so their families can

survive. Is getting so desperate, that some women are doing the unthinkable, selling their bodies so their families can survive.


GORANI: Well, the clock is ticking down to avoid another government shutdown in America as boarder security talks stall ahead of a Friday

funding deadline. President Donald Trump is taking his wall pitch to the epicenter of the whole argument, the southern border itself. He'll hold a

rally in El Paso, Texas, in primetime. "AMERICAN PRIMETIME," 9:00 p.m. Rising Democratic star and El Paso native Beto O'Rourke will hold his own

competing event nearby. The former Congressman and Senate candidate has been flirting with the Presidential run. Let's go straight to the southern

border there. That's where we find our Kaitlan Collins, in El Paso, Texas. What is the President planning this evening, Kaitlan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially you can expect the President make that same argument he made during the state of

the union address when he talked about El Paso, single out this border city here in Texas, specifically saying it's proof of his argument that walls

work. He cited this barrier fence built behind me and said that is the reason you've seen the violent crime rate here in El Paso drop. Local

officials and the numbers both say that the President is wrong in those claims. Not only did the mayor of El Paso say today that the President was

citing remarks made by the Attorney General, and he was wrong, but he received numbers from the FBI that show the violent crime rate here in El

Paso peaked in 1993, and then started to drop over the next decade and some change. And this bill -- this structure behind me wasn't authorized to be

built until 2006 by President Bush. And construction on it didn't even start until 2008, so well after the crime rate had already started to drop.

However, you can expect the President to continue to make that argument here tonight while he's in El Paso. His first campaign rally of the year

and it's making clear that he thinks that 2020 reelection campaign is going to focus pretty similar to what his run in 2016 did, focusing on

immigration and focusing on things like the President's wall. This is coming over that wall fight that's happening back in Washington as those

talks to fund the government have largely stalled over the weekend.

[14:25:07] GORANI: Well, Beto O'Rourke as I was saying, who lost against Ted Cruz for that Texas Senate seat, spoke to Oprah Winfrey. He did bring

up the border, security issues and family separations at the border. He's holding a competing rival event in El Paso tonight. This is what he told

Oprah Winfrey a few days ago.


FORMER REP, BETO O'ROURKE, (D), TEXAS: Come down to El Paso, tornillo where we are imprisoning these kids, tantamount to torture. Let's testify

this is happening in your name in this country. Do not blame this on Donald Trump. Do not blame this on a political party. Do not blame this

on someone else. If we are a democracy, then the people are the government. The government is the people. It is on every single one of



GORANI: Kaitlan, I find it interesting because here you have a potential 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate taking on the President right on his

turf, on the issue of immigration.

COLLINS: Yes, this is Beto's turf. This is his hometown. You see him making that argument and he's responding to claims the President made

during the state of the union. This is' why you're going to see him hold that rally, counter rally he's holding tonight. We don't even know if he's

running for President or not yet. That comes as Beto's run some remarks about the President saying the comments he makes about immigration are

racist. And you can expect Beto to essentially argue that tonight. What you're seeing is the President come the closest he's been to someone who

could be running against him in 20. So far, it's been essentially Twitter and back and forth between candidates or potential candidates like Beto

O'Rourke. Tonight, they're both going to be here in the same city and you're going to have people making arguments, supporters of the President

and supporters of Beto O'Rourke. It should get interesting in El Paso in a few hours.

GORANI: We'll see how everyone handles the wind because it looks pretty gusty where you are. Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much. Yes. Thanks very


Now, potentially U.S. Presidential candidates like Beto O'Rourke might want to make their decisions sooner rather than later as the official list of

contender grows. Two more have joined the crowded, already crowded Democratic field over the weekend. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy

Klobuchar both took swipes at President Trump as they kicked off their campaigns. Here's how Klobuchar summed up what she's hoping to accomplish.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Overturn citizens united and get the dark money out of our politics. Restoring the voting rights act.

We will rejoin the international climate agreement.

We must revamp our nation's cyber security and guarantee net neutrality. Comprehensive immigration reform. Getting to universal health care.

[cheers and applause] and bringing down -- bringing down the cost of prescription drugs. Stand up to the gun lobby --


GORANI: All right. Let's talk to our reporter Stephen Collinson. He joins me now from Washington. So, listing there the priorities, the

campaign promises already Klobuchar -- what does it tell us about the Democratic, overall Democratic strategy going forward to try to defeat

Trump in 2020?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: It's very interesting, Hala. The two declarations we got this week from Senator Elizabeth Warren and

Senator Amy Klobuchar there. Both are female senators. They have a solid record. They have a different theory how to win the 2020 election for the

Democrats. Amy Klobuchar, although she was giving those liberal applause lines, she's running more as a centrist, somebody who can win swing voters

in the Midwest. Those states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin that Donald Trump won over Hillary Clinton. If Democrats win those states

and keep the states they won in 2016, they win the White House. Senator Elizabeth Warren is adopting a far more liberal populist economic approach.

She is advocating essentially a massive overhaul of the economy. Billionaires have high-jacked the economy and left normal Americans in the

dust. So, two very interesting different approaches about how to win this race. Klobuchar, there was some controversy over how she treats her staff.

She was asked this by ABC News. This is how she responded.


KLOBUCHAR: First of all, I love my staff. I wouldn't be where I am and we wouldn't be able to pass all those bills if we didn't have a great staff.

I am tough, I push people, that is true. I have high expectations for myself. I have high expectations for the people that work for me and I

have high expectations for this country.


GORANI: Well, she's not exactly denying that she's a tough boss here, by the way.

COLLINSON: Right. I mean, this has been a rumor that's been going around Washington for years. She gets through interns and staff members at a

rapid clip. I think what she's trying to do there is turn this and show that I'm tougher. One of the big attributes the Democratic candidate who

eventually goes up against Donald Trump has to have is toughness. So, she is trying to show this as a quality. I think that's what she's trying to

do there. The question with Klobuchar -- does her more centrist approach, it could well be a general approach in the general election when you're

trying to win swing voters in the swing states, but the Democratic Party certainly moved left. And that's the sort of line that someone like

Elizabeth Warren thinks she can have the advantage there over someone who's perhaps more of a traditional Bill Clinton, Barack Obama Democrat.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Sure. I was going to say, when men are called tough, women are called sometimes a different word for doing the

exact same thing and treating their staff in the exact same way. It doesn't always work politically unfortunately. There's some work to do in

that department.

Stephen Collinson, thanks very much for joining us.

Still to come, sheer desperation is leading some Venezuelan women to cross into Colombia and do the unthinkable just so their families back home can



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Frustrated, desperate, and unable to find work in a city with the highest unemployment in Colombia. She now sells her body to

feed her children back home. Earning a mere $6 per man.


GORANI: We're live on the border, next.


GORANI: We've been telling you about the human toll of the political crisis in Venezuela. How ordinary people are truly struggling just to

survive as food and other supplies become more and more scarce.

In a sign of just how desperate things have become, some women who'd normally be at work in a doctor's office or a law firm are now resorting to

something pretty unthinkable just to keep their families alive. Isa Soares has that story.


ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On the street corners in the main squares of Colombia's border city of Cucuta, Venezuelan women hide

their pain behind their faint smiles. It's here, I meet Marisa (ph) who trembles as she tells me her story.

MARISA, UNEMPLOYED VENEZUELAN (through translator): It's frustrating because I didn't study for this.

SOARES: As a nurse back home, she worked 15 days for a bag of flour.

MARISA (through translator): I didn't have any other option to do this.

SOARES: Frustrated, desperate, and unable to find work in a city with one of the highest unemployment rates in Colombia, she now sells her body to

feed her children back home. Earning a mere $6 per man.

MARISA (through translator): It's frustrating because you realized that you worked five years of my life studying, but I feel at this moment that

it's five years I've lost because I can't practice.

[14:35:14] SOARES: With each tear comes a drop of anger.

MARISA (through translator): The government has a lot in this, the current one, but the previous one, is even more guilty.

SOARES: But the shame is overpowering and keeping the secret is tearing her apart.

SOARES (through translator): Do you think your mother would understand your reason for doing this?

MARISA (through translator): My mom is a super mom. My mom is everything. And I know that the say she finds out for whatever reason. It will hurt

her but she won't judge me.

SOARES: On a different square just down the road --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm a woman that never imagined this, getting to this extreme.

SOARES: I meet an experienced attorney. Also selling sex to feed her two children and parents back in Venezuela.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I can only afford to give them breakfast. Sometimes just lunch. And at times thy go to bed without

eating. They go to school. I even do the impossible.

SOARES: The impossible, she tells me, has become a burden.

SOARES (through translator): At the end of the day, what do you do? Cry? Pray?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes. I kneel at night to ask God. I've even been to church to ask God for forgiveness, because I think

of my kids' little faces, my parents. It's not easy, friend. It's not easy.


GORANI: Well, Isa joins me now live with more on this story, which is really, really heartbreaking. Isa, you're in Cucuta just across the

Venezuelan border.

It doesn't seem -- first of all, I was surprised that the second woman wasn't hiding her face. I mean, I think that you could see that probably

that, too, is out of desperation as well to tell the world what's really going on.

SOARES: Yes, absolutely. She said she -- of course her many members of her family don't know. She has one family member in Peru who knows about

it, but she said she's got to the point that, I've done everything, I've tried everything. I've knocked on so many doors here in Colombia. She

said, "I tried to -- I tried to be a nanny. I tried to clean. I tried to work in restaurants."

But she said -- she told me off camera, there's an element of discrimination, too, because, of course, there's so many Venezuelans coming

into Colombia. And with -- in some regions like in the question of North of Santander, where we are, unemployment is extremely high.

And so there's Colombians and there's Venezuelans fighting for jobs. And so she's been unable to get what she called a decent job, a job where she

could hold her head up high. So she said the pressure is so much to try and feed not just my two children, but also my parents who are looking

after my children, that I have no other option but to do this.

She said, I've never thought in a million, this idea -- this never crossed my mind. And this is what I'm hearing time and time again. So there is an

element of people letting down their guard, wanting to tell us their story. I've had so many people thanking me for letting share their stories.

I actually just interviewed, Hala, one boy who is 19, a teenager, 19 years old, who crossed over from Venezuela about four or five months ago. And he

left because he's HIV positive. He couldn't get any anti-retroviral drugs. He hasn't been able to get his hands on them for a while now, he said for

several years. He had one month where he have drugs. He had one month where he didn't have any of the medication.

And he said on 30 of his friends, of the group of people that had those retroviral drugs, 31 is alive, the other 29 have died. So he said it's a

question of life and death.

So people have decided that no -- it's not the time to hide behind -- inside their rooms under the -- under the duvet. This is the time to

actually tell the world exactly what's happening. And some people blame Maduro, but others actually blame themselves for electing Chavez, for

electing Maduro. Hala.

GORANI: And there are new protests that the opposition is calling for. Tell us more about that.

SOARES: Yes. So we're expecting protests, large protests, something similar to what we saw in the last several weeks. Juan Guaido has been

calling on youth to go to the streets. It's youth day tomorrow. So expecting large, large numbers of people from all walks of life.

[14:40:00] I interviewed a middleclass family who actually made their way to Colombia who came here to get milk and other nappies for their children.

He said, we're taking to the streets. Of course, we're going to the streets. Everyone will be taking to the streets.

And I said, if there's an elements of nervousness and they told me, of course, because you dot know -- we don't know who's standing next to you.

You don't know if they are militia belonging to the government. You really don't know.

So you go out there because it's been a positive energy trying to call for change. But these are nervous times and anxious times. So expect large

protests. We've heard from Juan Guaido as well this morning who actually said that more than 100,000 people have gone to a website that they've

created to be almost donators try and carry those -- that humanitarian aid.

How exactly how they're going to carry it, how they're going to get it across the border and then carry without being stopped by Maduro's men.

Well, I think that's a plan that's still in motion.

But clearly, he's got the masses behind him whether he can achieve anything. Well, of course, that is still to be seen, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Isa Soares, thanks very much.

And don't forget you can check our Facebook page, Check me out on Twitter, @HalaGorani.

Now, from black sheep to special stopover. Top American officials haven't been to Hungary for a while, not since Viktor Orban's government started

implementing what critics call far-right anti-democratic policies.

But that, like so many other things, has changed under President Trump. America's top diplomat was in Budapest today warning that Russia is trying

to divide the west.

CNN's Atika Shubert has more.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Budapest on a diplomatic mission

to reassert U.S. influence and push back on Russia and China. In particular, Russian gas and Chinese technology in the form of

telecommunications giant, Huawei.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We must not let Putin drive wedges between the friends and NATO. Russia is not the only power that wants to

erode freedom in this region. There's an experience of states in Asia- Pacific region that shows that Beijing's handshake sometimes comes with strings.

SHUBERT: It's been almost eight years since a U.S. secretary of state was in Budapest since Prime Minister Viktor Orban was elected in 2010, the

previous Obama administration had given Hungary the cold shoulder, for Orban's increasingly anti-democratic policies, undermining the independence

of the courts, the central bank, cracking down on the media and free speech.

But in U.S., President Donald Trump, Orban sees a natural ally with similar views on immigration and the media. The visit is the validation Hungary

needs just as it's below E.U. members have threatened so sanction the Orban government for failing to uphold democratic principles.

PETER SZIJJARTO, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The Trump administration has similar and the same stance and general policies. Both

governments are patriotic with national interest come first.

First and foremost, to protect the safety and sovereignty of the country, to fight migration, to be in line to defend the borders and protect the

Christian heritage. We support the fair treatment of Israel. We base our policy mutual respect. The world is not better if some countries lecture

other countries.

SHUBERT: During the visit, both Hungary and the U.S. agreed to hammer out details on their defense cooperation agreement, allowing for U.S. troops to

operate in Hungary as part of NATO. A positive start to Pompeo's European tour.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.


GORANI: Still to come tonight, the power of music. Diversity is a pretty big winner at the Grammys. We'll bring you all the details on a historic

night for the music industry, including a surprise appearance. And there's Dolly Parton, as well.


[14:45:54] GORANI: Like many awards in the entertainment industry, the Grammys have often been criticized for being too male and also in some

cases too white. The 61st edition of the awards needed to be different. They did not disappoint in that respect. It was a history-making night

Sunday in Los Angeles.

Cardi B became the first solo woman to win a Grammy for best rap album, part of a big night for women. And then some more firsts.


CHILDISH GAMBINO, AMERICAN RAPPER: Yes, this is America, guns in my area, I got the strap, I got to carry to them.


GORANI: Childish Gambino's "This is America" won both song and record of the year which marked the first time the hip-hop song has won those awards.

And there were some other surprises on the night, too. Let's discuss it all with CNN's Stephanie Elam. She joins me now from Los Angeles.

So, it was a surprising night and there was also a special guest. Tell us more.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is true, Hala. I think the one person who has nothing to do with music, but yet had a roomful of super

star struck and that was Michelle Obama. She came on stage with Alicia Keys, who was hosting also. Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and also Jada

Pinkett Smith. And they were up there together.

She was just talking about how important music is. But when she went to speak, the whole crowd was cheering so much that you couldn't even hear her

to the point she's like, all right. We have a show to do, everybody before she spoke. It was really well received that Michelle Obama was on the


GORANI: And Childish Gambino is interesting, because "This is America" is such a political song. It's about gun violence. It's about racial

injustice, it's a masterful video that accompanied the song. And interestingly, he didn't show up to pick up his award.

ELAM: Awards, he won several Grammys last night. And he wasn't there. And that was -- everyone was like, where is Donald Glover? And we still

don't know where he was or why he wasn't there. The video also won a Grammy as well.

I mean, this video when it was released, the whole song, it went viral. And there's two components to it. Not only did he put so much thought and

message into it, but it also is a jam. It's a good song. So between the two things, it really did just resonate and people really loved it.

And based on where we were last year and the country -- a lot of people felt like this did actually speak to 2018 musically.

GORANI: Yes. And it's a song that exists -- I mean, I feel like the video is a companion to this almost unnecessary companion to the song in some

cases. So it's not surprising it also won best video.

Ariana Grande didn't show up either? She's the world's biggest pop star. What's going on?

ELAM: She didn't. She was supposed to. There was a whole back and forth, because she was expected to perform. One of the producers of the show told

the Associated Press that she didn't feel she could pull together a performance in time.

She had been quiet up until that point then she took to Twitter and said, that's not it. She could have done it fast. She felt like her creativity

was being thwarted. That's why she decided not to even attend. Of course, she won her first Grammy.

So she has been on Twitter for the last 24 hours just really lamenting the fact that she wasn't there. She wished it worked out, but she wasn't

there, and that's part of it. But, yes, it's kind of a bummer for her because she wasn't there on her first win.

GORANI: By the way, you mentioned Michelle Obama, this was the moment she appeared on stage at the Grammys.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: From the Motown Records I wore out on the south side to who run the world songs that fueled

me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story.


GORANI: And you are mentioning that -- I mean, it was basically deafening applause. How do you explain that Michelle Obama, who, of course, was

first lady for eight years, but who's out of the White House now, is still so very popular with the music industry and beyond really? I mean, all

these creative industries, entertainment, the rest of it. She's still so incredibly popular.

ELAM: Right. Her approval rating was always rather high. It was always higher than her husband's when he was in office. So that's not so much of

a surprise. Her book tour for her book, "Becoming," that just came out, has been so well received.

[14:50:03] That is not surprising that you would see this. She apparently is friends with Alicia Keys, because she tweeted about it when she asked

her to come out. She said, "How could I say no?" Just wanted to be there to support her.

So I do feel like this was obviously a very welcoming room for her. But it was very much a surprise. No one saw her and then all of a sudden, she was

on stage.

GORANI: Right. Stephanie Elam, thanks very much for joining us from Los Angeles. Appreciate it.

Well, as usual, it wasn't just the music-making headlines at the Grammys. Stars usually hope to cause a stir with their outfit choices and it seems

even MAGA was having its own fashion moment this year. I'm talking, of course, about President Trump's campaign slogan, Make America Great Again.

There were singers who are -- their repeat provocateurs. This one in particular, Joy Villa, Ricky Rebel. Both used the red carpet to spread

their pro-Trump message and, no doubt, get a little attention in the process. You can see here Joy Villa's dress which reads build the wall.

That is supposed to represent a wall with the bricks in it.

Meanwhile, artist Ricky Rebel wore a jacket bearing the message "Keep America Great Again" and "Trump 2020."

The Grammys was not the only big awards show Sunday night. Here in London, the prestigious BAFTA awards were dominated by two films that celebrated

diversity as well. Erin McLaughlin -- reports from the red carpet.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a celebration of women and diversity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This year people are wanting to say we all need to change the industry together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alfonso Cuaron, "Roma."

MCLAUGHLIN: "Roma" won four BAFTAs, including best film. The story of an indigenous live-in maid set in Mexico in the 1970s.

ALFONSO CUARON, MEXICAN FILM DIRECTOR: The cinematics of "Roma" speaks about today. Things like inequality, race, gender, are prevalent -- as

prevalent or more prevalent today as they were 15 years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you just look at me? Did you? Look at me. Look at me! How dare you! Close your eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the BAFTA goes to Olivia Colman.

MCLAUGHLIN: Olivia Colman was crowned queen of the BAFTAs of a portrayal in the move "The Favourite" which took seven awards.

MCLAUGHLIN (on-camera): Over a year on from the beginning of the Me Too movement and Time's Up, 20019 BAFTAs are all about strong female characters

and films.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): But no female directors. Sore point for the cast of, "Can You Forgive Me?" Despite nominations for best actress and best

supporting actor, no mention for the film's director.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course, I think she should have been nominated across the board.

MCLAUGHLIN (on-camera): Not a single female director was nominated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. It's not great. We're moving forward but we're certainly not there yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the BAFTA goes to Rami Malek.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Rami Malek won best actor for his portrayal of a gay British icon. Queen front man Freddie Mercury. Yet one more sign that

BAFTA's focus is on inclusivity and their will for change is there.

RAMI MALEK, AMERICAN ACTOR: Thank you for including me.

MCLAUGHLIN: The night's ceremony was a powerful signal that this is just beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are so wearing white tonight.



GORANI: And more to come including Meghan Markle's personal family struggles have once again been made public. We'll explain after this.


[14:55:06] GORANI: Since her marriage to Prince Harry, the Duchess of Sussex has been the subject of more than a few headlines, many of them

negative in this country.

And now, the intimate details of her strained relationship with her father are once again from page fodder.

The U.K.'s mail on Sunday has published a handwritten letter from the duchess to her father. Max Foster is on the story. Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Hala, you remember an article last week in People Magazine which purported to have quotes from

people close to the duchess describing how she felt about this family breakdown effectively.

One of those friends and people said that Meghan had written a letter to her father shortly after the wedding, expressing her feelings about how he

had handled the whole family breakdown.

And sure enough, this letter was passed on to the Mail on Sunday this weekend, suggesting that these quotes in People Magazine are, in fact,

authentic. This letter, written in Meghan's distinctive handwriting, does make for some quite uncomfortable reading.

She writes that, "Your actions have broken my heart into a million pieces. Not simply because you've manufactured such unnecessary and unwarranted

pain, but making the choice to not tell the truth as you're puppeteered in this. Something I will never understand. You've told the press that you

called me to say you weren't coming to the wedding. That didn't happen, because you never called."

Now, as I understand it, only about half of this letter has been published. We'll wait to see whether or not the Mail on Sunday decides to publish the

rest of it.

It's been quite selective in the quotes, I understand, from people on the palace side of things. So perhaps other parts of the letter are more

positive about the relationship. We'll have to wait and see.

No comment from the palace so far. But they're not denying that the letter is authentic, Hala.

GORANI: Max, thanks very much.

And to end the hour, it's being called a mass invasion. Polar bears have descended on a remote group of islands in northern Russia. The area's

largest settlement with a population of around 2,500 people has reported more than 50 sightings since December.

The state of emergency has been declared with the local officials saying the bears have attacked people. And you can see on this footage here, just

casually entered buildings, leaving some parents too scared to send their kids to school.

The polar bears are being driven into inhabited areas because of climate change. It's reducing their sea ice feeding, grounds and it's forcing them

to go where people live to scavenge for food. Climate change, once again, strikes.

Thanks for watching tonight. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.