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Fire Officials in Paris Say They Were Very Quick to Arrive at Cathedral; Macron Vows to Rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral in 5 Years; Parisians Mourn Damage to 850-Year-Old Cathedral; Military Vows to Prosecute Al-Bashir in Sudan; Protesters in Sudan Demand Quick Transition to Civilian Rule; Third Straight Day of Environmental Protests in London; Barr to Release Scrubbed Version of Mueller Report Soon; CNN Uncovers Venezuela's Multi-Billion Dollar Drug Trade; Warring Sides in Libya Fight for Control of Capital; Former Peruvian President Alan Garcia Has Died. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired April 17, 2019 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:00] ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hi. Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow here in Atlanta.

And we begin this hour in Paris, where we are getting a better idea of just how tough it was to battle the blaze in the Notre Dame on Monday. One top

firefighter actually said it was the most complicated fire he had ever fought. And also want you to look at these remarkable images. You can see

why that firefighters said that. These are photographs from a drone, looking down on the Cathedral's intricate structure and what's left of it.

Officials say fire crews were actually nearby when the alarm was raised, and they were on the scene pretty quickly. Take a listen.


PHILIPE DEMAY, PARIS FIRE BRIGADE (through translator): Immediately, yes, we did. We knew very well that if the fire broke out on the roof that it

would be very difficult to stop the spread. And indeed, the roof did collapse. So our effort was to save the two belfries and the works of art



CURNOW: And we're also hearing that no construction workers were on site at the time of the fire. That's according to two of the renovation's firms

working on the Cathedral. So Melissa Bell has all of the details now from Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: In the aftermath of the devastating fire that left the beloved Notre Dame Cathedral charred, but still

standing, French authorities looking for answers. Interviewing 30 employees who were working at the building the day the fire broke out. The blaze,

which began in the Cathedral's attic, is believed to be accidental, possibly a result of restoration work on the historic landmark. Authorities

revealing that Cathedral staff struggled to find the source of the blaze for 23 minutes after the first fire alarm rang out. President Emmanuel

Macron pledging to rebuild, setting an ambitious five-year deadline.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): We will make the Cathedral of Notre Dame even more beautiful. We can do this.

BELL: One possible challenge, the part of the Cathedral's roof known as the forest, which was destroyed in the blaze. The French Heritage Foundation

tells CNN, the country no longer has trees large enough to replace the ancient beechwood beams originally used in its construction.

France's top business leaders making generous pledges, donating more than $700 million for Notre Dame's reconstruction. This as the scope of the

destruction inside the iconic Cathedral becomes clear. Its beautiful interior, extensively damaged, mountains of debris stacked high, light

pouring in through holes in the roof. But the pews surrounded by piles of rubble seemingly undamaged. The Cathedral's iconic spire, lost to the fire,

crumbling as onlookers watched.

But a copper rooster that set atop the spire, covered intact. Some of the Cathedral's priceless relics, including the Crown of Thorns, also rescued.

Transported for safekeeping to the Louvre Museum and Paris' City Hall.

Notre Dame's stained-glass windows, twin bell towers, famous 18th century organ, also surviving the blaze. Paris' mayor thanking the chaplain of the

Paris Fire Brigade, who is being lauded as a hero for rushing into the burning building to rescue the holy relics.

Pope Francis expressing his distress and thanking the first responders in his first address after the fire. While the number of days Notre Dame will

remain closed is unknown, outside the Cathedral's walls, people coming together to hold their own service at a vigil last night.


CURNOW: Such unity there. So let's get the latest from Paris. Michael Holmes joins us now, not far from the Notre Dame. You can see it behind

you, Michael. It really is fascinating, the kind of details that these firefighters got into in that press conference. But we're also seeing these

pictures live of activity that is taking place on the roof right now.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's been a lot going on, all morning, Robyn. We've seen firefighters hosing down some hot spots still

smoldering there in Notre Dame. And that's happened multiple times today. And also, I think you'd probably be able to see pieces of wood planking,

sheathing being lowered down from a crane to the roof area. Of course, the entire roof is gone, exposing the inside of the Cathedral to the elements.

And that's a great concern. Fortunately, it's not been raining. It's a beautiful day here in Paris.

[11:05:00] But they're worried about the elements, going forward and getting more damage on the inside. They're also interestingly worried, too,

about winds coming in through the roof. And of course, from the outside, perhaps moving those very fragile stained-glass windows, which survived,

miraculous survived the fire and irreplaceable. So they're trying to get that sheathing on the roof and sort of protect it from the elements.

We've also seen firemen taking around architects and engineers. What they're doing is trying to identify any areas of the structure that may be

vulnerable. There's a couple of buildings near Notre Dame which remain evacuated, because there are fears that if they were to collapse, there

could be a risk to residents nearby.

Generally speaking, they're very happy with what remains and its structural integrity so far, but they're not taking any risks. They're going around,

basically stone by stone, trying to see what may need bracing and what may need a little bit of reinforcing before they move forward. Basically,

making the building safe. And that could take a while -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, Emmanuel Macron says five years. I think a lot of people might look at this building and say, maybe a little bit longer, particularly

because it took 200 years to build. But it is a paragon of human enterprise. And you can just see that that will continue. There are people

assessing, as you said, stone by stone, the structure at the very highest ramparts of the Notre Dame right now, Michael. So when we look at the lucky

break that these two structures that we're looking at now on-air, the bell towers actually survived. It was pretty close, wasn't it, just 15, 30

minutes that the firemen had to try and stop the flames from getting there.

HOLMES: Yes, and that's a really interesting aspect of how they fought it. And as you said, the fire chief saying it was the most complicated blaze

that he's ever fought. And think about the history, too. They started building this place in 1160. I mean, just try to get your head around that.

When he's talking about how they fought it, of course, the fire was at the top. It was in the roof. All those ancient, 800-year-old timbers that

really went up like matchsticks. So they were fighting it from above, but crucially, they were also, and very cleverly and smarting it, fought it

from below. Because there were also wood supporting beams that were holding up those belfries lower down. And the fire brigade said that if those had

caught fire, then the whole structure would have come down. And so, while they were fighting from above, they were fighting from below, as well, and

trying to save those beams.

And the fire brigade saying, basically, there was a window of 20 to 30 minutes where it could have gone either way. And the hundreds of

firefighters that were here on the scene did manage to save the day, in many ways. And while there's been a lot of damage done, you know, a lot of

loss when it comes to those ancient timbres, the roof and parts of the interior, it's remarkable that what is still standing and what may be able

to be rebuilt.

I can tell you, that the government here, Emmanuel Macron announcing that there is a very high-powered community. In fact, it's pretty much like a

mini ministry, if you like. That has been set up just to handle this. Their sole focus will be on the restoration. How much is going to cost anyone

knows? Just pluck a figure out of the air. But they've already raised about $900 million in donations from some of France's wealthiest families and

individuals. And also, smaller donors, as well. They're looking at introducing a law next week that will make donations tax deductible.

They're looking at a worldwide appeal, to try to fund this restoration -- Robyn.

CURNOW: And in many ways, these images that we're seeing on-air now, just as riveting as the horrifying images we saw the other day as it went up in

flames. You can already see how people are getting to work. And as you say, nearly $1 billion is being thrown at it, maybe more. Michael Holmes, great

to have you there on the ground in Paris. Thanks, Michael.

So Sudan's deposed dictator is now being held in the same notorious prison where his political opponents were often tortured or worse. Officials at

Kobar prison in Khartoum say Omar al-Bashir was transferred there on Tuesday. Sudan's current military rulers are vowing to prosecute him at

home, instead of extraditing him to the international criminal court.

Now, protesters are demanding the military step aside, though, and allow civilian rule. Today, we saw thousands of doctors and health care workers

joining the demonstrations outside army headquarters. Nima Elbagir is in Khartoum, has been watching these momentous events unfold. The fact that

Omar al-Bashir is behind bars in the very prison he sent opposition figures to is a huge, huge move.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a huge moment, Robyn. You're absolutely right. The officials that we spoke to from inside

the prison, even they said they almost couldn't believe their eyes when they witnessed his transfer late yesterday evening.

[11:10:05] One pointed out to me, rather chillingly, that he would have had to walk past the very same hangman's noose where he has previously sent

political rivals. But what's even more extraordinary than this moment is that it is still not enough for the demonstrators on the street, Robyn.

It feels like every single day, you and I have this discussion about, well, what is it they want? What will be enough? And it is what they have always

said, right from the beginning. It is a civil transition of rule. They want a civilian council. They want sovereignty back in the hands of civilians.

We saw thousands pour into the demonstration site today. Tomorrow, they're calling for an attempted million-man march. So we're expecting thousands

more. And on Friday will be the one-week anniversary of al-Bashir's forced step down, as he politely put it, and those around him put it at the time.

And we're expecting even more people. Everybody here, Robyn, the one topic of conversation is, how long can the demonstrators sustain it? And for now,

they seem to be holding out.

CURNOW: Yes, they certainly do. And what are they saying to you? I mean, we spoke a little bit earlier about healthcare workers and doctors joining

this. In many ways, has been run by Sudanese professionals. Just talk us through the sort of hierarchy of the protesters and how they're organizing.

ELBAGIR: Well, what's really been amazing to see close hand is actually how much of a communal feel this all has had. There's a lot of consensus,

there's a lot of rule by committee. And what they seem to have done is taken something, which was a difficulty for them, the ability of al-

Bashir's regime to pick out any nascent leaders, as soon as they were identified as a threat.

And so they have had to very much close ranks and rule sort of in step and file with each other. Has now emerged as a real strength. Because when they

speak, they speak as one and they speak for the majority. And that's why we are seeing this ability to persist, to continue to prevail and stay on the

ground. Because they are all in agreement.

There are small groups of them doing something called an enlightenment education. Where they move among the prosecutors and say, well this is

what's been put before us. How do we all feel? And then they can speak again in one voice. The Sudanese Professional's Association has emerged as

one of the leading voices for them. But the Doctor's Union also has lost a lot of doctors, detained, and also killed during the four months of this

uprising. So they're also a key factor in this. But also, Robyn, just a lot of extraordinarily young people. The majority of Sudan's population is

under 30, and it is their voices that are actually being heard the loudest -- Robyn.

CURNOW: What do we know about the African Union? Because often African leaders, other neighboring countries are reluctant to get involved or even

say anything. But we've had very interesting comments coming from the African Union, which also signifies some sort of massive tide change here.

ELBAGIR: Absolutely. The African Union seems to be doubling down on the position that they took after the overthrow of Egyptian President, Morsi,

by General el-Sisi, who is now the President of Egypt. But they suspended Egypt's membership for two years until el-Sisi was democratically elected.

Even though, of course, the elections were boycotted by other opposition figures.

They are taking that tact here. They are saying, you have 15 days until the military council in Sudan. If you do not move to civilian rule within 15

days, then we will suspend your membership. And as you said, this is a very different position that we're seeing from the leadership of the African

countries. Coming together and saying, for once, we want to be on the side of the people of Sudan, rather than the dictators.

CURNOW: Yes, and that's a big one. Thanks so much, Nima reporting live there from Khartoum, great to have you there on the ground, as well. Thanks

so much.

So, this is CNN. Still a lot of news to come. Protesters in London are causing citywide disruptions, all in the name of climate change. Why they

went as far as gluing, yes, gluing themselves to this train.

Also, nearly a two-year wait down to one day. America braces for the release of the Mueller report, or at least a redacted version of it. We are

live in Washington with that, as well.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.


CURNOW: Well, police in London say they have made nearly 300 arrests after days of climate change protests. Today, demonstrators are targeting public

transport, as they demand that the U.K. cut carbon emissions to zero. The protests are being led by a group called Extinction Rebellion. And they're

known for being controversial.

Anna Stewart is out and about in central London. She joins me now. Ana, describe the scene where you are right now. Earlier, we saw some rather

dramatic arrests. What's taking place there now?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yes, I'm still at Waterloo Bridge, Robyn, normally is an artery for transport, completely shut off due to one of the

protests today. They are cross landing Canary Wharf, Oxford Circus, Parliament Square and here, Waterloo Bridge. As you saw earlier, there were

some arrests, those seem to have paused. Only a handful of arrests, I would say, generally looking at sort of ringleaders of the organizers of the


Now as you can see, Robyn, I'll explain what is behind me here. We have some demonstrators who have dressed up to represent the blood of the

extinction, I'm told. The extinction being of climate change and what it will do to the environment, to animals, to ecology. There has been stuff

going on all day. There have been yoga classes. There has been meditation. There has been a temple of Zen for people to have a sleep-in. It's a

protest really like none other. And it's all sorts of generations, as well. I would say one thing that really unifies us, it's been totally peaceful


CURNOW: And I think there's a dog there, too, when you say all sorts of people and animals. I'm glad -- I'm glad the dog made a point there. But in

many ways, they're shutting down much of London. Does this speak to the futility of this climate change argument? There is, you know, there doesn't

seem much that ordinary people can do, they're saying, because governments aren't listening. What else could they possibly be doing without having to

shut down the center of a major city?

STEWART: It's so controversial. It really does depend on who you speak to about this sort of thing. If you are preventing tubes and busing being

used, are you preventing them from getting to work? And are you preventing them from doing eco-friendly transport? There is that argument.

But the people here say they have tried everything they can to get their message to government. They have tried organized legal protests. They have

tried petitions. They have tried demonstrations. They say the only way to be heard is this mass disruption, mass protests across London. And they

say, Robyn, they will keep doing it until government listens. They say this could go on for days or even weeks.

CURNOW: Well in many ways, it's working, because we're talking about it live right now on CNN. So what does government need to do, from their point

of view? Are we going to be seeing some sort of meeting at 10 Downing Street?

[11:20:00] Is there going to be a push for certain policies? What are they specifically wanting here?

STEWART: Yes, what they want is a concrete commitment to three things. Number one, they say the government must declare a climate emergency.

Secondly, they say the government must commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025, which is of course very soon. They also want

citizen assemblies to be created, to lead the government when it comes to climate change and when it comes to ecological justice. These are their

three aims. And they don't just want some lip service, they don't just want leaders from their organization to meet in Downing Street, they want a

firm, concrete commitment that cannot be reversed -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK, Anna Stewart there, and a dodo, actually, live in London. Thanks so much bringing us the view from London. Very important message,


So by this time tomorrow, or perhaps even sooner, we could be reading one of the most anticipated documents released by the U.S. government in years.

Attorney General Bill Barr will release a scrubbed version of the Mueller report with key material blacked out. While President Donald Trump has said

Barr's summary of the report, quote, totally exonerates him. But remember, some of Mueller's investigators have reportedly said their findings were

more damaging than Barr has let on. So there's certainly a lot of intrigue.

So let's bring in Abby Phillip at the White House. A lot of intrigue and a sense of anxiety, I think, no doubt in the White House.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Aides in the White House are kind of like us, waiting to see exactly what the Mueller

report actually says. But they do have some idea of what it might say, because it's based in part on interviews with them. With people who work

here now and people who used to work here until very recently. And there's a growing concern in the building that these stories that might be retold

in the Mueller report, about the President's conduct in office, about the things that might have happened behind the scenes will be more damaging to

him than he might believe at this moment.

And that, in fact, the fact that he's been saying publicly that he is exonerated on collusion and obstruction, that his view of that might change

when he's faced with potentially embarrassing stories that are being told by his own aides. They're simply concerned that this is a person who often

changes his mind about how he feels about these things, and he might lash out at them for being disloyal to them.

Many of these former aides who are outside of the White House now have maintained a relationship with the building, maintained a relationship with

the President and view this report as potentially putting that in jeopardy. And that's beyond what else might be in the report, that the President's

lawyers and aides are worried might give fuel to the investigations that are over on Capitol Hill, being run by Democrats.

So there are multiple concerns here, about the nitty-gritty details of this report, that will be revealed tomorrow. That they, in some cases, just

worry that President Trump isn't taking into full consideration, when he is saying publicly and privately that he thinks this is not going to be as bad

as many people believe it will be.

CURNOW: Wasn't there some reporting that some of the aides were concerned that the President would, quote, go bonkers. So there's that, as well. In

addition, though, in terms of how America views this report, has the President perhaps been quite successful in already setting the narrative.

How big a deal is this going to be, in terms of ordinary people and the way they look at this whole process?

PHILLIP: Well, it is not clear how this is going to play out in the public sphere. And how public opinion is going to take all of this information.

Certainly, the President believes that he has really set the narrative here about no collusion and no obstruction. But there is still a large portion

of the country that still wants to know what's in the Mueller report, that perhaps wants Congress to continue to look into these matters. And it

depends on what exactly it says.

There are some big open questions, politically, particularly on the issue of obstruction, where Mueller did not come to a conclusion. Where there

could be a lot of information, perhaps, that paints the President in a negative light. And so, the President's lawyers do believe that this

narrative has already been set. But there is a lingering concern that there is information there that could be damaging to him. And that could be fuel

for more investigations, that can dig even deeper and potentially damage the President politically, especially as we go into the next Presidential

cycle in 2020.

CURNOW: Yes, I just want to unpack that. So once this is redacted, what happens then in Congress? Does this -- what is the process in terms of

Congress using that information? Can they? And how does it also impact the other legal challenges, particularly, say, with the Southern District of

New York?

PHILLIP: Well when it comes to Congress, it's going to be a big fight. Lawmakers on The Hill have already been saying they don't think that they

should ought to get a redacted report, at all.

[11:25:03] They want all of the information and they want the underlying intelligence that went into the report, as well. So they're going to be

battling with the Department of Justice to get that information. And it's going to be crucial, because if they want to pursue further investigations

on Capitol Hill, they're going to need to know what is behind the report, not just taking the sort of summary of the Mueller investigators at face


But then you also brought up the Southern District of New York and some of these ancillary investigations that have been spawned by the Mueller

investigation. Those are ongoing and we don't know exactly where they are going to go. They are looking into all kinds of other things, including the

President's business dealings dating prior to the time that he was President of the United States.

So, these remain really major investigations that the President's advisers and lawyers do believe will be problematic for him. That's why we've seen

the President's lawyers taking a real aggressive approach, pushing back on Congress, pushing back on investigators trying to get more information.

Because they believe that if they let anything go, they could really be opening a pandora's box of problems for him, as we go down the line.

I think particularly, the Southern District investigations are viewed as a big problem for the President, because those go to the heart of his

dealings, his business dealings. They go to the heart of his family, who still runs his businesses. And they could put a lot of people in potential

jeopardy, as we go forward, beyond what Mueller was looking into, which was actually fairly narrow. It was specific to Russian interference in the 2016


CURNOW: OK. And that's all out tomorrow with a lot of redactions, no doubt, as your saying. Abby Phillip there at the White House, thanks so much.

Coming up here on CONNECT THE WORLD, a remarkable exclusive report. Take a look.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The plane cargo they carry is worth so many millions, the plane itself is just a fraction in a

billion-dollar deal. So many discarded it, like used plastic bottles, all over the jungle.


CURNOW: We'll take you inside a billion-dollar cocaine trafficking operation and show you how it is connected to the Venezuelan government.

Also, as fighting intensifies around Libya capital, we speak to the man trying to avert a full-blown war. Stay with us for that one.


CURNOW: You're watching CNN. Thanks for joining us. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow, welcome back.

So Venezuela is a nation struggling and starving. But it's also a nation where some people are getting rich by helping to traffic drugs to the

United States. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has spent months on an exclusive investigation, one that ties members of Venezuela's military and political

elite to this massive drug running operation. Nick, you're joining us now, so what did you find?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's extraordinary, Robyn, really to see how this drug, sort of a party drug to some,

increasingly common in Western societies. So much of the fuel to this startling web of corruption. People, frankly, often in extraordinary

poverty dragged into trying to move this powder from Colombia. And the role that Venezuela, which really, as it collapses so fast, seems to be surging

as kind of the local career of cocaine, north towards the United States.

U.S. officials alleging and much on the evidence on the ground providing backup for, as well. The idea that Venezuela's military and elite are in on

that career act.


WALSH (voice-over): Below is a cocaine super highway, enriching Venezuela's corrupt elite and bringing coke to American streets. These lines a secret

pathways from Colombia's cocaine farming heartlands below across into neighboring Venezuela. From there, billions of dollars of the drug are

smuggled north in tiny planes. U.S. and regional officials have told CNN, aided by Venezuela's army and elite.

The Colombian military we're with don't get any lower, to stay out of the range of traffic and machine guns and talk to locals mostly through the

leaflets they drop. We've stopped drug fliers out of Colombia, he tells me, but not from places they don't control. He means Venezuela, just five miles

away. Below, they think they've spotted a cocaine laboratory, one of many fueling Venezuela's role as a cocaine career. Which a CNN investigation has

learned is booming just as the country collapses.

240 tons went from Colombia to Venezuela in 2018, up a third in one year, a U.S. official told us, which could fetch $40 billion on U.S. streets.

(on camera): That traffic happening down below, one possible reason it's alleged by so many in the Venezuela army and government are reluctant to

give up on Nicolas Maduro. They're simply making too much money.

(voice-over): The trade remains mostly secret inside Venezuela, on the other side of the border here. But we were able to learn more about these

illegal routes in from recent defectors from the Venezuelan army border patrol and about how their officers ordered them let cross specific trucks

carrying cocaine. For five years, this sergeant got those orders often three times a week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, DEFECTORS FROM VENEZUELAN ARMY BORDER PATROL (through translator): The cars that cross, both weapons and drugs were pickups, and

we would be told the color and make of the truck and when. Usually just after dawn or dusk. Everything was coordinated by the brigade commander.

He'd send a lieutenant to tell you what needed to cross and this was arranged high up above. Those who didn't agree were swapped out,


WALSH: He fled to here, Colombia, when the pressure to comply got too much and his unit found himself confined to base.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were locked on the base. The general would say, everyone must be with us. Leave or speak against the

government, you'll get arrested. They had us brainwashed with food handouts. One night, I couldn't take it anymore. I went home and told my

wife. We leave for Colombia. My son started crying and said, dad, what are we going to do? But I knew if they'd stayed without me, they'd be captured

or interrogated.

WALSH: Venezuelan state TV occasional shows how their armed forces crack down on the trade, here intercepting Mexican pilots. They have previously

rejected allegations they're actually running the drugs and did not responded to several requests for comment.

[11:35:00] But a U.S. official has told CNN these flights are surging. They used to take off from the remote hidden runways in the southern Venezuela

jungle, but in the last three years it moved north, a U.S. official told CNN, to reduce flying time. They used to be three a week, but last year

they were almost daily. This year, they've seen as many as eight in a single day, a regional official said, using 50 hidden runways.

CNN has seen a confidential U.S. radar map -- approximated here -- that shows the sharp turn left the planes from Venezuela take before landing on

the remote Central American coastline off of Honduras, before the cocaine travels north through Mexico to the United States.

Honduras is where we pick up the trail of this booming traffic again. On the coastline below turned into a surreal graveyard of narco planes.

Cocaine cargo they carry is worth so many millions, the plane itself is just a fraction in a $1 billion-dollar deal. So many are discarded, like

used plastic bottles, all over the jungle. Or crammed here, into one river bend.

The troops we're with don't want to be on camera for their safety.

(on camera): Some of these have their markings torn off, to make the job of working exactly where they came from even harder. America's drug habit is

where the money, the rot all begins. But that same open market also supplies a key part of the logistics here. Well the fires deprived most of

this plane of kind of distinguishing characteristics, but you can still see N-4 there, "N" meaning this plane originated in the United States.

(voice-over): Brokers, a U.S. official tell me, buy up dozens of old planes at auction in the United States and hide their ownership in shell

companies, to send them south to start their cocaine journey north from Venezuela.

(on camera): Cocaine, another "N" which means another plane that started its days in the United States.

(voice-over): It's not just traffickers in Venezuela and the U.S. making billions. The entire region is in on it. This is surely Honduras' biggest

industry, the billions at stake everywhere. From this jungle road, which is actually a hidden runway, up to the Honduran President's brother, indicted

last year on trafficking charges, which he denies.

You can't stop the planes being sold or taking off, one officer tells me, so they instead just have to try to make landing harder by blowing holes in

the runways.

(on camera): Just even slowing down this multi-billion-dollar trade requires so many more holes to be blown in this vast expanse of jungle.

(voice-over): The amount of money cocaine brings here literally dwarfs any effort to fight it. Insane amounts of cash, and to some villagers along

this coastline that have none. In fact, the Honduran army tells us traffickers flying towards these villages often kick their cargo overboard

when they think they're about to be intercepted. Each 30-kilogram bundle of cocaine is attached to floats and then drifts ashore. They then pay these

communities of fishermen $150,000 for each recovered bundle.

It's a calculus for corruption that most officials I spoke to admit beggar's belief and that no police or aid operation can really hope to

challenge. One that sees the collapsing Maduro's government the alleged couriers cashing in fast in a region of desperate deliveryman.


WALSH: Now we asked Venezuela officials repeatedly over time for comment. They did not choose to reply. But we have heard from Venezuelan's Foreign

Minister Jorge Arreaza, somewhat tangentially, but coincidently, of course, in the last hour, as our reports have been released. Saying how the, quote,

thunderous failure of Colombia, the largest producer of drugs, and the United States, the largest consumer of drugs, in their fight against drug

trafficking, essentially says that Trump and Duque, the President of Colombia, are pointing towards Venezuela to distract public opinion.

That's their take on this. They have lengthy denied the indictments and sanctions against top Venezuelan officials levied by the United States

here. But as you can see in that report, there's quite a lot of evidence on the ground that suggests certainly something is going on inside Venezuela

related to this -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, and there's quite a web there, isn't there, that you laid out. So, Nick, then, I mean, the question is, and it's a pretty broad one, I

suppose. What's the solution here?

WALSH: This is what's quite staggering. Essentially the amount of money involved in this trafficking is so utterly absurd. $40 billion street value

of the cocaine, just that goes from Colombia through Venezuela to the United States. That sum of money is so enormous.

[11:40:00] It dwarfs frankly anything that law enforcement can do to prevent it. You heard in that report there, how the brother of the

President of Honduras has, in fact, been indicted on drug charges and faces charges in the United States. He denies those charges. But it is staggering

how it seems to infect every part of society.

And the enduring problem, unfortunately, the sort of sad recognition, you slowly got from talking to people who devoted decades of their lives to

fighting this trafficking, is that essentially, you can't really ever expect to beat that, until you stop people in the United States consuming

that drug or take away the illegality of that consumption. And that's the stark choice really being faced here. And until that occurs, people like

the Venezuela elite, accused by U.S. officials, are making money out of this will continue to do so, frankly startling levels -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, you used the word startling and staggering, and it certainly is. Nick Paton Walsh, thanks so much.

So from the crisis in Venezuela to the crisis in Libya. Increased fighting has many concerned. That it could devolve into a massive Syria-style civil

war. So can war be prevented? I'll speak to the man trying to do just that after the break.


CURNOW: So this just into CNN. Former Peruvian President Alan Garcia has died after shooting himself in the neck. Garcia had been under

investigation in connection with a massive corruption scandal that's engulfed a number of former Latin American leaders. Just to confirm, he has

died from his injuries in what appears to be a suicide. We'll have much more later on. Stick with us for that.

But I also want to talk about a dangerous military confrontation that is underway in Libya. Now, if unleashed, it could have hugely destabilizing

impacts. Not only on the country, but across North Africa and Southern Europe.

Now, since fighting intensified this month, humanitarian groups say nearly 200 people have been killed and thousands of families have been displaced

from their homes. Libya once had one of the highest standards of living in Africa, with free education and free health care. But the country plunged

into chaos after long-serving ruler Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown in 2011. Well, now the country is split for control. The area you see in yellow is

controlled by the U.N.-backed government in the capital, Tripoli. The area in red is controlled by forces under the command of military strong general

-- of military strongman, General Khalifa Haftar.

Well, the U.N. warned the recent escalation in fighting could amount to war crimes and is calling for a humanitarian truce. The man making those calls

joins me now, Ghassan Salame is the U.N. special envoy to Libya. He joins me via Skype from Tripoli. Sir, thank you very much for taking time to

speak to you. I want to get your comments on what's happening right now on the ground and particularly the impact on civilians.

GHASSAN SALAME, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY TO LIBYA (via Skype): Well, the impact on civilians is very serious. As you said, 200 people have been killed so

far, 60 or 70 of them are civilians. Like 22,000 people have been displaced. And more than 700 people have been injured. More than that, we

had a number of cases where ambulances were hit, a dozen of them. Where schools have been hit, and yesterday evening, the night was horrible with

residential areas being shelled by (INAUDIBLE). So the civilian situation is now seriously in danger, especially that the greater of Tripoli has like

3 million out of the 7 million Libyans residing in the country.

CURNOW: So a lot of people coming in from the outskirts trying to find some sort of safety in the city center or in the main areas of Tripoli.

SALAME: That's true, schools have been opened. It's also true that the U.N. is very active helping in this evacuation when possible. Unfortunately, so

far, I haven't been able to convince the fighting parties to go for a humanitarian truce at least for an hour or two every day. I am still

pushing for it, and I am still calling on the parties while we do that. Because we need to evacuate the injured people, and we need to evacuate

civilians in the (INAUDIBLE).

CURNOW: Why are they not listening for their call for a truce? What is their argument? I mean, we can see so many civilians caught up in this. Why

aren't you able to get them to agree to a truce?

SALAME Because basically, it's a struggle for power taking place in the country. And there has been an attempt to take over Tripoli by one side,

and basically there are other groups in Tripoli and around Tripoli. Who are, in their view, defending their city against this attack, against their

city. So there is a struggle for power that has re-ignited between, on the one hand, General Haftar and his troops and the other side with various

armed groups defending the city and other surrounding cities.

CURNOW: And when you talk about all of these various armed groups as well as the general, how have foreign powers worsened this conflict, in terms of

supplying both the general and other either these groups?

SALAME: I am as disturbed by the fighting taking place on the ground, as by cracks I see in the international community's response. There are a few

countries aligned on one side, on the other. And certainly, giving reinforcements in material, and also in money to both sides and this

worries me a lot.

Of course, this is less serious than direct foreign intervention, but I can't rule this out either. Therefore, I am trying with my boss, the

Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, who tried to convince everybody not to intervene directly in the conflict and stop

reinforcing various parties with new ammunition and new weapons.

CURNOW: Ghassan Salame, thanks so much for joining us. And I hope you manage to convince them. I'm sure many people watching this with great

interest and concern. Thank you very much, sir.

SALAME: Thank you.

CURNOW: And I do want to recap the breaking news this hour. The former Peruvian President, Alan Garcia, has died after shooting himself in the

neck. We know that Garcia has been under investigation in connection with a massive corruption scandal that has engulfed a number of former Latin

American leaders.

Well, Rafael Romo is here in the studio with me. OK, give us the latest. In the last hour, we knew that he'd been in a critical condition but we've

just had this confirmation that he's passed on.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the current President, Martin Vizcarra, just came out a few moments ago and confirmed the news that

former President Alan Garcia had died. And it was just really just a matter of time. Because we reported this earlier. He had to be resuscitated three

times before. He had shot himself in the head. And for our viewers, let's talk a little bit about who he was.

He was the President of Peru between 1985 and 1990. He rose to power when he was only 37 years old. His first term in the presidency, Robyn, was

rocked by a really bad fall in the economy. And so many people wonder whether his political career had ended. He ran again in 2001 and

successfully. And he finally managed to win elections for a second time in 2006. He was a President for the second time between 2006 and 2011. He

tried again, unsuccessfully, in 2016.

[11:50:00] But more recently, he was rocked by allegations of corruption in this wide investigation of corruption maneuvers by the Brazilian

construction company, Odebrecht. And he was facing charges of money laundering and conspiracy. As a matter of fact, not only there was an

arrest warrant against him, there was also arrest warrants against nine of his close associates.

And this morning at about 6:30, the national Peruvian police knocked on his door, trying to execute an arrest warrant, and he asked for a few moments

to go to his room and make a phone call to his attorney. Next thing the police officers heard was a gunshot. And when they entered the room, they

had to force their entry, they saw the President in a sitting position, who had shot himself in the head.

CURNOW: And I mean, this is clearly a devastating news for his family, but also, the fact that he was not the only one implicated in this very wide-

ranging corruption scheme.

ROMO: That is right. He was one of four former presidents, consecutive presidents, I should add, who are in trouble with the law for the same

reason. For -- under accusations of receiving bribes under the corruption scandal, known as Odebrecht in South America. Not the only country, either.

One of those Presidents, Alejandro Toledo, is in the United States fighting extradition back to Peru.

There's a President who was just detained a few days ago, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. He was President only about a year ago. He had to resign under

accusations of corruption. And just recently, he was put behind bars and also was sent to a clinic, because he was having heart problems. But very,

very regrettable, the situation in Peru this morning.

CURNOW: Yes, it certainly is. Thanks so much for updating once Rafael Romo.

ROMO: Thank you.

CURNOW: You're watching CNN. More news after the break. Stick with us.


CURNOW: So in our Parts Shots, we're going to end with some music and some heartthrobs. What could be wrong with that? The band BTS is taking the

world by storm. Seven Koreans melting hearts around the world with their high-energy K-pop music. Their new release is called "Boy with Love" and it

is now the most viewed 24-hour debut in YouTube history. Paula Hancocks has more on the band everyone is talking about.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: BTS is arguably the biggest boy band in the world right now. Seven young men from South Korea,

who just can't stop breaking records. They have just broken the record for YouTube's most viewed video in 24 hours, with their latest single "Boy with


Featuring American singer, Halsey, it has had more than 147 million views so far. It's also -- according to their management company -- the fastest

video to reach 100 million views.

[11:55:00] They were the first South Korean group to speak at the United Nations. The first to present an award at the Grammy Awards, and last week,

they became the first Korean boy band to perform on "Saturday Night Live." With their fans starting to line up from Monday outside 30 Rock, to grab

those coveted "SNL" tickets.

They held a news conference here in Seoul on Wednesday, promoting their new album, "Map of the Soul Persona," they had 3 million pre-orders for that

album and it is expected to top the charts. The band's last two albums boast ranked number one on the billboard 200 albums chart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, BTS (through translator): We made our own path, not because we came out of the blue and dropped into where we are today, we're

standing here thanks to the road laid by many artists who came before us.

HANCOCKS (on camera): They're like many boy bands, BTS has a very devoted fan base, even though they sing in Korean and not English, the language

barrier doesn't seem to matter. Their fans are all around the world. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


CURNOW: Paula, for that.

So that was CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks so much for joining the team and I. CNN is right here with you throughout the day. More news

after the break.