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Amazon's Indigenous People's Home Under Threat; COVID Rising; Angela Merkel Set to Step Down. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired July 16, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for speaking out for what is right and for never failing to defend human dignity.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): After 16 years in office, German Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to step down. With Europe entering a more uncertain era, we
will dive into her complicated legacy.
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: We're losing time here. The Delta variant is spreading. People are dying.
GOLODRYGA: Dire warnings from U.S. health officials, with COVID-19 cases rising in every single state, but will the urgent message cut through all
the politics and misinformation?
Plus, we go deep into the Amazonian rain forest inside the raging battle to protect indigenous lands.
TYLER MITCHELL, PHOTOGRAPHER: Presenting images of ourselves as beautiful is an act of justice. We know this.
GOLODRYGA: He's photographed everyone from Beyonce to Kamala Harris. A look back at Christiane's interview with rising star Tyler Mitchell.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who will be back on Monday.
Many people have lost what they have built all their lives. That's how Germany's president is describing the devastation after entire communities
were inundated with the heaviest rainfall in a century. At least 105 people are dead and dramatic large-scale rescue efforts are under way.
One official declared, climate change has arrived in Germany. And deadly fast-moving floods have destroyed other parts of Western Europe too.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered condolences during her trip to Washington yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Heavy rain and flooding only describe this insufficiently. It is simply a catastrophe. I
am shocked by the reports I am receiving from the towns underwater, in which the people in great need climbed onto their roofs to save themselves
and hopefully will be rescued.
I'm grieving those who lost their lives in this catastrophe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: This is just the latest crisis for Merkel, who is set to leave office this fall.
During her 16 years in power, she's become known as the leader of the free world, a title that she reportedly resents. She's faced a migrant surge,
Brexit and the rise of the far right, as well as four U.S. presidents, with varying degrees of harmony.
So how will history remember the quantum chemist who became Europe's longest-serving elected leader?
Joining me now for more from Washington is Constanze Stelzenmuller, a senior fellow at Brookings.
Constanze, I have been a fan of your work on covering Angela Merkel in particular. So I'm so pleased to have you welcome to -- join us. And
welcome to the program.
Let me begin on a personal note, because I know that you have friends and family in the flood region there in Germany. How is everyone back home?
CONSTANZE STELZENMULLER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, thank you very much for those kind words, the kind welcome, and even more for the empathy.
Yes, I was born in Bonn, which is close to the flooded areas about 40 minutes by car. And I have family and friends in the area. And I'm being
sent photographs. And it's heartbreaking.
There -- we have always had floods. The Rhine tends to do that seasonally, but this is something completely different. And with over 100 dead and
counting, I think we're only beginning to quantify the devastation.
GOLODRYGA: And, as Angela Merkel said, she has been a champion of fighting climate change in the country, in the region, in the world, really. And she
expressed her condolences yesterday for those who were lost.
In terms of her meeting with President Biden, we know they have a cordial relationship that goes back years. But as far as what they were able to
accomplish yesterday, as she is set to leave as chancellor of Germany, not much, right?
The two major issues here are the German strategic partnership with both China and Russia, Russia being the Nord Stream II pipeline, and China being
Germany's largest trading partner outside of the E.U. We have seen President Biden really push for distance between those two countries, in
What is Merkel's take?
Bianna, I'm going to give you a firm yes-or-no answer on all those points.
Here's why. After four years of the Trump administration, with a sort of ragingly hostile president, who clearly disliked Europe and had a
particular animus towards Germany and Merkel, as we now know from many witness accounts, it's just a relief to be treated with friendliness and
I think, also, the meeting yesterday went a little farther than that. It took about six hours. And Merkel had extended one-on-ones with the vice
president in the morning and then with the president in the afternoon. And I have heard from people who were there that the atmosphere was really
And we all heard how he said at the press conference: I'm going to miss seeing you at summits.
I think that -- all that's very real. But you're also right to say -- or let me turn it back one moment.I think it is really important at this point
in time, when America really needs Europe, and needs Europe's anchor economy, Germany, for there to be these cordial relationships.
That said, you're correct to say that nothing much was achieved on the key points of Russia and China. It's good news that there are working groups
frantically working on an agreement on how to deal with the Nord Stream II pipeline issue.
I think we all know that there are pragmatic solutions out there. I will say, though, that, at this point, as a colleague of mine said this morning
at another event, Germany really does own this problem now. And I think we are going to have to find an approach that deals -- that deals with the
economic and security issues this presents not just for Ukraine, but for Central and Eastern Europe more globally.
STELZENMULLER: This has become question of our credibility.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, can I just interrupt you quickly on the Nord Stream II pipeline?
Because, just for our viewers who are not aware of why this is such a complicated and scrutinized deal, this is a channel in which Russia can
direct gas to Germany, circumventing Ukraine, which many view as giving Russia ultimate leverage over gas, right?
Talk about why Germany is so insistent that this pipeline deal go through.
STELZENMULLER: Honestly, I think that Germany's reluctance to come to a compromise on this is a mistake. And it's been a mistake, a significant
mistake of the chancellor's to stick so long to the narrative that this is merely an economic project.
A lot of people in the policy community in Berlin, never mind the rest of Europe, profoundly disagree with this. And that includes me.
That said, I think that this has become, this project has become a hostage to hawks both in the GOP -- as we know, Senator Cruz is -- has a blanket
hold on all Biden administration nominations pending the resolution of the sanctions issue. And the next report to Congress from the State Department
and the NSC is due mid-August.
And until then, those working groups are going to have to find a solution. And the Germans know that. Without those nominations being -- those
positions being filled, the agenda that the Western nations, including Germany, agreed on in the June European summit will not come into reality.
And as we all know, the time window until the next midterms is closing. So, that's -- so, the Germans are fully aware of the urgency of that.
And President Biden has lifted sanctions that had been imposed on that Nord Stream II pipeline.
STELZENMULLER: Not lifted. He waived them. And--
GOLODRYGA: Waived them, waived them, right, with the opportunity to impose them again, but obviously viewing the longer-term relationship more
critical here, even though he had been against, his administration and the Trump administration and the Obama administration had been against this
It is near completion now. But as I just listed, this is her fourth U.S. president. And if we take a step back, because I think that's very
important now to take a look at her tenure, the U.S.-German relationship under Angela Merkel began at one of its lowest points, and that was with
President Bush, when he had been there with his counterpart, Schroeder, right?
And here enters Merkel. Merkel and Bush developed a very warm relationship over that period of time. She also had a warm relationship towards the end
with President Obama, who had convinced her to actually run for a fourth term.
We know how icy that relationship with President Trump was and the threat really that he posed to the Atlantic alliance. And now she has this good
relationship with Biden.
How would you view overall the arc under her tenure of the U.S.-German relationship?
STELZENMULLER: Look, I think Merkel herself would acknowledge that, in the 16 years that she's been in office, that relationship has had to change
because the world has changed.
And what we're seeing now, from the vantage point of Berlin, is a global environment, strategic environment that has become significantly darker,
with two great power autocracies, Russia and China, not just attempting to rule in their immediate neighborhoods, but really the Chinese, at any rate,
displacing the international rules-based order and replacing it with one of their own making and interfering in our own spaces, in the West and Europe
and indeed very much in the German election campaign.
The heads of the two German intelligence services came out a few weeks ago, saying that the level of interference right now in Germany's election
campaign was unseen since the Cold War. That's quite a statement.
You have written extensively, as noted in the introduction, on Angela Merkel. And under her administration, she has seen Germany's economy grow
to be a powerhouse, the fourth largest in the world, by far the largest and most powerful in Europe.
She has weathered the storm of the 2008 financial crisis, even the 2015 migrant crisis, where she allowed in one million migrants, and obviously
created a lot of conflict there and condemnation, and barely was able to stay in power after that. Yet she did.
That all having been said, you say her legacy is still ambivalent and her greatness inconclusive. Why?
STELZENMULLER: Well, thank you for quoting an essay of mine at length. That's very nice of you.
GOLODRYGA: It was a wonderful essay.
STELZENMULLER: Look, I think that she was, in many ways, an element of stability and predictability in the relationship. And we're going to miss
that when it's gone.
We're also going to miss her total absence of vanity, of neediness, and her sense of humor. All of that was on display yesterday when she got an
honorary degree from Johns Hopkins here in Washington, and she said that she was looking forward to her first day of retirement, the ability to wake
up, wonder what she needed to do now, and then realize this is somebody else's business now, and then maybe taking a nap over a good book.
I thought that was great. But, yes, I mean, a lot of her, I think, significant good qualities all -- also came with a dark underside. She was
greatly criticized for the way that she handled the Eurozone crisis and austerity programs for the countries that were requiring bailouts in the
I will say, though, also, that there were other countries in Europe that wanted the Greeks to be thrown out of the Eurozone, and Merkel firmly
On the migrant crisis, I still believe that that was a really important humanitarian gesture for her to make. She didn't throw open the borders.
She refused to close them. And, by doing so, she took off pressure of more vulnerable neighboring country situations, where the pileup of migrants
that was already happening would have created real -- a much worse crisis.
That said, it was then badly handed in retro -- handled after the initial surge, and led to the surge of the German populist party, the AfD.
So, I think my worst criticism of her, if I may, is this, that her very traditionalist German balancing of the West, our membership in NATO, and
the E.U., and the friendship with the United States and France and Israel, with a sort of middle power approach to saying we mustn't rock the boat
with the autocracies Russia and China, I think is traditionalist, in that that's been something that many German chancellors have done, but I think
is no longer workable, at a time when Russia and China are acting much more aggressively, including in our own spaces.
There, I think we really need to push back and stand on our principles and use the considerable economic and political and diplomatic leverage that we
have with both of these countries to say, this is where the red line is, do not cross it.
And in a rare interview that many journalists coveted, she told our Christiane Amanpour that: "Why we have our democracy, why we are trying to
bring about solutions, we are always have to -- putting ourselves in other people's shoes, why we stand up against intolerance, why we show no
tolerance towards violations of human rights."
That's obviously in response to the rise in the right-wing nationalism that we have seen not only in Germany, but throughout Europe and anti-Semitism
and racism as well. You said this was a personal humanitarian decision on her part.
I do want to ask you, on a personal note, about that lighter side that you mentioned earlier, her humor. I mean, all the pictures we show of her, she
doesn't seem to be smiling. So it does take getting to know her and knowing her sense of humor and her personality and all of the encounters that she's
had with world leaders over the year.
I believe we have some photos to put up about some of those lighter moments. And I know you can't see them, so I will have to walk you through
them as well.
But there she is. There's a photo of her in the middle of Presidents Bush and Putin. Here she is with her arms out wide with Obama, that classic
image of her just staring down Trump and all the other world leaders, and, of course, that image of President Bush giving her that shoulder rub and
What is it about her personality that most people did not know?
STELZENMULLER: I remember all those pictures vividly. They're iconic.
I think the thing about Merkel to keep in mind is that she grew up in a communist system and was opposed to it, but was somebody who always yearned
for a change in the system, without feeling that she was in a position to change it.
And I think when she arrived on the scene in the early '90s in reunited Germany as a very junior sort of political aide, and then later a very
junior minister in the first post-unity Cabinet of Chancellor Kohl, she must have thought that many of the Western German politicians who were now
sort of directing things had grown up in -- under circumstances that were both very entitled and highly limiting, whereas, for her, everything, every
step forward in this new life was an immense addition of freedom.
And I think that that must have given her a sense of advantage and of an internal power that allowed her to fly under the radar of rivals, and to
basically watch them crumble. I don't think that she ever -- there's a persistent story about her that she killed off all her rivals. I think her
rivals all stumbled over themselves and over their limited imaginations.
GOLODRYGA: And maybe many of them underestimated her.
GOLODRYGA: Constanze Stelzenmuller, thank you so much for joining us.
And, of course, we will have to have you back in September after the German elections as well. We appreciate it.
STELZENMULLER: If you will have me, it'll be a pleasure.
GOLODRYGA: Of course. We will.
STELZENMULLER: Thank you so much for having me, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you.
STELZENMULLER: Cheers. Bye.
GOLODRYGA: And coming up after the break: Vaccine hesitancy risks more deadly outbreaks in Texas. That's forced one hospital CEO there to take
matters into his own hands.
He joins me next to discuss.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome back.
An unsettling sense of deja vu is spreading across the U.S. For the first time since January, cases of COVID-19 are now rising in all 50 states, plus
The science is clear. Vaccines work. But millions of Americans are refusing to get their shots. Today, the CDC director said this is becoming a
pandemic of the unvaccinated.
With me now is Dr. Marc Boom, the president and CEO of Houston Methodist Hospital.
It was the first hospital of its kind to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for employees.
Doctor, thank you so much for joining us.
As we noted, cases are rising in all 50 states, including in Texas and Houston. I just noticed that daily new cases in the greater Houston area
have jumped about 65 percent in the last two weeks. The seven-day moving average is now 558 new cases a day.
How worried are you about this increase in cases? And what are you seeing at your hospital?
DR. MARC BOOM, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HOUSTON METHODIST HOSPITAL: Well, we're seeing similar numbers at the hospital.
And if you had asked me a couple of weeks ago, we were all saying what a difference a year makes. We were in the midst of a horrible surge a year
ago. And to put that in perspective, at our hospital system, we had 750, 800 patients, and, of course, had another search just like that this
And we got down to about 80 or so patients, which was a dramatic decrease. But, unfortunately, now we're seeing that up. And we're up about 50-plus
percent right now, actually even more in the middle of the day, but, by the end of the day, probably about 130 patients, so nowhere near previous
But the single reason we were so much better as of a couple of weeks ago and we're still better than a year ago now is vaccines and immunizations
and immunity. And, unfortunately, we're missing the opportunity to kind of go for that final few yards to get this pushed down.
And now we're seeing this rise, most likely because of the Delta variant that we're seeing here in Houston.
GOLODRYGA: I'm curious. Of the cases that you have there at your hospital, how many COVID-19 cases are those of people who are unvaccinated?
BOOM: So, we took a look at that, and we continue to monitor that.
If I looked at the group of people who are in the hospital today, 90 percent of those individuals are unvaccinated. So, we are seeing a few who
are vaccinated. But among the people who are vaccinated, the vast majority of those actually have underlying illnesses, which probably interfered with
their ability to adequately be immunized.
They're the very people that we all need to get immunized for in order to protect. They are very vulnerable people with cancer, with transplant, with
other things that makes them both high-risk and also the kinds of people who we can't protect -- they can't protect themselves simply by being
vaccinated. We as a community need to protect them.
And that's a critical message, that we all need to step up and protect everyone in society by getting vaccinated.
GOLODRYGA: And not only are you having to fight battles of those in your community who are not vaccinated. As we mentioned, that battle happened in
your own backyard there within the hospital; 116 employees there had left or been fired.
And this obviously went all the way to a courtroom battle, which the judge then later dismissed. I'm curious, did you ever expect to see so many
people of your own staff, so many members of your community there at the hospital refuse to be vaccinated?
BOOM: Well, I think it's symbolic of how deep some of the mistrust is in science and how deep some of the anti-vaccination rhetoric among our
The good news is, out of 26,000 employees, all but those few followed policy, got vaccinated. And we now can safely say that we're the safest
hospital system anywhere. And I'm so appreciative of all of those people of stepping up.
When we first mandated, and we announced it on March 31, the first hospital system in the country to do so, the final deadline was June 7. And we
already were at 85 percent, because we had been very purposeful in getting there. But that last 15 percent was more difficult. And there was a lot of
hesitancy, and then there was a lot -- not a lot, but there was that small group of people who had deep-seated resistance.
They actually filed suit. And, of course, we won in court. And we were very pleased with that. And the bottom line is, our people stepped up, we have
moved past this. And what we have seen now is dozens and dozens of hospitals representing hundreds of thousands, almost a million employees
across the country.
And that's just the beginning of the floodgates opening. And the reason for that is, it's the right thing to do. This is the right thing for hospitals
to do because of our sacred obligation to care for our patients and protect our patients.
And it's even more important now, as we see the rise of the Delta variant, and that rise of the Delta variant really almost exclusively, not 100
percent, but the vast majority of that is now in people who are unvaccinated.
We need others to step up, so that we get control of this and don't really lose the gains that we have made as a result of vaccinations.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, as that judge said in throwing out that case, Methodist is trying to do their best in their business of saving lives without giving
But you are not a one-off. Houston was not an anomaly. And I'm curious to get your reaction to many public health officials in other states
throughout the country who are being suppressed or at times muzzled by elected officials in not wanting to spread the word of the importance of
vaccinating their public.
BOOM: Well, the bottom line is that vaccines in general are the reason we all live to the ripe age we live to, vs. the beginning of the 1900s, that,
plus sanitation and a couple other key things really pushing back infectious disease.
And here, in the midst of a pandemic, now, thankfully, a pandemic, that declined dramatically, but we're at risk of seeing some upsurge and uptick,
as we are already seeing, vaccines are critically important. Every health professional out there urges the population and the public to go get
vaccinated at this point in time.
You won't find credible scientific, medical individuals who are saying anything but. And the reality is, those individuals have voted with their
feet. When you look at the American Medical Association, for instance, virtually 100 percent of physicians have gotten vaccinated. When it was
opened up to 12 and up, I can tell you, every physician here had their children lined up first to come get vaccinated, the 12-to-15-year-old group
that was there.
Physicians who know the science and know the medicine, who see the suffering, and who understand science and medicine are urging everyone to
do this. And we all need to band together and do this. We can live a normal life. We have been appreciating and enjoying a pretty normal life right
now. But we're going to run the risk of losing that ability again.
And what's happening is that the people who can't protect themselves are going to get sick. And that's a very, very sad thing. We're admitting about
20 people a day to the hospital right now, nowhere near the 100 a day we were doing in the winter or a year ago, but that's up from seven or eight a
day that we were doing, maybe 10 a day at the bottom.
So it's already now almost doubled. We know that, among hospitals across the United States, about one in 11 people who get admitted to the hospital
die from COVID. So I know, sadly, that every day somebody or maybe even a couple people are getting admitted to our hospitals who may pass away from
We can prevent about 90-plus percent of that. And we need to work together to do that.
GOLODRYGA: Well, it's really telling, Doctor, that the surgeon general issued his first advisory, a health advisory, of this Biden administration,
warning of the urgent threat of vaccine disinformation.
And White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki address this as well yesterday, specifically as it applies to Facebook. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media
All of them remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms, including Facebook, ones that Facebook owns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Twelve people that are largely responsible for spreading this information that you and your staff and colleagues there are now seeing the
consequences of day in day out over the past year-and-a-half.
How does that make you feel? And what is your message to these social network platforms?
BOOM: Well, quite frankly, it makes me feel frustrated and angry, because the countless wonderful physicians, nurses, health care workers who are
doing the right thing, who have worked so hard for now almost 18 months to care for people who are sick, are doing everything to promote the right
information, are the people that individuals should listen to.
And listening to 12 people who very cynically, frankly, are putting out that kind of information, and, frankly, information that is downright
dangerous and ultimately will result in loss of life is really abhorrent. And so I urge people, tune out the noise, focus on the health institutions,
the health professionals and the messages you're hearing from them.
Let's band together. Let's get vaccinated. Let's do the right thing, protect ourselves, protect our family, protect our children who can't be
vaccinated under the age of 12 right now, and protect the people around us who can't -- who maybe a vaccine won't work for because they are so at risk
or because they have some immunologic condition or cancer or something like that.
GOLODRYGA: Lastly, let me ask you about the flu season, because last year at this time, there had been some concerns about the sort of double whammy
that we may see.
Because of the lockdown, we had a rather subdued flu season. Now we have more people in the general public going to work, going to school. We're not
on lockdowns anymore. Are you concerned about the upcoming flu season this year?
BOOM: Well, last year, we were all concerned we'd see that double whammy. Thankfully, we didn't. And, in fact, we essentially saw zero.
I mean, it was just a couple of cases. And, normally, at a peak, we will have 100 people in a bed in a normal flu season, 200 in a really bad flu
So, what I worry about this year is, we're not doing the things we did last year, and I doubt we will be, that would prevent the flu. So we will see at
least a normal flu season, if not higher. And so what I really don't want to see is those numbers we see now going up during a surge from COVID and
layering flu on top of that.
And while we wouldn't probably see the kind of COVID surge we saw last year, when you think of hospital capacity, and add on a bad flu season,
plus kind of a medium COVID season, that could get pretty hairy again.
And so, we need to get flu shots. We need to do the things to protect ourselves. And most importantly, we can push COVID almost to the background
if everyone will step up and get vaccinated.
GOLODRYGA: God willing. Thank you so much for spreading that message, Dr. Boom. As a Houstonian myself, I'm proud to see all the work that you are
doing for that community there. We appreciate it. Thank you.
BOOM: Thank you so much.
GOLODRYGA: And still to come tonight, logging, farming and mining are all threatening the Amazon's indigenous people. CNN's Isa Soares takes a closer
look at the new existential threat.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome back.
We turn now to a story hidden deep in the Amazon Rainforest. This vast region teaming with wildlife also belongs to more than 160 indigenous
tribes. But their home is now under threat. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's pro development and anti-indigenous rhetoric has encouraged
mining and turned the rainforest into a battleground. The Yanomami Tribe in Brazil says clashes with miners have turned deadly and that 30 percent of
their lands are now in the hands of illegal miners. Whilst Brazil's federal police have stepped in to investigate, catching these illegal miners is a
game of cat and mouse.
CNN's Isa Soares has the exclusive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Under the cover of the dense Amazon jungle, the Yanomami indigenous tribe in Brazil step out for battle.
But theirs is as much a rallying cry as it the cry for help. The approximately 27,000 Yanomami is under attack from an elusive but old
enemy. Wildcat miners with a thirst for gold and a hand for destruction.
With only bows and spears as their defense, they are here to protect the river banks from their villagers from boats like this one, illegal gold
miners, exploiting and destroying the rivers and land, and in doing so, intimidating and firing at Yanomami.
In May of this year, a half hour shootout between the miners and the Yanomami was caught on camera. Women and children are seen desperately
running for cover as the speedboat of gold miners' fires as it passes. With the violence on the rise, the federal police and army have been sent in to
investigate these deadly clashes that have left four dead, including two indigenous children. Fernando (ph), one of Yanomami's community leaders,
tells us what they have been enduring for months now.
FERNANDO (through translator): The problem is the iron miners who pass here at night. There are always a lot of them.
SOARES (voiceover): The entire community has been put to work. Converting paddles into weapon, bamboo into spears.
FERNANDO (through translator): This is a spear. This one pierces quickly. You will die fast. It goes through everything. This one, made from bamboo
has venom. Lots of it venom.
SOARES (voiceover): They say they have no choice but to step up these last few years under a populous president who promised his base to develop, some
would say exploit the forest for its resources. Naturally, they are furious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Bolsonaro, you are ignorant. You let these people walk into our land and threaten the Yanomami. These people
have come and have killed us. We want you to remove them quickly.
SOARES (voiceover): And with 30 percent of the land in hands of illegal gold miners, their plea is clear and loud, get the miners out. All they've
ever wanted, they say, is to protect their children and their already vulnerable way of life. Their very existence as the guardians of the
From above, the challenge is made clearer. The Yanomami reserve almost 24 million acres of it, sits deep in a dense Amazonian jungle. Finding miners
an estimated 20,000 of them here becomes a game of cat and mouse. This boat knows what is circling above and speeds away from the authorities, but the
police persist and follow the trail of devastation. They spot an opening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Federal police. Federal police. Come here.
SOARES (voiceover): This is as much about catching the criminals as it is understanding how they work. Who pays them and funds the devastation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Where is the gun?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems he only brought the ammunition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't touch other people's bags.
SOARES (voiceover): The women often used as cooks pay for their journey in gold advance, but the gold rush is not what they imagined, and they
struggle to pay it back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you come?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By canoe. I paid 4 grams.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's a gram work here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: $240.
SOARES (voiceover): Miners too become disillusioned as the dream of striking it rich fails to materialize.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I've been here for three months. I came here because they told us it was good. It would be good. But until
now, we haven't seen any gains.
SOARES (voiceover): Yet, the destruction is clear for all to see. Their very presence, razing the forests, their thirst for gold contaminating
rivers with mud and mercury. The police go deeper and find several wooden barges full of heavy machinery to dredge for gold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see the diving suit? One of them stays below the water, pushing the sand inside the hose.
SOARES (voiceover): The police know this is a losing battle. There is too many miners and the area is too vast to patrol, so all they can do is slow
them down by destroying their equipment. This isn't the solution the Yanomami had been pleading for, but until President Bolsonaro changes his
environmental policies, the Yanomami's cries will continue to fall on deaf ears and this burden of riches, the lungs of the world risks falling with
Isa Soares, CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Our thanks to Isa.
Just a note. The Brazilian government told CNN that it is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples. The government
adds, alleged violations by illegal miners in the Yanomami indigenous land are being investigated by federal authorities in multiple operations.
Well, coming up, we look back at Christiane's interview with Tyler Mitchell, the rising star photographer making history at "Vogue." That's
coming up next.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome back. We continue this week's look back at some of Christiane's most memorable interviews. And today, we want to return to our
conversation with Tyler Mitchell, who became the first black photographer to shoot the cover of American "Vogue" when he was just 23. His cover girl,
none other than Beyonce. Then he released a book with a collection of his work called "I Can Make You Feel Good." Christiane sat down with Mitchell
last summer to talk about where he points his camera and why that act is so important to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Tyler Mitchell, welcome to the program.
TYLER MITCHELL, PHOTOGRAPHER, "I CAN MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD": Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: I'm fascinated by what you say, that photographing black people at leisure is radical, not the fact that they're at leisure, but
photographing them is radical.
MITCHELL: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Why is that?
MITCHELL: Yes, well, it has to do with denied histories, right, and this idea that visualizing and making images and projecting those and stating
that visualizing black folks enjoying their lives is important, right? What is central to that in my work is that existing in a public space for black
folks in America has been denied psychically in our minds. At any moment, that freedom or that enjoyment that we're having or that pleasure could be
taken away or shipped away. So, to me this book stands for a beacon of that.
AMANPOUR: This is called "I Can Make You Feel Good"?
AMANPOUR: What does that mean? Who are you saying it to?
MITCHELL: It's the title of a Shalamar song, really. I heard it from a soul song. And I heard it in the Atlanta Airport when I was travelling to
Amsterdam for my show. And I thought, that's the title. I love this idea of it being a really simple, unacademic statement about feeling good, about
optimism, but it also has a gut punch, it's very direct, it's from me to you, from the photographer to the viewer. So, simply a --
AMANPOUR: And in your opening statement here, you have some pretty, you know, pointed and poignant messages. So, I'm going to read a bit from the
statement, "I often think about what white fun looks like and this notion that black people can't have the same. My work comes from a place of
wanting to pushback against this slack. I feel an urgency to create a body of images where black people are visualized as free, expressive, effortless
I feel like you're trying to correct a balance.
AMANPOUR: An imbalance.
MITCHELL: Maybe. I'm mainly trying to create like a self-contained utopia, a self-contained world. And, yes, it was about bringing my own
autobiographical experience to my instinctive response to those images. So --
AMANPOUR: You know, some of them -- well, they're all just kind of normal, stuff that you would see, the famous (INAUDIBLE) iconography of white
people in a painting at leisure.
AMANPOUR: And you have the red gingham mat or tablecloth where you got some people lying down.
AMANPOUR: You've got people at fun in a park. What are they saying to you, those particular pictures?
MITCHELL: I think about people like Kerry James Marshall, who has been making amazing work for years about the black experience. I think about
what he said when he was trying to bring together with his Vignette paintings, Rococo paintings, right, flowery or kind of over-the-top just
luxurious enjoyments of life, right, scenes -- Rococo paintings were essentially frivolous They were all about frivolity.
And I love that he was trying to bring together that with some of the social, kind of -- or political feelings and statements that he wanted to
kind of unify in one painting. So, I think this -- these pictures respond to that.
AMANPOUR: So -- I mean, look, Sosa with the orange hula hoop. I mean, it's such a beautiful picture.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Had you seen that elsewhere?
MITCHELL: I don't think I have seen that before.
MITCHELL: I mean, each picture that I made that I put in that book, I thought, this is something I haven't quite seen before.
MITCHELL: And maybe if I hadn't been brought to the fore enough yet and hadn't been brought to a bigger conversation that needed to be had. So --
AMANPOUR: And I think this one is called Still from Idyllic Space. It's two boys with gummy bears behind them.
MITCHELL: Yes, yes, yes. A lot of it is going back to Georgia.
AMANPOUR: It's just cool.
MITCHELL: Yes, it's just cool and it's instinctively cool, but it's also thinking about growing up in Georgia and what my summers looked like in the
South. And, also, you think about that red gingham fabric in that picnic, that for is what the South looks like. That fabric, to me, says Georgia. So
AMANPOUR: White South?
MITCHELL: Any South.
AMANPOUR: So, those were images that you actually grew up with?
AMANPOUR: So, what was it like growing up in Marietta, a suburb of Atlanta.
MITCHELL: Well, I grew up middle class. The suburban existence is -- it's about having space. There's a big front yard. There's leisure. And there's
a lot of things in the pictures that I had growing up. And those kind of experiences and kind of freedom, I started to understand as I grow up more,
was luxury, right? Having a summer to kind of think about what I wanted to do with my life, those things are freedoms that I'm kind of posturing or
gesturing or suggesting all black folks should have.
So, for me, that's important. And I think that upbringing was really actually really positive.
AMANPOUR: Again, from your essay, I occasionally weave symbols into my portrait such as water guns and plastic resin chains, symbols of repression
as a subtle reminder of the ways in which the black body is still politicized and sometimes unable to move through the real world as freely
as I would like. It's really quite poignant what you write there.
So, tell me what that means, as freely as I would like.
MITCHELL: Well, you know, I could give you an example. Growing up, you know, mother would sometimes -- and even I was too young to understand
this, have concern for what I was wearing out the house. You know, if I was wearing a hoodie or if I was wearing a certain thing that presented a
certain way, she had concern for that.
And my frustration with her growing up was, why would you care about what I'm wearing? You know, allow me to express myself in whatever form that may
feel or that maybe on that day. And growing up, reflecting back on that, the main thing for me and why I wrote that in that essay is because she
shouldn't have to feel that way.
The psychic -- the kind of passing down and policing that goes on amongst ourselves and kind of the psychic like of black Americans, it's something
that we don't need to feel that way about. If that makes sense.
AMANPOUR: It does make sense.
AMANPOUR: So, this is a dramatic and really powerful cover image.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, you have got a line of black young men. I don't know how old they are, but they look young.
MITCHELL: Yes. I made it here, actually.
AMANPOUR: Did you?
AMANPOUR: Oh, yes. I thought so because it's called "The Boys of Walthamstow."
MITCHELL: Yes, in the Walthamstow marshes.
AMANPOUR: I looked at it, my first impression, like my first reaction was the chain, was the heads bowed, was a little bit of subjugation.
AMANPOUR: Is that what you intended?
MITCHELL: I think it's a mixture of everything. You know, I think it's like that landscape, those willow trees in Walthamstow spoke to me. They
reminded me of Georgia. They reminded me of the South. They reminded me of some element of the global black experience. And there's beauty in that,
right? There's these boys enjoying moments. Before this picture was taken, all these boys were playing tag together. And there's this amazing video I
made of them kind of enjoying one another. And that kind of black male kind of unity is important to visualize.
But, yes, you're right, there is a somber note. And the chain is definitely like the punctum of the picture. I think there's, like, subtle reference
made to images of chain gangs in Louisiana --
MITCHELL: -- right, in Georgia and those histories.
AMANPOUR: How interesting is it to be Tyler Mitchell today? I'm asking you, because you're 25 years old. You're young. At 23, you did something
that no other black photographer had done. I mean, perish the thought that there had never been a black photographer at "Vogue," certainly not to have
shot the cover or the September issue.
AMANPOUR: Just process that for me.
MITCHELL: Yes, still processing. I think, in some way, I was always interested in many, many things, just as a person, as an artist. There were
assignments and commissions and pictures that I was making that spoke to people on many different levels. I was photographing musicians. I was
photographing -- I had the opportunity to photograph Emma Gonzalez and a lot of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Parkland shooting, and
a lot of young gun reform activists.
So, I was interested in that. I was interested in making images of kind of black male compassion, right, and kind of envisioning a new sort of black
AMANPOUR: How did it come about that Beyonce -- well, you were thrown in at this -- your first big major shoot like that --
AMANPOUR: -- to somebody else global and as mega as Beyonce? How did it feel?
MITCHELL: It felt amazing. I mean, you -- that's a great moment, yes. It's a really -- it's an honor to photograph someone like that and to work with
a magazine like "Vogue," so, yes.
AMANPOUR: And you made a regal and very flowery.
MITCHELL: Yes, I was referencing -- you know, it was referencing Rococo paintings, like I said. It was thinking about the luxury of frivolity,
thinking about the luxury of having time, the luxury of having space to breathe, and those flowers and that amazing image. So, you know, it was a
AMANPOUR: And it wasn't obvious that you were going to do fashion, right? I mean, you started, I think doing, selfies and skateboarding videos and
things like that.
MITCHELL: Yes, I was making films of my friends like skateboarding in Georgia. So, yes, I kind of avalanched into photography by actually making
a trip to Havana, Cuba. I made -- I went in 2015 on an exchange through my school at NYU, didn't know anything, other than Americans weren't allowed
to go to Cuba. So, I wanted to go.
And a teacher of mine looked at pictures that I would already made, and identified them as fashion photographs. And I said, why and how? And he
said, well, it looks like you dressed these people up and you took pictures of them, didn't you? I said, yes, with the sweater out of my closet. Like,
I thought they looked cool in something I had in my house.
And he was like, well, that's a fashion photograph, then. You have dressed them in something. You've spoken about an element of style in the picture.
And, to me, that switched on a light of, like, a fashion photograph can be much, much more about the person than necessarily the brand or the clothes
or any of those things.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Certainly, the language around photography is all about hierarchy, the subject, capture, shoot, God forbid.
MITCHELL: I'm constantly thinking about that --
MITCHELL: -- and constantly trying to in every way, you know, subvert the old notions of what those relationships were. So, you think about older
fashion photographers, where it was very dictatorial almost. You know, they would really tell the model to the T. where they wanted their finger, how
they wanted their body, how they wanted them to lean, how they wanted them to look. And I think these pictures indicate a more collaborative process.
They speak to a relationship, a true relationship between myself and the subjects, a lot of whom are friends or friends of friends or just people in
a larger contemporary community.
So, for me, it's about thinking, with photography having its 200-year history of hierarchical relationships, how do I subvert those as best as I
AMANPOUR: You have got another picture. I mean, it's called "Gun," 2016.
AMANPOUR: What were you thinking? What was going on?
MITCHELL: I was thinking about Tamir Rice, to be honest with you. He's the 12-year-old boy who was killed, you know, in a park near his house in
Cleveland because police believed him to be armed. And he was playing with a toy pellet gun. You know, Tamir and so many other stories that we hear
of, these are about kind of projected and imagined realities, rather than real ones. So, as much as a picture is a fantasy, that image of a gun
speaks to those histories. So, yes.
AMANPOUR: You said, black beauty is an act of justice. Explain.
MITCHELL: It is. It is. That comes from a lot of different places. The depiction and imagination that we have as black folks is a strong and
powerful thing, I think, for ourselves, for our community. It's kind of an important self-assurement to envision ourselves, to dress ourselves to the
nines, you know, and to picture that. You know, people have understood that since the beginning of time.
You know, I think about Frederick Douglass, who was the most photographed man of the 19th century. He traveled up and down the East Coast, and he
would collaborate with photo studios up and down the East Coast as he was writing his autobiography. And he understood the importance of his image.
He would style himself. He would groom himself. He would dress himself. And he would sit for the photo studios in the late 1800s. And he knew that
handing that image out to people, alongside his story as a free slave, or as a freed slave, was important, right?
And so, presenting images of ourselves as beautiful is an act of justice. We know this.
AMANPOUR: Clearly, like everybody in the world, you were shocked and devastated by what happened to George Floyd. You're also at the center of
the conversation about, you know, black power, black visibility, black talent, black -- you know, just being there, and people wondering why this
didn't happen earlier.
So, does that part of it weigh on you? Do you feel any sort of responsibility, or --
MITCHELL: I think the most important thing that my work is kind of suggesting or posturing is that freedom and whatever that means to the
individual is the most important thing. So, for me, in this book and in this work, it's about hula-hooping. It's about skateboarding. It's about
jump-roping. It's about enjoying space and taking up space. And it's about, you know, existing.
So, the work is both of this moment and not of this moment. And I think that work is my life's work. So, I think, for me, I try and make sure that
freedom and expansiveness is what I push for. So --
AMANPOUR: You obviously have an optimistic vision of life. Are you optimistic about the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd? What -- does
something about it make you hopeful?
MITCHELL: I think I have to be, you know. And with a book called "I Can Make You Feel Good" and with everything that I'm doing, I think I have to
be. I think there are amazing beacons of progress. I think they're -- and I think we have to focus on those and then we have to question and we have to
interrogate and we have to look into everything, and then we have to basically come up with solutions. And I think that's the only way, you
know, things can go forward.
You know, I think about "Moonlight," you know, a movie that was basically not designed to do much of anything in the theaters, not designed to do
much of anything commercially. Barry Jenkins will say that. And I think about the trail it had to winning best picture and the conversations and
the lights that I saw in people's eyes as I was experiencing that movie and as the world was experiencing that movie, and I was like, oh, yes, this is
possible, you know? Yes.
AMANPOUR: Kamala Harris, cover of "Vogue" shot by Tyler Mitchell?
AMANPOUR: Are you going to break a story?
MITCHELL: Who knows? You never know.
AMANPOUR: Tyler Mitchell, thank you so much, indeed.
MITCHELL: Thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Well, now, we do know. Tyler Mitchell did go on to photograph Vice President Kamala Harris for "Vogue's" February issue. Here is that
historic cover. But the image led to some backlash over how casual it was, leading "Vogue" to publish a second edition with this more formal image of
the vice president. I can't wait to see what's next for Tyler.
And that is it for now. Christiane will be back here on Monday. Thank you so much for watching and good-bye from New York.