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Interview With Former San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz; Libya's Detention Centers; Interview With Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova; Interview with "Speed & Scale" Author John Doerr. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 03, 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.
TONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It's now on Russia to de-escalate the current tensions by reversing the recent troop buildup.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): My exclusive interview with the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, as tensions continue to rise with Russia.
Then, we look inside one of Libya's detention centers. Then journalist Ian Urbina tells me how the E.U. is indirectly helping to fund it.
Plus: Puerto Rico is beating the odds to become the poster child for U.S. vaccination. The former mayor of San Juan tells me how they did it.
And also ahead: Can big business save our climate?
JOHN DOERR, CHAIR, KLEINER PERKINS: How much more devastation are we going to have to endure before we realize it's cheaper to save this planet than
to ruin it?
GOLODRYGA: A vital conversation between investor John Doerr and Walter Isaacson.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, who will be back next week.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is pushing for another summit with President Joe Biden. When these talks might happen is still up in the air.
But it's no mystery what the two leaders would talk about, Ukraine.
Russia has positioned supply lines and war forces on Ukraine's Eastern border, stoking fears of an imminent invasion. Today, President Biden says
he's working to deter such an action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be will be the most comprehensive and meaningful
set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.
But that's in play right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: In an exclusive interview earlier today, I asked the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, to respond to that
OKSANA MARKAROVA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, we really welcome the U.S. active engagement and support that we have now.
Actually, our relations with the U.S. have never been better. Just during the past six months, we have conducted the Strategic Partnership
Commission. Our president was here. We have signed the framework agreement with the U.S. We agreed on so many things that we are and will be doing
And in this situation of the recent buildup, and Russia not only deploying so many troops around the border, but also doing the disinformation
campaigns and covert operations inside the country, it's very important that we're working together with all of our friends and allies, and
especially with the United States.
What is it that we are asking? And, actually, Kiev has proposed our partners a very comprehensive three-level package, which is designed to
deter and demotivate Russia, the political deterrence, all the messages. And we're very happy to hear the strong messages from President Biden and
all of our friends and allies.
The economic deterrence. The urgent need to discuss the specific economic restrictions on Russia that will make this additional attack, if they
decide to do it, very costly, and also security deterrence, making Ukraine more secure and helping us to build our capabilities.
Now, I just want to stress our defense capabilities, because we would like also to be very crystal clear that Ukraine never attacked anyone. We do not
plan any offensives. We do not plan any military offensives. We are a peaceful country of bread growers and start-uppers, entrepreneurs. And we
only seek the diplomatic solution to it.
So we're not a country of war.
MARKAROVA: But we are very resolute in protecting our home from this aggression.
GOLODRYGA: And, of course, over the past several years, you have been and have known war with Russia as well, and nothing that we have seen thus far
would suggest that Vladimir Putin is deterred.
In fact, the troop buildups continue. CNN is reporting that Russia is continuing to build up its supply lines around the border. And even
Ukraine's own defense minister, your colleague, says that intel suggests Russia may be planning on an invasion towards the end of January.
So, what in any of that gives you a sense that the -- that any of the agreements or what you have laid out thus far or what you have heard from
the United States and NATO is strong enough to deter Putin?
MARKAROVA: Well, obviously, we're very concerned about what we observe around our border.
We share the information and regularly talk to our friends and allies. Our president, Zelensky, is on a daily contact with his counterparts. Our
Foreign Minister Kuleba also does the same. And the message from us and President Zelensky reiterates on a daily basis that there must be no
agreements about Ukraine without Ukraine.
But we are working together on all of those three lines, essentially, building Ukraine for us to be stronger, but also uniting with all European
nations, with the United States, discussing with our NATO partners, as we are the EOP partner with NATO, what we can do together in order to, again,
deter and demotivate.
And we, of course, are prepared to defend our country. But we're hoping that it will not come to the military aggression stage two, as, again, we
all have to remember it's not something new. I mean, we experienced this in 2014 and 2015 already.
GOLODRYGA: Well, no one should assume that Vladimir Putin is bluffing here, if, for no other reason, than his past actions would indicate.
Vladimir Putin and Russia, the country is claiming that Ukraine is threatening Russia's national security. And he laid out explicitly his --
quote, unquote -- "red lines" that would trigger a strong response.
Here's what he said. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Creating such threats in Ukraine poses red lines for us. But I hope it doesn't come to
I hope that common sense and responsibility for both our countries and the world will prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: He's warning against NATO deploying troops or weapons. Obviously, NATO countries, including the United States, have provided
Russia with weapons and Javelins, but not missile defense programs, which he seems to be most concerned about.
Do you get the sense that he is possibly being given false intelligence? And, if so, that could be very catastrophic, no?
MARKAROVA: Well, it's very -- it's very strange to hear in today's world the spheres of interest type of language.
Ukraine has made its choice. The majority of our population decided that we want to be part of NATO and we want to be part of European Union. Not only
our population supports it. It's in our constitution. So Russia cannot stop Ukraine from getting closer with NATO and actually has no right to say what
NATO should do or we should do.
GOLODRYGA: But, to interrupt you, NATO has stopped short of welcoming Ukraine anytime soon into the alliance. What does that tell you?
MARKAROVA: Well, it's a process. And it's a union of many countries. And it has to be decided by all the countries.
But we just recently, in 2020, became the EOP partner with NATO. We are transforming our army and we are transforming our country to actually live
by the NATO standards. And this is the choice that we have made for ourselves.
But the best security guarantee for Russia, actually, would be to withdraw its forces from the territory of Ukraine to de-occupy the Crimea, which
they illegally annexed, and the Donetsk and Luhansk territories, and normalize its relations with both Ukraine and ultimately with the West, but
ultimately with Ukraine as well, so, again, you know?
GOLODRYGA: As you know, there has been talk of a possible virtual meeting, another one, between President Biden and Vladimir Putin. Russian media is
reporting that could happen as soon as next week.
What is Ukraine's stance on that possible meeting? Should it come with preconditions, the way we didn't see occur in Geneva over the summer
following a similar buildup of troops along the border there? Things calmed down, but here we are once again. Are you welcoming another meeting between
the two leaders?
MARKAROVA: As I said, we are committed to seeking diplomatic solutions to this war.
We are working together with Germany and France to revive the Normandy format. And we welcome initiatives that are coming from the United States
to aim -- that bring in Russia to the negotiating table to restore peace in Ukraine, because, ultimately, this is what Ukraine once.
We seek peace, justice and security for us and for entire Europe.
The only thing I would like to read iterate again is something that President Zelensky keeps saying, that there must be no agreements made on
Ukraine without Ukraine. But we welcome all the actions aimed at reaching peace that we are doing together.
GOLODRYGA: How do you know such agreements won't be made in a meeting between the two leaders?
We have seen Ukraine disappointed with the Nord Stream 2 decision. Obviously, we see Ukraine still looking to enter the NATO alliance, neither
of which has happened. So what gives you assurances that no guarantees will be made without Ukraine at the table?
MARKAROVA: Well, the word assurances has a negative connotation after the Budapest Memorandum for Ukraine.
But, right now, we have such good and deep relations with both the United States and our European partners that, regardless of some disagreements
that we might have, of course, on many issues, including the Nord Stream 2, we are confident that we are working together and doing everything possible
right now to deter, demotivate Russia, and find a solution that will bring peace and ultimately ensure the security in the whole Europe.
GOLODRYGA: Are you satisfied with the promises or assurances that you are getting and hearing from NATO allies, E.U. allies, and the United States
Because, as we know, actions do speak louder than words, Ukraine, we will reiterate again, is not a member of NATO. So Article V would not apply to
you. And I -- to be frank, I can't imagine there being an appetite in many countries to send actual boots to the ground to help.
MARKAROVA: Well, unfortunately, these aggressions, and if you -- if you read the rhetoric from our neighbor from the north, it's not only about
Ukraine, so we should not fool ourselves.
It's not only about aggression against Ukraine. It's about the security of whole Europe. So you asked me whether we are satisfied. And we will be
satisfied when Crimea is back to Ukraine, when all of the Ukrainians who held hostages and imprisoned illegally in Donetsk and Luhansk occupied
territories and Crimea will be back home and when peace will come to Ukraine.
That's when we will be satisfied. Now we are tirelessly working with all of our partners in order to find the best solutions to reach that peace.
GOLODRYGA: The greatest threat does seem to be a miscalculation or a provocation, as Vladimir Putin likes to phrase it.
To avoid that, is there a direct line of communication between Zelensky's office and the Kremlin?
MARKAROVA: We are ready to communicate, as our president numerous times said. We are ready to discuss all the issues.
And, also, we're making sure that all of our partners and OECD, OSCE monitoring mission, which we hope will be allowed to fully perform its
functions to essentially prove that Ukrainians again do not plan any military offensive, and doing everything in order to keep and reach the
peace in Ukraine.
So we know the truth. And we're working very hard to show this truth to everyone in the world.
GOLODRYGA: There are reports and briefs written from many experts in the West both a bit hawkish and a bit more dovish that suggest on one side that
the U.S. should not relinquish any of it support for Ukraine and double down on the sticks that are being directed towards Russia.
And then there are more controversial takes suggesting that the sticks-and- carrots approach doesn't seem to be working, and that perhaps Ukraine should be pressured a bit more, if, for nothing else, than returning to the
Minsk agreement in 2015 and honoring that. Obviously, we know Russia hasn't honored it as well.
I'm just curious, from your take, what is the perspective in Ukraine, given so many varying thoughts going on right now.
MARKAROVA: Just want to remind everyone that it was Ukraine that was attacked. It was our Crimea that was illegally annexed.
So, if anyone should be pressured here, it's the aggressor. And Ukraine has always been a state committed and always did everything in order to comply
with the agreements. We are not the ones who are actually shooting. And we are not the ones who are violating the Minsk agreements.
So it's only the united position of the democratic -- all democratic countries that will allow us to reach the peace.
GOLODRYGA: Lastly, let me ask you what message you think it sends to the world if in fact the worst does take place, whether it's a massive invasion
or sort of a more tailored invasion of Ukraine?
What message does that send to other U.S. allies and perhaps Taiwan as well?
MARKAROVA: Well, essentially, again, coming back to where we started this interview, we have been attacked, because we have made a civilizational
choice to be free, to be independent, to be democratic, to be European.
So I really hope that we will not altogether have to go through this test whether democracy can not only deliver to the -- to its people in the
countries, but also be strong and be defended against the autocratic attacks.
So this is where we all have to unite and do the right thing.
GOLODRYGA: Sorry. This is the last question.
I do -- there was a bit of a puzzling situation last week, especially given how tense the situation is on the ground there, that caught a lot of the
world's attention. And that was President Zelensky alleging that he had been informed of a possible coup attempt that would have transpired this
week with Russia's backing.
Obviously, we have yet to see anything like that take place. I'm just curious, was there any specific information that he had that was credible
enough to make such a big allegation and accusation?
MARKAROVA: Well, as I said, in addition to military aggression, Russia is engaging in a lot of hybrid attacks against Ukraine, including the
disinformation campaigns and including the covert operations inside the country.
And, as you know, earlier, Ukraine has sanctioned already a couple of Russia-led disinformation channels and agents. So, our Ukrainian security
agencies are receiving this information. We're sharing this information and analyzing it on a weekly basis in order to prevent and counter such a
So, again, it's nothing new. It happens during the past eight years. And, of course, now with the buildup, we also see the increase of these covert
operations in Ukraine.
GOLODRYGA: Ambassador Markarova, for all involved, we hope that things do begin to cool down.
We appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
MARKAROVA: Thank you very much.
GOLODRYGA: We turn now to another point of contention between Russia and the West, Libya.
The country is a major transit point for migrants trying to reach European shores. Well, now a new report by investigative journalist Ian Urbina is
digging into the detention centers where a lot of those people end up.
His article for "The New Yorker" is called "The Secretive Prisons That Keep Migrants Out of Europe."
And he joins me now.
Ian, welcome to the program.
You have reported on this facility in Libya. It's named in Arabic Al Mabani, and that means The Buildings.
Describe to our viewers what you found there and how many people were held.
IAN URBINA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: So, Al Mabani is a quintessential detention center in Tripoli. There are about a dozen of these. At any given
moment, there are usually anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 migrants in them.
The conditions are. Brutal, rape, extortion, torture, and murder are not uncommon. And most of these migrants have been put there by the Libyan
Coast Guard, who captures migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe.
GOLODRYGA: How did you find out about these detention centers?
URBINA: Yes, the existence of the detention centers has been an open secret for many years, almost a decade.
Their population has grown drastically in recent years, as the Libyan Coast Guard, funded by the E.U., has become more effective at stopping migrants
from crossing the Mediterranean and reaching Europe. And so these detention centers have become more overcrowded and more brutal.
These are all, bear in mind, militia-run facilities. So, while they're funded by the Libyan government, they're run by independent militias.
And once the migrants enter them, it's very difficult to know what happens to those people.
GOLODRYGA: It's really easy, I guess, in today's world, where we keep talking about this large number of migrants trying to leave for Europe and
their plights, to lose sight of the individual stories, right, that encompass their journeys.
And you do a beautiful, if not heartbreaking job, in following one migrant from Guinea-Bissau. And talk about this 28-year-old man's attempt to find
what everyone else is searching for in this dangerous journey. And that is a better life.
His brothers had left for Europe. And he had tried to follow suit. Unfortunately, things did not turn out for him as they did for his
Talk about what you discovered about his journey.
URBINA: I mean, like you said, Aliou Cande was a sort of quintessential climate migrant from a very rural and very poor section of Guinea-Bissau,
which is a West African country, farmer of mangoes and cassava, and a father of three kids.
And his farm was failing, options dwindling, droughts getting worse, rainfall intense, and decided to take sort of the one option that seemed
plausible, which was to make a sort of perilous journey through the Sahara, work his way to Libya, which is the best launching point, and try to get to
Europe, like his brothers had, and earn a wage that he could send back.
He was captured at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard and brought back and put in Al Mabani. And, ultimately, he was murdered by a guard.
GOLODRYGA: And that was the most horrific part of your peace, just following his story and getting a bit more familiar with his family and
journey, only to find out that he ended up perishing there.
You describe these prisons, these facilities as a network of profit-making prisons. Talk about that and the fact that, for so many of these prisoners,
no surprise, they couldn't afford to leave.
So, I mean, it's important to bear in mind that, in Libya, if you're an undocumented foreigner, it's actually legal for the Libyan government to
detain you indefinitely. You have no access to lawyers. In essence, you're disappeared into a system.
There tend to be three ways that the militias make money on the migrants. One is, they skim a good portion of any aid money that's directed at sort
of harm reduction for the migrants, food, catering, blankets, what have you. The militias run the facilities. They take a huge cut.
The second way they make money is, they extort the migrants. So, in the case of Aliou Cande, he's brought into the facility. No one knows he's
there. The guard provides him with a cell phone, says, call your family, get them to send $500. And this is sort of the standard model that they
make money off the migrants.
And the third way is forced labor. The migrants are used. And legally, in Libya, they're outsourced for farmwork, construction work, even in conflict
zones stacking arms and fixing vehicles.
And, in fact, in 2017 -- and you note this in your article -- my CNN colleague Nima Elbagir reported on these slave markets. And the Libyan
government at the time said that they would investigate them. I'm just curious. Several years later, has anything changed?
URBINA: Yes, I mean, that CNN story was groundbreaking. And it sort of put finally eyes on something that had been widely discussed before, which was
the sale of migrants for work.
That problem is still alive and well and occurring. And many of the migrants we interviewed at sea and also in Libya recounted being outsourced
for construction, farmwork, even prostitution for the women.
GOLODRYGA: And this clearly is a story that you spend a lot of time focusing on in Libya, but we can't exclude the E.U.'s role in all of this,
that they have been a player, given the huge influx of migrants that they have seen over the past several years, and, of course, the political
ramifications that have unfolded in various countries, whether that be Germany, and obviously, in this case, Italy.
Talk about the E.U.'s role in dealing with Libya and keeping this -- these migrants off of their shorelines, but then having no other way but forced
to these detention camps.
URBINA: Yes, I mean, I think the way to understand this on a meta level, as metaphorically, as there's a war on migration occurring, whereby the
E.U. is attempting to get further upstream and prevent so many people from ending up on their shores.
And the war on migration has three fronts, really an army, a navy and an air force. The E.U.-funded navy, if you will, is the Libyan Coast Guard,
which is a proxy force that serves at the behest of the E.U., is funded, trained, equipped by the E.U., and patrols the Mediterranean for the sole
purpose of capturing migrants and bringing them back to shore.
The air force, E.U.-funded air force, is essentially Frontex, which is the E.U. border agency in -- and its job is to patrol all of the European
borders, but it puts drones and airplanes on 24/7 patrol over the Mediterranean. And what they're doing there is spotting the migrant
vessels, calling in the location to member states. And the intelligence is handed over to the Libyans.
And then the army, if you will, metaphorically, is on the ground in Libya. And that's the entire detention system, this gulag, if you will, that
serves at capturing and holding and sending back sometimes these migrants.
GOLODRYGA: And yet you document this throughout the piece. And there's really captivating video that you have included as well.
But a spokesperson for Frontex told you that the agency -- I'm going to read this -- quote -- "has never engaged in any direct cooperation with
Do you find that a plausible response, given all of your investigative work?
URBINA: Yes, I mean, it's -- well, it's implausible on its face, but it's also a sort of sleight of hand rhetorically, in the sense that direct is
the key word to focus on there.
So, Frontex hands off their intelligence. The planes and the drones call it into member states. So that's Italy, Malta, Greece. And then those member
states alert the Libyan Coast Guard. That allows Frontex to say they have never directly helped the Libyans, directly handed over information.
But they know full well, and there's internal discussion at Frontex by some of its lawyers, that this is a indirect, no less consequential crime, and
they shouldn't be involved in this process. So it is a bit of a spin, if you will.
GOLODRYGA: And eight days into this investigation, you yourself became a target, when you were forcibly kidnapped by Libyan intelligence officials
while working on this piece.
And it appears that you endured some horrific torture and days of not knowing what would happen next. Ultimately, it was your spouse who had
contacted the U.S. State Department.
Talk about that experience.
URBINA: So I had a team with me. Three other journalists and myself were on the ground working on the story in Tripoli.
We were given a visa and allowed to be in Libya. The government was not super fond of our focus, which was sort of migrant abuses. On the sixth
day, we -- I was taken from the hotel room; 8:00 at night, 12 armed men knocked on the door, hooded me, beat me, broke my ribs, and did all sorts
of other damage, and then dragged me out of the hotel, put me in a car, took me to a secret prison.
My three colleagues were on their way with armed security to a restaurant. They were hit in the middle of an intersection, again, very surgical,
coordinated attack, same militia, took them, blindfolded them, took them to the same prison, where we were held for six days, seven days, and, every
day, intense interrogations.
The going theory was that we were not only journalists, but also CIA agents, and we were there to embarrass Libya by focusing on migrants. But,
again, ultimately, the U.S. State Department applied enough pressure, and we were evacuated from the country.
GOLODRYGA: Thank goodness. What a horrific experience that must have been for you, obviously, knowing the dangers as you went into this piece,
obviously not anticipating that this would transpire.
Let's talk about what's transpired in the country 10 years since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi. It really is a fractured country, with
leadership, splintered leadership supported for different countries, Western- and Russian-backed leaders there.
They are holding elections believed just at the end of this year, and, yesterday, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, Moammar Gadhafi'S son, was given the go-
ahead to run in that election.
I'm just curious to get your take on that and what the future holds for that country. Any chance that it can be pieced back together, ironically,
perhaps by another Gadhafi?
URBINA: You know, this is a terrain that I know much less about, both the realm of prediction and also specifically Gadhafi's son and his prospects.
I can say confidently that the place is a very complicated and broken country. It is truly a failed state, even in the north. The south is sort
of wracked by war. The north has two different governments that claim authority.
So my sense is that whoever wins the election is going to have to reckon, first and foremost, with the prevalence of militias within the federal
government and just on the ground throughout the north, and figure out how they get all of these militias to actually come under their central
authority and obey orders from the federal government.
That would be, in my view, job number one.
GOLODRYGA: Well, Ian, first and foremost, I'm glad you're OK. Thank you for reporting such an important story that I think is not getting nearly
enough attention. And the human rights abuses that are transpiring there are just shocking.
Thank you. We appreciate you joining us today.
URBINA: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, we turn now to Puerto Rico, which is leading the way on U.S. COVID vaccinations.
That's, of course, despite being struck by a hurricane and an earthquake just before the pandemic hit. But take a look at this graph. More than 70
percent of its population is fully vaccinated, way ahead of the U.S. average.
So what can we learn from this?
Well, joining me on this is the former Mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz. She's now a distinguished fellow in leadership at Mount Holyoke College in
Mayor Cruz, I was startled to read this story. And I'm surprised it's not getting more attention. But what is sort of the secret sauce in Puerto
Rico, in terms of controlling COVID and making sure more people are vaccinated?
CRUZ: Well, one of the things is that this was never weaponized. And as we know from Hurricanes Irma, Maria and everything that Puerto Rico went
through in the last four years, when politicians use for political gains these type of crises people die.
So, from the beginning, the Puerto Rican government, past administration, current administration and its 78 municipalities that we knew from the
beginning that this was not about politics, this was about saving lives. Because, again, we have lived that from the four years before that.
The second thing is that it was science based and science centered planning. Meaning at the central level, state level and local municipal
levels, we all looked at the science. And mind you, at the beginning of March 2020, things changed completely. From one day to another, the
information was different. But we all made it very clear that we were going to follow what the doctors were telling us.
I remember having a meeting with the municipal counsel of doctors and nurses and epidemiologists in saying, this is a crisis that is half led.
So, you're going to tell me what to do and how to move forward. That allowed governments, municipal level, communities and the central
government to be able, from the onset, put together swift and decisive actions sometimes in the face of politically unpopular decisions.
For example, March 8, 2020, the first patient comes out of a cruise ship and has COVID. Unfortunately, that person died. Her husband had COVID but
he did not die. What happened immediately, four days later, I shut down the schools at the Municipality of San Juan and in -- within a week, we were
having remote learning at the municipality.
At that same week, the then governor also shut down the government and we scaled everything down to the basics, you know, the pharmacists, the drug
stores, the labs, the hospitals. We also took a lot of provisions on PPEs. We make sure people had everything and anything they needed. And also, led
by example. I remember being at a podium giving a press conference and having two podiums. And whenever somebody would come to speak cleaning that
podium so that everyone could see it.
There was an immediate shutdown of the Puerto Rican government. And there is also, from the beginning, an alliance between public sector, the private
sector, non-governmental organizations and community and religious-based programming. And there was also, and I have to say this, we could massively
vaccinate because we have the vaccines. Unlike what happened during the hurricanes where the aid was withheld, the Biden administration made it
very clear very early on, in this time frame, but also, I have to say, the first vaccine in San Juan December of 2020 and we began to vaccinate and we
also built up on a culture of vaccination for children.
We are a people that also ask the Americans do and all over the world love our families. There was a massive communication that made it clearer that
when you were vaccinated, you were not only taking care of yourself but you were taking care of grandma and you were taking care of the little kid. So,
all those components made that a very good new story.
GOLODRYGA: And, Mayor, you know, a lot to unpack. But, you know, you are recovering from earthquakes and hurricanes, going through the largest
bankruptcy in U.S. history and you're talking the strength of your public health system. And not only that, but the fact your 3.5 -- close to 3.5
million population there on the island was willing to endure months of lockdowns where clearly, on the mainland, that was not able to be
sustained, whether it was because President Trump was pushing for government and local governments and businesses to open or people just at
home were fed up with not being able to go to work and the economic hit that endured.
So, how was it that the people of Puerto Rico were able to withstand that given all of the head winds the island was facing? And on top of that, you
mentioned the vaccines. Listen, we have an abundance of vaccines today. And just today, President Biden was still pleading with Americans to please get
vaccinated. So, it's not just that the infrastructure was in place. You had people willing to go along with it.
CRUZ: And there's two things. One, we also had, in the prior four years, zika and Chikungunya. Those are two new diseases that developed that are
relatives of the dengue and they are transmitted by the same mosquito. So, we had gone through sort of a rehearsal of these are the things you have to
do in your community, in your home. But it was really, really, I would say, just in a very powerful way, the fact that it was not political. And here I
am, I'm the mayor from one party and I'm telling you that --
GOLODRYGA: You got into it politically with President Trump. I mean, you know, for an island that did not view vaccines as political, I wouldn't say
you were the poster child for, you know, the separation. And yet, it happened.
CRUZ: I was not. And I'll tell you why. During the Trump administration, the aid was withheld. What happened with President Trump with COVID is
that, you know, it was like, oh, it's not going to happen. It's a hoax. It's fake news. Don't worry about it, you know. And look at what he did.
When he himself was taking medicine that was being developed, he was telling people everything's OK, don't worry about it, we were, as political
leaders in Puerto Rico, telling people, yes, let's worry about it. Let's work together. It doesn't matter.
We knew from Hurricane Maria and Irma and the earthquakes and the ousting of a governor that when crisis comes, it doesn't ask you who you voted for.
So, the basis of that was there, and exactly. And believe me, I would have gotten into it with the local authorities that they were doing the same
thing, but this was not weaponized as a political tool and that really made a huge difference.
GOLODRYGA: Well, as we know, this is not over, right? And nobody should be engaging in premature victory laps here while 70 percent of the island is
vaccinated. We know that means 30 percent have yet to be vaccinated and we have a new variant possibly that is really worrisome to many health experts
around the world because of its transmissibility. This is happening during the holiday season when, of course, tourism is really an important factor
for Puerto Rico's economy. What needs to be done to make sure that this success rate continues?
CRUZ: Well, one of the things is to continue to use the grassroots organizations. Religious leaders have been a tremendous help in making sure
that people -- you know, people get the message, that this is a responsibility. You're not only taking care of yourself, but by taking care
of yourself, you're taking care of others.
And for us, Christmas, it's a very boisterous time. So, there's little things that are being done, but that keep harping the message. For example,
baseball season began, of course, it's outside. You have to show your vaccination card. But children under 12 years old were not permitted
initially. Now, if you're vaccinated and you're under 12 years old, you are permitted to go to baseball games.
So, little by little, the governor -- the current governor, Pedro Pierluisi, has continued to say and expand in ways that now more and more
people, and of course, have to be vaccinated. And when you add what President Biden is doing, this is really reinforcing the message.
GOLODRYGA: Right. Listen, a lot more that Americans can learn from Puerto Rico and we wanted to make sure we were highlighting that today on the
show. Thank you so much, Mayor, for joining us. We appreciate it.
CRUZ: Thank you for (INAUDIBLE).
GOLODRYGA: You too.
Well, next, we explore the role of green innovation and the fight against climate change. John Doerr is a key figure of Silicon Valley's Clean Tech
movement, investing in start-ups at the forefront of this revolution. The "New York Times" bestselling author has just a new book called "Speed &
Scale: Comprehensive Plan to Achieve Net Zero by 2050." Walter Isaacson spoke with Doerr to understand one of the most vexing challenges in human
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Bianna. And, John Doerr, welcome to the show.
JOHN DOERR, AUTHOR, "SPEED & SCALE": Well, thank you, Walter. It's a privilege to be here.
ISAACSON: You say that the young shall lead us. And there's a wonderful tale in the book about how your daughter inspired you to write this book.
Tell me about that.
DOERR: This all started for me in 2006 when my family and friends went to see Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth." We returned back home for
dinner and I asked everyone what they thought. When the conversation turned to my daughter, Mary, she said, dad, I'm scared and I'm angry. Your
generation created this problem. You better fix it.
And, Walter, I didn't know what to say. So, I set out to learn as much as I could about the climate crisis, to work in that field, to invest from
several funds, a total of a billion dollars and 70 ventures. And it was rough going. It was really hard to build companies that would have impact.
And at one point, it looked like we'd lose all those investments that they'd all fail. But we stood by the entrepreneurs. And today, those
investments, that billion dollars is worth $3 billion. And more importantly, it's led to companies that are really pioneering things like
smart grids or plant-based meat like beyond meat. And it's stimulated a lot more innovative and entrepreneurial activity.
So, I wrote this book for the leader inside people of all walks of life.
ISAACSON: You wrote a wonderful book a few years ago called "Measure What Matters." In which you took a great sort of algorithm that (INAUDIBLE) pad
called OKR, Objective and Key Results. Tell me about that and how you've applied it now to climate?
DOERR: Our speed and scale action plan to solve the climate crisis contains 10 objectives backed up, each of them, by three to five key
results. And the top objective is to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050. So, there's three numbers to bear in mind there. We currently emit 59
gigatons of greenhouse gases every year into our atmosphere as if it's some kind of free and open sewer. We've got to get number down to net zero so
that we emit no more carbon than what we're able to remove.
And then, finally, we've got to do this quickly. We're fast running out of time. We've got to get that job done by 2050. And even more urgently, we've
got to remove half of the emissions by the end of this decade, by 2030. That's the heart of the objectives.
ISAACSON: So, on the wonderful poster who have with the book on how you're going to achieve these objectives. The first one is to electrify transport.
Explain that to me.
DOERR: Well, simply, electrified transport means drive our vehicles, power our vehicles. Our cars, our buses, our trucks with electricity instead of
with gas and with diesel oil. That's the largest source of emissions in the U.S. transportation.
ISAACSON: And you talked to Mary Barra who is the head of General Motors. She's one of the heroes in your book. You've interviewed her. Tell me how
she's pursuing that and what you learned from her.
DOERR: Well, what I learned from her is that she's determined to end the production of internal combustion vehicles at General Motors and replace
them with all electric vehicles. So, that's a very bold pledge. She also is keen to do this not for the second car in someone's home but for their
primary transportation. So, she's a leader who's very much in touch with both the speed and the scale by which this change must occur.
ISAACSON: Well, the electrical vehicles are going to help save us. We have to be able to plug them in and not using dirty energy fueling our
electricity grid. So, how -- I think your next step is figuring out how we're going to make the grid cleaner, right?
DOERR: Decarbonizing the grid is the largest opportunity for the globe. And there's some 29 gigatons used in generating electricity today. We need
to really drive that to nearly zero and the speed and scale plan will do that. That simply means we're going to replace coal and natural with wind,
solar and safe nuclear.
ISAACSON: And don't you need batteries to make that work?
DOERR: We need a lot of batteries. Actually, we're going to need not only batteries, but other means of long-term inexpensive storage because solar
and wind won't not work when sun not shining and the wind's not blowing.
ISAACSON: So, what's the next step after decarbonizing the grid in your plan?
DOERR: The next big step, the third big objection, Walter, is to fix our food systems. And there are three major steps to achieve that. The first is
to eat less beef and dairy. And I don't mean cut it all out, but voluntarily eat plant-based proteins for perhaps half of our consumption of
dairy and meat.
Parenthetically, the production of meat and dairy from cows is an enormous source of greenhouse gas emissions if -- I write in the book, if the cows
on the earth were a country, they'd be, all billion of them, the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. But we can do more than just shift
from meat and dairy to plant-based proteins. We can also get after food waste. 30 percent of the food on the planet is wasted and our plan calls
for that number to be reduced to some 10 percent. Very important as the world's demand for food grows.
Finally, we use nitrous oxide as a key ingredient. Well, that's a gas emitted from our use of nitrogen as a fertilizer. And so, the plan calls us
to be smarter about that, to be more efficient in the way we grow our food. There's about eight gigatons of savings available from that objective.
ISAACSON: If we're going to decarbonize the grid, it's going to mean working with utility companies in the United States? Do you think the
utility company model in the U.S. is fundamentally flawed?
DOERR: I don't think the U.S. utility model is fundamentally flawed. Our utilities tend to be state-regulated or in some cases, state-owned
enterprises, and they respond very finely to what their public utility commissions ask them to do. We've been sending the wrong signals to these
utilities. But I think the greater flaw for the U.S. and decarbonizing the grid is, in fact, in the grid, it's the transmission wires. It's the
fragile out of date way that we move renewable energy from sources like in the middle of the country to the edges of the country where it's needed.
ISAACSON: You're pretty good friends with Bill Gates. You've worked with him. He's in your book. And he's helping to create something called terra
power which uses nuclear energy, new types of nuclear power plants. Do you think that's important in getting to carbon reduction?
DOERR: It's very important. And terra power is a next generation nuclear fission power plant. And the importance of nuclear is it is the only
technology that's been proven at scale to deliver clean electricity 7 by 24 no matter what the weather is and it can be located anywhere around the
world. So, we've starved the nuclear industry until now for research and development.
Bill's been a very dedicated and determined investor. And with the latest rounds of federal activity, we're going to see and we need nuclear to be
part of our solution.
ISAACSON: But isn't there a legitimate concern about the safety of nuclear after the three-mile island and other incidents?
DOERR: There are certainly concerns about the safety of nuclear, but the data says otherwise. In fact, nuclear is safer than coal and other fossil
fuel-based forms of electricity.
ISAACSON: You've been great at finding new forms of technology throughout your career as a venture capitalist. Do you think we can engineer our way
out of this with our new types of technology that will actually capture carbon in a fast enough rate that we can say, all right, we can now focus
on just fixing this directly with carbon capture?
DOERR: Yes and no, Walter. We're going to need both to deploy a lot more of the now, the solutions we have today that we know work, and also, invent
like crazy new solutions to stubborn problems.
What do I mean by this? We have now solar and wind energy that's cheaper than fossil fuel energy. And so, we should be deploying that around the
world like our lives depended on it because they do. But there will remain in our plan of the 59 gigatons some 10 gigatons of I call stubborn carbon.
These are emissions that will be due to long distance air travel, for example, or rogue nations.
And so, to have a plan to really works, we're going to need to do carbon removal. The plan calls for 10 gigatons per year of carbon removal. Half of
that coming from natural means like planting more trees or growing kelp forests in the seas and another half from what I'll same mechanical trees
or it's known as direct air capture where you can have large fans and chemical systems that use clean energy to pull this dilute carbon out of
the air and sequester it to pump it underground.
Today, this costs about $700 a ton, Walter. And we need to drive the cost of that down to $100 a ton or less, and that will not be easy to do.
ISAACSON: You have a lot of famous people in the book you've talked to. One of them is Jeff Bezos. You're an early investor in Amazon. He's really
been talking about an environmental cause now. But Amazon's carbon footprint went up 20 percent last year. Is he really walking the walk as
well as talking the talk?
DOERR: Yes, he is. And let me tell you three ways in which I think he's doing that. First of all, he's committed Amazon and its supply chain by net
zero by 2040. That's 10 years ahead of Paris. For an organization large and complex as Amazon, that's incredible. One example of what he's doing there
is the Rivian electric truck company where Amazon owns 20 percent of it and has ordered 100,000 of their trucks. That company recently completed an
initial public offering raising billions of dollars of more capital. So, it can make and deliver these trucks.
But two big efforts under way, thanks to Jeff Bezos, is Amazon understands they can't do this on their own. So, they've rallied more than 200
companies together to something called the Climate Pledge, which is to get to net zero by 2040.
ISAACSON: A lot of companies, a lot of people use carbon offset. In other words, when they emit carbon, they say, OK, but I'm going to buy an offset
that will somehow or another to make up for that. And sometimes that involves maybe planting trees or doing things. I've heard a lot of people
say a lot of those are just fraud almost, that they really are not going to do anything.
DOERR: Like a green wash.
ISAACSON: Yes, green washing. Tell me, are these carbon offsets for real or is it a lot of green washing?
DOERR: Some of them are for real and some of them are green washing. And so, it's very important that these offsets be high quality. That means that
they be truly additional, they wouldn't happen without funding. That they'd be durable. That they'd be long-lasting. And then, that they'd be
monitored. That they'd be measured along the way.
And so, what I'd like to say, as a rubric to take a step back is, the most important thing we must do is slash emissions. Make real measurable cuts.
And at the same time, conserve. Don't waste energy. Don't use any more energy than we need to. Amory Lovins is a brilliant advocate for reducing
our energy demands. In fact, if the rest of the United States performed as California has, our energy emissions would be 25 percent lower.
The third thing though is to do high quality removal of carbon through offsets. We've got to do all three at once.
ISAACSON: In the year 2007, you warned us, we weren't going fast enough. It's now 14 years later and you're still making that same warning. You talk
about leadership. Do we have a real dearth of leadership in our generation, John?
DOERR: We do have a death of leadership. And the leadership is most stressed and challenged among our policy makers. I think the political
leaders are not going to get very far ahead of the bodied politic. In the U.S., if I can speak there for a moment, climate is still not a top two
voting issue. And so, the plan calls for the climate crisis to be that top two voting issue in all top 20 emitting countries around the world by 2025.
That's a measure of a key result.
We've got to ask this question, Walter. We've witnessed wildfires and hurricanes and devastating storms and drought and climate migrants. There's
some 10 million climate refugees today. In China, the floods already this year have cost $30 billion. In Europe, $35 billion. Hurricane Ida in the
U.S., $100 billion of estimated damages. How much more devastation are we going to have to endure before we realize it's cheaper to save this planet
than to ruin it? That's the question.
ISAACSON: John Doerr, thank you so much for being with us.
DOERR: Thank you, Walter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: An incredibly important conversation there.
And finally, Germany says (INAUDIBLE). The German military honor Chancellor Angele Merkel last night, serenading her with three songs of her choice.
Her third was a '70s punk hit by East German artist Nina Hagen, a nod to upbringing in the communist east. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: A farewell to Chancellor Merkel.
Well, that is it for now. You can catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Thank you so much for watching. Have a great weekend,
and good-bye from New York.