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Interview With Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Defense Evelyn Farkas, Interview With Former Afghan Ambassador To The U.S. Adela Raz; Interview With Venezuelan Opposition Politician Maria Corina Machado. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired July 06, 2023 - 13:00:00   ET




BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Hello, everybody, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.

As a Russian strike kill civilians in Western Ukraine, we get the latest from the ground. And we dig into the extraordinary raid on the St.

Petersburg home of Wagner chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin. I'm joined by U.S. national security expert Evelyn Farkas.

Then, the Taliban ramps up efforts to shut women out of the workplace by closing all beauty salons. I'll discuss with former Afghan diplomat Adela


Also, ahead, the fight for democracy in Venezuela. Opposition leader Corina Machado speaks to the program as her campaign for the presidency is


Plus, amid fatal flooding and record-breaking temperatures, we get a health check on our planet.

He is in St. Petersburg, or maybe this morning he will travel to Moscow, or elsewhere. He is not in the territory of Belarus now.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

President Zelenskyy is vowing a tangible response after a Russian strike on Ukraine's western city of Lviv. The attack on a residential building killed

at least five people and injured dozens more.

Meanwhile, Moscow is once again gazing inward (ph) after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko revealed that Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin

is still inside Russia. Now, that's in spite a deal that should have exiled him to Belarus after his failed rebellion. Take a listen.


ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In terms of Yevgeny Prigozhin, he is in St. Petersburg, or maybe this morning he

would travel to Moscow or elsewhere, which is not on the territory of Belarus now.


GOLODRYGA: Now, these explosive comments come as images emerge of a raid on Prigozhin's St. Petersburg residents and office. Russian state media

releasing these photos of a bizarre treasure trove of gold weapons and elaborate disguises.

CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us now from Eastern Ukraine. So, Ben, first let's talk about yet another indiscriminate attack in Western Ukraine in Lviv, it

was the largest attack on a civilian infrastructure in that city since the start of the war. We know that Ukraine's air defenses struck down seven of

the 10 missiles, but we see the damage from the three missiles that were not intercepted. What is the reaction there in the eastern part of the

country where you are?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here there's sort of accustomed to it. Keep in mind, Bianna, that last week a pizzeria

was hit, killed 13 people in a missile strike that looked rather similar.

Now, obviously, in the western part of the country, in Lviv, which is much farther away from the front lines, not accustomed to this sort of

airstrike, they've had a few but nothing like this, the reaction is one of shock.

Now, the rocket hit at about 2:30 a.m., when everybody was asleep. It was a caliber missile, that's a Russian missile that carries a 500-to-600-

kilogram payload of high explosives. And as you can see from those pictures, it caused massive damage. At this point, the death toll is five

people, among them a 95-year-old woman who survived the Second World War, almost 40 people injured.

Now, what's come out in the aftermath of this strike is that perhaps because the city authorities had become accustomed to the relative quiet in

Lviv, 10 bomb shelters had been locked shut. Now, the prosecutor is conducting an investigation to ask -- to find out why. Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. I feel like that has happened before during this war, perhaps in Kyiv. I had heard of similar circumstances that the bomb

shelters were not accessible.

Just this hour, we are hearing from President Zelenskyy who is in Bulgaria. And at a press conference there he had noted that there are still some

200,000 Ukrainian children who are still missing. And, Ben, the bulk of them come from the parts of the country where you are right now.


WEDEMAN: Yes, that's right. And in fact, the Russians themselves have acknowledged that they have custody of those children who they have spread

around institutions and foster homes. The International Court of Justice is actually taking a case against Putin and the head of child welfare in

Russia for this, which is considered to be a crime. And, you know, this is not surprising, given the amount of territory the Russians have taken, but

obviously, they have given no information to the Ukrainian government to who these children are, their whereabouts, and how they could be returned

somehow to Ukraine. Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Just horrific. Yet another war crime. And you're right, Russia had been parading these children around and describing them as rescued

children, in their terms, by "brave Russian soldiers." Ben Wedeman, thank you so much for bringing us the latest on the ground in Eastern Ukraine.

You'll continue to follow these stories for us.

And for more on the latest out of the war, I am joined by Evelyn Farkas, the executive director of the McCain Institute, and she served as the

deputy assistant secretary for defense for Russia and Ukraine under President Obama.

Evelyn it's good to see you. So, let's talk about yet another indiscriminate strike against civilians and civilian infrastructure in

Ukraine, this time in Lviv. Earlier last week we had talked about the tragedy in Kramatorsk there at a pizzeria. Do you think that there's any

sort of strategic mission that the Russians are attempting with this increase in massive strikes against civilian areas in light of perhaps the

NATO summit next week and obviously, everything that's happened with the failed mutiny by Yevgeny Prigozhin?

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Yes, Bianna. I think -- first of all, thanks for having me on. And I would say

that this is a moment when the Russians are desperate for some kind of action that they can chalk up as a success. Of course, it's not a success

if you target civilians and you kill them. But they are retaliating against Ukrainian successes inside -- so, first of all, inside Russia proper, and

then also -- or inside, I should say, Ukraine where Russia's occupied Ukraine. So, the Ukrainians recently targeted one of the areas where the

Russians have occupied successfully.

In addition to that, the Ukrainians have been making some creeping progress forward. And then, of course, yes, at the strategic level, Vladimir Putin

looks incredibly weak. He needs to show something that looks like a success again, not a success, but something that looks like results to his

nationalist and to his people.

GOLODRYGA: What do you make of what's transpired? Clearly, this was all choreographed today when we saw Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko,

address journalists and say that Yevgeny Prigozhin is not in fact in his country, but in St. Petersburg in Russia. There had been some questioning,

perhaps that is where he had been all along. There had been some internet (INAUDIBLE) who thought that they had seen pictures that looked very

similar to Yevgeny Prigozhin surrounded by bodyguards that he had used in the past.

But that having been said, here you have an ally of Vladimir Putin's confirming -- again, it's hard to know who to believe here among these

propagandists -- but confirming that Prigozhin is in Russia. What do you make of this and the fact that this happened right after his offices had

been very publicly raided?

FARKAS: Yes. I mean, Bianna, I'd be lying if I didn't say it was odd and baffling. The Belarusian leader has been trying all along to assert kind of

the one shred of sovereignty that he has. You know, he tried to assert himself as the fixer in the situation. It maybe that Vladimir Putin didn't

like that, felt that he went too far. And certainly, there is the open question of whether Prigozhin actually ever set foot in Belarus.

We know that two of his airplanes went there, went to Belarus because they were cited by international kind of outside experts and observers. But we

don't know whether he was on those planes. He was never photographed or cited by any reputable source in Belarus. And now, as you say, supposedly

he is in St. Petersburg, and maybe potentially Moscow.

It does show that Vladimir Putin doesn't have Prigozhin completely under his control, that he hasn't retaliated against the treacherous, you know,

revolt that Prigozhin launched against him. Yes, the Russian media now is painting Prigozhin as less of a hero, and they may be laying the groundwork

for ultimately seizing Prigozhin and detaining him. I'm not sure that they want to actually murder him outright right now because of the far-right,

the nationalists that Vladimir Putin needs in order to try to win this war.


GOLODRYGA: So, perhaps just take some of his status away by these embarrassing raids that they are airing publicly and also, suggesting that

Wagner all along had been an arm of the Russian government and that the services that they provide can continue even without someone like Yevgeny


What will you be watching in the weeks ahead in terms of what happens to the Wagner forces? They have been very instrumental and beneficial for

Vladimir Putin in Russia leading up to the failed mutiny last week. But now, the big question is, what happens to these potentially thousands of


FARKAS: Right. And that's another interesting wrinkle here, Bianna, because they were supposedly being sent to Belarus from Ukraine. So, they

were being told, march back, you know, away from Moscow, back south to Ukraine, to your bases and from there, go to Belarus.

It's unclear, but what we are -- the reporting that we have from, again, our, you know, U.S. and international sources is that Prigozhin's Wagner

troops, the ones that were in Ukraine, have gone back to Ukraine. His international organization is of a different nature, and that also needs to

be managed.

It remains to be seen who will manage it. I don't think he will have control over those men in Ukraine. And in fact, I think the Russian plan is

probably to, essentially, as you said, make him more of a discredited figure, and in fact, I think they will try to smear him with, corruption,

eventually take him into custody so that he's no longer challenge to the Russian president. But I don't know who will run his forces, and who will

run his international empire. That is a very open question.

GOLODRYGA: Right now, it appears they are under the ministry of defense, and that is Defense Secretary -- Minister Shoigu. We'll see if that

continues going forward. Let me ask you about the war in general and the counteroffensive, that even President Zelenskyy has acknowledged has gone

slower and been a bit more ineffective in terms of what his initial accomplishments and hopes had been this far into this counteroffensive.

And he and his advisers around him have said, listen, this is not a movie, this is a long-term mission that were on. So, it is not over. That having

been said, he's also in a veiled way, maybe not so veiled, suggesting that one of the reasons is he's not getting everything that he has asked for and

everything that he says his troops need. Here's what he said to Erin Burnett earlier this week.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I'm grateful to the U.S., as leaders our support, but I told them, as well as

European leaders, that we would like to start our counteroffensive earlier and we will need all the weapons and material for that. Why? Simply because

if we start later, it will go slower and we will have losses of lives because everything is heavily mined. And we will have to go through it all.


GOLODRYGA: So, Evelyn, any leader in his position would continue to ask for more and more. That is understandable. That having been said, does he

have a point when he is suggesting that the West is still, over a year into this war, not acting quickly enough in supplying Ukraine with the material

and the equipment that it needs?

FARKAS: Yes, Bianna. I think he does have a point. I mean, we're asking the Ukrainians to fight without air support. You know, if you are going to

launch an offensive and really break through those Russian lines, you need air cover. And it's great that we've now proved the F-16s, that will help,

and we -- and maybe we're inching towards approving longer range artillery, the ATACMS, and there are already British variance of these longer range

missiles on the battlefield. But all of these things are coming late.

The F-16s won't be there until the fall, so he's correct. I mean, we are asking -- we are pressing the Ukrainians. And the Ukrainians have no

choice, they have to fight. But every day they fight without the best equipment, without the most capable equipment, that is a day that they lose

more soldiers. So, he's right, and they lose momentum.

GOLODRYGA: Something else that President Zelenskyy isn't shy about voicing in terms of what he needs and what he says the country needs is a specific

answer as to whether or not they will be admitted into NATO anytime soon. We have the NATO summit next week, and there are still questions as to

whether Sweden will be admitted.

But on the issue of Ukraine, this is something that President Biden has started (ph) around and his predecessors as well. I want you to listen to

what Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said when asked just this week about this issue and Ukraine joining NATO.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In this case, when it comes to Ukraine, we have been discussing with our NATO allies and Ukraine

how we can collectively support Ukraine's aspiration for your Euro-Atlantic integration. But I'm not going to get into details. I'm not going to get

into Trump private conversations from here. And the president has said, he has said this over and over again, Ukraine would have to make reforms to

meet the same standards as any NATO country before they join.



GOLODRYGA: So, we're going back to the reforms that the country needs to make. And (INAUDIBLE) some to speculate whether this administration is just

once again moving the goalposts on this issue. If you were to advise the president on whether or not NATO should admit Ukraine, maybe not right now

in the middle of a war, but in the next year or two when this war ends, hopefully, what would your advice be?

FARKAS: Yes. I mean, Bianna, I actually have an op-ed out on this, co- authored, that says that we should let Ukraine into NATO now. Why do I say this? Because Ukraine is ready from a military perspective, 100 percent

ready. It's the largest most NATO interoperable, most capable battle- hardened force on the European continent today.

So, militarily, there is no question. And they have conducted a lot of defense reforms, I'm not worried about that. I think what the White House

spokeswoman was talking about, what Karine Jean-Pierre was talking about was the democracy, progress, fighting corruption.

But I will tell you, and you know this well because you know this region, every country that entered into NATO still had to fight corruption and

still had work to do when it came to democratization. So, Ukraine is ready and Ukraine has shed its blood and Ukraine is now already fighting the

largest existing potential threat to NATO anyway. So, I believe we should allow Ukraine into NATO and make some, you know, adjustments with regard to

where the fighting is ongoing, because, of course, we don't want to be fighting against Russia. NATO doesn't want to, you know, come into an

existing war. But there are ways to do this and I think Ukraine has earned it.

GOLODRYGA: Do you think that we'll see Sweden officially be admitted next week?

FARKAS: I don't know what to say. I mean, I'm hopeful that behind the scenes we are making some deals with the Turks with regard to providing

them a fighter aircraft, which to my understanding is that's something they want badly. Hopefully, they want it badly enough that we, you know, make

some kind of deal like that. That's usually how -- what works best with President Erdogan, using carrots, providing inducements.

So, I'm -- my fingers are crossed

GOLODRYGA: Yes. Erdogan and Orban of Hungary, the two holdouts at this point. We'll be watching closely. Evelyn Farkas, thank you. It's really

very good to see you.

FARKAS: Thank you, Bianna. Likewise.

GOLODRYGA: Well, coming up after the break, as the Taliban targets beauty salons, I ask a former Afghan diplomat what this latest clamp done means

for the country's women.


GOLODRYGA: Welcome back. For nearly two years Afghan women and girls living under repressive militant rule have watched their rights slowly slip

away. Now, they're suffering another big step backwards, the Taliban ordering beauty salons throughout the country to close within a month.

As CNN's Katie Polglase reports, the will have a -- this will have devastating impact on women and their families.



KATIE POLGLASE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE PRODUCER (voiceover): Driving through the streets of Kabul among the brightly colored shops is one last symbol of

women being visible in the public life. Squeezing them out of sight, Taliban authorities ordered beauty parlors to be shut within the month,

sending shockwaves for women already gripped in a chokehold.

A salon owner who did not want to be identified for safety reasons told CNN the Taliban's order means her poverty-stricken family cannot afford the

bare essentials.

I don't understand why beauty salons should be banned, she says. My husband is jobless, and this beauty salon is the only means to feed my family. I

have four kids, they need food and clothes.

The Taliban seized back power in the summer of 2021. With thousands of terrified families flocking to Kabul airport, desperate to escape the

group's barbaric rule. While the Taliban vowed reform, promising to be more progressive than their previous rule, women were quickly erased from public

life, banning teenage girls from secondary and higher education, and ordering nonprofit organizations to stop their female employees from coming

to work.

The salon owner we spoke to says she doesn't know what more can be taken from them before there's nothing left at all. No woman is showing off her

face with makeup outside and we're already wearing hijab in public, she says. This will further deprive women of their rights and freedoms.

As the Taliban slowly chips away at their rights, hope is slowly dwindling for some women. But others still haven't been deterred from raising their

voices, even if it means risking their lives.

Katie Polglase, CNN, London.


GOLODRYGA: Our thanks to Katie for that report. Joining me now with more on this and what this means for the women of Afghanistan is Adela Raz, an

Afghan politician. She served as her country's last ambassador to the United States.

Adela Raz, welcome to the program from Washington.

I wish it was under better circumstances, but I think this is something we've become all too familiar with, just another edict against women in

Afghanistan. And this is much more than just about nails and hair, this was one of the last areas in bastions for women to congregate, to socialize, to


I was struck by what one Kabul female resident said about this move, and she said, "Parks are not allowed for women. So, it was a good place for us

to meet our friends. It was a good reason to see each other, to meet other women, other girls to talk about issues. Now, I don't know how to meet

them, how to see them, how to talk to each other. I think it will be very impactful for us and women around Afghanistan.

How are you coming to terms with this move?

ADELA RAZ, FORMER AFGHAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I -- it's really sad to witness what's happening in Afghanistan. The start of the last two years,

Taliban's takeover and then the restrictions that's arriving one after on the women of Afghanistan.

And as women of Afghanistan had always said, and we had predicted, this would be the worst time of our lives. We had experienced it 20 years ago.

22 years ago when -- for the first time Taliban arrived and they took power, and it's happening again, and I completely echo those women in

Afghanistan, and the one you had quoted, because for beauty salons it's not simply a space that's -- where some men may think it's not really important

for women, but it's a space of social gathering, it's a space of women coming together. And it really was the last face left.

The public parks are banned for a woman, the public baths are banned for women, women cannot work, women cannot study, they can't be outside. And

this was really the only place that they could come together.

In addition to the impact it's making in the lives of so many families, so many breadwinners in the household, it's already impacted about 60,000 jobs

that woman -- these bloody salons had created. So, it really is like, what else will come? And I -- and then, I have to be very pragmatic, worse may

come, worse even than what we are hearing and what we are seeing, because 22 years ago I lived in that country and I lived under the regime of the

Taliban, and I knew what it means as a woman to live and where every single hope and dream is taken away from you.

GOLODRYGA: What is worse, in your view, given that that is a country where you spent such a large part of your life and you still have family and

loved ones and friends there?

RAZ: Yes.

GOLODRYGA: What does even worse mean? What does that look like?

RAZ: Even the elementary schools being banned, even a woman, when they are outside, they can't even be by themselves, they have to be with a male



There was a what time we couldn't even wear white shoes. We were beaten up because of why we are wearing white shoes. I myself once was beaten up at

the time because I had an ice cream. And it was just because the shops did not had a space for women to sit and have an ice cream and we are wearing

burqas. And there is no way you can have an ice cream with burqa on. So, I literally stood by the wall, turned my face towards the wall with my mom

and I was having an ice cream when I was beaten up. So, that's what worse means.

GOLODRYGA: Going back to horrible times that you experience and I would imagine memories that you thought you'd never have to relive. This isn't

just the one terrible new circumstance that people in that country are dealing with. Obviously, it's women's rights, but it's economic issues as

well and suffering on that point in terms of food security.

How is all of this impacting those loved ones and family and friends that you still have there that you still talk with?

RAZ: It's impacting their lives in every sense and every level. I said it starts from hopes and aspirations, that it does not exist anymore, and on a

daily basis it's dying away. I spoke to a cousin of mine just over the Eid holidays, and he was telling me, if something will change for better, and

it was very sad for me and hard to tell him, maybe not.

And the same thing, it's -- when you live in complete isolation, where your economic power and purchasing power is reducing on a daily basis, where you

can dream better and bigger than what you see in front of you, when -- as a parent, I think, both as a mother and as a father, when you look at your

daughters, when you look at your children and you can't tell them, look, work hard because you're going to be A and B (ph) because those role models

just literally lived in a different time zone, in a different timeframe and it's not real anymore.

And it's a country that -- it was a poor country. It was already hit by drought. It was hit by COVID and we are still recovering post COVID,

economic and heavily dependent on foreign aid. And now -- and it's 45 percent of the population are women, and women cannot work right now. And

it's a country that -- it was in war for such a long time. So, a very large population of women are the single breadwinners in their households.

And right now, imagining that they can't bring food to their table, they can't be the role models for their children, they can't think of happiness.

They're completely eliminated from society. And I'm also thinking about those young men who's going to be raised in that society, what are they

going to be out of this? Because we're somehow creating a space to normalize all of this, and say, well, it's OK. It's happening, just live

with it.

GOLODRYGA: And we know that no society can effectively function with half of the population really marginalized at this scale. Christiane spoke to

the deputy Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani in May of 2022 on this issue. Listen to what he told her.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Many tell us that they feel that the Taliban wants them to stay at home and they are afraid

of some of the edicts that has a very chilling effect.

SIRAJUDDIN HAQQANI, DEPUTY TALIBAN LEADER (through translator): We keep naughty women at home.

AMANPOUR: OK. You need to explain that joke because people will think that's official policy, and maybe it is? What does that mean, naughty?

HAQQANI (through translator): What I am saying is that the national community is raising the issue of women's right a lot. Here in Afghanistan,

there are Islamic, national, cultural and traditional principles. Within the limits of those principles, we are working to provide them with

opportunities to work, and that is our goal.


GOLODRYGA: Now, he seems to be suggesting that there are splinters, perhaps rival factions between more moderates -- for Taliban purposes,

moderates versus more hardline members of leadership in -- as far as what rights can be allowed for women. How much do you read into his explanation,

and you take him at his word?

RAZ: Look, I think we have been debating that there are the hard-liners, and there are the probably the younger ones who may think differently. And

probably, it cannot be disagreed or this argued. But the practical impact in the ground right now, how much of those "the youngsters" could -- would

be able to stand against the hard-liners? I think that's a very impossible and difficult question to raise because it will never happen. That's number



And number two, I think in response to Afghan tradition and Afghan culture, look, I grew up my entire life in Afghanistan, and I have two daughters,

and I have named them after two brilliant women from Afghanistan as the role models, because in my culture, in my tradition, education was the

priority, and in my religion, education is an equal right both to men and women, and that's how I was raised. And yes, it's a traditional society in

a way how we dress up, but in terms of our rights, it's very progressive.

So, it's -- we should not take their words for when they are mitigating this towards the tradition, because this is not the tradition of

Afghanistan. It's not only me saying, this is the women of Afghanistan, and men from Afghanistan are saying the same thing. And if we look at the long

history in that country, it's strong evidence.

So -- and frankly speaking, to be very honest, I think even if we look into those youngsters who might be saying that, well, we're not as hard-liners

as our leaders, but their public statements, their formal statements when it comes out is exactly as the hard-liners are stating. And it has happened

even at the time when the Doha negotiations were happening.

If we go back and look into every formal statement that came out of the negotiations from the Taliban team, there was nothing that gives hope to

the women of Afghanistan to say those were the Taliban 2.0, a different version of them, because even then they stated very clearly, yes, they will

allow women, but according to Islam. And then, of course, that's where the gray area arrives, because their definition of what Islam is, is much

different than Muslim majority countries around the world.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Adela Raz, I hope that some of those other neighboring countries, the Muslim majority countries, can be some sort of an influence

to change the trajectory that the Taliban is taking the country, and specifically, with regards to women. And I do hope that your daughters can

one day come back to that country and live up to their name sakes. Thank you so much, Adela Raz, for your time.

RAZ: Thank you. Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: And still to come, I'm joined by the woman who wants to be Venezuela's next president. She tells me why President Maduro's government

is trying to stop her.



GOLODRYGA: Welcome back to the program. In Venezuela, the fight to bring democracy back is heating up as the 2024 presidential elections near. My

next guest is heading up that fight, as the favorite to win the opposition's leadership primary in October.

Right-wing politician Maria Corina Machado wants a "total transformation" of her country. But before the race has even begun, the government of

current President Nicolas Maduro has disqualified her from running and barred her from holding public office for 15 years.

Well, Maria Corina Machado joins me now from Caracas. Maria, welcome to the program.

Let's start with the news that you've not been barred from holding public office for 15 years. What does that mean in terms of your political future

in that country?

MARIA CORINA MACHADO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN: Well, thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be with you. Well, what it means in the

firsthand is that Maduro is scared, and that he knows that this democratic movement, that has awakened, is going day by day, and that we will defeat

him in the next presidential elections.

Certainly, they are desperate. And what they did, it's absolutely against our constitution. So, we won't recognize it, such as the rest of the

democratic world, and we will participate in the primary. They take place on October 22nd. And I'm sure that now we will win by even a higher margin.

GOLODRYGA: So, you can't, participate. You're allowed to participate in the primaries, because they are not funded or sanctioned by the government.

What ends up happening if you do become the nominee in the general election? If Nicolas Maduro just doesn't recognize you as a legitimate


We saw what happened with Juan Guaido, who ultimately has moved to the United States. What makes you think that your fight will end up any


MACHADO: Well, that's right and we are aware, as the rest of the world, that all last elections in Venezuela had been rigged and that the regime

will put many other obstacles in this process. But Venezuela has been changing very fast in the last month. The support that regime had, even in

their own armed forces, police or the Chavista (ph) movement is melting down. And the primary is a unique milestone to create strength, legitimacy

and bring the country together to the next step.

And we will have many obstacles, certainly, and that's why we require the International Community to accompany us, to put pressure and to make Maduro

understand that we will move in the true face of negotiation, that -- well, he will address us and it is on his own interest to accept that this is the

only way we will have specific movement ahead. And we are determined to achieve it. We are going all the way.

GOLODRYGA: What is the reception that you are receiving from western leaders, namely the United States, but all of those other countries who

initially recognized Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of the country? And I'm asking this because there was a point, whether it was the Trump

administration and the Biden administration, which followed, that was really focused on Venezuela and weakening Maduro's power.

They are in the country, whether it's through sanctions or constant attention. Now, things have shifted. The war in Ukraine has changed the

playing field, if for no other reason than the U.S. concern about stabilizing oil prices, some neighboring countries around Venezuela have

come around and begrudgingly worked closer with Maduro. Could you argue that his power is even stronger now than it was just a few years ago?

MACHADO: No, I don't think it stronger nowadays. I think that, certainly, the world knows that Maduro -- or Putin's main ally in the region is

Maduro, and that he has opened the gates of our country, not only to the Russians, but the Chinese and the Iranians, and the guerilla group and drug

cartels. And it certainly is a threat to the security of our hemisphere. As it is also with a growing migration of our country that it has gotten our

7.2 million Venezuelans, one-fourth of our population, making it the biggest migration crisis in the history of the Americas.

And this won't stop unless we solve the conflict the we're living in Venezuela. So, I do think that this new awakening of the Venezuelan people,

how this movement is growing day by day, how this last huge mistake of trying to disqualify me has turned against the regime has brought the

attention back towards Venezuela, because the world is starting to understand that we will defeat Maduro, and that the world should prepare to

accompany us in a transition process that will be sustained -- sustainable.


So, it is a huge threat. Yes, we are facing normal enormous risks, not only myself, but our teams are threatened constantly, that we will put -- we

will be detained or attacked. And we realize that this is a moment in which the whole Venezuelan people should come together, and the primary, that's

why it's so much -- so important because it will bring unity and legitimacy to this new leadership.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Maduro, as we know, was Hugo Chavez's handpicked successor. And under his leadership, he's turned that country into a near

failed state status since he's taken power. Venezuelan economy has shrunk by 75 percent, nearly 100 percent of the country is now living below the

poverty line. You mentioned the 7 million who have fled the country given these conditions, and now living abroad. Inflation is at 429 percent.

Why are we not seeing more people, more Venezuelans out in the street protesting against these horrific living conditions?

MACHADO: That's a good question. We've seen -- we've been in the streets for many, many years, Bianna, and the repression has been brutal. The

violation -- massive violations of human rights have been so severe that there is an investigation currently underway at the International Criminal


We have seen also, just hours ago, the United Nations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights stated a report that it's, you know,

heartbreaking in terms of tortures, all kind of killings and persecution. So, this kind of, let's say, repression, using hunger. Because I have to

say that over 9 million people are suffering starvation in Venezuela, and the regime has used the food stamps as a way to have social control. And

all this is melting down in this last month.

What mothers tell me around the country is that the regime cannot threaten them anymore with taking things away from them because they have lost the

most valuable thing they could have, which is their children that have left. So, this whole feeling sentiment that we want our kids back home has

brought our society very strongly together, and what we are fighting goes beyond a political struggle. This is a spiritual one, and that's why I'm

absolutely certain that we will prevail.

GOLODRYGA: It is stunning to see what's transpired in a country that was one of the world's richest countries at one point. And now, as you noted,

mothers cannot feed their children and cannot provide them with adequate medication.

You have been called the Iron Lady of the opposition. I know that you have long admired Margaret Thatcher as well. Before we get to your politics,

just talk about your stamina and your strength and lack of fear in the face of confronting these dictators. You have taken on Hugo Chavez. You have

taken on Nicolas Maduro to his face. What gives you the power and the strength to do that and not worry about the consequences?

MACHADO: Well, it's not only me, it's millions of us. And their testimony throughout the country is something that really inspires me. And I have

profound trust. I'm confident of what we Venezuelans will be able to do. And I also have three children that are abroad because my -- the lives of

my kids were threatened once, and I had to send them away.

And my dream, and the reason I work and I wake up every morning is because I want my kids back, and I want our family together. And that's the same

feeling that brings, as I said before, our country to fight at this time. And I'm certain that Venezuela has the potential to turn in this Graceland,

to be the energy hub of the Americas and to be a country in which we can bring back those who have left and also, produce democracy, strong

institutions and prosperity for all. And I think that's the great opportunity life has given us.

GOLODRYGA: One of the ways I know that you want to re-energize the economy is by -- through privatization, specifically through PDVSA, once the most

profitable oil company in the world.


Maria Corina Machado, we are out of time, but we'll have to have you back as you continue your struggle to stay in this fight and in the elections to

come. Thank you for your time.

MACHADO: Thank you. Thank you very much. It's a pleasure.

GOLODRYGA: Well, when we come back, record-breaking heat and disastrous floods. How countries around the globe are coping with the climate crisis.


GOLODRYGA: Welcome back. Well, torrential rains in Southwestern China have killed at least 15 people, with severe flooding forcing tens of thousands

from their homes. And now, there are fears that the floodwaters could cause devastating crop damage. Anna Coren has more.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): It was the last thing this couple was expecting on their engagement day.

While driving to the ceremony, a flash flood in China's central Hunan Province washed away the car. They're only salvation, scrambling to the

roof of the vehicle.

Rescuers used a drone to drop a rope and lifejackets to the pair before they were dragged to the riverbank by a crane.

The extreme flooding comes as several parts of China have been hit with torrential rain over the past month, killing at least 15 people in the

Southwestern City of Chongqing, according to local authorities and state media. And prompting four counties in the city to issue the highest red

alert warnings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We woke up this, morning and saw so much rain water. The floods submerged roads and crops.

COREN (voiceover): Neighboring Sichuan Province is also have been hard hit, with more than 85,000 residents have been displaced, prompting Chinese

leader, Xi Jinping, to order authorities to "give top priority to keeping residents safe and minimizing losses."

Continuous heavy rain just before the harvest threatens to ruin crops this year.

This farmer in China's central Hunan Province says heavy rain has drenched his wheat fields.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): After a few days of rain, the ground is very wet. And now, the harvester cannot enter the field. We

probably need to wait another four or five days to start harvesting. This is a real disaster.

COREN (voiceover): To help Hunan Province deal with harvest losses, China's finance ministry announced it will allocate nearly $28 million to

help the farmers. But severe damage to the crops could potentially push China to buy more wheat from the global market, where it's already expected

to see less supply as the ongoing war in Ukraine continues to curtail its grain exports.

DARIN FRIEDRICHS, CO-FOUNDER, SITONIA CONSULTING: If there is damage to the crop and we're still figuring out how much it is, then it's likely that

China will need to increase its imports next year, so that would obviously have an impact on global prices and an impact on global markets.


COREN (voiceover): With this seasonal rain slowly shifting north, Central China is now bracing for heavy rainfalls.

Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


GOLODRYGA: It seems no part of the earth is immune from this. From catastrophic rain to the extreme heat, the impact of climate change is

really being felt globally and with devastating effect.

This week alone saw the hottest global temperature ever recorded, with the average climbing more than 17 degrees Celsius on Tuesday. And experts are

warning that record could be broken several more times this year.

Joining me now to discuss is CNN's Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir. Bill, it is good to see you. As we just mentioned, this is the first of

what could be several records broken in a relatively short period of time. These may look like incremental increases in temperature, but talk about

the real-life implications from this.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it affects everything, all life on earth. If you think about human civilization, all have been the

sort of Goldilocks sweet spot, and we're moving out of that right now.

And here's a more stunning statistic when we think about the time scales here. The dataset in the United States goes back to 1979, warmest since

then. In Europe, Copernicus goes back to 1940, the warmest there. So, those two confirm each other.

But you talk to the real climatologist who study ice core samples and tree ring records going back millenia, this week is the warmest it's been in

100,000 years, they estimate.


WEIR: Right now. And so, we've built our modern world around a very specific sort of sweet spot that we've now moved out of. And World

Meteorological Organization predicted a couple of years ago that there would be a 66 percent chance that we would blow past the 1.5 Paris target

within the next three or four years. And this is how it would happen. You set a new record, which we did on Monday, break it on Tuesday, we tied it

yesterday. But it will be sort of like a whack-a-mole.

To mix metaphors here, you watch a man walk a dog on a beach, and you want to see where he's going, watch the man, not the dog. And these daily

temperature spikes are like the dog going erratically, whereas the trend over time. This last June was the warmest June ever recorded by far. And

then, the last nine Junes since then are the next warmest, nine warmest.

So, basically, the other thing we have to think about is this is now the coolest 4th of July we will experience for the rest of our lives.

GOLODRYGA: It is a horrifying trajectory that you've just laid out there. And I was struck by something that you had mentioned earlier on CNN today,

and that was a frightening measurement of just how much heat is now being absorbed by oceans in the form of atomic energy.

WEIR: Right.

GOLODRYGA: Explain what that means.

WEIR: Right. So, if -- after 150 years of using fuels that burn, we've built this sort of blanket, this quilt around the planet, and every second

of every day the earth holds in as much extra heat as 10 Hiroshima sized atomic bombs. That's just the extra energy that's going into the system. 90

percent of that is held in the oceans. It's sort of like you take a cold bath tub and heat it up one kettle at a time, it takes a long time, but a

certain point, you're doing it.

Well, our kettles went from five Hiroshima's per second, just a few years, ago to 10 per second right now. And a result -- and that's a result of this

disappearing sea ice at both ends of the earth. Antarctica is missing enough sea ice that is about the size of India just in the last couple

years. So, instead of that white ice reflecting sunlight, the dark seas are absorbing it, which just speeds this up.

GOLODRYGA: Doubling in scale in just a few years. You know, every time we have a climatologist on and even when I hear you speak there's always that

window of optimism that we're not all doomed yet. There is something that we can do. How worried are you that that window is shutting so incredibly

quickly and what are experts telling you?

WEIR: Yes. I mean, a lot of these things are coming up on us much faster than ever predicted. And so, now, not only do we have to think about

mitigating the source of the problem, which humanity has shown no real interest in decarbonizing yet, at scale. So, not only at mitigating but

adapting, hardening cities, to higher seas, bigger storms, hotter heat waves.

And yes, it's going to change policy. Heat will move us. It's the hidden killer. It kills more than all the other naturalist disasters combined. It

preys on older folks and older houses, northern latitudes. And as the sport becomes most prevalent, those are the most vulnerable that need to be

protected as well.

But yes, how bad it gets is completely in our hands. And you look at Texas, what just happened in the last week during our heat dome, renewables saved

their grid and saved them billions of dollars in spiking fossil fuel costs that have happened during a heat wave, when the man gets ahead of it. And

so, wind and solar, which is booming in Texas, is proof that a cleaner world is possible. It's all a matter of how fast we get there in a sort of

a just way. But it's here. Unfortunately, it's here.


GOLODRYGA: And listen, you need no further proof of things changing when wind and solar becomes sort of the saving grace for Texas in the middle of

a brutal, brutal heat wave. And someone from Texas who is used to that kind of weather, let me tell you this is something that most Texans have never

experienced ever in the past.

Bill, thank you as always. I love how you said, you know, at some point we will all be climate reporters. Thankfully, we have you as our chief climate

reporter here. Thank you.

WEIR: Yes. You bet.

GOLODRYGA: Finally, a groundbreaking development for Alzheimer's patients. The first drug proven to slow down the memory decaying disease is expected

to be approved in the U.S. later today. Now, while it isn't a cure, declines in brain function could be slowed by nearly 30 percent in those

with early forms of the condition.

The treatment does come with a high price tag, costing over $26,000 a year. But hopefully, it could be covered by Medicare. Neurologists say this marks

the beginning of a new era. And that is some hope for optimism there where science and innovation come together to help humanity.

And that it is it for now. Thank you so much for watching. You can catch us online, on our podcast and across social media. Have a great day and

goodbye from New York.