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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Belarus/Poland Migrant Crisis; Chile's President Impeached; Austria's Unique Vaccine Hub. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired November 09, 2021 - 17:00   ET


BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Tonight, gangster regime. The EU makes stark remarks against the Belarusian president as thousands of migrants gather at the Polish border.

Then, Chile's president is impeached one week before the nation heads to the ballot box.

And how do you combat vaccine hesitancy? One Austrian brothel, yes, you heard that correctly, has a unique approach.

An increasingly severe humanitarian crisis triggered by a political showdown is unfolding right now on the freezing border between Poland and



Thousand of migrants, mostly from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, are marooned in a forested no man's land just inside Belarus, trying to push

their way into Poland. They're facing frigid temperatures and sparse supplies of food, water, shelter and medical care. Some are chopping trees

for firewood, while others are huddling together in tents, wonder field goal they have been tricked to come there and hoping for a miracle. A few

have made it across, but even their situation is dire.


JAKUB SUPIENIEWSKI, TRANSLATOR, GRUP GRANICA: The woman who is here, the grandma of the children that you see has a medical condition that prevents

her from walking normally. She had this condition in Kurdistan and aggravated when they were wondering between the trees and swamps.


NOBILO: For most, Poland is holding them back, refusing to let them cross. The E.U. accused Belarus of acting like gangsters, luring them with false

promises and pushing them to the border as revenge for sanctions. Belarus' prime minister told his soldiers' authoritarian leader has launched a war

against them.


MATEUSZ MORAWIECKI, POLISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Lukashenko's regime uses evidence of a hybrid war. What we see are new and

we are a bastion against them.


NOBILO: Belarus, of course, denies all of this. Yet Lukashenko is rattling sabers of his own in a not so veiled threat to Poland.


ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In the modern world, taking up arms is like death. It's suicide. You must agree.

And even more so here in the center of Europe, and even more so with Belarus. After all, here on this piece of land in the center, all wars have

always unfolded, from here everything began. Does history teach you nothing?


NOBILO: But as the physical tensions grow, so does the desperation of the migrants. People seeking peace and safety, who have now become victims of a

dangerous international conflict.

Joe Lowry of the International Organization for Migration is among those pleading for compassion and access so they can provide humanitarian aid. He

told us a short time ago it's heartbreaking that the migrants are so close yet so far from help.


JOE LOWRY, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION: The immediate concern is for people dying of hypothermia, and quickly, because already there's

been possibly a dozen or more deaths. There's reports of people coming across bodies in the forest, extremely worried with the winter conditions

coming in. People are there with no shelter, no warm food, with no water, with no blankets, no warm clothes. And, particularly, it's heartbreaking to

see really small children in these circumstances.

We have to remember, this has been going on for weeks and months already, but on a smaller scale, and people have been dying already, even towards

the late summer and, people were still -- passing away from exposure, hypothermia. People just aren't prepared to be -- stuck under the open


And now with the winter coming in, that really is a bitter winter, if anyone knows the west of Belarus, the east of Poland, it gets very, very

cold, and it stays cold. It's normally foggy, and just it will be so depressing for these people, because they are within touching distance of

humanitarian aid, or they should be, and at the moment we're not able to get anything to people.

We're trying to get access, urging governments to give us access. But so far, that conversation is still going on, and as I'm talking, we don't yet

have access, even though we have been asking for it for quite some time.


NOBILO: CNN's Fred Pleitgen has visited the growing refugee camps in Eastern Germany, where many migrants who cross are heading and he joins us

now from Berlin.

Fred, we've been hearing pretty belligerent rhetoric from President Lukashenko.

So, at the end of the day, what and who can actually stop Belarus from using tactics and people in this way?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's certainly the big question that European officials are asking, especially

since, of course, Alexander Lukashenko continues to have to full support of Vladimir Putin. So there are some European leaders -- in fact, the majority

of the European leaders, probably, who essentially want to try and stop Alexander Lukashenko from allowing those migrants to continue to come to

that boarder and essentially make him stop what he's doing now, and they believe the way to do that is possibly stronger sanctions.

In fact, the European Union said today that they wanted to tighten sanctions on the Lukashenko regime, on Lukashenko personally.

There's also another strain the European Union is following as well, and that is also trying to essentially make the airlines who are flying people

into Belarus who then try to go to the borders to make them stop what they are doing. There's been talk of sanctioning the airlines, blacklisting some

of these airlines.

That has not happened yet. That is also one of the things European officials have been talking about is putting that into action. Now, the

spokesman for the European Union's foreign policy chief, he said today he believes that some of these sanctions against Lukashenko are already


I want you to listen to what he had to say.


PETER STANO, EU FOREIGN AFFAIRS SPOKESMAN: Why do we have a reason to believe that the sanctions are biting? Because Lukashenko regime starts to

behaves as a gangster regime, because it's hurting them, and they don't know what else to do, so they try to undermine the European Union by

attacking and launching a hybrid attack against the member state of European Union.


PLEITGEN: As you see there, there are some European official who is believe Alexander Lukashenko is on the defensive, however, there are many

in the European Union and certainly internationally who don't believe sanctions are going to have much of an effect, especially as long as

Vladimir Putin keeps backing Lukashenko. And some of the things, of course, that we've seen since we've had that uprising happen, and those protests

happen in Belarus, and obviously the crackdown by the Belarusian regime is that sanctions have been in place, and so far, certainly, the behavior of

Alexander Lukashenko has not changed.

Now, the Poles clearly are going in a very different direction. They believe way to stop all this is essentially by staying strong, by shutting

the border down, and not letting anybody through. And certainly, the Poles are saying they're not going to be deterred from that course. Just this

evening the Polish defense minister says yes, there is an emergency system at the border, yes, Poland believes they're being attacked at that border,

but he also says he believes the Polish security forces have that situation under control and the Poles are willing to escalate and, of course, have

said they want to build a permanent wall at that border, Bianca.

NOBILO: And Fred, just briefly, obviously, you have spent a huge amount of time in Moscow and this part of Europe as well. Given the actions we're

seeing now from Belarus result in prior sanctions, what effect do you think more sanctions will actually have on this scenario, especially given as you

point out President Putin is backing Belarus in this respect? Now, we don't know necessarily the nature of that backing, but we can assume that Putin

would receive political and strategic satisfaction from standing up to Europe in this way.

PLEITGEN: Yeah. I mean, certainly. One of the things we can see is Vladimir Putin is still very much backing Alexander Lukashenko. In fact,

they had a phone call today where both of them voiced their concern, as they put it about the actions Poland has been taken.

And to your point, your point, Bianca, I think it is very valid to assume in the short-term, further sanctions probably will not have very much of an

effect on Alexander Lukashenko unless they're really biting sanctions. But, of course, one of the things that European leaders have to look at as well

is are these sanctions or any type of sanctions going to hurt the Belarusian people more than they hurt the Belarusian regime, more than they

hurt the people in power?

Certainly if we look at the track record of sanctions, especially in the context of Belarus, it's very difficult to see that sanctions in the short-

term would make a difference to what's going on there and the many people stuck there, Bianca.

NOBILO: Absolutely, the humanitarian cost would be so high.

Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much for joining the program. Great to hear from you.

The French president is warning that Europe may be facing a dangerous fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. France is betting on booster shots to

fight it. Emmanuel Macron says starting mid-December, anyone over 65 who's not had a booster will not be able to revalidate their health pass.

Meanwhile, England's health minister says the country plans to require vaccines for all health workers next spring if that passes a parliamentary


Russia claims that it's week-long nationwide workplace shutdown helped turn the tide in its surging cases, but today, officials reported the largest

one-day death toll of the pandemic so far.

And a group of hospitals in the Netherlands says the country could soon be headed straight for disaster. They want more government action to stop the

virus. Infections in the Netherlands are approaching all-time highs, even though the vaccination rate is around 85 percent.

Cyril Vanier is here to talk with us now, more about France's plans to give more people booster shots.

Cyril, great to see you.

Let's hear more from you about Emmanuel Macron's plans and also how you think they're going to be perceived by the French public.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that recent history shows us that this is likely to work.


It was four months ago the last time that the president addressed the TV in a solemn national address this way, and at the time, he was saying that the

-- he announced the creation of the health pass, and he announced mandatory vaccination for health-care workers.

Now, that was very controversial, caused no end of protests, but yet both worked because health-care workers are now vaccinated, and the health pass

has become a standard part of daily life for the 75 percent of French people who have been vaccinated.

And without the health pass it's very difficult to get access to bars, restaurants, cinemas, museums, sports, sporting entertainment, et cetera,

et cetera. You can if you get a test done, but of course it's not something you do every day, so really you need to health pass to live a normal life.

So, that tells me that people are going to get it. That and the fact that we're talking about over 65s, they're a part of the population that are

over 90 percent vaccinated.

They're favorable to vaccines. They understand they're the most favorable. Those two things combined tell me there is going to be a surge in

appointments, which has already begun, in fact, Bianca, for over-65s to get their booster dose before mid-December.

NOBILO: Latvia is struggling to deal with the sheer amount of coronavirus deaths. In the country's second largest city, bodies of patients who died

from COVID are piling up. One hospital is hiding the location of its makeshift morgue, worried that anti-vaccine activists may try to break in,

seeking allege proof this virus is a hoax. Grave diggers can't dig fast enough.


ALEXANDR NIKIFOROV, GRAVEDIGGER (through translator): Some days there are 16 people dead.

REPORTER: Sixteen people per day?

NIKIFOROV: Yes, COVID related.


NOBILO: As in much of central Europe, vaccine hesitancy runs deep in this Latvian town. Officials blame misinformation and widespread public mistrust

in government, but the price of low vaccination rates is now impossible to ignore.


ANDREJS ELKSNINS, DAUGAVPILS, LATVIA MAYOR (through translator): The opinions and thoughts differ across the government itself. Direct, honest,

and open dialogue is missing and there were attempts to play the ethnic card, even in these circumstances.

The number of deaths reached a point where everybody in Daugavpils knows an acquaintance, friend, or neighbor with this disease, and then people

understood, it is serious.


NOBILO: Let's take a look at the other key coronavirus stories making international impact today. Thousands of people gathered outside New

Zealand's parliament Tuesday. They want to government to drop its COVID vaccine mandates and to ease restrictions. New Zealand has been fighting an

outbreak of the highly infectious delta variant.

People who are, quote, "unvaccinated by choice" will no longer be able to get free COVID-19 treatment in Singapore. The city state currently covers

all medical costs for infected citizens, permanent residents and long-term visa holders. Right now, 86 percent of eligible people in Singapore are

vaccinated. And hours ago, Canada authorized using a booster dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for those 18 and older. Health experts hope it will

get people additional protection against the delta variant.

The international community is scrambling to try to bring peace between the Ethiopian government and rebel TPLF forces. The U.S. envoy to Africa thinks

there is a, quote, small window to work with the African Union to de- escalate the situation, but as Ethiopia's ambassador to the U.N. referred to the TPLF as a criminal group on Monday, dialogue between the two be some

way off.

Earlier, my colleague Becky Anderson asked the Ethiopian president's press secretary about the state of emergency in the country, and the accusations

that the government is detaining people based on ethnicity.


BILLENE SEYOUM, PRESS SECRETARY TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF ETHIOPIA: Their enactment is not to target any particular person based on the identity that

they're aligned to. The state of emergency is put in place to protect the Ethiopian people, to protect the residents of Addis Ababa, who have been

told with very, very fierce rhetoric coming from the TPLF that we are going to siege or come into Addis Ababa. It's important for the state of

emergency to put in place a mechanism that anybody who's trying to threaten the stability or the peace that is within the capital city is thoroughly

addressed as well.


NOBILO: But, as the spokesperson for the TPLF outlined on the same program, the rebels simply don't believe this is the case.


GETACHEW REDA, TPLF SPOKESPERSON: Abiy has been ratcheting up genocidal violence against the people of Tigray, and anyone who he thinks is standing

in the way of his genocidal campaign.


Abiy from the get-go has never been interest in the peace, has never been interested in democracy, has never been interested in reforms. He was

mostly interest in making sure that the entire Ethiopian population cowed into submission, were cowed into submission.


NOBILO: Daniel Ortega has won a fourth consecutive term as Nicaragua's president after putting his rivals behind bars. But the wave of political

repression doesn't stop at the country's borders. We'll have a live report.

And lawmakers in another Latin American country are sending their president a message taxpayer, the last phase of his time in office could be shadowed

in shame.


NOBILO: Financial secrets exposed. High ranking politicians criticized for offshore accounts and now a vote to impeach a sitting president. All

consequences of the Pandora Papers, leaked documents released a month ago that released financial details of the world's richest people.

After a lengthy debate, lawmakers in Chile have voted to impeach President Sebastian Pinera based on tax evasion allegations from those papers. 78

votes were needed and that's exactly how many were received, approving the first part of the impeachment process.

Stefano Pozzebon is watching the fallout from the release of the Pandora Papers and he joins us now live from Bogota, with more perspective on the

political developments happening in Chile and what the long-term ramifications could be for President Pinera and others.

Stefano, it's great to see you, and that's really the point that I want to focus on. I mean this is just cataclysmic to see the first president in

this region being formally impeached. What impact is that going to have on the elections later in November?

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, correct, Bianca. We are talking about a president who is already in very dire straits, frankly. Pinera's approval

rating was less than 20 percent, just last month.

But this definitely sends a message to the other politicians who are jousting at the ballots in about ten days' time when Chileans will head to

the polls to elect a new president on November 21st, but also to the rest of the political class in Latin America. Pinera was not the only president,

the sitting president, who has been linked to scandals thanks to the Pandora Paper global investigations.

Other were named, the president of Ecuador, for example, Guillermo Lasso, will he face a similar fate as the Chilean president? Of course, there are

big questions towards the rest of Latin American classes.

And this also, Bianca, we can't underestimate the economic impact that COVID-19 has had across the region.


While some of the leading politicians in these part of the world have been linked with tax havens and secret accounts in the Pandora paper

investigations, millions of Latin Americans have gone hungry as a result of COVID-19, which had an incredible impact on local economies.

We have seen just last week the United passing a $1.2 trillion program to boost the economy, to try to build back better after COVID-19. Nobody in

Latin America has the capacity or the firepower to do that.

And on the scene, the leading politicians, who should take a leadership role, and moral leadership on this issue, have been linked to such a

contentious scandal like the Pandora Paper and it's going to make things worst in the future. It's not just Chile. We have elections in Columbia and

Brazil next year.

So a lot to talk about here in Latin America -- Bianca.

NOBILO: Indeed. I'm sure we'll be coming back and talking about all those things. Stefano Pozzebon, thanks so much.

Daniel Ortega has clinched a fourth consecutive term at Nicaragua's president. He won in a landslide, which isn't a surprise. Even before the

vote, many were calling it a sham. Several candidates were thrown into jail ahead of the election, and as he celebrated his victory yesterday, Ortega

had this to say.


DANIEL ORTEGAN, NICARAGUAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Those who are in prison are the sons of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) of the Yankee imperialists.

They should take them to the United States, because they are not Nicaraguan. They stopped being Nicaraguan a long time ago. They have no

country. Long live blessed Nicaragua.


NOBILO: Dozens of Daniel Ortega's rivals are behind bars and it's been happening at dizzying speed. Some countries in the region say they won't

recognize the results. And the same goes for many Nicaraguans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The elections were not real, because the candidates who were endorsed by the people, little by little,

were imprisoned before the elections. So there were no candidates that people trusted. Or maybe people wanted someone different, not always the

same people, because that is where democracy lays, in the freedom of choice.


NOBILO: Some international journalists, including CNN's Matt Rivers haven't been allowed in the country to cover the election.

So, Matt, you have been following this very closely. I'm curious, we just heard a sound bite from somebody speaking about the election, but what

sense do you have about the public sentiment towards those remarks we just heard from Ortega, Ortega and, the election in general? Must be quite

difficult to glean -- you know, taking the temperature of what they're thinking when there's no dissent tolerated in the country.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Of course, and there's no, you know, credible polling that you can point to, for example, Bianca, which can give

you a broader sense of what the population is feeling. So as a result, we're left to just reline lie on different indicators. One, the

conversations we're having with people inside the country, all day long on Sunday, but also going back, weeks, months, even years. You know, we

consistently spoke to people inside Nicaragua.

And on Sunday, we heard two kind of prevailing themes from people inside the country. One, these elections were a joke. One woman called them a

circus. And there was a lot of disappointment that it came to this. There was a lot of thought in Nicaragua going back to several years ago when

protests were happening in 2018 that at least there would be elections in 2021. At least in 2021, there would be a chance for Nicaragua to be put on

a freer and more Democratic bath.

And, of course, as you just explained, that wasn't the case. So there was a lot of deep disappointment and sadness and anger among Nicaraguans, but I

think the other side of it is there's a sense of resilience, a sense of frustration, a sense of what can we do to fight back.

And one quite form of protests that we saw in Nicaragua on Sunday was people simply not showing up to vote. The government officially said that

some 65 percent of its voting population turned out. I don't think you can trust government figures at all coming out of the Ortega regime for a

number of different reasons. But if you look at some independent groups, for example, there was one NGO based in Nicaragua, that said some 80

percent of the voting public did not show up to vote. That is consistent with what we heard from people inside the country that said, why are we

going to vote in these sham elections? This is our kind of quite protests that we can engage in. If we can't go on the streets, we can at least not

participate in the coronation of a dictator.

NOBILO: Matt Rivers, thanks so much for your reporting as ever, and hopefully we can check back in with you soon and get a sense of how change

might be affected from outside. Thanks so much.

Now, Boris Johnson is usually a fan of Greek mythology, but today, a Scottish MP declared Pandora's box marked Tories sleaze has been opened.


And with the support of others, he called for the Metropolitan Police to investigate allegations of a link between donors to Johnson's conservative

party and those who get a seat in Britain's House of Lords.

This come as Johnson faces the fury of MPs, including his own as the Tories sleaze scandal rolls into a second week. British newspaper are now

indicting the earnings of his MPs, looking for any possible connections between their private earnings and political influence. The deputy prime

minister, Dominic Raab, maintains the government has followed the rules.

You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: Vaccines with benefits. An Austrian brothel is handing out vouchers over 40 euros for anyone over 18 who agrees to get vaccinated.

Funpalast in Vienna, which describes itself as a sex star sauna club says it's well-placed to help out the government.


PETER LASKARIS, MANAGER, FUNPALAST BROTHEL: Many men, many men with a migration background refuse vaccination or don't know you can be vaccinated

and since we're actually reaching this target group, we decided to set up a vaccination straight here.


NOBILO: The offer comes after the Austrian government banned unvaccinated people from public spaces, like hotels and restaurants in a bid to

encourage vaccine uptake. And it seems to be working. The clinic gave out 149 jabs on Monday, and everyone accept a voucher.

Mina who works there as one of the girls says the offer makes perfect sense.


MINA, SHOWGIRL, FUNPALAST BROTHEL (through translator): Well, I think it's a very good idea to have a vaccination street in the Funpalast because the

name Funpalast suggests fun and that suggests going back to normal a bit.


NOBILO: The brothel lost 30 percent to 40 percent of clients during the pandemic and owners are hoping a it will be a win-win situation, more

vaccinated people in the city and more business at the brothel.

I do like to finish the show on a happy ending. Thanks for watching, everybody. See you tomorrow. Good night.