Return to Transcripts main page

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Europe Ramps Up COVID Messaging; Latin American Elections; Pillow Fighting Championships. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired November 22, 2021 - 17:00   ET



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

Making international impact tonight -- get vaccinated. The message in Europe couldn't be clearer right now. But how will they sway those who are


Then, deteriorating democracies. Latin America is seeing a wave of elections. We look at how the results could impact the region.

And pillow fighting championships. Yes, you heard me correctly. No, I won't tell you anymore. You'll have to wait.

Vaccinated, recovered, or dead. Germany's health minister starkly warning that those are the only options when it comes to combating COVID this


Today, authorities across Europe are continuing to ramp up their public messaging on vaccinations. For some countries, it's already too late to

avoid more restrictions. Austria is now in a full lockdown, the chancellor telling CNN earlier this is a direct result of vaccine hesitancy.


ALEXANDER SCHALLENBERG, AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR: Obviously, there will be controls as there have been in the past, but my appeal is -- and that's the

thing that saddens me most -- we have enough vaccines. We have -- science gave us the possibility, the exit ticket off this vicious circle of virus

waves and lockdown discussions, and simply not enough people are using this possibility and taking this exit ticket.


NOBILO: Vaccine centers in Vienna and Salzburg are already reporting a significant uptick in vaccinations following the new measures.

So, will surrounding countries now follow in Austria's footsteps? On Monday, the Czech Republic and Slovakia banned unvaccinated people from

most public places. A Slovak news website then again reports that the Slovakian government could debate a lockdown proposal on Wednesday.

But as we've mentioned, not everyone in Europe is on board with the new measures in place, or those that are coming, far from it. Over the weekend,

we've seen massive protests. In Austria, some of those demonstrators were organized by far right political parties.

As CNN Salma Abdelaziz reports, resistance is growing louder, but officials are not backing down on these measures.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Restrictions met with resistance on the streets of Vienna. COVID cases are on the rise, and so is

public anger. An estimated 40,000 people attended this anti-government demonstration.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We say no to that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all have a choice. What to do with our body all of us.

ABDELAZIZ: Nearly one in three Austrians are unvaccinated. Authorities blame fake news and far right politics for the slow uptake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if something like this is necessary in Austria or in Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That people are being treated like children, they are not allowed to make their own decisions.

ABDELAZIZ: As night fell, tensions rose several were arrested and two police officers injured.

But Austria's largest vaccination center, we find restrictions are quietly working. Rules targeting the unvaccinated have forced some to come forward

up to 20 percent here are getting their first shot official said.

Jaro Slav (ph) is among the reluctant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I gave into the government's block map he said I wanted to wait but the government had other plans for me.

ABDELAZIZ: The government here is fed up with the unvaccinated. Austria plans to be the first country in Europe to acquire, mandate all eligible

persons to be immunized and the deadline is soon February 1st.

Expert Peter Klimek says it's time for desperate measures.

Will this vaccine mandates work?

PETER KLIMEK, ADVISER TO AUSTRIAN HEALTH MINISTRY: What we believe is that this is mandatory vaccinations and if this is executed properly, then at

least we should be able to avoid chaos situations in the hospitals.

ABDELAZIZ: For now, Vienna's beloved Christmas markets must close. A nationwide lockdown could last up to 20 days. And even when restrictions

are lifted, rules will remain in place for the unvaccinated. The government's message, holiday joy is for the immunized.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, Vienna.


NOBILO: France's president says protests against COVID restrictions in Guadeloupe has become very explosive. For two weeks, there's been a general

strike in the Caribbean territory and violence erupted in the last four days. It's left burnt our cars and debris in the capital city.


Food stores and pharmacies are looted and several dozen people arrested.

French media reported that rioters broke into an arms depot in the Capitol and took rifles.


WILLY ROMANOS, POINTE-A-PITRE RESIDENT: A lot of people began to stole. They stole all the -- in the city, and I have in front of me it's La Clou

(ph). So, the store, and after they put fire. And fire all building burn, but after I don't know how to cross over the street. And the fire came to

my building. So I lost everything.


NOBILO: Australia is trying to get its economy back on track of some of the toughest COVID restrictions we've seen. Fully vaccinated foreign visa

holders will soon be allowed in. They're mostly skilled workers and international students who are worth ten of billions of dollars a year to

the economy.


SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: People coming back to Australia will mean jobs on the ground around the country. So, we're looking forward

that because that will secure that economic recovery.


NOBILO: Australia's borders have been closed since March 2020, and much of the country still requires inbound travelers to undergo two week of hotel

quarantine at their own expense.

New Zealand is also easing some restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated. Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern says the entire country will soon

have what's called a traffic light system based on vaccinations. New Zealand abandoned its zero COVID strategy last month but Auckland, the

largest city, is still under lockdown and has seen protests over that in recent weeks.

Now, Lithuania's president says he received assurances that Germany is not trying to make a separate deal with Belarus over the migrant crisis. State-

owned media in Minsk reported the President Lukashenko offered Germany a plan to have Europe take in 2,000 migrants. Germany denies that.

Lithuania's president spoke after he met with troops at the nation's border with Belarus.


GITANAS NAUSEDA, LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I can say very clearly there are no agreements on the division of the migrants, 5,000

migrants or 2,000 migrants. This did not take place.

Our red lines are very well known, and that there is no possibility of recognizing that the man who calls him Belarus' president. This is a man

who did not win the election. He falsified the election. Nothing has changed so our outlook opportunity situation also did not change.


NOBILO: Polish border guards say hundreds of migrants tried to cross Sunday with some Belarusian guards creating distractions to help. Poland's

prime minster visited the border and warns the crisis could lead to something much worse.

Ukraine's defense ministry says it's forces conducted more military exercises Monday as Russia continues its troop buildup near the border. The

head of Ukrainian military intelligence says Russia is preparing to invade early next year. The Kremlin calls that absolutely false and a smear

campaign. A spokesman said Russia is worried about Ukraine building up its borders.


DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN (through translator): Ukraine likely pursued a military solution to their problem to create one more disaster

for themselves and everyone in Europe. This is what Ukraine tends to achieve, and it is trying to achieve it under the shelter of NATO exercise.

This is, of course, heartbreaking because this will entail serious consequences.


NOBILO: Moscow says the west is stirring up hysteria. Monday, the top American military spoke with Ukraine's top general, as the U.S. weighs

sending adviser and weapons to Ukraine.

So, why are Washington and NATO making so much noise when they don't know exactly what Vladimir Putin intends?

Nic Robertson explains.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Bianca, I think part of the answer to that question is quite simply U.S. technical intelligence

agencies don't have a good understanding of what Vladimir Putin is thinking. Several sources have told CNN recently that they don't have, you

know, that inside analysis from within the Kremlin, and therefore when Putin is building up, you know, what is almost 100,000 U.S. troops on the

border with tanks, with battle equipment, with special forces, with military intelligence units, domestic intelligence units, that is

potentially a very threatening thing.

They're not seeing the big trail back which would indicate there's a logistic supply chain in place, you know, ammunition, fuel, et cetera, for

an immediate advance, but the reality is that absent strong understanding or even some kind of understanding of which way Putin is leaning on this,

is it for show or something more concrete?


Absent that, you know, NATO really has to be prepared for the potential of responding or posturing at least, to put President Putin off any kind of

advance into Ukraine, and Putin, you know, is on record as saying he's not going give up Crimea, which he an annexed from Ukraine. So, you know,

strategically, it's important to him.

So there is a value for him for putting troops inside Ukraine to help secure that over the long run -- Bianca.


NOBILO: Nic Robertson, thank you.

Let's take a look at the other key international stories today a U.S.-based Christian group says 2 of 17 missionaries who were kidnap in the Haiti have

been released and are in good spirits. It didn't provide any information about those still in captivity. A gang kidnapped the American and Canadian

missionaries last month, including five children, demanding $1 million in ran some for each.

A Sudanese official tells CNN Prime Minster Abdullah Hamdok had to, quote, accept humiliation for the sake of his country and cut a deal with the army

to be reinstate in the his post. Mr. Hamdok says he did it to stop a bloody crackdown on civilians protesting last month's military coup.

El Salvador's president says his country will build the world's first bitcoin city, founded initially by cryptocurrency-backed bonds. It's

already the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. The president says the city would be powered by geothermal energy from a

volcano and wouldn't have any taxes other than a value add tax.

The Beijing Olympics are just months away, but calls for a boycott are growing. At the center of all of this is Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai

who's apparently resurfaced. She vanished from public view a few weeks ago after accusing a former official of abuse. The International Olympic

Committee says it's spoken to her and that she's doing fine, but the committee is coming under fire itself, accused of rolling over for the

Chinese communist party.

Will Ripley explains.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Free Peng Shuai, the growing call of protesters --


RIPLEY: -- politicians, professional athletes.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC, PRO TENNIS PLAYER: We just have to unite and stand together --

RIPLEY: A global outcry for the Chinese tennis star many fear is being silenced.

ENES KANTER, BOSTON CELTICS PLAYER: It's time to speak up, because there's less than 100 days to the Winter Olympics.

RIPLEY: The International Olympic Committee trying to calm the controversy. An IOC statement seems to support the Chinese government

narrative, that the three-time Olympian is safe and well, despite growing concern for her freedom.

The IOC hanged out this single image of a 30-minute video call between Peng, IOC President Thomas Bach, and two other officials. The IOC not

giving CNN access to the video, asking to, quote, respect her privacy.

An IOC official on the call says, I was relieved to see that Peng Shuai was doing fine, which was our main concern.

Some suggest the governing body's real concern is not Peng, but profits.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: The International Olympic Committee sitting there as they always do, basically doing nothing.

RIPLEY: The IOC statement fails to mention Peng's explosive allegations three weeks ago, that a now retired communist party leader, Zhang Gaoli

photographed with the IOC's Bach in 2016 sexually assaulted her. Peng's post scrubbed from Chinese social media.

State media releasing videos of Peng over the weekend, videos many suspect are staged, showing the doubles grand slam champion out and about in

Beijing at a youth tennis tournament, smiling but not talking. At a famous restaurant, where the conversation just happens to repeatedly mention the

exact date the video was supposedly filmed.

CNN has no way to verify the authenticity of the video clips. We can't confirm when they were taken or who took them. The videos shared on

Twitter, a platform blocked inside China. Chinese state media eagerly tweeting updates and images of Peng, totally ignoring the story in their

own country.

CNN's coverage of her cut off by Chinese censors.

Unlike the IOC, the Women's Tennis Association prepared to pull hundred of millions of dollars in business out of China, demanding direct

communication with Peng, unmonitored, uncensored.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


NOBILO: The fiance of a slain journalist is calling on pop star Justin Bieber to cancel a concert in Saudi Arabia. Hatice Cengiz was engaged to

marry Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudi agents in 2018.

In an open letter for "The Washington Post", she wrote, do not sing for the murders of my beloved Jamal. Please speak out and condemn his killer,

Mohammad bin Salman.


Your voice will be heard by millions.

The Saudi crown prince has always denied involvement. Bieber and other musicians are scheduled to perform at a Formula 1 race. Activists in the

past have accused Saudi Arabia of bringing big name stars to improve its image and to distract from criticism of its human rights record.

Now, in parts of Latin America, democracy appears to be on life support. We'll look at recent elections condemned around the world as being neither

free nor fair, just ahead.


NOBILO: A tiny country in Latin America is holding elections this weekend that will have consequences far beyond its borders. Honduras will choose a

new president in a vote that could dramatically shift its domestic and foreign policy. Top candidates held their final rallies Sunday.

Nasry Asfura is trying to extend the ruling party's grip on power but could face an uphill battle against leftist Xiomara Castro. She favors

establishing relations with China, which could mean ending diplomatic support of Taiwan. She's also pledging to tackle problems closer to home.


XIOMARA CASTRO, HONDURAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): We say enough to so much thieving, so much corruption, and drug trafficking.

No more suffering for the Honduran people.


NOBILO: A U.S. official is visiting Honduras today, calling for free, fair and transparent elections.

Matt Rivers looks at concerns that democracy is being eroded across the entire region.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you are a fan of democracy, November has been a very bad month in Latin America. The latest

example, Venezuela, which held local and regional elections on Sunday. President Nicolas Maduro claiming victory for his party which won 21 of 24

state governorships.

He says the result is a result of our hard work and our honesty. Critics though and the outcome was already determined. The votes can't be trust

they say in a country where Maduro controls state institutions, allegations, of course, voting and violence against opposition members

during yesterday's vote have already surfaced.

And then there's Nicaragua where November 7, President Daniel Ortega won another term in what can only be described as sham elections. His regime

unleashed a campaign of political terror back in June, arresting any prominent would be opposition candidates and tossing them in jail.

Those in jail are sons of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) of the imperialist Yankees, he says, they're no longer Nicaraguans.

We even tried to get into Nicaragua ourselves to see what was happening there, but authorities deported my team in just a few hours. In his victory

speech, Ortega spoke about journalists like us.

These scoundrels want to come cover the elections. We already know they're employees of the American intelligence agencies.


So, Ortega wins a fourth consecutive term, and Nicaraguan democracy is on life support.

But it's not just those three countries that are having problems. This is a map from Freedom House, a pro-democracy research group. And each country is

given a score that measure its liberal democracy. Green means an improving score. And as you can see, there's not a lot of green on this map.

From 2019 to 2020, nearly every country in Latin America and the Caribbean either became last free or stayed the same. There are signs of creeping

anti-democratic norms all over the place.

Like in Latin America's largest country, Brazil, let by right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro, who earlier this year remind many of the country's dark day

of military dictatorship. He approved a military parade on the same day lawmakers were voting on a controversial change to the country's voting

laws. The law didn't pass, but Bolsonaro has since suggested he won't respect next year's election results.

From what I see, he says, I will not accept any election results that do not declare me the winner. My mind is made up.

A dictatorial declaration, the kind of language some say is also coming from another country, El Salvador, currently run by the world's coolest

dictator, Nayib Bukele. Not my words of course, he wrote that himself on twitter earlier this year.

The millennial president might have been joking but his attacks on democratic institutions and the opposition are no laughing matter and have

some concerned that he could be Central America's next strongman.

What's happening in these places might not stay there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a threat of contagion, of diffusion of these authoritarian trends.

RIVERS: Across 18 Latin American countries, only 49 percent of people said democracy is the best form of government according to a late 2020 poll by

Latino Barometro.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next four years, yes, you might get very worried because things can get very worse, you know? We will have all these

monsters that will appear here and there.

RIVERS: But Martha Lago (ph) also told me she's really hopeful about democracy in Latin American, that so many people actually still support

democracy even after all of the corruption and economic hardship and even violence that so many countries in this region have dealt with recently.

As one expert told me, where it's bad, it's really bad, but with thriving democracies in places like Costa Rica and Uruguay, if you're a fan of

democracy, he says, there's a lot of hope to be had.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


NOBILO: Peppa Pig, a car impersonation, and awkward lengthy pauses. These elements were all included in a meandering speech by British Prime Minister

Boris Johnson to the Confederation of British Industry this morning.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: So, with safer streets, with great local schools, with fantastic broadband -- I lost it. Ugh. Forgive me. For

forgive me. Forgive me. People will have the confidence to stay nearer the place they grew up.

Yesterday, I went -- as we all must -- to Peppa Pig World. I don't know if you have been to Peppa Pig World. Who's been -- hands up to who have been

to Peppa Pig World. Not enough.

I was a bit hazy what I would find at Peppa Pig World, but I loved it. And Peppa Pig World is very much my kind of place.


NOBILO: That performance was quickly blasted by opposition lawmakers as shambolic. Even journalists covering the speech were a little bit amused.

It comes at a bad time when newspapers are questioning if he's losing grip on government. Johnson is often referred to in British political circles as

Teflon, the water proof coating, i.e., no scandals or bad news cycles actually stick to him. Some suggested his imperfections even make him

refreshing and more likable in an era of political correctness, but polls indicate that his popularity is now taking quite a big hit.

An Ipsos MORI poll shows that ratings for Johnson and the conservatives slipped since September, now neck and neck at with Labour Party. So, why

the change now?

Critics will point to allegations of corruption and hypocrisy, and when you add in political U-turns, pressure on the national health service, and a

rising cost of living, it's a tough storm for any politician to weather.

Here's how one Tory MP put it to me earlier.


Over the last few months, the government seems to have lost the plot, lurching from one disaster to another. The prime minster needs to get back

on track and fast, say our voters are not happy would be a huge understatement, from within his party -- ouch.

Mr. Johnson's relationship with his party is often described as transactional. So far, he's been a vote winner. If that's in jeopardy, his

leadership might soon be, too.

You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: Now, I'm train in the quite a few martial arts but there is one I haven't tried, yet. Pillow fighting. Yes, you heard me correctly.

The pillow fight championships are now heading to the big leagues, with the alternative sport to hold its first live event in Florida at the beginning

of next year. The CEO of PFC says you won't see any feathers flying, though. Rather, they use specifically designed pillows for the fight. It's

also a great watch if you're squeamish when it comes to blood with the CEO celebrating the fact that no one gets hurt.

Then again, I haven't started yet. Looks like I -- have some training to do. Good night.