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FBI Releases First 9/11 Document After Biden Order; Somber Ceremonies Mark 20th Anniversary Of 9/11; Three Countries Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines; Canadian Party Leaders Release Unified COVID-19 Message; Teen Players Square Off In Women's Tennis Championship; Survivors Recount Memories From Ground Zero; Brazil's President Follows Familiar Political Playbook; Strong Typhoon Chanthu Batters Taiwan; Mexico Raffles Homes Of Notorious Citizens. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 12, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Robyn Curnow.

Coming up on the show, 20 years ago, the world changed forever on this September 11th. Somber reflections, of course, across America, honoring the nearly 3,000 lives lost and the promise to never forget.

And they are just three countries in the world that have mandated COVID vaccines for all adults. We'll show you how it's working for them.

Plus, how an unranked teenaged qualifier walked into tennis' biggest stage and won the tournament without dropping a set. We have that story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: It was a somber day across America as the nation stopped to remember the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives on 9/11, exactly 20 years ago.



CURNOW (voice-over): For the families of the victims, the tragedy remains a vivid memory, undimmed by time. The nation's collective loss was captured by a young girl, as she spoke directly to the uncle she never met and imagined how he might be today.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My uncle, firefighter Christopher Michael Mozzillo, I know you're with us every day, watching over us. And even though I never met you in person, I still miss you a lot.

Mom always tells me all the crazy fun things you did and I'm sure, if you were here, I'd probably be doing them with you.


CURNOW: This is a look at the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero in New York, deep fountains bathed in yellow light, where the World Trade Center once stood.


CURNOW: The 20th anniversary ceremonies were also held at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. All of them attended by the president and the first lady. We began our coverage with Arlette Saenz at the White House. Arlette?


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden, visiting all three sites of the September 11th, 2001, terror attacks. Marking the 20th anniversary since those attacks, on Saturday.

The president, starting his day in New York City, at Ground Zero. Where he was accompanied at the 9/11 Memorial by former president Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.

They stood at that site as each of the names were read of those killed in the terror attack 20 years ago. The president, also stopped in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to lay a wreath at the site where Flight 93 crashed into that rural Pennsylvania field, after some passengers overtook the hijackers who had hoped to land that plane in the Capitol. Instead, it crashed and killed those on board, in Pennsylvania, 20 years ago.

The president, wrapping up his day at the Pentagon, laying a wreath there, with Vice President Kamala Harris. And, in a video, released ahead of the 9/11 remembrances, the president called for a moment of unity.

As he was speaking with reporters on September 11th, he shared the story of how one of his friends lost a loved one, a son, in the tower attacks, in New York City. And he recalled the emotions that many of these families are feeling, on this anniversary. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a tough day for him and for everybody who lost somebody. And, you know, I know you heard me say it before and I'll probably get criticized for saying it again but these memorials are really important.

But they're also incredibly difficult for the people who are affected by them because it brings back the moment they got the phone call. It brings back that instant we got the news, no matter how many years go by.


SAENZ: The president, trying to strike some empathy there, on this 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The president, calling many of the actions of people that day, genuine heroism -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.


CURNOW: The FBI, releasing a newly declassified document, revealing details about its investigation into the September 11th terror attacks and suspected Saudi government support for the hijackers.

The 2016 document describes multiple contacts between the hijackers and several Saudi associates in the U.S.


CURNOW: The Saudi government long denying any involvement in the attack and the Saudi embassy previously said, it welcomed the release of the records.

More documents are expected in the days ahead, after President Biden ordered the Justice Department to review previously withheld information about the attacks.

And the war that began in the wake of those deadly attacks has, of course, only just ended for the U.S. Less than two weeks after the final U.S. military withdrawal, Afghanistan's economy is in shambles. Prices are high. Money is scarce.

The Taliban are seeking international legitimacy and have formed an interim government. But its hardline makeup will complicate normalization. It's unclear how radical their interpretation of sharia law will be this time around. But one Taliban police chief told CNN that nothing has changed.


QARI HAQMAL, TALIBAN POLICE CHIEF (through translator): There is no difference between the laws 20 years ago and now. Only back then, the U.S. was too powerful. They were doing a lot of propaganda. All other countries were under the United States.

Therefore, they had made plans for their invasion. There was no other problem. The mujahideen still have the same law. There hasn't been any change to it. Obviously, people change. But that hasn't changed. It is the law of Allah. There is not going to be any change in it.


CURNOW: Arwa Damon has reported extensively from Afghanistan and joins us now live from Istanbul. Arwa, hi, the sound of that Afghan police commander saying basically, they'll stick with how things were 20 years ago. That is exactly why so many Afghans fled in such desperation, because they feared this kind of attitude would endure and be cemented again.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Robyn and It's also why so many Afghans still want to flee.

Those who did manage to get out, get on one of those planes or get out before the Taliban took over, are to be considered, sadly, among the lucky ones, because the vast majority of the population is currently trapped inside Afghanistan.

And the conversation on a global level is not about how to help Afghans reach a country, where they can actually live with freedom, democracy, pursue a future, especially for women and girls, but the conversation, if you listen to the rhetoric coming from the West, from leaders there, is more about how to keep Afghans trapped inside Afghanistan so that these countries in the West don't have to deal with another refugee crisis.

Those words most certainly, Robyn, must be chilling for so many across that country, not to mention contradictory and confusing, because we actually don't yet have a very clear idea of exactly how the Taliban is going to rule.

We know it's going to be a radical interpretation of sharia law. We just don't know how radical that's going to be at this stage.

CURNOW: Arwa Damon, live in Istanbul, thank you very much for that.

So despite some U.S. states showing a decline in recent COVID infections, others are struggling to stay on top of a surge that is certainly taking a devastating toll.

The U.S. averaged more than 1,100 COVID deaths each day over the last week. As you can see from this graph, that's according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The recent increase prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to lay out a plan on Thursday for vaccine mandates. He's hoping to curb a spread that is largely being driven by the Delta variant and the unvaccinated.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My message to unvaccinated Americans is this.

What more is there to wait for?

What more do you need to see?

We have been patient but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.


CURNOW: Mr. Biden's new vaccine requirements could apply to as many as 100 million Americans. Even so, the mandate is not as sweeping as in some countries, three countries of which are acquiring their entire adult population to be inoculated. Indonesia, which reportedly has more than 4 million COVID cases so far, was first to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate back in February.

Following suit in July were Turkmenistan and Micronesia, each of which have reported no locally transmitted cases. And they certainly want to keep it that way.

Joining me now to discuss this is Michael Baker, professor of public health at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand.

Hi, sir. Good to see you.

So these blanket vaccine mandates, how are they working in these countries?

I know they're very specific examples.

But what do you take from the way they've implemented these blanket mandates?

MICHAEL BAKER, MNZM, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Well, those three countries you mentioned are outliers in terms of the whole approach to COVID-19. Turkmenistan isn't reporting cases or its vaccine coverage.


BAKER: So we don't know how the policy works there. Micronesia, of course, is a great success story. They've excluded the virus entirely. They've essentially followed an elimination approach. But their vaccine coverage is still low.

And I think Indonesia, again, has struggled to get high vaccine coverage for a lot of factors. And I'm not sure that this mandate is really making any difference there.

CURNOW: Do you see, though, other countries slowly taking this decision to mandate all adults?

I know Italy is potentially looking at it, weighing this up as well.

BAKER: Well, almost every country on Earth has some kind of vaccine mandate. Obviously starting with occupational groups, border workers, health care workers, people in essential industries.

And also they are adding mandates for certain situations. And you think about international travel, domestic travel, traveling on public transport, these are situations where we are seeing these policies happening.

And obviously, this is expanding to a wider range of occupational settings. So one way or another, vaccine mandates are really very common across the globe.

And obviously they're important, particularly when you have occupational health and safety issues or where you have workforce groups that interface with the public. I think we're going see more of vaccine mandates over time.

CURNOW: So what you're saying is this is more going to be sort of a patchwork of ever increasing, ever widening mandates, like here in the States, where, you know, I think governments and leaders are trying to get as many people within the net rather than saying, listen, all adults over the age of 16 or 18 need to go and get a jab.

BAKER: Yes, I think so. And one of the points now, of course, is in the workplace, because I think people, many justifiably saying I'm not comfortable going to work, if my workmates are not vaccinated. So I think that pressure, that will be another key moment.

And I think over time, I think everyone is getting more comfortable with the idea of vaccination. Ultimately, I think it's a stick too far to mandate vaccination for everyone.

But I think this patchwork, as you say, will, over time, result in a large portion of the adult population being vaccinated. And, of course, the next question is about vaccination of school-aged students, again, to protect other people in the classroom.

CURNOW: Yes, but I mean, even here in the U.S., I know things are very different where you are in New Zealand. But politically, there is a huge pushback to what the Biden administration is doing in terms of mandates.

How enforceable, no matter how good the intention is, how enforceable do you think these ever increasing large mandates that are going to be rolled out are?

BAKER: Well, I think it's really important that mandates are not used as a substitute for dealing with the essentials. And that's still about vaccine supply, making vaccination very accessible, dealing with misinformation and disinformation and working with communities.

And many populations are achieving very high vaccine coverage without resorting to mandates. And I think the problem with mandates is they may erode trust. They may feed into what is clearly misinformation, that this is somehow a conspiracy.

So I think it's very important that mandates are how we hold off on relying on mandates to a blunt instrument and we actually deal with the real essentials first.

CURNOW: Well, either way, it looks like we've still got a long way to go. I really appreciate you joining us, Michael Baker there, professional of global health. Thank you for bringing us your expertise.

BAKER: Thank you.

CURNOW: Good to see you.

In the coming days, British prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to lay out England's strategy for managing COVID throughout the winter. According to a statement, vaccines will continue to be the first line of defense, supported by new treatments, testing and the monitoring of variants.

Downing Street said it also expects to confirm the details of a vaccination booster program with plans to begin this week.

And Canada's federal election is just eight days away. The vote will decide whether Justin Trudeau remains prime minister. Despite contentious moments during the debate on Thursday, the top party five leaders have released a united message about fighting the pandemic. Listen to Mr. Trudeau and the conservative leader.


ALL: We're all in this together.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: We've come so far in the fight against COVID. It's time to finish this pandemic for good. So get vaccinated. If you know someone who hasn't, talk to them.


TRUDEAU: For our kids, for our communities, for our economy, it's how we get forward together.

ERIN O'TOOLE, LEADER, CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF CANADA: Vaccines are safe and effective for use. Vaccines are the best way for you to protect yourself, your family and your community. So get vaccinated.


CURNOW: Ahead on CNN, how two teenagers battled their way into the U.S. Women's Open tennis final and captivated the world. This is just the most fantastic story. Can't wait to talk about it. That's next.




CURNOW: At just 18 years of age, Emma Raducanu is the first British woman in more than 40 years to win a grand slam title and perhaps one of the most astonishing breakout tennis stars in years.

She accomplished this by defeating 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez, another rising star in the U.S. Open championship match on Saturday.

Now this historic showdown took place just a few miles away from the former World Trade Center, as New York marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11. "CNN SPORT's" Carolyn Manno reports now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Saturday at the U.S. Open was an emotional day for many of the fans who were in attendance here in New York.


MANNO: On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, fans had a chance to remember the past and they also got a glimpse into the future, at least as it relates to tennis on the women's side, by way of a new major champion and, remarkably, a young woman who wasn't even born on that fateful day.

Eighteen-year-old Emma Raducanu of Great Britain came into this tournament ranked outside of the top 100 players in the world and made history here as the first player, male or female, to advance out of the qualifying rounds and make it all the way to a major final, an improbable, incredible run that not even she could have predicted.


EMMA RADUCANU, U.S. OPEN WOMEN'S CHAMPION: It still hasn't sunk in, to be honest, because after the match, I haven't really had a moment to stop and embrace everything that's just happened. I've enjoyed every moment of it and I've had such a supportive team.

And we've just -- you know, time flies when you're having fun. So that's exactly what's happened. For the grand slam final here, to have two of us that are young and coming through, it definitely shows how strong the future of tennis is.

And hopefully we'll be able to follow in the footsteps of some of the legends I've played or are playing right now.


MANNO: Raducanu's parents weren't able to be here in New York in person to celebrate such a major career milestone for their daughter.

And when I asked her what she is excited to do most when she does have the chance to finally get home after seven weeks on the road, she said I just want to give my parents a hug, something that you might expect from an 18-year old, who is now a big star -- in New York, Carolyn Manno, CNN.



CURNOW: So some of Britain's most famous citizens are also praising Emma Raducanu's big win at the U.S. Open. Queen Elizabeth II called Emma's victory a remarkable achievement at such a young age. Prime minister Boris Johnson tweeted, "You showed extraordinary skill, poise and guts and we are all hugely proud of you." And the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall tweeted congratulations to Emma on your U.S. Open win. What a fantastic achievement.

For all of our international viewers, I'm going to hand you over to the team at "INVENTING TOMORROW." That is next. But for those in the U.S. we return to our top story, honoring the victims of the 9/11 attacks, which was 20 years ago, and also we're hearing from a generation who will never know them.





CURNOW: This is Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan following Saturday's commemoration of the 9/11 attacks exactly 20 years ago. Nearly 3,000 people died in those attacks, representing more than 90 countries.

Ceremonies were also held in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. President Biden and the first lady visited all three sites to pay their respects to the people who died in each place. The grief and sorrow remain deep, even affecting family members who never got to meet their loved ones.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my grandfather, Daddo (ph), Martin John Coughlin. Even though I never got to meet you, I will always carry on your legacy and spirit. I'll never forget you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my uncle Gary Shimai (ph), I love you and wish you were here. My siblings and I will be a beacon of your memory for many years to come.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my aunt (INAUDIBLE) Dinova (ph), not a day goes by without you being missed and loved. I've never gotten to meet you but I'm sure we would have gotten along so well with you as my aunt. You have gone too soon but the memory of you will forever be in our hearts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my uncle, Lukasz Tomas (INAUDIBLE), who I never met but I miss very dearly. My mom always talked about how much of an amazing brother you were. We were so sad you had to go so soon and so young. But I'll love you forever and you'll never be forgotten.


CURNOW: Each family lost someone precious to them. Firefighters and police lost also legions of beloved colleagues. Seeing the victims' names etched in stone is a heartbreaking experience. And for those who survived, really, life has never been the same again, as Jim Acosta meets with some of them. Jim? (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Twenty years later at Ground Zero, the grief is still palpable.

Here in Lower Manhattan, where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center once stood, the lives lost are never forgotten, thanks to a community of survivors keeping the memories of the fallen alive.

Now retired New York City firefighter Brian McGuire was working as a paramedic that day as he watched the second plane slam into the towers before rushing to the scene. Within hours, friends he considered family were gone, along with the nearly 3,000 people who died on 9/11 in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

BRIAN MCGUIRE, RETIRED NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTER: Eleven members from Rescue 5 were killed the morning of September 11th. Mike was driving Lt. Harvey Harrell -- all these members here worked the night into the day or the day tour. And they killed all 11.

There was only one survivor from that firehouse that day, Billy Spade, and I was honored to see him last week.

ACOSTA: He is still with us.

MCGUIRE: Still with us, yes. Bill is my hero.

They were all great guys. Lieutenant Harvey Harrell; Jeff Palazzo -- he was a younger member of the company. He was actually also in the Coast Guard -- Nikky Rossomando. His nickname was Nikky Love. He had the biggest smile on his face. You will never see a man with a bigger smile.

John Bergen, big football player for the fire department team. He was getting ready to open up a bar a few weeks before the World Trade Center happened.

All great guys.

ACOSTA: Heroes.

MCGUIRE: Absolutely.

ACOSTA: Heroes.

MCGUIRE: Never forget, it's like yesterday. We miss our friends.

ACOSTA (voice-over): McGuire now works with other first responders to help access the federal funds available to treat the 9/11 related illnesses, like cancer plaguing tens of thousands of police officers, firefighters and other survivors to this day.

ACOSTA (on camera): It must still affect you to think about the people who were lost here.

What comes to mind? MCGUIRE: Every day, we're the lucky ones. A lot of our friends had died from 9/11 from cancer. It affects every firefighter, every first responder every day. I'm happy to wake up and be with my family.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Then there are the Lower Manhattan office workers, who just happened to be caught up in the chaos of the crashing towers and the aftermath. Some of them are still showing up at health fairs to learn about how they can get help, too.

Ken Miller was diagnosed with kidney cancer years after he walked through the dust that coated everything in sight.

KEN MULLER, 9/11 SURVIVOR: When I finally got home that night, my wife said that I was covered with dust everywhere. By the time I left in the late -- like around 5 or 6 o'clock that day.


MULLER: Water Street was six inches of like, it looked like snow, it was six inches of ash down Water Street. And that's pretty far from the World Trade Center site itself.

ACOSTA: Attorney Michael Barasch now works with the survivors battling the lingering health fallout.

MICHAEL BARASCH, ATTORNEY FOR 9/11 SURVIVORS: I was down here, even after the EPA told us the air was safe. I knew it wasn't. But they told us it was so I wanted to believe it. I wanted to do my part and reopened my office.

And ever since, my secretary, Leanna, died at age 47 of breast cancer. My paralegal, Dennis, also at 47 died of kidney cancer. Five other people in my office got cancer. I mean, it's -- we're a microcosm of every other office. And at least we know about these programs; the vast majority don't.

ACOSTA (voice-over): So many of these stories are also told at the 9/11 Museum, where columns from the Trade Center and a mutilated fire engine stand silently as vivid reminders of the violence unleashed on 9/11.

But museum president Alice Greenwald says there is a message for visitors that towers over everything, that there once was a time when the nation came together and stood united.

ALICE GREENWALD, 9/11 MUSEUM PRESIDENT: This attitude of "it isn't about me," it is about us, that we are in this together, that we can help one another, that we can be of service to our community and our nation -- that's a lesson I want people to come away from this museum thinking about, particularly at a moment when we are so polarized and so fragmented as a society.

We know how to do that.

The question we want people to ask themselves is, does it take an event like 9/11 to remind us how to be the human beings we have the capability of being?

This past year, we saw a little bit of the same thing in response to COVID-19, those people standing on their balconies, clapping and cheering at 7 o'clock every night in New York for the frontline responders. That was 9/12. That was that moment.

ACOSTA (on camera): It was fleeting, though.

GREENWALD: And when you come to -- it was fleeting, again.

So I think the task we have as human beings is to ask ourselves, what is it that gets us to be what we have the capability of being as good human beings?

ACOSTA (voice-over): The lessons from 9/11 are also being passed from parents to their children. As Brian McGuire told us, his teenage son is now preparing to become a firefighter, just like his dad.

MCGUIRE: My son is 18 years old; he wasn't born. But just seeing what I'm going through, I think he understands how it is still affecting people today. And I'm glad he is taking my footsteps to be a fireman.

He just graduated the Fire Academy. He is going to be a firefighter and I'm proud to see that he is going to carry the firefighting tradition on in our family.

ACOSTA: McGuire also remembers the sense of unity and patriotism that rose from the ashes in the days following 9/11.

MCGUIRE: Hundreds of people, hundreds of people were waving American flags.

ACOSTA: Twenty years later, the survivors of 9/11 are fighting to keep that memory alive, too.


CURNOW: Former president George W. Bush used his remarks at the site of one of the 9/11 attacks to call out violent homegrown extremists. Take a listen to this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within.

There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit and it is our continuing duty to confront them.


CURNOW: Currently more guilty pleas are rolling in from those accused of taking part in the January 6th insurrection which George Bush was referring to there. Among the latest seven defendants to plead guilty is a man who threatened House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Authorities say he had texted a relative that he was thinking about shooting Pelosi in the head on live TV at an event she'd be attending.

And in several hours' time, opponents will make a major pushback against Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. Political parties from the Left to the Right will hold joint rallies across Brazil.

The president has been called the Trump of the Tropics and, as Isa Soares now reports, he lives up to that name in his political strategy.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Splashed across a big screen, Brazil's conservatives look to the American Right for inspiration.

DONALD TRUMP JR., FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SON: Do you go the path of socialism or do you remain steadfast and strong for freedom?


SOARES (voice-over): The Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, an American import, is hoping to revive Jair Bolsonaro's dwindling base as the embattled president faces sliding approval ratings, a weakening economy and public outrage over his handling of the pandemic, which has claimed over 580,000 lives.

Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Braganca, a lawmaker and Bolsonaro supporter, tells us why the president is seeking a second term in office.


LUIZ PHILIPPE DE ORLEANS E BRAGANCA, BRAZILIAN LAWMAKER: He believes that there is a risk that the radical Left will take over Brazil and that there is a risk of totalitarian regime to take place in Brazil. And I believe that, too.


SOARES (voice-over): With an election in Brazil looming large, this relationship with the Trump inner circle has strengthened over the years. And in the Bolsonaro family, the likes of former Trump campaign manager, Steve Bannon.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: He's the third son of the Trump of the Tropics, president Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say, Edoardo, you are --

SOARES (voice-over): With Edoardo Bolsonaro making an appearance at the My Pillow CEO's event. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bolsonaro will win unless it's stolen by - guess

what - the machine.


SOARES (voice-over): Taking his cue from the Trump playbook, Bolsonaro has been sowing doubt on the integrity of Brazil's entire electronic voting system, calling for printed ballots to supplement electronically cast votes.


SOARES (voice-over): And threatening not to hand over the presidency next year if there is suspicion of fraud.

BOLSONARO: (Speaking Portuguese).

SOARES (voice-over): As the calls for his impeachment grow louder, Bolsonaro continues to fight for political survival, using the armed forces to project power, with a military parade recently in front of the presidential palace, enough to rattle some of Brazil's political dissidents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): A former member of Brazil's Communist Party, Amelia Natal (ph) said she was a victim of torture during the country's brutal military dictatorship, which lasted 21 years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES: Is Brazil's democracy at risk, Amelia (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): Cautionary (ph) words from those who carry the scars of those dark days and fear that Brazil's past might just be about to repeat itself -- Isa Soares, CNN.


CURNOW: You're watching CNN. And we are tracking a strong typhoon off the coast of Taiwan. After the break, the latest from CNN's Weather Center.





CURNOW: We are tracking a large typhoon as it makes its way off the east coast of Taiwan. It is no longer a supertyphoon but it is still a formidable storm, as you can see, with category 3 strength winds and heavy rain. And it has been battering Taipei.


CURNOW: The Mexican government is holding a very, very special lottery; houses of some of the country's most notorious citizens are now up for grabs. We have the details on this. That's next.





CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow live in Atlanta.

The Mexican government is holding a special raffle but it's not money people win, it's the houses and property that once belonged to some of the country's most notorious citizens. Here is Rafael Romo with more on that. Rafael?


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): It was announced with great fanfare by the president himself, featuring the beloved and national lottery boys.

It was the beginning of what the Mexican government calls Great Special Lottery 248, A raffle of raffles, featuring not cash prices but luxury real estate property and prime land, across Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

ROMO (voice-over): The national lottery director says this is the first time they will raffle houses, condominiums and land. There is a total of 22 different properties and some of Mexico's favorite hideaways, including the Vie Acapulco (ph) beach resort, Colonial Tlaquepaque in Jalisco state and some of Mexico City's ritziest neighborhood.

What the president and lottery director didn't mention was that some of these properties used to belong some to Mexico's most notorious citizens, including, Analdo Carrillo Fuentes, who, at one time, was the leader of the infamous Juarez cartel that controlled the vast region just south of the Texas border.

He used to owned the raffle's grand prize, this $3.7 million luxury home, in Mexico City's Pedregal district, featuring four bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a pool, multiple terraces and a large garden.

This house in Culiacan used to belong to Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the Sinaloa cartel leader, who is serving a life in prison plus 30 years' sentence after being convicted of multiple drug trafficking charges in the United States.



ROMO (voice-over): President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says this is about generating revenue to fund education, health and infrastructure programs for Mexico's poor.

This is not the first time the president organizes a headline grabbing raffle. Last year, Lopez Obrador decided to raffle the $218 million presidential airplane, whose luxury he had decried as a candidate.

ROMO: But what would the average citizen do with that kind of aircraft?

Considering the government tried to sell it before raffling it and failed to do so. The raffle turned into a fiasco when ticket sales were slow and the president was forced to forget about getting rid of the airplane, turning the raffle into multiple cash prizes instead.

ROMO (voice-over): The president promoted again the raffle this week, hoping for better luck and faster ticket sales.


ROMO (voice-over): Winners will be announced on September 15th, just in time to celebrate Mexican independence the following day, when a few lucky Mexicans may be able to party in their new acquired narco mansions -- Rafael Romo, CNN, Mexico City.


CURNOW: Thanks to Rafael for that story.

Now Pope Francis has landed in Hungary just over an hour ago, making his first international trip in months. He'll stay in Budapest for several hours before going to Slovakia for four days.

His short stay in Hungary is seen in some Catholic circles as a slap in the face of prime minister Viktor Orban. The nationalist leader is vehemently opposed to immigration and Pope Francis has been calling on countries to open their doors to migrants. He'll meet Mr. Orban and hold a large mass in Budapest.

I'm Robyn Curnow. Thank you so much for joining me this hour. I'll be back with another. So you can join me then after the break.