Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

French Pension Reform Ruling Expected Soon; U.S. Air Guardsman Accused of Leak to Appear in Court; Clashes Near Holy Site on Last Friday of Ramadan; President Biden Explores His Irish Roots on Last Day of Trip; North Korea Tests New Long-Range Missile; Following Migrants on Five-Day Journey to Darien Gap. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 14, 2023 - 10:00:00   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome. I'm Christina MacFarlane live in London. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Coming up, Paris on alert as a key ruling on French pension reform is expected soon. The suspect in the Pentagon leaking case will appear in a

federal court. And it's Biden's last day in Ireland. And Novak Djokovic's shocking loss in Monte Carlo.

Now a crucial ruling on France's pension age looms as security is tight in Paris. That's where the nation's highest constitutional court is expected

to decide in a couple of hours whether to approve a controversial reform bill or asked to make some changes to it. It could even scrap it

altogether. Briefly the plan would raise the retirement age to 64 from 62, and require people to have worked at least 43 years to receive full


The bill has triggered sweeping protests. Some clashes between police and protesters on Thursday turned violent.

We have teams covering this in Paris. CNN's Nada Bashir is outside the Constitutional Council. But first, let's go to our Fred Pleitgen, who's

near the Louvre in the center of the city.

Fred, we are now just hours away from that decision after what was a pretty intense day yesterday, the 12th day of demonstrations. What are we

expecting today from the protests? And just talk to us about how big those demonstrations appeared to you yesterday.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Christina. Well, certainly the demonstrations to us appeared quite

significant yesterday. One of the things that we have been seeing over the past couple of weeks is that the numbers have been dwindling a little bit.

But if you look at the final number that was put out yesterday by the authorities, they say that around France around 390,000 people still went

on the streets and in Paris alone, it was 42,000.

So that is still significant number and certainly one of the things that we saw there is that while by and large those protests were peaceful, we did

see some violence that took place, especially at the head of that procession that went through the center of Paris. So certainly that was

something that triggered a big response from the authorities as well with some tear gas being deployed, a lot of police charges as well.

The protesters then answering by throwing rocks, bottles and other things at the police officers. Now what we've had so far, and there are some

marches that are already going on, is there are people who are marching through the street, all that happening in a peaceful way right now. So what

we expect today is less of an organized big march and more of sort of decentralized actions that could take place throughout the evening and

throughout the afternoon as well.

The area where I am right now, that's the place where one of the protests is set to start in about an hour, maybe a half an hour from now, so some

people already coming here onto the square. There's very few so far. However if you look at that march, it's going on right now, we expect that

at some point in time, they might end up here as well. And the reason for that is, Christina, is that the area directly in front of the

Constitutional Council, there, it's been forbidden to actually protest in that area.

There's already a lot of barricades, a lot of police officers that are there as well. Certainly a lot of protesters would like to go there. But

however, they will be prevented from doing that, so there are going to be actions taking place in other places. The culmination, of course, is going

to be at 6:00 p.m. pm local time, when we do expect that decision from the Constitutional Council to come down.

And you know one of the interesting things that we heard yesterday from a lot of the protesters is that they said no matter what the Constitutional

Council decides today, they intend to continue going out onto the streets because to them obviously the retirement age is a big issue. However even

bigger issue is almost the way that President Emmanuel Macron has pushed this reform through, essentially bypassing large parts of the legislative


And you can really feel how that has certainly stoked a lot of anger here among a lot of older people who are closer to retirement, but also among a

lot of younger people as well -- Christina.

MACFARLANE: Yes, so much anger, regardless as well as you say, Fred, of the potential outcome today. Fred. Thank you.

Let's turn to Nada, who is outside the Constitutional Council, where no doubt, Nada, there's a lot of security operation in place. What can we

expect from this ruling and what is likely to come next?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christina, the council here has been deliberating this legislation for weeks now. And all eyes will be on that

announcement to the next couple of hours. And there are essentially three routes that the Constitutional Council could take when it comes to its

deliberations on this legislation. It could approve the government's pension reform plan. Alternatively it could also rule that some aspects of

the legislation are unconstitutional, are not legal.


Then requiring the government, of course, to make those amendments before passing that legislation through. And then of course, the council could

fundamentally strike this legislation down, although many analysts and observers believe this is highly unlikely, and of course, as Fred

mentioned, we are expecting to continue to see protests. That has been the message from the trade unions and from other protesters that we spoke to


If the Constitutional Council does come to the decision to pass this legislation through or perhaps to pass it through with some changes, those

trade unions say that they will continue to protest this legislation, this reform, in some form or other. And as Fred mentioned, we are expecting

small pockets of protesters take place today, later this evening, particularly if that legislation is passed and approved by the

Constitutional Council.

And as you can see behind me, they have put up these security barriers. There is a police presence around the Constitutional Council, and protests

in this area have been banned by the authorities. And as we saw yesterday, while these protests for the last 12 rounds of protests have been largely

peaceful, there have been small pockets of violence, which is a concern for the authorities here.

Yesterday, more than 4,000 police officers were deployed across Paris to try to disperse the crowds. And in the end of the day, we did see these

pockets of violence. Tear gas being deployed by the police. We saw rocks being thrown by the protesters in response. So there have been those

pockets of violence and there is concern that could happen again later this evening.

And now we've already heard from our French affiliate BFM reporting that President Emmanuel Macron has expressed his wish to meet with the trade

unions next week to further those discussions, but we have seen attempts by the government over the last few weeks of trying to negotiate with the

trade unions, and those talks have largely failed and all fronts because of the government's refusal to move from its position.

And of course if this legislation does go through as it is anticipated to go through, perhaps with some changes, the trade unions will not be so

happy with any suggestions from the government. Their main focus is, of course, preventing this legislation from going through, preventing the

retirement age from going up to 64 from 62. And as Fred mentioned there, there is still a whole lot of frustration and a whole lot of anger being

directed towards President Emmanuel Macron for his decision to push this legislation through, bypassing the lower house of parliament and bypassing

that final vote -- Christina.

MACFARLANE: Yes. So we will wait to see what those changes maybe if indeed there are changes or reform to the bill.

Nada Bashir there live for us from outside the council where that decision is due at 6:00 p.m. local time. Thanks very much, Nada.

Now let's connect you to Boston where very soon a young, low-ranking member of the U.S. Air Force's reserve unit will appear in court, accused of

leaking some of America's biggest military secrets. 21-year-old Jack Teixeira was arrested by the FBI on Thursday. He is believed to be the

leader of a social media chatroom where the classified documents were first posted.

Jason Carroll has more.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The suspect in the leak of classified intelligence documents now in custody.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Justice Department arrested Jack Douglas Teixeira.

CARROLL: Aerial footage shows a heavily-armed tactical teams swarming his home. The 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National guardsman slowly backing

up and being handcuffed by a heavily-armed tactical team.

A fast-moving investigation found Jack Teixeira was the leader of an Internet chat group on social media site Discord, where information about

gaming, guns and racist memes were shared in the chatroom, the same chatroom where federal authorities alleged he posted classified materials

to a group of young men.

"The Washington Post" reports one of its members was a teen who says he became aware of the documents up to eight months ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The documents were often listed as Ukraine versus Russia at first. However, it slowly spiraled into just intelligence about


CARROLL: The teen says Teixeira was charismatic, sharing a love of guns and military gear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did see himself as the leader of this group, and he wanted us all to be sort of super soldiers, to some degree, informed, fit,

with God, well-armed, stuff like that.

CARROLL: We spoke with one former student who knew Teixeira from high school and middle school, and says he had a fascination with war, the

military and guns.

BROOKE CLEATHERO, FORMER CLASSMATE OF PENTAGON LEAK SUSPECT: A lot of people were worried with him, especially since he was really into the whole

guns thing, and spoke about it quite often. I know it was kind of off- putting to some people.

CARROLL: Air Force records show Teixeira was enlisted as an airman first class, joining in 2019, working at a military base in Massachusetts. His

official title, cyber transport systems journeyman, a job the Air Force says would include making sure the communications network is operating



But it's not clear what level of access he had.

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FBI: He may not have been the actual designated recipient of any of these pieces of intelligence. He may have

pulled them out of the burn bags or taken them off people's desks.


MACFARLANE: Well, Jason Carroll is in Boston, where we are waiting on that court appearance.

So, Jason, I understand that Jack Teixeira has just recently entered the courtroom. Tell us what we're expecting from this hearing today.

CARROLL: Right just recently entered the courtroom for his initial court appearance and during this appearance, we are likely to learn whether or

not he's going to end up facing charges under the Espionage Act, whether or not that happens. What is clear is that we will get a list, a laundry list

if you will of the charges, the federal charges that he is facing during this initial court appearance. This will be in front of federal judge David

Hennessy. Again that initial court appearance getting underway right now as we speak.

MACFARLANE: And, Jason, you know, the big questions that people are grappling with in the wake of this arrest, you mentioned it in your report

there, is how someone of his age, just 21, and his relatively lowly ranked, could have access to such sensitive material. I mean, what responses have

we been hearing from -- or new responses have we had at all from the Pentagon to that point today?

CARROLL: Well, that is what a number of those within the intelligence community and those outside the intelligence community have been

questioning. Military analysts have made it very clear that when it comes to the U.S. Military, not unusual for young men and young women to go into

the arena, to go into war, and so then not then so unusual for someone who is young or on the youngest side of things to also have access to sensitive


I think a number of questions are going to be is why wasn't something like this spotted earlier? Why aren't these type of people vetted more? This is

someone who was putting this information out on this online chatroom, on Discord. And so there are still a lot of questions circulating about how

this was able to happen.

MACFARLANE: And Jason, just to briefly go back to your point there about what we might hear and see in the courtroom today, do we have any kind of

knowledge about the type of sentencing that goes with the charge of espionage? Because we know of course that this is being called a deliberate

criminal act. What have we seen before in cases like this?

CARROLL: Well, typically when you look at the Espionage Act, it's something that usually is applied to those who have been accused or convicted of

spying when in relation to the United States. You're looking at hefty, hefty prison time, at minimum 10 to 20 years, depending upon how a

particular defendant is charged. And so if that is applied in this case, he could be looking at lengthy, lengthy jail time.

MACFARLANE: All right, Jason Carroll there live outside the courthouse. We'll, of course, continued to track this as it evolves. Jason, thank you

very much.

Well, in the Middle East, more clashes at a Jerusalem holy site that's been a flashpoint for tensions of late. Take a look.

This video appears to show Israeli police using stun grenades and batons to break up a crowd near the Al-Aqsa Mosque before dawn prayers. This

happening on Al Quds Day, the last Friday of Ramadan when Muslims gathered to show solidarity with Palestinians.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is in Jerusalem. Salma, do we know what triggered those clashes earlier this morning?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, from what we understand, from eyewitness reports, there is a brief moment in which the gates were closed,

the gates out of Al-Aqsa Mosque were closed, then that triggered those images you saw there, but I have to emphasize that that was a brief moment

of tension in overall this day has passed peacefully. In fact, you can see those big white buses behind me there. Those are buses making their way

back to the West Bank with worshippers.

There were tens of thousands of them that prayed at Al-Aqsa Mosque today. Of course, all eyes were on that flashpoint complex. There's been days of

building tensions, days of escalating violence have drawn in, of course, the neighbors from Syria to Gaza to Lebanon, tit-for-tat with Israel. So

there was high concern that today, of course, potentially the last Friday of Ramadan could escalate. But again, it has passed peacefully.

We have images to show you from the West Bank. We were on one of the checkpoints there this morning where thousands of people were making their



Again this is the normal security checks in the occupied West Bank. Thousands of worshippers showing their travel documents, making their way

onto the busses that you see behind me here, and then to Al-Aqsa Mosque, where tens of thousands of people took part in that Friday prayer. There

was a heightened police presence of course. We understand from Israeli authorities some 2,000 police fanned out across Jerusalem.

There is a brief moment in which the airspace along the borders of Syria, Lebanon in Gaza were closed as a precaution. Again that just shows you how

concerned authorities were around this moment in time, but again, everything passing peacefully, and that begins to give people a hope that

this latest escalation of tensions that the temperatures that were so high, now begin to come down, now begin to cool down.

But really truly extraordinary images there from Al-Aqsa Mosque. Tens of thousands of people carrying out that peaceful prayer on what is likely to

be the last Friday of Ramadan, a sign perhaps that for now things are easing up.

MACFARLANE: Yes. A relief really to hear that things have passed peacefully given the significance of this day.

Salma Abdelaziz there live from Jerusalem. Thank you.

Now a massive prisoner exchange is underway in Yemen. By the end of the operations, 700 Houthis will be exchanged for 180 detainees on the side of

the Yemeni government. More than 300 prisoners have already been released today. The country has been at war since 2015 when Saudi Arabia intervened

to restrain Iranian-backed Houthi rebels after the Houthis took over the capital Sanaa. Saudi officials were in Yemen earlier this week to discuss a

permanent ceasefire.

The prisoner exchange is being coordinated by the International Committee for the Red Cross. And next hour I'll speak to the ICRC regional director

for more on how the exchange is progressing.

And for more on how talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia are progressing, you can head to our Middle East Newsletter in the meantime.

Today's edition will have an interview with a high-ranking Houthi official involved in those negotiations. It's a really important inside look of

what's happening on the ground and you can sign up for that newsletter at

We're going to take a very short break. Stay with us. We're back after this.


MACFARLANE: We are turning to Ireland now and the final day of U.S. President Joe Biden's visit. His trip has been personal as well as

political. Mr. Biden visited Northern Ireland Wednesday to commemorate the Good Friday Agreement. He addressed the Irish parliament in Dublin

Thursday, praising the U.S.-Irish relationship and the two nations' deep historical ties.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because of the story of my family's journey and those who left and those who stayed is emblematic of

the stories of so many Irish and American families.


It's not just Irish American families. And these stories are the very heart of what binds Ireland and America together.


MACFARLANE: Later at a banquets at Dublin Castle, Mr. Biden said he feels very proud and lucky to be Irish. Today he's visiting County Mayo to

explore his family roots in the area.

Well, CNN's Nic Robertson is live with us from Dublin. And Nic, this has been a very personal pilgrimage really for President Biden and today when

he ends his tour it will be no different. Talk to us a bit about the significance of Ballina, I believe, in County Mayo, where he's going to be


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, he has a lot of relatives who are from Ballina. In fact it's very significant for him. The

statues behind me here in Dublin really I think tell a story, a broader story than President Biden because it's a story of so many people that left

Ireland during the great famine in 1845 to 1852. And indeed, President Biden's great-great-great grandfather, Edward Blewitt, left with his son

Patrick, who's the great-great grandfather of President Biden.

During that period, 1851, they emigrated to America. It was a time of real hardship in Ireland, and that's why I think more broadly statues like this

in Dublin are significant because they commemorate that great famine and the difficulty everyone went through. They're right at the waterside here

in Dublin where many people left on ships to emigrate all around the world, the United States.

So what President Biden is experiencing today is something common to many Americans, many Canadians and many other people who trace their Irish

ancestry back. But the significance of where areas today visiting the Roman Catholic shrine at Knock, that's very important for him. He is a devout

Catholic. But when he goes into Ballina later today, there will be relatives there, distant cousins in the town who he often invites to the

White House for Saint Patrick's Day. These are people that he knows well. Families that he that he holds dear.

But perhaps the most significant event for him is when he gives a speech outside of the cathedral in Ballina because this cathedral is really the

sort of part of the fundamental roots if you will of how President Biden's family came to be in the United States. His great-great grandfather Edward

Blewitt sold 27,000 bricks to the cathedral for its building. The funds he got from that, what in effect today is about $25,000, funded the family's

emigration a few years later to the United States.

So it's a very much more than just visiting relatives. It's a bricks and mortar homecoming in some ways for President Biden and he'll give a very --

for him a very important speech there later today.

MACFARLANE: Yes, it's an extraordinary story in many ways.

Nic, I know Biden's speech to parliament appeared to have gone down very well or is very well received by parliament yesterday, but not necessarily

by the U.K. or the U.K. press after Biden appeared to criticize the U.K. for not working more closely with Ireland to, you know, against political

violence. How much of a snub were those comments?

ROBERTSON: Given that the delicacy with which President Biden handled his visit to Northern Ireland, which all round politically by even the

Democratic Unionist Party, who would be the sort of those least in favor, those of Biden's visit, that's the party who won't get into the power

sharing government and of course this is what President Biden has been saying that the power sharing government came out of the Good Friday

Agreement, and it's important it should be back up and running.

He handled that diplomatically delicately and it was reviewed by, as I say, by all parties fairly well. His comments here saying that he wants the U.K.

government to work more closely with the Irish government on the Good Friday Agreement do seem to have triggered something of a reaction in some

parts of the British media and more broadly, more broadly some of those Democratic Unionist politicians in Northern Ireland haven't looked very

favorably upon President Biden's visit.

I think broadly, though, his speech was, as you say, well accepted here and I was speaking to a former Irish ambassador to the U.K. to the United

States, very, very well-respected, last night and he told me he was struck by actually the tone that some of the British newspapers have been taking

with President Biden's visit. A lot of people here saying that tone is -- that's being struck is not a particularly positive one and one that's

really not good for the U.K. either to try to generate something.

The perception here is that President Biden has been quite even handed. And it's not quite clear where those types of political views are going to go

to from here.


The president, though, clearly feels that the U.K. should be doing more. And I don't think anyone is in any doubt about that now, and he said it

very clearly.

MACFARLANE: Yes. It was surprising to see some of those headlines today I think in the U.K.

Nic Robertson, great to have you with us. Thank you for breaking it all down.

Now Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva is in Beijing with trade at the top of the agenda. Earlier, he laid a wreath in Tiananmen Square. He

spoke at the Brazilian embassy there after meeting with President Xi Jinping. Mr. Lula hopes Chinese investment can help get Brazil's economy

back on track. Trade between the countries is already robust. China is Brazil's main trading partner. The environment is also on the agenda,

namely carbon credits.

And the North Korean government has successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile.

Paula Hancocks has more on this expected but potentially troubling development.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This ICBM launch does not come as a surprise, but what it does do is it shows that Pyongyang is making

progress. Now it is an important capability that Kim Jong-un just over two years ago said that he wanted and he now claims he has it.

(Voice-over): North Korea says this is a solid fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, a key part of Kim Jong-un's five-year military plan and

technology, which could give them an edge in a military conflict.

ANKIT PANDA, STANTON SENIOR FELLOW, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Solid fuel ICBMs compared to their liquid propellant counterparts

are generally speaking much more responsive in a crisis. That means that they can be used much quicker. They don't need to be fueled right before

they're launched. Think of a firecracker that's ready to go once the fuse is lit. A solid fueled ICBM is something similar.

HANCOCKS: Easier to handle, quicker to prepare, and therefore harder to detect. And if need be intercept, experts say the fuel of choice for the

United States and other developed military states. Watching the launch with his wife and daughter, Kim is quoted by North Korean state media as saying

this Hwasong-18 would, quote, "radically promote" this country's ability to launch a nuclear counterstrike.

PANDA: I think it demonstrates technological progress, but I would not describe this as a game-changer. The fundamental relationship we have with

North Korea remains the same. We deter them with our forces and they deter us with their nuclear capabilities.

HANCOCKS: Even the most basic of communication between North and South Korea has now stopped. Two daily calls via hotlines have not been answered

by Pyongyang for a week. A tactic previously used to show the North's displeasure with joint U.S.-South Korean military drills. Those drills are

one of the reasons Pyongyang gives for recent launches.

North Korea claims it had tested a solid fuel rocket engine last December and showcased a new ICBM launcher in a February parade, which was believed

to be designed for solid fuel. So Thursday's launch was a natural progression widely condemned by officials, both current and former.

LT. GEN. DAN LEAF (RET.), FORMER U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND DEPUTY COMMANDER: We're one bad decision away from nuclear war in with North Korea. They have

the capability in terms of weapons. They have the capability in terms of delivery systems.

HANCOCKS (on-camera): South Korea's Defense Ministry says it may have been a solid fuel launch. But they also said that North Korea needs, quote,

"more time and effort" to complete its development. Now those are two things that Kim Jong-un has plenty of.


MACFARLANE: Paula Hancocks reporting there.

All right. Still to come on, our Nick Paton Walsh treks the perilous Darien Gap that thousands of migrants travel each year to reach the United States.

He'll share the remarkable stories he'd encountered, next.



MACFARLANE: Welcome back. I'm Christina MacFarlane in London and you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Here are your headlines at this hour. In the past few minutes, a 21-year- old National Guard airman appeared in court in Boston in connection with the leak of highly classified U.S. intelligence. Jack Teixeira was arrested

by the FBI on Thursday. He's believed to be the leader of a social media chatroom where the documents were first posted.

Clashes broke out outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, where Muslim worshippers gathered for prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan.

Video appears to show Israeli police using batons and stun grenades to break up a crowd near the holy site. It's not clear what triggered the

clashes. Mid-day prayers at the mosque passed without incident.

And U.S. President Joe Biden is wrapping up his visit to Ireland. Today he is digging into his Irish roots, visiting the area where his ancestors

lived before coming to America in the 19th Century.

Now there's a treacherous path spanning from South America to Central America that many migrants must cross to reach the United States. It's

known as the Darien Gap. Migrants must make the trek on foot, carrying all their possessions, hiking through the dense jungle, rushing waters and

steep mountainsides.

But despite the danger, the number of migrants on this trail only continues to grow. Desperate people willing to risk it all for the chance of a better


CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and his team recently hiked the entire Darien Gap over five days and the stories they encountered are extraordinary. Nick

joins me now.

Nick, I've had the chance to watch this documentary in full and I found it an incredibly emotional watch, not least because of the sheer number of

children that you were alongside on this trek. Tell us what the experience was like for you and what you've learned about the plight of migrants in

the process.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Most important takeaway is in order for people to agree, however deceived they are about

the difficulties this trick. Behold in order to agree to do it, they must be experiencing incredible hardship behind in their home countries. That's

predominantly Haiti, Venezuela, Ecuador, China, the top four nations so far that contribute migrants to this trek, but we know how difficult life is in

so many of those places. And it gives people I think a sense of grit and determination and all risk is relative.

The five days they put themselves through certainly snakes, even murderers, criminals, theft, dehydration, exhaustion, breaking your ankle and becoming

stranded frankly in this jungle pathway, all risks that people particularly endure. But they're able to do that because they know what's behind them is

so much significantly worse, particularly, I think it's fair to say for some of the parents who it is remarkable to see them carry on their backs

their children or indeed agree that they can put their families through the risks of that jungle.

But that perhaps gives you a measure of exactly the lives that were behind them and desperation that brought them to that particular trail. Here's

some of what we saw.


WALSH (voice-over): At dawn, the first thing that strikes you is how few of them seem to grasp what's coming. Gently packing crackers and tying

sneakers like waving a Kleenex at a storm. The second thing that strikes you is how organized the cartel wanted to seem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): The first ones will be the last. The last ones will be the first. That is why we shouldn't run. Racing

brings fatigue.

WALSH: They only walk when they're told to. The stories here and many, but there is only one goal. America.


And the dream is just that. A revery of hope, of conviction that they will be the ones to make it over danger, disease, dehydration, deportation.

About this number every day every year, almost doubling.

The Darien Gap is the only land corridor from South America, where entry is easier to its north, where it's not. There were no roads, only 66 miles of

treacherous jungle from Colombia to Panama and onwards north 3,000 miles to the U.S. border.

We walked the entire route of the Darien Gap over five days in February to document the suffering endured by people milked for cash by cartels and

wanted by any country.

(On-camera): What's startling is the sheer number of children on this trek as it begins on a route sometimes adult don't even survive.


WALSH: Now record numbers of children in just the first two months of this year. And indeed in the first quarter of this year when we did the trek in

February ending in March, there appears to be about a seven-fold increase of migrants on that trail compared with the same period last year, and last

year itself set a record of a quarter of a million people throughout that entire year. So we're headed potentially if it keeps going at this rate for

well over a million people attempting this route.

We are hearing from the United States government, with Panama and Colombia, that they have now coming out in the next two months a plan to ebb this, to

slow this down, perhaps going after the cartel leaders who run this voluntary trafficking operation, but also to potentially patrolling those

border areas, but these are enormous tasks, frankly, that have previously proven pretty unsuccessful.

And so we're now going to see these extraordinary numbers most likely grow in the year ahead. The peril they put themselves through the traffic jams

we sometimes frankly saw of migrants in the jungle just having a wait for people to get past the choke point so they can continue on their way.

Hundreds of people trapped under the canopy just waiting to progress. That's going to get worse. That increases the risks for adults, for

children, and clearly here a lot of money being made by organized crime really by putting people through that particular trek.

You saw how organized it began, but a real issue here not just for the United States, all the countries to its south, who essentially are happy to

see migrants move on towards the U.S.-Mexico border, but I'm going to start sharing the pain of this vast volume of people moving through their borders

-- Christina.

MACFARLANE: And Nick, given that this is fueled by cartels, as you're saying, did you get any sense of how governments should be tackling this,

what they should be doing better given it is, of course, an incredibly complex problem, you know, the problem of mass migration?

WALSH: I think, you know, yes, there could be more patrols. Yes, you could go after the cartel running this. Colombia could decide to intervene in

those areas, send in the military, but the demand is there and we've seen, for example, with drug trafficking that regardless wherever you go into

those particular criminal hierarchies, the problem still persists and other way is found. And so, yes, Panama could put patrols in on the jungle.

That might have some success. It might deter, but you're likely to find people seeking other paths or even more dangerous path for themselves than

the dangerous ones they're already putting themselves through. So going after the mechanism has proven in the past to not be that successful.

Fundamentally I think you have to look at what is the root cause of all of this, and that's the problems in Haiti, in Venezuela, in Ecuador, in China

that are essentially fueling people to make this journey. And there to some degree much harder to fix right now -- Christina.

MACFARLANE: Yes. And this report is reflective of that. Nick Paton Walsh, live for us.

You can tune in to see the full report from Nick on "The Trek: A Migrant Trail to America." It will be featured on the premiere episode of "THE

WHOLE STORY, WITH ANDERSON COOPER," airing first on Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. You can also see it on Monday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m.

in London.

All right, still to come, a no-no for Novak. The world number one crashes out of the Monte Carlo Masters after a shock defeat.



MACFARLANE: Hitting the jackpot in Monte Carlo. Italy's 21-year-old wonder kid Lorenzo Musetti has knocked out Novak Djokovic from the Monte Carlo

Masters. Musetti calls the stunning upset a dream come true. Djokovic, on the other hand, was in no mood to talk. But certainly giving us plenty to

talk about. Amanda Davies joins us now. I'm not entirely sure I even know who Musetti is.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORT: Yet he's had his best year so far. I think it's fair to say. Reaches a career high 18 in the world in January. He's

currently ranked number 21. Won two tournaments, his first two ATP titles last season, but said this is his biggest win and you can see the emotions,

tears from him and his box. But emotions of the wrong kind is fair to say from the Novak Djokovic camp. He said earlier this week he was playing ugly


They turned into ugly scenes with smash rackets, rows with the umpire, so he's out of Monte Carlo, onto the next tournament in Madrid. Of course, he

needs the practice because he hasn't been playing with the COVID vaccination restrictions, and he's got all his sights on the French Open in


MACFARLANE: I know. I was going to say not the best warm up for the next grand slam, is it, the French Open?

Amanda, thank you. And there will be more to come on this on "WORLD SPORT" just after this quick break. Stay with us.