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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
Hurricane Dorian bears down on the Carolinas as Democratic candidates gather to present their vision to fight climate change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. BETO O’ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a set amount of time within which to act, 10 years. We cannot take chances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I’ll speak to Beto O’Rourke of Texas.
Plus, the Amazon rainforest burns on the Brazilian president’s watch. In a rare interview, the foreign minister defends his government’s policies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR: The soldiers came, pounded on our front door with their fists, a sound that I still remember. I mean, I think — I thought
the whole house trembled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Americans imprisoned because of where they come from.
This actor, George Takei, recalls the trauma of his childhood internment.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in New York.
Now, it’s hard to find an issue on which President Trump and Democrats diverge more than climate change. As the White House tries to defang the
environmental protection agency, Democratic candidates for president are gathering here in New York for a major climate crisis town hall, hosted by
CNN. It is the very first ever of its kind.
67 percent of registered voters, Republican and Democrat, believe that much more must be done on climate change. 56 percent say that climate change is
an emergency, and it’s not hard to see why. Scientists are clear that climate change makes hurricanes stronger and more frequent and Hurricane
Dorian has already killed at least seven people in the Bahamas and is now bearing down on Georgia and the Carolinas.
The former Texas congressman, Beto O’Rourke, was the first presidential candidate out with a very detailed climate plan. And he joined me here in
the studio to talk about why this issue is both an existential and election issue.
Beto O’Rourke, welcome to the program.
O’ROURKE: Thank you for having me.
AMANPOUR: It is an amazing time actually because you are here to talk at a climate town hall. No other network has done this. No other media
operation has really made this subject an elevated to where many young voters believe it should be.
Talk to me about what you think you can achieve in this town hall where all the Democratic candidates will be speaking about climate?
O’ROURKE: You’re right. It’s exciting that this is happening. And I’m grateful to CNN. But I’ve got to think that CNN is also responding to the
pressure, the demand from their viewers, and these young people who are meeting this crisis with the urgency that it demands. They get — they
listen to the scientists even if our president does not.
They get that there are about 10 years left to us as a civilization, not as Democrats or Republicans, or even Americans, to get this right. They get
that the storms that we’re seeing that are about to make landfall in the southeast part of the United States, that the floods, the droughts, the
fires, the international refugee crises, the civil war in Syria precipitated by the greatest drought that country had ever seen, all of
this is connected to our emissions, our excesses, our inaction in the face of the facts and the science and the truth and they’re just not going to
wait around for those of us in positions of power and public trust to get this right.
So, how do we respond to that? We follow their lead. We meet this with the urgency that it demands. We free ourselves from the dependence on
fossil fuels that has helped to create this problem. We ask those in rural communities, farmers and ranchers and producers, to be able to do their
part by paying them for environmental services like planting cover crops and regenerative agriculture and ranching.
We make sure that we invest in those communities in Florida and the Carolinas that are at the front lines of climate change right now and their
resiliency so they can survive these storms that are only going to get bigger and more frequent and dump more rain on their communities. And then
we invest in the technologies that will allow us to dominate the future when it comes to preparing our civilization and ensuring that we do not
warm another degree and a half over preindustrial revolution levels.
That is a tall order but I know that America is up to that challenge in large part because of those young people who will ensure we will be.
AMANPOUR: Let me talk to you quickly about the politics of the border wall because we’ve just heard that the Pentagon has approved President Trump’s
request to divert many billions to funding the wall. How do you fit — you’ve just talked about refugees and migrants —
AMANPOUR: — the people coming up from Central America into the United States with the climate crisis? Because they say it’s quite a big reason
for the shift of their population.
O’ROURKE: Absolutely. You’re seeing Guatemala endure one of the greatest droughts that country has ever seen. Not caused primarily by the people of
Guatemala nor by God nor by mother nature but by all of us in the Northern Western world, in the first world, our emissions that have
contributed disproportionately to the changing climate that is disproportionately impacting them.
When you add to that, they live in one of the most violent countries on the face of the planet. In some part due to our involvement from the overthrow
of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in 1954 to the civil wars in which we participated to the drug trade that travels to the United States, the largest market for
illegal drugs in the world. We have some culpability and responsibility. And no wall 2,000 miles long, 30 feet high, taking the ranches and farms of
our fellow Americans, is going to keep out that level of misery nor should it prevent us from acting on a responsibility, a country of immigrants and
asylum seekers and refugees. We have an opportunity as well to be able to take in the genius of these people who want to be able to contribute to our
success and our greatness.
So, we do not need to respond to this in fear or paranoia or with the kind of hatred and racism that we’ve seen from this president who has called
these asylum seekers animals and predators and an infestation. There are fellow human beings and they need our help. And we have a responsibility
by law and I think a moral responsibility to do the right thing.
AMANPOUR: What would you do as president if — I mean, for instance, this president has rolled back quite a few of the Obama administration
regulations, whether it’s the clean water, air, all the rest of it. Now, talking about releasing sort of controls on methane gas being released into
the atmosphere. What would you do immediately?
O’ROURKE: Absolutely. So, immediately, stop any new leases on federal land for oil and gas. Renegotiate existing leases so that they contain the
true cost of carbon and pollution and climate change. Crack down on fugitive methane emissions. Work with the oil and gas industry, who wants
to be at the table for this. But if we’re unable to reach an agreement, we’re not afraid to go beyond that and impose that directly through
executive order. Ensure that every procurement decision we make as a federal government reflects the cost of pollution and carbon.
So, that includes how we buy our materials. Steel, very carbon intensive. Cement and concrete, very carbon intensive. Let’s spur innovation in those
industries in the materials that we use through the leverage of federal purchasing power. But there is this wonderful article written by Art
Cullen in Iowa from Storm Lake this week and he talks about the consequences of this current administration’s trade policies.
As China is now no longer buying soybeans from the United States, they’re buying them from Brazil. Brazilian farmers are burning down the Amazon
forest to create cultivatable land to plant those soybeans to sell to that market in China that is looking for a place to buy from now that the United
States is closed down. It shows us that every single dynamic of American life and policy making is connected to climate and I will take climate into
account for every decision I make as president.
AMANPOUR: Well, OK. Even potentially foreign policy. We’re going to be speaking, right after you, to the foreign minister of Brazil. You’ve just
mentioned this Amazon burning that has captivated the world’s attention.
What would you do as president? Because the current president is tweeting in favor of the president of Brazil, Bolsonaro, and his policies. What
would you do if this was happening under your watch? What could you do?
O’ROURKE: Let’s start by sitting down with President Bolsonaro at the table out of mutual respect and understand those dynamic, including the
economic pressure to perform and provide for those markets in China and East Asia that used to be supplied by the American farmer. Let’s find out
how we can work cooperatively to save the lungs of planet earth that produce I believe about 6 percent of the oxygen that we need and that we
And let’s go beyond just Brazil. Let’s look at Africa and the countries of the southern hemisphere who are also on the front lines of climate change
today, whose populations did not produce the conditions they are having to respond to right now. We have a responsibility to invest in those
solutions, to go well beyond Paris and what we’re spending domestically in our countries to help those other countries to be able to prepare and then
also to reduce their demands for carbon.
I think about India, which has, you know, a new coal fired plant coming online every day or every other day at a very rapid pace right now.
There’s got to be some way that we help India transition into renewable energy, to supply the electricity needs of their population, their growing
economy, while making sure that they do not continue to contribute to the climate change from which those populations will suffer.
AMANPOUR: So, now, let’s get to the nitty gritty and where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. You burst on to the presidential scene with a
huge amount of hype, momentum and visibility. And then things haven’t taken off for you. There are only three candidates right now that we know
are above double digits. That’s Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. And you and the others are not anywhere close.
What is it going to take for somebody like you, who’s clearly committed to this issue, to guns, to healthcare, all the issues people and especially
young people care about, what is it going to take for you to break out?
O’ROURKE: My ability to travel this country and connect with people who have never had a voice before, going to Southwestern Virginia and Bland
County, never been visited by a presidential candidate before. Bringing Republicans, the independents and Democrats into the conversation about
guns or climate or their changing local economy which used to be dependent on coal and now must transition.
That’s how we won more votes than any Democrat had in the State of Texas. Won independents for the first time in decades, won nearly 500,000
Republicans. It is a slow, deliberate process. It doesn’t happen overnight. But it builds a following, a base of support. And the voters
who will engage in a way that they never have before. That’s going to take some time to be reflected in our polls. It was the same way in Texas where
we were polling in single digits before we had a chance to visit every single one of those 254 counties.
AMANPOUR: This was during the senate race where you came pretty close.
O’ROURKE: That’s right. And no poll, at this point in a presidential race, has ever been accurately predictive of the outcomes. At this time in
2008, Rudolph Giuliani was 11 points up over the Republican field. Was not the nominee and obviously was not elected president. So, I’m going to give
the voters of this country the opportunity to make this decision, instead of the pollsters and the pundits and the consultants. And the only way to
ensure that they make an informed decision is to show up in their communities and no presidential candidate has made more stops, held more
town halls, answered more questions or met more people.
AMANPOUR: As you mentioned, in somewhat nontraditional early states, because many of the candidates are concentrating on the primary state, the
first primary and caucus states but you’re going elsewhere as you’ve said.
O’ROURKE: That’s right.
AMANPOUR: And you even went to a gun show. Where was that?
O’ROURKE: That’s right. It was in Conway, Arkansas.
O’ROURKE: The day before we just announced our plan on reducing gun violence, which in addition to background checks and red flag laws and
ending the sale of weapons of war, these AK-47s and AR-15s. We talk about mandatory buybacks of the AK-47s and AR-15s. Millions of them on our
streets, in our homes, too often used against us. Twenty-two people killed by an AK-47, a racist, white supremacist terrorist in El Paso on August
3rd. The only way we’re going to make a dent in this kind of violence and fear is to buy them back.
That next day we go to a gun show in Conway, Arkansas where they’re selling those weapons of war. Perhaps to my surprise, perhaps to yours, there were
many people at that gun show, including sellers of those guns, who want to see a mandatory buyback. They get that we cannot continue this way unless
we want to accept 40,000 gun deaths a year. A number we don’t see anywhere else in the developed world.
And so, it’s going to take some bold policy decisions and real leadership and it’s going to take going to places that aren’t often included in the
conversation like that gun show in Conway, Arkansas.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, that’s where you visited but you also are very, very dramatic about it in the way you speak about it even on the air. You’ve
used the F word several times. It’s becoming a little bit of a trend. Even your campaign has brought out a t-shirt with that and, you know, the
money you’re going to divert to gun safety, I think.
O’ROURKE: That’s right. 100 percent of the proceeds of the sales of these t-shirts go to Moms Demand Action and March For Our Lives, two groups that
are changing the conversation for the positive to save lives in this country.
AMANPOUR: And now, I want to play a little bit of a soundbite where you used this word during a Sunday morning show, in fact, with CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O’ROURKE: We’re averaging about 300 mass shootings a year. No other country comes close so, yes, this is — and if we don’t call it out for
what it is, if we’re not able to speak clearly, if we’re not able to act decisively, then we will continue to have this kind of bloodshed in
America. And I cannot accept that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Why do you keep using that word?
O’ROURKE: It’s just honest and I think it describes the situation. The rhetoric that we’ve used before, the politics as they have played out have
done absolutely nothing to save the lives of our fellow Americans. And having just been in Midland and Odessa yesterday, the scene of another mass
shooting in West Texas, seven people killed, to meet a mother who lost her 15-year-old daughter, watched her bleed to death in front of her, she was
there for an hour before ambulances could arrive because so many people were killed and shot over so many different parts of Midland and Odessa.
To meet a woman whose brother was killed in front of his wife, in front of his kids, this situation cannot continue and we cannot continue to talk
about it in the same way or we’re going to get the same results.
We have to shake ourselves out of this complacency. We have to shock the conscience of this country. We have to force us to act
decisively or accept that this is our fate and our lot and our future, and I cannot accept that.
AMANPOUR: How do you react to Walmart which has taken significant steps over the last 24 hours to ban open carry in their shops, to ban the sale, I
think, of AR-15s, to ban ammunition sales for handguns and a bunch of other things?
O’ROURKE: I think this is a great example of corporate responsibility. Walmart, which had already stopped selling these weapons of war, stopped
selling handguns everywhere except for Alaska. Now, will no longer sell those handguns in Alaska. Now, will no longer sell this high impact, high
velocity rounds that expend their kinetic energy inside of your body to shred soft tissue and internal organs and kill you.
Walmart dissuading people who have a gun through open carry licensing from bringing those guns into their stores. That is a great step in the right
direction. But if we wait for this kind of corporate responsibility across the country given the number of gun shows and gun dealers and gun stores,
we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives. There are 390 million guns out on the streets of a country of 329 million people. We have to take
decisive action and it has to come from our government.
AMANPOUR: You praise this kind of corporate responsibility. But in the end, is it corporations, people, or is it inevitably government like
Congress, and you’ve called out and many have the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, for, you know, not bringing these things. And He said,
“I’m not going to bring anything unless I know that the president is going to sign it.”
O’ROURKE: Right. Yes. It is a complete abdication on Mitch McConnell’s part of his responsibility and his office.
AMANPOUR: Because the House has cost a lot of antigun legislation.
O’ROURKE: That’s right. He leads one-half of an independent branch of government and has completely conceded to the executive branch to Donald
Trump. So, I won’t even bring it up for discussion if I don’t have a commitment from the president to sign it. That is the beginning of the end
of our democracy, a government that is supposed to be of, by and for the people. Not corporations, not political action committees, not the NRA,
not the gun lobby but people.
And people all over this country, in fact 90 percent, a majority across Republicans and Democrats, want universal background checks. It’s been
passed by the House of Representatives. We demand Mitch McConnell acts right now or gets out of the way. If he doesn’t, he will be replaced by
Amy McGrath, his challenger, the likely Democratic nominee in Kentucky, and we will have a Democratic majority.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you quickly because, you know, I want to ask you to respond to your own home state newspaper, “The Houston Chronicle” —
AMANPOUR: — who is basically saying, “Beto, come home.”
AMANPOUR: “Beto, come back and run for Senate.”
AMANPOUR: “Drop out of the race for president. Come back to Texas. Run for Senate. You know, the chances of winning are now vanishingly small.
Texas needs you. Texas needs you.”
O’ROURKE: Yes. I’m running for president. I want to serve this country. I want to be the leader that we need but that we’re missing right now.
Somebody who heals instead of divides, somebody who invests hope in one another, sees the best in each other instead of operating on fear and
paranoia and anxiety and racism as this president does. Someone who reflects the courage and confidence and strength of America instead of
building walls or putting children in cages or literally separating us from the rest of the planet and our responsibilities to one another and the next
There are going to be some great people running for Senate in Texas, any one of whom will beat John Cornyn, any one of whom will make us proud as
the next U.S. senator from the State of Texas, but I’m running for president, running for everyone in this country and grateful for all those
who are supporting us right now.
AMANPOUR: Beto O’Rourke, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
O’ROURKE: Thank you. Really appreciate it.
AMANPOUR: Now, as we discussed the Amazon rain forest continues to burn, a consequence of unfettered land clearing by farmers, loggers, and
developers. It is of course the largest rain forest on earth and a major carbon sinkhole which makes it the so-called lungs of the world. It is
hardly the first time Brazil has struggled with these annual fires but it is the worst in nearly a decade.
And many point to President Jair Bolsonaro, the populist leader who has gutted the country’s environmental agency and pledged to monetize the
Amazon. Under intense international pressure, Bolsonaro he has issued a 60-day ban on using fires to land clearing. But he also announced that he
would miss a U.N. summit planned to discuss the Amazon fires because he is going to have hernia surgery. This is because he was stabbed at a rally
Now, Ernesto Araujo is Brazil’s foreign minister and he has just met with Bolsonaro fan, President Donald Trump, at the White House and he’s joining
me now from the Brazilian capital, Brasilia.
Mr. Foreign Minister, welcome to the program.
ERNESTO ARAUJO, BRAZILIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you. Great to be here.
AMANPOUR: Well, you heard what we just were discussing. I know you were listening to Candidate Beto O’Rourke, and given that you
have such, you know, a strong relationship with President Trump, I wonder what you took from what Candidate O’Rourke said regarding these fires.
That, you know, we have to start by talking to President Bolsonaro, by trying to discuss what seems to be happening, logging and clearing —
rather clearing of the Amazon in parts to supply soybeans to China because the U.S. is — you know, with the trade war and tariffs and all the rest of
it. Just comment on a solution that he proposed.
ARAUJO: Well, first of all, President Macron didn’t talk to us. He just tweeted a picture from 20 years ago saying it was from today’s fires in the
Amazon and calling the Amazon our house, which we interpreted as being an interference with our sovereignty and then things started from there.
So, first of all, the Amazon is not burning. Not burning at all. We have fires this year, a little bit more than last year but a little bit below
average for the last 20 years. We are fighting the fires. Some of them are already being extinguished with some international cooperation, but
basically through national efforts. And so, that’s — I think the discussion started from a false premise, the premise that we have an
unprecedented crisis of fires this year, which is not true.
AMANPOUR: Well, okay. So, you didn’t actually answer the question that I first asked. But let us go now into what you’ve just said. You’re telling
the world that there is nothing new, that these fires are, as you said, fairly normal according to the last 20-year average.
But you know very well that over the last 10 years or so there have been determined efforts by the previous government to stop these fires and to
stop what leads to them. And that the fires right now are much, much worse than over the last 10 years. It’s up 85 percent, the number of fires, over
the last year alone. So, don’t we have to actually stick with the facts? And I want to ask you whether you think that there is a crisis, given that
the fires are raging much, much higher, and as I said, 85 percent higher than this time last year? Can you just answer that question?
ARAUJO: Yes, of course. So, as I said, it’s higher than last year but it’s a bit, more or less half what it was in the years 2003, 2004, 2005.
So, the then government was supposed to be fighting the deforestation and it wasn’t. This is the first year that we do this concerted effort with
40,000 people, from armed forces and other agencies in the Amazon fighting the fires.
The fires are part natural. They occur every year, whatever you do, because of the season, for dry season. And in part, they are made by
people. In this case — in many cases they are criminal and we are trying to find the culprits and there were even people who were coordinating into
(INAUDIBLE) to put fires to the forest in order to make the government look bad. So, that’s the kind of people we’re facing. But we are doing
whatever we can to find the cases where there is environmental crime being committed and to fight it.
But — so, the fact that we are — yes?
AMANPOUR: Sorry. I just — you know, this is difficult with the satellite delay sometimes. But, you know, the president was blaming international
NGOs. Do you really believe that yourself? I mean, are you continuing to blame international NGOs for these fires?
ARAUJO: No, we don’t blame international NGOs. In some cases, the NGOs, environmental NGOs that are in Brazil are great. In other cases, we don’t
know what they do, what their aims are. But we’re not blaming the fires on them, blaming the fires — I mean, we’re not blaming. I mean, we are just
saying the fires are partly natural, part come from criminal activity that should be prosecuted.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let’s get down to what the criminal activity would be. I mean, the broader issue, isn’t it, is whether you as the government of
Brazil believe that the Amazon rainforest, you might not like to hear this, but is the public good. Is yours, is the neighboring countries, but also
the world’s carbon sinkhole, it is the world’s lungs, it is the home of so many species and biodiversity that if extinguished will be irreplaceable.
So, I want to know whether you, the Brazilian government, agrees that this is something not just for your own country people, which you do obviously
have to address, but this is a huge public good in the public domain.
ARAUJO: Yes. Well, first of all, we think that the part of the Amazon that is inside Brazilian territory we can — we have the means to take care
of it and we, of course, recognize its importance like that of ecosystems around the world.
In terms of the carbon, Brazil is responsible for more or less 3 percent, less than 3 percent of CO2 emissions worldwide. And basically, two-thirds
of that come from the forestation. So, we’re talking about no more than 2 percent of worldwide CO2 emissions that may come from the Amazon. The part
comes from even other parts — other ecosystems in Brazil.
So, I mean, those are the figures. There is lots of rhetoric on that. All those expressions, the lungs of the world, et cetera. But I think we have
to look at the science and that’s what the science shows.
AMANPOUR: Well, here is the thing about the science, there does seem to be a massive assault by your government on the actual science. So, let’s just
get this clear and I’d like you to respond. First of all, 60 percent of the Amazon forest is in Brazil. Yes, the rest is in your neighboring
AMANPOUR: But 60 percent in your country. And as you know, science has said that what happens to the Amazon absolutely determines the pace and
direction of climate change and global warming, et cetera.
Now, your president has cut the environmental enforcement agency severely, about $23 billion according to official data by the observatory or
(INAUDIBLE). You talked about punishing criminals. However, the punishment of environmental criminals has declined substantially on the
watch of President Jair Bolsonaro, again, according to the environment and renewable national resources. And last month, the president fired the
director of your national space and research institute.
He says he was fired after defending satellite data. Now, this is technical data, which showed deforestation was, as I said, more than 85
percent higher than it had been the last year. I mean, how does that — how is that even possible in our technological world?
ARAUJO: Yes. It’s possible because he lied. The data he showed in June for the deforestation in June this year was actually the collection of all
the deforestation since a little bit one year ago. And it was presented as being all this month of June. So, this was a huge distortion of the
scientific data and it was presented to the public. Of course, the public didn’t have access to the data, to the satellite data. And then when we
examined, we found that a small problem that most of that deforestation that was attributed to June this year or to this year had happened last
year. So, that’s why he was fired.
AMANPOUR: Well, Mr. Foreign minister, let’s just get this straight because we agreed at the beginning of this interview that the number of fires, i.e.
deforestation in Brazil, is up 85 percent this year on last year and it’s from the same exact period. So, June, July this year compared to last
year, and that 2,253 kilometers have been destroyed this year compared to 597 kilometers last year.
So, those are the facts. And it’s really hard to try to fully understand where you all stand because the president and your current environmental
minister have said that the solution to all of this is more commercialization, in other words, to monetize the Amazon, the rainforest,
in other words, to let developers, let fossil fuelers, let loggers go in and actually use the place for their own goods.
ARAUJO: Yes. So, first of all, fires and deforestation are not the same thing. There is deforestation that comes from illegal logging without fire
and there are fires that are not deforestation because they are natural. OK? So, those are two different things and we have to look at two
different sets of data. I think maybe that’s part of the confusion about this worldwide.
And regarding monetization, as you say, well, we do want to develop the Amazon because there are 20 million people living there in the Brazilian
Amazon and they have to make a living. What we want is to create opportunities for sustainable development, for sustainable
projects in the Amazon, around biodiversity and other aspects that can provide a better livelihood for those people so they don’t have to resort
to illegal logging and similar activities.
So I totally stand, of course with the president — with the environment minister that we need to find projects (ph) that will allow for people to
have that sort of livelihood without harming the forest.
AMANPOUR: Well I mean, as you know the indigenous people are incredibly worried and we have some sound bytes, and these I just want to play for you
a sound byte of one of the tribes people in the Amazon who is very, very worried about the plans of your government and what’s happening all around
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AURELIO TENHARIN, MEMBER, TENHARIN TRIBE LEADERSHIP (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): It’s sad. The forest is on fire haphazardly. This is the result of a lack
of supervision, lack of commitment (ph) from the government — here’s the result, the animals are dying here and many things are dying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: You know, Foreign Minister — I’m listening to you, you just heard that gentlemen. You’ve talked about developing the Amazon. How much
of the Amazon does the government of President Bolsonaro want to develop? What is your — what is your limit? What are you proposing?
ARAUJO: Now by developing it doesn’t mean necessarily deforestation — basically it doesn’t mean deforestation. What it means (ph) by develop is
finding projects around, I don’t know, things like ecotourism or projects around biodiversity in terms of research and things like that.
So when we talk about developing the Amazon it doesn’t equate at all with deforestation. Many indigenous leaders have come to talk to us because
they want to have the possibility of exploring in a rational way (ph), basically mineral riches in their lands. Today it’s very difficult — I
mean, it’s allowed by the Constitution but in practice it’s almost impossible.
And in many cases you’ll have indigenous communities that live in very poor conditions, sitting on top of very rich lands that would be totally —
would be a great source of revenue if they can be explored in partnership with Brazil and our international companies — in a rational way, in a
So that’s part of our dialogue with indigenous communities — which by the way are — Brazil is like any other — Brazilians should have the right to
explore in a rational (ph) way, in a sustainable way the resources in their lands.
AMANPOUR: Clearly nobody is suggesting that your people, and the people should be at a disadvantage because of where they are. And this I guess is
really part of the whole debate, and part of your government’s policies and priorities as well. But, when it comes to the Amazon there is a big
difference under this current administration compared to the previous one and the one before that. Ever since the government of President Lula there
was a concerted effort to bring development by resisting the kind of deforestation as well, and that made a big, big difference.
And I just wanted to get from you, can you — do you describe yourself or the president, given what you’ve said in the — in public, given what the
president’s said about the environment in the past.
I mean, do you believe that human-made climate change is real? Do you believe, like President Trump that it’s a hoax? Do you believe that you’re
part of the increasing public movement of the electorate all over the world to protect the environment for the future that actually our environment is
ARAUJO: Well first of all, it’s not true that previous governments did more for the environment than we’re doing — (inaudible) the things that
they didn’t do, like fighting fires in the dry season which is the first time we’re doing this concerted effort that we’re doing this year — our
first year in office, so it’s not true at all.
There’s the question of image — the image that they were able to sell. So we’re — have to look at the data and not at the image that they try to
sell. So — and regarding — regarding climate change we have to look at the facts according to the IPCC itself.
So we have to look at the — what they consider to be the sensitivity of temperature to emissions of Co2 and then look at the amount of emission
that come from Brazil, the amount of emissions that come from Brazil and Amazon — and then you see that, I mean, we’re part of that issue like any
other country. But Brazil was responsible, as I said, for 3 percent of world-wide emissions, and — or less than that. And 2/3 come from
So meanwhile the European Union for example, is responsible for around 14 percent of emissions worldwide. So whatever you do to address the question
of reducing emissions, Brazil has a certain part of that and other countries have a bigger responsibility as I see.
AMANPOUR: Yes (ph) — I mean, I know that everybody’s sort of pointing past each other and pointing at each other in this regard. And you’re
absolutely right, many of the governments that signed on to the Paris Climate, of course (ph) have not met their targets.
But I guess the Amazon is special — the Amazon is something that we all raise to respect. And I just wondered, how do you feel as a human being —
as a Brazilian when you see these fires raging out of control? And I know that you’ve said that on average it’s similar to the last 20 years, but
nonetheless there is a spike.
How do you feel as a human being?
ARAUJO: We have a sound problem, I don’t think I hear you well. But — so we come back to the issue that the fires are not raging out of control, not
at all. We’re bringing them under control, so that’s the first thing. Second, to come back to the issue of climate change. I think we have to
look at the data, the figures. I think it’s not enough to use words, I mean, oh the Amazon is very important — the Amazon is the lungs of the
world, the Amazon is this — the Amazon is that.
Have to look at — if you’re talking about climate change on the base of Co2 emissions causing warming, and also look at what is really happening
with the emissions — so that’s basically it.
AMANPOUR: OK, you missed what I said about how it feels personally, and you didn’t like the idea of numbers — but I wondered about this number.
Two polls recently have shown President Bolsonaro’s approval ratings dropping. Do you think that the voice of the people will be heard in the
ARAUJO: Well the figures have been — I think they don’t express what we see. There is a lot of political engagement in favor of the president, on
what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to change a very corrupt system that was (inaudible) to us from previous governments, a very — a system that
created the poverty, stagnation — and that contributed to deforestation in the Amazon.
So we’re trying to do very big changes — we’re trying to open up the economy to make Brazil a global player in trade and investment. And I
think that is an effort that many people don’t like.
Many people would like to see Brazil weak, to see Brazil subservient. And — those people try to, I think fire up the image against Brazil. And they
for some reason, they took (ph) up the Amazon and they want to transform that in to something that it isn’t. So we’re dealing with people who are –
– want to use those fires for political reasons.
AMANPOUR: All right, on that note Foreign Minister, thank you very much for joining us from Brasilia.
Now, many Americans have felt compelled to speak out against the policies of the Trump administration because of their own personal experiences. Our
next guest is one of them.
You may know him best as Sulu from “Star Trek” but actor and activist George Takei also has a darker story to tell. During the second World War,
thousands of Americans of Japanese descent were forced from their homes and sent to internment camps.
George Takei was among them and he just sat down with our Hari Sreenivasan to talk about his new memoir where he revisits this dark period in American
HARI SREENIVASAN, CONTRIBUTOR: So most people remember you as Sulu from “Star Trek” but well before that, as a child, you lived through three
American internment camps. What do you remember about that first day when the soldiers came knocking?
GEORGE TAKEI, AUTHOR, THEY CALLED US ENEMY: The soldiers came, pounded on our front door with their fists, a sound that I still remember. I mean I
think — I thought the whole house trembled when they were pounding on the door.
At gun point we were ordered out of our home, a two-bedroom home with a front yard and a back yard on Garnet Street in Los Angeles and taken to a
nearby race track, Santa Anita Race Track and we were assigned a smelly horse stall to sleep in, all five of us. Three children, I was the oldest
at 5-years-old, and my parents.
For them, it was a degrading, humiliating, painful thing to take their three children to sleep in this narrow, smelly, I mean still had the
pungent stink of horse —
SREENIVASAN: Coming from your home.
TAKEI: From our home.
SREENIVASAN: And so Santa Anita is kind of your first stop.
TAKEI: And we were there because the camps were being built during that time. We were there for about four months.
And when the construction was finished, we were put on trains with armed guards, armed soldiers, at both ends of each car, and transported two-
thirds of the way across the country to the swamps of Arkansas.
SREENIVASAN: How are your parents dealing with this?
TAKEI: People were despondent, depressed, angry, or fearful. And my — we were in a cleared swamp and when it rained it turned right back into a
People had to make that trek to the mess hall three times a day. And for the older people, their feet would sink into the muck and they didn’t have
the strength to pull their feet out. So young men had to carry them on their backs, which meant the young men’s feet sank even deeper.
And so an idea came up to build a boardwalk connecting each of the barracks. And they asked my father to be the block manager and so he
organized that. So my father became something of the leader of the camp.
And for me, as a kid, my daddy was a block manager. He had power. He was making speeches at the end of each meal.
So for me, it was an exciting — I mean as a 5-year-old child with a daddy who’s the head of the whole operation.
SREENIVASAN: There is a survey that you mentioned in the book that everybody had to take. And it’s, question number 27 and 28 are pretty
Number 27 says, are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered? And then number 28 says, will you
swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic
forces and foreswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor to any foreign power or organization?
So what were the answers to those two questions? What were the consequences?
TAKEI: Let me take you back a little further to give you the background for that.
TAKEI: Immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, young Japanese- Americans, like all young Americans, rushed to the recruitment centers to volunteer to serve in the U.S. military. This act of patriotism, and
that’s what it was, was answered with a slap on the face.
They were denied military service and categorized as enemy alien. Made absolutely no sense. But it was a time of hysteria and fear and panic on
the part of the United States.
And they took everything from us — our bank accounts, our businesses, our homes, impoverished us, and then put us behind barbed wire fence with
machine guns pointed at us.
At night when we made the night runs to the latrine, search lights followed us, with no choices.
SREENIVASAN: You had not committed a crime, right?
TAKEI: No crime. In fact, they couldn’t even charge us with any crime. So there were no charges and therefore no trial. Due process, the central
pillar of our justice system, simply disappeared.
And a year of imprisonment under these circumstances, then they realized there’s a war time man power shortage. And here are all these young people
that they could have had but accused of being enemy aliens.
We were neither. How to justify drafting people out of a barbed wire prison camp? Their solution was this so-called loyalty questionnaire,
which everyone over the age of 17, man or woman, 17 or 87, had to respond to.
Now, can you imagine my mother? I was a kid. My brother was younger. My baby sister was now a toddler. She was being asked to bear arms to defend
the United States of America.
SREENIVASAN: The country that —
TAKEI: The country that’s incarcerated us. And she is supposed to bear arms to defend that country. That was preposterous. I mean, abandon her
Question 28. We’re American citizens. We never even thought of a loyalty to the emperor. We’re Americans.
They assumed that we had a pre-existing —
TAKEI: — racial loyal —
TAKEI: Loyalty, allegiance to the emperor.
TAKEI: So if you answered, no, meaning I don’t have a loyalty to the emperor to foreswear that no applied to the first part of the very same
SREENIVASAN: That’s right.
TAKEI: Will you swear your loyalty to the United States? If you answered yes, meaning I do swear my loyalty to the the United States, then you were
confessing that you had been loyal to the emperor and now were prepared to foreswear that and re-pledge your loyalty to the United States.
It was a no win question. Yes, you lost and no, you lost.
SREENIVASAN: Your parents said no to both.
TAKEI: My parents said absolutely not. We have principles. We have intelligence.
The people that are putting this together are reckless, ignorant people.
SREENIVASAN: So what happens then?
TAKEI: They were categorized as disloyal. And we had to be transferred from the Arkansas camp to another camp in Northern California right by the
Oregon border called the Segregation Camp for Disloyals.
This segregation camp was the classic epitome of overreaction. It had not only one barbed wire fence but two more. Three layers of barbed wire
fences and a half a dozen tanks patrolling the perimeter.
Tanks, they belong on a battle field. Not intimidating citizens that were goaded into outrage and put into this even more outrageous and idiotic,
crushing evil circumstance.
SREENIVASAN: It’s hard for us to imagine an entire government immediately doing this to an entire population of American citizens that lived among
them, right? But you talk about it in the book, the attorney general at the time, who goes on to become governor of California and a Supreme Court
justice, the views he was holding, other senators were holding at the time, and what was openly said is something we would consider racist today.
TAKEI: Racist and vicious vilification. The attorney general in California at that time was a distinguished man but he was also ambitious.
He had his eyes on the governor’s seat.
And he saw that the single most popular issue in California at that time was the lock up the Japs issue. Lock up the japs. There’s that rhythm
that we still hear today.
And this attorney general, this ambitious man, saw that in order to be elected governor, he needs to be in front of that issue. And he made an
amazing statement as the attorney general of the state of California. He said, we have no reports of sabotage or spying or fifth column activities
by Japanese-Americans and that is ominous because the Japanese are inscrutable.
You can’t tell what they’re thinking behind that placid face. So it would be prudent to lock them up before they do anything.
So for this attorney, the absence of evidence was the evidence. And he became very popular, got elected governor of California, re-elected twice,
served three terms, and then appointed to be the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
His name went down in history as the liberal Supreme Court Chief Justice, Earl Warren. And he never owned up to it while he was alive. This is what
we had to put up with.
SREENIVASAN: When you see the images now on T.V. of what’s happening on the southern border, what goes through your head?
TAKEI: Horror, terror, disgust, and it galvanizes me. We’ve got to put a stop to it.
We are Americans. This act is not American. We know what American values are, our ideals are.
We will oppose them tooth and nail and show that the United States is a humanitarian country. And we will offer our hand in aid to people that are
suffering. We are Americans.
SREENIVASAN: Look, I could see a supporter of the president sitting here right now saying hey, listen. I will agree that what happened to you as an
American citizen is a tragedy and a travesty but that happened to American citizens. These are not American citizens that are on our border wall.
These are people who are trying to come into this country, right?
I mean there are lots of people who justify what is happening right now and say that it’s different from what you went through.
TAKEI: At the core, it’s the same mentality, mindset, this sweeping characterization of people who look different. If you really understand
those people that are coming here, they’re coming from places like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador where it is sheer chaos, violence, and
Some of the people — some women have seen their husbands shot right in front of their eyes and they are literally fleeing for their lives. Asylum
is legal and we need to respond as human beings.
Yes, they are not citizens. But we share in common with them our humanity and we have, as Americans, who feel for other people, and we have a history
of doing that.
The Marshall plan after the second World War, devastated Europe, in Ruins and Hungary. We gave them aid and brought their economy up. And so that
contributed to a better global economy.
And we have to think like that. We live in a global economy, global politics, global culture. And we need to connect to each other as human
SREENIVASAN: Why do you think that this period in history, the internment, that there is a gap in understanding between generations? Why did elder
Japanese people not speak about this in their families?
TAKEI: What they experienced was profoundly wounding. It was enraging. It was painful. It was anguishing.
And they wanted their children to build their lives in this country without being exposed to the same thing that they did. And so they didn’t talk
about it. That’s not too different from veterans of the war who didn’t want to talk about their battlefield experience with their children.
SREENIVASAN: The graph acknowledges the latest attempt you’ve made here to try to keep getting this story out, you also had a show on Broadway a few
years ago and there’s also —
SREENIVASAN: Allegiance. And there is now a program on AMC. I want to show a trailer of that real quick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suzuki, coming with us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Came all the way over the ocean, we are not safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fill it out. Turn it in. You just have to prove you’re a loyal American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ever get the feeling you’re being watched?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is something evil. I can feel it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You believe in (inaudible)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shape shifting spirits.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never used to believe in the old country stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anywhere you go, it will follow you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SREENIVASAN: I think some of the directors and producers, they have had their grandparents live through this or unfortunately die in Hiroshima or
SREENIVASAN: I mean the idea of Asian representation on T.V. is still somewhat an anomaly. I eman it is only the rare show that gets a full cast
of people of color, right? And they are usually, sometimes marginalized into smaller networks or the exception not the rule on the network lineup.
And here you are having been the lone Asian character really representative of the entire Asian world on “Star Trek” and here, you are just playing a
part in this very rich cast.
TAKEI: And it’s starting to happen with greater frequency. This isn’t the only production. And it’s rooted in the reality of Japanese-American
We’ve come long ways from when I started my career back in the 1950s when the roles were all a silent servant or the comic buffoon or the evil
villain. Now we’re having substantial stories like the “Terror Infamy” with its deep roots in American history.
This is important because it’s an American story. I consider it my responsibility to tell this story in an effort to make the future of
America a better one than the ones we’ve lived through.
SREENIVASAN: You’ve grown up and lived through eras where it would have been illegal for you to marry a white woman, much less a man.
TAKEI: My aunt was in love, this is shortly after the war ended, with a white man. It was illegal in California.
We had an anti- miscegenation law but for 11 years now I’ve been married to a white dude. So, you know, we are making progress.
SREENIVASAN: George Takei, thanks so much.
AMANPOUR: And so yes, the past is painful, but it is also so important to celebrate the progress that we have made. And that’s it for tonight.
Remember, you can always follow me, Hari, and the show on Twitter.
Thanks for watching “Amanpour and Company” on PBS and join us again tomorrow night.