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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  July 16, 2019 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: condemnation and words of defense, as president s attacks on four women members of congress continue to roil. thenfederal prosecutors decline to charge the new york city police officer involved in the death of eric garner-- a touchstonease for the black lives matterovement. and, a desperate journey. as political instability, poverty and starvation consume venezuela, thousandsf its people flee to neighboring brazil in search of a safer life. >> ( translated ): there is no justice, and there is no food, no water. there's no gasoline. the streets are empty and towns
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have turned into ghost towns. we had to abandon our home to me here. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> ajor funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> advice for life. life learn re at >> text night and day. >> catch it on replay. >> burning some fat. >> sharing the latest viral cat! >> you can do the things you do with a wireless plan designed for you. with talk, text and data. consumer cellular. learn more at >> babbel. a language program that teaches spanish, french, italian inrman, and more.
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>> and with the onsupport of these institutions: >> this program wamade possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to ur pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the firestorm over president trump's racist rhetoric spread to capitol hill today, where a vote in the u.s. house of representatives is uniting democrats and testing republicans' willingness to criticize the commander in chief. lisa desjardins begins with how the day's events unfolded. >> desjards: two days after the president's initial tweets, today, senate majority leader mitch mcconnelresponded. >> i do not think the president he a racist. >> desjardins: y republican leader did noter exe the president, he choose to blame him and democrats both. >> i think there's been a consensus that political
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rhetoric has really gotten way, way overheated. thom the president to speaker to freshmen members ohouse, all of us have a responsibility to elevate public discourse. our words do matter. we all know politics is a contact sport. >> desjardins: from fellow republican and house minority leader kevin mccarthy, a different tact-- changing the subject to broader themes. >> i believe this is about ideology. this is about socialism versus freedom. i think this party has been very clear, we are the party of lincoln. this party believes in the content of thendividual. >> desjardins: indeed, there was ideological divide, as democrats like pmily jayapal were happy to point out as well. >> dissent is patriotic. the thing that has always made america great is that people aro willing ake it better. >> desjardins: all of this after president trp's tweet sunday, claiming that four democratic congresswomen of color are fromr "oountries," are too
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critical of the u.s. and should consider "going back to where they came from." all are american citizens. three were born in the united states. the president echoed some of his words again toy at the white house. >> they should love our country. they shouldn't hate our country. >> desjardins: meanwhile, senior advisor kellyanne conway touched off a different debate, as she tried to turn the table on a reporter asking about thes presidenrds. >> what's your ethnicity? >> why is that relevant?in >> i'm ayou a question. my ancestors are from ireland and italy.rd >> dess: the reporter refused to answer, and said he was offended.ay lfew miles aw, on capitol hill, one of themakers in the center of the storm, representative alexandria ocasio-cortez of new york, said today the g.o.p. needs to condemn the president's words themselves. >> they have tarssted four congmen of color who are american citizens with a classic ndline of white supremacy, they are trying to pivot, and they are tryinto excuse it. >> desjardins: and later, in an unusual moment...
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the house of representatives presidents words, in the middle of a debate on the president's words and whether the house should condemn them. the question surrounded these words, very rare about a president's actions, from house speaker nancy pelosi, >> the comments from the white house are disgusting, and they are racist. >> desjardins: house republicans immediately pointed to rules against maligning the president, and invoked a rare form of objection to those words. >> i move to take down the rds. >> desjardins: the action is not finished for the day.s house democrpect to pass a resolution condemning the president's tweets as racistto ght. it may be a test for some republicans. mr. trump ha no.ed them to vote >> woodruff: and lisa joins me now. lisa, you have talked to a nu her of republic ca are they reacting.
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>> publicly some of them wil wl voth democrats tonight. probably not many. most will stick with the president on the resolution to condn him. there is a divide among republicans. some are concernedrehearks may push the voters they think they need, suburban whtei americans who are uncomfortable with this nguage. others say no, the president is defending something. especiallyn rur areas, we think it's right. we think there is too much talk of racisd we're glad he's pushing back. there is a divide ening up with republicans. >> woodruff: you said on the floor of the house as they debate the resolution howd complica is. >> yes. it's been a wild strangeay. nancy pelosi made the remarks. they agreed with republicans she was out of line. r for thomarks to be on the
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books the house had to vote and r.mocrats had to support he that happened. since then there has been an eruptionf emon on the floor. reading out what the preside says is offensive. it's an emotional and raubgs rus place the use floor. >> woodruff: lisa, you said underlying this you see complicated reaction to what is happening. >> this is what i want to get to. we see a bouncing ball, atmosphere of accusations now. it's important to get to the greater mea neither side seems politically motivated to resolve this conversati about rae. i am concerned, judy, they'r not equipped. these two sides define racism differently. arliblicans use an e definition of race where the intention of the person is whatr istical. democrats talk more and more about the effect of racism are.
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people affected by, are their lives changh. democratve more people of color. it's not an accident the finition is evolving. people of color have more power lked with a republican and alked him is there anything you feel comfortable ling racism. he had to pause and couldn't say there democrat not comfortable in how white americans are brought into the conversation about race. republicans are not comfortable talking abt racism at all. they're far apart on a important g nversation. >> woodruff: bringmething with cultural dimension and so much else. so much more ask larger than politics. >> that's right ce woodruff: in the day's other news, a white pofficer in new york who put a black man, eric garner, in a fatal
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edchokehold, will not faceal charges. garner could be heard gasping "i can't bredahe" as officer el pantaleo gripped him, during an arrest. a state grand jury already declined to indict ptaleo, and today, federal prosecutors said they could not prove he willfully viated garner's civil rights. garner's mother, gwen carr, called the findingden outrage, annded that pantaleo be fired. >> five years ago, my son said "i can't breathe" 11 times. and today, we can't breathe. because they have let us down. officer pantaleo, and all the officers who was involved in my son's death that day, need to be off the force. the streets of new york ty is not safe with them walking around. >> woodruff: a senior u. justice department official said attorney general william barr himself made the decision, overruling officials who wanted to charge pantaleo. will delve into the decision- making, after the news summary.r as of today, fly-funded family planning clinics had to stop referring women for abortions.
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federal courts allowed the trump administration to begin enforcing the referral ban, until legal challenges are decided. the move is seen as a blow to planned parenthood, but the group said it would forgcothe funds aninue referrals. the nominee for u.s. defense secretary today criticized turkey's purche of russian- made air defenses. the u.s. strongly opposed the move by the nato ally. mark esper, rrently the secretary of the army, told his senate confirmation hearing that turkey's decisn was "the wrong one." >> very disappointing. turkey has been a longstanding nato ally, a very capable one. i think they were one the original allies, if i think back to when the alliance formed. and so it is very disheartening to see how they've drifted over the past several years. >> woodruff: later, president
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trump confirmed that turkey's purchase from russia means the s. will not sell advance fighter jets to the turks. he claimed the obama administration created the problem, by failing to sell an american missile defense system to turkey in the first place. north korea suggested today it may lift a 20-month moratorium on nuclear and missile tests. that came as talks have stalled on ending rth's nuclear program. but, president trump said again, there is no hurry about reaching an agreement. for the first time, the european commission will have a woman as president. the outgoing german defense minister, ursula von der leyen, was confirmed today.a she wore majority of votes in the european parliament, in an outcome that was met with applause after weeks of deadlock. the new leader promised to focus on climate change an.gender equali gick in this country, the head of facebook's new l currency, libra, faced criticism from senats in both parties. they branded the social media giant "dangerous" for failing to prect users' personal data in turn, facebook's david marcus
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said the company is working to earn back people's trust, and ht in digital transactions will safeguard consumers. >> we will take the time to get this right. we expect the review of libra to be among the most extensive ever. we are fully committed towi workin regulators, here and around the world. and let me be clear and unambiguous. facebook will not offer the libra gital currency until we have fully addressed regulators' concerns and received appropriate approvals. >> woodruff: facebook is hoping to launch its libra crypto-currency in 2020. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average lost 23 points to close at 27,335. the nasdaq fell 35 points, and the s&p 500 slipped ten. and, nasa kicked off celebrations today for the50 anniversary of "apollo 11," when men first landed on the crewr michael collins, now,
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88s on hand this morning at cape canaveral, for the exact moment when he, buzz aldrin and neil armstrong blasted off, on july 16, 1969. five days later, armstrong beme the first human to wa on the moon. he passed away in 2012. still to come on the newshour: what is behindhe department ofst e decision to not charge police in the killing of eric garner. on the ground in brazil, where refugees from venezuela sech for a safer life. colombia's foreign minister, on how his country is grappling with those refugees and a fragile peace. plus, much more. >> woodruff: five years ago,
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new york man, eric garner's dying words-- "i can't breathe"- -served as a rallying cry that led to national demonstrations and gave further momentum to the black lives matter mt. tomorrow will mark the expiration of the statute of limitations to bring federal charges. but, the case lingered through several u.s. attorys general, and both the obama and trump administrations.mi e alcindor looks now at why the justice department decided not to file charges against the officer. >> alcindor: eric garner died after he was detained for selling what were sud to be untaxed single gawho was 43 years old and had severe asthma, said "i can't breathe" 11 times before he died. the cellphone video seems to show garner in a chokehohi, which is pted by the new york police department. but, the officer, daniel pantaleo, has matained he did not use a chokehold to bring him down. pantaleo has been on desk duty since then. today, u.s. attorney for the eastern district of new york,
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richard donoghue, said h team decided they could not prove officer pantaleo willfully intended to use excessive force that led to garner's death. >> we are committed to aggressively prosecuting excessive force cases whenever there is sufficient evidence to bring them. mr. garner's death was a terrible tragedy, but having thoroughly investigated the surrounding circumstances, the department has concluded that the available evidence would not support federal civil rights charges against any officer. >> alcindor: let's dig in a little deeper on this reasoning, and the larger issue as to why the federal government rarely brings charges against an officer in the line of duty. katie benner covers the justice department for the "new york times," and joins me now. y >> tha for being here, katie. this decision to not charge the officer in the death of eri garner came down to the attorney general, billar. what more do we know about bill
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bar not bringing i arges. >> ink we should take a step back really quick. when th case oned after eric garner died. you saw they decided the case wouldn't be won, they stuggled. some prosecutors i'm told based on those working on the case, they say some of thtoe prose didn't know they felt eric garner acted wrongfully. very soon after that the civil rights decision in washingtonth decidee was a crime committed and could prosecute the case. setting off a long running, years long battle between the two sides. they jt did not agree. we saw the case languish. we saw the case get caught up in the session justice department where a lot was not happening with russia and sessions firing. when bill bar gets to thent justice departnd becomes the attorney general he now has to clean uphis mess. he held mule tietings with
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constituents from both sides. he htsrd argum from prosecutors in brooklyn from, the civil rights division. he reviewed the tae multiple times and ultimately agreed with the prosecutors in brooklyn. they were worried this wasn't a case they could bring before a jury an. it the doj occasionally looks at the local issues officers and fatal inter actions they fairly bring charges. why is it rare for there to be charges from the doj for officer involved encounters? >> i think they feel the cases are extremely difficult to win. a officer saying he had a credible fear during a altercation, as long as he is willing to say he felt he was in danger, jurors are sympathetic to the argument. 's a case they don't feel can wi rthey areeluctant to bringing the case. what makes the eric garner case,
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holner felt the evidence was strong and worth bringing the case. the videos shocked the nation, they galvanized the black lives matter movement.d so, ay's decision i think is really viesing for many people. >> you mention the eric garner case was unique galvanizing people. millions of people watched the video of eric garner dying. the rallying cry "i can'tbe breathme a cry for many people protesting police brutality. thatowactor into the case was handled? >> i think the outge over video has made the case a loud the case to remain in the public interest even five years lat i also think that a lot of the case hung on the video. the prosecutors studied the video minute by minute, scond
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by second. what they decided is th officer let go of eric garner's neck beforer mr. garid i "i condition breath" they didn feel he purposely put him in a d.oke hold it was only after falling to the gro they used the video, the prosecutors, to prove their case. people may of expected prosecutorto prove the case otherwise. i think it raises questions as we ask police officers to wear body cameras and take cellphone footage of incidents. we have to ask how this is used and the arguments to be made from that. >> eric garner's family is reeling from the decision there. is also the idea hat ficer may not ever face jail time now this has gone through. this is a disciplinary review going through the new yorcity police department. what consequences if at all may the ficer face. you know, it's interesting.
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the officer could face consequences, stripped of his badge. we're awaiting to see the results of that review. today we s pressure being put on the mayor tlyo actuire the officer. we saw that coming not only from eric garner's mother and family. we saw the pressure from people like senator christian gillibrand saying i think it's your move to take care of the situation. >>his is cerinly a unique case, as you said. katie bener, thank you for joining us. >> woodruff: over the past five years, more than four million venezuelans haveled their country amid a deepening national crisis. this mass exodus is reshaping all of south america in unexpected ways.
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the newshour's amna nawaz and producer mike fritz traveled to the border of venezuela and brazil to meet the families making this desperate journey. it's the first in a series of reports done in collaboration with the pulitzer center for crisis reporting. >> nawaz: a moment of relief, rked with a thumbs up and a wave. that is how jesus, carolina, and their two children, 19-year-old asvin and five-year-old sara, first greeted us, they crossed the border from onnezuela, into brazil. the family, who ly gave their first names, said thg 'd been walkd hitchhiking for more than two days.un they'dut of water, hadn't eaten for more than a day, and they carried everything they now owned. so this is all they've got. her shoes are worn, holes in t they are carrying a bible with them as well, and just a little bit of money, documents.s, and just two bhoes and whatever clothes they could carry.
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i asked why theyecided to leave venezuela. >> ( translated ): there is no justice, and there is no food, no water, there's no gasoline. there's no employment. it's complete desolation. the streets are empty and towns have tned into ghost towns. we had to abandon our home to come here. >> nawaz: jesus and carolina say, back home, their twin babies died, just days after birth. >> they were six days old. it was a girl and a boy. >> ( translated ): every day kids die in childbirth becauseed ofal negligence. they don't care for them in time. and many women die too. >> nawaz: venezuela, once among south america's wealthiest nations, has descended into economic and political chaos. hyperinflation, skyrocketing debt, and crippling u.s. sanctions on its oil industry blasted the economy. and the streets and ha power have erupted as president nico opposition leader juan guaido, backed by the u.s. and dozens of
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other countries, including brazil. but maduro clings to power, amid severe food, medicine and fuel shortages >> venezuela really is destabilizing the entire region. ppand therefore, whatever s to venezuela is going to have g consequences across th region as a whole. >> nawaz: monica de bolle is a latin american expert peterson institute for international economics. the cost of the crisis in the years ahead, she says, could amount to tens obillions in international aid. since 2014, most venezuela migrants have fled to colombia and peru. but over the last few years, they've been fanning out across south america. earlier this year, tensions flared along brazil's border with venezuela after it was shuttered for nearly three months by president maduro, in an attempt to block aid from reaching venezuela. today, me than 100,000 venezuelans are now estimated to have settled in brazil, as partm of the largeration between the two nations in history.e up ahead, whu see those
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two flags, that's the actual international boundary between venezuela and brazil. and officials say they see upwards of 500 or 550 people crossing every day now. entire families, some with tiny babies, newborn babies, in fact. some folks they say have been walking as many as eight days before they get here. but brazil's government, led by far-right president jairo bolsonaro, hasr kept its border open to venezuelan migrants. the president's son, congressman eduardo bolsonaro, often serves as a foreign envoy for his father, who is now considering nominating him to be brazil's next ambassadoto the united states. we spoke in brazil's capital of brasilia. can you commit right now that brazil is going to continue to welcome in venezuelan refugees as lg as they're fleeing? >> by our law in brazil here, we have to accept all the refugees. because theydon't have an option. if they keep in venezuela, they are going to die.
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we know that the best solution it is take off maduro from the power in venezuela. >> nawaz: what is brazil prepared to do to try to get him to leave, to force thage? >> we're trying to change, to do a twist with the militaries side of venezuela. >> nawaz: is brazil prepared to use military force if necessary, if maduro doest leave? >> if venezuela attacks brazil, it changes, because we need to defend ourselves. but, in this first moment, we are not thinking to use the force, the military of brazilian forces against the military forces of maduro. >> nawaz: nearly all venezuelani entering bcome through a port of entry in the northern brazilian state of roraima. once they arrive, they're processed, given identity cards, and then wait for a spot in one of two refugee camps i small border town of pacaraima. brazil's army, a powerful institution here, is running this camp, a sprawling tent city now housing about 500 men, women, and children from venezuela. the man in charge: lieutenant
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colonel elton rodrigues. inside, you have entirlies crossing, right now just adults, bu.little kids and babies t >> ( translated ): many families come in situation of vulnerability and with kids. the families normally are reouly numerous-- five, sometimes up to six children, and children and the my looks to support these families in the best form possible. >> nawaz: inside the camp, there's luggage storage,d dedicaaces for children, and filtered water available for all. officials tell us none of the troops here carry weapons, to reinforce the idea that tais is a humaan mission, not a security one families staying here come and hego as they please, using identity cards for re-entry. ilynaldo lara just arrived with his family, and isng out paperwork for those cards. he says he worked as a state police official in venezuela, and was targeted becse he didn't support president maduro. >> ( translated ): the day that
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i left my homeland of venezuela, which i love, i felt very emotional, because i'm leaving behind my land and my values. but, i had to do it because i have to find a future for my family, and i didn't have a future in venezuela. >> nawaz: the chance at a better future is what forced this family to leave venezuela as well.on their five-old daughter, already severely malnourished. af ( translated ): i want my daughter to feelwith her family, and hope she is never lacking food. we spent three days wi eating, and what i would do is to beg, so she wouldn't starve o death. we didn't have aer way of sustaining her. >> nawaz: but these soft-sided structures offer only a temporary haven. officials say most families stay anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. this once-sleepy bder town, with an official population of just 12,000, is now dealing with some 14,000 nezuelans crossing here every month. senator chico rodriguez, who represents this state, says that is unsustainable.
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>> ( translated ): we have a population of approximately00 50people, and today there are almost 50,000 venezuelans living in or passing through our capil. so there have been impacts on our health and education systems, especially in the area of security. roraima does not have the financial conditions or the structural organization to absorb so many venezuelans.: >> nawe brazilian army has already begun busing venezuelan migrants to boa vista, a much larger city to the south with more economic opportunities. so we're now 130 miles from the border, and the army has had to put up this shelter. they've got 900 to 1,000 parple ving every day, they said. they offer tents for people to sleep in at night, some food and a shower, but that's it. this is not a full-time shelter. some, like caer martinez-- who lives in a tent with his wife and son-- arrived here months ago. with no job, and no plan, he says his life today ist as riuncertain as the day he d. >> ( translated ): it's been a
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ince i got here in brazi chasing a dream, like most venezuelans who are here. we are tryinto get a better life for our children, for our family, but we still haven't reached it. >> nawaz: a dream millions of his fellow venezuelans are now chasing in a new nation, a world away from the country they once called home. for the pbs newshour, i'm amna nawaz, in boa vista, brazil. >> woodruf stay with us. coming up on the newshour: puerto rico is rocked by otests, as the island's governor faces calls to resign. and, pulitzer prize-winning novelist colson itehead on his new book, "the nickel boys." but first, as we just saw, the slow-motion collapse of venezuela has sent shock waves through south america and beyond. no more so than in venezuela's neighbor to the west: colombia. almost a million and a half
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venezuelans have taken refuge in colombia, straining the country and region. on top of that, colombia is still reckoning with the end ofn its owrnal conflict. it has now been three years almost since a peace deal ended over 50 years of war bmeween the gove and rebel "farc" factions. at deal set out ambitiou targets for land reform, political participation for ex-rebs, and a crackdown on drug trafficking. but most of those problems remain. more than 200,000 colombians have been displaced as violenceo inues, and the drug trade is again exploding. in august, conservative deal- skeptic ivanuque took office as colombia's new president, id a turbulent economy, increased pressure as refugees continue to arrive daily from venezuela, as well as troubled prospects of lasting peace. his foreign minister is carlos holmes trujillo, here in
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washington this week, and he joins me now. >> minister trujillo, thank you for being with us. colombia, a coufntry 49 million people. what does it mean to have a million and a lf venezuelans there? >> thank you, judy, for the invitation. this is a regional issue with a global impact. to my country it's a real challenge because of the demande ofurces and the needs we have to satisfy every dayh. that'swe're calling on the international community to suort the efforts of c colombia. >> woodruff: we know when thinis ially happened your country welcomed the nuelans. now we read there are cases of discrimination and violence. how long can the region absorb the cr nsisext door in sr-pbz
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way la. why is it taking so long for the support of other countries, why is it taking so loto change the government? >> two things. first of all, judy, this is a process. what we are doing is helping to eate conditions that allow venezuelans to go back to freedom and democracy. we have made a lot of advances in looking fo that aim. that is to say the change inve zuela. secondly, how many venezuelans can we accept in colombia, it's impossible to tell. how many can be received, it' impossible to tell. the main point is get mtiore support doing what we can and help the change in venezuela back to democracy and freedom. >> woodruff: many say they think president maduro can wait it
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ou wait it out after all he has the support of the cubans, russians, these skeptics right. >> he doesn't have the support of the venezuelans.nt the pois a change in venezuela. the point is tt the support from the region. this is a regional issues not a global issue. this is regnal issue to solve regionally as well. >> woodruff: it hasn't worked yet. >> not yet because of the supression. at the beginning of thyear nobody talked about the interim president being recognized close to sixty countries. now he is. >> woodruff: let me ask you about something else. the president assessor of the president, president santos signed a peaceagreement 2016
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with the rebels. lear we are two and a half years olater only a quartthe provisions, the deal that was partf the deal sid have been implemented. we understand thousand of militants have resumed fighting, little or no hep for those living in the rebel held territories, hundreds of activists have been killed.hi why has thes been implemented? >> thek implementation a long time of the movement. it's a complex one to implement. the policy of the president is to implement the agreement with the changes for the future througholitical consensus and institutiona there. are advances in the implementation as registered by the mission of th united nations every three months. i'm going to new york this week to receive the new report of the
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secretary general that makes guarantees on the advances made. >. woodruff: we see the president has called some terms too lenient on the farc rebels. in mans y plaere the rebels dips armed the government hasn'i come to th of the community. you have these new para military gangs operating in these places it's seany peace maybe farther away than ever. >> th implementation of the agreement is going on well. there is a lot of work to be done still. e implementation of the agreement is in the development plan as a horizontal base of the nation plan. there is a pan for ten years to come, 11.5 billion u.s. dollars. there are many advances in every field. as far as the violence is
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concerned, of course we have a problem and a concern. some regions of the cotry we v they have resist the presence ol ce that are fighting to get sources of illegal resources to exist there. i'm speaking about narcotic trafficking, illegal mining. the effort of the administration is great to face those new challenges. >> woodruff: it's clearly taking longer than anybody expected.ou now have a guerilla group that was not si signatory tthe peace accord. the elf is growing stronger, operating in venezuela. supporting the maduro regime, para military. how concerned are you of this group? >> that's why we denounce the
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presence of the eln in venezuela. they have links in the maduro reseem and terrorist organizations. besides that we are combating them with legitimate fces of the state internally in our country. a>> woodruff: you feel, a you're making progress here. >> we are making progress. we are making progress security wise, economically wise, the political and social situation as >> woodruff: very quickly, a aspect of this had to do with narco traffic skp-gt coco production. that is up in colombia, why. >> because of some bad decision taken during the negotiation of the agreement. -- has been fighting very strongly since the binning of the administration. showing very positive res.ul
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>> woodruff: what does colombia need to get it under control? >> colombia is under control and stable democracy. countries are doing their best to solve theo prblems we. have. >> woodruff: foreign minister trujillo, thank you very much. >> thank you for thi opportunity. >> woodruff: pulitzer prize-winning author colsons whiteheawest book is out today. it's a work of fiction, but one based on a brutally real place in the jim crow south.y jeffown spoke with whitehead last week in new york, in this story for "canvas," our arts and culture series. >> brown: it was a grim finding: in 2013, a team of archeologists ke the university of south florida dug up unmgraves on the grounds of the former arysur g. dozier school for in florida's panhandle.
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( newseport ) news reports detailed how the reform school, csed in 2011, d been notorious for the physical, sexual and mental abuse imposed on its young students. the writer colson whitehead remembers first hearing the stories. what was it about the story of the reform school that grabbed you? >> the fact that i'd never heard of it. and if there's one place like this, there's dozens and dozens. i hadn't read a story about black kids and jim crow and this particular kind of setting before. so, as an arti, there's material there. and just as a human being, living in america, trying to make sense of where we're going and where we came from. >> brown: three years ago, whitehead won both the pulitzer prize and national book award s novel "the underground railroad," set amid the horrors of the slave south, but imagining an alternative universe in which the "railroad"-- in reality, a series of escape routes and safo
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es-- is an actual subterranean train. his new novel, "the nickel boys," is a fictional account of the dozier school, a segregated institutat opened in 1900, touted itself as an enlightened center for wayward boys to avoid prison terms, but secretly coerced labor and mete ho-ific punishments in its called "white house," allegedly leading to the deaths of dozens, whose disapprance was unaccounted for. >> i first came across the news reports, that a lot of t survivors and the survivor groups had gotten together and were talking about what happened to them in the '50s and '60s werehite. but the majority of the students were black. as i started doing more research, i thought, "what's their story?" >> brown: how did you tackle it? because you have real facts, many things known about it. manyhings unknown, still. >> so i had a real place-- dozier school, the facts of the
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campus, how discipline worked. and then, i want to come up with own characters. and obviously, historians have to stick to the facts, but as a fiction writer, i like making things up, and i like coming up with my own characters and seeing how they operate in these different worlds. >> brown: "the underground railroad," your last book, which we talked about, also groundedin ery harsh reality, but with a real twist, a bit of fantasy thrown in. this is much more direct. >> you pick the right tool for the job, and sometimes fantasy is a way to open up a story and convey a universal truth. and sometimes, realism. and i grew up reing comic books and science fiction and stephen king, and so fantasy has always been part of my toolkit. >> brown: why did you choose b realistal realism, in this case? >> i wanted to be concise. i wanted to stay on the boys. i really wanted to focus on my two main characters, turner and elwood. i think they have a compelling dynamic. and the closer i can stay to
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them, the closer i wou stay to the truth, it seemed. >> brown: the two main protagonists, very different personalities. part of what's going on is, they're having a kind of debate about how to survive. >> sure, we have elwood, who's a straight a student. it's '63. he's been raised reading about eattin luther king, the protests, and he thinks that we can affect change in the world. turner is an orphan, and he'sit lived by his surviving any way he can. and when they get together at the nickel academy, my v of the dozier school, they start debating about how to live and esw to survive in this world. >> brown: that mor an interesting sort of novel of ideas. >> i was wrestling with my own ideas about where we are as a country. i started writing in the spring of 2017, after trump's election, and i found myself wondering how much progress we're making as a country. can i believe that tld we're making is a better place
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for my kids? or are we regressing into division and hatred? and so elwood and turner speak to different parts of me. i an, i'm having an argume with myself, through them. >> brown: in fact, whitehead's books have long explor world through variety of voices and genres-- including satire, a more personal "coming of age" story, zombie horror, and a nonfictioer romp about p >> if you do something once, you don't do it again. i love stanley kubrick-- >> brown: the director. >> yh. he would do his raw picture, he would do science fiction, hek would do dmedy. my approach-- a zombie novel, historical fiction, my short book about the world series of poker-- how can these different forms allow me to evolve as a storyteller, but also attack
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different parts of the world? >> brown: i don't know if you started out with some kind of sense of purpose or mission. on you see a story that co whitehead has been writing? >> it's about race in america. me sort of stepping back and trying to figure out how things work. aand maybe it's capitalis maybe it's race. and maybe it's just the weird places our heart takes us. >> brown: so with "undergroundpu railroad"-- thtzer, national book award, more than a million copiesyoold. that putin a different category of writer, right? >> well, i take now like one depressive nap a day as opposed to two.. you know, definitely the year after all that great stuff happened, i was in a really good mood. i've been working for 20 years, and i've had books that did well or were received in a nice way, and books that were ignored. and i like to appreciate the "underground railroad" for what it broowht to me. i t was a once-in-a-
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lifetime kind of thing. lot of things coming together.he and thenit's done, you start the next book. and there's the day to day, page by page. is it working, is elwood a goodw character, is ting improving? am i doing things in a better way than i could have 20 years ago? so, all those doubts remain, and if they weren't there, you wouldn't be putting the work in. >> brown: all right. "the nickel boys." colson whitehead, thank you very much. >> yeah, thanks for having me. >> woodruff: an explosive political and corruption scandal is rocking the island of puerto rico. and, as william brangham explains, it's endangering the future of the island's leader, governor ricardo rossello. ♪ ♪ >> brangham: it's been like this for days.
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thousas of protestors in the streets of san juan, demanding the resignation of their governor, ricardo rossello. at tes, they've been met wit armed police and tear gas. ( protest chants ) governor exploded this weekend after a 900-page trove of text messages was leaked and published by puerto rico's in another, the governor's chief center for investigative journalism. the texts between governor rossello and members of his inner circle were repeatedly laced with misogyny, homophobia and crude jokes. targets included political opponents and the island's nancial oversight board. in one exchange, governor rosello called a former new york city councilwoman a "whore." in another, the governor's chief financial officer joked about dead bodies piling up after hurricane maria. the leak led to the resignation of two members of his administration, but this scandal comes right on the heels of the
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indictment and arrest of two other members of the governor's cabinet last week on fraud charges. a justice department investigation into federal contracts led to charges against x ople, including education secretary julia keleher, who was arrested for allegedly steering millions to politically-connected consultants. and all of this comes as president trump and congressional republicans continue to hammer puerto rican ngficials for their handli of the island'sinances-- both before and after hurricane maria. the white house issued a satement saying, t"the unfortunate events past week in puerto rico prove the president's concerns about mismanagement,oliticization ncd corruption have been valid." puerto rico's fi have been e ntrolled by an independent oversight board si16, and the island is trying to restructure some of its enormous debts. rosello is asking congress to send billions of dollars in additional federal money to fund the island's medictod program, anelp support ongoing
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hurricane disaster relief. >> in the past few days they have called for rossello to resign. overseeing affairs in u.s. territories joins us w. representative thank you for being on the newshour. you called on th governor to resign. he doesn't seem, according how going to resign.y, isn't do you still want him to go and why? >> as i said earlier my personal inion that he should resign is just that. it's the people of puerto rico that elected him, tht helped him make that decision. he hed rea very critical and delicate point right now as the commt tee tha share looks at the act and how to reform,
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th provide better support for the people of purto rico. looking at the medicaid funding and making sue it arrives to provide relief for the people of puerto rico. make sure the utilities company are running, as we look at th reforms that need to happen, you reach a point you're feeding a narrative. the narrative from the trump administration and others, we can't trust those people, they're not deserving of support. we saw that with the relief after the hurricane. how long and how much the people of puerto rico suffered. the list goes on. him as governor if he stands in the way at this point, i believe he does, of his country and the citizens of the united states thative on that island if they are going toe with held in terms of support that they need
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we don't want to jeopardize any chanism to bring that relief to the people of puerto raoubg oh, right now i thk the central government of puerto rico has to exmsamine thves and the governor has to examine himself for the common good. the common good sometimes is the consideration of step ago side. >>a a proerb what you say, it's for the voters of puerto rico to decide rossello's fate. >> exact>>. t doesn't seem he wants to go and does that stand in the way of granting the aid that all puerto ricans sa thy desperately need. >> it complicates it this way. it complicates you will see more demand for oversight. more controls on the part of the federal government, of the reef and aistance going to puerto rico. you will see more restrictions and more strings to suppo going there. i think that will complicate it.
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if we deal with credibility here it will be hard to convince republicans and democrats that the central government of puerto rico is prepared. the agencies are prepared to effectively and accountable, ethical, and non corrupt way deal with the releieve that people need. >> the president's statement in effect, my criticism was right. e government and puerto rico can't be trustedo manage finances. does the president have a point? >> i don think he does. it does feed his narrative and ads to people living in glass houses applies here.e int being it feeds the narrative, it feeds the about control. it feeds the narrative about people not being able to take ca ofemselves. the responsibility giving volume to the nratived
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justification of trump unfortunately falls squarely inf the handhis governor. >> as you w know,ld like to switch gears for a moment. much of washington is consumed with thearesident'scist a tact on four of your colleagues. all women of cor. what are you saying to your colleagues as how yous democrats need to respond? >> i think we need to respondwi a level of determination. i'm a first generation american. through whatever factors here i am, a member of my fwouldn't of thought it my parents wouldn't of dreamed of it. here i am i respect. that i love that. but you know i ink w i'm telling people is about determinatn. i think that the -- what we have seen, what we have heard from this president at the highest level is to encourage division based on re in this country. that is wrong. it is anti-american.
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we have to be detmined. we want to go in a different direction we have to rid ourselves and cleanse ourselves of this division of our country based on race and hate. i'm talking about determination. i'm talking about the things getting worst before they get better. at the end of the day when we get ahance to vote as citizens, we have a opportunity to turn, turn this around and provide a whole different direction for this country and take us out of the place we're in now thais painful to watch. certainly for me and my sons and daughters of immigrants in this count, very painful to feel. >> alright. representativeaul grijalva of arizona, thank you for your time. >> thank you.
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, an update to our lead story tonight. this evening, the house of representatives voted 240 to 187 on a resolution condemningpr ident trump's remarks about four democratic congresswomen of color as racist. four republicans and one independent joined the democrats in condemning the president's language. the president had tweeted theld women shgo back to the countries from which they came." all of them are american citizens, and three are american-born. mr. trump has insisted his comments were not racist. and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm judy us online, and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us at thepb newshour, thank you, and we'll see you soon. or >> majunding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> babbel. ge program that teaches spanish, french, italian,
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german, and more. >> consumer cellular. >> financial services firm raymond james. >> the ford foundation. working with visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide. >> carnegie corporation of new york. supporting innovations in education, democratic engagement, and the advaement of international peace and security. at >> and with the ongoing support of the instiutions and individuals. >> this program was madey possiblee corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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♪ hello, ome to "amanpour & co." here is what is coming up. president trump lights a ou dangfuse telling congresswomen of color to go back home but why is his party staying mostly silent? will hurd, republican congressman from texas, joins us. then -- five years since boko haram snatched hundreds of nigerian school girls from their dorms, a journalist with a new book about how this happened and why half the girls remain captives. lus seeing the future of our cities. heir walter isaacson speaks t