tv Amanpour Company PBS January 25, 2019 4:00pm-5:01pm PST
hello, everyone and welcome to "amanpour & company." here's what's coming up. the political crisis in venezuela takes a dramatic turn. the leader of the opposition declares himself president and the united states backs him. we hear from the president of neighboring colombia who is also supporting the power grab. then, disinvited. trump's state of the union before congress is on hold until the government shutdown is over. democratic congressman adam schiff joins me. plus, the retelling of native american history and how this civilization transformed over the past century. writer and academic david truer talks to our walter isaacson.
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welcome to the program. everyone. i'm christiane amanpour in london. two men are claiming to be the legitimate president of venezuela at this hour after the leader of the opposition and head of the national assembly, juan guaido, swore himself into office. it comes amid dramatic anti-government protests on the streets of caracas against the incumbent president nicolas maduro who many blame for the economic and humanitarian catastrophes that are plaguing their country. minutes after guaido declared himself interim president, he was recognized by president and a host of other latin american countries including brazil and colombia. they followed very quickly. ma daught maduro's regime is desperately seeking support from beijing and moscow who says the u.s. is simply pouring gas on the fire in caracas. in response, maduro ordered u.s. diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours.
>> translator: i have decided to break diplomatic and political releases with the imperialist government of the united states. out of venezuela they go. enough interventionism. there is dignity here. here, there are people to defend this land. >> but the united states government says they are not going anywhere with president trump warning that all options are on the table. so let's look at the manmade disaster that led to this dramatic showdown. venezuela has the largest known oil ares in the world. two decades ago, it became the continent's richest nation and the fossil fortune helped cement the political fortunes of the left wing president, populist hugo chavez. he ruled over a system plagued by mismanagement and corruption. and when the oil price collapsed after chavez died in 2013, so did the economy. as i discovered, chavez's
handpicked successor, nicolas maduro, became steadily more as the economy continued to disintegrate. do you take any responsibility at all? >> translator: yes, i have responsibility of all that is happening in my country. that's why i'm the president. i assume the responsibility. all countries have problems. >> but in fact, maduro cast blame on everywhere but on himself. while millions of his people have fled the country running from those desperate food lines waiting for dwindling supplies. running from hyperinflation that hit 1 million% last year and meant dramatic hour by hour price increases. running from disintegrating hospitals. running from rampant street violence. they approach us as if we're terrorists, this woman pleaded. as riot police looked on. gentlemen, we're just hungry. maduro was sworn in for a second six-year term earlier this month
after an election last year which was marred by widespread accusations of vote rigging and fraud. so amid that political crisis, also a concern about the venezuelan military and what action it might take. in a moment, we'll hear from the president of colombia who's joined washington if backing guaido, but first the united states was the leading country to announce its approval of the interim president. despite a massive government crisis of its own and more drama around the russia investigation. as president trump's former lawyer michael cohen says that he'll delay his testimony in front of congress because of threats against his family from the president. that as the senate intelligence committee issues a subpoena for cohen to appear. that would likely be behind closed doors. i've also been speaking to democratic congressman adam schiff, chairman of the house intelligence committee, about compelling cohen to testify. also, of course, about what's happening in venezuela.
congressman schiff, welcome back to our program. >> thank you. great to be with you. >> what do you make of all these rather dramatic developments in venezuela and between the united states? do you agree with the president's immediate recognition of an interim self-declared president there? juan guaido? >> it's a very unusual step. i think it may be warranted in these extreme circumstances where the government there is so plainly illegitimate, the elections have been fraudulent. it's essentially turned into a dictatorship that is repressing its people. so i support the recognition of the opposition and certainly supporting the people of venezuela. but i do have to say i'm profoundly concerned with whether this administration has the capacity to think through the consequences of what it has just done. it, of course, means that it throws into question venezuelan assets in this country. it poses very thorny questions about venezuelan representatives
in the united states, to the united nations. and we to make sure we protect our diplomats there and they don't become pawns in this struggle. >> i was going to ask you that. obviously, president maduro said he wants to see all u.s. diplomats out. he's given them a 72-hour deadline. u.s. is not responding to that. he's done that to other countries also who have joined the u.s. in recognizing. what could happen? i mean, are you concerned about them being taken hostage? are you concerned about them being, i don't know, if there's some kind of military crackdown? >> i am very concerned about their wellbeing and i hope and imagine administration is taking steps right now to make sure that they're protected and they're safeguarded. again, you know, this is a state department that is dealing at probably only about two-thirds its strength. it's been hollowed out by the trump administration and this is the problem when you do that. you don't have the diplomatic resources that you need and when emergencies come along, you're
not well prepared. so i do have profound concerns about it. at the same time, we do need to stand with the freedom-loving people of venezuela. indeed, freedom-loving people all over the world. i have to say also, though, i think the administration's policy in other parts of the world has made it more difficult for them to make the case in venezuela because this president has so often cozied up to various autocrats and dictators. it leaves the president and his policies subject to criticism that they favor right-wing autocrats, they only oppose left-wing ones. we should be opposing aing auto in all its forms. >> i want to get to that in a moment. i know one of your first committee investigations is going to be on that issue of authoritarianism. let me drill down on more on venezuela. this probably, as you said, is the right time to oppose an authoritarian and be on the side
of the people and the side of the opposition in venezuela, after so much terrible hardship that's gone on for the last many, many years. but as you know, the united states has a very complex history in latin america and there are already people saying this is a coup, this is unacceptable intervention in 2019. where do you stand on that? >> i think we have to be very careful not to allow maduro to use the united states as a foil any more than they already have in the past. it's very important we act in concert with our allies. i'm glad to see many allies are joining us in recognizing the opposition. i think we should work through the oas and other organizations and make sure that this is an international effort and that it's not simply positioned as maduro versus trump or maduro versus the united states. >> uh-huh. the orkts oas, of course, the
organization of american states. some have also said that what happened in the last 24 hours looks suspiciously coordinated. in other words, juan guaido declared himself interim president. then the president of the united states immediately tweeted support. then other allies did as well. it just all seemed to happen in lockst lockstep like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle were ready do be implemented. how read in were you on the intelligence of this, given that you're chairman of the intelligence committee and what can you say to these questions? >> you know, i have been read in. we have been provided intelligence by our agencies on the situation over time. and up until recently. that's not really something i'm able to discuss here, but i do think that the policies that we're articulating in terms of support for the venezuelan people are well grounded. and i can only hope that this administration can also execute them well. we want to obviously stay out of any kind of military confrontation. we're not going to get involved
militarily, and you know, my profound concern is that the presence of our diplomats there not lead to any kind of intervention or justification for intervention. so we'll be watching this very carefully in congress. >> and of course, it does happen certainly for the president and for congress at a very, very difficult time in the united states, in the capital where you are right now because this shutdown continues. but let me ask you, what you make of the fact that the president overnight has agreed, has basically, you know, agreed to house speaker np eer nancy terms. that he does not deliver his state of the union while the government remains in shutdown. >> i don't think he had any choice. when was talking about well, then i'll look at alternatives. there's no alternative. i do agree with what he said this morning, there's no alternative to giving the state of the union from the house chamber. and there's one thing that this president cares about more than
anything else and that is the pomp and circumstance of the office. he likes to appear like a president. he doesn't apparently like to act like a president but he does like to appear like one. this matters a great deal to him. i wouldn't be surprised if at the end of the day when this terrible chapter is written in history books, the decision to postpone the state of the union is the one thing that gets his attention. he doesn't particularly care about the hardship that's being imposed on hundreds of thousands of fellow americans. he can live with that. he's got a whole history in the private sector of stiffing people who work for him, but not getting to give this address, that does matter to him and may prompt him to move more to end this terrible shutdown. >> what can you tell me then? to that end there are all sorts of reports, the loss is looking for ways to end the shutdown including in some form or fashion cobbling together that $5 billion. tell me what's going on? there are all sorts of different
suggestions of what's afoot to try to find some kind of compromise way out on the border, on the wall, and on security. >> well, our position has been all along and it remains, you don't shut down the government because you lack the votes for something. if we start operating that way or establish this precedent where this president or any other can get what they want when they don't have the votes by essentially holding the government hostage, we're going to see a lot more of this. so this has got to stop. in terms of how it ultimately comes to an end, we're seeing republicans in the senate start to break with the president. and you know, we have to give them more and more reason to break. i would hope that the hardship people are enduring this enough. it's never been about border security, though. that's the problem here. we've always supported border security. we've always been open to negotiating border security. this is about a fraudulent promise that the president made that mexico was going to pay for this big, beautiful wall from
sea to shining sea. it was never going to happen. now he wants to replace that fraudulent promise with a different fraudulent promise th that, no, taxpayers are going to pay for it now but they're going to get reimbursed through his new nafta. that's not going to happen, either. at the end of the day, more and more of the republicans will break with the president. we will i hope give them the opportunity to do that and re-open the government and end this terrible period. >> let me just ask you, then, about this report in npr that moderate democrats have written a letter to nancy pelosi asking her to make the president an offer. in other words, you know, open up the government and we'll promise to open a debate over border security, guarantee a house vote by the end of february. is that something you're hearing? >> you know, i haven't read the letter, but honestly, this is what we've been saying all along which is open up the government. and we can have our debate over
border security. we can see what we can resolve in terms of border security. that's really always been our position. you know, we don't expect that the president isn't going to agree perfectly with what we've been offering in terms of border security. but at the end of the day, we can't have these discussions while the government is closed and people are going through hardship and our security is deteriorating and our fbi agents aren't able to do their work and the customs and border patrol can't do their work, and our coast guard can't do their work and people are in soup lines. we need to re-open the government then we can have this debate. >> i must say the soup lines and yard sales and the food stamps for these people, it really is hitting a nerve around the world. people can't quite believe that this is happening to federal employees in the united states. now well into a month of this. but let me move now to the investigation that you're overseeing. one of them, of course, is the allegations of collusion with russia and the latest situation
with president trump's former lawyer and right-hand man, michael cohen. so, michael cohen was meant to testify before the committee. he says he's postponing it because of, quote, ongoing threats against his family from president trump and president trump's personal lawyer, rudy giuliani. you've written a response to that. when you hear that from michael cohen, what do you think? >> well, look, i can certainly understand the concerns that michael cohen has over the threats that the president, rudy giuliani, are making, addressed to his wife, his father-in-law. this is the kind of behavior you see in the mob. it's not what you expect of the president of the united states or his lawyer. it's clearly an effort by the president to try to intimidate this witness. so it's so clearly improper and i think just adds to a growing body of evidence of attempted obstruction of justice by the president of the united states. in terms of our oversight responsibility in congress
though, i've made it clear to mr. cohen and his counsel that he'll come back before the intelligence committee. he came before our committee before. he did not tell the truth. we want to hear what the truth is. so he's coming back before our committee, voluntarily, we hope. but we are prepared to subpoena him to come back if that's necessary and we're going to be doing that fairly soon. so we expect to have his testimony in the near future. >> all right. that's quite clear on that. again, let me just bring you back to, you used the term, mob tactics. you've talked about a pattern of obstruction of justice. did you actually write a letter saying that efforts to intimidate witnesses, scare their family members or prevent them from testifying before congress are textbook, textbook mob tactics that we condemn in the strongest terms. the president should make no statement or take any action to obstruct congress. independent oversight or investigative efforts."
just to be clear, are you saying that these threats amount to obstruction of justice? >> i'm saying that they are evidence of an attempt to obstruct justice and you can imagine if any of these things were done in private, let's say we learned about a private conversation between the president of the united states and michael cohen in which the president said, if you testify, i'm going to urge the justice department to investigate your father-in-law. maybe investigate your wife. that would be very clear efforts to intimidate a witness. the fact that it's done in the open doesn't make it any better. and, you know, it's certainly true i think that the public has become numb to this completely improper conduct by the president of the united states. and sometimes we just need to wake up and see what's right before our eyes but we cannot accept a president of the united states who acts like a mafia don and basically says people shouldn't cooperate with investigators, that they're rats, that the people we should
respect are those that refuse to cooperate and go to prison for various federal crimes. that people that are willing to testify against him, he's going to do everything he can to have their family members investigated. this is not conduct that we can tolerate. >> so i find it really interesting in light of what you just said, in light of what's happening in venezuela, that, in fact, it's not a russia investigation that you will be chairing first. on your docket, the first up is the investigating the rise of authoritarianism around the world. why did you make that choice and that decision? >> to me, this has always been the much bigger story. we've gotten caught sometimes in the minutia of what rudy giuliani says in the morning and contradicts himself in the evening or the twists and turns of the russia investigation, we missed the bigger picture which is not only that russia has been intervening in many other countries to undermine their democracies but more broadly than that, there is a real challenge to liberal democracy
around the world. there's a rise of autocracy in every corner from the globe from venezuela to the philippines to egypt to istanbul. obviously russia. in poland and hungary. all over the world, you see a rise of autocracy. normally the president of the united states would be pushing back, would be the champion of democracy and human rights. that hasn't happened under this presidency. all too often, the president has made common cause with the autocrats. here with maduro, it's a left-wing autokrcrat. most of the autocrats, if not all of them, the president has made common cause with right-wing autocrats. it shouldn't matter. freedom, support of freedom needs to be steadfast whether the threat comes from the right or left. and that's what america always stood for. it ought to stand for that now. i think this is the ideological struggle of our time.
liberal democracy against autocracy right now. >> many people would agree with you. can i just end by asking you something slightly more off base, and that would be, america's other obsession is football, and your hometown team, the los angeles rams -- i mean, the bottom line is i am not a football expert, but all my team is. they want me to ask you about the los angeles rams getting to the super bowl, but on a pretty bad call against the saints. what do you make of that, and is that something you might consider investigating? >> it was a terrible non-call. i think that's pretty inarguable. and even, you know, both of the football players involved in that play i think acknowledge what a terrible call or non-call it was. i don't think there's anything for congress to do about this particularly. i will say that the one thing the rams will have going for
them in the super bowl that will prevent people from rooting against the rams because of that bad call is the fact they're playing the patriots. and there are plenty of people wanting to root against the patriots. so i will be cheering on our los angeles rams and looking forward to their bad-call-free super bowl win over the patriots. >> there you go. congressman adam schiff, thank you so much for joining me. >> thank you. >> and of course, the super bowl will be february 3rd, just over a week from now. let us turn back to the political power struggle in venezuela. president trump is officially recognizing juan guaido as the interim president and secretary of state mike pomp yeo is calli on the organization of person states to follow suit. >> all member states how have committed to uphold the interamerican democratic charter must now recognize the interim president. the time for debate is done. the regime of former president nicolas ma cure dur row is ig legitimate.
the regime of former president nicolas maduro is illegitimate. his regime is morally bankrupt, economically incompetent, and it is profoundly corrupt. it is undemocratic to the core. >> colombia is one of those member states to recognize guaido and it has given humanitarian refuge to nearly a million of its venezuelan neighbors. colombian president ivan duque joins me from the world economic forum in switzerland. welcome back to the program. >> how are you doing? it's a pleasure to be on your show again. >> talking about something really game changing in your neighborhood back home in latin america. do you accept -- i know you recognized juan guaido, the opposition leader. why do you do that and do you fear that maduro is going to try to galvanize his people and other nations against what he's calling a coup? >> well, first of all, let me say, christiane, what we have
seen in venezuela in the last years is the most brutal l dictatorship. they have eliminated independent powers. they have destroyed any single opportunity of private development. and they have also annihilated free press and at the same time they have bankrupt the society. people are dying of hunger. and we have received in colombia more or less a million venezuelan brothers. so now what we have seen in the last days is a joint action from the whole hemisphere saying no more dictatorship and recognizing juan guaido as the interim president of venezuela, legitimizing the national assembly as the only legitimate democratic party in venezuela. so i think this effort that has been shown to the world demonstrates that the whole region is saying no more maduro and we want the international community to keep on putting pressure so venezuela can
liberate itself from this brutal dictatorship. >> how do you read the internal situation now in venezuela, in caracas? president maduro is now being called former president by the united states, but he claims still to be president. it's said that the military is standing by him. can you, from your experience and your knowledge and your intelligence, tell us what you think, how you think, that will play out? >> well, the first thing that i should say, i think this is the first time in recent latin american history that we have seen such a big diplomatic effort from all the countries to support an interim president and to put pressure on a dictatorship to come to an end. and i see also a big popular support in venezuela. people came out to the streets yesterday giving us strong support to the national assembly and giving strong support to juan guaido. i think this international effort and what is happening
inside with all the population supporting the national assembly gives a strong message to the military on not to intervene and let the people's will apply in this case because the whole world is saying no more to this brutal repression that we have seen and the whole world is saying that there needs to be a transition and that the venezuelan people need to recover their liberties. i so think this effort we have seen in the region of all the countries working jointly to transition in the sake of democracy, i have never seen it before. i think this is an event that thud should be applauded and the whole international community needs to respond to this action and need to join the recognition of juan guaido as the interim president of venezuela. >> so, i mean, we say interim. i'm going to ask you what you expect him to do in a moment. but, again, obviously, maduro is calling on china, on russia, to
support him. russia has already said that the united states by being so quick to recognize guaido is pouring gasoline onto the fire of this crisis, and this is what the deputy foreign minister told our colleague earlier today. >> we warn everyone and not just the u.s. but some others who may entertain these ideas, from these type of action. the resort to military power would be catastrophic. >> so he's been warning the u.s. or anyone not to use military power. i just want to know how you think russia might affect or influence the situation, what help it might give to maduro if asked to do so? and, you know, i know it's a big stretch, but i speak with the syria situation in hand, it's completely different, but russia did intervene and it's dominated the situation there. >> well, first of all let me say what we have in venezuela is a brutal dictatorship.
and the whole countries of the hemisphere signed the democratic charter in 2001. and basically, what has given legitimacy to this joint diplomatic action is to protect and make applicable the interamerican democratic charter. hand in hand, the lima group at the beginning of january, made a very strong statement giving only legitimacy to the venezuelan national assembly. what happened yesterday was that the national assembly gave the presidential powers to juan guaido and he needs to re-establish the institutional in venezuela and call for free elections. we all have to work together in this line of action. and i would believe that any other action in the diplomatic sphere that would come from other countries won't have a legitimacy because we have seen the oas, the lima group, and the
protection and the defense of the democratic charter as the issue that is giving legitimacy to this important diplomatic joint action by most of the countries in the hemisphere with just few exceptions. so i think this is something that has to be applauded, and i hope that russia and china do not interfere in this process because latin america as a whole wants this transition for the sake of democracy and for the sake of the protection of the interamerican democratic charter that was signed in 2001. >> so how would you answer people who are very suspicious about u.s. intentions and point to the past u.s. interventions in latin america? and particularly, i'm going to play you a bit of a sound bite from vice president pence who just as juan guaido was becoming head of the national assembly sort of urged him in other words to do what he's done. just listen to what pence said two days ago. >> the united states joins with
all freedom-loving nations in recognizing the national assembly as the last vestige of democracy, for it's the only body elected by you, the people. as such, the united states supports the courageous decision by juan guaido, the president of your national assembly, to assert that body's constitutional powers, declare maduro a usurper, and call for the establishment of a transitional government. >> yikes. president duque, that is an absolute black and white intervention into venezuelan affairs. do you see it that way? >> well, i don't see it that way, christiane, because there's one previous element that should be considered. it was that on january 4th, the lima group made a very strong statement, first of all, recognizing the venezuelan national assembly as the only valuable democratic power in venezuela.
and at the same time, calling for free elections, and at the same time, calling for the dictatorship to end. if you look what happened afterwards, then it was the oas who made a strong iteration in the same sense and the same thing happened with the oas secretary-general and then all of the countries in south america or most of the countries and most of the countries in central america and even canada also expressed the same line of action. now, what vice president pence said two days ago is in total coordination and in total reaction to this effort that has been put before the international community by the lima group at the beginning of january. yesterday, the national assembly the only democratic legitimate power in venezuela, gave their transitional powers considering the venezuelan constitution to juan guaido and i think now what juan guaido needs to do is re-establish institutional order and call for elections. we also saw a big popular support yesterday and i think
that's also a very strong message for the military not to repress citizenship. that is calling for the end of dictatorship. >> i hear you saying that very loud and clear to the military via this interview, and, you know, let's hope they listen to you and there's no bloodshed on the streets. it no more bloodshed on the streets. just for the sake of our audience, put your professorial hat on for a second and just quickly explain to us what is the lima group? oas we know is the organization of american states. what is the lima group? >> the lima group was formed to deal with the venezuelan situation and has formed with most of the countries in south america and some countries from central america. and it is a group that has been analyzing the humanitarian crisis, the high grace crisis. and i consider that is a very important group because most of the countries in south america and central america are the one who have more contact with venezuela and this group is
taking a lead. the lead that this group has taken is to express that the only valuable power in the democratic sense in venezuela is the national assembly. it was expressed in january. and then this lima group was the group that came to the oas a couple of days ago and expressed publicly that that should be the same line of action that the interamerican system should follow in order to protect it and the democratic charter. this lima group is the precursor of this movement expanded oas that has become a hemispheric effort. i hope in the next hours and the next days we'll have some countries of europe also recognizing juan guaido as a legitimate president of venezuela. >> as we speak, great britain has done so. we'll see how the ball gets rolling. of course, what happens in venezuela has a big impact on the united states. all of that hemts fehemisphere central america has a big impact
north of the border as well. before i get to that, do you know juan guaido? have you ever met him? what kind of person is he? he hasn't really been seen today in the 24 hours since he made this declaration. how -- what does he need to do? >> well, first of all, i haven't had the pleasure of meeting him personally. i've spoken with him by phone. i see a courageous man. i see a patriot. i see a man who is defending not only the legitimacy of the national assembly but a man who is highly committed to institutionality in venezuela and do everything in his powers, his legitimate powers, to make venezuela enter into a transition for democracy. usually i think he's been trying to be prosecuted by the dictatorship, but i think now the recognition that he has gotten from the whole world give him more energy, more motivation to keep on fighting for his people. >> given what you do know about
nicolas maduro and all colombia has suffered during this crisis with so many desperate people fleeing to your country, do you think maduro is going to sort of lie down and take this or somehow fight back? >> well, obviously dictators sometimes try to fight back. as i said, christiane, what we saw yesterday is a historical moment in latin american diplomacy. the whole hemisphere or most of the countries in the hemisphere publicly recognized this transition of juan guaido and the national assembly. i think that's a very important message. i saw very important multilateral reactions. for example, the interamerican cognize juan guaido. i think the dictatorship is being left alone and now the whole world expects the military not to repress and allow the people to express themselves and allow the national assembly and president guaido to accelerate
this transition in favor of the venezuelan people and in favor of the quality of life of all venezuelan citizens. >> you've spent a lot of time in the united states. i mean, on the one hand, here is the american government, the administration, you know, acting on behalf of people and that should be welcomed. on the other hand, i want to ask you in general how you see the united states, president trump's relationship with, you know, mexico, the wall, central america. all these areas putting pressure on the government in the u.s., how you think that's going to play out. >> well, christiane, let me respond to your question based on my own experience. i've been in the presidency for almost six months and i've got a lot of support from the u.s. administration. not only to expand trade between our countries, not only in security coordination, but also helping us in developing new opportunities in science and technology and even dealing with
this humanitarian crisis. we have received support in health care provision to many venezuelan citizens and those are things that i applaud. from my experience, i have seen an administration that wants to strengthen the relationship with latin america and specifically, i see an administration that is highly committed to preserve democracy in the region. >> what would you advise the u.s. in terms of trying to stop the flow of people? it also requires, you know, helping sort out issues. you said you've received a lot of help. but central america needs a lot of help. people are not just fleeing because they've got nothing better to do. they're fleeing failing economies, crimes, drugs, all of that kind of stuff. i mean, surely the u.s. also has a potential for playing a positive role in stopping the pull factor, so to speak. >> well, i think the whole region has to recognize that sometimes migration happens due
to many reasons. obviously, when you have expansion of poverty, when you have laws of entrepreneurship capacity, that makes the population fly away from its countries and we've seen it in the case of venezuela. obviously it's not the same situation in all of the countries in central america. i definitely believe that there has to be more investment and more formal job creation in order to prevent people willing to leave the countries seeking for new opportunities. so if you ask me, i'm not in the position of trying to give advice, but i'll say from my own experience, what i can say from my own experience in the past as somebody who has worked in development, i think the great preventer of migration is the access to formal jobs, the access to opportunities, the private initiative and the expansion of industry and new sorts of employment.
i think that should be ksh consider the in central america and south america. if you see the case of venezuela, what has triggered this migration crisis is the deterioration of the economy, how people have been impoverished by the wrong decisions taken by the dictatorship. that's why i believe there's a transition in venezuela, a successful transition in venezuela. if there's an opportunity to rebuild the institutions of democracy, it will come behind the development of new investments. and i think that could be also a good opportunity for latin america and especially for colombia and south america. that would be my response to your question. >> just, finally, colombia has gone through its own troubles. had a long, long war with the farc, marxist guerillas. there are still others out there, the eln, for instance and there was a big car bomb attack he can last week. you've lost many, many people,
and you've taken part in a peace march since then. what can you tell us now about the -- you think you're going to see another sort of explosion of terrorism in colombia? is the peace process dead? >> one thing that is important is that in the case of the process with farc, as i said many times and i had the opportunity to share this idea with you in september when you invited me to your show, is that we are committed to help the people that are in there, corporation cycle, former farc members. we're also committed of taking a private initiative to parts of the country that used to be under violence, and we're also committed that those people who are generally in the process of incorporation have productive activities. now, in the case of eln, eln had a peace process with the previous administration and for 17 months of negotiation, they responded with more than 400 criminal attacks and more than
111 assassinations. that shows that there's no willingness. and now they respond with these brutal attacks. so my commitment is to face this organization, bring them to justice and that act of terror will not be left in impunity. >> all right. president ivan duque of colombia, thank you so very much for joining us on this important day. thank you very much. >> it's been a pleasure to be here. >> thank you. we asked the government of president maduro for its reaction but it hasn't responded yet. it is commonly said that to understand the events of today, we must turn back the pages. our next guest begins his story in 1890 and the massacre at wounded knee. david truer is a writer and he's part native american. he gre up as part of the obijiwa tribe on the indian reservation in minnesota. he's now melding memoir with
history in his new book, "the heartbeat of wounded knee." it's a timely counternarrative of life for modern narratives and he tells our walter isaacson why he believes america is still at war with itself. >> welcome to the show. >> thank you. >> tell me about your background. >> well, it's an odd one. you know, my mother is from the reservation where i was raised, where i grew up. and my father is an austrian holocaust survivor. he's jewish. was jewish. he passed away a couple years ago. and he had a lot of life adventures which are too long for our program. and really deserves a book of its own. and wound up on the reservation in the '50s with his first family. he was teaching high school on the reservation. and for my father, he described it as feeling like he was finally coming home. he said, i was rejected in austria and i had to flee for my
life. and i was rejected and ridiculed as a small strange foreign jewish boy in ohio where they settled during the war. i've been rejected all my life and when i finally made it to the reservation, i felt like i belonged. i understood the people here and they understood me. and we understood each other without having to talk about it. with my father, it was a homecoming when he arrived there. and he made a life there. he was such a fascinating guy. he had a kind of attitude in the '50s that no one else did. when he taught high school, he walked into his classroom at cass lake high school with predominantly native students in his class and he just assumed that his native students were smart, capable, interesting, and that they could work hard. he had very high expectations
of his students, and that was not the norm. when my mother went back to i think cass lake high school for her junior year, her first day in the hallway, the principal passes her, he says, well, peggy, what are you doing here? she goes, i'm back at school. he goes, why? because you could legally drop out of school after your sophomore year and native students did and there was no expectation you would continue on and graduate like my mother wanted to and like she did, much less go on to nursing school like she did and then on to law school to become the first american indian woman judge in the country. so my parents were really fascinating people and really hardworking and what's interesting, on one hand, the country did its best to destroy my mother and my mother's people, and on the other hand, it saved my father's life. so, i grew up in my family knowing the two faces of this country and i guess implicitly understanding that it's not one
or the other, that our country is always both. it's at war with itself all the time between its good intentions and its stated ideals and its practice. and the ways in which it falls short of those ideals. my book, i guess, also is an attempt to wed those two disparate strands of the american practice closely together to notice them so we can, you know, do better. >> you know, your book is titled "heartbeat at wounded knee." and it seems to echo d. brown's book, you know, "bury my heart at wounded knee." tell me why you did that? >> d. brown's book, "bury my heart at wounded knee" was published in 1970. it is to date the bestselling book about american indian history ever published. it was hugely influential from moment it was published. it's never been out of print. it's a big book and sort of squats over the literature in impressive fashion but i remember reading that book in
college and i remember some of the things that he said in the prologue to that book, something like, my book is about the plains wars or focuses on plains wars. i start in 1850 and i end in 1890 at the massacre at wounded knee where, and i'm almost quoting, the culture and the civilization of the american indian was destroyed, period. then he goes on notice prologue to say at the very end, so if you happen to travel to a modern indian reservation and see the hopelessness and squalor and poverty, perhaps by reading this book, you will understand why. i remember reading that in college and being really, really upset. this was back in 1990 and '91. and i thought, i'm not dead and my family's not dead and my tribe is certainly not dead. not destroyed. our culture isn't destroyed. our religion isn't gone. we have all these things. that's the common assumption. that is the wildly-held belief that for all intents and
purposes, american indian life ended in 1890 at that massacre and when the frontier was closed in the following year, officially by the federal government, and that everything that we've been doing since then is not really living, it's a kind of afterlife of perpetual suffering. >> as an identity and as a minority group, native americans can be somewhat invisible. and by that, i mean if you walk the streets -- >> right. >> -- nobody would say, oh, he's a native american. >> right. >> you can always assimilate or pass or whatever. how does that affect the native american experience? >> well, that's the thing, there is no native american experience. that's, in part, what the book is about. there are millions of us and so we have millions of different experiences. there are native people like me go who grew up on a reservation. there are native people who have never been to their reservation. there are matie native people ww up in cities and suburbs. there are native people who are educate appeared those who not.
some are christian, some who aren't. some are incredibly stupid and some are brilliant. there are just native experiences. and that is in part what i'm trying to show in "the heartbeat of wounded knee," the way our lives are nuanced, complicated, layered, and incredibly diverse. so if you ask that question to any number of native guests on the show, you would probably get as many different answers to that question. >> so does it make sense, then, to even think about a native american identity? >> i don't know if it makes any sense to talk about a native american identity, but i think we can talk about native american experience in that many of us inaggregate have experienced and contain within us a set of historical experiences and a legacy of certain events in the past. we have shared experience which unites us and makes us different
from other groups in the united states certainly. in terms of identity, it's just -- that's too varied. >> what is the urbanization move that's happened to many ethnic groups, what has that done to the ability of native americans to feel they have some shared experiences? >> just about half of all natives live off of reservations. of those who live off, some live in cities but some live in suburbs, some live in small towns. cities of about 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 people. so there's a whole range of off-reservation experience, too. it's not just the reservation ends, say, los angeles. but, you know, now for the past 70 years or since world war ii, we have -- we experienced a significant migration to cities. for the same reasons that african-americans migrated from the south to urban centers in the north during the great
migration. for economic opportunity. to escape our experience of, i guess what you could also call a kind of jim crow existence. in or near reservation communities. and native folk who have moved to cities have had a range of different experiences. some moved back almost immediately. didn't work for them. some have stayed and made liv l. rich ones. that's another thing the book is also about, the ways in which not only are native communities not just in america, but of it, we have been changed and shaped by this country, but this country has been changed and shaped by us. in a fundamental way. >> we just elected the first two native american women to congress. >> amazing. i'm so happy. the first two native american women to join congress. we have peggy flanagan in minnesota who's the highest elected american indian in an
executive position. she was elected as lieutenant governor of minnesota. it's an incredible time to be native. and not only how lucky for us, but how lucky for their constituents. how lucky for the people of kansas to have him as their representative. who better would understand the ways in which the needs of midwesterners have been ignored, have been pushed to the side, the ways in which the communities in kansas have been put second to the interests of multinational corporations in the form of agribusiness, for example. her experience as an american indian woman and the kinds of structural inequality and disenfranchisement which have visited native communities over the decades and century, are some of the same kinds of disenfranchisements which are being visited upon middle america right now. who better to lead them, who better to help them? >> so you think the narrative of
the american indian in some ways is part and parcel of all the narratives of america about disenfranchisement, fitting in, ethnic groups. >> right. >> and dissimulation. >> no spoilers, but for me, the thing that i hope people take away from the book more than anything is that if you want to understand america, broadly, you have to pay attention to american indian history. there's a way in which people read indians in fiction or nonfiction as -- and the way people read us, the reasons why they read us, are kind of like as a liberal act. or as an act of atonement for the transgressions of the country. right? they read us as almost like they're doing community service. and that's kind. that might be compassionate, but
it's not the best reason and the best way to read us or to think about us. if you want to understand how power works, look at the ways in which policy has affected native people. if you want to understand the power and importance and the constitution of the supreme court, look at federal indian law. i think the author's name is charles wilkinson. he wrote a book about federal indian law and noted in the 1970s and '80s the supreme court heard more cases about federal indian law and tribal sovereignty than any other category of law. more than banking. more than immigration. more than capital punishment. more than abortion. the court came to be what it is and work the way it does and understand itself the way it does by way of thinking about us.
so knew you need to think about us if you want to understand the supreme court and how it works. and if you want to understand the relationship between the federal government and states, you have to consider the relationship between the federal government states and sovereign indian nations because it was in that three-way battle in georgia, in the early 19th century, in what became known as the marshall trilogy. cisions about indian removal. you have to know that history to understand the beginning of the battle between state and federal power. and indians' place in that battle. so, got to pay attention to us. >> narrative of america really does begin with the indigenous people. >> yeah. the first act. the first act of, you know, of the colonists to protest the british was not just to dump tea in boston harbor. they dressed up as mohawk indians in face paint and
buckskin and then dumped the tea in boston harbor. >> david, thank you so much. >> thank you so much. >> appreciate it. >> and that is a great image. the story there of an important thread that runs through the rich tapestry of the american experience. before we go, the united states has just requested a meeting of the u.n. security council to discuss the crisis in venezuela. and join me again tomorrow for my interview with the iranian-american journalist, jason, his story of life in a tehran prison and as he says, being a bargaining chip in a geopolitical game. that it is for our program tonight. thanks for watching "amanpour & company" on pbs, and do join us again tomorrow night. uniworld is a proud sponsor of "amanpour & company." when bea tollman's 60 year
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