Entries in Interview (5)


Mexico‚Äôs New President: Safety a Primary Focus

Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images(MEXICO CITY) -- As he prepares to take over a country ripe with violence and plagued by drug wars, Mexico’s president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto is promising to focus first and foremost on making the streets of his nation safer.

Pena Nieto claimed victory after a recount on Wednesday. Over half of all ballot boxes were reopened and recounted amid accusations of vote buying. Following the official recount, Pena Nieto was again declared the next Mexican president.

Two days after his victory in Sunday’s election, Pena Nieto told ABC News’ Cecilia Vega in an interview that Mexico’s war on violence can be won, but policy changes must be made.

“We have to emphasize the reduction of violence that our country lives in right now. The policy of fighting insecurity has to have social support and to achieve that goal it’s necessary today to give Mexicans conditions of greater calm and security,” Pena Nieto said in an interview conducted in Spanish and translated into English.

More than 50,000 people have been killed as a result of Mexico’s drug wars since outgoing president Felipe Calderon took power in 2006, a staggering string of violence that has raised concerns in the United States as well. Only days before last weekend’s election, a car bomb in Nuevo Laredo, only miles from the border, injured seven people.

“Look, to obtain security that Mexican society demands goes hand in hand with obtaining results in other fields to precisely have a safe border,” Pena Nieto said. “I would tell them to those who live in the United States in worry and fear that this is the biggest challenge: to recover peace and tranquility for Mexicans and for those who visit us from the United States, to obtain this means to adjust the public safety strategy, secondly, obtain an environment of economic growth to generate jobs and opportunities of self-development. This will allow, or rather avoid, that many people, especially young people, get co-opted by organized crime.”

Pena Nieto also expressed that while US-Mexican relations will certainly be affected by who wins November’s elections in the U.S., he is impartial about the outcome. “I’m completely respectful of the decision that Americans will have over their president,” Pena Nieto said. “I will be respectful towards whoever results elected president of the United States. My interest will be to work a close relationship of increased collaboration, of respect to our sovereignty and above all to set shared goals and above all to be efficient in achieving these goals.”

In terms of Mexican immigration to the United States, Pena Nieto is eager to make remaining in Mexico an attractive option for his people. “For me, one of my major priorities will be to drive structural reforms that will allow Mexico to grow and generate jobs and opportunities for Mexicans,” he said. “In this way, migrating will be an option or a decision and not a necessity for many Mexicans.”

However, in the case of immigrants already in the U.S., Pena Nieto is in favor of amnesty: “If they’ve decided to remain in that country they should have the opportunity of fair treatment and their work be recognized.”

In his campaign for the presidency, Pena Nieto, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), pledged to focus less on apprehending narco-traffickers and more on reducing violence on the streets. However, Pena Nieto emphasized to Vega that certain policies that worked under Calderon will still be continued even after he leaves office.

“Those who suppose we have to reverse or cancel the policy of President Calderon are wrong. I’ve publicly recognized the progress and achievements he’s had in certain areas within the insecurity fight,” Pena Nieto said. “We’d have to strengthen the policy of capacity of civil force of Mexican State to combat organized crime, territorial presence. But also, we have to now in the adjustment of the strategy, increased emphasis in reducing violence. This is what worries Mexicans the most – the fear planted in many Mexicans due to this climate of insecurity. So we’ll have to say, what has worked in this government, will continue. We’ll strengthen actions started by the current government, but we have to adjust the necessary to combat impunity, re-establish the rule of law and regain the tranquility that Mexicans are asking for.”

Pena Nieto will take office Dec. 1 after last weekend’s election saw him win 38 percent of the vote. It signals a return to power for the PRI, a party that ruled for over seven decades before finally being ousted in 2000. Now Pena Nieto, 45, who is married to a soap opera star, will get to work on his ambitious plans to restore safety to a nation rocked by years of bloodshed.

“The policy of fighting insecurity has to have social support and to achieve that goal -- it’s necessary today to give Mexicans conditions of greater calm and security,” he said. “That’s why, the policy of public safety, in order to have social support, has to translate into results and peace of mind that Mexicans expect of the next government.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Denials of Violence by Syria's Assad Draws Rebukes

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's denial of responsibility for ordering a brutal crackdown against Syrian protesters in recent months drew strong rebukes from international organizations and the State Department on Wednesday.

In an exclusive interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, Assad conceded only that some members of his armed forces went too far in their actions, but not at his command.

"Every 'brute reaction' was by an individual, not by an institution, that's what you have to know," Assad told Walters. "There is a difference between having a policy to crack down and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference."

"But you have to give the order," Walters responded in the interview.

"On no one's command," Assad said. "There was no command to kill or be brutal."

Human rights organization Amnesty International on Wednesday disputed the notion that Assad is not responsible for the crackdown by Syrian forces, saying in a statement: "Under Article 103 of the Syrian Constitution [Assad] is supreme commander of the armed forces and should not pretend that he has no responsibility for them and their abuses.  If he was serious about wanting the security forces not to shoot at protesters or otherwise commit abuses and crimes he should have been saying so clearly and publicly on Syrian TV to his people and the security forces themselves -- and then taking steps to investigate what he calls their 'mistakes' -- what others perceive to be crimes against humanity -- and to prosecute the perpetrators."

United Nations Secretary-General spokesperson Martin Nesirky agreed, saying: "The Head of State of any country, including Syria, has ultimate responsibility for the protection of the population.  And I think that that's quite clear."

The U.N. recently estimated that the death toll in Syria has exceeded 4,000 people.

The State Department also reacted strongly on Wednesday to Assad's interview with Walters, saying the Syrian president appeared, "completely disconnected with reality."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: Syrian President Denies Ordering Bloody Crackdown

ABC News/Rob Wallace(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad defiantly denied any suggestion that he has ordered a bloody crackdown against protesters who are demanding that he resign -- and claims instead that most of the people who died in the unrest were his supporters and troops.

Assad, whose regime has been condemned by the West, the Arab League and former allies, dismissed suggestions that he step down and scoffed at sanctions being imposed on Syria.

His defiant stance was on display while speaking to ABC News' Barbara Walters, who confronted the Syrian dictator in Damascus with stories and evidence of civilians being tortured and killed, some of them children.

"People went from house to house. Children were arrested.  I saw those pictures," Walters said to Assad.

"To be frank with you, Barbara, I don't believe you," Assad said.

Walters asked Assad about the case of Hamza al-Khateeb, a 13-year-old boy detained by Syrian forces after a protest, whose lifeless body was returned to his parents shot, burned and castrated.  The boy's death galvanized protesters, and photos on the Internet inflamed world opinion.

Assad denied the boy had been tortured: "No, no, no.  It's not news," he insisted. "I met with his father, the father of that child and he said that he wasn't tortured as he appeared in the media."

According to a United Nations report released last week, more than 4,000 people have been killed and the country is embroiled in an undeclared civil war, an assessment Assad dismissed with the question, "Who said that the United Nations is a credible institution?"

In his interview with Walters -- his first sit down with an American journalist since the protests began -- Assad denied he ordered a crackdown and blamed the violence on criminals, religious extremists and terrorists sympathetic to al Qaeda he claims are mixed in with peaceful demonstrators.

He said the victims of the street violence were not civilian protesters battling decades of one-party rule.

"Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government, not the vice versa," said Assad.  The dead have included 1,100 soldiers and police, he added.

Assad conceded only that some members of his armed forces went too far, but claims they were punished for their actions.

"Every 'brute reaction' was by an individual, not by an institution, that's what you have to know," he said.  "There is a difference between having a policy to crackdown and between having some mistakes committed by some officials.  There is a big difference."

"But you have to give the order," countered Walters.

"We don't kill our people...No government in the world kills its people, unless it's led by a crazy person," Assad said.

At another point he said, "There was no command to kill or be brutal."



Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


In First Public Interview, Strauss-Kahn Calls Maid Incident a 'Moral Failure'

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images(PARIS) -- In his first public interview since his May 14 arrest over sexual assault allegations, Dominique Strauss-Kahn said he was "trampled and humiliated" in the U.S. judicial system, and called his encounter with a hotel maid "a moral failure."

Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund and a once -- and possibly future -- likely candidate for president of France, said he had not spoken publicly before the interview Sunday on France's TF1 television channel because he "wanted to speak in front of the French first."

During the 20-minute interview, Strauss-Kahn acknowledged his sexual encounter with Nofissatou Diallo, a New York hotel maid, but said the incident didn't include violence, constraint or aggression.  He repeatedly said the incident was a "moral failing" on his part, but not a crime.

"It was a moral failure.  I have regretted it every day for the last four months, and I am not done regretting it," Strauss-Kahn said.  He called his wife an "exceptional woman" who supported him from the first moment because she believed he was innocent.

He called the sexual encounter with Diallo a "failure vis-à-vis my wife, my children and my friends."

In May, Diallo accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in his hotel suite.  He was arrested and charged with sexual assault and attempted rape, but charges against him were dismissed last month after prosecutors said the accuser had changed her story too many times.

Strauss-Kahn is still facing a pending civil case, which he said is "weird for the French that when the charges are dropped, a civil case can move forward, but that's American law."

He repeated the claims some others have made that Diallo had financial motivations for accusing him of assault.  With repeated references to the prosecutor's report in the case in New York, Strauss-Kahn maintained that Diallo "lied" about the nature of the encounter.

When asked about how the U.S. justice system treated him, he said he was "very scared."

"When you are in the jaws of the machine, you think it can chew you up," he said.  "I was trampled and humiliated before I could defend myself."

He also said he suffered violence and that he "lost a lot," but he acknowledged that others in the same situation could have lost more.

Of the other accusations against him by Tristane Banon, a writer who has accused him of sexual assault, Strauss-Kahn said there was no aggression or violence in that instance either, but that the case is ongoing, so he wouldn't make any further comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Ferguson Storms Off Interview over Scandal Questioning

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The scandal surrounding Sarah Ferguson's 2010 News of the World "cash-for-access" sting has reemerged after she reportedly stormed out of an Australian television interview last week when a reporter tried to show her the notorious footage of her taking money from an undercover reporter.

A promotional spot for the controversial interview, taped for the 60 Minutes program on Australia's Channel Nine, touts the segment as "the weirdest interview you will ever see" and asks "what sent Fergie completely off the rails?"

In the advertisement, Ferguson is seen wagging her finger at reporter Michael Usher, rolling her eyes and saying "delete that bit."

In 2010, a reporter from the U.K.'s now shuttered News of the World tabloid ran a sting on the Duchess of York, where she was filmed offering access to her former husband Prince Andrew for £500,000 to the reporter who she thought was an Indian businessman.

Ferguson's manager John Scott has reportedly stated that the Duchess of York's statements in the upcoming 60 Minutes interview are taken out of context and demanded that that they be edited out of the final broadcast of the interview.  Scott lashed out at 60 Minutes executive producer Hamish Thomson about the interview, which he refers to as an "ambush" and "entrapment."

"[Thomson] hasn't had the decency to get back to me.  Nor has [Nine Network chief executive] David Gyngell, despite showing the Duchess in the worst possible light," Scott told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

"We had gone through all the questions and subject matter beforehand and filmed all the walking in the park footage before we sat down.  She did walk out when she was ambushed -- no, it was entrapment -- but after cooling down she said to me, 'F*** them, let's do this', and she did, but it was a banal interview and her demeanor reflected that," Scott said.

Thomson shot back at Scott's statements on Thursday, saying that it was in no way entrapment of Ferguson.

"She agreed to talk about the issue, as she has already extensively done, so it certainly wasn't entrapment," Thomson said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio