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Climate Dollars and Sense; Imagine a World

Aired June 24, 2014 - 14:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight former Mexican president Felipe Calderon tells me it's the economy, stupid. The dollars

and good sense of fighting climate change.

And then a frank admission from the gatekeeper and close friend for the world's most revered political icon.

ZELDA LA GRANGE, FMR P.A. TO NELSON MANDELA: You know, I was a full-on racist by the time I started working for him.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

Climate change: A crisis we cannot afford to ignore -- literally. So warns the former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who's joined the

fight the only way he knows how by appealing to the doubters and deniers through their pocketbooks.

A card-carrying member of the Republican establishment, Paulson is attacking from the inside, insisting that confronting climate change now

can be good for business, not bad, and would grow the global economy, not shrink it.

He's joined an array of top U.S. business leaders with an economic analysis of doing nothing. It's called "Risky Business."

Now the pivot from climate horror movie to climate dollars and cents is also driven by my guest tonight, Felipe Calderon, the former president of

Mexico, who passed his oil-producing nation's first climate change law back in 2012.

Ahead of the next big U.N. climate summit in September, Calderon is preparing here in London with the Global Communication on the Economy and

Climate, which he chairs.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Calderon, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So you are trying to shift the paradigm in combating climate change. You've taken an economic point of view.

Why is that?

CALDERON: The point is for us the science has been very clear about the damage of climate change in the future.

However, for most of decision-takers, either governments or business men, the main obstacle is an economic side. So ones in the America complaint

once must say, it's the economy, stupid. So we need to fix that, demonstrating -- by demonstrating that it is possible to have economic

growth with economic research.

AMANPOUR: Is it possible?

CALDERON: It is possible. It is completely. We can have economic growth, overkill ideation. We can create jobs being responsible with the


AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you to delve down into that because that's obviously critical right now. And it is a dilemma and not many people

agree with you or maybe they do. I'm going to put up a couple of quotes by people of different opinions.

How do you convince somebody like the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who says, "We should do what we reasonably can to limit emissions

and avoid climate change --manmade climate change," he added, "but we shouldn't clobber the economy."

CALDERON: Well, the point is his main concern isn't about being responsible to damage the economic performance. I see his point.

But with all respect, he's wrong at the point that first, climate change is going to provoke an incredible economic damage as well, probably more if we

don't take action. The damage to the economic side in the future, even the present, in countries like Mexico, will be even more.

And second, it is possible to have economic growth if we take the right public policies, tactics might change, pushing for economic growth, it is

possible that we need to change the set of systems, the system of energy, the system of human development and the system of use of land.

AMANPOUR: Well, you said that it is possible. But let me read you what Henry Paulson said.

He has said that he feels that they're in the middle of a climate bubble now and it could harm the economy, as you are saying.

He says, "I feel as if I'm watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course towards a giant mountain."

That is Henry Paulson, the former Secretary of the Treasury, who was a Republican.


AMANPOUR: And you have been quoted as saying that, you know, the biggest obstacle really to all of this is in the U.S. Congress right now.

CALDERON: I did, yes. I believe that. And unfortunately --


AMANPOUR: The Republican-led U.S. Congress.

CALDERON: The point is in the American politics, it is like a religious issue. It's not a question of science, unfortunately. But for me, it's

not a question of did you believe in climate change or you don't. Are you a believer or denier? But it's a very wrong side to take the issue.

AMANPOUR: But to a Tony Abbott or to a conservative business owner in the United States, or to a Tea Party Republican, who doesn't like big

government and who thinks that climate change, the idea of tackling it, will cost jobs.

CALDERON: It's not going to cost jobs on the -- at the aggregate level. Of course, there will be winners and losers and we need to be honest about

that. But at aggregate level, we'll be even more winners than anything.

For instance, now that work is related with the wind energy in the United States, are by far much more than the workers in the coal industry, in the



AMANPOUR: The wind has more employment --

CALDERON: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: -- than coal?

CALDERON: Absolutely. And it's going to have even more, of course. So the point is we need to choose the right path to do that. And maybe we

need to design some kind of mechanism to compensate the losers.

But at aggregate level, I insist it is possible to not only be safe but even more economic role.

So the point is, we need to defeat all those interests, some of them vested interests, that are preventing to take action now.

AMANPOUR: You famously, when you were president, donned something like a military uniform and you announced a major war on drugs and on the cartels.

Now you know, during your presidency, I mean, 60,000 people were killed, bodies have been stacked up. This war was considered a failure.

What would you tell your Mexican citizens and our viewers, was it worth it? Do you regret it?

CALDERON: First of all, let me tell you, I never declared a war on drugs.

AMANPOUR: You conducted one. You launched one.

CALDERON: No. What I tried to do is to enforce the law in Mexico and to make Mexico a real country of rule of law, which is quite important for


Second, our main aim was to protect the families that are under threat of organized crime.

AMANPOUR: But as I say, 60,000 people were killed; your own home state is the most dangerous right now in Mexico, to the point that vigilantes are

now in charge of justice, because the government can't do it.

CALDERON: But that's exactly my point.

AMANPOUR: But my point is do you regret any of your tactics?

CALDERON: You know, you think you can have success and failures and mistakes like any other. But the strategy, in order to protect the

families and provide security for the Mexican families is -- that strategy was correct.

And as long as it's -- even today, the new government is trying to put in place more or less the same tactics. And what you need to do is first face

the criminals. I faced the criminals, yes. And the problem of Mexico is that before that, the criminals were not faced enough. Somebody allowed

them to do whatever they wanted.

And even they took the control of towns and cities and even some states. And that, it was the beginning of the problem, Christiane. Do allow, like

in my own state, as you say, Michoacan, that the criminals take the control of the police force or take control of the governor. How can you imagine

that your families are going to be protected? It is impossible.

Actually you can see in Michoacan the former governor, actually secretary general of the government, is in jail right now. And the current governor

or a few days ago resigned.

Why? Because his son appeared in a video with a criminal. So you need to -- we need to understand that organized crime is taking over the control of

territory not only in Mexico but in Central America, some countries of Latin America and some countries in Africa at least.

So we need to face the criminals, first. Second and more important, we need to reveal the law enforcement institutions, what I found when I took

office is the police was completely eroded by corruption in several places.

So we need to reveal all those law enforcement institutions, meaning police force, attorney general, law officers and judges. And still we need to

reveal the social fabric. That is the right strategy, that's the strategy put in place. And I don't regret about that.

AMANPOUR: Former President, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

CALDERON: You're welcome.


AMANPOUR: So despite the challenges Mexico faces, it has always harbored dreams of glory ever since the Aztecs and the Mayans built pyramids to

rival those in ancient Egypt. Today, two Mexican artists discover a monument to their nation's neglected infrastructure.

Ivan Puig and Andres Padilla built a car that travels along miles of empty railroad track that was meant to connect Mexico City to the Atlantic Coast

and to the world beyond . This remarkable video, part of an exhibit now on display here in London, reveals the natural beauty of the land and the

faces of the people in forgotten communities, people who are still waiting for that train whistle they never heard.

And after a break, the remarkable journey of a young Afrikaner woman who grew up in fear and loathing of her nation's black majority to then work

for the world's most towering black leader.

South Africa through the eyes of Zelda La Grange when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. My next guest was the gatekeeper and most trusted aide and friend to Nelson Mandela. Zelda La Grange was

born the year after Mr. Mandela went to jail and as a white Afrikaner woman, nothing about her upbringing could have prepared her for this job,

from the typist pool in the presidency to Nelson Mandela's personal assistant and right hand.

Her memoir, "Good Morning, Mr. Mandela," is published just as South Africa continues to wrestle with its own identity and its lingering racial divide.

And she joined me for a frank conversation even shockingly so right here in the studio.


AMANPOUR: Zelda La Grange, welcome to the program.

LA GRANGE: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: How did a young girl like yourself, a whiter-than-white Afrikaner who believed in apartheid end up working for the world's foremost

black leader?

LA GRANGE: Well, you can add racist to that. I mean, I admit in my book, you know, I was a full-on racist by the time I started working for him.

And which makes this so unlikely to happen.

I applied for a job in his office as president but working for his secretary, who was Mary Mxadana at the time. And she just basically needed

a typist. And I happened to be busy with the interview on that particular day for another position in the president's office.

And when she came in, she said, "I need someone right now."

AMANPOUR: So you describe yourself as a racist. I mean, that is shocking for me to hear. I mean, I suppose I should expect it. That was the system

that you grew up under. It was a racist system.

When Nelson Mandela was coming out of prison, what was the reaction in your household?

LA GRANGE: My father came outside; I was swimming in the pool on that day in February.

And he came outside and he said to me, "We are in trouble."

And I said, "What are you talking about?"

And he said, "The terrorist is being released."

And I said, "Who's that?"

And he said, "Nelson Mandela."

And I continued swimming. It didn't affect my life. I didn't know who he was. My father apparently knew who he was.

But to me, that was -- that was the totality of my understanding of what was happening in South Africa. I just heard this man's name and really the

system, the system influenced us. We lived apartheid happily.

And when I say to you I was a racist, you have to reconcile with your past. You have to admit these things to be able to change, to make a decision to


So now looking back, if you asked me at the age of 23, I would probably have denied being a racist. Now it's easier, because you can recognize the

change in yourself.

AMANPOUR: You so happily believed in apartheid that you even voted no in the referendum to end apartheid.

LA GRANGE: Yes. Yes.

AMANPOUR: What was it like, then, when you first met this man, Nelson Mandela?

LA GRANGE: Well, that was really the turning point in my life. We had started asking this question, what was I brought up to believe and that's

why the title of the book is also "Good Morning, Mr. Mandela," because that indicated the turning point when I started asking questions myself.

He was kind. He smiled. He extended his hand. And he spoke to me in my own language. He spoke to me in Afrikaans. And that is the last thing you

expect of him, because I was brought up to fear this man.

And that's just destroyed my defenses immediately and I broke down and I was crying and he said to me, "No, no, no, you're overreacting." And if

you're afraid and doubting, you're overreacting. You pull yourself together very quickly.

But that was really the start of our relationship. And which made me really ask, but is this man really something to be terrified of?

Is he a person -- is he the person that I was brought up to believe or that I heard about?

AMANPOUR: Let me read a little bit about that encounter that you write.

Again, he spoke to you in Afrikaans.

"I wasn't sure," you say, "whether I was supposed to hold this black man's hand. I wanted him to let go, but he didn't."

Even then you had doubts.

LA GRANGE: Yes, absolutely, because now the person I was brought up again to believe is a terrorist is holding my hand.

So why? You know, what is -- what do you do in a situation like that?

AMANPOUR: Did you feel guilty?

LA GRANGE: Immediately, immediately because of the sincerity in his voice, his smile, that infectious smile of his. You could see that he's visibly

old. I felt sorry for him in a way because my people sent this man to prison. My people denied this man a life.

AMANPOUR: You very carefully stayed away from any controversy about Mr. Mandela's wife, Winnie. But you do talk about Graca Machel. And you

recount what turned out to be a rather humorous moment, when they first met or when they were in Paris behind closed doors.

LA GRANGE: Yes. It was -- it was an awkward moment, because at that stage, I mean, I didn't even think of the president entering into a

romantic relationship. And he ended up being in Paris. We were planning a state visit to Paris.

And it was my first visit abroad and my first state visit, where I had official duties.

And suddenly I got to his room and his door was closed. You know, of course the president's got a lounge and a dining room and a room. And so

this door leading to his suite was closed.

Excuse me.

I mean, I ran to the spokesperson of the president, Bakslaka Flana (ph), and I said to him, Baks (ph), there's a problem. The president's door is

closed and there's a lady inside and -- I just knew, we all knew, if it's one thing not supposed to happen, it's that the president's door is closed,

Winnie's alone --


LA GRANGE: Because he could be finding himself in a compromising position. He could find, you know, what -- people could get up to things and put him

in a compromising position.

And suddenly the door was closed. And then Baks (ph) was very irritated with me, and he said, just leave it. Leave it. Of course, Baks (ph) knew

by that time that it was a romantic relationship but he was trying to hide it from all of us.

And yes, I got called to the president's suite and he said to me after a while -- and this is my friend, Aunt (ph) Graca Machel, and I want you to

look after her and she's going with us to the next event. So please keep an eye on her.

And that was the start of this wonderful, romantic relationship between the two of them and then, yes, it just turned out to be the best thing that

could ever happen to him.

AMANPOUR: You say that. Why? Why was that?

Was he in a very lonely place? What was lacking in his life before he met Graca Machel?


LA GRANGE: He was consumed by politics. He was just really consumed by politics. It was all he lived for. He didn't -- things passed him by,

ordinary things like beautiful flowers, music, different types of food. And there was no excitement really, I think, in his life other than

politics, which is great for a political person like him.

But she brought -- she brought him about to understand or to appreciate the different things in life again. And beautiful music, look at the flowers,

walking hand in hand in the streets early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Ordinary things that we take for granted.

And she -- you know, I compare it, it's as if the house was dark and when Ms. Machel entered our lives -- I'm saying our lives because she had an

equally important role in my life -- but it's as if she opened the curtains and light just came in. And you could see Nelson Mandela being really,

really happy.

AMANPOUR: You tell some very funny stories about how Mr. Mandela would insist, when you were with him and his staff were traveling with him, that

you would go to dinners with the heads of state. You recount a very funny story about sitting with the Iranian president Khatami, just you and

Mandela and Khatami.

What on Earth was that like?

LA GRANGE: It was the weirdest experience because suddenly I find myself with only these two people, Nelson Mandela and President Khatami and I had

to give President Khatami the history of South Africa. And Madiba was happily eating. He's not conversing. He's just, you know, looking at the

two of us, sharing history.

It was very uncomfortable, very, very uncomfortable and probably out of place as well. But the president seemed to enjoy all my Afrikaans history

and the entertainment it provided for Mr. Mandela.

AMANPOUR: And perhaps had a chance to eat so that he didn't have to regale the Iranian president --

LA GRANGE: Exactly. Exactly. He was -- that's what I think exactly. It's for once he could really just enjoy his food and he was just watching

me entertaining the president.

AMANPOUR: What did he see in you? I know what you saw in him and how you changed.

But what did he see in this white young woman who had this apartheid history and who was a lowly typist?

LA GRANGE: Probably the opportunity for him to mold me, first of all. He definitely recognized my commitment and loyalty, dedication, that's --

AMANPOUR: And those were paramount.

LA GRANGE: -- and those were paramount. And they were definitely needed for the job, the fact that I could dedicate myself, 500 percent to the job,

is what worked for that position and what he needed.

And then I would like to think my sense of humor as well. We shared a very similar sense of humor. So I think, you know, that all worked well


AMANPOUR: And we've all heard that he was the only person who could call Queen Elizabeth II "Elizabeth," is that right?

LA GRANGE: Yes, that's right. It's most fascinating to watch and Ms. Machel at one point said to Madiba, "You can't call her Elizabeth," and

then Madiba responded and he said, "Well, she calls me Nelson." So it was very entertaining to watch.

And you know, he respected the Queen but it was a warm friendship and I think they recognized each other as human beings, each other's humanity.

And I think the Queen enjoyed that really.

AMANPOUR: Probably rare for her.

LA GRANGE: I think so. I think very rare for her.

AMANPOUR: Did she -- did he ever say, I don't know, shock -- things that one might not say to a queen?

LA GRANGE: Yes, when he saw her -- and I'm sure there's record of this somewhere, but he walked up to her when we visited Buckingham Palace one --

at one occasion, and he said to her, "Oh, Elizabeth, you've lost weight."

Not the type of thing everyone gets to tell the Queen of England.

AMANPOUR: How did that go down?

LA GRANGE: She laughed. You know, she was entertained probably by this directness. And with no shame, you know, ill intent, nothing, you know, it

was -- Madiba loved charming women and he was always very complimentary of women. So it was part of who he was.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Zelda La Grange, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

LA GRANGE: Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: And perhaps the thought of her friend, Nelson, the world's most famous political prisoner, crossed the Queen's mind today as she paid a

historic visit to Northern Ireland's notorious Crumlin Road Gaol, where IRA leaders were once held behind bars during the dark days of The Troubles.

Even more remarkably, just like Nelson Mandela, the Queen's tour guide went from political prisoner to political leader. That story when we come back

after a break.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, Nelson Mandela famously said, "Reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past

injustice." And he backed up those words, befriending his prison guards on Robben Island and changing their minds first about apartheid.

Now imagine a world where a queen goes to prison to help reconcile the jailers and those they jailed. Britain's Queen Elizabeth continued her

latest visit to Northern Ireland by traveling to the infamous Crumlin Road Gaol. She was met by cheering crowds and she was welcomed by local

dignitaries, a far cry from the angry violent days of the so-called Troubles that still sometimes still haunt relations between London and


To the strains of an Irish harp, the Queen was joined by two former prisoners, the Unionist, Peter Robinson, and the Republican, Martin

McGuinness, now Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers.

And with those two historic adversaries at her side, she toured the bleak 19th century cells where they and other IRA and Unionist prisoners were

once held. And she even signed the guestbook.

It's not the first time the Queen has met McGuinness, who fiercely fought against British rule for so long. But today, he praised her historic visit

to Crumlin Road as more than just a symbolic gesture. But as another, quote, "bold step on the path towards peace and reconciliation."

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thank

you for watching and goodbye from London.