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Duke of Edinburgh's Funeral Today; End of the Castro Era; Countries Close Borders with Brazil. Aired 12-12:15a ET

Aired April 17, 2021 - 00:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, I am Michael Holmes, appreciate your company.

We begin in the United Kingdom, where the funeral of Prince Philip commences in the coming hours.

On Friday, the Duke of Edinburgh's youngest son, Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, viewed floral tributes outside of the chapel where the duke will be laid to rest. The queen released this photo, taken with her husband in 2003 in Scotland. Max Foster, in Windsor for us, on what will be a poignant day ahead.


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: I think, on Saturday, we will see some very powerful imagery. You will see the queen, sitting on her own, in a church, remembering her husband of 73 years.

But you are also seeing someone who had a rich and long life and had a huge interest in everything from sports to conservation, to his Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, to his military career. And all of that will be reflected in the procession and in the order of service as well.

There will be a lot of attention on friction in the family, particularly between William and Harry. I don't think you will see a lot of that. In the procession, William and Harry, do walk broadly alongside each other. But their cousin, Peter Phillips, will be in between them.

Everyone will be wearing civilian clothing rather than military uniforms. That will save Prince Harry of the embarrassment of no longer being able to wear a ceremonial military uniform, as he's been stripped of the ceremonial titles.

The idea here, everyone has bought into it, amongst the family, amongst the wider palace, is that all the attention should not be on the family dynamics but, instead, on celebrating the life of 99-year- old Prince Philip, when he died.

But also, looking ahead to a monarchy without him. So, a lot of sympathy, of course, for the queen -- Max Foster, CNN, Windsor, England.


HOLMES: CNN will bring you Prince Philip's funeral, live, on Saturday. It begins at 1 pm on London, 8 am in New York. Christiane Amanpour and Anderson Cooper, taking you through the royal family gathering in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, paying tribute to the late Duke of Edinburgh.

It is the end of an era in Cuba. Raul Castro confirmed he is stepping down as head of the Communist Party after 60 years of rule by himself and his older brother, Fidel. Castro received a standing ovation at the party's congress on Friday, as he professed his faith in a new generation of leaders.

Patrick Oppmann, taking a look back at the six decades of Castro rule in Cuba.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For over 60 years, there has always been a Castro at the helm of Cuba. In 1959, Fidel Castro's upstart revolution, suddenly, took power. Forcing U.S.-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista, to flee the island. At Castro's side, his most trusted deputy, younger brother, Raul, charged with turning the ragtag army into a disciplined military.

Alarmed by the Castros' leftist sympathies, in April 1961, the U.S. sent a CIA-trained army of exiled Cubans to take back the island. On the eve of the invasion, Fidel Castro declared Cuba to be a socialist state.

The Castros' forces met the exile army, as they landed in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, a name that would become synonymous with failure.


OPPMANN (voice-over): As Cuba's fledgling revolution, improbably, defeated the U.S.-backed troops. Cuba became an ally of the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro a permanent thorn in the side of nine U.S. presidential administrations.

Castro would be both president and head of the Communist Party in Cuba, the maximum leader, Cubans called him a dictator, according to the U.S.

Then, in 2006, with Cuba's economy still struggling in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro fell mysteriously ill and nearly died. There was no clear transition plan, Cuban officials admit, but his brother and longtime enforcer, Raul Castro, was the obvious choice.

Two years later, as it became evident that Fidel Castro would never be able to return to power, Raul Castro took over, permanently, as president and first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party.

Castro said he would begin a transition to a new generation of leadership in Cuba, stepping down, after 10 years in office.

In 2018, he turned over running the day to day operations of the Cuban government, to his handpicked successor, Miguel Diaz-Canel. Now 60 years to the month after the Castros defeated the U.S.-backed forces at the Bay of Pigs, cementing their hold over Cuba, Raul Castro, 89, is stepping down as head of the party.

The rare revolutionary, who lived long enough to retire.

"After that, if my health permits it," he said in 2018, "I will be just one more soldier with the people, defending this revolution."

Cuba, without the Castros in power, looks pretty much the same, a destroyed economy, a one-party state, a still contentious relationship with the United States. But for Cubans, the end of an era has arrived -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


HOLMES: Americans are mourning the eight lives lost in yet another mass shooting, this one, in Indiana, about 24 hours ago. It is a horrific scene many Americans know all too well.

Get this, there has been at least 147 mass shootings in the U.S. just this year, 45 of, them in the last month alone. That is obviously more than one a day and they have been anywhere, from offices, to supermarkets and massage parlors.

By the way, CNN defines a mass shooting as four or more people being shot, excluding the shooter.

U.S. President Joe Biden says that gun violence is an epidemic in the U.S. He addressed the latest mass shooting during a news conference with the Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga. It was his first in- person White House summit with a foreign leader since taking office.

While there, Mr. Biden demanded an end to the gun violence and urged Congress to take action.

Now for more on Prime Minister Suga's White House visit, CNN's Blake Essig, joining us from Tokyo.

A lot on the agenda but President Biden really used the meeting to emphasize his focus on China.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know Michael, there is no question that the issue of China was, always, going to be front and center as this summit played out at this first face to face meeting between Biden, President Biden, and Prime Minister Suga on Friday.

The two leaders took the opportunity to remind the world of the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance, an alliance focused on peace and stability. Throughout the afternoon, the leaders addressed a number of topics, including North Korea, a free and open Indo-Pacific, COVID-19, climate change, the Olympics and, of course, China. In a joint press conference, following their meeting, both leaders

said they are committed to working together on the challenges from China and agreed to oppose any attempts to change the status quo by the force of coercion in the region.

Now along with addressing the issues in the East and South China seas, the two countries both shared serious concerns regarding human rights issues, in both Hong Kong and Xinjiang, involving the Uyghurs.

They also touched on the importance of peace and stability, across the Taiwan Strait, encouraging a peaceful resolution there -- Michael.

HOLMES: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig for us, in Tokyo.

Now the rapid spread of the Brazilian variant has neighboring countries taking action to stop it from crossing their borders. CNN's Stefano Pozzebon, taking a look at what they're doing.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Latin American countries are bracing themselves for a new spike in COVID cases as the situation in Brazil deteriorates.


POZZEBON: And the virus spreads across the region. Several countries, taking to closing the border with Brazil to try and prevent the spread of the virus. At least two countries Colombia and Uruguay, are now prioritizing vaccinations in the regions that are bordering Brazil in order to prevent Brazilian variants to spread into these two nations.

The Brazilian variants are known to be more aggressive and deadlier than other variants present in South America. But experts, health experts, are careful about this approach and think maybe it's a little too late. Take a listen to what one expert told me, just this week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The variant, very probably, is already here. The way it has been spreading in Bogota and there are other characteristics of the new strains of the virus. The big problem in Latin America is that, except for Brazil and even in Brazil, they aren't doing enough genomic tests.

As you can see, and I was in one problem I was in with a doctor, Spina (ph), 600 is what the city of London does any regular day. And that is what we have done in a year.


POZZEBON: As long as vaccinations and these new genomics testing does not pick up pace, experts fear that Latin America is ill equipped to deal with this deadly new wave of COVID-19 that is weeping (sic) across the continent -- for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


HOLMES: It may have started as a joke but the only ones laughing now are investors on their way to the bank. The cryptocurrency, dogecoin, which began life as a parody of an internet meme, is on track to become a block chain blockbuster after quadrupling its value in one week.

Some credit a show of support from Elon Musk for the latest spike. He retitled the Miro's famous "Dog Barking at the Moon" as "Doge Barking at the Moon," in this tweet. It is up more than 5,000 percent so far this year, proving, this parody pooch can pack a punch after all.

I'm Michael Holmes, appreciate your company, stay tuned for "MARKETPLACE AFRICA," I will see you later.