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First Face to Face Talks Since Pandemic Begin Soon; Western Powers Making Major Vaccine Pledges; Seven Opposition Leaders Detained Months Ahead of Election; "There is Famine in Ethiopia Right Now"; Kim Jong Un's Apparent Weight Loss Raises Health Questions; First In- Person G7 Summit in Two Years Hours Away; Biden to Meet with Putin In Geneva on June 16; W.H.O.: Europe "By No Means Out of Danger" from COVID; Olympic Volunteers Sound Off on Superspreader Fears. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired June 11, 2021 - 01:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us all around the world. Appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Coming up, we are hours away from the kickoff to the G7 summit. What to expect, when to expect it and what it will mean. We'll take you there live.

Also --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not being given neither testing nor a vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could be bringing back COVID to my family.


HOLMES: The army of volunteers speaking out about lack of preparation ahead of the Olympic Games.

And what Kim Jong-un's $12,000 watch could be telling us about the state of North Korea and the reclusive leader's health.


HOLMES: Well, the G7 Summit is set to get underway soon with leaders of the world's richest democracies finally able to talk face to face for the first time in almost two years. The top level gathering in Cornwall, England, will give U.S. President Joe Biden his first real chance to convince America's allies in person that he means it when he says the U.S. is back.

And so, we are closely watching what happens over the next several days at the seaside resort of Carbis Bay. COVID-19 is just one of the many major problems to hash out over the next few days.

Now, this is Joe Biden's first overseas trip since taking office and he has a lot packed in his schedule over the coming week. On Thursday, he and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, this year's G7 host sat down to talk through some of the issues facing both countries.

More now from CNN's Phil Mattingly.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden starting off a week of critical meetings with foreign leaders with an effort to reinvigorate the special relationship.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been to this great country many times, but the first time as the president of the United States.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Everybody is absolutely thrilled to see you.

MATTINGLY: Biden is sitting down with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a carefully choreographed first overseas meeting, devoid of the tension behind the scenes over a handful of issues. Most notably, Brexit in the position of Northern Ireland.

BIDEN: We just charged and discussed a broad range of issues in which the United Kingdom and United States are working in very close cooperation. We affirmed the special relationship.

MATTINGLY: Instead, a meeting framed with deliberate symbolism. The two leaders viewing the original copy of the Atlantic Charter signed in 1941 by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill amid the rise of fascism across the world.

BIDEN: With the revitalized Atlantic Charter updated to reaffirm that promise while speaking directly to the key challenges of this century.

MATTINGLY: As he and Johnson signed an updated version of that declaration. The latest piece of an over-arching effort by Biden to present a unified and reinvigorated alliance of Western democracies, one that will be challenged in just a matter of days as Biden sits down with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And Biden's closest adviser, his wife Jill telling reporters he's up for the challenge.

JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: Oh my gosh, he's overprepared.

MATTINGLY: The days ahead, a calibrated effort to lead the post-World War II Western alliances to meet the challenges of a new era with a new vaccine effort at the center of that push.

Biden announcing the purchase of 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be donated to 92 low and middle income countries and the African Union.

BIDEN: America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our fight against COVID-19. Just as America was the arsenal of democracy during World War II.

MATTINGLY: Those first doses scheduled to ship out in August.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And President Biden made clear, the U.S. donation, the purchasing a 500 million doses, the donation of 500 million doses, that is not happening in isolation. The expectation from President Biden and his top officials is that when itchy Senate officially starts, other leaders in that summit will be pledging similar donations over the course of the next several days.

And again, this goes back to kind of overarching theory that Biden and his team are taking into these new international summits, that Western democracies are still both powerful and capable of leadership.


And that this moment in this particular moment, after a pandemic that has ravaged the entire globe over the course of the last 15 months, the best weapon they have to try and assert that power still exists is vaccine -- vaccine donations, vaccine development, vaccine distribution. All of those will be kind of crucial points that will be discussed during the G7 summit. All of them expected to be donated or at least pledged by other nations in that group over the course of the next couple of days.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, Falmouth, England.

HOLMES: Well, although the summit has not yet started, we did get a preview of sorts from the British prime minister. Here's what he had to say after sitting down with President Biden.


JOHNSON: The talks were great. They went on for a long time. We covered a huge range of subjects and it's wonderful to listen to the Biden administration and to Joe Biden, because on -- so much that they want to do together.


HOLMES: And CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins me now from the summer site in Carbis Bay.

Good to see you again, Nic.

Yes. So, Boris Johnson called Joe Biden a breath of fresh air. But how does he reassure the others at the G7 that the U.S. is as he says back, and that Trump or Trumpism is not just a few years away from returning?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I don't think you can really sell that message that there isn't a possibility of a return to the new or slightly different version of Trump if a Republican wins in the White House. I think that's going to be the lingering concern of the leaders here. Yes, they want to embrace America back to the center of the world stage as a world leader and coming to the summit as he has with -- you know, with a pledge of half a billion vaccines is -- you know, it's an important step in the way.

It's important as well, because Biden believes centrally that this is a historic inflection point where democratic nations and, of course, that's what the G7 is, the world's most riches democratic nations, have responsibility to stand up for the values of democracy, because they're under threat from authoritarian government. So, that's a relatively easy message to sell at its peak, if you will.

But the subtext to it, how you do that, how you do that in relation to China. That's going to be harder for European leaders to buy into, because they don't know if they sign up to a really hard-line relationship with China, the sort that perhaps President Biden wants. That that's not going to have repercussions on them with China in the future when there is a Republican leadership, and perhaps when the U.S. economy isn't doing so well, perhaps when they are expected to take even more stringent measures against China.

So, I think there's going to be at the back of everyone's minds here yes, let's do great on beating the pandemic, but let's be a little bit more cautious about what else we signed up to with an American president when his version of America may not be the one around to say -- I think that was are always going to be Biden's challenge. A challenge for him at home in the U.S. and it's going to be a challenge for him here in Carbis Bay, Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah, yeah, great analysis. I mean, so you've got the G7, NATO coming. That's a very important meeting for the U.S. president, but so many people are already looking ahead to Biden meeting with Vladimir Putin. What's your take on what Joe Biden needs for it to be deemed a success? But also what Putin wants from the meeting?

ROBERTSON: Yeah. I guess what Putin is going to want to take away from this is his stature and standing. You know, he's been in power for 20-odd years. He's very popular at home by the accounts of, you know, a government that has managed to put a lid on essentially all opposition voices.

It doesn't run anything remotely like a Democratic government as the West would understand. So, Putin is going to want to be able to walk away from this without, I think, feeling that he's been publicly circumscribed in his actions and his leadership by the United States. And he will be able to spin it anyway he wants when he goes back home, because he essentially controls the media there.

But for Biden, does he really go public with some of his messaging to Putin that seems unlikely. The message he really wants to land overall, certainly amongst allies, the ones that's being sold is to have a sort of sustainable, predictable, stable relationship with Russia, one that work together on arms controls limitations, which is what Biden thinks Putin is interested in doing, whether they have mutual interests.

[01:10:02] But on the sort of central message of trying to curtail Russia's maligned activities as the White House sees him meddling in U.S. elections, of hosting ransomware attackers who shut down gas supplies on the East Coast of the United States, will Biden really go public with his messaging to Putin on that? It's a national security issue and he's going to make it very clear to Putin that there will be repercussions if he does that in the future.

And I think that's the key for Putin, is that element made public. He would have to respond. He would not get to walk away from that lightly.

HOLMES: Yeah, great points, well-made.

Nic Robertson in Carbis Bay, England, good to see you, Nic. Thanks for that.

Well, some of the world's biggest investors are pressuring G7 leaders to tackle the climate emergency. In an open letter, investors managing more than $41 trillion in assets say they want more ambitious targets for emissions and more consistent climate policies.

Clare Sebastian with more on that.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This isn't the first time that we've seen big investors challenging governments to do more on climate change, but now as the leaders gather in the U.K. for the G7 summit, there does seem to be more momentum on their side. Developed economies as they rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic have the opportunity to do that in a greener fashion. We also have U.S. back in the Paris Climate Accord under President Biden who has made it clear that climate change is a top priority.

And we have seen some countries stepping up their carbon emissions targets, albeit on paper. The 457 of the world's top investors from global pension funds, it's a big investment funds like State Street and PIMCO say that's not enough. Their letter reads: Our ability to properly allocate the trillions of dollars needed to support the net zero transition is limited by the ambition gap between current government commitments and the emissions reduction needed to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Now, these investors don't just want governments to step up their carbon emissions target, they want to see them stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. They want to phase out coal and they want them to design their COVID-19 recovery efforts to better support the transition to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

They say the governments that don't do that will be at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting private investments.

There's also a call from the business community for more transparency around climate risk. In a separate letter on Thursday, 180 investors along with companies like Uber and Salesforce, according on the U.S. regulator, the SEC, to mandate that companies disclose climate risk in their financial filings. They say that level of transparency will help investors make decision about where to put their money and could help avoid the climate crisis turning into a financial crisis.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Well, we'll take a short break. When we come back, the Copa America football tournament gets the word it can go ahead in Brazil starting Sunday. But is that a good idea for a country where the coronavirus is raging? We'll have a report from the region.

Also coming up --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to get two masks and a bottle of hand sanitizer.

REPORTER: So, that's it?



HOLMES: Volunteers play an essential role at the Olympic Games, but many Tokyo 2020 volunteers say they are not getting the support they need to stay safe from coronavirus. We'll hear from them when we come back.



HOLMES: Welcome back.

The World Health Organization's European director is warning the region to not get complacent in the fight against the coronavirus. He says Europe is not out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic, despite a recent decline in cases. He pointed out that the Delta variant, first identified in India, has been detected in nearly half of the WHO's European regions, and described Europe's progress as, fragile.


DR. HANS KLUGE, W.H.O. REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE: We should all recognize the progress made, across most countries in the region. We must also acknowledge that they are by no means out of danger. With increasing social gatherings, greater population mobility and large festivals and sports tournaments taking place in the coming days and weeks, WHO Europe calls for caution.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: Now, that Delta variant we just mention is now the U.K.'s dominant strain and the country is feeling the pressure. Emerging hotpots sparked fears this variant and others could jeopardize Britain's progress in the fight against the pandemic.

CNN's Phil Black with details on that.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this corner of Northwest England coronavirus anxiety is peeking, again. Here, British army soldiers walk the streets, handing out information, and test kits. Mobile vaccination teams, working to get doses to all willing adults and masks are still everywhere, even outside -- a rare sight in the U.K.

Are you worried about what's happening here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yeah, definitely. If you aren't, something is wrong with you then.

BLACK: The big signs explain why. The town of Bolton is the U.K.'s leading hotspot for a highly contagious coronavirus variant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know a lot more people who've had it in the last three weeks than they did -- or the last four weeks, compared to the last 12 months. It's a lot of people who catch it.

BLACKWELL: First discovered during India's recent devastating wave, also known as the Delta variant, it has quickly become the dominant strain in the U.K. The British government says the data, so far, is about 40 percent more transmissible than the U.K.'s previous dominant variant. An earlier analysis conducted by Public Health England shows it is twice as likely to result in hospitalization. It's also driven an increase in school outbreaks, since children have been vaccinated.

Eight-year-old moving shoulder lives in nearby Blackburn, a community where cases of the variants are growing rapidly.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I don't know how I caught it.

BLACK: Why was he tested?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No temperature, no headache.

BLACK: It was just a routine test?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, a routine test.


BLACK: Adam Finn is a professor of pediatrics, who advises the British government on vaccine policy.

FINN: Because children get this infection, and tend to transmit less than adults do. So, certainly, seeing cases amongst children is another canary in the mine, if you like. It's certainly another sign if it goes on going up, that we're dealing with a highly infectious variant.

BLACK: The U.K.'s vaccine program has made huge progress, with more than 50 percent of all adults, now, fully vaccinated, and at around another quarter of the population covered by a first dose.

But some scientists fear this new variant could tear through the remaining unprotected population in a wave of cases that would, once again, police huge pressure on the health system. The government had hoped to lift all remaining social restrictions, and reopen society on June 21st. Whether to proceed with that plan is looming, as one of the most difficult decisions of Britain's pandemic experience.

FINN: Opening up, and having a big further wave, and having to shut down again would be worse for everyone.

BLACK: The government, blame by critics for moving too slowly to stop travel from India, allowing the variant to take hold here. The government says that assessment is unfair, but what it does next will be fiercely scrutinized, in a country that has sacrificed much, and is desperate to move on.


Phil Black, CNN, Bolton, Northwest England.


HOLMES: Well, as Britain worries about the new variant, Brazil is concerned that football could lead to another COVID surge. The numbers there, already bad enough, Brazil is reporting more than 88,000 new cases on Thursday alone. And there are concerns about a possible 3rd COVID wave.

But, despite all of that, the Copa America football tournament has received a legal go ahead to begin this Sunday. As Stefano Pozzebon reports from Bogota, Colombia, the ruling came from Brazil's highest court.


STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: In Brazil, the Supreme Court voted on Thursday to go ahead with the organization of the Copa America football tournament, which is due to commence this Sunday.

The Supreme Court was voting on three objections against hosting the tournament, on concerns that it will increase the number of COVID-19 cases in the country. The - Brazil is currently struggling to contain the resurgence in the pandemic. Just on Thursday, the country reported over 88,000 new COVID-19 cases, and over 2,500 new deaths, according to figures from the Brazilian health ministry.

But, despite those numbers, the courts, though, decided to greenlight the tournament, and urge the state governors to act as if to prevent the event to become a superspreader event.

Just after the greenlight, Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, defended the decision to host the tournament and said that it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to establish safe protocols for the tournament, to go ahead without a pandemic risk.

And even those major world companies, such as the credit card giant, MasterCard, the liquor giant Diageo, and a local giant beer company, Ambev, have announced their decision to pull their sponsorship from Copa America. This tournament seems over destined to be canceled is finally ready to kick off.

For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


HOLMES: We are just 42 days away from the start of the Tokyo Olympics, and Japan's prime minister is trying to reassure nervous public, saying they are making a thorough effort to keep them safe from the coronavirus.

But not everyone is ready. Officials in the city of Sapporo say they are unprepared to host a marathon event in August, and thousands of volunteers have quit.

Selina Wang joins me now from Tokyo. All of these volunteers quitting, I know you've been speaking to some of them, what do they tell you?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Michael, I spoke to several volunteers, who either quit or, or are thinking about it. And some of them tell me that their vision of the Olympics has been shattered. They were, originally, excited to see the world's best athletes come together in their home country, but now, that excitement has turned into anxiety, as they have seen problem after problem, from mounting cost to host these games, to sexist comments from the former head of Tokyo 2020, and now, that country barreling ahead with the games despite surging COVID-19 cases.

So, for the volunteers that are staying on, they have this added responsibility of also protecting themselves from COVID-19.


JUN HATAKAYEMA, FORMER TOKYO 2020 VOLUNTEER: I think it's belittling human lives.

WANG (voice-over): Jun Hatakeyama is one of some 10,000 Tokyo Olympic volunteers out of 80,000 that has quit amid pandemic fears.

HATAKAYEMA: I just quit because for my health condition, and to show my opinion that I am against the Olympic Games.

WANG: When college student Hatakeyama signed up to be a volunteer, he was excited to witness the world's best athletes come together at this Olympic village. Instead, he witnessed mounting problems. HATAKAYEMA: The Olympic Game is belittling human lives. Our lives are

not normal, so it's emergency now. So, I think why can we hold an Olympic games in 2020 now?

WANG: An army of enthusiastic volunteers ahs been key to the success of recent gains, helping to operate venues, assisting spectators and athletes. Tokyo organizers say fewer volunteers this year won't impact operations given no foreign spectators and downsizing of events.

But volunteer, Nima Esnaashar, a language teacher who lives here in Hyogo prefecture, says protection hasn't been used nearly enough.

What COVID protection have you been given as a volunteer?

NIMA ESNAASHAR, TOKYO 2020 VOLUNTEER: We are going to get two masks and a bottle of hand sanitizer and have gotten a bottle of hand sanitizer.

WANG: So, that's it?

ESNAASHAR: That's it.

WANG: Volunteers are asked to take public transportation between their homes, and Olympic venues. For those who live outside of Tokyo, they have to find their own lodging.


Esnaashar hasn't quit yet, but says he's thinking about it.

ESNAASHAR: I could be bringing back over to my family.

WANG: Organizers say the Olympics can be held in a safe bubble with the majority of Olympic Village vaccinated, but many public health experts say that's impossible, especially if there are tens of thousands of largely unvaccinated, and untested volunteers at Olympic venues across Tokyo, and Japan. And less 4 percent of Japan's population fully vaccinated.

BARBARA HOLTHUS TOKYO VOLUNTEER: We are not being given neither testing nor a vaccine. So, we have to go in and out of the bubble at all times. There is a significant potential of this becoming a super- spreader event.

WANG: Normally, a symbol of national pride, and excitement in the host country, many volunteers this year, instead, are scared, largely left on their own to protect themselves from COVID-19.

HATAKAYEMA: I think the meaning of the Olympic Games was completely forgotten.


WANG (on camera): So, the Olympics minister in Japan, now says that officials are considering vaccinating volunteers, but no clear decision has been made yet and the clock is ticking here for them to get those two doses, given that we're only six weeks away.

But not all the volunteers are spoken to are worried about their health. Some of them said they are confident in the COVID-19 protocols in place, and one student told me that he is still enthusiastic about the games, and he hopes that Japan is going to learn from all of the challenges, and problems that they have faced, leading up to these games -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Selina, thanks. Selina Wang there in Tokyo for us.

Now, the International Olympic Committee is looking to the future, too, announcing that they're endorsing Brisbane, Australia's bid, to host the 2032 Games. The IOC president says that the city's infrastructure and public support makes for an irresistible host. The bid was unopposed, however.

Now, the last time Australia hosted the games was back in Sydney, in 2000. But, a Brisbane deal isn't done deal yet. There still needs to be formally approved by a full session of the IOC. And the formal vote will happen two days before the Tokyo Olympics begin. Good luck, Brisbane.

Many rich countries are enjoying some relief from the pandemic, thanks to vaccines. But, poorer regions are still struggling mightily.

Ahead, the latest on the efforts to get more of the world vaccinated. We'll be right back.



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world.

I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. A appreciate your company.

Now, just hours from now the leaders of the world's seven largest advanced economies will meet in person for the first time since before the pandemic. G7 members have been arriving in Cornwall, England. Talks are being held there because the U.K. holds the group's rotating presidency for 2021.

Now, for the U.S. President this gathering is just the beginning of an intense diplomatic tour. He will also attend a NATO summit and have talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

On Thursday Joe Biden and the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a new version of the 80-year-old Atlantic Charter to reflect the shifting threats facing the world.

And they signaled a major boost to global vaccination efforts. The U.S. promising half a billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has provided these half million doses with no strings attached. Let me say it again -- with no strings attached. Our vaccine donations don't include pressure for favors or potential concessions.

We are doing this to save lives, to end this pandemic. That's it. Period.


HOLMES: Now, in the coming day, the British the British prime minister is expected to announce a donation of 100 million vaccine doses to COVAX over the next year as well. Boris Johnson says quote, "As a result of the success of the U.K.'s vaccine program, we are now in a position to share some of our surplus doses with those who need them. In doing so, we will take a massive step towards beating this pandemic for good."

Thomas Bollyky is the director of the Global Health Program for the Council on Foreign Relations. He joins me now from Washington to discuss. Thanks for being with us.

The first 200 million U.S. doses will be sent out this year. 300 million in the first half of next year. Is it enough. And is distribution fast enough?

THOMAS BOLLYKY, DIRECTOR-GLOBAL HEALTH PROGRAM, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: So it is a meaningful amount and a great first step, but it is not by any stretch enough. One way of putting it into context, 500 million doses would be six times more than the multilateral initiative known as COVAX has distributed so far altogether, so a good amount. But it is one-fourth of the 2 billion doses that COVAX had hoped to deliver this year. So they're going to need help.

There is breaking news that people expect other G7 nations and the companies to put forward another 500 million over the next couple of days. And that certainly will help get there. The big question, as you suggested is will they be able to deliver them.

HOLMES: Yes. And we will talk about that. I mean more than half of the people in the United States and Britain have had at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Fewer than 2 percent in Africa have gotten their shot. And there is growing and worrying evidence that those who are unvaccinated and get COVID now with the variants are being hospitalized at a far greater rate.

Speak to how concerning that is in terms of globally getting these vaccines into arms?

BOLLYKY: It's enormously concerning. So really in just half a year we've seen an enormous turnaround. When this year began roughly, three-quarters of the coronavirus cases and deaths were occurring in Europe and North America. That has now shifted to South America, Africa and Asia, now representing over 80 percent of the cases and deaths.

And that's purely a function of lack of access to vaccines where cases really have continued to surge there, even countries that have been doing well are starting to see them.

And as you rightly pointed out if they are going to get cases on one hand they have younger populations, so that helps a little bit, but on the other hand they have much poorer health systems. So you're going to -- for the people that do end up in hospitals you're seeing worst outcomes.

HOLMES: For people who don't know it's worth discussing again the urgency factor. If the world is not vaccinated, no country is safe. Explain why that is in terms of the existing variants and the potential for more perhaps even more dangerous variants to emerge because of a lack of vaccinations globally.

BOLLYKY: So really the only threat at this point to the progress that has been made on vaccinations in the United States and in Europe's is our failure to adequately invest in vaccination in other countries.


BOLLYKY: It is really the risk of new and dangerous variants emerging that are already proving, for some of our vaccines, to be a greater challenge or some of our vaccines have been proving to be less effective than those variants.

And there may be new ones that even the ones that have been consistently shown to be effective like the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines, may not be against the new ones that emerge.

The only way to prevent that is to reduce the spread of the virus that gives it the opportunity to mutate, and that could only be done through global vaccination.

HOLMES: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) According to the WHO 47 out of Africa's 54 countries, that's nearly 90 percent, are set to miss the September target of vaccinating 10 percent of their people. That is unless they get another 225 million more doses.

How much support is needed for those countries, not just in terms of doses, but in terms of effective distribution and also support for what in many cases are very fragile health care infrastructures?

BOLLYKY: That's right. So we are going to quickly shift from an environment of being the major constraint on global vaccination being supply, to the major constraint being administration, our ability to actually deliver these vaccines in peoples arms.

So if this commitment does prove to be true coming out of the G7 this week, as much of the billion doses abroad, the next question will be how will we distribute those? Because the lack of investment we have seen internationally and buying vaccines and shoring up those supplies, we had invested even less in the capacity of countries to deliver them.

HOLMES: There is a long way to go. It's not over.

Thomas Bollyky, I really appreciate it. Thanks for your expertise.

BOLLYKY: My pleasure.

HOLMES: Still to come here on the program, Nicaragua's longtime president clinging to power with a massive political crackdown. Now he's accused of trying to sideline his opponents months before crucial elections.

Plus, weight loss that could have geopolitical consequences. How new video is raising questions about Kim Jong-un's health. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: Welcome back.

The lead prosecutor in an ongoing corruption case in Peru is requesting prison time for one of the nation's presidential candidates. He's urging a judge to send Keiko Fujimori to preventative prison arguing she violated that prohibit her from communicating with witnesses. She's been the subject of the long running investigation since 2018 with accusations of having ties to organized crime and money laundering. But she has never been formally charged.


HOLMES: Fujimori currently trailing Pedro Castillo in a razor-thin race to be Peru's next leader. Votes still being counted in an election that saw a 77 percent turnout.

Now, democracy appears to be unraveling months before a crucial election this fall in Nicaragua. Police have detained seven -- seven high-profile opposition leaders in less than a week as President Daniel Ortega moves to consolidate power. Well now, fears are growing that it could get worse.

Matt Rivers reports.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Growing concerns a Central American strongman is clinging to power by silencing his biggest critics. In Nicaragua, leader Daniel Ortega's forces have arrested more than a half dozen opposition leaders in just the last week, months ahead of November's elections.

It started with the arrest of Cristiano Chamorro, a prominent opposition figure and the daughter of former president, Violeta Chamorro who ended Ortega's first stint as president in 1990.

Police took over the street outside Chamorro's house, pushing journalists back as they went to arrest her for charges, including quote, "ideological falseness" in relation to a free press group she ran in the country after harassing her with allegations of money laundering.

Chamorro had recently announced her presidential campaign and was widely seen as someone who could challenge or take at the polls.

"This is the product of the fear and terror that Daniel Ortega has in the face of transparent competitive elections," said her cousin, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, who is also running for president for a separate party.

But just a few days after that interview, he was also arrested. At least seven opposition leaders, including four presidential candidates have been detained and charged with vague quote "national security violations". They will all likely be disqualified from running for office.

Moves, humans rights groups say clearly show that Ortega who returned to power in 2007 is trying to wipe out competition and secure a fourth term.

JOSE MIGUEL VIVANCO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAS HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: What we have at the stage is pretty much a facade of democracy.

RIVERS: Though critics say Ortega has long been undermining Nicaraguan democracy, 2018 was undoubtedly a turning point. Massive anti- government protests led to a crackdown that left more than 300 people dead, according to human rights group, a majority killed by security forces.

The protests became the government's justification to enact a slew of vague new laws that have banned protests, and essentially criminalized anyone who speaks out against the government.

(on camera): If the government knew you were speaking to foreign journalists, what would happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'd consider me a traitor to the country. they can make up some crime and take me to jail for who knows how many years.

RIVERS (voice over): We're hiding the identity of a man we'll call Juan for his own safety. He opposes Ortega and took part in the protest. But says the government has terrified citizens like him into silence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here the person that raises their voice basically gets marked or identified as a traitor to the country.

RIVERS: And human rights groups say so-called traitors often experienced torture at the hands of the country's notoriously ruthless security services.

A lawyer of one of the presidential candidates now in custody, Felix Maradiaga said in a statement that Maradiaga was quote "very badly beaten shortly after being detained". The Ortega administration did not respond to requests for comment, but

other governments are speaking out. A senior U.S. State Department official tweeted that Ortega's recent actions quote "should resolve any remaining doubts about Ortega's credentials as a dictator. The international community has no choice but to treat him as such".

(on camera): The United States has now levied sanctions against several top Nicaraguan government officials, including Daniel Ortega's daughter. But they are relatively targeted sanctions. If it wanted to, the United States could certainly implement sanctions that could hurt the economy in a more broad way, but by doing so would run the risk of punishing ordinary Nicaraguans for the sins of their leader and also maybe even creating an economic situation that would force more migrants to leave that country, head north to the United States.

That is certainly something that the Biden administration would want to avoid.

Matt Rivers, CNN -- Mexico City.


HOLMES: Joining us from Washington as Michael Shifter. He's the president of the Inter American Dialogue. And thanks so much for being with us.

I mean, seven opposition leaders detained by the Ortega administration in Nicaragua and many others detained as well. What is the impact of that on the upcoming elections? I mean he is quite literally removing the opposition.

MICHAEL SHIFTER, PRESIDENT, INTER AMERICAN DIALOGUE: Well, it's very difficult now to talk about a serious election. November 7th will be a complete farce. He's completely destroyed the opposition.


SHIFTER: He has, with this crackdown and repression, wave of repression, it's really unprecedented. And it's very hard to take it seriously because there's absolutely no challenge, there's no competition. There is no level playing field.

And it's very, very sad. It's tragic. It means that a dictatorship will be further entrenched.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes. What can the U.S. or other international powers do to pushback on moves like this. I mean with the economy in many areas a shambles, how to balance in the action so that it doesn't hurt the people of Nicaragua?

SHIFTER: Well, you know, this is always tricky and there have been sanctions that have been applied by the United States, but they are individual sanctions against those that who are very much part of the regime who have been corrupt, who have been responsible for human rights violations. And there is consideration of broader sanctions. Sanctions that would eliminate any funding from the multilateral banks for the financial institutions. The World Bank, Inter American Development Bank, and the IMF.

Of course that is complicated because there the risk is that you do hurt ordinary Nicaraguans. But it might be the pain that is necessary for the regime to feel in order to pull back a little bit on this -- on this terrible crackdown.

HOLMES: And what about regionally? What about the Organization of American States, for example. I mean there's been a lot of silence, correct me if I'm wrong, from neighboring countries.

SHIFTER: The secretary general of Organization of American States, Luis Almagro has now called for an emergency meeting of the permanent council which means representatives of all the members of the states to consider the expulsion of Nicaragua from the organization based on what is called the democratic charter, which was approved exactly 20 years ago in 2001, which means that if there is this kind of alteration of the constitutional democratic order, which it clearly has been in this case, then that would require the expulsion from the organization.

Whether the member states and the governments will go along with this, I think it's a major question. It's going to be a test that we will see in the coming days.

HOLMES: I wanted to touch on Peru and the elections there and you have two main candidates who together got 20 percent, I think of the vote in the first round. I mean you tweeted a couple of days ago, I just wanted to read it.

Quote, "Castillo and Fujimori seemed to be particularly ominous choices for a country in the midst of grave instability and in need of effective an incredible leadership with broad legitimacy." How do you see the landscape there and the challenges?

SHIFTER: Well, it's profoundly troubling. Peruvian democracy has been precarious for a long time. And unfortunately the crisis -- economic social crisis which has been aggravated by the pandemic -- remember Peru has the highest per capita income (INAUDIBLE) in the world as we saw with COVID-19.

Unfortunately, it has not produced very attractive options, two candidates who are committed to democracy and who really are capable of addressing the problem. Both of them have credibility problems. They have legitimacy problems.

And so whoever wins it looks like Castillo has -- certainly has the edge at this point although it's being contested by the other side. And it's going to have a huge problem unless there is an effort to bridge the gap between the two Perus, that really is a country completely split in two.

HOLMES: Right. I wanted to quickly get your thoughts too before we go about your thoughts on the broader, the overall state of democracy in Latin America. I mean we talked about Peru, Nicaragua, Mexico, too -- all of the countries. Where do you see the direction in Latin America?

SHIFTER: I'm very troubled and concerned. I think that the economy is in bad shape in almost every country and if you have a bad economy it produces social discontent and turmoil.

We are seeing this in Colombia, it's quite dramatic. We are seeing it in Chile as well. Brazil, we have authoritarian leader in Bolsonaro.

I would just note, in the case of Mexico there has been -- there were recent elections and legislative elections. And there, there was some pushback. There was the Mexicans still support Lopez Obrador but really some of the support has slipped a little bit. And there I think there's a desire by the Mexicans to have some checks and constraints on his authority.

So I think that was the results of that -- were a little bit more encouraging.

HOLMES: It's difficult to generalize the worrying trends, obviously.

Michael Shifter, really appreciate your time. Thank you.

SHIFTER: Sure. Thank you very much.


HOLMES: And the human rights defender Bianca Jagger is one of Nicaraguans most well-known pro democracy advocates. She tells CNN that lives are at stake under the rule of President Ortega and is calling for help from the international community.


BIANCA JAGGER, FOUNDER, BIANCA JAGGER HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION: Well, the problem is that all the people that could run against him, all the leaders who were getting together really under the names that are important are in jail or are -- or are being held hostage.

And there will be much more, and that is why I am calling on world leaders, on the international community to please not forget. Yes, we are a little country with only six million inhabitants, but our lives and the lives of people who are opposing, including the Catholic Church, opposing Daniel Ortega are at stake, are now threatened, and many could die if we allow Daniel Ortega to go after everyone who is not for him and Nicaragua.


HOLMES: And you can see the full interview with Bianca Jagger by logging on to

Dire warnings about the hunger crisis in Ethiopia and signs it's going to get worse. The United Nations and other aid groups have a new report saying more than 350,000 people in the country's Tigray Region are experiencing catastrophic levels of hunger, the most severe rating.

The U.N. aide chief calls it a famine and some compare the situation to Somalia's famine a decade ago.


LUCA RUSSO, SENIOR FOOD CRISES ANALYST, FAO: To be very honest, people are at starvation level with excessive mortality, wasting -- very high level of -- (INAUDIBLE) for children and being not being able to access enough food to eat.

And this is quite -- and if I can add on this. this is 350,000, is the highest number we've recorded since the Somalia famine in 2011.


HOLMES: The report blames the ongoing conflict in the Tigray Region for this crisis, with about five million people needing food aid.

You are watching CNN NEWSROOM with me, Michael Holmes. We will be right back.


HOLMES: There are new questions about the health of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un after what appears to be a significant weight loss.

Our Will Ripley with the details.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Time may not be the only thing Kim Jong-un's watch is good at telling. Can it also be a barometer for the North Korean leader's level of fitness?

Kim is often pictured wearing the same $12,000 IWC Swiss timepiece, believed to be one of his favorites. Images released Saturday by North Koreans state media, and analyzed by South Korean media appeared to show the watch fitting on a much tighter notch than in previous sightings, indicating a thinner wrist. And sparking widespread speculation about a weight loss transformation.

Side by side video comparisons do appear to show Kim to be much more svelte now than in 2020. But far from just being an Internet curiosity, Kim's suddenly slimmer appearance could have geopolitical implications. His weight is one of many things global intelligence agencies monitor.


RIPLEY: (on camera): Why would spy agencies in South Korea and the U.S. be looking at something like Kim Jong-un's weight? COLIN ZWIRKO, SENIOR ANALYTIC CORRESPONDENT, NK NEWS: His health is

obviously a concern of foreign governments in the region because the country has nuclear weapons. It's a dictatorship with cult (ph) personality leadership system. So if something happens to the leader that affects the region's security.

RIPLEY (voice over): Experts have long assessed that Kim Jong-un was at high risk of cardiovascular disease. His family also has a history of heart issues. Kim's father and grandfather both died of heart attacks while head of North Korea.

In November 2020, the national intelligence service at South Korea reportedly told lawmakers they believe Kim Jong-un's weight had ballooned to about 140 kilograms, 308 pounds -- speculating that he had gained some 50 kilograms, 108 pounds since coming to power in 2011. In recent months, the already reclusive Kim has been out of the public eye, more than usual. Amidst rumors of declining health.

His reappearance Saturday on the global stage arguably reigniting that conversation among foreign intelligence agencies.

Could this sudden shedding of pounds be the result of some mysterious illness or is he thinner by choice? A conscious effort to achieve better health and extend his longevity as leader.

The answer, only time will tell.

Will Ripley, CNN -- Taipei.


HOLMES: And just before we go, let's look at a fun moment with U.S. President Biden and the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, something perhaps all you husbands out there you can identify with.


BIDEN: I told the prime minister we have something in common. We both married way above our station.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'm not -- I'm not going -- I'm not going to dissent from that one. I'm not going to disagree with that or indeed on anything else.


HOLMES: Smart move, gentlemen. That was during a meeting between the prime minister and the president in Cornwall ahead of the G7 leaders' summit. Of course, it was Biden's first event with a world leader abroad as president.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN.

Do stay with us. Our special coverage of the G7 summit from Cornwall continues next. [01:57:25]