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tv   El Helicoide  BBC News  February 10, 2019 12:30am-1:01am GMT

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the headlines: seven men have been sentenced to life in prison for terrorist attacks in tunisia that left nearly 60 people dead. in all 51 suspects went on trial for the attacks in 2015, which were claimed by the islamic state group. us senator elizabeth warren has formally launched her bid to stand for the white house in 2020 with a speech in which she promised to tackle economic inequality. she is the latest democrat to launch a campaign to become the pa rty‘s presidential candidate. prince philip, the duke of edinburgh, has given up his driving licence after being involved in a car crash in january. buckingham palace say that he voluntarily surrendered his licence on saturday. a yellow vest protester in paris has lost his fingers during clashes with riot police. french media say the man attempted to pick up a rubber pellet grenade and it exploded in his hand. cheerleading may conjure up images of pom poms and ra—ra skirts but in reality it's an extreme team sport requiring
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strength and agility. the world championships involve tens of thousands of athletes competing in the usa —— and the bbc‘s mike bushell has been to newbury in england to train with one of the best british teams. music plays. acrobatics and gymnastics in time with the music and each other at a breathtaking pace. what started out as a way to cheer on sports teams has become a global sport in its own right. the general stereotype still is pom—poms and girls wearing frilly skirts. to tell you how different it is, our girls can play rugby. we set them out and they learn from rugby players to play rugby. we had a by players to play rugby. we had a rugby team come in and they lasted 15 minutes doing cheerleading. that is the level of fitness we need. you have to work really hard, yeah. what
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i like about all the noise is that it's like you think you are inside ofa it's like you think you are inside of a special cage and everyone is supporting you. early cheerleading started in the late 1800s and it was an all—male activity, used to cheer on the early college teams with phrases such as harar and tiger. 0nly damik turned professional, though, in the 1950s in america, it had become, predominate, like it is 110w had become, predominate, like it is now an all—female activity. you see how quickly it has spread across the uk. many clubs to have men and boys 110w uk. many clubs to have men and boys now competing, too. but crimson heat tigers in newbury was to keep their world championship training sessions all female. the whole idea was that they could come in and feel co mforta ble they could come in and feel comfortable without any outside pressure. they could come in and be sweaty and wear no make—up and the idiots and fools and come in and train. because that is what they are coming to do. and it is because it
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is more about sport than about sport. they found that the cheerleading team can help the athletes deal with issues outside, be it bullying at school, family, those thrown up by social media. even with the pressure, the world championships coming up, they were willing to show me their strength. upon the pyramid! don't panic about being kicked in the face. you will being kicked in the face. you will be fine. with one move only they let me into the inner circle of trust. my me into the inner circle of trust. my heart was in my mouth. thank you! mike bushell, bbc news, in newbury. were you waiting for my to do the flip? me as well. now on bbc news, amid the crisis in venezuela, an extraordinary space—age building towers over the sprawling slums in the capital caracas. once the symbol of a rich and promising nation, it's a former shopping mall turned prison, that embodies in the heart of the venezuelan capital, caracas, is one of the country's most
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notorious prisons. hundreds are packed inside the space age building where criminals live alongside political prisoners. there have been reports of horrific human rights' abuses. i have been speaking to former prisoners and guards to find out what is really going on inside el helicoide and to understand what it tells us about venezuela's catastrophic decline, from latin american powerhouse to economic disaster zone. recent years have seen venezuela spiral into chaos. in 2014 and 2017, massive antigovernment protests rip to the country. after 15 years of revolutionary
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socialist rule under president hugo chavez and his successor nicolas maduro, the economy was in ruins. venezuelans were facing hyperinflation, food shortages, and soaring crime. the protesters were met by riot police and thousands were arrested. many were brought to el helicoide, the headquarters of the feared venezuelan secret police. a building who's extraordinary history mirrors venezuela itself. this is an absolutely iconic building across the whole of latin american. it is really nothing like it. this is a building that was supposed to be a 300 store spiral shopping mall. this is huge.
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this is really big. cars were supposed to circulate up these ramps, up to the top. it is supposed to be visible from any point of the valley of caracas where it makes a delicate mark. el helicoide, named after its spiral helical structure, was conceived in the 1950s. it's technologically advanced design with more than two miles of ramps that would enable customers to drive from shop to shop was met with international acclaim. the chilean poet pablo neruda described the building as one of the most exquisite creations ever to have sprung from the mind
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of an architect. the surrealist artist reportedly wanted his work displayed an exhibition halls. can you explain what the political and social context of venezuela was back then? venezuela in the 1950s is a country experiencing profound change. globally, we are seeing the kind of post wwii reconstruction, and venezuelan oil, the industry, was booming. there was a real investment inside that idea of opportunity. it is a country that from 19118 has entered a period of military dictatorship and the mandate was we will progress if build. the brochures boasted that you have the equivalent of all the other stores and most of the city in one place. so you get people dancing, shopping, there were cinemas, there were hotels and a club, rows and rows and rows of different stores. that was going to be a shop window for everything venezuela could have been. the regime of venezuela's military dictator was overthrown and the construction
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of el helicoide stolen. work of the building consist altogether in 1961. el helicoide went into bankruptcy. proposals to turn it into a public space came and went. from 1979 to 1982, it was used as an emergency flood and homeless shelter. as many as 10,000 people live there in makeshift huts and shipping containers. after 1982, the state still does not know what to do with this white elephant. so a decision is made to give two of the floors to the intelligence police. for more than three decades, el helicoide has housed the headquarters of the venezuelan
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intelligence service, now known as the sebin, an agency which reports directly to the president and has the reputation of acting with impunity, facing allegations of human rights abuses... arbitrary detentions, corruption and intimidation. today, it is hard to find any dream in el helicoide. the building reflects this downward spiral of fortunes. it is a modern icon sitting inside a sea of shanty towns. what we are confronted with is economic decline, political polarisation, authoritarianism, embedded in this building that has had an absolute 180 degrees change in fortunes. rosmit mantilla is someone who knows the building well. a well—known lgbt rights and political activist, he was arrested for doing 2014 protests and accused of helping to finance them, a charge he denies. as the protest continued, more prisoners were taken into el
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helicoide. working at the prison during this time were two prison guards who have agreed to speak to bbc. interviews with those inside the venezuelan secret police are rare, and we cannot reveal their identities because they feel the government will hurt their families. their names and voices have been
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changed, and they have both since left the service. el helicoide was never meant to be a prison. and as more and more arrests were made, guards had to improvise. protesters, students, and even politicians, people from all walks of life, who were accused of antigovernment sympathies were thrown into makeshift sales alongside common criminals, drug traffickers, and violent offenders. estimates vary, but according to the ngo as of august last year, overcrowding had reached 300% with political prisoners, accounting for 80% of
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the present cosmic population. a former guard who spoke to estimates the jail could have been over six or seven times above capacity. the prisoners had names for each of these improvise cells. the fish tank, the little tiger, and health. the most feared of them all was the one called guantanamo.
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i have been in regular contact with a number of former prisoners who were detained at el helicoide. all of them had described the systematic use of torture by the security service to obtain confessions. there are also other ways of forcing prisoners into making a confession. 64—year—old retired pilot spent two years inside el helicoide, accused of financing antigovernment events. he was suffering with a lot of psychological pressure.
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he was seemingly repeatedly that an and was transferred to a notorious criminal president. —— prisons that is why he was told where he would face death from violent offenders running the place. in 2016, he felt seriously ill. a judge authorised transferred to a clinic, but at the last moment, someone intervened. when he was el helicoide, he went to the national assembly. days after his release from prison in november 2016, he was sworn into congress, becoming congress's first openly gay congressman. he began testifying about what he saw and experienced in el helicoide. after he left el helicoide, the conditions continued to deteriorate. in may 2018, inmates took
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control of the present, —— prison, demanding better conditions and freedom. security officials regain control shortly after, security officials regained control shortly after, and many prisoners were released or transferred to other residents. —— prisons. according to a former prisoners, around 150 are currently detained at the jail, but while the country remains and time all, when will it reach breaking point happen once again? 0n the outside, venezuela continues to dissent by the anti—crisis. —— descend further into crisis. at the end of 2018, inflation has risen to more than 1,000,000%. as toiletries and food.
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those who can, face never ending cues. public services like schools and transport are breaking down and hospitals are running short of life—saving drugs. more than 3 million desperate venezuelans have left the country, hoping to find a better life. two of the guards also left the country. he was given asylum in france where he continues to campaign
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for change and venezuela. for him and for many former inmates el helicoide continues to cast a long shadow. well, the weather is in the process of calming down after all the storminess we have had in the last few days. and as storm erik pulls away, out into the norwegian sea, behind it, it leaves a legacy of changeable weather. we have got some rain out there right now. it is pretty damp across some central and southern parts of the uk, brought by this area of cloud — this is a weather front which will be sliding across southern and central parts of the uk. all of this cloud here to the north, actually that is the remnants of storm erik that we have had in the last couple of days. so here's the forecast through the early hours.
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bits of pieces of rain across central and southern areas of the uk. clear for scotland and much of northern and north—eastern england there, in fact, a touch of frost first thing on sunday morning. pretty chilly in belfast as well, around 2 degrees at 6 o'clock. so what can we expect then on sunday? the morning is looking cloudy and damp for many of us across the southern half of the uk. but this weather front will be swifly moving away towards the east so the weather will improve but it is going to be a slow process for places like lincolnshire and east anglia. some of that rain could last until lunchtime. notice how all the while it is sunny across eastern and central scotland, a beautiful day for edinburgh, for newcastle, aberdeen too. but showers are expected to push into northern ireland by the time we get to lunchtime and then these showers will sweep across other parts of the uk later on sunday. so hence the mixed bag on sunday. now, as we head into monday, high pressure starts to build from spain and portugal. in fact it is going to establish itself across much of western europe, which means
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that the weather will start to settle down from monday onwards. and any weather fronts that do come close to our neighbourhood, will actually be diverted towards the north. this is where all the weather fronts will go. we are in this window of much drier weather. temperatures of 10 degrees on monday in london. it is relatively mild. you can see how the jet stream actually meanders around the uk, in fact, at times even north of iceland, into scandinavia and to the south, that is where we start to see the high pressure building, and with the winds blowing around in a clockwise fashion the warmer air will be reaching the uk. the summary for the week ahead is a lot of dry weather, at least mainly dry — there might be some sports of rain in north—western scotland. mild by day but the nights, withthe clearer sky, will be chilly and there might be some fog around too. bye— bye. hello and welcome to bbc news. i'm reged ahmad. the battle against the spread of the so—called islamic state has raged on for years —
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but now a spokesman for the kurdish—led alliance in north—eastern syria says its forces are launching their final battle against the group in the tiny pocket of territory it still holds around the village of baghouz near the iraqi border. the announcement comes just days after president trump said he believed the end of the self—declared is caliphate could be announced in the coming week. but as sebastian usher reports, the threat still remains in the region.
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