tv Focus on Europe PBS December 11, 2017 7:30pm-8:01pm PST
♪ host: hello and welcome to "fokus on europe." good to have you with us. tourism is booming on the continent. despite terror attacks, the number of people wanting to visit europe continues to rise. so much so that in some places, tourism is becoming a liability. consider venice. the mega-oceanliners that dock here every day flood the lagoon city with thousands of tourists while endangering the city's fragile foundations. thanks to its unique canals, romantic alleyways, and renaissance architecture, venice is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. for now, that is. with 30 million tourists and almost 500 cruise ships passing through the lagoons each year, the city is literally falling apart. unesco is threatening to withdraw venice's world heritage
status. now locals, many of whom earn their living from the travel industry, are calling for more sustainable tourism. reporter: every time tour guide paolo patuzzo crosses the rialto bridge, he can't help but wonder where did his charming city go? the one that's now overrun with millions of tourists? how can venice protect itself from the onslaught of visitors? he's sure this piece of world cultural heritage won't survive as a photo backdrop alone. paolo patuzzo: my love for this city makes me seek out places and people who are keeping venice alive. because there are enough people who are countersteering and navigating the city into troubled waters. reporter: like most venetians, paolo lives from tourism, which presents him with a dilemma. he now conducts special tours to
draw attention to the city's problems, like in his own district, where rents are rising as flats are being used as holiday homes. more and more venetians are moving away. at the bar paolo frequents, venice's decline is a hot topic. ettore silvestri: 20 years ago, the city was full of craftspeople who produced things for the local people, upholsterers, carpenters, locksmiths, bookbinders. they're all gone. today no one makes mattresses or repairs shoes anymore. reporter: and that's wounded venetians' pride. is this all that's left of their once so prosperous trading city? paolo shows us the mercato di rialto, the old fish and vegetable market. now it's just a tourist trap. venice has become a city in which few people actually live. paolo patuzzo: here there are more tourists taking photos than
paying customers. that provokes people, which is why a few fishmongers are considering asking for money to pose for photos in front of this tourist backdrop. reporter: the cruise ships are also a huge problem. activist stefano micheletti is outraged. not only do these huge vessels flood the city with daytrippers, they're also threatening the lagoon city's very foundations. stefano micheletti: the big ships' propellers have a piston effect. they churn up all the subsoil, so clay and silt from the lagoon are gradually washed into the open sea. reporter: as a result, venice, a city built on wooden piles, is slowly sinking and could eventually be completely underwater. but micheletti isn't giving up. his citizens' initiative has managed to prevent even more cruise ships from coming into venice.
stefano micheletti: when a ship like that goes by, the water level in the nearby canals sinks by around 20 centimeters and then rises again right afterwards, due to the displacement. this hugely powerful force eats away at the foundations of the palaces, churches, and bridges. reporter: but not everyone in venice is happy about micheletti's initiative. the port authorities invested millions of euros in modern cruise terminals. now, due to the success of the protests, only half of them can be used. galliano di marco: for four years we've been listening to these fears that our ships could even ram into venice. i can only keep reassuring people, even with the biggest ships, the chances of that happening are zero. reporter: so the industry is still fighting to keep the huge ships cruising by st. mark's square. it's a business worth millions. but resistance is growing, also due to the exhaust fumes the
ships release into the air. more and more venetians feel their city is not on the right course. stefano micheletti: so far, big construction projects have been decided by the corporations operating the port and the airport. it's only about growth, ever bigger, ever more. as for the city's welfare, there's no strategy whatsoever. reporter: that makes paolo patuzzo both angry and sad. each year venice's 55,000 residents are overrun by 30 million tourists. many think the time has come for radical counter-strategies. paolo patuzzo: it's paradoxical, but the best tourist for venice is the one who stays at home. we're more than full up with 30 million visitors a year. reporter: it's clear something must be done to reduce the number of visitors to a reasonable figure. but for that to happen, venetians will have to sacrifice some tourist dollars to save their beloved city.
host: the italian government has responded, by the way, with plans for a new dock outside the city catering to the big cruise ships. although it will take years to build. mercedes villalobos was about 50 when she discovered she had been lied to her entire life, including by her parents. they confirmed a nagging suspicion of hers that she was adopted. but to her horror, she discovered she was not given up by her birth mother willingly. like hundreds of thousands of other babies, she was stolen and sold. what began as a politically motivated practice against franco's opponents during civil war became a lucrative business for decades profiting doctors, attorneys, and clinics. those children seek justice, and in some cases, their birth parents. reporter: remembering her childhood makes mercedes sad.
her parents lied to her all her life. only on his deathbed 10 years ago did her father admit to her what she had long suspected. he and his wife were not her biological parents. mercedes villalobos: they raised me to be honest, and upright, and to always tell the truth. but then they did this to me. reporter: after they died, mercedes began researching and found conflicting documents, two birth certificates, one from malaga and one from seville, and two baptismal certificates. she knows these documents must be forged. and so the 60-year-old has a devastating suspicion. mercedes villalobos: i think i was stolen when i was a baby. these documents are like those of other stolen children.
reporter: from the 1930's through the 1990's, up to 300,000 children were taken away from their parents, who were told that the children had died. the newborn infants of political opponents or unwed mothers were sold to childless couples who supported franco. genetics tests have proven that birth certificates were forged to conceal these dealings. mari cruz is convinced that she, too, was a victim of such schemes. she gave birth to a premature baby in madrid in 1980. six days after his birth, the incubator was empty, and she was told her son had died. mari cruz and her husband wanted to see their dead baby and take it. mari cruz rodrigo: they refused to show us the baby. they said it was so deformed that they didn't want to upset us. when we insisted, they asked
whether we had 200,000 pesetas for the burial. in the 1980's, that was a lot of money. reporter: mari cruz let herself be intimidated. but now she is looking for her son, whom she is sure was stolen from her. she works in a self-help group for other victims, mothers, fathers, and children. an attorney is representing the victims in court. finally one of the people involved in this mass crime, gynecologist eduardo vela, has been accused of child abduction and document forgery. the 85-year-old defendant refuses to give interviews, but in 2010 some victims questioned him with a hidden camera. he claimed that distressed mothers had given their children up voluntarily, though there were no documents to show this. eduardo vela: the archive with the mothers' documents has been burned.
i personally burned the obstetric records and the parents' declarations of agreement to adoption. mari cruz rodrigo: it just makes me sick. it infuriates me that this man might die before he is convicted. reporter: the attorney says the parents did not agree to give these children up for adoption. it was a systematic political and business measure, with government and church complicity. guillermo peña salsamendi: this is not the idea of one doctor alone. he needed officials who knew about and covered up these irregularities. reporter: the scandal involves all of spain, children for money. the justice department refuses to comment. mercedes is tormented by so many questions. was she sold? if so, then how much did the
couple who adopted her pay for her? she can't imagine that the people who brought her up with so much love could have known about the crimes underlying the adoption. mercedes villalobos: i think that they, too, were deceived. i don't think they acted maliciously. reporter: mercedes has taken a genetic test and added the result to a database. she hopes to find blood relatives, siblings, nieces or nephews, maybe even her biological parents, and to learn what happened to her after her birth. host: we wr search. every fall, the city of london, the financial center of the british capital, elects its highest dignitary. the lord mayor's main role is to represent, support, and promote both businesses and residents in this small but mighty square mile.
this year, the position has taken on a special significance in light of brexit. as britain prepares to leave the e.u., businesses are worried about their future. some companies have already moved thousands of jobs abroad. the newly installed lord mayor, charles bowman, is doing his best to calm nerves. reporter: london's financial district, known as the city, has welcomed the 690th lord mayor, charles bowman. the office is largely symbolic, but the festivities aren't lacking in pomp and circumstance. the city, one of the most powerful financial centers in the world, is usually very buttoned down. but this year, the mayoral celebrations seemed especially frenetic. perhaps they were something of a release valve for london financiers facing an uncertain future because of brexit. bowman accepted some blessings, a little help from above can't hurt. the same is true for networking.
charles bowman: often the caricature is somebody who sits in a gold coach and wears frills and a tricorn hat. but in reality that only accounts for some 5% of my time. most of my time is meeting with business, with regulators, with visiting heads of state, and important stuff to support this wonderful, preeminent global financial services hub. reporter: bowman will also meet with british prime minister theresa may. her reception will be friendly, as decorum demands, even though the gala dinner will be overshadowed by financial leaders' unhappiness at the political instability of the may government and its lack of a clear brexit strategy. the city of london is barely one square mile, but it's more than 1000 years old, which helps explain its giant status in the banking world. ♪ reporter: the district projects
confidence. it's a mix of tradition and high tech, guilds and globalization. in these streets, billions are moved around the world in the blink of an eye. more than half a million people pour into the city to work. their only goal, to make money. when bowman surveys the city, he sees a number of construction cranes. the city wants to expand, an ambitious aim in times as uncertain as these, but the mayor is confident. charles bowman: 12.5% of gdp, pre-eminence within the globe at this moment in time, and we will continue that. reporter: diana chan doesn't share this optimism. she's the director of the london branch of a dutch clearing house. london is an important location for her as half of her customers are from britain. brexit looms large in the back of her mind. she doesn't want to discuss it, but uncertainty is growing. chan says people in the
financial sector are busy making contingency plans for a "hard brexit," one with no new trade deal with the e.u. diana chan: businesses need a lot of clarity. and what i am concerned about is that between november and march, there won't be sufficient clarity. and then people will need to emark upon implementing their worst case scenario. once those plans have started to be implemented, they will be finished. there's no turning back. reporter: so if somebody decided to go, they go? diana chan: yes. reporter: the city could lose as many as 75,000 jobs to financial centers in the remaining e.u. countries. so far, not many people have actually left, but tweets by lloyd blankfein, chairman of the board of goldman sachs, calling frankfurt and paris "great"
places, set off alarm bells. that's not what the leaders of the city want to hear. the british financial elite is not accustomed to anyone questioning their status. for centuries, british bankers believed they had a god-given right to dominate the financial world. attitudes from the era of the banking guilds persist, no matter how much they may fly in the face of present-day realities . in fact, guilds still exist in the city. one of them is the worshipful company of international bankers. peter estlin is the head, or middle warden, of the guild. he personally regards brexit as a huge mistake, but in his official function, he argues that challenges can be the source of new opportunities. peter estlin: i think at our heart, we are survivors, and we will work out the best solution. my biggest concerns aren't around brexit. they're around tackling the development of cyber as we become more and more a digitized economy.
brexit's, compared to that a small pimple. reporter: the truth is, no one knows where britain is headed at the moment. people in the city just hope they don't get lost in the brexit fog. host: the village of khurvaleti in the foothills of the caucasus mountains is divided by barbed wire fences and well-manned checkpoints making up the demarcation line between central georgia and south ossetia. now russia is consolidating its military presence there. after the collapse of the soviet union, the province of south ossetia declared independence from georgia. but in 2008, when georgia tried to retake control of the region, russia occupied south ossetia. since then, the conflict remains unresolved. our reporter visited the demarcation line, which cuts through villages and separates families. reporter: barbed wire cuts across the village of khurvaleti in central georgia. the town is divided, as some
places were divided during the cold war. only animals can pass through unhindered. since the end of the russian-georgian war in 2008, 200 european union observers have watched over the demarcation line. and what they see has them worried. the ceasefire is still holding, but south ossetia is isolating itself, with negative consequences for the people here. farmer dato vanishvili tells us his story, which is typical of many people's fates in the region. dato wanischwili: this was georgian territory for 80 years. and now? has it turned russian? i've lived here for 80 years. that's my house over there. when i built it, sometimes i was hungry, and sometimes i had enough to eat. where should i go now?
i will never leave here alive. my mother lies in the cemetery over there. this is where i buried my brothers and my father, my whole family. reporter: in april 2008, south ossetia seceded from georgia. in august, georgia tried to recover the territory by military force. that led russia to intervene. its forces defeated the georgian army, and the russian government recognized south ossetia as an independent country. at that time, shota utiashvili was head of the analytic center of georgia's interior ministry. he explains why russia acted as the protector of the ossetian separatists. schota utiaschwili: the key strategic goal, i think, is to have control over the south caucasus, to deny this area to any other international presence. and the reason they want to control south caucasus is partly its strategic location. but most importantly is to control the flow of energy from the caspian basin to the rest of
the world. reporter: a number of major oil pipelines run through georgia. they are all important for europe. meanwhile, russia continues to build military bases in south ossetia, which international law still regards as part of georgia. here on the highway to tbilisi, a handful of people still steadfastly protest russia's land-grab almost every day, in all kinds of weather. the capital is only an hour's drive away. the demonstrators tell us that russia is improving the connections between its military bases. >> two or three days ago, they finished a new road. reporter: the georgian government raises the alarm every time russia further entrenches itself in south ossetia, because that blocks georgia's path to europe. the southern caucasian country wants to join the european union and nato. but the unresolved conflict with russia stands in the way. and russian soldiers create a
new fait accompli almost daily, as the e.u. mission in georgia tells us. erik hoeeg: the main problems have to do with the process we call borderization, the establishment of physical infrastructure which hinders freedom of movement for local populations. so they cannot commute really across, there's a so-called border regime in place. and that affects the population in a number of ways. it affects their livelihoods, their access to land, possibility to have regular connection to family members. reporter: the e.u. observers can call up a precise map of the line of demarcation on their gps devices, which they also need for their own safety. officially, the conflict over south ossetia is considered "frozen." the farmers here in the disputed region think that is a strange term. they're suffering under their country's ongoing division. host: they say beauty is in the
eye of the beholder. a romanian photographer has made it her mission to prove that saying with her own, as she calls it, atlas of beauty. after giving up her job at a television station, she travelled around the world to photograph women like her to show that every woman is beautiful the way she is. reporter: mihaela noroc has been in georgia, china, and india. she's visited more than 50 countries in the last four years to capture images of female beauty. ♪ mihaela noroc: when i started this project, i didn't have this idea about a global project. i was just aiming for something of a curiosity for myself. reporter: still, doing it required a leap of faith. noroc quit her job at a tv production company in bucharest. at first she lived off her
savings. then she started financing her trips through crowdfunding. whether in myanmar, germany, or italy, the streets and markets are her workplace. noroc approaches women and photographs them then and there. ♪ mihaela noroc: it is a very instinctual process. it is a very -- maybe some chemistry is going on, maybe some energies are going to be exchanged between me and that person. sometimes, and i am very drawn to that person. reporter: in berlin, the romanian photographer has been preparing for her first major solo show. she wants everything to be perfect, as these photos have become part of her life. mihaela noroc: you have to dedicate yourself completely towards something that you believe in. and sometimes it just works out, sometimes it doesn't, but you have to try. [laughter] otherwise it is like all the
women that i approached, many of them said, no, i don't want to be part of your project. i'm afraid. and i didn't give up. that's the key in everything. [laughter] never give up, never give up. reporter: recently noroc also began to collect the women's stories, to ask them about the challenges in their lives. ♪ reporter: this woman in germany beat cancer twice. she fled with her daughters from war-torn syria. and she works in one of the most remote regions in the world. mihaela noroc: these women are all heroes. they are heroes of day-to-day life. they are usually not noticed. they go unnoticed, unfortunately. but they are heroes for their families, they are heroes for their friends. and i i just celebrate them. ,reporter: now their stories and photos have been published in a book called "the atlas of beauty."
it's meant to send a message. mihaela noroc: beauty is everywhere. in different forms, of course. i think it doesn't have a definition. i think this is our problem as humans, because we try to put it in a box. i think we have to take it out of the box and understand that beauty has so many forms. ♪ reporter: soon mihaela nuruc will set off again. there are still many countries, and more forms of beauty, to explore. her project is far from over. ♪ host: it's nice to see women being celebrated as heroines for their family and friends. that's it for today. thank you for watching. see you next time. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]