Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

Three years ago, NPR visited the port of Suape outside the northern Brazilian city of Recife when it was an example of Brazil's booming economy. Brazil's state oil company, Petrobras, has a large refinery that was working full tilt. Today the scene is very different. That big Petrobras refinery still operates but it's had big layoffs. It's partially shuttered, weeds are growing on the side of the pavement. It's emblematic of what's happened here and in many parts of Brazil. Last year, this...

He asked for $7 million to fight Zika. He got a few hundred thousand dollars. That's the story that Jailson Correia tells. He's the health secretary for Recife, the city with the most cases of brain damage in infants linked to Zika. The virus began sweeping through Brazil last fall. In November, concerned about the scope of the outbreak, he asked the federal government for help. What they gave was a drop in the bucket. Why so stingy? Because Zika isn't the only emergency in Brazil. Two other...

The biggest party in Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's coalition has pulled out, severely wounding her government and pushing her one step closer to removal. The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, held a short three-minute meeting that was broadcast live on television. After the vote was taken, legislators began singing the national anthem and shouted "PT out" — Rousseff is from the PT or Worker's Party. Reaction to the news was swift in a politically polarized country where...

At the dilapidated morgue in the northern Brazilian city of Natal, Director Marcos Brandao walks over the blood-smeared floor to where the corpses are kept. He points out the labels attached to the bright metal doors, counting out loud. It has not been a particularly bad night, yet there are nine shooting victims in cold storage. Most were shot with guns that were not legally owned, he says. Almost 60,000 people were murdered in Brazil in 2014, most with guns. While some Latin American...

In Brazil, wiretaps of senior officials, including the current and former presidents, have set off a political firestorm. The outcry has mainly centered on whether it was legal for a judge to release the recordings last week, and why he did it. President Dilma Rousseff is in the process of being impeached. Her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, is implicated in a massive corruption scandal at the state oil company. His phone was being tapped as part of that investigation,...

A few short years ago, Brazil was soaring. Its economy was on the upswing and the country was preparing for the international spotlight with the 2014 World Cup. But now, as it gets ready to host the Summer Olympics this August, Brazil is mired in political crisis and economic turmoil, and is plagued by the worsening Zika virus. Over the weekend, more than a million demonstrators hit the streets to protest against the government and demand the president's resignation. What happened? Political...

Last week it was all about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. That was about racism. This week, social media erupted over something that has long been an issue within the black community. Colorism — the idea that your skin tone and not only your race determines your opportunities. Actress Zoe Saldana faced a firestorm over her portrayal of music and civil rights icon Nina Simone. Simone's identity and work is closely linked to the fact that she was a powerful black woman with dark skin and...

Valentina Vitoria was born in December. She has microcephaly, the birth defect that causes an abnormally small head and can cause brain damage as well. The baby's mother is 32-year-old Fabiane Lopes. She's caring for her daughter in a tiny, windowless one-room apartment in Rio de Janeiro. A whirring fan is the only relief they have from the heat. In Brazil, doctors are getting closer to untangling the possible connection of Zika to microcephaly. The country has seen thousands of babies born...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: When it comes to Carnival, not even the Zika virus stops the party in Brazil. The highlight of the festivities are the samba parades. And tonight, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro will be part of this high-stakes competition. LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Imagine you're allowed to take part in the Super Bowl, but you don't really know how to play football. And you have to do it in a spangled costume...

You wouldn't think of calling a mosquito "man's best friend." But that's the nickname that biologist Denise Valle uses for Aedes aegypti , the species that's been spreading the Zika virus in Brazil and many other countries in Latin America. I think "man's best enemy" might be better. The thing is, this mosquito likes to live near humans. Aedes aegypti breeds in shaded wet places — so cities are an ideal habitat — and feeds on us. It's the female that bites us and uses our blood to produce...

For Carnival in Brazil, lots of women don giant feather headdresses and skimpy bikinis. But for a pre-Carnival event, Elaine Cuoto is dressed as a mosquito — complete with a long proboscis and gossamer wings. She is part of a group of health workers dancing by a metro station in a working-class neighborhood of Rio's north zone. A few others are wearing mosquito costumes as well. And they're singing a catchy tune: "If Zika attacks, use this number to report it, 7-4-6. Pay attention!" By...

How much harm can the Zika virus do? That's the question that is bedeviling researchers in Brazil. It's not just the matter of a possible link to brain damage in babies born to mothers who contracted the virus during pregnancy. There have also been suspected cases of adult patients who suffered temporary hearing loss. Researchers are trying to make sense of it all, and yet they lack very basic information. Even the number of cases and the degree to which it has spread are unknown. That makes...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: As we mentioned earlier, Brazil and the U.S. are starting work together on a vaccine. So let's talk more about the impact on Brazil, where the spread of Zika is forcing families to make heart-wrenching decisions about whether to have children. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from a clinic that is trying to help. LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: At the Genesis Clinic in Salvador, they're normally in...

"We are alone. We have been abandoned by the state," says Marilia Lima, cradling her 2 1/2-month-old son, Arthur, against her chest. Arthur is one of some 3,500 babies born with microcephaly, a birth defect that has been linked to Zika virus, since the virus was identified in Brazil in May. Although a definitive cause-and-effect relationship has not been proven, both Brazilian and international doctors believe there is indeed a connection. Lima caught the mosquito-borne virus when she was...

Instead of the Summer Games, you might as well call these the gloomy games. Back when Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, seven years ago, the country was on a high. The economy was growing, the middle class was expanding and the country seemed finally to be realizing its potential. Marcelo Barreto, a famous Brazilian TV sports journalist who has covered mega sporting events all over the world for two decades, recalls that electric atmosphere when his home city got the games...

The biggest beach party in the world was going on around him, but lifeguard Cabo Guido Serafini was looking at the woman writhing on the sand. She seemed like she was in convulsions, with her eyes rolling back in her head and a stream of what seemed like nonsense coming out of her mouth. More alarmingly, she was right on the edge of the water, and the sea was tumultuous. He quickly got to work, crouching down to see if he could revive her. "Then this man approached me and started telling me...

Its design is bold — it looks like the exoskeleton of a pre-historic fish. Its aim is ambitious: to raise consciousness on the future of our planet. The Museum of Tomorrow, inaugurated last week in Rio de Janeiro, is the centerpiece of what the government's $2 billion revitalization of the historic port district ahead of the Summer Olympics, which Brazil is hosting. This cultural institution has drawn both high praise and controversy. See, the museum raises an intriguing question: What sort...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: She is known as the Iron Lady of Brazil. Despite cracking down on corruption and pushing for social welfare reforms, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is an unpopular leader. There's a bid to impeach her. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro joins us now from Rio de Janeiro. Hey there. LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Hey. SHAPIRO: Why do people in Brazil want to impeach their president? GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well,...

María Mercedes Vittar is a human resources manager and a tall, willowy mother of two. When we meet, she has 7-month-old Lupita in her arms. The baby is the product of a short-term relationship Vittar had with a co-worker. Vittar's other daughter, Azul, age 3, is spending the day with her father, Vittar's former boyfriend with whom she had a five-year-relationship, since ended. So Vittar has two children, with two different fathers, and she is currently unattached. And she's perfectly fine...

Brazil's Ministry of Health made an unprecedented announcement this month: It told women in the northeast of the country not to get pregnant for the foreseeable future. And it's all because of a mosquito — the Aedes aegypti species, which can spread a variety of diseases, including Zika virus. Health experts in Brazil are concerned that the virus, whose symptoms are typically a low-grade fever and bright red rash, might be having a devastating impact on newborns. In the past few months,...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: We're also tracking impeachment proceedings against the president of Latin America's biggest country. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on Dilma Rousseff's fight for her political life. LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: So these are the battle lines. On one side, you have the Speaker of Brazil's lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha. He's immensely powerful but politically wounded. He's being...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: More politics now, this time in Argentina. Argentines voted today in the country's first-ever runoff presidential election. Two candidates are facing off in this second round of voting. We're expecting to hear the results soon, as the polls have closed for the day. And at stake is the leadership of the country with Latin America's third-largest economy. NPR's South America correspondent Lourdes Garcia...

It happened slowly at first. The reservoir's water level dropped, so the resort extended the boat launch ramp. Then they had to add another extension. Eventually, the water dropped so much that business dried up — along with the lake. "For this coming weekend, there's not one reservation. This business was 98 percent dependent on the water. Now that the water's gone, the customers are gone as well," says Francisco Carlos Fonseca, the manager of Marina Confiança. The resort is located on what...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Argentina's been ruled by the same family for the last 12 years. After tomorrow's election, the president will have not only a new last name, but likely a new agenda. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Buenos Aires that Argentines say this election is the most important in a generation. LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: I meet with a group of seven young Argentine's, naturally, in a busy cafe. This...

As you walk into the office of Brazilian Sen. Ivo Cassol, there is a giant picture of him on the side of the door. A Bible sits on his office coffee table and pictures of his family adorn the walls. He's charming, with a wide, toothy smile and a firm handshake. "Darling," he calls me. Why are we meeting Ivo Cassol? He sits on the Senate's environmental committee. That committee will have a say in any deal reached at the international climate control talks in Paris, where representatives of...

Recent scientific discoveries show that the Amazon rainforest might control the climate for much of South America. The theory could mean even more disastrous ramifications for the fragile ecosystem if deforestation continues unabated. Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: South America's endangered Amazon rain forest may be even more vital than we thought. That forest is going away, slash and burned at an astonishing rate. LINDA WERTHEIMER...

Brazil isn't lying to the world about how bad deforestation is in the Amazon. But it is, according to the very people employed by the government to protect the rain forest, "misleading" the international community. According to the government figures, the rate of deforestation is down dramatically over the past decade. And there's a general consensus this is true. But critics say the numbers don't tell the whole story because so much of the Amazon has already been damaged or destroyed. And...

They call it the "burning season" in the Amazon, and when we arrive in Brazil's western state of Rondonia, it's on fire. A thick, acrid smoke permeates everything, making it difficult to see. Fire, people say in Rondonia, is part of the culture of the state: The ash from the burned trees is the only way to make the land fertile, argue some. Others say fires are also started to simply clear land for cattle. Or to make space to build a house. Fire allows people to eke out a living off the land...

In this part of the Amazon rain forest, they call it "the war over wood." It has front lines. One of them is here, in Machadinho d'Oeste in the western Brazilian state of Rondonia. The self-described "Guardians of the Forest" defending the land don't look like fighters, at least when we first meet them. But they are pitting themselves against criminal logging gangs that have infiltrated their protected reserves. In their everyday life, they are rubber tappers. They take us on a trail that...

It's a place where girls can play volleyball. They can do ballet (of course). But soccer is a no-no. That's the way it goes in Brazil, the country that famously loves soccer. There was once a legal ban — from 1941 to 1979 — noting that "women will not be allowed to practice sports which are considered incompatible to their feminine nature." That law is no longer on the books. So things have changed. Brazil has a women's national team (although there's only room for a few elite players). The...

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