KUNM

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is an NPR international correspondent covering South America for NPR. She is based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Previously, she served a NPR's correspondent based in Israel, reporting on stories happening throughout the Middle East. She was one of the first reporters to enter Libya after the 2011 Arab Spring uprising began and spent months painting a deep and vivid portrait of a country at war. Often at great personal risk, Garcia-Navarro captured history in the making with stunning insight, courage and humanity.

For her work covering the Arab Spring, Garcia-Navarro was awarded a 2011 George Foster Peabody Award, a Lowell Thomas Award from the Overseas Press Club, and an Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Alliance for Women and the Media's Gracie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement.

Before her assignment to Jerusalem began in 2009, Garcia-Navarro served for more than a year as NPR News' Baghdad Bureau Chief and before that three years as NPR's foreign correspondent in Mexico City, reporting from that region as well as on special assignments abroad.

Garcia-Navarro got her start in journalism as a freelancer with the BBC World Service and Voice of America, reporting from Cuba, Syria, Panama and Europe. She later became a producer for Associated Press Television News before transitioning to AP Radio. While there, Garcia-Navarro covered post-Sept. 11 events in Afghanistan and developments in Jerusalem. In 2002, she began a two-year reporting stint based in Iraq.

In addition to the Murrow award, Garcia-Navarro was honored with the 2006 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize for a two-part series "Migrants' Job Search Empties Mexican Community." She contributed to NPR News reporting on Iraq, which was recognized with a 2005 Peabody Award and a 2007 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton.

Garcia-Navarro holds a Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations from Georgetown University and an Master of Arts degree in journalism from City University in London. Lourdes is married to Times of London journalist James Hider. They have a daughter and they sometimes travel together for work and always for play.

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 huge demonstrations both against and for the government have taken place in recent weeks.

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.

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, which is the source of the private discussions that have now been made public.

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 Crisis

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.

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 with this birth defect since the virus arrived last year.

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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.

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.

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!"

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.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

"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.

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 in 2009.

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.

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.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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 with that.

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.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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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.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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?

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.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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 the country is still losing about 2,000 square miles of jungle each year.

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 the rain forest.

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.

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 Brazilian player Marta is an international superstar.

You find out you are pregnant. You're happy. What do you do next? Well, if you are Brazilian, you immediately book a photographer who will preferably shoot you in scenic Rio de Janeiro.

And if it's Saturday in Rio's parks and beaches, it's pregnancy portrait day.

Beatriz Costa Vasconcelos, who is heavily pregnant, is standing in the middle of the forest wearing a lace shirt that's open to better show off her bare belly.

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