Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

Brazilian street artist Paulo Ito has captured the spirit of the World Cup with two controversial images: One depicts a starving Brazilian boy with nothing but a soccer ball to eat; the other depicts even protesters watching the games on television. They both speak to viewers worldwide about the costs of staging the mega event. Ito explains what inspired his work and what's happening in Brazil.

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And now some World Cup news that is not about the U.S. team. Argentina played Switzerland today. The South American country won, scoring a goal in overtime. Argentina's fans were out in force in Sao Paulo, where the two teams faced off. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro says supporters of Brazil's greatest rival are getting a lot of attention in the host country.

Luis Suarez's sponsors are dropping him, his future at his team Liverpool is in doubt and his 2014 World Cup is over. FIFA dealt the Uruguayan soccer player an unusually harsh sentence for biting his opponent, and his home country is outraged.

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Brazil is pouring nearly a billion dollars into Cuba's Mariel port. Brazil, via Cuba, will practically have its own port near U.S. shores — so it's a major geostrategic move.

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We now turn to Brazil and the World Cup. Yesterday, the host country played Mexico, and it was a disappointing performance for home-team fans. It was a draw. Neither side scored. Still, Brazilians are feeling more positive about the World Cup. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports from Sao Paulo.

The talk on the streets of Brazil is the host country's resounding victory over Croatia on the World Cup pitch. But online, debate is raging over whether or not chants directed against Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff at the stadium where she was attending yesterday's match were sexist.

After the opening ceremony, fans briefly started jeering "Hey, Dilma, go f*** yourself in the a**! Hey, FIFA, go f*** yourself in the a**!"

Riot police in Sao Paulo used tear gas and stun grenades against protesters angry over Brazil's attention to the World Cup over the needs of its people. The violence came before the first game began.

In Brazil, thousands of protesters clashed with police just hours before the World Cup opening ceremony. The streets of Sao Paolo were filled with tear gas and concussion grenades.

It's the most iconic image of Brazil: the Christ the Redeemer statue, perched atop Rio de Janiero, looking down with his arms spread wide in love and understanding.

Now imagine the towering figure wearing a soccer jersey — and not even Brazil's.

Controversy has broken out over an Italian TV advertisement for the World Cup that shows the sculpture draped in the blue jersey of the Azzurri, or Italy's national team, and featuring the slogan "Brazil awaits us."

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This Thursday, the eyes of the world will be on Brazil during the World Cup's opening ceremony. And there'll be a remarkable moment during that event. From São Paulo, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports.

First came the bus strike. Then came the teachers. Now it's the train workers' turn.

Sao Paulo will see the kickoff to the World Cup next week, but with only a few days to go, it's chaos on the streets of South America's biggest city.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And I'm Audie Cornish. Just nine days to go before the World Cup soccer tournament begins in Brazil. And a poll released today by the Pew Research Center shows that the mood among Brazilians is grim. NPR's Lordes Garcia-Navarro reports a country that seemed to be taking off just a few years ago feels like it's crashing, instead.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

In Sao Paulo's poor north zone, in the neighborhood of Tucuruvi, teams of city workers knock on doors, warning people to take pets and small children out of the area.

Quickly after, men in hazmat suits with metal cylinders strapped to their backs start spraying the street, and some of the interiors of the homes, with powerful pesticides. This is the front line of the war on dengue fever in Brazil's largest city.

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Soccer fans are counting down. Forty-seven days to go until the World Cup in Brazil. The country is in the news again but not for the reasons it might want. In one of the key host cities, Rio de Janeiro, riots broke out in a major tourist area earlier this week. Big questions over the readiness of stadiums and infrastructure also remain. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is our South America correspondent, and she's with us today in our D.C. studios. Lourdes, nice to have you here.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: It's great to be here.

The Venezuelan capital, Caracas, can be one of the most expensive cities in the world — or one of the cheapest. It all depends on how you exchange your dollars.

At a fast food restaurant in the city recently, a pretty tasty plate of chicken and rice cost me 160 bolivars. At the official exchange rate set by the government, that works out to a little more than $25; at the black market rate, it's just $2.

Needless to say, most anyone who can change money on the black market in Venezuela does so.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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And I'm Melissa Block.

It's Carnival this weekend in Brazil. While it costs hundreds of dollars just to get a bad seat in Rio de Janeiro, the northern city of Recife hosts the most unique and varied celebration in the country, with two million people expected to attend.

The U.S. World Cup soccer team is in Brazil for 12 days of training and acclimation. The team drew a challenging schedule for the competition and will be playing in the northern cities of Natal and Recife as well as the Amazonian city of Manaus.

He was named one of the most influential people by Time magazine this past year.

Now Alex Atala, whose restaurant, D.O.M., is ranked among the top 10 in the world, is putting a new kind of Brazilian food on the map.

The use of social media is exploding in Brazil. It's the third largest market for Facebook and the fifth largest for Twitter.

The controversial women-only app Lulu recently launched here and quickly became the top downloaded app in the country, making Brazil Lulu's biggest market.

"I think it is cool because it's a social network for what all women throughout history have always done — talk about the guys we like, the guys we think are handsome," says 20-year-old Marcela, as she taps away at the Lulu app on her iPhone.

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A probe into the death of one of Brazil's most celebrated presidents has determined he was murdered. It was thought that the former leader died in a 1976 car crash but an investigation has found he was assassinated by the military junta that once ruled the country. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports that the revelation is renewing calls for Brazil's amnesty law to be revised so that the killers can face justice.

When you think of the world's great cuisines, Brazilian food doesn't spring to mind. But that is about to change.

Outside Brazil, the South American nation is most famous for its barbecue, or churrascaria. But inside the country, a new movement celebrating regional foods is booming. And ahead of the World Cup and the Olympics, Brazilians are hoping the world will get a new taste of Brazil.

Amanda Maia was visiting Rio de Janeiro for the weekend earlier this month with her mother. It was a sunny day and so they went to Ipanema beach to catch some rays. She says she noticed a few groups of kids.

"There were lots of gangs, about 10, 15 children each; they were about 10 or 12 years old," Maia recalls.

At first, she says, they were just roaming the streets, checking people out. The ones she saw were smoking marijuana, too.

The doctor's office is clean and white and comfortingly bland in an upscale neighborhood of Sao Paulo. We were given the address by a health professional who told us one of the doctors here gives safe abortions in a country where they are illegal.

The doctor agrees to speak on condition of anonymity after we prove we are not there to entrap him. He does not admit on tape that he terminates unwanted pregnancies. But he says openly he favors legalizing abortions.

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A secret surveillance court has issued a very rare public defense of the U.S. program that collects massive data on phone calls. The court wrote that this program which stores numbers and call times but not content, we're told, does not violate privacy rights.

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The American Civil Liberties Union countered that it is folly to trust privacy decisions to a secret court.

It all started out so promisingly. She was young, still in her teens, and she'd landed her first job. As is the custom in Brazil, to get your salary you have to open an account with the bank the company deals with — and with that new account came the woman's first credit card.

"The banks say, 'I want to help you,' " she says. "And if you have a credit card, it's a status symbol, you are well-regarded."

She switched jobs. That company dealt with another bank — which issued her another credit card. She got a store credit card, too.

Amid chanting and drumming, a crowd gathers in Sao Paulo and waits for the gods to come to them from the spirit world.

They are celebrating a sacred festival day in honor of Omulu, a deity of life and death. The women wear white dresses with crinolines, colorful belts and headdresses. The men wear lace, pajama-style suits. They sing and dance in a circle for hours; the room gets warmer, the chanting more intense.

Suddenly, they are here: Orixas have possessed the chosen among the faithful. They are spirit gods, the deified ancestors who link humans to the other world.

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This is one of the most critical tests for a developing economy: balancing development and the protection of human rights. It's currently playing out on the national stage in Peru. Several members of the president's cabinet have just resigned over plans to expand a gas field. It's in an area populated by tribes of Indians who have no contact with the outside world. Here's NPR's South America correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro.

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