Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is an NPR international correspondent covering South America for NPR. She is based in Sao Paulo, 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 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.

"Dear Father Christmas," the letter reads, "my name is Larissa. I know that you are very busy and that you live a long way away in the North Pole, but I'd like to ask you for a gift because my mother doesn't have enough money to buy what I want."

There are piles of similar letters — many decorated with stickers, drawings and hand prints — lying on makeshift tables in the main hall of the post office in downtown Sao Paulo.

The iconic Volkswagen van goes out of production this month in Brazil because of new government-imposed safety requirements. Some of the last of the hippy buses are now rolling off the line.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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.

Brazil was the last place in the Americas to abolish slavery — it didn't happen until 1888 — and that meant that the final years of the practice were photographed.

He was boastful, he was brash and he came to represent a booming Brazil that was finally taking its place as an economic powerhouse on the world stage.

Eike Batista had the cars: a Mercedes McLaren worth a quarter of a million dollars parked in his living room; the boat, called "the Pink Fleet," and the women: He was married to a former Playboy model and a Carnival queen.

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.

Brazil is known for its music and distinctive dances, not necessarily for its paintings or photography. But that is changing. Not only are Brazilian artists now getting big play in major museums around the world, but something new is happening inside Brazil: There's a burgeoning appetite for art.

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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.

What's the busiest U.S. Consulate in the world? If you guessed in Mexico or China, you'd be wrong.

It's actually in Brazil, Sao Paulo to be exact. The consulate there is giving a record number of visas to Brazilians who want to visit the U.S. And that is giving a boost to the economies of cities like Miami.

On a recent day, Tiago Dalcien and his girlfriend stand outside the U.S. Consulate in Sao Paulo clutching their passports and other documents. He is a 30-year-old banker; his girlfriend is a doctor.

Brazilian police are preparing to occupy one of the deadliest shantytown complexes in Rio de Janeiro, hoping to drive out drug gangs ahead of next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

It's the latest "pacification" effort in a Rio slum, and the city's new chief of police says he'll need some 1,500 cops to secure this one, called Mare.

Police in the past would typically stage raids, but then withdraw from the dangerous shantytowns, known here as favelas. But under the pacification program, they now set up shop inside the favelas.

While the recent World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro were a success for Pope Francis, they certainly weren't for the city government. Accusations of disorganization and transport failures have left residents wondering if Rio is really ready to host both the World Cup and the Olympics.

The Quinta de Boa Vista park is far away from the celebrations in Copacabana Beach, where three million people gathered Saturday to hear Pope Francis speak. But the park is attracting a crowd of young people.

Kiosks for religious orders like the Carmelites, the Franciscans and the Legion of Mary line the park. It looks like a job fair, and in a way, it is.

Nuns from the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady of Lourdes dance around in front of their stand, to the banging of drums and the strumming of guitars.

His name is Roberto Francisco Daniel, but he goes by Padre Beto. He sports an ear clip, and a rosary around his neck that dips into an open-necked patterned shirt. In short, Padre Beto looks cooler than your typical priest.

His decision to become a Catholic priest came late, he says. He was 28. He'd been to college, worked, and he wasn't a virgin. He says he thinks that's why he has a different way of looking at church doctrine.

Pope Francis arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Monday and was greeted by adoring masses and protesters alike. It is his first foreign trip since becoming pope.

Pope Francis arrives Monday evening in Rio de Janeiro for a weeklong visit celebrating World Youth Day. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics have made the pilgrimage to see the Argentine-born pontiff, and he is expected to receive a rapturous welcome.

Still, Pope Francis's visit comes at a delicate time for the church in Brazil. Catholicism — the nation's main religion — is facing a huge challenge from evangelicals.

Unlike New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who often takes the subway to work, some prominent politicians in Brazil have a far more impressive way of getting around: private helicopters and government planes.

Perhaps the most over-the-top example of the trend is that of Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral. A recent magazine expose showed that his commute to work is only about 6 miles.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Brazil has been a lot quieter this week. The massive protests that roiled the country have grown smaller. And to understand why, let's go to NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, who is in Sao Paulo.

Brazil is in the midst of a building boom as it constructs stadiums across the country in preparation for the World Cup it will host next year. In Sao Paulo, hundreds of workers are building a massive arena that will take many more months to complete.

But not all of the workers are Brazilian.

Marie Eveline Melous, 26, arrived from Haiti just a few months ago because life was so difficult, especially after the huge earthquake in 2010. "It's hard to find work. I came to Brazil to help my situation," she says.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Technology really does seem to make the world smaller, and this morning, we'll hear this morning how that applies to protest movements. Turkey saw a fresh wave of anti-government demonstrations over the weekend.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And in Brazil, the president is holding an emergency meeting today on how to respond to protests sweeping that country. An estimated quarter of a million Brazilians were on the streets yesterday, with a wide range of grievances.

It was once the cattle farm of a former congressman, but now his stately house in the western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul is a burned-out shell. Thatch huts are being built in the shade of flowering palm trees. Once the purview of one farmer's family, it now is occupied by dozens of indigenous ones.

Indian activists say this is just the beginning.

They are young, they are angry and they have drawn inspiration from protest movements a world away in places like Turkey and the Middle East.

Tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets across the country Monday night, and more demonstrations are slated for the coming week. Brazil doesn't have a history of this kind of mass dissent, but it seems to be catching on very quickly.

The provincial town of Mage seems a world away from the violence and drug dealing that plague Brazil's larger cities. On a recent afternoon, the central square is a picture of calm. Children play around a fountain; older people sit on the many park benches dotting the area, under the shade of trees.

Mage, about 35 miles northwest of Rio, is close enough that people can commute to the city, which many of them do. Yet it's far enough away that nothing much really happened here in the past. But residents say that is changing.

A new gastronomic guide to Rio de Janeiro's shantytowns — for a cool $35 — has just been published. A new boutique hotel perched on top of one of Rio's previously most dangerous favelas is about to open. And yes, there is a jazz club and yoga, too.

These are new services catering to a new kind of favela resident.

We are standing in front of a huge bank of screens, in the middle of which is a glowing map that changes focus depending on what the dozens of controllers are looking at.

The room looks like something straight out of a NASA shuttle launch. The men and women manning the floor are dressed in identical white jumpsuits. With a flick of a mouse, they scroll through dozens of streaming video images coming into the center.

This is Rio de Janeiro in real time.

The phone is ringing off the hook at the crowded waiting room at the Domestic Workers Union in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil.

In the past decade, millions of Brazilians have joined the middle class. Advocates say this isn't just the result of a growing economy or social spending, but also laws like the one just passed that enshrine domestic workers' rights.

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