Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.

Before joining the Sunday morning team, she served an NPR correspondent based in Brazil, Israel, Mexico, and Iraq. 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, 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. 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. She has also won awards for her work on migration in Mexico and the Amazon in Brazil.

Garcia-Navarro got her start in journalism as a freelancer with the BBC World Service and Voice of America. She later became a producer for Associated Press Television News before transitioning to AP Radio. While there, Garcia-Navarro covered post-September 11 events in Afghanistan and developments in Jerusalem. She was posted for the AP to Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion, where she stayed covering the conflict.

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.

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.

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.

Transcript

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.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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:

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.

Brazil's borders are so vast, and the terrain so inhospitable, that attempting to secure them has seemed a virtually impossible task.

But Brazil's rapidly expanding economy has made the country a magnet for illegal immigration, drug smuggling and other illicit activities, and now the country has announced its own border protection program.

The office is immaculate, as you would expect in an upscale neighborhood in Sao Paulo — all sterile, white, modish plastic furniture and green plants. Behind the reception desk are pictures that would look more appropriate in a pop art gallery than a private maternity clinic.

The list of services at the clinic in Brazil's largest city is long: fertility treatments, specialized gynecology and, of course, obstetrics. But one thing they rarely do here is preside over a vaginal delivery.

In Rio de Janeiro, tourists are drawn to Copacabana for its wide beach and foliage-covered cliffs. But a month ago, not far from the tourist hub, an American woman and her French male companion were abducted. She was brutally gang-raped; he was beaten.

Perhaps what was most shocking to Brazilians, though, was the age of one of the alleged accomplices: He was barely in his teens.

"Why? That's what you ask yourself," says Sylvia Rumpoldt, who is walking with a friend at dusk by the sea in Rio. "It's horrible. It's criminal energy."

Soccer isn't just a sport in Brazil, it's a religion, and the main temple is the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

The venue is not only the biggest stadium in Brazil but the biggest in South America. Over the weekend, the newly renovated complex reopened to great fanfare, with stirring musical numbers, a light show and dignitaries including Brazil's president.

The headlines in the local media, however, focused not on the fanfare but on the many problems, from flooding in the VIP area to malfunctioning seats and turnstiles. The stadium was also four months late reopening.

It's lunchtime in the heart of Sao Paulo's financial district. Surrounded by tall buildings of cool glass and steel, men and women in suits and business attire walk back and forth busily in Brazil's largest city.

Standing amid the bustle is Leticia Matos — who is, for want of a better word, a crochet artist. She couldn't look more different from the people around her.

Wearing a short-sleeve shirt and covered in bright, quirky tattoos, Matos is at work, too. About a year ago, she says, she got the idea for her project while knitting and crocheting with her friends.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, a Starbucks coffee shop looks as it would in the United States. It has the same jazzy music; the same items on the menu.

There is one thing that is different, though: the prices.

"Everyone told me it's expensive, but when you see it yourself it's shocking," says one customer, Thierry, who is from Geneva and is in town for a wedding.

Ten years after the Iraq War began, NPR is catching up with people we encountered during the conflict. Back in 2008, NPR's armored car was targeted with a so-called sticky bomb in Baghdad. Ali Hamdani, an Iraqi who worked for NPR as a translator and producer, narrowly escaped. Shortly afterward, he left Iraq for the Unites States as a refugee.

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