Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

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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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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.

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.

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