Philip Reeves

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Cinthia Ribeiro knew she had a fight on her hands when COVID-19 arrived in her hometown in Brazil. What she didn't know was that, one year on, humans would be out to kill her, too.

Ribeiro is mayor of Palmas, capital of Tocantins, a small state wedged between the southeastern edge of the Amazon rainforest and the Cerrado, South America's tropical savanna.

The fresh wave of infections now racing across the landscape has reached her city, flooding hospitals with patients, and pushing intensive care unit occupancy rates up to 96%.

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When the health system first collapsed in the Amazonian city of Manaus, Brazil, and COVID-19 victims were buried in mass graves, the mayor sent a desperate appeal to then-President Donald Trump and other world leaders.

"We are doing our best, but I tell you, it's still very little in [the] face of the oncoming barbarism" said Arthur Virgílio Neto in a video message. "We cannot be silent. We need all possible help."

A second wave of COVID-19 is rippling across Brazil. The latest hot spot is Rio de Janeiro, hometown of President Jair Bolsonaro. Even so, he is continuing to subvert efforts to control the pandemic.

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A five-year campaign by President Nicolás Maduro to wipe out the last democratically elected bastion of opposition power in Venezuela is reaching its peak.

Maduro and his loyalists are poised to win back control of the National Assembly in elections Sunday, adding to the litany of woes facing his chief rival, Juan Guaidó.

U.S.-backed Guaidó and the mainstream opposition parties are boycotting the poll, calling it a "fraud" and arguing that conditions for holding "free and fair" elections do not exist in Venezuela.

With tears, songs and prayers, a multitude of Argentines flooded into the heart of Buenos Aires to pay their final respects to Diego Maradona, one of the world's greatest soccer players.

Thousands of fans lined up from the early hours on Thursday to file past Maradona's wooden casket as he lay in the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace, beneath his nation's sky-blue-and-white flag and his signature No. 10 shirt.

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A Black man in Brazil has died after being severely beaten by security guards. It happened last night on the eve of Black Consciousness Day. As NPR's Philip Reeves reports, his death has caused a huge outcry.

Evo Morales, Bolivia's first Indigenous president and one of Latin America's most prominent leftists, has made a triumphant return to his home country after being controversially driven from power one year ago.

The socialist leader crossed the border from Argentina on Monday to begin a 625-mile odyssey through the heartland of his support, accompanied by a festive, flag-flourishing convoy of vehicles.

After a wave of mass protests, and amid a pandemic, the people of Chile go to the polls Sunday for a historic referendum over whether the country should scrap its dictatorship-era constitution and write a new one.

Opinion surveys suggest the electorate will vote "yes," bringing an end to the 40-year-old charter that was imposed during the rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and has long been seen by many Chileans as the underlying source of many of their grievances.

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Socialists appear to have made a strong comeback yesterday in Bolivia's presidential election. All of the votes have yet to be counted, but the hand-picked candidate of ousted President Evo Morales seems to have taken a big lead in the first round.

Socialists in Bolivia are celebrating a historic victory after a candidate handpicked by their ousted leader, Evo Morales, was on course to win the country's most important presidential election in a generation.

Luis Arce — a former economy minister during the Morales era — is poised to be officially confirmed as the winner after his main rival conceded, even before the official count from Sunday's election was complete.

Environmentalists in Brazil are mourning the death of a leading expert on uncontacted tribes in the Amazon, who was killed by an arrow that struck him in the chest.

Friends of Rieli Franciscato say he died inside the rainforest while on a mission to shield an isolated indigenous group from a possible hostile encounter with outsiders.

Updated at 6:10 p.m. ET

Peru's government has launched a campaign of emotional shock tactics to persuade its citizens to help stop the coronavirus from causing more death and misery in a country with one of Latin America's biggest outbreaks.

Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra acknowledges the campaign "may seem too harsh." Yet he says: "We are in a war. ... You have to call things as they are."

Anti-government blockades in Bolivia have entered their second week amid escalating political tensions, violent confrontations and government allegations that protesters are causing deaths by stopping supplies from reaching coronavirus patients.

The protests are deepening the crisis facing a nation already struggling to cope with a pandemic which officials say has so far killed more than 3,700 people and infected more than 91,600.

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It's hard to delay presidential elections in the United States - yet in some countries, you can. In Bolivia, the authorities have repeatedly postponed elections, citing the coronavirus pandemic. NPR's Philip Reeves says that's triggered protests across the country.

Front-line health workers and senior clerics in Brazil are adding their voices to the chorus of alarm about President Jair Bolsonaro's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With more than 87,000 deaths and 2.4 million registered infections so far, Brazil has suffered more cases than any other country except the United States.

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The U.S. is leading the world in COVID-19 cases - more than 3 1/2 million. Other countries are seeing surges, too. India, for example, just hit a new record - a million cases. Here's virologist Shahid Jameel talking to India Today.

The number of people infected by the coronavirus in some of Brazil's poorest and most vulnerable neighborhoods could be 30 times higher than the officially registered count, according to Brazilian researchers.

Since the pandemic began, there has been intense concern about the virus's impact on these communities, including favelas where the population is predominantly poor and black.

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Brazil reported a record spike of daily coronavirus infections Thursday, as widespread criticism continues to dog President Jair Bolsonaro for playing down the outbreak. The country has confirmed more than 438,000 cases, the world's second-highest number after the United States.

The rise in cases comes as São Paulo, the state with the highest number of registered deaths, prepares to ease restrictions in some areas.

Argentina is loosening the strict lockdown that helped secure one of the lowest death tolls from COVID-19 in South America.

Restrictions imposed more than seven weeks ago will remain in effect in and around the capital, Buenos Aires. The nation's borders and schools will stay closed, and public gatherings will still be banned. But Monday, the administration of President Alberto Fernández began allowing provincial mayors and governors to open up businesses and restore free movement if coronavirus case numbers remain low.

"I just wish a helicopter would come and fly me away from here," says Manuel Viana, a Brazilian funeral director in the front line of the spiraling coronavirus crisis. "We are living through a nightmare."

Viana is among the citizens and officials struggling to cope with a tragedy under way in Manaus, a city of 2.2 million in the middle of the Amazon rainforest.

Cemeteries and hospitals have been overwhelmed by a surge in the number of deaths, most of which are not registered in official COVID-19 statistics because of a lack of testing and bureaucratic delays.

Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro is the focus of a fresh outcry after taking part in a public protest against democratic institutions that included calls for a military takeover.

The president's participation in the event has caused outrage among judges, human rights groups, lawyers and others, and comes amid growing controversy over his response to the coronavirus crisis.

Brandishing placards and flags, hundreds of people drove by motorcade to Sunday's rally, which was held outside army headquarters in the capital Brasilia.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has fired his health minister as the country grapples with the biggest outbreak of the coronavirus in Latin America.

Bolsonaro said Luiz Henrique Mandetta was leaving by mutual consent, but his departure follows weeks of acrimony between the two men over how to respond to the crisis.

Medical professionals treating coronavirus patients in Venezuela say most hospitals lack a broad array of basic necessities, often including soap and running water.

Their warning comes amid concerns that the South American country could soon face a new humanitarian catastrophe because its health system is close to collapse and cannot cope with a surge of cases.

Right-wing groups in Brazil are summoning their supporters onto the streets to demand that their country returns to work, and ends mass lockdowns imposed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

This follows a highly controversial campaign against shutdowns by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who believes mass closures will cause more economic devastation and suffering than the virus itself.

There's been a furious reaction in Brazil after President Jair Bolsonaro demanded an end to lockdowns imposed in his country's biggest cities in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Having played down the virus for days as "exaggerated," the president doubled down Wednesday, labeling governors and mayors who have imposed restrictions as "criminals" who are "destroying Brazil."

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