Political, Economic Crises Weigh on Brazilians

May 12, 2016

The suspension of the country’s president underscores the nation’s mounting troubles.



Why Brazil’s Corruption Scandal Is a Sign of Progress

March 15, 2016


Can FIFA Change Its Playing Field?

Questions remain as the global soccer body promises new leaders will bring reform.

Feb. 23, 2016


Return of the Lula

December 21, 2015


Why Amazon Tribes Are Losing the Fight Against New Dams – Again

As our boat nudged down the Tapajós river, the hypnotic sameness of the Amazon was shattered by the splash of small bodies.

A half-dozen children from the local Munduruku tribe had been dangling from trees along the river’s shore. Seeing us approach, they jumped into the dark water, clambered aboard our boat, and began examining whatever caught their eye: a baseball hat, a notebook, a tube of sunblock.

Their curiosity sated, they dove back into the river without a word.

The message was clear: This is their home. This is their land.


Making sense of Brazil’s vigilante violence

Every Wednesday, a farmers’ market would spring up in the cobble-stoned square facing my Rio de Janeiro apartment. The clank and bang of vendors building makeshift stalls woke me up at dawn, and their beckoning calls kept me company as I worked: Watermelon! Figs! Strawberries to sweeten your mother-in-law’s temper!

But on one particular Wednesday in March 2014, here’s what I heard: “Beat him up. Teach him a lesson. Give him what he deserves.”


Brazil is in crisis ahead of 2016 Olympics in Rio

Mired in deepening political and economic crises, more than 250,000 Brazilians took the streets in a wave of national protest. What will the world find when they turn to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics?


Rio’s tainted waterways signal larger ills threatening the Olympics

August 1, 2015 –

Rio de Janeiro is a city born by the water, and defined by it. Its very name brings to mind images of palm-fringed sunsets over the Atlantic. This exuberant setting was used to entice the International Olympic Committee into choosing Rio as host of the 2016 Games: The video IOC members watched before voting had shot after gorgeous shot of runners jogging by Guanabara Bay shining golden in the afternoon sun; of volleyball players arching over a net on Ipanema beach; and of rowers coursing through a lagoon that reflects the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer.

The IOC went for it. The rhetoric was just right: The city’s bid promised “Green Games for a Blue Planet,” a sustainable Olympics that would have environment at its heart. Rio looked the part. What the images didn’t show — what locals had long known — was that these postcard settings reeked of sewage.


The Olympic Games have become too big

It is time for the International Olympic Committee to rein in expenses and end the drive toward ever-bigger games

July 29, 2015 –

The competition to host the 2024 Olympic Games is underway. Sept. 15 is the deadline for committing to a bid. Paris; Hamburg, Germany; Budapest, Hungary; and Rome are going neck and neck, banking on the games’ promise to bolster local economies. Boston, however, dropped its bid on Monday after Mayor Martin J. Walsh refused “to put city taxpayers on the hook” for cost overruns if the organizers ran out of cash.


With the 2016 Summer Olympics just a year away, what Brazil can learn from World Cup 2014 –

July 26, 2015 –

No one thought the path to the World Cup in Rio would be smooth, but it was more harrowing than anyone anticipated.

Excerpted from “Dancing With the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink”

The idea was irresistible: the grandest soccer tournament in the world, hosted by the nation where “futebol is not only a sport, but a passion, a national passion.”

boston globe

The girl from Ipanema goes home

July 10, 2015

RIO DE JANEIRO — The apartment broker turned the key. Th edoor didn’t budge. He put his shoulder against the unit’s front door, pushed gently. Nothing.

He put a little weight into it, and the door gave way with a wood-against-wood squeak that echoed in the dim living room.

“It’s the damp,” he said.

His tone wasn’t apologetic, just factual. I stepped in and felt the air brush against my face, moist and unwelcome like the breath of a stranger on a crowded bus.


FIFA’s (Other) Big Problem

July 2, 2015

The U.S. team’s performance in the Women’s World Cup has been called “dominant, confident and convincing”; they quashed top-ranked Germany 2-0 in the semi-finals, and will play Japan in Sunday’s Final in Vancouver.

But FIFA’s profile of American forward Alex Morgan, posted in advance of the semi-final, started off by noting the talented goalscorer has “a style that is very easy on the eye, and good looks to match.”


The frail, forgotten army from the Amazon

March 29, 2015

PORTO VELHO, Brazil — After nearly seven decades, thousands of Brazilian men recruited during World War II to go into the Amazon and extract the rubber required for everything from airplanes to gun mounts are finally being compensated for their effort.


What Explains Brazil’s Surfing Boom?

March 27, 2015

BRAZIL has gone surf crazy.

In December, when a 20-year-old Brazilian named Gabriel Medina won the world’s premier surfing title, becoming the first South American man to do so, the country erupted in celebration. Mr. Medina’s path to the championship had been followed closely in Brazil throughout 2014, each victory celebrated in typically boisterous Brazilian fashion by flag-waving, often teary, always emotional fans. His arrival at the airport in São Paulo after winning the title was a mob scene and a media frenzy.


Young, Black and Poor in Brazil

July 29, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO — A crowd of one million gathered here last Tuesday for the opening mass of World Youth Day, a Catholic extravaganza that this year included a visit by Pope Francis. Rio’s archbishop, Orani Tempesta, started the ceremony on a somber note, reminding attendees that July 23 also marked the 20th anniversary of the killing of eight homeless children in front of Candelária church, one of the most revered Catholic sanctuaries in this most Catholic of nations.


The Olympic Curse

June 25, 2013

ISTANBUL — I arrived in Istanbul in mid-May, planning to stay for a few weeks and take advantage of the distance to write about Rio de Janeiro, where I live.


Race to the Top

May 17, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO — While the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether American universities should take account of race when they admit new students, Brazil is implementing what are arguably the most radical affirmative action measures for universities in the West.


In the Servants’ Quarters

May 10, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO — “Downton Abbey” has nothing on contemporary Brazil: With more household servants than any other country — 6.5 million, according to the International Labor Organization — discussing upstairs-downstairs drama is a national pastime.


Brazil Favelas Find New Home On Rio De Janeiro Maps

January 22, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO — Look at most maps of Rio de Janeiro. The beaches are easy to spot, as are the iconic ocean-front neighborhoods of Copacabana and Ipanema. In the middle is a vast forest. What’s less identifiable are the blank swaths with no streets, landmarks or other signs of human habitation.


Brazil: Drug dealers say no to crack in Rio

August 18, 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Business was brisk in the Mandela shantytown on a recent night. In the glow of a weak light bulb, customers pawed through packets of powdered cocaine and marijuana priced at $5, $10, $25. Teenage boys with semiautomatic weapons took in money and made change while flirting with girls in belly-baring tops lounging nearby.

6 days after deadly mudslides, survivors get help

January 18, 2011

The call for help was clearly visible from the helicopter: SOS, carved into the immaculate lawn of an upscale home.

Next to it, people waved and jumped, desperate for help after being stranded for six days by mudslides that obliterated entire communities in the jagged mountains outside Rio de Janeiro, killing at least 677 people as of Tuesday and leaving nearly 14,000 homeless.