South America

Marxist rebels and the Colombian government met in Havana on Wednesday night to sign a historic peace accord, marking the end to a guerrilla war that has seethed for more than half a century.

The brutal conflict has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions.

In the opening ceremony of Rio's Olympic Games, Brazil's favelas, or shantytowns, were showcased as the birthplace of a lot of Brazil's culture.

That was showbiz. In three of the most iconic communities, the reality of how these Olympics are affecting favela residents is more complicated.

Brazil is one of the most unequal countries in the world. In Rio, at least 25 percent of the population lives in impoverished communities.

Take Santa Marta. Perched above Rio's expensive South Zone, it's the city's most internationally famous favela.

American women were not exactly a powerhouse at the 1972 Summer Olympics: They won just 23 medals, compared with 71 for the U.S. men. The women were absent from the medal podium in gymnastics. They didn't win a single gold in track and field, managing just one silver and two bronze.

But something else happened that year. The U.S. Congress passed Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in education programs receiving federal money. Sports wasn't the focus of Title IX. In fact, quite the opposite.

Steve Elliott from UK / Creative Commons

The Olympics get underway on Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It will be a first for rower Austin Hack of Old Lyme, Connecticut. 

Christian Haugen / Creative Commons

The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil kick off on Friday, and here in Connecticut, our state’s large Brazilian community will be watching far from home. This hour, we learn more about why so many Brazilians come to the Nutmeg State and why it’s hard to say exactly how many Brazilians live here.

Sam Wolff / Creative Commons

The normally complicated topic of international relations has lately been highlighted in a different lens: sports! This hour, we look at Russia's relationship with the world in the midst of a massive doping scandal, the political backdrop of last month's Euro Cup, and the upcoming Olympics in Brazil. 

With his wife expecting a baby in October, American road racer Tejay van Garderen has withdrawn from consideration for the Rio Summer Olympics, citing the Zika virus that's been linked to birth defects.

From a statement released by USA Cycling on van Garderen's behalf today:

Immigrants fleeing gang violence in Central America are again surging across the U.S.-Mexico border, approaching the numbers that created an immigration crisis in the summer of 2014. While the flow of immigrants slowed for much of last year, nothing the U.S. government does seems to deter the current wave of travelers.

After debating through the night, Brazil's Senate voted early Thursday 55 to 22 to try President Dilma Rousseff on charges of manipulating the budget. The vote automatically suspends her from office.

The Senate had been widely expected to vote for Rousseff to be tried in impeachment proceedings. The final tally is a resounding defeat for Rousseff, easily surpassing the simple majority (41 votes) required.

Amir Attaran, a professor in the School of Public Health and the School of Law at the University of Ottawa, isn't afraid to take a bold stand.

He has written a commentary for the Harvard Public Health Review, published this week, with the headline, "Why Public Health Concerns for Global Spread of Zika Virus Means that Rio de Janeiro's 2016 Olympic Games Must Not Proceed."

Lori Mack / WNPR

Community members and organizations gathered for a meeting at the Consulate of Ecuador in New Haven on Monday night to discuss relief efforts following the country's 7.8 magnitude earthquake. 

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Ecuador on Saturday has left more than 400 people dead and many more injured.

Thousands are homeless, The Associated Press reports, and highways, air traffic control towers and buildings along the coast have collapsed.

Rescue workers were working to find and aid survivors, while officials warned the general public of the perils of digging through the rubble.

In a landmark vote on Sunday evening, Brazil's lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, supported impeaching President Dilma Rousseff, The Associated Press reports. The vote was 367 to 137 with seven abstentions. Two deputies were not present. The total easily surpassed the two-thirds majority required to send the proceeding to Brazil's Senate.

In one of the largest waves of Cuban migration in decades, more than 70,000 have fled the island this year, rushing to the U.S. out of fear that its preferential policy toward those escaping the Castro regime might change.

Dealing a big blow to President Nicolas Maduro's Socialist leadership, Venezuelan voters handed a majority of congressional seats to a coalition of opposition parties.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports the opposition gains control of congress for the first time since Hugo Chávez ushered in victory for the leftist movement in 1999. She filed this report for our Newcast unit:

Jhonnathas Trindade

The failure of two mining dams in southeastern Brazil earlier this month killed around a dozen people and left hundreds displaced. It's also created major environmental and humanitarian fallout in the country, which is being watched by people in Connecticut who hail from this region of Brazil. 

At least eight people were reported killed following a powerful earthquake off Chile's coast Wednesday night. The 8.3-magnitude quake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific, from California and Hawaii to New Zealand.

Chile's government ordered a million people to evacuate their homes on the coast, fearing a repeat of a 2010 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 500 people. But fears of a devastating tsunami in Chile eased Thursday morning, and the alert was rescinded.

Facebook

Advocates in Connecticut are rallying against the planned deportation of a U.S. Army veteran who came to the United States from Peru as a teenager. 

Thomas Mione

A biology professor in Connecticut has spent 20 years traveling in South America to discover plants.

Venezuela, a long-time diplomatic thorn on the side of the United States, has won a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that unlike the last time Venezuela vied for a spot, this time the country was able to get enough votes easily.

The Monitor adds:

Credit Christopher Gardner Photography

Packed inside a small travel bag and tucked away on a shelf in her cozy New Haven studio, artist Corina Alvarezdelugo keeps her precious scraps of fabric protected. Beyond valuable, these throwaways come in various textures, colors, and playful patterns, gathered long ago in her homeland of Venezuela. 

Connecticut Tango Festival

The Connecticut Tango Festival wraps up this weekend. Since its beginnings in the working class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires in the 1890s, the evocative art form continues to fascinate people around the world. 

Israeli Defense Forces / Creative Commons

Once again, violence has escalated in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. Rockets are now reaching northern Israel and that government is responding with barrages of its own rocket attacks on Palestinian targets. We talk with a local professor who recently returned from the region and studies this on-going conflict.

"The worst game I saw in my life" is how one Brazilian fan describes it. Another says it's simply a tragedy. Some angry fans burned Brazil's flag in the street.

Jorge in Brazil / Creative Commons

On Tuesday, Brazil faces Germany in a World Cup semifinal match. For thousands of Brazilians living in Danbury, the game is a chance to gather, eat barbeque, and cheer on their native team. 

Brazil stumbled early on, but came back to overpower rival Croatia in the group A preliminary round match in Sao Paulo at the opening of the FIFA World Cup 2014.

CBSSports.com says:

"The Brazilians surrendered an early own goal before Neymar answered with a first-half equalizer, and a dive in the box from striker Fred led to the go-ahead goal in the second half on a Neymar penalty kick.

The New Sounds Of Brazil: Artists To Watch

Jun 12, 2014

Update at 4:31 p.m. ET

And Brazil does recover, with a goal from star Neymar a few minutes later.

Update at 4:28 p.m. ET

The beautiful game is not so beautiful for Brazil in the early moments of the game: Croatia is ahead 1-0 after an own goal by the home team. It's early, though. Plenty of time for Brazil to recover.

[A tweet from NPR's Russell Lewis in Sao Paulo.]

Update at 10:25 a.m. ET

The global reach of soccer never ceases to amaze me. I travel all over the world, sometimes to incredibly remote areas. More often than not, when I get there, somebody is kicking around a soccer ball.

It doesn't matter if it's Asia or Africa or Central America. Kids make a goal out of a couple of backpacks, throw out a ball and the game is on. The "ball" could be a knotted towel or a tennis ball or a tattered leather shell that's barely holding air.

Pages