Brazil

In 2015, Zika virus swept through Brazil and the Americas. It was the first time a mosquito-borne virus was known to cause severe birth defects, and the World Health Organization declared it a "public health emergency that warranted a global response."

Six volunteer firefighters use machetes to cut a path through the vines and underbrush of the Chiquitano forest in Bolivia's eastern lowlands. They're approaching the leading edge of a fire that's been burning for hours.

They attempt to smother it with shovelfuls of dirt and water they carry on their backs in tanks normally used to fumigate crops. But the smoke is getting thicker, the heat stronger and swirling winds push the flames forward. Realizing they are overmatched, José Zapata, the only trained firefighter among the group, orders his men to pull out.

Victor R. Caivano / AP

Last week Brazilian soldiers were working to put out this year’s record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest. The irony is that they were there on the orders of their commander-in-chief, President Jair Bolsonaro – because he’s trying to put out another kind of fire.

Leo Correa / AP

COMMENTARY

Here’s a dirty little secret about Amazon deforestation that liberals prefer you overlook: the slash-and-burn may be ugly under right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, but it was bad when leftists controlled the rainforest, too. Under former President Dilma Rousseff, the liberal darling who ruled Brazil from 2011 until her impeachment in 2016, Amazon deforestation actually increased.

In no way does that excuse Bolsonaro’s reckless efforts to accelerate the trend – which in 2019 have resulted in an alarming 85 percent rise in Amazon fires that have destroyed more than 7,000 square miles of rainforest. What it points out is that Brazil, left or right, is and largely has been a lousy steward of an emerald ecosystem known as the lungs of the earth.

Brazil says it will reject an offer of at least $22 million from the rich countries in the Group of Seven to help fight fires sweeping through the Amazon rainforest. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he doesn't want the money — unless it comes with an apology from French President Emmanuel Macron.

"Hello, planet! Wake up! Without the Amazon, you can't breathe!" protesters chanted Friday in Rio de Janeiro, as they filled the front steps of city hall carrying painted crosses traditionally seen at funerals. That night, they were mourning the rainforest.

More than 30 protests took place across Brazil this weekend to voice outrage over fires burning through the Amazon.

NASA via AP

The haunting pictures of smoke in Brazil this week have made the world aware of the emergency level of Amazon deforestation. Brazil experts here warn South Floridians this crisis is not as distant as it seems.

Updated 11:20 a.m. ET Saturday

French President Emmanuel Macron is calling on world leaders to place the massive fires destroying Brazil's Amazon rainforest at the top of their agenda as they gather in France's southwest for the Group of Seven summit.

Fires in Brazil's Amazon rainforest are proliferating at an alarming rate.

That's the gist of an announcement this week by the country's National Institute for Space Research, or INPE. According to the agency, there have been 74,155 fires in Brazil so far this year — most of which erupted in the Amazon. That represents an astonishing leap of more than 80% over last year and by far the most that the agency has recorded since it began compiling this data in 2013.

Eraldo Peres / AP

One of the most heated topics in the U.S. this week is President Trump’s racially charged rhetoric. But we’re not the only country in the Americas where presidential remarks are prompting outrage. Thursday was a big reminder.

At least 57 prisoners were killed by fellow inmates during a prison riot in northern Brazil in what authorities have described as a "targeted act" by gang members directed at a rival group.

The riot at Altamira prison began early Monday and lasted throughout the morning, according to authorities. Two prison officials were reportedly taken hostage, but later released after negotiations.

Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

The Portuguese word saudade [pronounced sau-DAH-jee in Brazilian Portuguese] has no translation in English or any other language. It’s described as a deep, sad longing for that which has been lost indefinitely or for a time – a loved one, a place, a feeling.

Updated at 9:34 p.m. ET Saturday

João Gilberto, one of the principal architects of the Brazilian musical style bossa nova, has died at his home in Rio de Janeiro, according to a Facebook post by his son. João Marcelo Gilberto wrote that his father, who was 88 years old, died following an undisclosed illness.

Catharine Skipp / University of Miami Law School

When Sergio Moro gave a lecture at the University of Miami last year he got a loud, standing ovation — because what he was doing in Brazil struck a loud, resounding chord in South Florida.

Moro was the man who was draining the deep, fetid swamp of corruption in Brazil.

Contributed by Carlos Mariaca

As the world's ninth largest economy begins to bounce back from two years of recession and slow recovery, Brazilian foreign investment in South Florida real estate is booming and the Miami Association of Realtors says Brazil was the top foreign country buying homes here in 2018. 

Pages