KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

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On the day she was killed, Alexsandra Moreira thought she was safe. She thought she had managed to break away and protect herself.

Her brother even escorted her to the bus station that morning to make sure she was OK on her way to work.

"When she got on the bus, my brother told her, 'If anything happens, just call me.' Ten minutes later, his phone rang and it was her. All he could hear was her screaming, pleading for help," Moreira's sister, Andreza da Silva, says.

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A year ago, Mari d'Alessandro got some of the worst news a mother can get. She had taken her son, Hugo, for a routine checkup, and the pediatrician told her Hugo had cancer. He was only 10.

Since then, Venezuela has faced economic and political upheaval that has led to food riots — and now, according to doctors and patients, a health crisis as well.

"You can't find the medicines," d'Alessandro says. "The doctor told me I'm going to have to pay six or seven thousand dollars for just one of the medicines, if I can even get it on the black market."

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

As we drive from the coastal Venezuelan city of Maracaibo toward Colombia, we see dozens of trucks, some of them escorted by Venezuelan National Guard soldiers.

They've come from Colombia — laden with illegal contraband — even though the border is officially closed.

Regular people or smugglers who don't have deals with the military have to brave what my driver calls la carretera sin ley, or the lawless road.

We stop at a crowded strip mall where a group of smugglers is sitting. One of them agrees to talk, but he also doesn't want his name used.

There are two Venezuelas.

In one, there are food riots and empty supermarket shelves and long lines of people waiting for basic goods. In the other, there are gourmet meals, creamy cappuccinos and rich desserts.

At the Santa Elena supermarket in the poor neighborhood or barrio of Antimano in Caracas, the capital, 72-year-old Nerys Ojeda is looking for detergent to wash her clothes. There isn't any.

"We can't find flour, spaghetti, sugar, butter. You can't find any of the things we really need," she says.

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

If you Google "Rio Olympics" right now, you won't see much about the athletes.

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Fed up with a collapsing economy, Venezuelans have been turning out in huge numbers this week to support a referendum that could potentially end the rule of President Nicolas Maduro and his Socialist Party.

The opposition has to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures as the first step in a complicated process leading to a recall vote on ousting Maduro. The electoral authority gave the opposition five days to verify the signatures. The deadline is Friday, and it's a race against time for both the opposition and the president.

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Guanabara Bay, where the Olympic sailing competition will be held this coming August, is a place of striking views — and filthy water that hides some nasty secrets.

Many sailors have complained about the pollution and debris in the water where they will be racing. For Brazilians whose jobs depend on the bay, it's a long-term problem that's only getting worse.

Alexandre Anderson, who heads the region's largest fishermen's association, took me out onto the water to show me the extent of Rio de Janeiro's water crisis.

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In an Olympic first, 10 members of an unusual team will be competing at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro: a squad made up entirely of refugees.

Those who made the cut include Popole Misenga and Yolande Mabika, two refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are already living in Brazil, where the games open on Aug. 5.

In the misty rain, surrounded by Rio de Janeiro's green hills, police officer Eduardo Dias was buried last week. He was shot, purportedly by gang members, as he was leaving his post inside the favela, or shantytown, where he worked as a community cop.

The killing took place a few hundred feet from the Maracana Stadium, where the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics will be held on Aug. 5. As family members wept by the graveside, the pastor raised his hands.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Amid all the upheaval in Brazil, women have suddenly become much less prominent at the top levels of government, and this hasn't escaped the notice of social media.

The country's first female president, Dilma Rousseff, was suspended from her post after a marathon session in the Senate that concluded early Thursday. She now faces an impeachment trial that could last months.

The man replacing her on an interim basis, Michel Temer, who had been the vice president, quickly announced his Cabinet picks. There wasn't a woman among them.

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Three years ago, NPR visited the port of Suape outside the northern Brazilian city of Recife when it was an example of Brazil's booming economy. Brazil's state oil company, Petrobras, has a large refinery that was working full tilt.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In Brazil, one of the biggest challenges to dealing with the Zika crisis is logistics.

The South American country has bad infrastructure, unequal access to health care — and it's huge. It's difficult for a mom with a microcephalic baby who lives in the countryside, hours away from specialists, to get the help she needs.

But one doctor has developed a system that could revolutionize medicine in Brazil — and has already helped tens of thousands of babies.

In Brazil, one of the biggest challenges to dealing with the Zika crisis is logistics.

The South American country has bad infrastructure, unequal access to health care — and it's huge. It's difficult for a mom with a microcephalic baby who lives in the countryside, hours away from specialists, to get the help she needs.

But one doctor has developed a system that could revolutionize medicine in Brazil — and has already helped tens of thousands of babies.

He asked for $7 million to fight Zika.

He got a few hundred thousand dollars.

That's the story that Jailson Correia tells. He's the health secretary for Recife, the city with the most cases of brain damage in infants linked to Zika. The virus began sweeping through Brazil last fall. In November, concerned about the scope of the outbreak, he asked the federal government for help. What they gave was a drop in the bucket.

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