Philip Reeves | KNKX

Philip Reeves

Philip Reeves is an award-winning international correspondent covering South America. Previously, he served as NPR's correspondent covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.

Reeves has spent two and a half decades working as a journalist overseas, reporting from a wide range of places including the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Asia.

He is a member of the NPR team that won highly prestigious Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University and George Foster Peabody awards for coverage of the conflict in Iraq. Reeves has been honored several times by the South Asian Journalists' Association.

Reeves covered South Asia for more than 10 years. He has traveled widely in Pakistan and India, taking NPR listeners on voyages along the Ganges River and the ancient Grand Trunk Road.

Reeves joined NPR in 2004 after 17 years as an international correspondent for the British daily newspaper The Independent. During the early stages of his career, he worked for BBC radio and television after training on the Bath Chronicle newspaper in western Britain.

Over the years, Reeves has covered a wide range of stories, including Boris Yeltsin's erratic presidency, the economic rise of India, the rise and fall of Pakistan's General Pervez Musharraf, and conflicts in Gaza and the West Bank, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Reeves holds a degree in English literature from Cambridge University. His family originates from Christchurch, New Zealand.

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.

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.

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."

Pressure is growing on Chile's government to take far stronger measures to tackle the coronavirus, after officials announced on Tuesday the number of cases has risen to 922 — an increase of more than 170 in just one day.

President Sebastian Piñera last week announced a "state of catastrophe," allowing him to deploy the military to safeguard Chile's critical infrastructure and supply lines. Borders are closed to nonresident foreigners, and a nighttime curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. began on Sunday.

Amid the chaos and misery that have engulfed Venezuela lies a strange parcel of tranquility, tucked within a valley surrounded by poplar trees and mountains some 20 miles south of the Caribbean coast.

It is a field populated by dozens of lanky teenage boys who are spending this particular evening — as they often do — galloping around the grass in pursuit of an oval ball.

These impoverished Venezuelans are training in the skills of a sport not often seen in a South American nation that's mad about soccer, baseball and horse racing: They are playing rugby.

Updated at 8:05 p.m. ET

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has responded to growing international condemnation over the fires sweeping through vast swaths of the Amazon rainforest by announcing that the army may be sent in to tackle them.

He said Friday that protecting the rainforest is "our duty" and he is acting to combat "criminal activities."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Let's go now to Sao Paolo, Brazil, where a huge crowd has gathered for the annual gay pride parade. Here is the scene from earlier this afternoon.

(CHEERING)

The global advance of populist nationalism will reach another milestone on New Year's Day, when Jair Bolsonaro is sworn in as president of Latin America's largest nation, Brazil.

Officials predict that up to 500,000 people will flood the streets of the capital, Brasília, to celebrate his inauguration, which will take place inside the chamber of the national Congress.

"Nothing and no one will stop us!"

So says President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, a nation embroiled in the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in the modern history of Latin America.

That message came in a flurry of recent tweets in which the unpopular Maduro seeks to rally support from his long-suffering population for his latest remedy against total collapse: gold.

Half a century ago, Jean Marc von der Weid was strapped to a pole and bludgeoned with clubs by Brazilian security agents seeking information about his fellow leftist student leaders.

His torturers also attached wires to his fingers, toes, ears, tongue and penis, and blasted him with electric shocks. At one point, he recalls, they subjected him to a simulated firing squad.

"They said, 'If you don't talk, we will definitely shoot you,' " says von der Weid. "I remember one guy saying, 'Do you want to smoke your last cigarette?' I replied: 'No thanks, I don't smoke.' "

A game of soccer is underway beneath a hazy afternoon sun.

At first glance, it looks like any other you might encounter in Brazil, a nation celebrated for its unwavering addiction to this sport.

A group of teenage boys in brightly colored shirts battles for the ball, urged on by a coach who is barking instructions with the ferocity of a drill sergeant.

Look again, though, and you soon spot a difference: Not one of these young and skillful players is Brazilian. They are all Chinese.

For those who track the rise of extreme populist nationalism worldwide, this Sunday's election in Brazil represents an important test of how far to the right voters in Latin America's largest nation are prepared to turn.

Amid a race widely regarded as the country's most divisive general election in decades, attention is focused on Jair Bolsonaro, a veteran congressman and retired army captain from the far right.

Bolsonaro not only has led the polls throughout the campaign but has managed to expand his lead in the race's closing days.

To the outsider, there is a beguiling charm and tranquility about the farming town of Central do Maranhão in northeast Brazil. It's tucked amid the palm groves, mango trees and rice fields that cover the landscape rolling gently toward the Atlantic Ocean, some 30 miles to the north.

For once, Jair Bolsonaro is not surrounded by crowds of young, far-right supporters, cheering for him to be the next president of Latin America's largest nation.

The retired Brazilian army captain is sitting at a cafe in an airport departure lounge, gazing intently into his cellphone, the tool that keeps him in constant contact with his millions of social media followers.

As evening settles in among the cattle farms and soybean fields of southern Brazil, thousands of music fans, many of them young women, are assembling on the landscape. They are gathering amid a giant agricultural fair that's been busy with visitors all day, many of whom have come to buy or sell livestock, to inspect the latest farming technology or to dine at cafes where every main course once had hooves or trotters.

Afro-Brazilian culture is so central to Brazil's port city of Salvador that the city has earned the nickname Roma Negra, or "Black Rome." The nickname resonates with Brazilians who recognize Salvador as a black cultural and intellectual capital — a place where city and culture are as deeply intertwined as Christianity is with Rome.

Afro-Brazilian drummers, snack vendors and visual artists hum through Salvador's streets and plazas. These cultural fixtures are also small businesses — and their challenges are emblematic of those shared nationwide by black Brazilians in business.

Wander into any bar in Rio de Janeiro at present, and you are sure to meet one of the world's greatest soccer talents.

He or she might be young or old, short or tall, a beer drinker or a fan of the head-spinning cachaça spirit made from sugar cane.

Yet they'll have one thing in common.

He or she will be wearing the bright yellow No. 10 shirt identified with Neymar — the man long seen as the Brazilian national team's finest performer, who's now also its funniest.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

When Ariles López takes a break from her fruit stall and begins to describe her life in Venezuela, there is a moment when she chokes up and begins to cry.

That will not come as a surprise, when you hear her story.

López, who's 47, is among those Venezuelans who say they will vote in Sunday's election, despite a widely held view that it's a fraudulent exercise calculated to keep President Nicolás Maduro in power.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Three days of mourning have begun in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after the murder of a black human rights campaigner who spoke out against the lethal methods routinely used by security forces within the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Many residents of Rio are hardened to daily incidents of deadly violence yet the killing of Marielle Franco, a city council member and civil society activist, is being met by a huge wave of anger and indignation on social media, and protests on the streets.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

You can buy a remarkable number of items on Copacabana Beach just by sitting on the sand a few yards from the Atlantic waves, and waiting.

Without leaving your beach chair, you can purchase a piece of cheese, a kiddie pool, a blanket, a skewer of shrimp, a string bikini, a selfie-stick, a tropical shirt, a pineapple or a coconut.

Be under no illusions: Copacabana is not merely a beach. It's a giant, restless market, staffed by vendors who drift around in steaming heat, flourishing their wares at the multitude of near-naked basking bodies.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

It's Carnival time in Brazil, and NPR's Philip Reeves says there's more to it than the annual parades and costumes. Phil says if you want to really understand what it's about, you have to hit the streets.

Members of the small but growing shoal of mermaids and mermen in Brazil are getting a little worried and irate.

Until now, they've been able to slip happily into their brightly colored tails and glide away through the water without much attention from the outside world, beyond the odd chuckle or ripple of applause.

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