Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

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.

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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.

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