• Raika Ferraz waits to hear the announcement for the winner of the Miss T Brasil 2013 transgender beauty pageant in Rio de Janeiro on October 22, 2013. (Yasuyoshi China/AFP via Getty)

    Here S/He Comes

    Brazil’s Trans Beauty Queen

    Brazil crowned a winner in its second annual Miss T competition, which is winning fans and challenging definitions of femininity and beauty in tradition-bound Latin America. Mac Margolis reports.

    Tall and tan, young and striking, Raika Ferraz is not the girl from Ipanema. But she has just been crowned queen of Brazil’s newest and most daring beauty contest.

    Besting 27 other transgender and transvestite contenders from 11 Brazilian states, the 21-year-old model and escort from São Paulo paraded in a bikini and then in an evening gown to win the second annual Miss T competition before an emotional crowd at the Teatro João Caetano, one of Rio de Janeiro’s most traditional stages.

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  • Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, delivers a speech at the Brazil Infrastructure Opportunity event in New York, September 25, 2013. (Chip East/Reuters, © Chip East / Reuters)

    World leaders

    Why Dilma Cancelled On Obama

    The president of Brazil needed to send a strong message after the NSA revelations, says Heather Arnet.

    This week we were supposed to be celebrating the first state visit to the White House by a Brazilian president in nearly two decades. Instead we are recognizing a very different first—the first time a world leader has declined to attend a state dinner with the President of the United States.

    President Barak Obama earlier this year extended his only State Dinner invitation in 2013 to Presidenta Dilma Rousseff of Brazil. At the time she accepted, this was celebrated as a continuing step in rebuilding a tentative relationship between these two powerful nations.

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  • Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes poses for a photo in front of one of her paintings in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 23, 2013. (Felipe Dana/Ap)

    O Artista

    Brazil's Kandinsky

    With her exuberant murals bursting with Rio de Janeiro joie de vivre, Beatriz Milhazes is winning the art world's heart. By Mac Margolis.

    In a pale lavender blouse under a gray blazer, Beatriz Milhazes is a portrait in understatement. Soft-spoken and with a bonnet of brown curls, she might be a docent or an art teacher on a class tour. But the bustle of museum handlers orbiting around her today and the scrum of reporters and television crews stalking the corridors of the Rio de Janeiro gallery quickly shatter the idyll.

    "As a plastic artist you never think you're going to be in the spotlight," Milhazes tells The Daily Beast on a recent morning in Rio de Janeiro. We have fled the crowded gallery showcasing her career to a quiet room on the top floor of the Paço Imperial, a 18th century palace converted to a museum in downtown Rio. This is the last in a series of interviews for the week, and Milhazes is savoring the rare moment of quiet. "Now I guess it's part of my life."

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  • Felipe Dana/AP

    Terrifying

    Brazil Bus Rape Gang On Trial

    Days before an American tourist was held hostage and gang-raped by three men on a Rio bus, a Brazilian woman fell victim to the same assailants. But her pursuit of justice has been far more convoluted, writes Mac Margolis.

    For Fernanda and Sérgio—let's just call them that—the evening of March 23 started like many other Saturdays in Rio de Janeiro: a time to kick back, forget work and hit the town. Their destination was Bar do Mofo, a popular nightclub in Lapa, a Bohemian neighborhood in a semi-renovated downtown district that has been a showpiece for the "new" Rio's up and coming tourist circuit. They never made it.

    For the two friends—Fernanda, aged 22, and Sergio, 22—the outing turned into the longest night of their lives and one that Cariocas, as Rio natives call themselves, are unlikely to forget anytime soon. Surprised by a criminal band operating a pirate commuter van, they and several other passengers were kidnapped, robbed and repeatedly threatened. One by one, the victims were released, leaving only Fernanda and Sergio captive as the van made its way from Copacabana to downtown.

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  • KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty

    SNEAKY

    Brazil Bickers Over Boyfriend Tracker

    App was taken down because of privacy complaints.

    As the National Security Agency implemented surveillance programs on calls and emails worldwide, Brazil was revealed to be one of the U.S.’s top targeted countries. Now a popular app, Rastreador de Namorados (or Boyfriend Tracker in English), was taken down from the Google Play app store last week in the wake of complaints about privacy abuse. There are similar tracking apps out there, but none has previously been so prominent in Brazil, and the reaction to this one seems to be different. With a country on edge, some even say it goes against an online harassment and hacking law. The 24-year-old developer of the software, Matheus Grijó, says the 50,000-user-strong app does not violate any privacy laws.

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  • A military police pepper sprays a protester in the face during a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013. (Victor R. Caivano/AP)

    PROTESTS

    The Face of Brazil

    Woman comes forward as person who was pepper-sprayed by policemen.

    In what seems to be becoming a trend, protesters once again have a face of their revolt: a woman being pepper-sprayed. Liv Nicolsky Lagerblad de Oliveira, 23, identified herself as the woman in question. She said she was protesting against an increase in Brazil’s bus fares, which officials wanted to raise in order to fund next year’s World Cup. She faced “psychological torture” from the military police, she said, and was pressured into signing papers she didn’t understand. 

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  • Luiza Helena Trajano. (Paulo Fridman/The New York Times, via Redux)

    Lean In

    Beating The Boys' Club

    Women are taught the leadership skills to get ahead more than men, says Luiza Helena Trajano.

    I had the privilege of being born into a family of strong and enterprising women at a time when it was not common for women to work outside the home. That’s why I say I grew up in an environment that was free of prejudice, which might help explain why today I am president of Magazine Luiza, the second-largest retail chain in Brazil, leading a staff of more than 20,000.   

    This is certainly not the reality for most Brazilian women in the workplace today. Women make up 45 percent of the workforce in Brazil, but as of the end of 2011, they occupied only 7.9 percent of directorial positions and 7.7 percent of the seats on the administrative boards of listed companies in Brazil, according to data from the Law and Gender Center of Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) in São Paulo. These statistics have remained unaltered for more than a decade, and it is an honor for me to join Sheryl Sandberg in talking openly about this problem—and helping to find a solution.  

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  • A public transport van picks up passengers along Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on April 2, 2013. (Felipe Dana/AP)

    The Drive Through Hell

    Mac Margolis on the Brazilian nightmare endured by an American student, gang-raped in Rio.

    Even in this city inured by violence and random street crime, the attack was shocking. Brazilian media described it as a six-hour, 40-mile drive through hell.

    On Saturday night, a 21-year-old American student and her French boyfriend holidaying in Rio de Janeiro boarded a minibus on the Copacabana Beach bound for a trendy entertainment district downtown. The bus was an off-white vehicle, no different from the dozens of others minibuses that ply the city streets, trolling for late-night fares.

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  • Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty

    Two American tourists sexually assaulted on public bus.

    Less than two months after a group of tourists were viciously gang-raped in the Mexican resort town of Acapulco, an American tourist vacationing in Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana neighborhood was beaten and gang raped on a public van for six hours on Saturday night. Police say three men have been taken into custody and one of them allegedly confessed to the attack.

    According to the Times, the attackers battered the woman's face and tied up her companion, a French male, then beat him with a metal bar as he witnessed the assault. The incident bears disturbing similarities to the bus gang-rape in India that has galvanized that nation and prompted calls for harsher punishments for rapists, including, potentially, the death penalty. In that case, the young victim died from the severity of her wounds, and has become a symbol of resistance the world over.

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