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Wyre Davies

Wyre Davies Rio de Janeiro correspondent

My take on the vibrant lives of people across Brazil and wider South America - the most exciting but under-reported region in the world

Brazil candidates engage in verbal sparring in TV debate

27 August 2014
Brazilian presidential candidates for the Social Christian Party, Pastor Everaldo (L), for the Socialism and Freedom Party Luciana Genro (2-L), for the Brazilian Socialist Party Marina Silva (3-L), for the Brazilian Social Democracy Party Aecio Neves (4-L), for the Brazilian Labour Renewal Party Levy Fidelix (2-R), for the Green Party Eduardo Jorge (R), host Ricardo Boechat (4-R) and Brazilian President and candidate for the Workers" Party Dilma Rousseff (3-R), attend a television debate in Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 26, 2014. Brazilian general elections will take place next October 5.
All seven candidates took part in the televised debate ahead of the presidential election in October

The first of Brazil's televised presidential debates has taken place just two weeks after the death of one of the leading candidates in October's election, Eduardo Campos.

His replacement, internationally renowned environmentalist Marina Silva, is already challenging incumbent Dilma Rousseff according to opinion polls.

Just two weeks ago, Ms Rousseff seemed to be coasting, almost sleepwalking towards another four-year term as president of Brazil.

Sure, economic growth has all but ground to a halt and crime levels have again started to creep up in many urban areas but Ms Rousseff's pragmatic and popular social policies have helped to elevate as many as 40 million of her countrymen and women out of poverty.

Surprise turn

Moreover, despite international business concerns about her protectionist economic policies, none of Ms Rousseff's main opponents for the presidency were able to get close enough to her to really challenge her bid for a second term.

President Dlma Rousseff during a TV debate on 26 August, 2014
Before Eduardo Campos's death President Rousseff looked set to be elected to another term

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Marina Silva becomes formidable opponent in Brazil poll

20 August 2014
A drawing of the late presidential candidate Eduardo Campos is seen at a campaign centre in Recife on 14 August, 2014.
Brazil's presidential campaign has been thrown into disarray by the death of candidate Eduardo Campos

It was hardly looking like a cliff-hanger.

Some accused it of being predictable and even boring - a presidential election in which the incumbent was all but guaranteed of being re-elected without, perhaps, even the need for a second round of voting.

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How Brazil silenced its critics

A general view of the closing ceremony prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13
The closing ceremony marked the end of what some have called the best world cup ever

I will hold my hand up, and so should quite a few others, for perhaps underestimating Brazil's ability to hold what turned out to be an overwhelmingly successful World Cup.

All of those delayed, costly and accident-prone stadiums came good in the end - at least in terms of crowd control, ticketing and the overall match experience. Remember - so far behind schedule were some venues, like the Corinthians Stadium in Sao Paulo, that no full-scale test event had taken place there before the World Cup kicked off on 12 June.

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Argentina puts faith in its footballing hero

Argentina has certainly seen better days.

The government is in the middle of crisis talks with international creditors to avoid defaulting on debt payments.

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Shock and humiliation in Brazil after German rout

The collective sense of shock, embarrassment and national humiliation across Brazil was impossible to ignore and, to be fair, few people here tried to hide it.

There was no attempt to justify, to make excuses or to create scapegoats. Brazil were routed at one thing that they're best in the world at, or at least used to be.

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For the love of the game called soccer

Some people say you have not really been to Brazil until you have been to Salvador.

It certainly was not on the itinerary of fans following the United States team's progress in this World Cup, who did not expect their team to get this far.

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Brazilian relief masks underlying tensions

Tension of fans watching in Mangueira favela - 28 June
The tension was almost unbearable, with some fans screaming at the TV

Brazil is today breathing a huge, collective sigh of relief after the World Cup favourites scraped into the quarterfinals of the tournament by the skin of their teeth and the thickness of a goal post.

They're putting a brave face on it but everyone in this country of 200 million people knows that, despite the hype and expectation, Chile came very close to kicking the hosts out of their own party.

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England fans accept inevitable World Cup disappointment

A disappointed England fan leaves Arena de Sao Paulo stadium after the defeat against Uruguay (19 June 2014)
Many fans may well be wondering whether the journey to Brazil was worth it

England are not the first team to face imminent exit from the 2014 World Cup but unlike Spain, England's poor showing has been much less of a surprise.

I spoke to several England fans as they trudged out of Sao Paulo's brand-new stadium but rather than anger the overwhelming feeling was resignation at the inevitable disappointment.

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Has Brazil proved World Cup doubters wrong?

Decorations in Manaus street
The streets of Manaus are decorated in celebration of the World Cup

So far, so good.

The football has been entertaining and, at times, world class.

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Rio base: Big mistake for England?

For what it's worth, I think the England football team may have made a pretty big mistake by choosing Rio de Janeiro as their World Cup base - more specifically the particular part of Rio where they're hoping to spend most of the next month.

Initially, you can see the sense behind the choice of what some locals here know as the "cidade maravilhosa" - the "marvellous city".

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About Wyre

As the BBC's first correspondent to be based in Rio de Janeiro, Wyre has come full circle. He lived in Brazil as a child and took his degree in Latin American studies. His first foreign posting for the BBC was the Chilean capital Santiago in the mid-1990s where he covered events in Spanish-speaking South America.

Subsequent stints as the correspondent in Wales and then the Middle East have seen him cover everything from football and rugby world cups, to political scandals and the Arab uprisings. There have been far too many close shaves and lost friends along the way, but there have also been moments of levity and the unfathomable privilege of roaming the world reporting for the BBC.

A passionate Welshman, supported by his constant travelling companions - a wonderful wife and four children - Wyre now faces the daunting task of covering not only one of the most iconic cities on earth, but also the emerging political and economic superpower of Brazil, as well as pretty much anything else of interest between the Darien Gap and the Straits of Magellan.

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