Jason Beaubien

Jason Beaubien is NPR's Global Health and Development Correspondent on the Science Desk.

In this role, he reports on a range of health issues across the world. He's covered mass circumcision drives in Kenya, abortion in El Salvador, poisonous gold mines in Nigeria, drug-resistant malaria in Myanmar and tuberculosis in Tajikistan. He was part of a team of reporters at NPR that won a Peabody Award in 2015 for their extensive coverage of the West Africa Ebola outbreak. His current beat also examines development issues including why Niger has the highest birth rate in the world, can private schools serve some of the poorest kids on the planet and the links between obesity and economic growth.

Prior to becoming the Global Health and Development Correspondent in 2012, Beaubien spent four years based in Mexico City covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. In that role, Beaubien filed stories on politics in Cuba, the 2010 Haitian earthquake, the FMLN victory in El Salvador, the world's richest man and Mexico's brutal drug war.

For his first multi-part series as the Mexico City correspondent, Beaubien drove the length of the U.S./Mexico border making a point to touch his toes in both oceans. The stories chronicled the economic, social and political changes along the violent frontier.

In 2002, Beaubien joined NPR after volunteering to cover a coup attempt in the Ivory Coast. Over the next four years, Beaubien worked as a foreign correspondent in sub-Saharan Africa, visiting 27 countries on the continent. His reporting ranged from poverty on the world's poorest continent, the HIV in the epicenter of the epidemic, and the all-night a cappella contests in South Africa, to Afro-pop stars in Nigeria and a trial of white mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea.

During this time, he covered the famines and wars of Africa, as well as the inspiring preachers and Nobel laureates. Beaubien was one of the first journalists to report on the huge exodus of people out of Sudan's Darfur region into Chad, as villagers fled some of the initial attacks by the Janjawid. He reported extensively on the steady deterioration of Zimbabwe and still has a collection of worthless Zimbabwean currency.

In 2006, Beaubien was awarded a Knight-Wallace fellowship at the University of Michigan to study the relationship between the developed and the developing world.

Beaubien grew up in Maine, started his radio career as an intern at NPR Member Station KQED in San Francisco and worked at WBUR in Boston before joining NPR.

Crowds of people dressed in white and waving yellow flags lined the highway outside the Leon airport in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato to welcome Pope Benedict XVI. They cheered wildly when the grinning, 84-year-old pontiff sped past in his glass-sided popemobile.

The pope began his weeklong trip to Latin America on Friday afternoon. He's spending the weekend in Mexico before heading to Cuba.

Pope Benedict XVI begins a visit Friday that takes him to Mexico, a country with around 100 million Catholics, and to Cuba, a place where church leaders have played an increasingly active role in seeking change.

There are sensitive issues in both countries that the pope is likely to address in some form. In Mexico, it's the brutal drug war that has claimed roughly 50,000 lives over the past five years.

A series of fatal riots inside Mexican prisons last week and a deadly blaze at a penitentiary in Honduras are prompting calls for major penal reform in Central America.

Violence at three different penitentiaries in Mexico last week left 48 inmates dead, while the inferno in Honduras earlier this month killed 360 prisoners.

These deadly events underscore the problems of corruption, overcrowding, prison gangs and crumbling infrastructure that prisons face throughout the region.

Officials in Mexico are offering a reward of nearly $1 million for the capture of 30 inmates who broke out of a prison in the northern state of Nuevo Leon on Sunday.

The governor says the inmates staged a riot, during which 44 people died, to create a diversion for their escape.

It was a jail break that epitomized the Mexican drug war: Rival gang members brutally killed each other, corrupt public officials looked the other way, and dangerous criminals went free.

Earlier this month, the National Action Party of Mexico nominated the country's first ever female presidential candidate, economist Josefina Vazquez Mota. As Vazquez Mota accepted the nomination, she vowed to be the first woman to become the Mexican head of state.

The PAN, as the conservative party is known in Spanish, is Mexico's current ruling party. It has also put forth a woman, Isabel Miranda de Wallace, in Mexico City's mayoral race. Both elections take place on July 1.

Mexican Federal Police, some of them covered head to toe in white hazardous-materials suits, paraded Jaime Herrera Herrera in front of the media in handcuffs this week. Officials say he was the methamphetamine mastermind for Mexico's most wanted man, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who runs the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

The cholera outbreak in Haiti is currently the worst ongoing episode in the world.

Over the past 15 months, it has sickened more than half a million people and killed roughly 7,000. The bacteria has now spread throughout the Caribbean island, and medical experts say it will be around for years to come.

Partners in Health, a Boston-based nonprofit, is planning to launch an unprecedented cholera vaccination campaign to try to curb the outbreak — but it faces many challenges, including a shortage of the vaccine.

In the central Mexican state of Zacatecas, 76-year-old Genaro Rodarte Huizar rides his donkey along a dry riverbed. On his left is a dried out pasture; on his right is what used to be a cornfield; now it's just long furrows of gray, dusty dirt.

Rodarte says that for the past two years, the crops that he's planted here have failed. Normally, he plants beans and corn to feed his family, and oats to sell. He says he hasn't harvested anything because the land is too dry and there's no water.

Even before the devastating earthquake in 2010, Haiti's public health care system was perhaps the worst in the Western Hemisphere. Then the quake knocked down clinics, killed medical workers and severely damaged the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, the capital.

Now, the Boston-based group Partners in Health has set out to build a world-class teaching hospital in what used to be a rice field in the Haitian countryside.

On Jan. 12, for the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake, thousands of people flocked to the Shalom Church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The "church" is just a plywood stage under a patchwork of tattered tarps.

The crowd was so large that it spilled down a muddy hill toward a tent camp for earthquake victims. Most of the singing, swaying congregation were so far away they couldn't even see the podium.

The evangelical mission now claims to have more than 50,000 members and one of the most popular radio stations in Haiti.

On Thursday, Haiti marked the second anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake. NPR's Jason Beaubien was back in the Caribbean nation for the quake memorials and he sent us this reporter's notebook about covering Haiti over the last few years.

Haiti is a land haunted by ghosts. My translator, Jean Pierre, won't shut up about the ghosts. He points toward some men plodding up the dusty street hauling huge bags of charcoal on their heads.

"Zombies," he declares. "Dead dudes are everywhere."

In Port-au-Prince, a radio blares from speakers in front of a guy selling pirated CDs on Delmas, a main street in the Haitian capital. Women sitting along the side of the road hawk everything from vegetables to cigarettes to pharmaceuticals. Overloaded tap-taps, the pickup trucks that serve as the main form of public transportation here, chug up the hill.

The scene is one that's remarkable for being unremarkable: Though it occurred this week, it could just as easily have been Port-au-Prince two years ago, before a massive earthquake destroyed much of the capital.

The Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted in New York City, San Francisco, Detroit, Europe and the Soviet Union. But some of Rivera's most famous murals and most unusual projects are found in Mexico City.

In Mexico City, Rivera did far more than just paint. He collected pre-Hispanic pottery and indigenous folk art. And he experimented with sculpture and architecture.

And between 1950 and 1952, Rivera built a giant tiled fountain to the Aztec rain god Tlaloc as part of an overhaul of Mexico City's municipal water system.

In Mexico, the last five years of President Felipe Calderon's drug war have been marked by brutal violence, unsolved kidnappings and tens of thousands of deaths. Most of violence has come from the drug gangs, but some of these atrocities have been committed by the Mexican military and police.

Human rights groups say that as state security forces battle the drug cartels, they've tortured, abducted and killed criminal suspects and even innocent civilians.

The Mexican military has recently broken up several secret telecommunications networks that were built and controlled by drug cartels so they could coordinate drug shipments, monitor their rivals and orchestrate attacks on the security forces.

A network that was dismantled just last week provided cartel members with cell phone and radio communications across four northeastern states. The network had coverage along almost 500 miles of the Texas border and extended nearly another 500 miles into Mexico's interior.

Throughout Latin America, stories about drug lords have permeated popular culture.

A television series called The Cartel of the Snitches is hugely popular in Colombia. In Mexico, ballads called narcocorridos recount the exploits of drug runners, and soap operas glamorize the lives of drug lords.

Officials in the United States have been wringing their hands lately over how to revitalize domestic manufacturing and keep factories from moving overseas.

But not all of those plants are going across the ocean to China or India or some other low-cost production hub in Asia. Many are relocating just south of the border to Mexico, prompting business leaders to argue that the U.S.-Mexico border region may be the key to rejuvenating manufacturing in North America.

For many Mexican migrants who've just been deported from the United States, the border city Reynosa is where the American Dream dies.

Maria Nidelia Avila Basurto is a Catholic nun who heads a church-run shelter for deportees in Reynosa, in the northeast corner of Mexico, just across from McAllen, Texas.

"Many of them arrive with nothing," she says. "We have to give them everything — clothes, shoes, everything."

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