Venezuela elections

A surprisingly small victory margin for Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor in Sunday's special presidential election looks likely to be followed by a recount in Venezuela.

Chavez, Venezuela's fiery, controversial and charismatic leader, died on March 5.

Earlier this week in Caracas, we were about to go to an interview when it had to be rescheduled. The man we were going to speak with was unavoidably detained — kidnapped, to be precise.

It took awhile after that for Laureano Marquez to free up his schedule and meet us in a coffee shop.

"I'm so sorry," he said when he finally arrived, as if it was his fault for being thrown into a car and driven off to the far reaches of town.

Join us for an hour of conversation about the week's news on The Florida Roundup, live at noon on WLRN.  Here's what we're watching:

Marcela Valdes is the books editor of The Washington Examiner and a specialist in Latin American literature and culture.

For more than 40 years, the most important book prize in South America has been bankrolled by the region's most famous petro-nation: Venezuela. Yet Venezuelan novelists themselves rank among the least read and translated writers in the entire continent. Over and over again as I worked on this article, I stumped editors and translators with a simple question: Who are Venezuela's best novelists?

In the days before elevators, there was no such thing as a penthouse on the top floor. The highest floors of a building had cheaper rents because the stairs were hard to climb.

Caracas, Venezuela, is organized roughly the same way, with many poor neighborhoods climbing up the sides of a mountain valley. Some of the poorest homes are among the most remote, accessible not by any road but by alleyways and long flights of stairs.

As Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez thought in grandiose terms, and his country's vast oil riches enabled him to act on his vision. But Chavez died before he had to deal with the flaws in his model, and some hard choices await his successor.

Key to Chavez's notion of "21st Century Socialism" was the redistribution of Venezuela's oil earnings. The country's oil reserves — estimated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to be the largest in the world — are worth tens of billions of dollars a year in potential revenue.
Guillermo Esteves

This Sunday, Venezuelans return to the polls for yet another presidential election.

This vote is to replace the late Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer last month after winning re-election in October.

Interim president Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's former vice president, has tried to embody his former boss as he runs for the permanent job. The man who was defeated in the fall -- Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles -- is waging a more aggressive campaign.

Luis Cedeno

Absentee ballots. Polling centers open for days on end. Early voting. All of these are ways in which Americans can vote for their nation’s elections. So they might be shocked to hear me tell them that 19,542 Venezuelans living in the United States have to go through a much more grueling process to be able to do the same thing they can do rather easily.

How South Florida Will Remember 2012

Dec 28, 2012

We were once again in the center of the political universe, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons as the state that can't vote straight.  It was also the year that the death of a black teen from Miami Gardens named Trayvon Martin made us reassess race relations, and the right to stand your ground.
Guillermo Esteves

2012 may be remembered in Latin American for what didn't happen more than for what actually did, especially in Venezuela and Cuba.


The year began ominously for Venezuelan nationals living in South Florida.  The U.S. State Department expelled the country's consul-general, alleging she was involved in a cyber-terrorism plot. In January, Venezuela's Miami consulate was shut down by President Hugo Chavez, who was facing a tough reelection campaign.