You didn’t miss Haiti’s presidential runoff election on Dec. 27. It was postponed amid accusations that the first round of voting in October was marred by voter fraud and bungling by poll workers.

In other words, just another Haitian election.

Now the runoff will be held Jan. 24 – only two weeks before Haiti’s constitution says a new president must be sworn in on Feb. 7. But given the political swamp Haiti is mired in these days, the odds of an inauguration happening by that date look 50-50 at best.

Bahare Khodabande

The Notre Dame de Lourdes School, on the edge of the Haitian border town of Anse-a-Pitres, is a study in contrasts. In the classrooms on one side of the courtyard, children sit in tidy yellow uniforms, in rows, facing their instructors.

On the other side, kids in an assortment of donated clothes push their way in and out of three crowded rooms. One teacher hustles back and forth, trying to maintain some semblance of order.

Esteban Felix / AP via Miami Herald


El Salvador is once again the deadliest place in the world.

Data released this week show the small but gang-plagued Central American nation logged an astonishing 104 murders per 100,000 people last year – more than 20 times the U.S. homicide rate.

So if you’re a Salvadoran, what could possibly add insult to that chronic injury?

How about watching as thousands of Cuban migrants get airlifted into your country en route to a nice big welcome in the U.S.?

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

The vast Caracas slum known as Catia was a cradle of the late Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution. Now it looks more like his regime’s coffin.

Few barrios have been hit as hard by Venezuela’s economic and social collapse after 17 years of left-wing rule. By the world’s highest inflation rate. By South America’s worst murder rate. By an orgy of government corruption. And by the long and beleaguering lines people endure every day for scarce food and medicine – a perverted postcard from the Western Hemisphere’s most oil-rich nation.

Michael Erickson

When I recently met Jamaican-American author Max-Arthur Mantle at a South Beach café, we talked about his engaging debut novel, “Batty Bwoy.” But we also chatted about the way he was sitting. That is, with his legs crossed.

“In Jamaica, if you cross your legs, if you’re a male, in a quote-unquote effeminate way, I would get my ass kicked,” Mantle told me.

“As soon as they see me their eyes would roll, then they would get red, and then the anger, then the whole hate will come. And then the slurs.”

Tim Padgett /

It’s been almost a year since President Obama announced the U.S. was normalizing relations with communist Cuba. Some Cuban dissidents embrace the move. But others - including artist Danilo Maldonado, known as "El Sexto" - say it’s done little to improve human rights on the island.

“El Sexto" (which means "the Sixth" in Spanish) just got out of prison in Cuba and is visiting Miami this week to convey that message.

Courtesy Daniel Shoer Roth

In one respect, the late Roman Catholic Archbishop Agustín Román was just like many of his fellow Cuban exiles he ministered to for almost half a century in Miami.

As long as the communist regime that expelled him and so many other priests at gunpoint in the 1960s remained in power, Román would never return there. And until he died in 2012, he never did.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Cuban culture has dominated Miami for decades. Cuban-Americans are the area’s largest Latino group and have loads of political representation.


But the number -- and influence -- of immigrants from other Latin American countries is growing. And there’s a tense debate over the immigration privileges Cubans enjoy -- because no other immigrant group gets them.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

In a 2008 interview, then Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva offered me his formula for success: “I allow the rich to earn money with their investments and I allow the poor to participate in that economic growth.”

Lula’s capitalist-socialist policies, and soaring commodities prices, led Brazil to an astonishing boom in the 2000s. By 2010, as Lula was leaving office, the country was the world’s sixth-largest economy, and 40 million people were added to its middle class.

It was a confident global player.

Now it’s a foundering cautionary tale.

Gaston de Cardenas / El Nuevo Herald

Guatemala is full of sublime volcanic geography, rich Maya culture – and some of the world’s most sinister politics.

Politically motivated murder is so commonplace in Guatemala that a foreign diplomat once quipped that even drunks watch what they say about the issues.

What happened Sunday, though, is no joke: By a landslide, Guatemalans chucked their political establishment and elected a TV comedian – Jimmy Morales – as their next president.

Andrew Medichinie / AP via Miami Herald

When the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed gay marriage last summer, Miami’s Roman Catholic archbishop, Thomas Wenski,  compared the ruling to the Dred Scott decision.

The one that upheld slavery.

Wenski’s response was certainly over the top. But it was also more than a little ironic.

World Circuit Records

It’s been more than half a century since any musical artists living in Cuba have performed at the White House. But los cubanos will take the stage there Thursday night –  and it turns out many Americans will recognize the tunes.

Carnival Corp.

What would a U.S. tourist invasion of Cuba be without yanqui cruise ships – especially cruise ships owned by the Miami-based Carnival Corporation?

Last summer the Obama Administration gave U.S. cruise lines the green light to drop anchor for the communist island. Pending Cuba’s approval, Carnival plans to have its Fathom brand’s 710-passenger ship Adonia heading to Havana’s port by May. It will mark the first time in more than half a century that a U.S.-owned cruise vessel has docked there.

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald Staff

Despair wrought by corruption scandals also drives migration to the U.S.

TEGUCIGALPA    |    Hondurans don’t get riled easily. And they’re not known for takin’ it to the streets.

But this has been a year of loud and angry torchlight protest marches in Honduras — and for good reason. The impoverished Central American country is wrestling with perhaps the worst government corruption scandal in its history.

Or as Honduran protesters like Eldan Cruz put it: “Corruption on such a criminal level it’s basically sociopathic behavior.”

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald Staff

El Edén in Honduras is no paradise for those on trek to the U.S.

SAN PEDRO SULA    |    It seems the entire world is wrestling with immigration emergencies today. And lest you think the western hemisphere’s crisis is over, consider the look on Oscar Ortega’s face.

He just got a WhatsApp message that made his eyes pop.