Hugo Chavez

Tim Padgett /

Back in January, a Venezuelan security chief arrived in Washington, D.C. But he hadn’t come to rant at U.S. officials. He was there to sing to them. He had details about the allegedly epic ties between his country’s ruling socialist revolution and South American drug traffickers.

Franklin Reyes / Flickr

Of all the on-scene reporting from the deadly anti-government protests in Venezuela, Frank Bajak of the Associated Press may have written one of the most important pieces this week – and it didn’t involve tear gas or street barricades.

Steve Pyke

Back in 1998, just before he was first elected President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez described his socialist revolution to me:

“Our revolution is like a river and the rain,” he said with typical bravado. “It’s a natural force.”

These days, it’s looking more like a spent force.

Today, March 5, marks the first anniversary of Chávez’s death from cancer. He was still in power when he died, and his revolution still rules Venezuela.

C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

Leopoldo López is a rock star among Venezuelans in South Florida. But in west Caracas he's the rich guy. And those contrasting images could affect the outcome of street protests playing out in Venezuela right now.

But first the obvious: This week’s arbitrary arrest of López, a top Venezuela opposition leader, is a reminder that President Nicolás Maduro’s already scant credibility is evaporating during the anti-government demonstrations that have swept his country since Feb. 12.

Sophia Padgett Perez

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. Big deal. This is Valentine’s week, when cocoa matters more than crude – and what’s important is that Venezuela produces the world’s best chocolate.

Problem is, will politics soon drag down Venezuela’s cacao (cocoa) industry the way it’s reduced the country’s oil output? On Feb. 14, at least, that’s a worrisome question, especially inside gourmet chocolate shops like Romanicos.

Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

When socialist Nicolás Maduro eked out last April’s special presidential election in Venezuela, I wrote:  “Even if Maduro won, he lost.”

Maduro defeated the opposition candidate – the same challenger Maduro's mentor Hugo Chávez had trounced just six months earlier by an 11-percent margin – by only 1.6 percent of the vote. Maduro’s lame performance shook the socialists’ claim that Chávez’s revolution would be just as dominant without Chávez, who had died of cancer in March after ruling Venezuela for 14 years.

If you live on the Caribbean street – and Florida is part of that street – here are three ways of looking at Nelson Mandela’s death yesterday.

Each, not surprisingly, involves Cuba and Fidel Castro. But in a larger sense they involve how immaturely we practice politics on this street – and how immaturely the world beyond this street views our politics.

I’m becoming more certain that leftist Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro keeps a Ouija board on his desk at Miraflores Palace in Caracas.

Under the rule of its late president, Hugo Chavez, Venezuela became a nation sharply divided between those who supported his self-styled socialist revolution and those who opposed it.

But after a disputed presidential election in which Chavez's deputy was ruled the winner by a razor-thin margin, the country appears more polarized than ever.

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.