Hugo Chavez

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.

Hugo Chavez died in March, but his ghost still lingers in Venezuela. He was president for well over a decade and, according to journalist Rory Carroll, his oversize influence hasn't faded.

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.

Christine DiMattei

Inside Jose Moreno's Judaica shop in Aventura, there's an entire wall lined with Hebrew books.  Other shelves hold glistening menorahs and there's a rack filled with special Passover games and toys for children.

An elderly customer enters the shop wearing a yarmulke and Moreno greets him in Spanish.

Moreno, 71, was raised in Venezuela and for many years owned a similar store in Caracas.

"Most of the Jewish people had good businesses and [a] good living standard,” Moreno said.  “We had a lot of synagogues, temples, schools.”

Twitter @DelgadoAntonioM

With the country still in mourning over the death of Hugo Chavez, election season has begun again in Venezuela.

The tall and imposing Nicolas Maduro stepped forward last week to be sworn in as Venezuela's interim leader following the death of President Hugo Chavez.

Before the country's packed congressional hall, he swore to complete Chavez's dream to transform the OPEC power into a socialist state, allied with Cuba and decidedly opposed to capitalism and U.S. interests in Latin America.

On The Florida Roundup, here are some the events that caught our attention:

Just before leaving for Venezuela to attend the funeral of Hugo Chávez, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad penned a laudatory tribute for the late president.

"[Chavez] is alive, as long as nations are alive and struggle for consolidating independence, justice and kindness. I have no doubt that he will come back, and along with Christ the Saviour, the heir to all saintly and perfect men, and will bring peace, justice and perfection for all," Ahmadinejad wrote in a letter he sent the Venezuelan vice president.

The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an especially tough blow for Cuba, whose feeble state-run economy has been propped up for more than a decade with Venezuelan oil shipments and other subsidies.

The Castro government has declared three days of mourning, calling Chavez "a son" of Cuba, but privately Cubans are quietly fretting about the potential loss of billions in trade and the threat of a new economic crisis.

Andrea Torres / Miami Herald

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is dead. Public reactions from South Florida's sizeable Venezuelan ex-pat community were jubilant on Tuesday night. In Venezuela, less so.

The big question this morning: what happens next for Venezuela and its allies?

Hugo Chavez Is Dead: Here's What You Should Know

Mar 6, 2013
Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is dead, says the country's Vice President Nicolas Maduro.  Maduro made the announcement on Tuesday.

You can find the latest updates on what this means for Venezuela--and how South Floridians are taking the news--right here.

And be sure to check back; We'll be updating this post regularly.

Venezuelan flag at full staff
Manny Navarro / Miami Herald

Venezuela's national baseball team was warming up ahead of Tuesday evening's exhibition game against the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, Fla., when news arrived that President Hugo Chavez had died.