Latin America

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.

Esteban Felix / AP via Miami Herald

OPINION

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.?

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald Staff

It’s a Saturday night at the Amor Viviente evangelical church in North Lauderdale. And it’s rocking.

A church band has the flock on its feet, clapping and belting out pop Christian hymns. Most are Honduran migrants. And most are young — many were part of the wave of 60,000 unaccompanied Central American minors who showed up on the U.S. border in 2014.

Among them is a 15-year-old Honduran boy named Daniel, one of the thousands who came to South Florida. (He asked that his last name not be used because his immigration case is pending.)

Millions of Venezuelans voiced their displeasure with President Nicolas Maduro's Socialist Party by giving opposition parties an overwhelming victory in congressional elections Sunday. But over the past few years, a flood of disgruntled Venezuelans have been voting with their feet, and college professors are among them.

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.

Dealing a big blow to President Nicolas Maduro's Socialist leadership, Venezuelan voters handed a majority of congressional seats to a coalition of opposition parties.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports the opposition gains control of congress for the first time since Hugo Chávez ushered in victory for the leftist movement in 1999. She filed this report for our Newcast unit:

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 / WLRN.org

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.

PENAS BLANCAS, Costa Rica — As summer began to bake the central Cuban city of Sancti Spiritus, Elio Alvarez and Lideisy Hernandez sold their tiny apartment and everything in it for $5,000 and joined the largest migration from their homeland in decades.

The easing of travel restrictions to Cuba could unleash a torrent of 'Yanqui' tourists, something that has the potential to transform a poor island that is rich in history, architecture and natural beauty.

A federal grand jury in New York has indicted two nephews of Venezuela's powerful first lady for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, 29, and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas, 30, were charged in a one-count indictment filed in New York. They will appear before a judge on Thursday afternoon.

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.

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