Latin America

Ines Hegedus-Garcia / Flickr CC

A lot of people have been throwing a lot of cold water lately on the notion of Miami as a high-tech “Silicon Beach.”

Even Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine this year called it “the dumbest idea in the world.”

Miami Rum Fest

There was a time when rum was rotgut. Blackbeard the pirate liked to mix his cane alcohol with gunpowder and light it. Rum and croak.

Fast forward a few centuries to rum respectability – specifically, to Rob Burr’s patio deck in Coral Gables.

From the waterfall pond to the tiki bar, it sets a mood not for swilling rum but for tasting it. Not the way spring-breakers chug Captain Morgan but the way cognac drinkers sip Napoleon. Not with Coke (or gunpowder) but neat, in a snifter.

Ricardo Timão / Flickr

Gabriel García Márquez, who died Thursday at age 87, provided one of the eerier moments of my journalism career.

In 1996, a colleague and I had been conducting a series of interviews with the Colombian Nobel laureate about his newest book, called “News of a Kidnapping.” It was a nonfiction work on his country’s violent drug-crime culture. Shortly after García Márquez sent the final proofs to his publisher, I called him at his Mexico City home and he sounded shaken.


Confession: When I criticized ZunZuneo as the story emerged earlier this month, I left something important unsaid.

I support its basic intent. That is, the effort to help Cubans or anyone else access news, information and opinions that authoritarian governments around the world try to block.


There’s never a shortage of unusual legal proceedings in Miami. It’s just that very few of them ever enhance the city’s image, as last month’s court hearings on Justin Bieber’s genitalia so charmingly reminded us.


If you needed any reminding of how archaic and clueless U.S. policy on Cuba can be – and the extent to which it so often actually aids an oppressive communist dictatorship – look no further than Thursday’s excellent Associated Press article about the “Cuban Twitter” fiasco.

For more than a decade, much of Latin America has enjoyed an economic boom. But at its annual meeting in Brazil over the weekend, the Inter-American Development Bank indicated the party is ending. And the situation may be worse because the region didn’t make productive reforms when times were good.

Hear the full story below.


It may or not be a coincidence that Cuban leader Raúl Castro disclosed his new foreign investment law this week just as Venezuela was getting another big thumbs-down from the financial world.

Cuba’s threadbare communist economy depends on kindred benefactors like socialist Venezuela. But as that oil-rich country’s own economy continues to implode – the Fitch Ratings company downgraded Venezuelan credit to “Outlook Negative” on Tuesday – Castro has no choice but to open his island’s rusted doors more broadly to capital, capitalism and capitalists.


Caracas suffered another big power outage on Tuesday. The blackout shut down a hospital and a metro line and left large swaths of the Venezuelan capital without juice for much of the day.

One official response could be an upgrade of oil-rich Venezuela’s antiquated power grid. Another might be more spurious arrests of opposition politicians.

I’m betting on the latter.

That’s because the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro seems much more skilled at finding scapegoats than at fixing problems.

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Salvadorans are poised to pass Cubans as the third-largest Latino group in the United States, behind Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.