Latin America

The first eruption of eastern El Salvador's Chaparrastique volcano in 37 years sent ash and gas soaring as much as six miles into the air on Sunday and led authorities to evacuate thousands of people from their homes.

L'Osservatore Romano

They say Americans will do anything for Latin America except read about it. But even gringos couldn’t ignore the noise next door in 2013.

Seemingly overnight, Brazil experienced violent anti-government unrest – then just as quickly it became the spokesnation for a world outraged by the U.S. surveillance overreach exposed by Edward Snowden.

rapadoo.com

Christmas Day turned tragic when a boat carrying Haitian migrants capsized off the Turks and Caicos Islands. Seventeen of the more than 50 passengers were killed, while some fled and are still being sought.

This is just the latest in a growing spate of Haitian disasters on the Caribbean. Last month 30 Haitians drowned in a similar incident off the Bahamas.

madrid.olx.es

Gringos like me don’t forget their first hallaca.

Mine was lying on a simple white plate, in the coastal town of Lecherías, Venezuela, on the patio of my future in-laws’ home. It was a soft Caribbean Christmas Eve in 1985.

The tawny tamal was swaddled in smoked banana leaves that reminded me of the lush, exotic foliage of an Henri Rousseau painting. I unwrapped it, cut into it, took a bite – and rediscovered Christmas.

YouTube / U.S. State Department / SBNA

Six years ago I visited an indigenous village in southern Mexico called Santa Cruz Mixtepec. It was, or used to be, one of those impoverished rural hamlets that sent most of its population over the U.S. border to find living-wage work.

Until somebody got the bright idea to start promoting small businesses there. Through micro-lending and other assistance, Santa Cruz Mixtepec began sprouting small but viable enterprises. A carpentry shop. An irrigated tomato greenhouse. A window-frame maker.

Jean Marc Herve Abelard / rapadoo.com

The Dominican Republic is right about one thing. The nations of the world are indeed moving away from birthright citizenship. In fact, only 30 of the world’s 194 countries today automatically grant citizenship to anyone born on their soil – and no European nations do.

Flickr

When it comes to Latin American oil, South Florida’s attention seems exclusively fixed on South America. We focus on petro-titans like Venezuela and Brazil because we do so much trade with and receive so many immigrants from that region. But this week it was hard not to look west – across the Gulf of Mexico, at one of the most important oil reforms in almost a century.

Late Wednesday night, Mexico’s Congress approved President Enrique Peña Nieto’s plan to allow private and foreign participation in the country’s state-run oil industry for the first time in 75 years.

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.

Brazil ArtFair/Galeria Logo

Brazil has proved itself a global force in soccer and music, architecture and business. But there’s one area where the South American giant has yet to produce a Pelé or a Veloso, a Niemeyer or an Embraer: art.

That seems odd considering Brazil’s richly creative culture and its awesomely idyllic surroundings. Mexico can claim the marquee power of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo; Colombia has Botero. But the Brazilian art scene “is still finding its way internationally,” says São Paulo entrepreneur and art promoter Michel Serebrinsky.

cubahora.cu

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.

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