Venezuela

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

There are two Venezuelas.

In one, there are food riots and empty supermarket shelves and long lines of people waiting for basic goods. In the other, there are gourmet meals, creamy cappuccinos and rich desserts.

At the Santa Elena supermarket in the poor neighborhood or barrio of Antimano in Caracas, the capital, 72-year-old Nerys Ojeda is looking for detergent to wash her clothes. There isn't any.

"We can't find flour, spaghetti, sugar, butter. You can't find any of the things we really need," she says.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Here we go again, only in reverse.

If you remember the Great Recession, then you remember every liberal coming out of the woodwork in those days to denounce capitalism.

Not just the capitalist excesses that caused the U.S. financial collapse. Free-market mutants like subprime mortgages and the deranged securities they were bundled into. But capitalism itself.

AP (left) and Ariana Cubillos (right) / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Donald Trump haters are fist-bumping in South Florida this week after the PGA hauled a major pro golf tournament out of the Trump National resort here in Doral. They're moving it to Mexico – the country that’s had more rhetorical sand kicked in its face by presidential candidate Trump than any other.

Courtesy Leal

These days, Venezuela’s street soundtrack isn’t salsa or joropo. It’s a loop of anti-government chants and blasts of teargas cannisters.

It’s clashes between police and protesters calling for the removal of socialist President Nicolás Maduro – as the Western Hemisphere’s most oil-rich nation suffers deeper social, political and especially economic collapse.

But amid the angry unrest and crippling food shortages there are a few sanctuaries where Venezuela’s future looks a little less miserable – even a little less torn apart.

Jason Parker/Flickr

The biggest game in sports is coming back to South Florida. The Miami Dolphins will host the Super Bowl in 2020, celebrating a century of the NFL. But is this Miami’s game - or is it South Florida's game? Should the branding leave out Broward County?

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

It’s hard to believe that guards at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas still let Venezuela’s breathtakingly clueless President Nicolás Maduro through the gate each morning.

Because history will remember Maduro – the laughable lefty who was fodder for a John Oliver monologue this week – for transforming the western hemisphere’s most oil-rich nation into the Caribbean Korea.

Meaning, North Korea.

R
Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

When Luis got home last month after four months in the US, he had to unpack his bags by candlelight. 

He had taken the trip to hone his English, and to look for work that would grant him a visa allowing him to live in the US. It took him months to save for the trip. 

But ultimately, the only job offer he received would’ve required him to live and work illegally in Washington, DC.

Memegen

COMMENTARY

Venezuela’s economic disintegration has wrought severe shortages. Food, medicine, electricity. And now – ¡cónchale, chamo! – even Polar beer.

But there might be one scarcity above all others keeping President Nicolás Maduro awake and sweaty at night.

It’s a shortage of scapegoats. Especially U.S. scapegoats.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

A year ago this week, I wrote an op-ed on this page that said Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was committing economic suicide by clinging to delusional statist policies. At the time, I worried I might be exaggerating.

I don’t anymore.

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:

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.

wikimediacommons.org

We’ve gotten used to hearing about chronic shortages in Venezuela – everything from food to medicine to condoms. Those hit Venezuelans where they live. Now there's a looming shortage that hits Venezuelans where they relax: Cerveza. Beer.

This is bad news for customers at Arepas, a Venezuelan sports bar in Miami Beach. They love ice-cold Polar – which is Venezuela’s most popular beer and a brand that’s well known outside the country as well.

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