Venezuela

State Department

For the first time in more than 18 months, Venezuelans trying to go to the United States for business or pleasure can apply for a visa in Venezuela.

In a statement on its website, the U.S. embassy in Caracas said it will begin accepting applications for B-1 and B-2 visas — used for temporary business and tourism travel — starting Jan. 17.

Richard Drew / AP

COMMENTARY

Let’s make one thing crystal clear: Rafael Ramírez is no hero. Venezuela’s former oil czar is almost as complicit in the country’s economic and democratic ruin as President Nicolás Maduro is.

WLRN/Miami Herald

A lot has happened in the past 365 days.

A Category 4 hurricane plowed across the Florida Keys. President Obama ended the “wet foot, dry foot” policy for Cubans. The death toll related to Florida's opioid epidemic climbed higher. Venezuela sank further into economic and social chaos.

For the last episode of The Florida Roundup in 2017, editorial page editors from the Miami Herald, the Sun Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post — Nancy Ancrum, Rosemary O’Hara and Rick Christie — sat down with WLRN's Tom Hudson to review the year’s biggest news stories. 

This Venezuelan Mogul Met Pence. Is He Trying To Broker An Exit Strategy For Maduro?

Dec 21, 2017
Courtesy

A Venezuelan millionaire declared persona non grata by the City of Miami for his alleged ties to the Maduro regime is trying to broker an exit strategy with the Trump administration for his beleaguered government, according to various Washington sources.

Odalis Garcia / WLRN

Miami city commissioners unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday urging the federal government to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians and Central Americans and to find a permanent solution for Dreamers under DACA.

This resolution was sponsored by every commissioner and the mayor. The designation offers temporary U.S. residency to immigrants fleeing disasters and political instability in their homelands. 

AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

It’s hard to exaggerate what a repugnant U.S. Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore of Alabama was. Right-wing bigot. Mean-spirited homophobe. Alleged pedophile. An intolerant theocrat who rode to the polls Tuesday on horseback to highlight the antediluvian past he and his followers want to drag us back to.

The ruling party of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has won more than 90 percent of the country's mayoral races, after the opposition boycotted the election. Maduro said parties that sat out Sunday's vote will be barred from next year's presidential election.

Maduro's United Socialist Party of Venezuela won more than 300 of the 335 mayoral offices.

"We have obtained a big victory!" Maduro said in a speech in the capital's Bolívar Plaza late Sunday. "A popular, democratic, free, sovereign victory of an independent country!"

AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

For those of us who favor loosening the screws on Cuba but tightening the screws on Venezuela, this week presents a nagging question: At what point do we become guilty of a double standard?

Venezuela’s regime just made an announcement that should cause some geopolitical navel-gazing in that regard. To wit: the ruling socialists, or Chavistas, said they’re considering not holding presidential elections next year as long as the U.S. keeps its financial sanctions against Venezuela in place.

Odalis Garcia / WLRN

“Venezuela is between any meridian and parallel of the world,” said Antonio Ledezma, quoting Venezuelan poet Rafael Cadenas, to a crowded room of those in the Venezuelan diaspora gathered at Florida International University (FIU) on Friday, Dec. 1.

Ledezma called for a unified diaspora to help in the fight against Maduro's regime. "We must understand, that when dealing with this kind of regime, unity is a powerful thing," he said.

Ronald Zak / AP via Miami Herald

Oil is Venezuela’s only real economic asset, accounting for more than 95 percent of its export revenues. But its oil industry has been wrecked by neglect and corruption. The government is now purging that industry’s leadership. But it’s probably too late.

They say oil is as much a curse to Venezuela as it is a blessing. The South American country has the world’s largest oil reserves. But its oil wealth has long been looted by corrupt ruling elites. Or, in this century, by a corrupt socialist revolution.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

This month, credit ratings agencies declared Venezuela in default on part of its massive foreign debt. That was bad news of course for the socialist regime. And some economists say it's helping send an already wrecked Venezuelan economy to life support.

Updated at 6:38 p.m. ET

For a span of some four months earlier this year, demonstrators swarmed Venezuela's city streets in protest of ballooning inflation, diminishing food and President Nicolas Maduro's tightening grasp on power — until, that is, Maduro's efforts to derail the opposition bore fruit. By August the protests ebbed from view, as a new lawmaking body packed with Maduro's preferred politicians took the country's reins.

Still, while the protests have all but disappeared, the economic woes that helped inspire them remain as obstinate as ever.

Ariana Cubillos / AP

Two things happened last week that gave hope to opponents of Venezuela’s socialist regime – especially to Venezuelan exiles in South Florida.

Associated Press

One of Venezuela’s highest-profile political prisoners, the former mayor of Caracas, escaped from house arrest early Friday and made his way into Colombia, immigration officials confirmed.

Antonio Ledezma has been under arrest since Feb. 19, 2015, when the socialist administration accused him of plotting a coup against President Nicolás Maduro — charges the U.S. State Department has called “ludicrous.”

Speaking to radio reporters in the Colombian border town of Cúcuta, Ledezma said he was going to travel the world to keep fighting for Venezuela.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

Venezuela is in economic ruin, which is why so many Venezuelans have fled to South Florida. Still, Venezuela keeps making payments on its massive foreign debt. But debt ratings agencies are suddenly using the “d” word. As in  default. But what does that really mean?

Thanks to reckless government mismanagement and falling oil prices, Venezuela is running out of money. It has less than $10 billion in foreign reserves left – yet it’s staring at almost $10 billion in foreign debt payments due over the next year.

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