Venezuela

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson was in Miami Tuesday with a message about Venezuela: People there “are starving.” 

Nelson was briefed on Venezuela’s crisis by Admiral Kurt Tidd, who heads the U.S. Southern Command in Miami. Oil-rich Venezuela is suffering the worst economic collapse in modern Latin American history. And its socialist regime has become a quasi-dictatorship. Nelson said a record 18,000 Venezuelans sought asylum in the U.S. last year.

As a result, he urged the Trump administration to increase legal and economic sanctions on abusive Venezuelan leaders.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald


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COMMENTARY

How much do Venezuelans hate President Nicolás Maduro? Apparently they revile him so much that – in a country where food shortages are so acute the average adult lost almost 20 pounds last year – they’re willing to throw eggs at him.

This is Semana Santa, the Easter Holy Week, a time when Maduro hoped most Venezuelans would pause their angry anti-government protests and head to the beach. Instead they pelted him with stones and eggs as his open car moved through Ciudad Guayana on Tuesday.

Juan Pablo Guanipa is running for governor of the western Venezuelan state of Zulia, and as he campaigns in the state capital of Maracaibo, people complain of food shortages and hyperinflation.

The solution, Guanipa tells them, is to vote against the ruling Socialist Party — which controls 20 of Venezuela's 23 states — and to elect opposition candidates like himself.

It's unclear whether voters will get that chance.

Venezuela's Supreme Court restored powers to the country's legislature amid increasing domestic and international accusations that President Nicolas Maduro and the allied court were consolidating power.

The Supreme Court of Venezuela has taken over the functions of the country's National Assembly in what critics at home and abroad say is a move by President Nicolas Maduro to establish "a dictatorship."

The high court, dominated by Maduro loyalists, announced late Wednesday that since the National Assembly was in contempt of its rulings, the magistrates would assume legislative duties.

Venezuela's deeply unpopular government is holding more than 100 political prisoners — and some legal experts are including an American among them. Utah native Joshua Holt traveled to Venezuela last year to marry his Venezuelan fiancée. But in a bizarre twist, he's ended up behind bars on weapons charges.

An Eagle Scout and a Mormon missionary, Holt, 24, met Thamara Candelo through a religious website. After a whirlwind online romance, Holt and Candelo, a Venezuelan Mormon, agreed to get married in her home country.

Roberto Koltun / Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

South Miami teacher Jorge Cast has his enemies of the people all neatly figured out – including the mainstream media.

“My family came from Cuba, and they taught me something very basic,” Cast told WLRN last Saturday at a rally in Tropical Park in support of President Trump.

“When the media tells you something is white, you believe it’s black. When they tell you it’s right, you believe it’s wrong.”

Jessica Meszaros

This week on The Florida Roundup...

Miami is the second worst city in the Country, next to San Francisco, when it comes to finding affordable hosing. So if you're looking to buy a home in Miami-Dade, where do you go? The Miami Herald has a new tool to help people find homes to fit their price-range. We speak with the reporter behind the special report Nick Nehamaas. 

Associated Press

The U.S. government added Venezuelan Vice President Tarek El Aissami to its sanctions list Monday, saying he “played a significant role in international narcotics trafficking” and freezing his access to a fortune estimated at $3 billion after a lengthy investigation of his alleged links to drug traffickers and Muslim extremists.

The measure also covers Samark Lopez — accused of being the principal front man for El Aissami — and nearly a dozen companies linked to Lopez, including some in Miami.

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer in 2013, is coming back to life – on television. A new Spanish-language series, from Sony Pictures Television, recounts how Chavez rose from obscurity to carry out a socialist revolution in his homeland. But even before hitting the airwaves, the series, called El Comandante, has sparked controversy – because it shows how Chavez set the stage for Venezuela's current crisis.

Fernando Llano / AP

A Broward County businessman is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty Wednesday in Houston for bribing officials at Venezuela’s state oil company.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston says Weston resident Juan José Hernández Comerma conspired with his business partner, Abraham José Shiera Bastidas, to bribe executives at the Venezuelan oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. – or PDVSA.

In Venezuela, food has become so scarce it's now being sold on the black market. One person tells the Associated Press, "it's a better business than drugs."

And the food traffickers are the very people sworn to protect Venezuela: the nation's military.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave the military complete control of the food supply last summer, after people began protesting in the streets over food rationing. Shortages had become so bad that people were even ransacking grocers — though many were largely empty.

EFE via Miami Herald

Venezuela’s socialist government is known for its revolving door of ministers. So it wasn’t unusual Wednesday night when President Nicolás Maduro changed his vice president. But this shift is cause for concern – especially in South Florida.

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