Venezuela

Food
2:57 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Forget The Caja China – Give Hallacas A Try This Nochebuena

The Venezuelan hallaca
Credit 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.

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Commentary
1:12 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Look West, Miami, At Mexico's Epic Oil Reform

Drilling for oil in southern Mexico
Credit 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.

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Politics
6:24 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Venezuelan Elections: Maduro's Counter-Counter-Revolution

Nicolás Maduro at Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's funeral in Caracas last March.
Credit 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.

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Americas
5:19 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

How Venezuela Won Miss Universe – And Lost Its Relevance

Miss Unvierse 2013, Venezuela's Gabriela Isler
Credit Wikipedia.org

What do Miss Universe and Miami Herald South America correspondent Jim Wyss have in common? Not a heck of a lot physically. But quite a bit symbolically: Left-wing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro would have liked to use both of them recently to distract voters from his so-far disastrous administration.

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Americas
6:00 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Deja Vu Venezuela: How Rotted Is The Revolution?

U.S. dollars and Venezuelan bolivares being exchanged in Caracas.

Anyone who’s traveled to Caracas in the past few years knows the drill. As soon as you clear customs, you scan the airport terminal for the guys in trench coats.

They’ve got the good stuff: bolívares, the Venezuelan currency, which they exchange for your dollars at the black market rate. That means what the bolívar is actually worth -- about six times less than the laughably overvalued official rate of 6.3 to the dollar.

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Americas
11:20 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Capriles in Miami: Are Venezuelans For Henrique Or Just Against Nicolás?

Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles (left) responds to a question from WLRN Americas Correspondent Tim Padgett (right) on Capriles TV on Sept. 17.
Credit YouTube

I know Henrique Capriles speaks decent English. So because I work for English-language radio, I asked him during his visit to Miami last week if I could put a question to him en inglés.

“Go ahead,” he told me. “But I’ll answer it in Spanish.”

I’d forgotten one of Capriles’ rules as the political opposition leader of Venezuela: To keep the ruling socialist revolution back home from branding you as a puppet of the U.S. “empire,” it’s best to avoid being recorded speaking yanqui – especially when you’re in Miami, the counterrevolutionary capital.

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Americas
7:00 am
Wed September 18, 2013

New Book Explains Why Simón Bolívar Is Both Deified, Demonized

The cover of Arana's new book on Bolivar.
Credit mariearana.net

Click the play button above to hear the radio version of this post.

During his glorious military career he logged 75,000 miles on horseback. Some might slyly suggest he also logged 75,000 lovers.

But as "The Liberator" that his admirers call him, or as the libertine that his detractors call him, Simón Bolívar’s life was epic – and so were the paradoxes that marked that life. Was South America’s 19th-century independence hero, best known to Americans as the George Washington of Latin America, the founder of his continent’s democracy? Or was he the archetype of its long line of dictatorial caudillos?

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Americas
4:18 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Venezuelan Opposition Leader Capriles Delivers Message To Supporters In Miami

Henrique Capriles Radonsky waves to supporters gathered at the James L. Knight Center following a speech in which he urged Venezuelans living in the United States to continue working for a Democratic change in Venezuela.
Credit JOSE A. IGLESIAS / El Nuevo Herald Staff

Former Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles — who has been criticized by certain segments of the opposition that would like to see him take a more radical position against Nicolás Maduro’s regime — came out Sunday to convince nearly 5,000 people at a Miami convention hall that he knows exactly what he’s doing.

Capriles, who ran against the late Hugo Chávez in an election in October and then did it again versus Maduro in April, said he feels that change will come soon to his country and called on Venezuelans to continue supporting him and join the fight.

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Americas
7:00 am
Fri September 6, 2013

How Venezuela's Maduro Mess Keeps Getting Worse

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (right) next to an image of the late Hugo Chavez.
Credit aim.org

I’m becoming more certain that leftist Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro keeps a Ouija board on his desk at Miraflores Palace in Caracas.

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Americas
8:00 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Why FIU's Frank Mora Worries As Much About Brazil, Venezuela As Cuba

Frank Mora, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere, speaking at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Besides the horrific carnage inside Port-au-Prince, one of my most vivid memories of the 2010 Haiti earthquake is military helicopters idling out in Port-au-Prince Bay.

From the bridge of the Navy aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson, I watched H-53 and Seahawk choppers waiting for rescue and relief supplies that seemed agonizingly slow in arriving from U.S. and other foreign aid sources. International coordination, in fact, felt as wanting in those first few post-quake days as the food and medicine.

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Americas
7:20 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Ecuador Says NSA Leaker Has Asked For Asylum

A TV screen shows a news report of Edward Snowden at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Vincent Yu Associated Press

Originally published on Sun June 23, 2013 5:20 pm

(This story was last updated at 5:17 p.m. ET)

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor accused of leaking classified surveillance information, has asked Ecuador for asylum, the country's foreign minister says.

Snowden left Hong Kong earlier Sunday bound for a "third country," the government in the Asian hub said. He later landed in Moscow.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino Aroca, who is on an official visit to Vietnam, said:

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Americas
9:09 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Venezuelan Joggers Find Safety In Numbers

Some participants run for a mile, while some run for up to six miles.
Meridith Kohut for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 4:05 pm

It's dusk on a recent day in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, and for many, that's a signal to get inside. Crime and violence have become so widespread here, many people simply shut themselves in.

"Your house becomes your own prison," says Arturo Hidalgo. After about 8 or 9 at night, he says, "you better be home because otherwise you can get in trouble."

Hidalgo would know: He's been robbed before. The result, he says, is a deep-seated fear. For an avid runner, that's a problem.

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Americas
2:24 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

In Venezuela, A Family Blames The Police For Their Misery

Eloisa Barrios visits the humble graves of nine male family members in the Guanayen cemetery. She says all nine were killed by the police, in what was a vendetta against her family. Recently, a 10th member of the family was stabbed to death. He was 17.
Meridith Kohut for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 5:05 pm

The story of Venezuela's Eloisa Barrios is especially revealing because so many of her relatives have been killed. Revealing because of who she believes pulled the trigger.

Some weeks ago, Barrios climbed into our van for a drive to a cemetery. The burial ground is outside a village in the Venezuelan countryside. We went there to visit the Barrios family dead.

She told us nine relatives had been killed in shootings over the past 15 years. All nine were young men.

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Americas
11:41 am
Tue June 11, 2013

How Venezuelans in South Florida Are Shopping For Toilet Paper In Caracas

A woman in Venezuela stocks up on toilet paper and other necessities.
Credit El Mundo/Flickr

Last week a Venezuelan-American friend in New York sent me an e-mail raving about a new, free mobile phone app called Abastéceme. Its most important use: locating toilet paper. Well, that and about two dozen other basic everyday items, from rice to deodorant, which are in chronically short supply these days in Venezuela.

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Americas
9:30 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Inmates In A Venezuelan Prison Build A World Of Their Own

At this prison in Barinas, Venezuela, the inmates are in charge.
Steve Inskeep NPR

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 5:23 am

In Latin America — home to the vast majority of the world's most violent cities — it's said the only part of a prison a guard controls is the gate, leaving convicts to fend for themselves inside, even running criminal networks from behind bars.

I wanted to understand how a prison like that worked, and I was in luck: A colleague knew a man serving time a Venezuelan prison. The prisoner got in touch with the leader of the inmates, who sent word that he'd be willing to see us.

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