Ariana Cubillos / AP

Thirty years ago, when I was a graduate student in Caracas, I met a young Venezuelan socialist who introduced himself as Stalín.

“Yes, after the Russian,” he told me rather condescendingly – hoping to shock an American with the news that the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was his namesake.

I didn't take the bait. But I did think of Stalín recently when Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro expressed his own admiration for “Comrade Stalin, who defeated Hitler.”

Organization of American States


Let’s say the U.S. representative to the Organization of American States – the Washington-based diplomatic body that embraces the western hemisphere – appears on a television talk show. And let’s say he makes this neanderthal remark about members of a rival political party:

“When a sniper shoots them in the head it makes a quieter sound, like a click, because their cranial cavities are hollow, so the bullet passes through faster.”

Common Cause-Embassy of Venezuela DC/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Roberta Jacobson is burning up Twitter in English and Spanish this week trying to recover President Obama’s fumble on Venezuela.

She’s worried – and gosh, we can’t imagine why – that left-wing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is giving his people the wrong impression about Obama’s ill-advised announcement on Monday that Venezuela is a “national security threat” to the U.S.


We know that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is crying wolf when he claims – over and over and over – that the United States is plotting to carpet bomb his socialist revolution.


It seems as though every week we report on a new product shortage in Venezuela, from rice to toilet paper to breast implants. Now the western hemisphere's most oil-rich country has an acute lack of condoms. But this latest scarcity to emerge in Venezuela’s economic crisis could be deadly to more than just romance.

Thanks to a national currency crisis, Venezuela doesn’t have enough dollars to import the contraceptives. They’re so rare in Venezuela that a standard pack of 36 now costs more than $750 at the official exchange rate.


Six weeks after President Barack Obama announced efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, former Cuba leader Fidel Castro writes a letter of reserved-approval for the plan.

Cuba President Raul Castro said this week that relations with the United States can only be rehabilitated if  the U.S. returns Guantanamo Bay to the island and the embargo is lifted.


Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has warned us all this week that “a hell of solitude awaits anyone who betrays” his nation’s socialist revolution.

Duly noted, Señor Presidente! But we also can’t help noting that nobody’s in a lonelier hell right now than Nicolás Maduro.

Florida Roundup: SOTU And Cuba

Jan 23, 2015
Sonya Herbert /

On the Florida Roundup, we talk about the week's top stories with the area's journalists.  


As far as I’m concerned, one of the year’s most important Latin American stories happened this week in China.

Yep, communist China. On Monday the government’s Internet watchdragon, known as the Great Firewall, pulled the plug on Gmail because it's a subversive instrument of free speech and dissent.

In the process, Beijing affirmed President Obama’s historic decision this month to pursue a policy of engagement with communist Cuba.

Florida Roundup: Police Behavior

Dec 12, 2014
Scott For Florida

Update: Due to many calls and comments, this entire edition of the Florida Roundup discussed renewed police scrutiny. 


South Florida demonstrators marched against police-related violence last weekend. More protests are planned after a street artist died running from police and getting hit by an unmarked Miami squad car. 


chavezcandanga / Flickr

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government indicted opposition leader María Corina Machado this week for allegedly plotting to assassinate him.

But the thing to remember about Machado is that she isn't exactly the most competent anti-government operative.

She’s best known for blunders like leading the 2005 opposition boycott of parliamentary elections. That essentially gifted the National Assembly to Venezuela’s ruling and radical socialist revolution, turning it into a rubber stamp for then-President Hugo Chávez.

Today on WLRN-Miami Herald News, you heard:

World Economic Forum / Flickr

Among Venezuela's opposition leaders, María Corina Machado is a favorite of ex-patriates in South Florida for her strong defiance of the country's radical socialist government. But now that regime hopes to put her behind bars for a long time.

Machado, a conservative, was a congresswoman until she was stripped her of her seat this year. Officials were angry that she'd denounced Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro before the Organization of American States.

On Wednesday his government indicted Machado on charges of conspiring to assassinate him.

United Nations / Flickr

How bad are things in Venezuela? Even doctors from Cuba – one of the hemisphere’s most economically deprived countries – want out of Hugo Chávez's revolution. And now we know just how many are defecting.

Communist Cuba sends tens of thousands of doctors and other medical personnel to Venezuela, its key South American ally. In return, Cuba gets oil at a deep discount. 


Venezuela’s economic woes just won’t quit. Its currency recently hit an all-time low with black market traders. Now the South American country has to ration food – and, believe it or not, import oil.

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. But it produces mostly thick, heavy crude that has to be mixed with lighter oil to make it usable. Problem is, Venezuela’s seriously mismanaged state-run oil industry isn’t pumping enough light crude. So this weekend the country will receive its first ever shipment of foreign oil: two million barrels from Algeria.