Venezuela

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

On Sunday, Venezuelans and Venezuelan expats will hold a vote that’s expected to send a strong message to President Nicolás Maduro: Don’t rewrite Venezuela’s constitution. In South Florida, the campaigning got under way on Thursday with a conference of Venezuelan voices in Coral Gables.

Holly Pretsky / WLRN

Florida Governor Rick Scott returned to Doral this Monday for another "Freedom Rally" in support of the Venezuelan opposition and committed to taking measures so that the state of Florida will stop doing business with companies associated with the Venezuelan government. 

"Any organization that does business with the [Nicolas] Maduro regime cannot do business with the state of Florida," said Gov. Scott to the crowd gathered at the Venezuelan restaurant El Arepazo Dos. Scott said he will present the idea to the members of his Cabinet in August. 

Twitter via El Nuevo Herald

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López was released from prison over the weekend. But that doesn’t change the fact that Venezuela’s unpopular socialist government remains firmly in power – thanks largely to the loyalty of Venezuela’s military leaders. Many of those top brass are accused of having links to drug trafficking – and they fear that if President Nicolás Maduro is overthrown, they’ll have to face justice.

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, who's seen as a symbol of anti-government protests, has been released from prison and put under house arrest, the country’s Supreme Court confirmed Saturday.

The news out of Venezuela isn’t getting any better, with no resolution in sight to help the political and economic crisis. Meantime, food and medicine can still be hard to find, and street protests are now regular. This week also saw a group of government supporters attack opposition lawmakers with wooden sticks and metal bars, while national guardsmen stood by.

So, more Venezuelans are leaving, building communities elsewhere, including in places like Mexico City.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

Venezuela’s political violence took an ugly turn Wednesday – the country’s independence day. Pro-government militants stormed the National Assembly and beat opposition lawmakers. Meanwhile, Venezuela’s rebel helicopter cop has reappeared.

Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami appeared inside the National Assembly and urged supporters of President Nicolás Maduro to come to the chamber. Shortly after, government street enforcers known as colectivos burst into the congress and injured more than a dozen people.

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

This week on The Florida Roundup...

The Florida Department of Education released the latest school grades for the 2016-17 year and the results are astounding. The percentage of schools that earned an "A" or "B" jumped from 47 percent the previous year to 57 percent and the number of failing schools decreased by more than half. 

Allison Light / WLRN

Residents of Little Havana pulled together to raise money and collected much-needed items Venezuela on Thursday. The oil-rich South American country is suffering from a severe economic collapse and a chronic shortage of food and medicine.

"Everything is needed. It's unbelievable," said Venezuelan Alfredo Rodriguez. He is one of the owners of El Jaleo de la Ocho, a Cuban restaurant on Southwest Eighth Street that hosted the fundraiser. He splits his time between his hometown of Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, and Miami.

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COMMENTARY

Since the late Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution came to power in 1999, its opponents have made more missteps than hacks like me can count. 

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Venezuela’s chaos turned bizarre Tuesday evening when a rogue police officer flew a helicopter over the Caracas presidential palace and later urged Venezuelans to rise up against their government. The cop has done this sort of thing before – on the big screen.

Oscar Pérez is an officer in Venezuela’s investigative police force. But now it seems he’s an insurrectionist.

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is describing Tuesday's helicopter assault on the country's Supreme Court and Interior Ministry as a terrorist attack.

But there's a lot of confusion about who was behind the dramatic incident in the capital Caracas, with opponents of the president suggesting that it may have been staged.

Franklin Gutierrez / St Vincent de Paul

Greilys arrived in South Florida two months ago from Los Teques, Venezuela, south of Caracas, with “a few dollars and four suitcases” – hounded out of her job and her country, she says, by an increasingly brutal socialist regime.

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Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Daily protests. Rising crime. Food shortages.

That's the reality on the ground in Venezuela.

The country is in the midst of a severe economic crisis, and political unrest is escalating. Protests led by Venezuelans denouncing President Nicolás Maduro have now entered their third month.

But that's not what Buzzfeed News reporter Karla Zabludovsky set out to cover on a recent reporting trip to Caracas, Venezuela’s capital.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

Today there’s rarely if ever good economic news from Venezuela. But the country’s already collapsing economy may be closer to outright crashing. And that has serious repercussions for South Florida.

Italian tire maker Pirelli announced Tuesday it’s suspending operations in Venezuela. United Airlines this week stopped service to Venezuela. General Motors said last month it’s leaving Venezuela. The reason: Venezuela is suffering the world’s worst economic implosion.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

On the night of May 12, a group of Venezuelan expats gathered in front of the house of former Venezuelan judge Dayva Soto in Weston. They screamed insults at her in Spanish.

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