Venezuela

Links
7:49 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

WLRN's Five Most Popular Stories March 9-15

Credit Kenny Malone

Venezuelan boycotters and the history of the I-95 road symbol were our top stories. Other honorable mentions include Ira Glass telling us how weird Florida is as a state, Beckham bringing soccer to Miami and -- where does our water come from? Seriously, where?

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Latin America Report
9:29 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

How A Doral Woman Became A Victim Of Anti-Chavista Witch Hunts

Pietra Diwan in front of her Brazilian sweets business in Miami
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

Pietra Diwan takes pride in the master’s degree she earned in history back in her native Brazil. But a passion for historical accuracy may cost her the business she built here in South Florida.

As a historian, Diwan pays attention to document details. That’s why she raised flags last month when Venezuelan friends here started posting Facebook photos of the ongoing anti-government protests in Venezuela.

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Commentary
6:51 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Venezuela: Can Anyone Mediate This Mess?

It’s a shame that Venezuela just severed diplomatic and economic ties with Panama, because their respective presidents – Nicolás Maduro and Ricardo Martinelli – have a lot in common.

Yes, I know that Maduro is a radical socialist and former bus driver. And that Martinelli is a right-wing supermarket tycoon.

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Latin America Report
4:16 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

What My Talks With Hugo Taught Me About Chavismo In Venezuela

Hugo Chavez (left) talking to Tim Padgett in 2006
Credit Steve Pyke

Back in 1998, just before he was first elected President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez described his socialist revolution to me:

“Our revolution is like a river and the rain,” he said with typical bravado. “It’s a natural force.”

These days, it’s looking more like a spent force.

Today, March 5, marks the first anniversary of Chávez’s death from cancer. He was still in power when he died, and his revolution still rules Venezuela.

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Venezuela Unrest
7:56 am
Fri February 28, 2014

For Venezuelan Protesters, A Time To Ask: What's The Endgame?

Protesters wave an "SOS" Venezuelan flag during a diaspora rally in Doral last weekend.
Credit Miranda Nathanson / Miami Herald

There comes a moment in every political upheaval when the sound and fury of protests have to hook up with the clarity and practicality of platforms.

For anti-government demonstrators in Venezuela, that moment's arrived.

Since Feb. 12, the oil-rich but deeply divided country has been rocked by student-led unrest. Protesters are lashing out at President Nicolás Maduro’s heavy-handed socialist government and its inability to solve a raft of economic and social crises, including South America’s worst inflation and murder rates.

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Commentary
12:44 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Venezuela's West Side Story: Why Street Protests Aren't Likely To Topple The Regime

Leopoldo Lopez speaking to the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald editorial board last year.
Credit C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

Leopoldo López is a rock star among Venezuelans in South Florida. But in west Caracas he's the rich guy. And those contrasting images could affect the outcome of street protests playing out in Venezuela right now.

But first the obvious: This week’s arbitrary arrest of López, a top Venezuela opposition leader, is a reminder that President Nicolás Maduro’s already scant credibility is evaporating during the anti-government demonstrations that have swept his country since Feb. 12.

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Latin America Report
6:10 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Chocolate And Chávez: Valentine's Day Confronts Venezuela's Strife (Replay)

Alejandra Bigai, owner of Romanicos chocolate shop in Miami, shows off her assortment of truffles made from Venezuelan criollo
Credit Sophia Padgett Perez

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. Big deal. This is Valentine’s week, when cocoa matters more than crude – and what’s important is that Venezuela produces the world’s best chocolate.

Problem is, will politics soon drag down Venezuela’s cacao (cocoa) industry the way it’s reduced the country’s oil output? On Feb. 14, at least, that’s a worrisome question, especially inside gourmet chocolate shops like Romanicos.

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Commentary
11:12 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

The Miss Venezuela Murders: Maduro Needs To Create Police Instead Of Plots

Mónica Spear and ex-husband Thomas Henry Berry. Both were murdered by gunmen during a botched roadside robbery in Venezuela on Jan. 6.
Credit Thomas Henry Berry / Facebook

Latin American leaders don’t know how to stop their violent-crime epidemic, but they sure know how to spin it.

Former Miss Venezuela and telenovela star Mónica Spear and her ex-husband were murdered Monday night during a botched highway robbery near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. Their 5-year-old daughter was shot, too, but survived. As the shocking news spread throughout Venezuela and then Miami, where Spear often lived and worked, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro hit a spin cycle I’ve seen countless other presidentes employ after high-profile homicides.

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Americas
10:43 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Beauty Queen Murder Shines Light On Venezuelan Violence

This May 23, 2005 file photo released by Miss Universe shows Monica Spear, Miss Venezuela 2005, posing for a portrait ahead of the Miss Universe competition in Bangkok, Thailand. Venezuelan authorities say the soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela and her husband were shot and killed resisting a robbery after their car broke down. Prosecutors said in a statement that Monica Spear and Henry Thomas Berry were slain late Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela’s main port.
Credit AP file photo

  Venezuela got a tragic New Year reminder of one of its most pressing problems: violence. Mónica Spear, 29, a former beauty queen and a popular soap opera star who was raised in Orlando, was killed Monday night during a presumed highway robbery.

Authorities said her partner Thomas Henry Berry, 49, reportedly from the U.K., was also killed and that their five-year-old daughter was injured in the incident.

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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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