Venezuela

Associated Press

Goldman Sachs Asset Management, which has taken heat for its purchase of $2.8 billion in bonds of Venezuela's state-run oil company, is working behind the scenes as Gov. Rick Scott seeks to prevent Florida from doing business with entities supporting the Maduro regime.

Scott hasn't outlined details of the proposal he intends to put before the state Cabinet on Aug. 16. But just saying he wants to make a change that could affect the state's investments has drawn attention from the Wall Street firm.

Empty streets, makeshift barricades, burning tires, signs scrawled with "No to dictatorship": Protests continue on the streets of Venezuela as a 24-hour general strike takes hold, the latest development in an ongoing political and economic crisis.

Some citizens are trying to go to work despite the shutdown of public transportation; others are taking to blockaded streets in protest. There is widespread fear of more bloodshed after months of conflict and dozens of deaths.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Florida Senator Marco Rubio likes to tweet verses from the Book of Proverbs, an Old Testament favorite among conservatives that says, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

You could paraphrase that to describe the Republican Senator’s diplomatic philosophy: “Fear of America is the beginning of foreign policy.”

Rubio clings to the Cold War belief that the U.S. can and should make every geopolitical rogue from Cuba to North Korea cry uncle. So does President Trump.

Teresa Frontado / WLRN.org

More than 100,000 Venezuelan expats came out to vote in South Florida Sunday in a hastily arranged election that officially means nothing - but which could end up meaning a lot if the international community is paying attention.

Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET

Just two weeks before an election to decide the delegates who will rewrite Venezuela's Constitution, opposition activists held a symbolic vote of their own on Sunday. In the nonbinding referendum, roughly 98 percent of voters rejected President Nicolas Maduro's plan to replace the constitution.

Adrianne Gonzalez / WLRN News

More than 100,000 Venezuelans gathered in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties on Sunday to vote against president Nicolas Maduro's efforts to change the country's constitution.

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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