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.

(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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Venezuela has detained an American filmmaker, accusing him of "creating violence" at the behest of the U.S. government.

Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said Timothy Hallet Tracy was paying right-wing youth to hold violent protests in the aftermath of the elections narrowly won by Nicolas Maduro, the late Hugo Chavez's chosen successor. Torres said Tracy worked for a U.S. intelligence agency. His comments were reported by the Venezuelan newspaper Ultimas Noticias.

Florida Roundup: Gun Control, Medicaid, Venezuela

Apr 19, 2013
chavezcandanga / Creative Commons/Flickr

Join us for an hour of conversation about the week's news on The Florida Roundup, live at noon on WLRN:

Under the rule of its late president, Hugo Chavez, Venezuela became a nation sharply divided between those who supported his self-styled socialist revolution and those who opposed it.

But after a disputed presidential election in which Chavez's deputy was ruled the winner by a razor-thin margin, the country appears more polarized than ever.

A surprisingly small victory margin for Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor in Sunday's special presidential election looks likely to be followed by a recount in Venezuela.

Chavez, Venezuela's fiery, controversial and charismatic leader, died on March 5.

Earlier this week in Caracas, we were about to go to an interview when it had to be rescheduled. The man we were going to speak with was unavoidably detained — kidnapped, to be precise.

It took awhile after that for Laureano Marquez to free up his schedule and meet us in a coffee shop.

"I'm so sorry," he said when he finally arrived, as if it was his fault for being thrown into a car and driven off to the far reaches of town.

Marcela Valdes is the books editor of The Washington Examiner and a specialist in Latin American literature and culture.

For more than 40 years, the most important book prize in South America has been bankrolled by the region's most famous petro-nation: Venezuela. Yet Venezuelan novelists themselves rank among the least read and translated writers in the entire continent. Over and over again as I worked on this article, I stumped editors and translators with a simple question: Who are Venezuela's best novelists?

In the days before elevators, there was no such thing as a penthouse on the top floor. The highest floors of a building had cheaper rents because the stairs were hard to climb.

Caracas, Venezuela, is organized roughly the same way, with many poor neighborhoods climbing up the sides of a mountain valley. Some of the poorest homes are among the most remote, accessible not by any road but by alleyways and long flights of stairs.

As Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez thought in grandiose terms, and his country's vast oil riches enabled him to act on his vision. But Chavez died before he had to deal with the flaws in his model, and some hard choices await his successor.

Key to Chavez's notion of "21st Century Socialism" was the redistribution of Venezuela's oil earnings. The country's oil reserves — estimated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to be the largest in the world — are worth tens of billions of dollars a year in potential revenue.
Guillermo Esteves

This Sunday, Venezuelans return to the polls for yet another presidential election.

This vote is to replace the late Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer last month after winning re-election in October.

Interim president Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's former vice president, has tried to embody his former boss as he runs for the permanent job. The man who was defeated in the fall -- Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles -- is waging a more aggressive campaign.