It’s on to Round Two in Colombia. Challenger Oscar Iván Zuluaga, a right-wing former Finance Minister, pulled an upset over the incumbent, President Juan Manuel Santos, in Sunday’s presidential election. But Zuluaga didn't get a majority – far from it at 29 percent to Santos' 26 percent – so they'll go to a run-off on June 15.
Colombia’s peace process hangs in the balance – but Santos has to counter growing skepticism about his ongoing peace talks with the country's Marxist guerrillas, the FARC. Zuluaga has pledged to halt those negotiations.
Any presidential election in Colombia these days is a matter of high stakes.
That’s because the country – now South America’s second-largest economy and the United States’ most important ally on that continent – is in the midst of peace talks with Marxist guerrillas known as the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, or FARC, to end a half-century-long civil war.
Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492 on a ship called the Santa Maria. The vessel ran aground that Christmas Eve, off Haiti’s north shore near what is now Cap Haitien. Using historical records, underwater archeologist Barry Clifford says he recently located remnants of the ship.
The job of confirming the blockbuster find falls to Charles Beeker, the director of Indiana University’s underwater science program. Beeker says the evidence he’s seen so far, including wrought iron guns, is strong.
PortMiami is set to open its new, billion-dollar tunnel next week. It’s the jewel of a $2 billion port makeover, which includes a major dredging project and skyscraper-size loading cranes for sending a lot more auto parts to Brazil and getting a lot more handbags from China.
But the long-term success of that effort may depend to a large extent on whether a quarrel gets solved a thousand miles to the south. In Panama.
Jorge Quijano has one of the coolest office views in the Americas: the Pacific port entrance to the Panama Canal. The panoramic vista seems to help Quijano, who heads the Panama Canal Authority, see the bigger picture.
On the one hand, Quijano understands why Panama has run the canal much more effectively than the United States did.
There was a time when rum was rotgut. Blackbeard the pirate liked to mix his cane alcohol with gunpowder and light it. Rum and croak.
Fast forward a few centuries to rum respectability – specifically, to Rob Burr’s patio deck in Coral Gables.
From the waterfall pond to the tiki bar, it sets a mood not for swilling rum but for tasting it. Not the way spring-breakers chug Captain Morgan but the way cognac drinkers sip Napoleon. Not with Coke (or gunpowder) but neat, in a snifter.
Gabriel García Márquez, who died Thursday at age 87, provided one of the eerier moments of my journalism career.
In 1996, a colleague and I had been conducting a series of interviews with the Colombian Nobel laureate about his newest book, called “News of a Kidnapping.” It was a nonfiction work on his country’s violent drug-crime culture. Shortly after García Márquez sent the final proofs to his publisher, I called him at his Mexico City home and he sounded shaken.
There’s never a shortage of unusual legal proceedings in Miami. It’s just that very few of them ever enhance the city’s image, as last month’s court hearings on Justin Bieber’s genitalia so charmingly reminded us.
If you needed any reminding of how archaic and clueless U.S. policy on Cuba can be – and the extent to which it so often actually aids an oppressive communist dictatorship – look no further than Thursday’s excellent Associated Press article about the “Cuban Twitter” fiasco.
It’s hard to look at Costa Rica these days and not feel an urge to paraphrase Shakespeare:
Et tu Ticos?
Ticos, as Costa Ricans are affectionately known, used to sit on a hemispheric pedestal. Their country was the prosperous, democratic Boy Scout of Central America if not all of Latin America – an oasis of good government and social equality in a region notorious for dictators and dysfunction.
It was the green nation that dumped its army so it could spend more on schools.
It may or not be a coincidence that Cuban leader Raúl Castro disclosed his new foreign investment law this week just as Venezuela was getting another big thumbs-down from the financial world.
Cuba’s threadbare communist economy depends on kindred benefactors like socialist Venezuela. But as that oil-rich country’s own economy continues to implode – the Fitch Ratings company downgraded Venezuelan credit to “Outlook Negative” on Tuesday – Castro has no choice but to open his island’s rusted doors more broadly to capital, capitalism and capitalists.