Americas

Latin America
4:30 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Colombia Election: Is President Santos On The Run-Off Ropes?

Challenger Zuluaga speaks in Bucaramanga, Colombia, in 2011.
Credit Wikimedia Commons / Archivo de Marco Antonio Melo

  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.

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Opinion
8:20 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Venezuela's Socialist Millionaires May Be Appalling, But Can We Sanction Them?

Globovision co-owner Raul Gorrin steps into his Ferrari in Miami.
Credit El Nuevo Herald (courtesy)

El Nuevo Herald journalist Antonio Delgado reported something pretty nauseating this week.

In his excellent May 19 article, Delgado details the opulent Coral Gables lifestyle enjoyed by the new owners of the Venezuelan television news network Globovisión.

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Latin America Report
3:39 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Could Trying To Forge Peace With Guerrillas Cost Colombia's President An Election?

Colombian presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga (right) on video that allegedly shows him receiving hacked intelligence
Credit Semana

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.

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The Santa Maria
11:48 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Have They Found The Ship That Found The New World?

A diver inspects the remnants of what may be the Santa Maria.
Credit Brandon Clifford (courtesy)

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.

Hear an interview with Charles Beeker here:

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Latin America Report
9:33 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Canal Quarrel: How PortMiami's Future Is Tied To Tiny Panama

Epic Endeavor: Building the Panama Canal's wider locks.
Credit Panama Canal Authority

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.

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Latin America Report
6:58 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Should The Panama Canal Join Classes As Well As Oceans?

Two Panamas: Panama City's gleaming new towers directly above its large shanty slums.
Credit Peter Nickalls / Flickr

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.

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Latin America Report
11:21 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Why Miami's Tech Scene Shouldn't Try To Compete With Silicon Valley

Miami often embraces trends later than other U.S. cities, as has been in the tech-industry boom. But as Latin America's tech hub, Miami is leading.
Credit Ines Hegedus-Garcia / Flickr CC

A lot of people have been throwing a lot of cold water lately on the notion of Miami as a high-tech “Silicon Beach.”

Even Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine this year called it “the dumbest idea in the world.”

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Latin America Report
10:57 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Why Caribbean Rum Is The New Cognac – And Why Miami Is Its Showcase

Bye-bye Blackbeard: Aged rums in snifters waiting to be tasted at the Miami Rum Fest.
Credit Miami Rum Fest

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.

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Gabriel García Márquez
12:59 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Gabo And Gringos: Did Magical Realism Bridge Or Divide The Americas?

Gabriel García Marquez, 1927-2014
Credit Ricardo Timão / Flickr

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.

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Latin America Report
10:56 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Was "Cuban Twitter" Dumb Or Defensible? Or Both?

A Cuban state television camera at the Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana.
Credit cubadebate

Confession: When I criticized ZunZuneo as the story emerged earlier this month, I left something important unsaid.

I support its basic intent. That is, the effort to help Cubans or anyone else access news, information and opinions that authoritarian governments around the world try to block.

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Latin America Report
6:40 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Miami Shedding Its Tabloid Image, Gaining Int'l Respect – At Least In The Legal World

Miami hosted the prestigious International Council for Commercial Arbitration congress this week.
Credit ICCA

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.

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Opinion
11:50 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Cuba Clueless: Covert Twitter Scheme Tweets U.S. Policy Failure

Cuban woman walk by wall graffiti in Havana.
Credit Flickr

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.

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Latin America Report
10:37 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Costa Rica Set To Elect A Professor To Recoup Country's Fading Luster

Luis Guillermo Solis campaigning for Sunday's presidential runoff election in Costa Rica.
Credit Flickr

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.

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Commentary
10:54 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Castro Opens Cuba's Capitalist Door Another Notch – Should Washington Walk Through?

Cuban leader Raul Castro with leaders of the ruling communist party.
Credit Flickr

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.

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Latin America Report
5:53 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Venezuela: Maduro's Offensive Puts Human Rights On The Defensive

Expelled National Assembly member Maria Corina Machado addressing an opposition rally in Caracas last month.
Credit Flickr

Caracas suffered another big power outage on Tuesday. The blackout shut down a hospital and a metro line and left large swaths of the Venezuelan capital without juice for much of the day.

One official response could be an upgrade of oil-rich Venezuela’s antiquated power grid. Another might be more spurious arrests of opposition politicians.

I’m betting on the latter.

That’s because the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro seems much more skilled at finding scapegoats than at fixing problems.

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