When I interviewed Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos last year in Bogotá, he crowed about foreign investment pouring into his country. A nation considered a failed narco-state less than a decade ago was now one of South America’s hottest money magnets, doubling its take from the previous year.
“This is completely out of anyone’s imagination,” Santos said.
It’s hard to be a fan of hurricanes. Two out of three Haitians don’t have enough food to eat these days – thanks largely to storms like last year’s Hurricane Sandy and how they’ve ravaged Haiti’s agriculture.
And yet we need hurricanes once in a while. They’re a sort of planetary thermostat that cools oceans and redistributes hot air. Their rains more effectively alleviate droughts, and that can be a help instead of a horror to impoverished countries like Haiti.
This pre-holiday week, from Nov. 18-22, we brought you a bit of nostalgia (see our "Delis Of Yore" post below), some future planning (that's two proposals for Miami-Dade structures) and a little current analysis in the form of beauty-pageant criticism.
What do you when you live in the most violent place on earth and you can’t take another day of it?
We’re not talking about Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan. This is about Honduras, in Central America, little more than a two-hour flight from Miami. It has the highest murder rate of any nation in the world today, more than 80 per 100,000 people. Its second largest city, San Pedro Sula, has the worst homicide rate of any urban area in the world, almost 175 per 100,000.
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.
There are two basic realities about Cuba’s communist dictatorship that U.S. policy, and the anti-Castro hardliners that shape it, prefer to ignore. The first is that the Castro brothers will almost certainly die in power. The second is that market-oriented economic reforms, albeit tentative, are as much a part of Cuba’s landscape today as 1956 Chevrolets.
Like Miami Herald sportswriter David J. Neal, who wrote so eloquently about his boyhood memories of the Indianapolis 500, I’m a Hoosier-turned-Miamian who spent many a May in my own youth at the world’s most famous race car track.
Six years ago I visited an indigenous village in southern Mexico called Santa Cruz Mixtepec. It was, or used to be, one of those impoverished rural hamlets that sent most of its population over the U.S. border to find living-wage work.
Until somebody got the bright idea to start promoting small businesses there. Through micro-lending and other assistance, Santa Cruz Mixtepec began sprouting small but viable enterprises. A carpentry shop. An irrigated tomato greenhouse. A window-frame maker.
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During his glorious military career he logged 75,000 miles on horseback. Some might slyly suggest he also logged 75,000 lovers.
But as "The Liberator" that his admirers call him, or as the libertine that his detractors call him, Simón Bolívar’s life was epic – and so were the paradoxes that marked that life. Was South America’s 19th-century independence hero, best known to Americans as the George Washington of Latin America, the founder of his continent’s democracy? Or was he the archetype of its long line of dictatorial caudillos?
It all started out so promisingly. She was young, still in her teens, and she'd landed her first job. As is the custom in Brazil, to get your salary you have to open an account with the bank the company deals with — and with that new account came the woman's first credit card.
"The banks say, 'I want to help you,' " she says. "And if you have a credit card, it's a status symbol, you are well-regarded."
She switched jobs. That company dealt with another bank — which issued her another credit card. She got a store credit card, too.
I’ve just arrived at the offices of YellowPepper, a software and tech services company headquartered in Aventura. Waiting for me is Alexander Sjogren, YellowPepper’s chief product developer – and he’s holding an ax that’s big and sharp enough to kill me.
“Yeah, this is a Viking ax,” Sojgren tells me. “We won it a couple weeks ago at a 24-hour PayPal hackathon here in Miami for developing the best application for withdrawing money from local merchants….”
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.