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?
Back from his recent trip to Havana, rapper Jay-Z quickly released a new song, Open Letter, in which he not only addresses controversy about the trip but speaks his mind in a way that is likely to stir up some of the deep passions Americans have toward Cuba and the communist island's tumultuous relationship with the United States.
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.
A patient, we’ll call him John, called my office several years ago, frantic over the behavior of his son Aaron. “My son thinks there are helicopters circling our home, following his movements,” he said.
At my office the next day, dad was frantic. Aaron, who appeared disheveled and preoccupied, presented his experiences in a matter-of-fact style. He was certain some authority had singled him out to be placed under surveillance. He had no insight into the psychotic nature of his thinking.
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.
Florida lawmakers are doing something they haven't done in years: adding money to state programs.
The recession sent the state into multi-billion-dollar budget shortfalls that led to big cuts in education and state government payrolls.
But this year, lawmakers have money to play with. Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a budget of more than $74 billion for the fiscal year that starts in July. That's about a $4-billion increase in spending over the current year.
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.
National opinion surveys are showing increasing support for medical uses of marijuana. Patients are puffing away legally in 18 states and the climate for medicinal pot has even become more welcoming in Florida.
Is Florida about to become State No. 19?
The question arose during the WLRN/Miami Herald Town Hall before the legislative session began. The questioner was Juan Palenzuela of Hollywood:
Marathon talks between the Miami Dolphins and Miami Dade County officials appear to have delivered a tentative deal.
In the agreement, the Dolphins would receive $7.5 million a year in hotel sales taxes to renovate Sun Life Stadium. The deal also stipulates that the Dolphins repay the county between $110 million and $120 million over the next 30 years. The team would face huge penalties if it fails to bring high-profile sporting events to the stadium, including four Super Bowls and four college football championship games.