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Brazilian investors buy Miami real estate. Haitian earthquake survivors attend South Florida schools. It's clear what happens in Latin America and the Caribbean has a profound effect on South Florida.WLRN’s coverage of the region is headed by Americas editor Tim Padgett, a 23-year veteran of TIME and Newsweek magazines.He joins a team of reporters and editors at the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and NPR to cover a region whose cultural wealth, environmental complexity, vast agricultural output and massive oil reserves offer no shortage of important and fascinating stories to tell.

Here's What Echo-Chamber Politics Gets You: Donald Trump And Nicolás Maduro

Ariana Cubillos
AP via Miami Herald
Echo-Chamber Products? Donald Trump (left) and Nicolas Maduro.


Even after thugs broke into Anahís Montiel’s house, dragged her into the street, murdered her with machetes and threw her corpse into a nearby ravine, they still had time to return to her home and rob everything while her husband and six children were forced to watch it all.

They had about eight hours, in fact, since local cops did nothing.

This happened Monday night in Maracay, west of Caracas. But it’s the sort of atrocity that occurs most nights in Venezuela, where folks face one of the world’s highest homicide and violent crime rates. As if the country’s economic collapse isn’t terrifying enough.

And who did President NicolásMaduro just name to fix this Mad Max scene? Of course: a guy wanted in the U.S. for drug trafficking.

RELATED: Trump-Chavez Comparisons Are Fashionable. They're Also Flawed.

Yesterday Maduro made National Guard Major General NéstorReverol his new Justice and Interior Minister, the nation’s highest security post. The day before, a federal grand jury in New York indicted Reverol for conspiracy to ferry cocaine into the U.S. But it gets better: Reverol allegedly aided the coke biz while he was Venezuela’s anti-drug czar. (He denies the charge.)

Maduro – whose wife’s nephews are facing trial in New York for drug trafficking – took this ludicrous step because it’s what his ludicrous leftism is wired to do. When the Great Northern Imperialist accuses one of your own of cavorting with thugs, you tap him to protect citizens like AnahísMontiel from thugs. Because, well, for socialist leaders like Maduro it’s all about el pueblo – the people.

How do persons like Maduro and what’s left of his supporters become this appallingly clueless? It takes years of devoted work – in Maduro’s case, a literal lifetime of Marxist indoctrination – day after day spent in an ideological echo chamber so hermetically sealed that eventually differing viewpoints become not just contestable but criminal.

Trump Nation is just a conservative bully sibling of bully socialism. It's been marinating for decades in its own blinkered and toxic dogma - in America's own echo-chamber addiction.

But, as with Zika, we no longer need to look across the Caribbean to come in contact with this epidemic. Our politics here suffice, thanks – most glaringly the mosquito-plague campaign of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

If you’re shocked by Maduro’s taste in cabinet members, you might be just as staggered by Trump’s judgment on the stump. Or maybe not. After all, the political eruption Trump so opportunistically exploited is the unsurprising product of America's own echo-chamber addiction.

How can Trump and his base be so appallingly clueless themselves, especially in these past few astonishing days? How can they proudly own the repeated insults he’s hurled at a Muslim Gold Star family? Or that he apparently doesn’t know Crimea is/was part of Ukraine? Or that he kicked a crying baby – a bambino! – out of a campaign rally?

How can he and so many of his backers show the same juvenile disregard for discretion and civility that Maduro (who, by the way, likes to brand his opponents with homophobic slurs) is so infamous for?

Look no further than what passes for political debate and analysis on Fox News and MSNBC, on the hyper-religious right and hyper-secular left. The pillars of our new and intolerant civic discourse.


Then go to Caracas and turn on a TV set. Try finding much to watch besides Orwellian, government-controlled fare like Telesur. Or VTV – the state network that airs leftist witch hunters like Mario Silva, whose aptly named talk show “La Hojilla” (The Blade) makes one dubious, slanderous claim after another about the socialist revolution’s foes.

Credit Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald
Indicted: Venezuelan National Guard Maj. Gen. Nestor Revelor

Silva will put Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh in clearer perspective for you.

He'll help you realize Trump Nation is just a conservative bully sibling of bully socialism. It’s been marinating for decades in its own blinkered and toxic dogma, which says it’s perfectly OK to call Mexican migrants, as Trump has, “rapists and murderers.” Or be ignorant of foreign policy basics like NATO. Or suggest protesters at your rallies should be beaten.

Or, in Maduro’s case, confiscate businesses and drive them into the ground. Jail opposition leaders on kangaroo charges. And appoint an alleged narco-trafficking boss to head your country’s security.

The only question left is whether Trump will lose because he played such boorish politics – or, as Maduro and Venezuelan socialism did for so many years, win because of it.