Hugo Chavez

In one of the most controversial moments of one of America’s most controversial presidencies, Donald Trump this month sent National Guard troops to Washington's D.C.'s Lafayette Square, near the White House. Pepper spray was fired to disperse what videos show were largely peaceful protesters demonstrating against police brutality and racism.

Trump says he supports the protesters’ cause. But his unusual military response has divided Americans – including Latin American expats here in South Florida.

In his Sunday news briefing on the coronavirus response, President Trump was asked about the Defense Production Act, which the government can use to spur businesses to create needed supplies.

"The fact that I signed it, it's in effect," he said. "But you know, we're a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela, ask them how did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well."

The Cold War-era law doesn't nationalize businesses.

Patrick Semansky / AP

COMMENTARY

As Bernie Sanders doubles down on his controversial praise for Fidel Castro, I’m thinking instead of another deceased Latin American dictator: Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, whose monstrous military regime murdered thousands of people in the 1970s and '80s.

Priorities USA via Twitter

Last week, the Democratic Super PAC Priorities U.S.A. launched a social media ad campaign that's created a lot of buzz in South Florida.

AP

COMMENTARY

It took forever. But Democrats finally seem to have found an answer to President Trump’s claim – directed for years now at Latino voters in Florida – that the party is a sinister socialist cabal poised to nationalize auto factories, shutter churches and send your abuelita out to cut sugar cane to meet the Politburo’s Five-Year Plan. Like, you know, the way Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez did.

Priorities USA via Twitter

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign often warns Latinos in Florida that Democrats advocate the sort of socialism their families escaped in Latin America.  But a Democrat super PAC has turned the tables.

Patrick Semansky / AP via Miami Herald

This story was updated at 10 p.m.

Though it was a last-minute surprise, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó was after all invited to attend President Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night and was hailed by Trump during the speech as Venezuela's "true and legitimate President."

Unasur

COMMENTARY

It’s no secret Juan Guaidó’s political opposition movement has stalled – and with it the hope of urgently needed change in Venezuela. But a “Big Lebowski” spinoff movie could help jumpstart it. Seriously.

YouTube

In 2012, the Presidents of Venezuela and Iran met at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. The bromance between Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad alarmed Washington, since Venezuela and Iran were (and still are) sworn enemies of the U.S. So Chávez had fun joking that Ahmadinejad had come to help him “fire large missiles” at America.

That remark may have sounded merely mischievous back then. But not today. Not with the U.S. and Iran actually trading missile fire this month and raising fears of a larger military conflict.

AP (left) and Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Most of America, even some Republicans, were stunned this week by President Trump’s letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That is, the raging, six-page tirade at the articles of impeachment against him — you don’t often see “you have found NOTHING!” typed on Oval Office stationery — which the U.S. House of Representatives approved Wednesday night.

But in South Florida, people probably weren’t all that shocked.

Juan Karita / AP

COMMENTARY

Usually the only thing more narrow-minded than a right-wing American wading into Latin American politics is a left-wing American wading into Latin American politics.

Which brings us to U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When left-wing Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned this week and went into exile in Mexico, the left-wing New York congresswoman tweeted he was the victim of a coup – of a “violent power grab.”

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Three years ago, Venezuelan doctor Marco Salmeron seemed to have a good case for asylum in the U.S. Salmeron had fled Venezuela because prosecutors there accused him of human organ trafficking – but they’d provided little if any evidence to back it up. Salmeron called the charge political persecution.

Still, on a September morning in 2016, U.S. agents from the international police organization Interpol showed up at Salmeron’s home  in Pembroke Pines. As his wife and two kids looked on, they handcuffed Salmeron and took him to the federal immigration detention center in Miramar.

Miami Herald

The former treasurer of Venezuela’s socialist government was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday in Miami for heading a billion-dollar corruption plot. This is how that all too common Venezuelan scheme works.

Rather than a sunny, uplifting campaign message, Henri Falcón, the main opposition candidate in Venezuela's May 20 presidential election, has settled on the more blunt "¡Se va!"

That's Spanish for: "He's leaving!"

YouTube

COMMENTARY

Since the late Hugo Chávez’s socialist revolution came to power in 1999, its opponents have made more missteps than hacks like me can count. 

Pages