Latin America

As the months-long crackdown on opponents of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega drags on, the small independent press in the country is coming under harsh attack.

One reporter has been killed, and dozens more say they have been beaten and threatened. Many reporters have fled or quit the profession. But a determined group of journalists remains.

They include reporters like Julio César López Chavarría.

When Argentine President Mauricio Macri told the country he had asked the International Monetary Fund to speed its disbursement of a $50 billion loan, he consciously aimed to assuage the fears of uneasy market watchers.

"We have seen new expressions of a lack of confidence in the markets, specifically over our financing capacity in 2019," Macri said in a speech posted to Facebook Wednesday, adding: "This decision aims to eliminate any uncertainty."

Manuel Rueda

Last week José Molleja became one of the countless Venezuelans stranded on the border between Colombia and Ecuador.

The 22-year-old Venezuelan can’t find enough work to live in crisis-torn Venezuela. So he spent a week on a bus getting from Caracas to join relatives who’d already emigrated to Ecuador.

But when Molleja arrived he was stunned. Before, Ecuador had only asked Venezuelans to show a photo ID to enter the country. Now the country was suddenly making them present passports.

Gregorio Borgia / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

As a Roman Catholic, I’m supposed to be encouraged by the anguished letter Pope Francis issued this week. The one in which he condemns the monstrous and never-ending “atrocities” of sexual abuse of children by priests – and their equally monstrous and never-ending cover-up by bishops.

But I’m not hopeful.

That’s because aside from being a Catholic I’m also a Latin Americanist – and I know how badly Francis, the first Latin American pope, failed Latin America in this crisis. That's why Latin Americans, particularly South Americans, seem to understand that this criminal tragedy won’t be solved by a papal crackdown on the priesthood. It can only really be addressed by a papal crack-up of that priesthood.

Venezuelan Government

Critics joke that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blames the U.S. – especially his Venezuelan foes living in the U.S. – whenever he stubs his toe. And most of the world ignores his leftist scapegoating.

But this month the world is wondering, cautiously, if Maduro might have a case, at least when it comes to some Venezuelans residing here.

Natacha Pisarenko / AP via Miami Herald

Last week, the new President of Colombia, Iván Duque, swore in his vice president, Marta Lucía Ramírez.

She is Colombia’s first female vice president.

Peter Haden / WLRN.org

Florida Congresswoman Lois Frankel recently toured the U.S. southern border, talking to undocumented parents and children separated by President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.

During a forum this month at the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth, Frankel, a Democrat from West Palm Beach, heard how that border policy has begun to touch the Florida peninsula. Frankel interviewed a woman from Guatemala whose cousin was one of the migrants stopped at the border this year and separated from her child – a 10-year-old boy.

Tall, dreadlocked Josh Scheper knew he was out of place as he surveyed the scene at a Santa Ana, Calif., parking lot on a Sunday morning this past April. And the 46-year-old loved it.

Hundreds of people waited in line at stalls for vegan food, but few people looked like the Los Angeles resident. Nearly everyone in the crowd was young and Latino, as were the chefs. The food on sale was Mexican — but not hippie-dippy cafe standbys like cauliflower tacos, or tempeh-stuffed burritos. Instead, chefs reimagined meaty classics that were honest-to-goodness bueno.

Silvia Izquierdo / AP

COMMENTARY

Right now The Beautiful Game doesn’t look so pretty on this side of the pond.

When Belgium knocked Brazil out of the World Cup in Russia last Friday, it meant no team from the Western Hemisphere would make it to the tournament’s semi-finals for the first time since 2006. Soccer pundits immediately began waxing about the seemingly waning role of the Americas on the global fútbol stage.

Associated Press

About two million Venezuelans are fleeing the economic and political crisis in their country and seeking refuge in neighboring countries, including Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

READ MORE: Escape from Venezuela.

Gilda Cespedes

The burn scars on Jaime Paz Zamora’s face and body are the most vivid reminders of why many consider him a hero of Latin American democracy.

In 1980, Paz was a vice presidential candidate in Bolivia, campaigning in an election meant to restore democratic rule after decades of military dictatorship.

One day, the small plane carrying Paz and his staff crashed after takeoff. Everyone on board was killed – except Paz. Authorities later called it an assassination attempt by military leaders.

Marco Ugarte / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Latin American governments often get a boost from the success of their national soccer teams. But Mexico’s emocionante advance at the World Cup on Wednesday probably can’t save the country’s ruling party from humiliating defeat in Sunday’s presidential election.

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Ariana Colón’s 1-year-old son Sebastian shows off his first word – “Mamá” – as she speaks with me over the phone from the hotel room in Kissimmee, Florida, where they’ve been living this year.

Along with Sebastian’s father, they arrived there shortly after Hurricane Maria devastated their home island, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, last September.

The family has benefited from a federal program for disaster victims called Transitional Sheltering Assistance. It pays their hotel tab while they find gainful employment and permanent housing.

But meeting landlord conditions for that housing has proven as difficult for Puerto Ricans like Colón as it so often does for longtime Florida residents.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Larry Barszewski / Sun Sentinel

Palm Beach has Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago and John F. Kennedy’s former estate. Miami-Dade County is home to Richard Nixon’s Key Biscayne compound.

But it’s Broward County that’s looking to land South Florida’s first presidential library. It just won’t be for a U.S. president.

Instead, it will house the work of leaders from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who have promoted democracy. Don’t expect it to feature dictators like former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega or others who used their office to enrich themselves.

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