Nicolas Maduro

C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

Leopoldo López is a rock star among Venezuelans in South Florida. But in west Caracas he's the rich guy. And those contrasting images could affect the outcome of street protests playing out in Venezuela right now.

But first the obvious: This week’s arbitrary arrest of López, a top Venezuela opposition leader, is a reminder that President Nicolás Maduro’s already scant credibility is evaporating during the anti-government demonstrations that have swept his country since Feb. 12.

Thomas Henry Berry / Facebook

Latin American leaders don’t know how to stop their violent-crime epidemic, but they sure know how to spin it.

Former Miss Venezuela and telenovela star Mónica Spear and her ex-husband were murdered Monday night during a botched highway robbery near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. Their 5-year-old daughter was shot, too, but survived. As the shocking news spread throughout Venezuela and then Miami, where Spear often lived and worked, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro hit a spin cycle I’ve seen countless other presidentes employ after high-profile homicides.

Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

When socialist Nicolás Maduro eked out last April’s special presidential election in Venezuela, I wrote:  “Even if Maduro won, he lost.”

Maduro defeated the opposition candidate – the same challenger Maduro's mentor Hugo Chávez had trounced just six months earlier by an 11-percent margin – by only 1.6 percent of the vote. Maduro’s lame performance shook the socialists’ claim that Chávez’s revolution would be just as dominant without Chávez, who had died of cancer in March after ruling Venezuela for 14 years.

Wikipedia.org

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.

Anyone who’s traveled to Caracas in the past few years knows the drill. As soon as you clear customs, you scan the airport terminal for the guys in trench coats.

They’ve got the good stuff: bolívares, the Venezuelan currency, which they exchange for your dollars at the black market rate. That means what the bolívar is actually worth -- about six times less than the laughably overvalued official rate of 6.3 to the dollar.

JOSE A. IGLESIAS / El Nuevo Herald Staff

Former Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles — who has been criticized by certain segments of the opposition that would like to see him take a more radical position against Nicolás Maduro’s regime — came out Sunday to convince nearly 5,000 people at a Miami convention hall that he knows exactly what he’s doing.

Capriles, who ran against the late Hugo Chávez in an election in October and then did it again versus Maduro in April, said he feels that change will come soon to his country and called on Venezuelans to continue supporting him and join the fight.

aim.org

I’m becoming more certain that leftist Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro keeps a Ouija board on his desk at Miraflores Palace in Caracas.

Venezuela has detained an American filmmaker, accusing him of "creating violence" at the behest of the U.S. government.

Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said Timothy Hallet Tracy was paying right-wing youth to hold violent protests in the aftermath of the elections narrowly won by Nicolas Maduro, the late Hugo Chavez's chosen successor. Torres said Tracy worked for a U.S. intelligence agency. His comments were reported by the Venezuelan newspaper Ultimas Noticias.

Florida Roundup: Gun Control, Medicaid, Venezuela

Apr 19, 2013
chavezcandanga / Creative Commons/Flickr

Join us for an hour of conversation about the week's news on The Florida Roundup, live at noon on WLRN:

Under the rule of its late president, Hugo Chavez, Venezuela became a nation sharply divided between those who supported his self-styled socialist revolution and those who opposed it.

But after a disputed presidential election in which Chavez's deputy was ruled the winner by a razor-thin margin, the country appears more polarized than ever.

A surprisingly small victory margin for Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor in Sunday's special presidential election looks likely to be followed by a recount in Venezuela.

Chavez, Venezuela's fiery, controversial and charismatic leader, died on March 5.

Earlier this week in Caracas, we were about to go to an interview when it had to be rescheduled. The man we were going to speak with was unavoidably detained — kidnapped, to be precise.

It took awhile after that for Laureano Marquez to free up his schedule and meet us in a coffee shop.

"I'm so sorry," he said when he finally arrived, as if it was his fault for being thrown into a car and driven off to the far reaches of town.

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?

The tall and imposing Nicolas Maduro stepped forward last week to be sworn in as Venezuela's interim leader following the death of President Hugo Chavez.

Before the country's packed congressional hall, he swore to complete Chavez's dream to transform the OPEC power into a socialist state, allied with Cuba and decidedly opposed to capitalism and U.S. interests in Latin America.

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