iOS app Android app

Joel D. Hirst
Joel D. Hirst is a principal at the Cordoba Group International and an expert on Latin America. You can follow him on Twitter,

Entries by Joel D. Hirst

Draft Law in Venezuela Is the Private Sector's Death Knell

(13) Comments | Posted April 8, 2013 | 4:45 PM

On April 4, acting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced he had uncovered a "conspiracy" to destabilize the government in order to lend support to his opponent in the upcoming elections, Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski.

Maduro told supporters the plot was undertaken by Empresas Polar, a global...

Read Post

Is Maduro Heading for a Loss?

(25) Comments | Posted April 1, 2013 | 2:44 PM

With only two weeks to go until yet another election in Venezuela, the campaign for the highest office in the land is becoming heated and very personal. Miranda State Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski has abandoned his deferential tone of 2012 to pound acting-President Nicolas Maduro with withering attacks both professional...

Read Post

Learning From History: Venezuela Through the Lens of Nicaragua

(5) Comments | Posted March 15, 2013 | 12:47 PM

The 'revolution' had taken its toll. Tens of thousands were dead. Corruption scandals, food shortages, and governmental incompetence had increased the frustration of the population with the revolutionary bureaucrats. The blanketing propaganda through which the regime blamed the United States for all its ills could no longer hide the fact...

Read Post

Venezuela's Economic Troubles Continue

(4) Comments | Posted February 28, 2013 | 9:37 AM

For the past few months, the eyes of Latin America have been fixed on the ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. As news regarding his health does not improve, speculation has swirled about whether the three-term president will ever recover. For average Venezuelans, however, the more important debate concerns not whether...

Read Post

This Holiday Season, Let's Remember Venezuela's Political Prisoners

(27) Comments | Posted December 28, 2012 | 9:32 AM

There's a holiday tradition in Venezuela where the president pardons a group of prisoners as an act of generosity for Christmas. This year, as recently reelected President Hugo Chavez's cancer worsens, Vice President and acting President Nicolas Maduro has yet to act on this important tradition.

It has become...

Read Post

Hugo Chavez's Not-So-Surprising Revelation

(0) Comments | Posted December 9, 2012 | 2:52 PM

In a not-too-surprising announcement, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has confirmed ongoing rumors that he has never truly recovered from the cancer which was first diagnosed in June of 2011. In a press conference the night of December 8th he has said he is returning to Cuba for...

Read Post

Reviewing Jon Perdue's The War of All the People

(0) Comments | Posted November 30, 2012 | 12:04 PM

People use many terms to talk about the current threats facing the United States. Some call it terrorism, others asymmetric warfare, while others use the term "fourth generation warfare." In his book The War of All the People , academic and Latin America-expert Jon Perdue carefully...

Read Post

Who Defends the Good Guys?

(0) Comments | Posted November 30, 2012 | 10:03 AM

Last year I was at a private dinner with a friend who had been deployed by the U.S. Navy off the coast of Somalia fighting the pirates. He told me the story of one occasion when they had confronted and forced the surrender of a small dingy with a half...

Read Post

Why I Wrote The Lieutenant of San Porfirio

(0) Comments | Posted September 7, 2012 | 11:27 AM

How do we paint a picture with words? How do we show in a few lines the complexities and nuances of deeply disturbing realities? And how do we raise our voice in protest against injustices that we see around us? In Latin America, the great writers of the past and...

Read Post

Venezuela's Unfair Elections

(30) Comments | Posted August 28, 2012 | 4:05 PM

On October 7 Venezuelans will go to vote in the 12th national-level election in as many years. This time they will be choosing whether or not to extend President Hugo Chavez's time in office to 19 years (assuming he makes it that far and does not die of cancer, which...

Read Post

A Sad OAS General Assembly Meeting

(0) Comments | Posted July 9, 2012 | 4:15 PM

A few weeks ago in Cochabamba, Bolivia, the Organization of American States (OAS) held its 42nd annual general assembly meeting. Despite receiving little fanfare, this meeting was concerning for those of us who dedicate ourselves to human freedom for two important reasons.

The first reason was the...

Read Post

The Aloneness of Social Media

(2) Comments | Posted May 20, 2012 | 3:09 PM

Our world has become more social. We are more than ever an interconnected species; existing in new digitally urbanized neighborhoods that transcend physical geography. Our communities consist now not of our neighbors -- most of us don't even know who they are. Nor are our most frequent contacts with church...

Read Post

A Venezuelan Judge's Amazing Story

(23) Comments | Posted April 19, 2012 | 11:10 AM

On the night of April 18, 2012 a new, small Miami-based TV station Soi TV broke a story which has shaken the Venezuelan political landscape. From an undisclosed location they ran a taped interview with Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice Eladio Aponte Aponte. After seven years as...

Read Post

The Principles of American Democracy

(2) Comments | Posted April 2, 2012 | 5:30 PM

There is perhaps no term more used, misunderstood and abused than the word 'democracy.'

Abraham Lincoln's democracy was encapsulated in his quote, "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy"; while Gandhi said,...

Read Post

Plant Teacher: An Excellent Read

(2) Comments | Posted March 5, 2012 | 5:11 PM

Good fiction books are ones that entertain, while at the same time leave the reader with a better understanding of the truths they are trying to portray. Plant Teacher by Caroline Alethia does both. This book is set in modern day Bolivia, a stunningly quirky and contradictory Andean...

Read Post

Vice President Biden's Message to Honduras Should Be "We're Sorry"

(0) Comments | Posted March 2, 2012 | 5:40 PM

Vice President Joe Biden is slated to travel to Mexico and Honduras in the first week of March. He is visiting the region at a particularly difficult moment. The security situation throughout Mexico and Central America is getting worse. Honduras has been particularly hard hit. A recent United...

Read Post

El Salvador's Upcoming Vote

(3) Comments | Posted February 24, 2012 | 3:35 PM

Tiny El Salvador, nestled between Honduras and Guatemala on the Pacific Ocean, has had more than its fair share of turbulence. From 1980 until 1992 the country was besieged by a violent civil war which pitted the government against the guerilla armies of the FMLN. An estimated 75,000 people died....

Read Post

Examining Venezuela's Primary Results

(10) Comments | Posted February 13, 2012 | 4:48 PM

The Venezuelan opposition has a new leader. Yesterday, after a grueling five month campaign, the Venezuelan opposition under the umbrella of the Mesa de Unidad Democratica went to the polls to chose their united candidate who will face President Chavez in the October 7 general elections. Vying for...

Read Post

Haiti Should Stay Away From Chavez's ALBA

(12) Comments | Posted January 12, 2012 | 4:57 PM

It must seem an attractive proposition, especially for a country as poor as Haiti. Already participating in Petro-Caribe -- a Venezuelan energy plan that provides preferential rates on oil -- Haiti now has its eyes set on full membership in the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA). This...

Read Post

Daniel Ortega to Host Ahmadinejad

(21) Comments | Posted January 6, 2012 | 1:34 PM

The dust has settled on the streets of Managua, Nicaragua, following Daniel Ortega's fraudulent re-election in November of 2011. There is nothing like a holiday season to put a damper on political protests - especially in Latin America where the festivities are anticipated all year long.


Read Post