In the midst of the unrest this year in Venezuela, there was little attention paid in the media to the conditions facing Indigenous peoples in that country and where they stood in regard to the anti-government demonstrations.
While it is important to be well-read and keep up with the news, it can be equally important to make sure the news stories mean something to you personally.
"My husband, Leopoldo Lopez, is in prison for saying what all of Venezuela wanted to hear."
Justice Vegas is optimistic about Venezuela's future and believes that the democratic process began by Hugo Chavez 15 years ago will continue and grow.
After zigging toward liberalization, by suggesting a reduction in the gasoline subsidy or letting the bolívar devalue, and zagging back away, the only continuity is that Maduro is gradually displacing the original chavista high guard.
South American political elites seem to have jettisoned much of the high minded left idealism of past years in favor of crass economic interests. In a somewhat outlandish turn of events, Brazil has embraced Vladimir Putin, a figure who has desperately sought to end his country's political and diplomatic isolation.
I beg to differ with liberals who say the recent U.S. sanctions against individual members of the Venezuelan government are counterproductive. By the same token, I disagree with conservatives who dismiss them for being too light and applaud the White House and Congress efforts to punish Venezuelan drug traffickers and human rights violators for a very simple reason: in the rigged system of justice that Hugo Chavez set up in the country, it is impossible for any member of its repressive political system to ever face justice in a court of law.
This September I turn 60. As I enter The Final Third, I find myself dumbfounded about where the last 60 years have gone, and driven to take stock and sort it all out. In addition, I want to hedge my bets for the next 30. With nothing really big calling my name, I don't have much of a bucket-list. All I know is that I want to keep going and keep learning.
Until the moment the plane took off, we feared we might be in clear and present danger. We had just spent the last month seeking refuge in a makeshift panic room we created in our Caracas apartment.
One cannot escape the ample media coverage of the 25th anniversary of what has come to be known as the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which it is estimated that at least 300, and possibly 3000 civilians, were killed by state forces.
Western media, which sides with the undemocratic and coup-prone opposition, have been content simply to denounce human rights violations. At the same time, they fail to report the murders committed by the protesters.
The dialogue between the Venezuelan opposition and Nicolas Maduro is in full swing. Its critics are many, its most visible loser: the Cuban government.
The call opens with shared laughter between the two leaders, and with Fidel confessing that he had been unable to sleep because of the excitement of events. Chavez then quickly jumps to the story of what happened.
What is shameful is these others, hiding behind their uniforms, trappings, the military ranks they awarded to themselves. They should be embarrassed to be hiding under the dishonorable garb of their fear.
In the spring of 2009, as part of a design studio looking at sustainable tourism in the beach and cocoa producing town of Choroní, I had the opportunity to visit Venezuela and was privileged to meet a number of people who I've stayed in close touch with since.
What we can be sure of is the enduring vitality of grassroots religious practice in Latin America beyond the pale of institutional Christianity.