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.
Unasur's meeting today in Chile, a country where protests and democracy seem to coexist quite productively, will tell us a lot about how far South Americans are or are not willing to go in talking to one another about matters traditionally considered to be sovereign.
It would have been preposterous to tell Ukrainian demonstrators facing government storm troopers to just grin and bear it without any external solidarity or support. It is just as preposterous to tell Venezuelan demonstrators the same thing. In these circumstances, the principle of self-determination, so beloved of foreign ministries everywhere, becomes an empty slogan.
We documented 56 hyperinflations -- cases in which monthly inflation rates exceeded 50 percent per month. Only seven of those hyperinflations have savaged Latin America. Will Venezuela be the eighth country to join the Latin American Hall of Shame?
Of course violence from either side is deplorable, and detained protesters -- including their leader, Leopoldo López -- should be released on bail unless there is legal and justifiable cause for pre-trial detention. But it is difficult to argue from the evidence that the government is trying to suppress peaceful protest.
In our efforts to create a better version of ourselves, we lose sight of who we really are and the problems at hand.
If you survey our planet, the situation is remarkably unsettled and confusing. But at least two things stand out, and whatever you make of them, they could be the real news of the first decades of this century. Both are right before our eyes, yet largely unseen.
Taken over by Cuban intelligence, monitored from the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, and ruled by a man who incites violence against those who are different, this South American nation now finds itself facing the most important dilemma of its contemporary history.
A country that used to be an example of democracy and leadership in South America has fallen far.
As an Argentine in Miami, I learned in this city to respect the pain of all the countries of America. I apologize to all Venezuelans for Maradona's words and for the money he took from Venezuela's government to spend on women and drugs.
Venezuela is now the world champion of inflation, homicide, insecurity, and shortages of essential goods -- from milk for children to insulin for diabetics and all kinds of indispensable products. All this despite having the greatest oil reserves in the world and a government with absolute control of all state institutions and levers of power.
It is evident that the problems of inflation, scarcity, crime and violence are issues that affect all Venezuelans equally, regardless of their political affiliation or ideologies. Why, then, is the population still divided?
Venezuela has become utter chaos. Many fear that the South American country will inevitably end up like Cuba, where you are unable to trust anything the media reports.
Call me naive, but I do not believe President Obama wants to see President Maduro overthrown. But there's another US "government," a secret network that works tirelessly to undermine any Latin American threat to the dominance of American capital and military power.