MEXICO CITY -- For the last 15 years, Venezuela has been mired in crisis, characterized by wasteful government spending, rampant corruption, growing authoritarianism, relentless human rights violations, and now economic collapse. But, beyond the occasional sharp word from the late President Hugo Chávez, the periodic expropriation of a foreign company without adequate compensation, and some minor meddling in the elections of neighboring countries, the crisis barely registered abroad. This is no longer the case.
Where there is complexity there is depth, and in my week long trip to Curacao, I took pleasure in peeling away the many layers that make this autonomous country within the Kingdom of The Netherlands just plain beautiful.
A focus on the Middle East, Russia and East Europe, and East Asia is always warranted. But it would be a mistake for the United States to ignore events in its own hemisphere, especially as we've seen what happens when a problem isn't addressed until it is too late.
While the press continues to vilify Venezuela, to the exclusion of any Colombian coverage, Colombians are actually seeking safe haven in Venezuela -- an irony worth noting.
After years, no decades, of a diplomatic low profile in the Americas, the United States is staging a comeback that just might bear the elements, and fruits, of serious strategy.
On Saturday morning, the local Caracas TV stations captured our attention with footage of a daring escape by a rebel pilot, who ejected from his plane seconds before a fiery crash at La Carlota military airport.
All this to hide that he doesn't know how to govern and can only imitate the dismal model he's inherited from his mentors of the Plaza of the Revolution. The result is a bad copy of the Cuban model, a crude replica in which ideology has ceded its entire terrain to the ravings of a man.
Even with the economic problems in Venezuela, the government has decided to press forward in fully funding its social programs.
As a matter of security, the announcer now explained, the government had suspended many basic civil liberties. What rights had we lost during our ill-fated vacation?
Countries like Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru are among the resource-rich economies in Latin America that have made inroads their extractive sectors, particularly regarding transparency in revenues. Others are embroiled in major economic crises, like Venezuela.
In my misery index, I calculate a ranking for all countries where suitable data exist. My misery index -- a simple sum of inflation, lending rates, and unemployment rates, minus year-on-year per capita GDP growth -- is used to construct a ranking for 108 countries.
Over the past few months, protests have erupted in the halls of the U.S. Capital, and in the streets outside, to thwart the passing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)--a boon to corporate interests, the protesters argue, and an anathema to U.S workers.
In Venezuela the armed forces are not allowed to enforce public order. The only component of the military that may act in certain civil defense roles is the National Guard, yet the new resolution does not distinguish. But that is just one small detail.
Latin American leaders greeted with surprise and excitement the resumption of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.
With his approval rate sinking by the minute, Chavez's successor should be learning from what other commodity-dependent countries, especially in Africa, have done in terms of policy instead of desperately begging for loans.
The dawn of 2015 finds Americans continuing to marvel and benefit at the pump from low oil prices. Yet many ask: Why all of a sudden are prices falling so drastically? Do market forces have anything to do with it? Or is this a political strategy?