Oil-rich Venezuela’s miracle — record poverty

The recent history of oil-rich Venezuela should be taught in universities around the world as a textbook case of an economic miracle in reverse: despite having benefited from the biggest oil boom in recent history, the country has managed to be poorer.

Ex-leaders can play a big role in Venezuela

The recent visit by three former Latin American leaders to Venezuela has not only helped draw attention to their assertion that the region’s democracies have “abandoned” Venezuela, but has shown that former presidents can play a larger-than-expected role in pushing for democracy in Latin America.

Prosecutor tied Iran’s leader to 1994 bombing

Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman made headlines before his mysterious death last weekend by accusing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of trying to cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, but there was another — more important — leader who was at the centre of the deceased prosecutor’s probe: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

Many Latin leaders reacted weakly to Paris terror

The official reaction of Venezuela, Argentina, Ecua-dor and several other Latin American countries to the Islamic radicals terrorist attack against the French magazine Charlie Hebdo was not only weak, but shameful; they condemned the bloodshed but not its intention to silence the press.

Latin America’s innovation tasks for 2015

Here are a few little-noticed actions that experts agree Latin American countries should take in 2015 to improve their innovation, science, technology and education systems, which are rated very poorly in international rankings and are key to their economic future.

Latin America 2015: A leaderless region

The start of 2015 finds Latin America turned into a leaderless region, in which the countries with the biggest political clout in recent years — Brazil, Venezuela and Mexico — have been significantly weakened by domestic troubles.

US-Cuba thaw may rock Caribbean tourism

One of the big questions following President Barack Obama’s decision to significantly expand US tourism to Cuba will be how much it will affect other Caribbean tourism destinations such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica or Cancun.

Probably too soon to call Cuba policy change ‘historic’

While President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday that he will normalize relations with Cuba is the biggest diplomatic breakthrough with the island after six decades of hostilities, his speech may have been less “historic” than he portrayed it, according to numerous US congressional sources and Cuba experts.

Canal calamity looms in Nicaragua

Forget about the Deepwater Horizon. If Nicaragua’s $50 billion transoceanic canal scheduled to start construction on December 22 becomes a reality, it could be the world’s biggest environmental disaster in recent memory.

US colleges seeing more Latin Americans

Latin American programmes to send more students to US universities are beginning to bear fruit, even if the number of Latin American students in US higher education institutions remains way behind those of China, India, South Korea and even Vietnam.

DC marijuana vote will test ‘war on drugs’

Here’s the biggest irony of Tuesday’s mid-term elections: the US government will continue demanding that Mexico, Colombia and other countries fight the marijuana trade as part of its “war on drugs,” while Washington voters have just approved making pot legal in the US capital.

Brazil, US relations unlikely to warm

WASHINGTON – The big question among Brazil watchers in this capital is whether newly re-elected President Dilma Rousseff will improve her government’s ailing ties with the United States during her second term.

Challenger would change Brazil’s ties with region’s left

If opposition candidate Aecio Neves wins Brazil’s October 26 runoff election — a possibility that virtually no pollster is ruling out — South America’s biggest country would “de-politicize” its foreign policy and end 12 years of preferential ties with Venezuela, Argentina and other leftist governments, top aides to Neves say.

US wrong on Venezuela’s Security Council seat

When Democrats and Republicans in the ultra-polarized US Congress put out a joint foreign policy statement, as they did when they urged the Obama administration to oppose Venezuela’s admission to the United Nations Security Council, it’s sometimes worth reading.

Brazilian election could help end country’s ‘paralysis’

By Andres Oppenheimer aoppenheimer@MiamiHerald.com   Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso confirmed last week something that many of us have suspected: If the opposition wins the October 5 presidential election, there will be changes in Brazilian foreign policy that might affect all of Latin America.

Obama should go to summit – and challenge Cuba

President Barack Obama’s biggest upcoming diplomatic challenge in Latin America will be whether to attend the 34-country Summit of the Americas alongside Cuban leader Raúl Castro, who has been invited by the host country — Panama — over US objections.

Brazil’s vote could change region’s political map

New polls showing that opposition candidate Marina Silva is likely to win Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections are leading growing numbers of analysts to predict that Latin America’s biggest country may soon shift toward more business-friendly policies, and rock the whole region’s political scene.

Andres Oppenheimer: A new push for women’s rights in Latin America

After two decades of steady progress in women’s rights — including the election of women presidents in Brazil, Argentina and Chile — Latin America has one of the world’s highest representation of women in top government jobs, but a surprising new study shows that women are losing ground on several fronts in the region.

Obama: Yes to Africa, No to Latin America?

Watching President Barack Obama at his mega-summit with nearly 50 African heads of state in Washington, D.C., in which he announced $33 billion in investments and vowed to increase access to electricity to 60 million African households, many of us asked ourselves the same question — why doesn’t he do the same with Latin America?

Argentina’s default could hurt the world

I hate to agree with Argentina’s government, a bunch of mostly corrupt pseudo-progressives who have ruined the country despite benefiting from the biggest world commodity price windfall in recent history, but it is mostly right in its dispute with bondholders that led to Argentina’s default.

It’s time for International Anti-corruption Court

The more I read about the massive government corruption in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela and other countries where top officials have been accused of stealing fortunes with near total impunity, the more I like a new proposal that is making the rounds in world legal circles — creation of an International Anti-Corruption Court.

US misses the point on Central American children migrants

President Barack Obama’s vow to take executive actions to fix the immigration system and stem the avalanche of Central American children migrants to the United States is good news, but I’m afraid it will only be a Band-Aid approach, which won’t address the key issue: keeping Central American kids in school.

World soccer ruling group needs an overhaul

Many of the millions of us who watched the Mexico-Croatia game a few days ago asked ourselves the same questions when the umpire failed to call an obvious penalty kick for the Mexican team: are some of these World Cup matches fixed?

Brazil’s Rousseff may be in real trouble

At a recent meeting of prominent economic and political analysts from across Latin America, I was surprised to hear Brazilian economist Paulo Rabello de Castro make a bold forecast: that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff won’t win this year’s elections.

Colombia’s challenger vows hard line on Venezuela

Colombia’s opposition candidate Oscar Iván Zuluaga, who polls show is tied with President Juan Manuel Santos in the June 15 run-off, says one of his first foreign policy priorities, if elected, would be to demand enforcement of a regional treaty to restore democracy and fundamental freedoms in Venezuela.

In Cuba, technology may beat censorship

Cuba’s first major independent newspaper in more than five decades — a digital daily called 14ymedio — was quickly blocked within the island last week, but the big question is for how long the country’s regime will be able to maintain its monopoly on the news media.

India’s new leader could have global impact

The landslide election of pro-business candidate Narendra Modi as India’s new prime minister is likely to shake up that country’s politics and jump-start its economy, but it could also have a big impact on the world economy and emerging markets.

The future of Latin America’s “growth engine”

SANTIAGO, Chile — Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz vehemently denies that Chile’s new left-of-centre government will distance itself from — and in effect weaken — the Alliance of the Pacific, the bloc of pro-free market countries made up of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile that many see as Latin America’s best antidote to the region’s populist craze.

Maduro’s first year, and what’s next

Now that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has finished his first year in power, it’s time to take a dispassionate look at what has happened in oil-rich Venezuela since he took office on April 19, 2013, and what lies ahead.

Latin America’s forecasts may be too rosy

What’s most interesting about the World Bank and International Monetary Fund economic projections released last week was not that they forecast a slower-than-expected growth in Latin America for 2014 — we already knew that — but that they foresee a rebound in 2015 and 2016.

Latin American inventors thrive – in US

If you think that Latin America is doomed to remain behind in science, technology and innovation — as one could conclude from the latest international rankings of patents of new inventions — you should meet Luis Von Ahn.

Russian military bases in Latin America?

When Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said three weeks ago that Moscow is seeking to establish a military presence in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, many of us dismissed it as a private comment by a top official who may have had one vodka too many.

OAS vote for Maduro may be short-lived

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro won a diplomatic victory by defeating a US-backed proposal at the 34-country Organization of American States that would have suggested an outside mediation to end that country’s political crisis, which has already left more than 25 dead and hundreds of wounded.

Venezuela’s Maduro faces hard choices

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s disastrous government is in much bigger trouble than most people think, not because of the student protests that have already resulted in at least 19 deaths, but by a 56 per cent annual inflation rate — the world’s highest — that may soon turn his country ungovernable.

Ten questions for Venezuela’s president

Dear President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, Since I have repeatedly requested an interview with you, but have never received an answer, I respectfully submit 10 questions to you in hopes that you would be so kind as to respond to them in writing, if that’s your preference.