Monthly Archives: December 2013

An End of the Year Overview of Latin America

Latin America continues to be in the news– from the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil to the train-wreck that is Venezuela’s economy. I have a strong interest in Latin America, having lived there and through multiple visits around the region. I will write a post for each of the more interesting countries over the next two weeks.

Then I will shift my gaze to the west and start writing about Asia. My second novel, Chita Quest, which should be available in late February, takes place mostly in Asia. Doing the research for the book gave me a new appreciation for Asia and highlighted how little I knew/know about the region.

Colombia. Things are improving rapidly in Colombia. When I was working in Bolivia in the early 1990s, Colombia was a mess. Once, my flight to Panama was cancelled– the airline offered me an alternative fight that meant changing planes in Medellin. I said “no thanks, I’ll fly tomorrow.” No way was I  going to transit the dangerous Medellin alone. Now, Medellin is featured in magazines like International Living and shows like House Hunters International as a wonderful, inexpensive and peaceful place with much to offer as a retirement destination for Americans.

Progress against the FARC– the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia– continues. It looks as if the FARC will be brought into the political process. According to this report in the Washington Post, the defeat of FARC was not an accident– the US government played a substantial part. The real credit, in my opinion, should go to the Colombian government and military for their dedication and professionalism. By not taking the easy way out and continuing with repressive and arbitrary policies, the government/military actions have been (mostly) restrained. Compared to neighboring Venezuela, Colombia looks positively progressive.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2013/12/21/covert-action-in-colombia/?hpid=z1

A good summary of a wide-ranging subjects is at http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesand territories/colombia/

For a peek at the effect of climate change on the famous Colombian coffee crop, try this…http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2011/03/10/science/earth/20110310-coffee.html

Test yourself– Most Americans have a hard time with Latin American geography and history. See how you measure up.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2011/0203/Think-you-know-Latin-America-Take-our-geography-quiz/Which-country-is-South-America-s-second-largest (I managed an 83%– while the average was 73%…shoulda done better though).

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Venezuela Goes To The Polls

Life in Venezuela continues to be turbulent. President Maduro won a small majority in elections last Sunday. His last-minute attacks on the opposition seem to have paid off at the polls. Maduro used the state-controlled media to paint the economic woes of his country as the result of an economic war waged by the United States against Venezuela.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/12/venezuela

http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/12/venezuelas-local-elections

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2013/12/maduro-survives-venezuela-electoral-test-20131299371326255.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/09/us-venezuela-election-idUSBRE9B707720131209

And this is what 50 + per cent inflation does to your economyhttp://homes.yahoo.com/blogs/spaces/world-s-most-expensive-cities-for-foreign-workers-014251972.html

This is a late addition to the post– updated June 9, 2014…which shows how entrepreneurial Venezuelans would be if government restrictions and crazy economic policies would allow them…http://finance.yahoo.com/news/venezuelan-prostitutes-making-killing-doubling-155947318.html

This is yet another update — February 2015…things continue to get more desperate in Venezuela:

http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/soviet-humor-protest-venezuela