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Venezuela

Venezuela: Nation In Crisis, Land Of Unfulfilled Potential

Venezuela, a land that made 19th-century travelers marvel at its natural treasures, has become one of the last places any tourist would visit these days.

High season in Venezuela's Sierra de la Culata national park
High season in Venezuela's Sierra de la Culata national park
Karelys Abarca

CARACASVenezuela is a land of fabulous and unique landscapes. Even back in the 18th and 19th centuries, German travelers testified to its natural majesty. One of the most inspiring of these travel accounts is Carl Geldner's Notes on a Journey to Venezuela (1866-68). On Dec. 9, 1865, he recounted boarding the Cosmopolit boat for Venezuela in search of opportunities on the American continent, arriving on Jan. 23, 1866, at the port of La Guaira in the land called Little Venice. Hardly a fitting term, he thought, for such a grandiose territory, twice as big as Germany, with soaring mountains and lush greenery as far as the eye could see.

Before him, 213 years ago now, Baron Alexander von Humboldt, visited the country when it was still part of the Spanish empire. In his book Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, he describes the country's prodigious fauna and flora as part of his perfectly scientific study of the region's resources. I read with curiosity in No es cuento, es historia ("It's No Tale, It's History") by the Venezuela historian Inés Quintero, one traveler mentioned is Elizabeth Gross, who moved to Maracaibo at a very young age with her husband, also a German. She suffered from the heat and her domestic staff's disorderly conduct, as they rented out her clothes and the rooms in the house in her absence. Yet she came to love the country enough to feel far greater grief when it was time to leave and she was closing the shutters of her Venezuelan home, writing that it felt like her "ashes" were leaving the house.

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Geopolitics

AMLO Power Grab: Mexico's Electoral Reform Would Make Machiavelli Proud

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO, says his plans to reform the electoral system are a way to save taxpayer money. A closer look tells a different story.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico votes

Luis Rubio

OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — For supporters of Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) the goal is clear: to keep power beyond the 2024 general election, at any price. Finally, the engineers of the much-touted Fourth Transformation, ALMO's 2018 campaign promise to do away with the privileged abuses that have plagued Mexican politics for decades, are showing their colors.

Current electoral laws date back to the 1990s, when unending electoral disputes were a constant of every voting round and impeded effective governance in numerous states and districts. The National Electoral Institute (INE) and its predecessor, the IFE, were created to solve once and for all those endemic disputes.

Their promoters hoped Mexico could expect a more honest future, with the electoral question resolved. The 2006 presidential elections, which included AMLO as a recalcitrant loser, showed this was hoping for too much. That election is also, remotely, at the source of the president's new electoral initiative.

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