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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

Has Lebanese Politics Finally Freed Itself Of Iran's Influence?

Lebanon's recent elections have shrunk the legislative block led by national power-brokers Hezbollah. But will a precarious new majority be able to rid the government of the long shadow of Tehran?

Supporters of pro-Iranian Hezbollah sit in a street decorated with picture of the party chief Hassan Nasrallah

Ahmad Ra'fat

-Analysis-

The results of parliamentary elections in Lebanon, have put an end to the majority block led by Hezbollah, the paramilitary group concocted by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Hezbollah and its Christian allies, the Free Patriotic Movement, led by President Michel Aoun, lost their 71 seats and will now have 62 (of a total 128 seats).

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