Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: A chance for U.S. to engage Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez used Venezuela's vast oil wealth to buy friends, bully adversaries and sustain a power base that was built on dividing the population and paralyzing them under a cult of personality. His death Tuesday at 58 after a long struggle with cancer leaves a vacuum and an opportunity for Venezuela to come to terms with the ruin Chavez brought to one of the most important players in the Western Hemisphere. The United States should engage Venezuela during this transition and seek to rebalance America's influence on a regional scale.

Chavez was a big-talking socialist who managed to shift popular blame for Venezuela's poverty to the U.S. government, his country's own elite and the global economy. He used oil revenues to burnish his revolutionary image across Latin America. He shipped cheap oil to Cuba in exchange for face time with Fidel Castro, seeking to assume the role of America's chief nemesis. He received Cuban doctors and teachers in exchange, who worked on Chavez's antipoverty programs.

But Chavez's autocratic style, harassment of the opposition and press, and nationalization of key industries reflected how he kept power by playing one group off another. A deeply polarized country gripped by soaring prices, slum housing, aging infrastructure and one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world now faces an election where the choice is between the shadow regime of a departed strongman and a revived but weakened opposition.

The United States has too much at stake to stand idly by. Venezuela is the fourth-largest supplier of oil to America, and it has banked favors across the hemisphere for its leadership in creating a new sense of independence from Washington. Regional stability depends on the ability of a post-Chavez government to address inequality and basic domestic needs, rebuild a middle class and attract foreign investment.

Florida has a special stake; more Venezuelan expatriates live in Miami-Dade County than anywhere else in the country. For Venezuela to make a fresh start, it needs to attract the talent and money that fled to Florida and elsewhere in recent years. The leadership change could also affect the pace of democratic reform in Cuba if the new Venezuelan government decides to divert those subsidies back home. The transition looks uncertain, and the United States lacks leverage. But this is a moment to lend an open ear and an open hand.

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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18