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Topic: As Economy Lags, Hugo Chavez's Movement Fades in Venezuela
As president, Hugo Chavez lavished millions from this country’s oil boom on his home state of Barinas.
But boom has turned to bust, the economy is in shambles and the love affair is over.
Similar sentiments are being heard around the continent, where political dynasties are falling or under intense pressure and where protests and social unrest are on the rise.
In Brazil, legislators have begun an impeachment proceeding against President Dilma Rousseff, as scores of other political leaders have become embroiled in a huge corruption scandal.
In Ecuador, protesters angry at President Rafael Correa have taken to the streets to demonstrate against budget cutbacks necessitated by vanishing oil revenues.
And in Argentina, President Mauricio Macri was inaugurated last month after surging to a surprising win against the candidate of the Peronist party of his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez. His victory ended 12 years during which Fernandez or her late husband, Nestor Kirchner, occupied the presidential palace.
The strains are being felt most keenly by leftist governments, but analysts say that something other than ideology is at work here. South America saw robust growth in the century’s first decade, thanks to a historic boom in the value of raw materials and other commodities that are sold to the rest of the world.
High prices for oil, natural gas, coal, copper, gold, silver, bauxite, soy beans and other products led to steady growth, a sharp drop in poverty and an expansion of the middle class throughout the region. That growth, in turn, brought political stability, with leaders and parties being repeatedly re-elected.
“There’s been a pretty striking continuity in many countries, in large part thanks to the commodities boom that leaders and parties have been riding,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialog, a policy analysis group in Washington. “When that’s over, voters look elsewhere and for new leaders, but governing is extremely difficult because they no longer have the resources to meet the high expectations that have been generated during the commodities boom.”
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/291818/web/
Topic: About Crime - Come to Rio, get robbed: Brazil tourism body shares awkward Instagram post
Brazil’s national tourism agency typically focuses on the city’s world-class beaches, samba-filled music scene and caipirinha-fueled parties. Violent crime is rarely listed among the attractions.
But in an embarrassing social media snafu this week, the Brazilian Tourist Board (Embratur) accidentally shared a critical Instagram post from a tourist who did not enjoy her stay in the so-called "Cidade Maravilhosa," or Marvelous City.
"I just spent 3 days in Rio with my family, and in those 3 days my family and I were robbed and my 9-year-old sister witnessed a violent robbery," Instagram user "withlai" wrote in an Instagram Stories post. "I can’t recommend a visit to a city where I felt afraid of even leaving the apartment."
Embratur deleted the shared post on Wednesday. It said in a subsequent statement that "sharing (the post) was a mistake," adding that it had worked hard to promote a nationwide fall in crime in 2019.
Safety concerns along with inconvenient flights, poor infrastructure and high costs have long held back Brazil’s tourism industry, which lags its South American neighbors.
Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1358564
Topic: Ecuadorean discovery pushes back origins of chocolate
People have been enjoying chocolate far longer than previously known, according to research published on Monday detailing the domestication and use of cacao beginning 5,300 years ago at an ancient settlement in the highlands of southeastern Ecuador. Scientists examined ceramic artifacts at the Santa Ana-La Florida archeological site, a remarkably preserved village and ceremonial center that was part of the Mayo-Chinchipe culture of the Andes, and found abundant evidence of the use of cacao, from which chocolate is made.
The study indicates cacao was domesticated roughly 1,500 years earlier than previously known, and that it occurred in South America rather than in Central America, as previously thought. A tropical evergreen tree called Theobroma cacao bears large, oval pods containing the bean-like cacao seeds that today are roasted and turned into cocoa and multitudes of chocolate confections, although chocolate at the time was consumed as a beverage.
The scientists found evidence of cacao’s use at the site over a period starting 5,300 years ago — more than 700 years before building of the Great Pyramid of Giza in ancient Egypt — until 2,100 years ago. They found cacao starch grains in ceramic vessels and pottery shards. They also detected residue of a bitter compound found in the cacao tree but not its wild relatives, evidence that the tree was grown by people for food purposes, as well as DNA fragments from the cacao tree.
“They clearly drank it as a beverage, as shown by its presence in stirrup-spout pots and bowls,” said University of British Columbia anthropologist and archaeologist Michael Blake, who helped lead the study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. “The presence of cacao starch grains likely means that they ground the seeds to make the beverages, and so probably, though we aren’t certain, fermented the seeds as well, before grinding them,” Blake added.
Archeological evidence indicates cacao domestication moved into Central America and Mexico about 4,000 years ago. Before European conquerors arrived in the Americas five centuries ago, great civilizations like the Aztecs and Maya prepared chocolate as a drink, mixed with various spices or other ingredients. “The freshly picked ripe cacao pods have a delicious sweet pulp around them, and mixed together it all has a very mild chocolate taste,” Blake said. “The chocolate confections today contain a great deal of sugar, and this is very different from the indigenous uses of cacao reported in the historical records from the 1500s and 1600s.”
Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2018/11/04/2003703549