In Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro — the president of a powerful government — should be at center stage. But as he runs in Sunday's snap presidential elections, it's his larger-than-life predecessor who is getting much of the attention.
The death of Hugo Chavez, who taunted the U.S. and empowered the poor, is triggering the special vote. And Maduro is using Chavez's voice and image to ensure that the late president's socialist system remains in power for many more years to come.
Hugo Chavez, the late president of Venezuela, had a touch for the dramatic. He appeared on television all the time. It turns out, he also admired dramatic acting. In the 1990s, when he was in prison for an attempted coup, he never missed an episode of his favorite TV drama.
Once he gained power, a deeper drama developed. Venezuela was a huge exporter of Latin-American multi-episode dramas called telenovelas, until President Chavez's government changed that. NPR's Jasmine Garsd reports.
Marcela Valdes is the books editor of The Washington Examiner and a specialist in Latin American literature and culture.
For more than 40 years, the most important book prize in South America has been bankrolled by the region's most famous petro-nation: Venezuela. Yet Venezuelan novelists themselves rank among the least read and translated writers in the entire continent. Over and over again as I worked on this article, I stumped editors and translators with a simple question: Who are Venezuela's best novelists?