Joe Contreras

Stories by Joe Contreras

  • The Model Megacity?

    A new book about Mexico City paints colorful portraits but fails to illuminate the big picture.
  • Putter Up: New Latin Links

    Just as Latin American players are becoming big names in golf, Latin courses are getting notice. Golf Magazine's latest list of the top 100 includes courses from Baja California and the Dominican Republic. New courses are also sprouting across Mexico, with $100 billion in golf-related development. The roster of names who've designed courses there reads like a who's who of the sport. The star attraction of La Loma Club de Golf in San Luis Potosí is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course that opened last year (www.lalomagolf.com.mx). At the Greg Norman-designed, 7,000-yard El Camaleón near Cancún, guests can choose from four five-star resort hotels nestled in the mangrove jungles of the Riviera Maya region (mayakobagolf.com). And the venerable La Paz Golf Club in Bolivia (lapazgolfclub.com) remains splendid. Its groundskeepers are indigenous women who take breaks to hone their putting skills.
  • Sports: The New Latin Links

    Latin American players are becoming big names in golf, led by Mexico's Lorena Ochoa, the reigning queen of the women's pro tour. Latin golf courses are also becoming increasingly famous—Golf Magazine's latest list of the world's top 100 courses includes entries from Baja California and the Dominican Republic. New ones are sprouting all over Mexico—$100 billion in golf-related development, including at least 30 new courses, is now underway.The roster of names who have designed courses in Mexico reads like a Who's Who of the sport. The star attraction of La Loma Club de Golf in the city of San Luis Potosí is a par-72 Jack Nicklaus Signature Course that opened last year (www.lalomagolf.com.mx). Players who want to tackle the Greg Norman-designed, 7,000-yard-long El Camaleón near Cancún can choose from four five-star resort hotels nestled amid mangrove jungles in Mexico's Riviera Maya region (mayakobagolf.com). Both golfing legends are venturing farther afield. Nicklaus will apply his...
  • Escape From Caracas

    High inflation is encouraging Venezuelans to spend their cash on foreign travel—while they still can.
  • Military Equipment Easy to Buy

    An undercover investigation found that it's easy for anyone to buy sensitive U.S. military equipment on the Web, prompting renewed congressional scrutiny.
  • Q&A: Evangelist Luis Palau

    A prominent Argentine evangelist discusses his role as part of the 'Superclass,' and what it means to be a religious leader in a globalized, information-driven world.
  • If Lethal Dictators Ban the Death Penalty, Who Cares?

    For years now, the death penalty has been held up as a marker of enlightenment, distinguishing the cultivated states that ban it from the brutish ones that still administer it. By this measure, the world is becoming a much more righteous place, with 135 of 197 nations now in the cultivated camp, up from 105 a decade ago when pillars of Western civilization like Canada and Britain still employed the death penalty. More surprising members are banning the punishment every month: the latest converts include Albania, Rwanda and Uzbekistan—and none of them was previously known as a paragon of respect for individual life. Now they have been saluted by human-rights groups like Amnesty International and the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center for discarding the ultimate tool of official retribution.But the longer this list becomes, the more dubious is its use as a yardstick of societal advancement. Rwanda has come a long way since the genocide that took 800,000 lives in the...
  • Slowing the Money Trail

    Immigrants are starting to send less cash back home, in part because there's no one at home.
  • Fidel’s Children

    Cuba's leader has resigned, and the nation's youth are starting to push back.
  • Female-Only Transportation

    When Ariadna Montiel was a student in the 1990s and rode Mexico City's subways during peak hours, she shunned skirts in the hope of sparing herself the groping hands of a male passenger. Now the 33-year-old architect—who took charge of the capital's bus system a year ago—has devised a novel solution to the dilemma of leering lotharios: women-only bus service. Coaches bearing pink LADIES ONLY signs on their windshields made their debut on four Mexico City bus routes last month, and Montiel plans to extend the service to 11 more routes in coming weeks. "We've had to increase the original number of vehicles exclusively for women by 20 percent because there has been so much demand," says Montiel.There was a time not long ago when such segregation would have been deemed unacceptable, if not unlawful. But women-only public transit is catching on. The Tokyo subway network began setting aside cars exclusively for women more than two years ago, and Rio de Janeiro did the same with its subway...
  • U.S. Hostages Held for 5 Years

    Three U.S. citizens have been held by Colombian rebels for five years. What is Washington doing about it?
  • The Populists Retreat

    Why Latin America's firebrands are softening their rhetoric—and emboldening the opposition.
  • The Ghost Of Simón Bolívar

    Nearly 200 years ago Venezuelan patriot Simón Bolívar declared his country a free and sovereign state, and went on to liberate four other South American nations from Spanish colonial rule, envisioning a confederation of Andean republics that would stretch from the isthmus of Panama to the high plateau country of Bolivia. His dream inspired another, decades later, when a young Hugo Chávez, then an Army officer in his late 20s, gathered with some of his military colleagues in the Venezuelan city of Maracay on the anniversary of Bolívar's death and declared, "There is Bolívar in the sky of the Americas, watchful and frowning ... because what he left undone remains undone to this very day."Chávez has attempted to finish the job ever since. Already "the most influential head of state in Latin America," according to a critical biography by Venezuelan writers Cristina Marcano and Alberto Barrera Tyszka, his guiding star has always been Bolívar, who at the apex of his career exerted an...
  • Venezuela: Chávez Down, Not Out

    If history is any guide, Chávez's referendum defeat may just be a temporary setback for the Venezuelan president.
  • Roll Over, Monroe

    The influence the United States once claimed as a divine right in Latin America is slipping away, fast.
  • U.S. Rep on Free-Trade Pacts

    Despite rising protectionist sentiment in Congress, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab says pending free-trade deals will pass--and benefit American workers.
  • A New Breed of CEOs

    Emerging-market CEOs used to play it quiet. Now some are embracing capitalist celebrity, flaunting their winnings in the public eye.
  • Unpaid Teens Bag Groceries for Wal-Mart

    Thousands of adolescents work as unpaid baggers in Wal-Mart's Mexican stores. The retail giant isn't breaking any laws—but that doesn't mean the government is happy with the practice.
  • A Patch That Could Threaten the Troops

    An infrared patch that allows easy nighttime identification of U.S. soldiers is widely available in the United States. That's a big problem.

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