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On Location: San Agustin, Venezuela

Argentina: haven for independent films

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — At 72 years old, Rafael Filippelli says he likes to make the kind of films that young directors make — bold artistic films for his friends. "And since I don't have many friends," said the jovial Argentine director, "not many people like my films."

English teacher's helper

Photo caption: Cynthia Vargas will be among the English teachers to test out the new pilot program starting Monday, using laptops and learning software at more than 100 schools across Costa Rica. (Alex Leff/GlobalPost) SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — The melody sounded familiar, but not the lyrics. Entirely unconcerned about accuracy, a Costa Rican taxi driver was serenading his passenger with what he sensed could be the words — or at least sounds — to Elton John's "Sacrifice."

Colombia's election graft enough to make a dictator blush

BOGOTA, Colombia — With so much focus in Colombia on the presidential race, it’s worth noting that the laundry list of electoral shenanigans from last month’s congressional balloting would make a Banana-Republic dictator blush. The accusations include vote-buying and ballot-box stuffing. More 20 newly elected senators are the relatives of disgraced former lawmakers accused of collaborating with paramilitary death squads.

Medellin's failed redemption

MEDELLIN, Colombia — A city synonymous with murders and drug cartels had finally started to shed its image. Paramilitary fighters gave up their weapons. The city poured money into re-integrating ex-gang members while increasing basic services like running water to neglected hillside barrios. Homicides plummeted. Headlines about a “transformation” and “re-birth” started to appear to describe what had once been one of the world’s most dangerous cities.

Opinion: For Obama, wind shifts on Cuba

WEST NEW YORK, N.J. — For a decade now — the fervent anti-Castro movement, which has influenced U.S. foreign policy ever since the Cuban Revolution of 1961, has been losing its grip on its community in America. Polls and anecdotal evidence, including the record numbers of Cuban-Americans who voted Democratic in the 2008 presidential elections, indicate a more moderate strain of thought is becoming the mode of the day.

Trial of ex-president of Costa Rica under way

SAN JOSE — Costa Rica this week is witnessing its second-ever court trial involving corruption accusations against an ex-president. Former President Miguel Angel Rodriguez faces allegations that he accepted kickbacks in exchange for a $149 million contract from French cellphone maker Alcatel to provide phone lines here while he was president in 2001. More than half a dozen other former officials, including ex-employees of the state-run power and telecom company, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), also are implicated.

Brazil: Iran's best friend in the West?

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil and Iran are hardly the tightest of allies, but an outside observer would be forgiven for thinking differently after this week.

Five Frames: Best photos of the week

BOSTON — From GlobalPost's editors, a selection of the best pictures of the week.

Newly rich and not afraid to show it in Costa Rica

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — A new crop of high-end shops is sprouting up in a leafy San Jose suburb, signaling a new trend in luxury shopping here, and raising brows about the habits of Costa Rica’s emerging “nouveau riche.” Jewels by Tiffany, threads by Armani and shoes by Ferragamo are among the posh apparel that will adorn store windows in the sparkling new wing of the Multiplaza Escazu mall.
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