The tiny nation of Ecuador is sitting on a lucrative oil reserve — some 846 million barrels of heavy crude. But that oil also happens to be right under a large, biodiverse rain forest. There’d be some obvious environmental problems with digging it up. And so, in 2007, Ecuador President Rafael Correa came up with a innovative proposal. He’d ask wealthy countries and donors to pay Ecuador $3.6 billion to leave that oil untouched.

The strength in U.S.-Brazil relations remains in the shared values of the two nations, says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. On his first visit to the country as secretary of state, Kerry said Brazil and the United States “share a remarkable and dynamic partnership” — one that should not be derailed by inevitable disagreements. “I ask the people of Brazil,” Kerry said in Brasilia August 13, “to stay focused on the important realities of our relationship, the bilateral relations between our countries which continue to grow stronger and stronger.”

“Cuba Libro” is Cuba’s very first English language bookstore. It opened its door to customers last week. Conner Gorry, a New York City native living in Havana, first came up with the idea. She envisioned a comfortable place for book lovers to leaf through English-language books. Anchor Marco Werman speaks with Gorry about “Cuba Libro” and the complexities of operating a small business in the island.

Would you mind speaking a little louder?” asks the great master of painting as he works through the morning in his studio in Paris, waiting for a phone call from his native Colombia. “I might be going a little deaf,” he remarks. It’s not every day one gets to talk to Fernando Botero (Medellín, April 19, 1932), without doubt the most important Colombian artist alive, known worldwide and considered a key figure in the history of art.

Fidel Castro turned 87 behind closed doors Tuesday, with official tributes in state media serving as a reminder that the clock is ticking on his revolutionary generation's grip on power. Castro stepped down as president following a near-fatal illness in 2006, and his successor, younger brother Raul, has said that his current term ending in 2018 will be his last, ostensibly ending nearly six decades of rule by the brothers.

Press reports of Secretary of State Kerry’s description of the Western Hemisphere as “our backyard” overlooked the next words, “[our] neighborhood … I think there are relationships we could improve.” [1] The focus on “our backyard” caused President Evo Morales to announce on May 1, 2013 that he was expelling the USAID mission from Bolivia because, among other accusations, it reminded hemispheric leaders of U.S. relations toward the hemisphere during the Cold War.

I met the Ambassador of the Solomon Islands a few weeks ago. The Solomons (Honiara is the capital) are in the Pacific Ocean over 13,000 km from Cuba and they only have a few embassies around the world so you might wonder why they have recently opened one in Havana. The Ambassador, Simeon Bouro, explained to me that Cuban support is important for the Solomons’ health service - there are more than 90 Solomon Islanders studying medicine in Cuba and a couple of Cuban doctors practicising in the Solomons.

In an influential 1997 essay, Fareed Zakaria coined the term “illiberal democracy” to describe those countries that hold elections (of varying fairness) to choose their leaders, yet restrict civil liberties and political freedom. At the time, such practices were common mostly in Asia and Africa, with a sizeable concentration of illiberal democracies among the ex-Soviet states. Zakaria described illiberal democracy as a “growth industry,” and he was right: in the past 15 years, it has come with full force to Latin America.