Reversal of Fortune

December 15, 2012

How Latin Americans, like Venezuelan Alberto Vollmer, are changing their continent from within.

Alberto Vollmer is the old new face of Latin America. Old because, even though he’s only 44, the rum baron’s lineage stretches directly back through Venezuela’s ruling oligarchy to the day in 1818 when independence hero Simón Bolívar declared an end to slavery on the porch of the family hacienda in the Aragua Valley. New because, while the Vollmer family symbolizes the kind of land-owning aristocracy reviled by left-wing President Hugo Chávez, eldest son Alberto has turned around the family firm, Santa Teresa Rum, and established successful land reform and gang reconciliation projects.

The sound of thwacking rugby balls and the whistle of the steam train bringing tourists to the Santa Teresa hacienda can add a deceptive air of calm, but the reality is brutal. Since Chávez came to power almost 14 years ago… [more]

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