VENEZUELA: The Evangelist

In all of Venezuela's diamond-rich Guiana, no prospector was more given to the feverish, carousing miner's life than Agustín Martínez. For months he would pan the sandy river bottoms; finding a few diamonds, he would load his canoe with rum and float downriver, happily strumming the cuatro, his four-stringed guitar. Then some missionaries showed Agustín the error of his ways. "I put the cuatro and the rum in a sack and threw them into the Caroni River," he reported.

The other miners nicknamed him "the Evangelist." But faith and sobriety made Agustín a more diligent...

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