Tim Padgett

Americas editor

Tim Padgett is WLRN News Americas correspondent covering Latin America and the Caribbean from Miami. He has covered Latin America for almost 25 years, for Newsweek as its Mexico City bureau chief from 1990 to 1996, and for Time as its Latin America bureau chief, first in Mexico from 1996 to 1999 and then in Miami, where he also covered Florida and the U.S. Southeast, from 1999 to 2013.

Padgett has interviewed more than 20 heads of state, including former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and he was one of the few U.S. correspondents to sit down with the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez during his 14-year rule. He has reported on, and written cover articles about, every major Latin American and Caribbean story from NAFTA, the Cuban economic collapse and Colombian civil war of the 1990s to the Brazilian boom, Venezuelan revolution and Mexican drug-war carnage of the 2000s. In 2005, Padgett received Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the oldest international award in journalism, for his body of work from the region. His 1993 Newsweek cover, “Cocaine Comes Home,” won the Inter-American Press Association’s drug-war coverage award.

A U.S. native from Indiana, Padgett received his bachelor’s degree in 1984 from Wabash College as an English major. He was an intern reporter at Newsday in 1982 and 1983. In 1985 Padgett received a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School before studying in Caracas, Venezuela, at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. He started his professional journalism career in 1985 at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he led the newspaper’s coverage of the 1986 immigration reform. In 1988 he joined Newsweek in its Chicago bureau. Padgett has also written for publications such as The New Republic and America, and he has been a frequent analyst on CNN, Fox and NPR, as well as Spanish-language networks such as Univision.

Padgett has been an adult literacy volunteer since 1989. He currently lives in Miami with his wife and two children. 

Ways to Connect

AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Covering Cuba, I’ve long followed this maxim: If both the communist leadership in Havana and the exile leadership in Miami are angry at you, you’ve probably done your job right.

I felt that way 10 years ago this very week, when I wrote that Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl disagreed on economic policy.

Catharine Skipp / University of Miami Law School

A historic anti-corruption wave is sweeping across much of Latin America. Its hero is a federal judge in Brazil named Sergio Moro - and he got a hero’s welcome on Thursday in the so-called capital of Latin America: Miami.

Ismael Francisco / AP via Miami Herald

Updated April 19, 2018

Cuba’s likely new president is a good generation younger than the Castro crowd he’s replacing. The younger generation of Cuban exiles here doesn’t expect that to mean change on the communist island. But many say it’s better than what Cuba has now.

Ismael Francisco / AP via Miami Herald

On Wednesday, Cuba may have a new president, elected by the National Assembly. (The election session had been scheduled to start Thursday, but the government moved it up a day.)

“Election” is a relative term here – Cuba is a communist state – but something does set it apart.

Ariana Cubillos, White House / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

When President Trump announced this week that he won’t attend the Summit of the Americas in Peru on Friday and Saturday, a lot of Latin America watchers reacted with outrage.

An insult to our New World neighbors! A blown opportunity to mend hemispheric fences! We won’t get to see Donald and Melania not hold hands in historic Lima!

Sorry, folks – you should be popping champagne corks.

YouTube

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned as president of Peru in March because of a corruption scandal – just a month before he was supposed to host the Summit of the Americas this week in Lima. But here’s the kicker: This time the theme of that gathering of the hemisphere’s heads of state is ... corruption.

Felix Marquez / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

I’ve learned to think like President Trump. That should probably scare the hell out of me, but journalists get paid for that kind of thing.

It was Tuesday when I knew I was finally on the same page with the man. That’s because my head didn’t do a 360 like Linda Blair’s in “The Exorcist” when he said he was thinking of cutting off U.S. aid to Honduras.

Thomas Becker / Center for Constitutional Rights

Fifteen years ago, violent clashes between Bolivian security forces and protesters over control of natural gas resulted in many civilian deaths. On Tuesday a jury in Fort Lauderdale found Bolivia’s president at that time responsible for the killings.

More than 60 Bolivian civilians were killed in 2003 when security forces opened fire on demonstrators during the so-called Gas War. Many of them were Aymara Indians.

Leslie Ovalle / WLRN.org

It’s now been more than six months since Hurricanes Irma and Maria demolished the Caribbean. Former President Bill Clinton brought his foundation to Miami on Tuesday to propose ways to rebuild Florida’s island neighbors stronger.

Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused $106 billion damage when they roared through the Caribbean last September in just two weeks. Small islands like Dominica and Barbuda were decimated; larger islands like Cuba and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico need years to recover.

Fernando Vergara / AP via Miami Herald

At a warehouse near Miami International Airport, Adelys Ferro is unpacking boxes and making a checklist of donated medicines for Venezuelans.

Andrew Harnik / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Ever since he ran away from immigration reform, Americans no longer look to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for bridge-building leadership on that issue. But I’m still willing to believe Rubio’s heart is in the right place, even if his head left the building.

So I was also willing to believe the Miami Republican was sincere when he told reporters in Tallahassee this week that he doesn’t “see the problem” with the Trump administration’s proposal to ask folks if they’re U.S. citizens in the 2020 Census.

U.S. Attorney Southern District of Florida

The Bay of Pigs is one of the darkest episodes of Cuban-American history. But that failed 1961 attempt by Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro had another dark result. Some of its resentful veterans came back to the U.S. to form a violent Cuban-American mafia called The Corporation.

Evan Vucci / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

When Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died two years ago, then U.S. President Barack Obama issued a lame response: “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”

Mister Rogers would have offered a tougher assessment of Castro, a communist caudillo whose repressive revolution has ruled Cuba for 59 years. When Obama’s statement reached Havana, you could hear regime apparatchiks high-fiving each other all over the island.

Associated Press

As of Friday morning, officials reported six people had died in the disastrous pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University (FIU). At least nine others were injured, two critically. The tragedy involved a red light – but also serious questions about whether this new, highly celebrated bridge should have gotten the green light.

Leslie Ovalle / WLRN News

Demanding change and promising their generation would make it happen, students walked out of schools across South Florida and the country on Wednesday — one month after 17 students and teachers died in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

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