Tim Padgett

Americas editor

Tim Padgett is WLRN-Miami Herald 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. 

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News
6:26 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Senators Move To Eliminate Cuba Travel Ban – But Do They Have The Votes?

Cuban taxis wait for tourists in front of Havana's Grand Theater.
Credit exfordy / Flickr/Creative Commons

As President Obama moves ahead to normalize relations with communist Cuba, Congress is weighing in with its own measures. The first big bill was introduced today in the Senate – a measure to eliminate the Cuba travel ban – but its passage is hardly certain.

The legislation would end all restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba, which have been in place since 1963. Right now Americans can legally visit the island for certain reasons like cultural exchanges. But tourism remains prohibited.

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Opinion
10:01 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Venezuela's Collapse Looks More Like Economic Suicide

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Credit chavezcandanga/Flickr

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has warned us all this week that “a hell of solitude awaits anyone who betrays” his nation’s socialist revolution.

Duly noted, Señor Presidente! But we also can’t help noting that nobody’s in a lonelier hell right now than Nicolás Maduro.

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Latin America Report
10:10 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Obama's Top Negotiator In Cuba Says Human Rights, Private Sector Will Be U.S. Drumbeat

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson (center) meets with Cuban dissidents last week in Havana.
Credit State Department

Here’s one indicator of how much things have changed between the United States and Cuba:

When President Obama announced last month that he planned to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba’s communist regime after a half-century of bitter estrangement, no one heard from former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. And no one really cared.

Here’s another:

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Roberta Jacobson
1:24 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Cuba Talks: Capitalism Vs. Communism, Rights Vs. Repression

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson speaks with journalists at the Miami Herald newsroom on Saturday.
Credit Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

This past weekend, the top U.S. negotiator in the talks to normalize relations with communist Cuba stopped in Miami on her way back from Havana.

She briefed journalists from the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and WLRN about the historic negotiations – but she seemed more impressed by what she saw at lunch.

Roberta Jacobson is the assistant U.S. secretary of state for the western hemisphere. Last week in Havana, she and her delegation kicked off talks with Cuban officials to restore diplomatic ties, which were severed 54 years ago. 

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U.S.-Cuba Relations
5:10 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Top U.S. Negotiator Meets With Cuban Dissidents About Rights After Havana Talks

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson (center) meets with Cuban dissidents Friday in Havana.
Credit State Department

The U.S. and Cuba have wrapped up the first round of historic talks to re-establish diplomatic relations. But the lead U.S. negotiator stayed on in Havana today to meet with dissidents and address Cuba’s human rights record.

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Latin America Report
9:13 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Now Starts The Hard Part Of Pulling The U.S. And Cuba Out Of Their Cold-War Time Warp

A car in Havana sports Cuban and U.S. flags in advance of talks there to normalize relations between the two countries.
Credit Day Donaldson / Flickr/Creative Commons

Like Michael J. Fox struggling to power his DeLorean back to the future, the United States and Cuba on Wednesday start the labor of propelling their relations out of a Cold-War time warp and into the 21st Century.

Senior officials from both sides will meet in Havana to make history. They’ll launch talks to re-establish diplomatic ties that were severed 54 years ago in the wake of Cuba’s communist revolution.

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Politics
12:16 am
Fri January 16, 2015

As Obama Rushes To Post New Cuba Trade And Travel Regs, Will Havana Reciprocate?

A car in Havana sports Cuban and U.S. flags in advance of talks there to normalize relations between the two countries.
Credit Day Donaldson / Flickr Creative Commons

On Thursday President Obama finalized a big part of his efforts to normalize relations with communist Cuba. And they take effect Friday, much earlier than expected. They include loosening travel and trade restrictions – but the question from those who know the Havana regime well is: Will Cuba loosen up too?

The new regs make it much easier for Americans to travel to Cuba and spend money there. They can even use U.S. credit cards. They can also do more business with Cubans – export capital goods like telecom equipment and help finance small Cuban enterprises.

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Latin America Report
12:27 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Why It's Time For A Reality Check On Normalizing Relations With Cuba

An unidentified Cuban exile speaks out against President Obama's plans to normalize relations with Cuba at a downtown Miami rally on December 30.
Credit Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

What President Obama did on December 17 was hardly going to prevent what Cuban leader Raúl Castro did on December 30.

Obama last month announced plans to normalize relations with communist Cuba, which were severed 54 years ago. As if to test the waters in the wake of that historic decision, a new Cuban dissident group called Yo También Exijo (I Also Demand) called a free-speech gathering in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución for December 30.

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Feature
10:57 pm
Sun January 11, 2015

Haiti's Tragic Anniversary – And A Political Earthquake To Boot?

A Haitian woman walks by a new U.S.-built housing development in Caracol, Haiti, for displaced earthquake victims.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Five years ago today Haiti – the western hemisphere’s poorest country – was devastated by an earthquake that killed some 300,000 people. Haitian officials, the U.S. and other donor countries promised to “build back Haiti better.” But so far the question is whether they’ve been able to build back Haiti… much at all.

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Latin America Report
3:04 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

China Proves Obama Right On Cuba! And Other Top Latin America Stories Of 2014

As far as I’m concerned, one of the year’s most important Latin American stories happened this week in China.

Yep, communist China. On Monday the government’s Internet watchdragon, known as the Great Firewall, pulled the plug on Gmail because it's a subversive instrument of free speech and dissent.

In the process, Beijing affirmed President Obama’s historic decision this month to pursue a policy of engagement with communist Cuba.

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Americas
8:54 am
Mon December 29, 2014

The Nicaragua Canal: A Waterway To Development Or Disaster?

Protesters clash with police during demonstrations against the construction of a cross-isthmus canal in Nicaragua.
Credit Jorge Mejia Peralta / Flickr

  The Panama Canal marked its centennial this year. But another place engineers have always wanted to build a waterway across Central America is Nicaragua. Construction on a Nicaragua canal started last week – and so did protests, there and here.

The Nicaragua Grand Canal, as it’s called, will cost an estimated $50 billion. And at 173 miles it will be more than five times longer than the Panama Canal.

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Cuba
9:16 am
Fri December 26, 2014

While Poll Supports New U.S.-Cuba Relations, Political Hurdles Remain

Cars in Havana, Cuba.
Credit Nina Hale / Flickr

About 60 percent of Americans agree with the President’s decision on Cuba, according to a new poll this week from CNN and Opinion Research Corporation.

Almost as many said the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, which only Congress can overturn, should be lifted. And two-thirds want U.S. tourist travel to the island restored as well.

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The Latin America Report
9:55 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Mexican Miami: South Florida's Surging Immigrant Group Shines At Christmas

Mexican-Americans in Homestead (and Paco, right) portray Biblical Christmas characters during street processions known as Las Posadas
Credit Edward Garza / Mexican-American Council

South Florida’s best known Christmas traditions involve food. La caja china. Hallacas. But one of the richest customs involves street theater – plus a really cool donkey named Paco – and it reflects the increasingly important role Mexicans play in this region today.

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Cuba
10:18 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Older Cuban-Americans Protest Obama, But Poll Suggests Younger Generation Approves

Cuban exile protesters at a rally in Little Havana hold up a sign that says in Spanish: "We are all part of the resistance."
Credit Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

  President Obama's decision last week to normalize relations with Cuba was bad news for Cuban exiles who oppose engagement with the communist island. And a new poll released over the weekend doesn't give them a lot of future comfort, either.

The survey by the Bendixen and Amandi International firm, conducted for the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and Tampa Bay Times, shows Cuban-Americans are split on President Obama’s new Cuba policy: 48 percent say they disagree with it while 44 percent agree.

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Cuba
9:04 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Cuban Emigré Helps U.S. Companies Prepare For An Embargo-less Future

Emilio Morales doing Cuba market research.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

Now that President Obama wants to normalize U.S. relations with communist Cuba, the big question is: Can the U.S. trade embargo last much longer? WLRN Americas editor Tim Padgett spoke to a Cuban émigré here in South Florida who doesn’t think so – and who’s helping U.S. companies prepare for an embargo-less future:

“It’s like a storm now. A storm. I finished work last night at one o’clock in the morning.”

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