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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Cuban Migrants
10:16 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Coast Guard Working Overtime To Rescue Cuban Rafters This Week

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter rescues Cuban migrants from their sinking boat Wednesday morning.
Credit U.S. Coast Guard

Dozens of Cuban migrants are lucky to be alive after a U.S. Coast Guard plane spotted their boat Wednesday morning as it took on water in the Atlantic off Boca Raton. But it was just the latest drama in a remarkably intense week – and year – for rescuing Cuban rafters.

The Coast Guard C-130 aircraft was already engaged in a search for two Cuban rafters reported missing earlier this week. But about seven miles off the coast of south Palm Beach County, here’s what it found instead:

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Latin America Report
6:32 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

In "The Cuban Spring," Vanessa Garcia Confronts The "Familial Embargo"

From left: Nick Duckart, Carlos Orizondo, Ethan Henry, Evelyn Perez and Tanya Bravo (as Siomara) in "The Cuban Spring."
Credit Eileen Suarez / New Theatre

“Taste this, Siomara, and tell me that this doesn’t taste like Cuba.”

“Mom, I don’t know what Cuba tastes like.”

-- from “The Cuban Spring” by Vanessa Garcia

The national media are heavy at the moment with The Cuban Debate. This month The New York Times called on President Obama to end the failed, 52-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and try engaging the repressive communist regime for a change as a way to reform it.

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Commentary
10:47 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

If Panama's Anti-Corruption Hunt Continues, Miami Should Watch Out

Panamanian Supreme Court Justice Alejandro Moncada Luna
Credit Panama Supreme Court

This past summer I wrote an article about Panama’s ultra-corrupt judicial system. It looked at the case of a dead man whose will had left tens of millions of dollars to poor children – and how the Panamanian Supreme Court made the highly suspicious decision to nullify that will and hand the money instead to rich adults.

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Venezuela
4:49 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

How Bad Are Things In Venezuela? It's Rationing Food – And Importing Oil

Oil installation in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela
Credit Flickr

Venezuela’s economic woes just won’t quit. Its currency recently hit an all-time low with black market traders. Now the South American country has to ration food – and, believe it or not, import oil.

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. But it produces mostly thick, heavy crude that has to be mixed with lighter oil to make it usable. Problem is, Venezuela’s seriously mismanaged state-run oil industry isn’t pumping enough light crude. So this weekend the country will receive its first ever shipment of foreign oil: two million barrels from Algeria.

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Latin America Report
7:41 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

What The Non-Cuban Latino Vote Means For Florida Politicians

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist (center) and running mate Annette Taddeo-Goldstein (right) talk with Hector Parra (left) and his daugher Marcela Parra.
Credit Charlie Crist campaign

Latinos, as if you needed more media reminding, are America’s largest minority today. Winning their swing vote matters more than ever – even if means politicians making speeches in really bad Spanish.

In Florida, that exercise used to be a day at the beach. Or rather, an hour at Miami’s Versailles restaurant. Drink a café cubano. Declare your hatred for Fidel Castro. Head to the next campaign stop.

But that was back when Latino in Florida meant almost exclusively Cuban. And Cuban meant Republican.

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Latin America Report
11:01 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Haiti's Crucial Question: Would Baby Doc Have Gone To Jail If He'd Lived Longer?

The late Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1975.
Credit Flickr user a-birdie

As Haiti’s national police director from 1996 to 2002, Pierre Denize had a mission: to help the country’s fledgling democracy build a more professional and humane justice system.

Denize had seen too much of the polar opposite in his youth – especially when his parents were jailed, brutalized and exiled during the three-decade-long reign of cruelty and corruption known as the Duvalier dynasty.

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Haiti
8:21 am
Mon October 6, 2014

The Baby Doc Divide: Why South Florida's Haitians Disagree On Duvalier

Notre Dame d'Haiti church in Little Haiti, where Miami's Haitian community discussed Baby Doc Duvalier's death over the weekend.
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN

From Stalin in Russia to Pinochet in Chile, there’s at least one thing we’ve learned about dictators: Despite the terrible things they often do, people’s memories of them can be fond as well as frightening.

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier – who ruled from 1971 to 1986 and died on Saturday in Portu-au-Prince at age 63 from a heart attack brought on in part by a tarantula bite – was no exception.

 WLRN spent the weekend listening to the divided opinion on Baby Doc in Miami’s Haitian community.

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Venezuela
6:59 pm
Sun October 5, 2014

No End To Venezuela's Gloom, Whether It's Currency Or Killings

NEW LOWS: Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, hit 100 to the U.S. dollar on the black market
Credit Flickr Eduardo!

Venezuela just finished another terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week on both the financial and security fronts. And it suggests things could get even worse.

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Commentary
6:11 pm
Sat October 4, 2014

Baby Doc Duvalier May Have Finally Helped Haiti – By Dying At The Right Time

Jean Claude Duvalier during an interview in Laboule, outside Port au Prince, Haiti, on April 16, 2011.
Credit Andres Martinez Casares / For the Miami Herald

Even for a fiend as monumentally corrupt as he was, the first words out of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s mouth upon his return to Haiti in 2011 were shamelessly dishonest.

“I came back to help my country,” Baby Doc said after ending 25 years in exile in France.

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Commentary
4:46 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Can Venezuela's U.S. Dollar Restriction Keep $1 Billion Out Of Florida?

Trading U.S. dollars for Venezuelan bolívares
Credit venezuelaanalysis.com

What do you do when your country’s foreign reserves are dropping at a rate that would make avid bungee jumpers nauseous? If you’re left-wing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, you take strong, decisive macroeconomic action.

You withhold dollars from Mickey Mouse.

Yessir, you discourage your countrymen from traveling to Florida, by further restricting the amount of dollars they can spend there with their bank credit cards – from $2,500 to $700.

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Latin America Report: Exclusive Interview
5:38 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Colombian President Fights The "Black Propaganda" Against Peace

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos talking to WLRN's Tim Padgett in New York last week.
Credit Presidencia de Colombia

“The problem with Colombia is that we’ve been fighting a war for three generations and we simply got accustomed to it. What I’m trying to tell the Colombian people is, ‘Wake up. We have to be a normal country.’”

That was the opening volley from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during a wide-ranging and unusually frank interview last week in New York. But there’s one slice of our conversation you won’t hear on WLRN.

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Commentary
12:46 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Bring Peace To Colombia Or Block Venezuela From A U.N. Seat? Pick One

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos speaking to WLRN's Tim Padgett at the U.N. General Assembly this week in New York.
Credit Pilar Calderon / Presidencia de Colombia

Today’s international affairs quiz: Would you rather see Venezuela denied a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council, or would you prefer to see an end to Colombia’s eternal civil war?

Pick one. Can’t have both.

That’s at least what Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told me this week during our interview in New York, where he and a host of other heads of state are gathered for the U.N. General Assembly.

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Latin America Report
12:39 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Marina Silva: From Amazon Orphan To President Of Brazil?

Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva on the campaign trail this month.
Credit Marina40

A political phoenix has risen from the ashes of a plane crash in Brazil. Next month it might result in South America's political upset of the decade.

Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in that Aug. 13 accident outside São Paulo. Days later Campos’ running mate – environmentalist and former Senator Marina Silva – took his place as the Brazilian Socialist Party’s nominee. In voter polls, Silva quickly catapulted alongside the incumbent front-runner, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. She’s now tied with Rousseff ahead of the Oct. 5 election.

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Commentary
11:57 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

A Breast Implant Shortage In Venezuela Might Save Us A Miss Universe Headache In Miami

Miss Universe 2013, Venezuela's Gabriela Isler
Credit Wikipedia.org

Let’s be clear: Breast implants are no laughing matter.

Women who’ve had mastectomies can depend on them. Women who’ve had self-esteem issues can turn to them. And if they’re defective, women can die from them.

But let’s be honest: When the Associated Press this week reported a shortage of breast implants in Venezuela – the latest of a host of product scarcities in that whack economy – a lot of people chuckled.

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Latin America Report
7:08 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Does Escaping El Salvador's Abortion Law Nightmare Mean Flying To Miami?

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

Cristina Quintanilla’s tragic story now includes a sad epilogue.

Quintanilla was 18 when she suffered a miscarriage at her home in rural El Salvador. But when she awoke on an operating table that night in 2004, she didn’t see doctors. She saw cops.

Someone on the hospital staff had accused Quintanilla of inducing an abortion. And abortion under any circumstance is a felony in El Salvador.

“They arrested me while I was in surgery,” says Quintanilla, now 28. “I was handcuffed to the bed. They didn’t care how badly I was hemorrhaging or how terrified I was.”

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