Tim Padgett

Americas editor

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. He has reported on Latin America for almost 30 years - for Newsweek as its Mexico City bureau chief from 1990 to 1996, and for Time as its Latin America bureau chief in Mexico and Miami (where he also covered Florida and the U.S. Southeast) from 1996 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. He has covered every major Latin American and Caribbean story from the end of the Central American civil wars of the 1980s to NAFTA and the Colombian guerrilla conflict of the 1990s; to the Brazilian boom, the Venezuelan revolution and Mexican drug-cartel war carnage of the 2000s to the current normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.

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. In 2016 he won a national Edward R. Murrow award for Best Radio Series for "The Migration Maze," about the brutal causes of - and potential solutions to - Central American migration. His 1993 Newsweek cover, “Cocaine Comes Home,” won the Inter-American Press Association’s drugs coverage award.

Padgett is an Indiana native and a graduate of Wabash College. He 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 career at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he led the paper's coverage of the 1986 immigration reform. Padgett has also written for publications such as The New Republic and America and 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 and is a member of the Catholic anti-poverty organization St. Vincent de Paul. He currently lives in Miami with his wife and two children. 

Ways to Connect

Anthony Vasquez / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Nine years ago this summer, leftist Mexican politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador called on his country to censure another country.

That other country was Honduras. Right-wing politicians there, backed by a right-wing oligarchy and military, had just staged a coup that ousted leftist President Manuel Zelaya – who was flown into exile in his pajamas.

Fernando Vergara / AP

By the end of this year, an estimated 3 million Venezuelans will have left their country – and the humanitarian crisis there – since 2015. The U.S. government just made another contribution to help those Venezuelans get settled in other countries.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

This month the big topic of discussion about Venezuela isn’t focused on its plummeting oil output or food shortages or economic collapse. It’s about invasion.

According to reports, last year President Trump told top aides he wanted to order a military invasion of Venezuela.

Those aides talked him out of it, of course. But the reports have Venezuelans like 19-year-old Camila Duarte feeling confused – and irritated.

Silvia Izquierdo / AP

COMMENTARY

Right now The Beautiful Game doesn’t look so pretty on this side of the pond.

When Belgium knocked Brazil out of the World Cup in Russia last Friday, it meant no team from the Western Hemisphere would make it to the tournament’s semi-finals for the first time since 2006. Soccer pundits immediately began waxing about the seemingly waning role of the Americas on the global fútbol stage.

Desmond Boylan / AP

We haven’t heard much from Miguel Díaz-Canel since he became the new President of Cuba three months ago. But new regulations for private Cuban businesses came out Tuesday - and they may confirm fears that Díaz-Canel doesn’t wield much power.

Alfredo Zuniga / AP via Miami Herald

The past few days in Nicaragua have been some of the bloodiest since protesters began calling for the removal of President Daniel Ortega in April. International human rights groups – and Nicaraguans in South Florida – are calling on the world to do more.

Gilda Cespedes

The burn scars on Jaime Paz Zamora’s face and body are the most vivid reminders of why many consider him a hero of Latin American democracy.

In 1980, Paz was a vice presidential candidate in Bolivia, campaigning in an election meant to restore democratic rule after decades of military dictatorship.

One day, the small plane carrying Paz and his staff crashed after takeoff. Everyone on board was killed – except Paz. Authorities later called it an assassination attempt by military leaders.

Marco Ugarte / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Latin American governments often get a boost from the success of their national soccer teams. But Mexico’s emocionante advance at the World Cup on Wednesday probably can’t save the country’s ruling party from humiliating defeat in Sunday’s presidential election.

Alfredo Zuniga / AP

Human rights groups say the number of anti-government protesters killed by security forces in Nicaragua has risen sharply in recent days. That's prompted a key anti-government activist – who had fled to Miami – to go back to Nicaragua.

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Ariana Colón’s 1-year-old son Sebastian shows off his first word – “Mamá” – as she speaks with me over the phone from the hotel room in Kissimmee, Florida, where they’ve been living this year.

Along with Sebastian’s father, they arrived there shortly after Hurricane Maria devastated their home island, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, last September.

The family has benefited from a federal program for disaster victims called Transitional Sheltering Assistance. It pays their hotel tab while they find gainful employment and permanent housing.

But meeting landlord conditions for that housing has proven as difficult for Puerto Ricans like Colón as it so often does for longtime Florida residents.

Gregory Bull / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

I’m a critic of U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s push to isolate Cuba, which I consider an outdated means of achieving change on the communist island. But I’m an admirer of the Miami Republican in most other regards – especially her fundamental decency.

She reminded me why last year, when she didn’t show up in Little Havana for President Trump’s get-tough-on-Cuba show. Sources close to her tell me she found the Republican president’s “rollback” of U.S.-Cuba relations about as meaningful as one of his late-night tweets. More important, she really didn’t want to be in the same camera frame with Trump – a guy she seems to find as bereft of fundamental decency as most Americans do.

Ramon Espinosa; Evan Vucci / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Intellectual honesty is rarely a politician’s strong suit. But Florida Senator Marco Rubio showed us just how epic his hypocrisy is when he didn't denounce President Trump’s bromance this week with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. So epic it can only be explained by a line from another epic, “Lawrence of Arabia.”

To wit: There’s a big difference between a politician who merely hides the truth and a politician who’s forgotten where he put it.

Ariana Cubillos / AP

Last month Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro won another six year term in an election widely considered fraudulent. He tightened his authoritarian socialist regime's hold on Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves on the globe but is suffering the world's worst economic collapse today. As a result,  Venezuela experts say the opposition to Maduro desperately needs new leadership.

Alfredo Zuniga / Associated Press

More than 130 people have been killed in anti-government protests raging in Nicaragua since April. Demonstrators are calling for the removal of authoritarian President Daniel Ortega – but his security forces have responded with widely condemned brutality.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Rescue workers have suspended efforts at the Fuego volcano eruption in Guatemala, which has killed 109 people and left 200 missing. Officials in Miami-Dade County – home to a large Guatemalan population – launched a drive for relief aid on Thursday.

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