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. 

Ways to Connect

Brittany Peterson / McClatchy via Miami Herald

Only 5 percent of Cuba’s population has home Internet access. It’s one of the world’s lowest connectivity rates – but the island’s communist government may finally be moving this week to rectify that.

AP

Cuba’s communist leadership remains reluctant to open the island to more free market reforms and foreign investment. But Cuba’s latest economic data for 2016 might make those hardliners reconsider.

Just a few months ago, Cuba’s economy was forecast to grow 1 percent this year. It wasn’t much; but at least it was growth. This week, President Raúl Castro has admitted even that was an illusion: Cuba’s GDP, he said, will actually shrink 1 percent in 2016 - the first economic contraction in more than 20 years.

Desmond Boylan (left), Charles Tasnadi (right) / AP via Miami Herald

2016 was a year of historic highs and lows for Latin America and the Caribbean. A U.S. president visited Cuba – for the first time in 78 years. A Brazilian president was impeached. A Colombian president won the Nobel Peace Prize. And Haiti finally elected a president.

WLRN’s Tim Padgett sat down with Miami Herald deputy editorial page editor and veteran Latin America correspondent Juan Vasquez – who is retiring this week after an outstanding career of more than 50 years – to look back on the region’s top stories.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

It’s official: Venezuela has entered hyperinflation. It is only the seventh country in the history of Latin America to have that dubious distinction. And no one’s seeing any light at the end of this tunnel.

Technically, hyperinflation occurs when month-on-month inflation tops 50 percent for 30 days straight. Oil-rich Venezuela got to that point earlier this month. But it’s already had the world’s highest inflation rate for years. Its 2016 annual inflation may rise above 500 percent.

YouTube/Empty Head Games

HAVANA – At a relative’s house in Miami's Coconut Grove, Cuban artist Josuhe Pagliery is showing me something on his laptop that looks what he calls "super cool." (That's the English translation. I can't print the Spanish expression.)

Alan Diaz / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

In June I moderated a Miami panel on renewed U.S.-Cuba relations. The panelists, all  Cuban-Americans, represented the pro- and anti-normalization sides. But the normalization team had the momentum.

Washington-Havana détente “is the new normal,” one pro-engagement panelist assured the audience. “There’s no going back,” he insisted.

Except there is.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

HAVANA – In a eulogy last week in Havana for his brother Fidel Castro, Cuban President Raúl Castro often saluted los jóvenes – young people. But it couldn’t hide the fact that communist Cuba is still run by much older people. Like Raúl, who’s 85.

Associated Press

MATANZAS – A caravan carrying Fidel Castro’s ashes is moving across Cuba from Havana to Santiago on the island’s eastern tip – marking a funereal return to where the Cuban Revolution was born.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

HAVANA - Hundreds of thousands of Cubans filled Havana’s Revolution Square Tuesday night to bid farewell to Fidel Castro, who died Friday. We can’t know how many of them will actually miss the communist leader. But some of the mourners are not who you’d expect.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

HAVANA - When the first commercial flight between the U.S. and Cuba in more than half a century touched down in Santa Clara in August, the JetBlue plane from Fort Lauderdale was met with cheers and water-cannon salutes.

When the first commercial flight between Miami and Havana in more than half a century landed at José Martí International Airport Monday morning, the American Airlines 737 taxied quietly to the terminal and unloaded 125 passengers wearing complimentary straw fedoras.

No confetti. No music. And it felt remarkably fitting.

Tim Padgett / WLRN

The first commercial flight from Miami to Havana in more than half a century left Miami International Airport at 7:30 on Monday morning.

American Airlines crew and executives cut a ceremonial red ribbon at Gate D30 before 125 passengers boarded flight 17 to Havana. Airline employees handed to all on board commemorative straw hats for the occasion.

David Santiago / El Nuevo Herald

Fidel Castro's death will no doubt spark a robust debate about what Cuba would be like today if he had never come to power in 1959.

But here's another important question: What would Miami be today without Castro and the thousands of exiles his communist revolution drove to South Florida?

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

News of Fidel Castro’s death sent Cuban exiles old and young into the streets of Little Havana early this morning. Both generations recall Castro with a sense of betrayal - and his demise with a sense of hope.

80-year-old Ana Celia watched fellow Cuban exiles dance a conga line in front of the Versailles restaurant in Little Havana - some of them holding signs that read, "Go to Hell Fidel."

Associated Press

This obituary originally ran in Time Magazine. 

Fidel Castro, the world's most revered and reviled revolutionary, has died in Havana at age 90.

Luis Choy / Special to the Miami Herald

Next month marks the second anniversary of normalized relations between the U.S. and Cuba – and things couldn’t look more uncertain. President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to cancel normalization unless Cuba delivers more democratic reform. But even before Trump’s election, Cuba seemed to be closing rather than opening the door to U.S. business.

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