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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Latin America Report
12:45 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Telemedicine For Haiti: The University Of Miami Makes Trauma More Survivable

Dr. Shailesh Garg (foreground) in Miami advises Dr. Kathleen Charles (on video screens) in Haiti.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

Haiti is no stranger to trauma – as we were reminded on Tuesday, when a power-line accident and the ensuing panic killed 16 people during Carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince.

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U.S.-Cuba Relations
6:56 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

New Cuban Import Rules Are Historic – But No Cigar

A private Cuban vendor in Havana.
Credit Brookings Institution

The United States hasn’t imported a thing from communist Cuba in 53 years. Today the Obama Administration set out the rules for changing that. 

But you won’t see any of Cuba’s famous cigars arriving at PortMiami just yet.

The new trade regulations, announced by the State Department, are President Obama’s latest step toward normalizing relations with Cuba. They allow independent Cuban entrepreneurs to export goods and services to the U.S. – something that hasn’t happened since Washington established a trade embargo against Cuba in 1962.

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Opinion
1:35 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Latin America Needs To Be Institutionalized. Seriously

John Oliver ripping into Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa this week on HBO's "Last Week Tonight."
Credit HBO/YouTube

Kudos to British comedian John Oliver for his hilarious smackdown of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa this week.

The host of HBO’s satirical “Last Week Tonight” skewered – impaled, really – Correa and his juvenile social media war against anyone who dares criticize him. Oliver told the infamously thin-skinned presidente to “stop Googling yourself” and advised him that “being a world leader might not be for you.”

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Latin America
9:39 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Venezuela's Condom Crisis Could Kill More Than Romance

Latex condoms like these are so scarce in Venezuela that a standard 36-pack can cost more than $750.
Credit Flickr

It seems as though every week we report on a new product shortage in Venezuela, from rice to toilet paper to breast implants. Now the western hemisphere's most oil-rich country has an acute lack of condoms. But this latest scarcity to emerge in Venezuela’s economic crisis could be deadly to more than just romance.

Thanks to a national currency crisis, Venezuela doesn’t have enough dollars to import the contraceptives. They’re so rare in Venezuela that a standard pack of 36 now costs more than $750 at the official exchange rate.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

New Cuba Policy Faces Attacks On Capitol Hill But Still Moving Ahead

Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen speaks at a House Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on human rights transgressions in Cuba.
Credit C-SPAN

Today concluded three days of U.S. congressional hearings on President Obama’s plan to restore diplomatic relations with communist Cuba. The administration faced tough skepticism – at times some outright hostility – but the new policy came out largely unscathed.

Senate and House committee members from both parties questioned President Obama’s efforts to normalize Cuba relations. Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio warned Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson the policy change “will not be effective” in democratizing Cuba.

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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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