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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Latino Voters
9:49 am
Tue November 25, 2014

How Barack Obama Took Latinos For Granted – And How It Cost Charlie Crist

A Spanish-language election-day sticker: "I voted."
Credit Elle Cayabyab Gitlin / Flickr

So you’re a Florida Democrat. You’re looking for a silver lining to the humiliating Sunshine Shellacking your party took in Tuesday’s midterm elections. 

There really isn't one. But there may be a pewter lining: Your gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Crist, lost to the Republican incumbent, Governor Rick Scott, by only a percentage point. What's more, Crist might have won if not for a dumb political move by President Obama that alienated Latino voters.

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Latin America
8:49 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

News Of A Kidnapping: Will Colombian Peace Talks Survive?

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos talking with WLRN's Tim Padgett in New York in September about peace talks with the FARC.
Credit Presidencia de Colombia

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recently told WLRN that his government’s peace talks with Marxist guerrillas were “at their most difficult moment.” After a kidnapping last weekend, we now know what Santos was talking about.

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Miami Book Fair International
5:55 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Richard Blanco's New Miami Memoir Explores 'Becoming' Cuban-American

Richard Blanco reading from a book of his poetry
Credit Joyce Tenneson / RichardBlanco.com

From the opening pages of poet Richard Blanco’s refreshing memoir, “The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood,” it’s clear that you’re not wandering Calle Ocho in one of those nostalgic, Little Havana paradises that so many Cuban-American chronicles try to recreate.

Instead, you’re wandering a Winn Dixie in Westchester.

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Opinion
7:51 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

El Salvador's Jesuit Massacre: A Reminder Why Fewer Latin Americans Are Catholic?

Garden memorial to the six Jesuits murdered in El Salvador on November 16, 1989.
Credit Universidad de Centroamerica

This Sunday marks one of the sadder remembrances on both the Latin American and Roman Catholic calendars: The 25th anniversary of the brutal military massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter during El Salvador’s civil war.

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Marijuana
10:53 am
Thu November 13, 2014

U.S. Adapting To New World Of Permissible Pot

William Brownfield speaking recently in Costa Rica.
Credit State Department

Last week, voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia became the latest to approve legalizing marijuana use. They join Colorado and Washington state.

That movement conflicts with federal law, which still says pot is illegal. And it poses a foreign policy challenge for Washington, since it complicates the message the United States conveys to other nations about the drug war. That's especially true in Latin America, where Uruguay this year became the first country to legalize pot.

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Cuban Migrants
5:52 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

More Cuban Doctors Than Ever Defecting From Venezuela To South Florida

A Cuban doctor gives a patient a vaccination at a clinic for the poor in Venezuela.
Credit United Nations / Flickr

How bad are things in Venezuela? Even doctors from Cuba – one of the hemisphere’s most economically deprived countries – want out of Hugo Chávez's revolution. And now we know just how many are defecting.

Communist Cuba sends tens of thousands of doctors and other medical personnel to Venezuela, its key South American ally. In return, Cuba gets oil at a deep discount. 

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Immigration
5:46 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Miami Archbishop, Immigrant Rights Leaders Urge Obama To Stop Deportations

Archbishop Thomas Wenski releases a dove in downtown Miami as part of an appeal to stop deportations of undocumented immigrants.
Credit C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

South Florida is seeing a larger influx of undocumented immigrants, especially Central Americans fleeing violence in their home countries. As a result, Miami’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Thomas Wenski joined leaders from the Florida Immigrant Coalition Thursday morning at the downtown Freedom Tower. 

He urged President Obama to keep his pledge and stop deporting law-abiding undocumented immigrants in this country – at least until Congress acts on immigration reform.

“To alleviate the sufferings of untold millions," Wenski said, "we call on the President to provide relief.”

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Latin America Report
12:55 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Playing The Cuba Card: Can South Florida Escape Its Political Addiction?

Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo (left) debating Democratic incumbent Congressman Joe Garcia.
Credit Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

Few of Tuesday’s elections were as hard fought as Florida’s 26th congressional district – where Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo unseated incumbent Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia.

But the race is less likely to be remembered for that result than for how it may end up dropping the curtain on a time-honored Miami political tradition: playing the Cuba card.

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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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