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

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

At a Brazilian restaurant in Doral called Brazuca’s, Danilo Leão is whipping up his most popular dish, feijoada. Pronounced fay-ZHWAH-dah, it's a heavenly stew of black beans, meats and spices created centuries ago by Brazilian slaves.

Carolyn Kaster / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY (Updated July 29, 2016)

On immigration, this month’s Republican and Democratic conventions were as different as pit bulls and collies.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was in town Tuesday night for a campaign fundraiser. Across the street was a reminder of why he’s so popular with his fans – but also why he’s so reviled by his foes.

While Trump was inside the friendly confines of his Trump National Doral Miami resort, outside dozens of activists organized by United Families demonstrated against his tough immigration platform. They held a long paper “Wall of Shame” with cutouts of Trump to protest his call to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

The U.S. faced a crisis two summers ago when some 60,000 unaccompanied kids from Central America crossed our border. Most were escaping gang violence – and many continue coming to South Florida. Now the U.S. is finally expanding efforts to process them, with a helping hand from Costa Rica.

Carolyn Kaster / AP via Miami Herald


Here’s a flashback from the Cold War tape loop we used to call Cuba policy:

In 2004, then U.S. President George W. Bush tightened the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, including stricter limits on how often Cuban-Americans could visit family on the island. The aim was to pressure the communist regime in Havana to adopt democratic reforms.

“We’re not waiting for the day of Cuban freedom,” Bush said, “we are working for the day of Cuban freedom.”

Panama Canal Authority

The new, wider Panama Canal opened this month – and this week the disputes over its big cost overruns start getting settled -- in Miami, a fact that reflects South Florida’s growing international legal stature.

The expanded canal opened two years later than originally planned. A big reason was the legal fight over who should pay for the billions of dollars the project went over budget. The Panama Canal Authority? The European construction consortium? Or both?

Spencer Parts / WLRN.org

Puerto Rico’s economic crisis has gotten deeper this summer. This month the U.S. commonwealth defaulted on $1 billion of debt – and the U.S. Congress approved a federal oversight board to rescue the island.

Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland want a say in how that happens. So they recently created a more unified front called the National Puerto Rican Agenda (NPRA). The group includes a South Florida chapter – which reflects the surprising growth of Florida’s Puerto Rican population down here, not just in Central Florida.

Felipe Dana / AP via Miami Herald


When the Bahamas issued a travel advisory last weekend about visiting the U.S. – citing police brutality against black people – my first reaction was:

The Bahamas is warning Bahamians about cop cruelty against blacks in America? How about warning Bahamians about cop cruelty against blacks in the Bahamas?

Felipe Marrou / WLRN TV

Billy Causey has a keen eye for recreational boaters doing dumb things around vulnerable coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

Especially on heavy boating holidays like the Fourth of July.

“Lookee there,” says Causey as his boat heads out from Big Pine Key. He points to a nearby cluster of party boats. “A lot of them are up on the sea grasses and people are walking around on top of small colonies of coral.”

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

The wider Panama Canal opened two weeks ago – servicing more massive post-Panamax ships. On Saturday PortMiami received its first vessel of that kind from the Canal. And it may mean a new era for Miami as a world commercial hub.

The Chinese ship MOL Majesty measures almost a thousand feet long and 150 feet wide. Larger than any cargo ship PortMiami has ever seen. Post-Panamax ships like the Majesty can carry three times the cargo of ordinary vessels. And PortMiami was recently dredged down to 50 feet to accommodate them.

Eraldo Peres (left) and Molly Riley (right) / AP via Miami Herald


We’ve seen enough media comparisons of Donald Trump and Hugo Chávez to make us think they had the same father.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee and the late Venezuelan president are indeed nifty portraits of egomaniacal demagoguery. But if 2016 election pundits are looking to Latin America for ominously useful parallels, they might give the Donald-Hugo chatter a rest now and consider Hillary-Dilma.

Courtsey Pro Footvolley Tour

This story first aired on December 14, 2015.   

These days, if you’re sitting on a South Florida beach and someone shouts, “Shark attack!” it’s probably got nothing to do with “Jaws.” Instead, it’s all about feet.

Namely, a sport called footvolley.

Fernando Vergara / AP via Miami Herald

In Latin America, scientists have become more convinced of the link between the mosquito-borne Zika virus and the birth defect known as microcephaly. Colombia is the one country that hasn’t fit the pattern. But that may now be changing.

Microcephaly causes unusually small heads and brains in newborn infants. Many Latin American countries – especially Brazil – have reported cases believed to be related to Zika infection in pregnant women. 

Joshua Lim / AP via Miami Herald


So it seems the Orlando massacre helped prod Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, like a guy leaping back onto a subway train as its doors are closing, to change his mind Wednesday and run for reelection.

Tim Padgett / WLRN

Imagine you’re an ambitious 25-year-old business school grad in Spain. But it’s 2013 – and unemployment there is a scary 26 percent. Where do you take your entrepreneurial talents?

Communist Cuba. Seriously.