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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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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Venezuela
6:59 pm
Sun October 5, 2014

No End To Venezuela's Gloom, Whether It's Currency Or Killings

NEW LOWS: Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, hit 100 to the U.S. dollar on the black market
Credit Flickr Eduardo!

Venezuela just finished another terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week on both the financial and security fronts. And it suggests things could get even worse.

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Commentary
6:11 pm
Sat October 4, 2014

Baby Doc Duvalier May Have Finally Helped Haiti – By Dying At The Right Time

Jean Claude Duvalier during an interview in Laboule, outside Port au Prince, Haiti, on April 16, 2011.
Credit Andres Martinez Casares / For the Miami Herald

Even for a fiend as monumentally corrupt as he was, the first words out of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s mouth upon his return to Haiti in 2011 were shamelessly dishonest.

“I came back to help my country,” Baby Doc said after ending 25 years in exile in France.

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Commentary
4:46 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Can Venezuela's U.S. Dollar Restriction Keep $1 Billion Out Of Florida?

Trading U.S. dollars for Venezuelan bolívares
Credit venezuelaanalysis.com

What do you do when your country’s foreign reserves are dropping at a rate that would make avid bungee jumpers nauseous? If you’re left-wing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, you take strong, decisive macroeconomic action.

You withhold dollars from Mickey Mouse.

Yessir, you discourage your countrymen from traveling to Florida, by further restricting the amount of dollars they can spend there with their bank credit cards – from $2,500 to $700.

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Latin America Report: Exclusive Interview
5:38 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Colombian President Fights The "Black Propaganda" Against Peace

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos talking to WLRN's Tim Padgett in New York last week.
Credit Presidencia de Colombia

“The problem with Colombia is that we’ve been fighting a war for three generations and we simply got accustomed to it. What I’m trying to tell the Colombian people is, ‘Wake up. We have to be a normal country.’”

That was the opening volley from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos during a wide-ranging and unusually frank interview last week in New York. But there’s one slice of our conversation you won’t hear on WLRN.

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