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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Americas
8:54 am
Mon December 29, 2014

The Nicaragua Canal: A Waterway To Development Or Disaster?

Protesters clash with police during demonstrations against the construction of a cross-isthmus canal in Nicaragua.
Credit Jorge Mejia Peralta / Flickr

  The Panama Canal marked its centennial this year. But another place engineers have always wanted to build a waterway across Central America is Nicaragua. Construction on a Nicaragua canal started last week – and so did protests, there and here.

The Nicaragua Grand Canal, as it’s called, will cost an estimated $50 billion. And at 173 miles it will be more than five times longer than the Panama Canal.

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Cuba
9:16 am
Fri December 26, 2014

While Poll Supports New U.S.-Cuba Relations, Political Hurdles Remain

Cars in Havana, Cuba.
Credit Nina Hale / Flickr

About 60 percent of Americans agree with the President’s decision on Cuba, according to a new poll this week from CNN and Opinion Research Corporation.

Almost as many said the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, which only Congress can overturn, should be lifted. And two-thirds want U.S. tourist travel to the island restored as well.

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The Latin America Report
9:55 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Mexican Miami: South Florida's Surging Immigrant Group Shines At Christmas

Mexican-Americans in Homestead (and Paco, right) portray Biblical Christmas characters during street processions known as Las Posadas
Credit Edward Garza / Mexican-American Council

South Florida’s best known Christmas traditions involve food. La caja china. Hallacas. But one of the richest customs involves street theater – plus a really cool donkey named Paco – and it reflects the increasingly important role Mexicans play in this region today.

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Cuba
10:18 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Older Cuban-Americans Protest Obama, But Poll Suggests Younger Generation Approves

Cuban exile protesters at a rally in Little Havana hold up a sign that says in Spanish: "We are all part of the resistance."
Credit Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

  President Obama's decision last week to normalize relations with Cuba was bad news for Cuban exiles who oppose engagement with the communist island. And a new poll released over the weekend doesn't give them a lot of future comfort, either.

The survey by the Bendixen and Amandi International firm, conducted for the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and Tampa Bay Times, shows Cuban-Americans are split on President Obama’s new Cuba policy: 48 percent say they disagree with it while 44 percent agree.

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Cuba
9:04 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Cuban Emigré Helps U.S. Companies Prepare For An Embargo-less Future

Emilio Morales doing Cuba market research.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

Now that President Obama wants to normalize U.S. relations with communist Cuba, the big question is: Can the U.S. trade embargo last much longer? WLRN Americas editor Tim Padgett spoke to a Cuban émigré here in South Florida who doesn’t think so – and who’s helping U.S. companies prepare for an embargo-less future:

“It’s like a storm now. A storm. I finished work last night at one o’clock in the morning.”

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Opinion
12:37 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

The Cuba Illusion Has Vanished – And Now The Embargo Should Too

Cuban women walk by wall graffiti in Havana.
Credit Flickr

In the wake of the historic Cuba policy changes President Obama ordered yesterday, Congress will now debate whether to scuttle the failed, 52-year-old trade embargo against the communist island.

Capitol Hill should indeed ditch it – and if it’s looking for reasons, it should consider some of the repulsive folks Washington has had to engage this year.

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Latin America Report
2:33 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Why Latin America's Richest Man Still Needs To Raise His Giving Game

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (right) with former U.S. President Bill Clinton (center) and Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos at the Future of the Americas conference.
Credit Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

When I met Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim six years ago, he was the world’s richest man.

Slim, however, wasn’t the world’s most generous giver. He was called the Latin American Scrooge because he’d steered such a relatively small share of his then $65 billion fortune to philanthropic causes. In our interview at his Mexico City office, he said he was correcting that – and he read a passage from “The Prophet” by the Christian philosopher Kahlil Gibran:

“Give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.”

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News
12:52 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Seismic Shift In U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Involved Pope And An Unknown Spy

Alan Gross was arrested in Cuba in 2009. He was released today and returned to the United States.
Credit AP

The most tectonic shift in U.S.-Cuba relations in half a century – and the release of a U.S. citizen from a Cuban prison – were brought about thanks largely to the most famous man in the world (the Pope) and to a man whose identity we may never know.

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News
4:12 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Will Haiti PM's Resignation Defuse The Political Crisis? Don't Count On It

At the time this photo was shot, Jan. 8, 2014, Haiti's then-Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe talked about the many challenges ahead for his country.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Yesterday’s resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe was supposed to help end Haiti’s long and sometimes violent political crisis. Don’t get your hopes up.

Most Haitians weren’t even awake when Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s taped resignation speech was televised at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. The government blamed technical difficulties for the delay.

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News
6:54 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Does Hispanic Consumer, Taxpayer Strength Help Immigration Reform?

Credit AP Photo / Natacha Pisarenko

Immigration reform opponents frequently argue that undocumented immigrants are a drain on our economy and government services. But a new study hopes to refute that idea – and show how strong a consumer and taxpaying force Hispanics are.

Partnership for a New American Economy is a group of government and business leaders who support immigration reform. In Miami on Thursday it reported that the annual purchasing power of Hispanics – who are the majority of undocumented immigrants – now tops $600 billion. In Florida it’s $65 billion – or one of every six spendable dollars.

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Latin America Report/Herald Wish Book
8:20 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Migrant Farm Worker Family Loses Its Mom — But Not Her Christmas Hopes

Lucas Ajtum at home in Florida City with his children (clockwise from left) Leonardo, Francisca, Margarita and Bani Luz. He's holding a family portrait that included their late mother, Veronica.
Credit Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Cocking her head with an impish grin, 6-year-old Francisca Ajtum gives her holiday voice a spin at home in Florida City.

“I want to wish you a Merry Christmas!” she sings, belting out José Feliciano’s bilingual classic “Felíz Navidad” in equally proficient English and Spanish. Her showmanship elicits giggles and shrieks from her three siblings: Her 8-year-old sister Margarita, brother Leonardo, 7, and her kinetic little sister, Bani Luz, 4.

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Art Basel
6:11 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Picasso Heist Stuns Art Miami Satellite Fair

Pablo Picasso's "Visage Aux Mains" (Face With Hands)
Credit Art Miami

It’s hardly his most famous or most valuable work, but it’s a Picasso nonetheless. And Thursday night it was believed to be stolen from Art Miami in Midtown. That’s one of the prominent satellite fairs to the main Art Basel Miami Beach.

The piece is called “Face With Hands” (Visage Aux Mains). It’s an engraved silver plate, about 16 inches in diameter, part of a series Pablo Picasso made in 1956. Miami Herald reporter Patricia Mazzei is following this story and tells us this is an unusual heist:

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Opinion
3:20 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Venezuela's Truly Indictable Offense? President Maduro's Governance

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Credit chavezcandanga / Flickr

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government indicted opposition leader María Corina Machado this week for allegedly plotting to assassinate him.

But the thing to remember about Machado is that she isn't exactly the most competent anti-government operative.

She’s best known for blunders like leading the 2005 opposition boycott of parliamentary elections. That essentially gifted the National Assembly to Venezuela’s ruling and radical socialist revolution, turning it into a rubber stamp for then-President Hugo Chávez.

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Venezuela
8:14 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Venezuela Opposition: Machado's Indictment For Plot To Kill President Is A Political Move

Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado
Credit World Economic Forum / Flickr

Among Venezuela's opposition leaders, María Corina Machado is a favorite of ex-patriates in South Florida for her strong defiance of the country's radical socialist government. But now that regime hopes to put her behind bars for a long time.

Machado, a conservative, was a congresswoman until she was stripped her of her seat this year. Officials were angry that she'd denounced Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro before the Organization of American States.

On Wednesday his government indicted Machado on charges of conspiring to assassinate him.

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Cuba
8:23 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Alan Gross Marks Five Years In Cuban Prison, Family Warns He's "Wasting Away"

Alan Gross, left, with his wife and daughters at their Maryland home before his 2009 arrest in Cuba.
Credit Gross family

Today marks five years since U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross was jailed in Cuba on controversial spying charges. Gross's wife is warning he may not survive another year -- and says the family is “at the end.”

Gross, 65, is serving a 15-year sentence for bringing what Cuban officials called illegal communications equipment into the communist island. Gross was more likely arrested as retaliation for the U.S. 2001 conviction of five Cuban spies. Three are still in U.S. prisons, and the Cuban government wants them freed as a condition for freeing Gross.

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