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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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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Commentary
12:46 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Bring Peace To Colombia Or Block Venezuela From A U.N. Seat? Pick One

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos speaking to WLRN's Tim Padgett at the U.N. General Assembly this week in New York.
Credit Pilar Calderon / Presidencia de Colombia

Today’s international affairs quiz: Would you rather see Venezuela denied a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council, or would you prefer to see an end to Colombia’s eternal civil war?

Pick one. Can’t have both.

That’s at least what Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told me this week during our interview in New York, where he and a host of other heads of state are gathered for the U.N. General Assembly.

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Latin America Report
12:39 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Marina Silva: From Amazon Orphan To President Of Brazil?

Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva on the campaign trail this month.
Credit Marina40

A political phoenix has risen from the ashes of a plane crash in Brazil. Next month it might result in South America's political upset of the decade.

Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in that Aug. 13 accident outside São Paulo. Days later Campos’ running mate – environmentalist and former Senator Marina Silva – took his place as the Brazilian Socialist Party’s nominee. In voter polls, Silva quickly catapulted alongside the incumbent front-runner, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. She’s now tied with Rousseff ahead of the Oct. 5 election.

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Commentary
11:57 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

A Breast Implant Shortage In Venezuela Might Save Us A Miss Universe Headache In Miami

Miss Universe 2013, Venezuela's Gabriela Isler
Credit Wikipedia.org

Let’s be clear: Breast implants are no laughing matter.

Women who’ve had mastectomies can depend on them. Women who’ve had self-esteem issues can turn to them. And if they’re defective, women can die from them.

But let’s be honest: When the Associated Press this week reported a shortage of breast implants in Venezuela – the latest of a host of product scarcities in that whack economy – a lot of people chuckled.

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Latin America Report
7:08 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Does Escaping El Salvador's Abortion Law Nightmare Mean Flying To Miami?

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

Cristina Quintanilla’s tragic story now includes a sad epilogue.

Quintanilla was 18 when she suffered a miscarriage at her home in rural El Salvador. But when she awoke on an operating table that night in 2004, she didn’t see doctors. She saw cops.

Someone on the hospital staff had accused Quintanilla of inducing an abortion. And abortion under any circumstance is a felony in El Salvador.

“They arrested me while I was in surgery,” says Quintanilla, now 28. “I was handcuffed to the bed. They didn’t care how badly I was hemorrhaging or how terrified I was.”

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Cuba
11:05 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Miami Businessman Accused Of Illegally Smuggling Yasiel Puig, Cuban Baseball Stars

Cuban baseball star Yasiel Puig playing outfield for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Credit Chris Yarzab / Flickr

Migrant smuggling is big business in the Caribbean – and it’s a gold mine if you’re smuggling a top Major League Baseball prospect from Cuba. Now a Miami businessman has been charged with smuggling one of the most lucrative talents of all. 

Cuban baseball star Yasiel Puig defected to Mexico two years ago. He eventually went to the United States and now plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But federal prosecutors in Miami say the way Puig got to the big leagues is a long and even violent criminal story.

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Latin America Report
5:25 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Can Juan Valdez – And Colombia's Mighty Coffee Corps – Challenge Starbucks?

Customers sipping samples this summer at the opening of Miami's first Juan Valdez coffee cafe.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Juan Valdez and his burro aren’t just symbols of Colombia’s world-famous coffee.

They’re the faces of what is arguably the most effective and democratic institution in Colombia: the National Coffee Growers Federation. The federation – which owns the Juan Valdez brand – offers a glimpse of what the war-torn South American country might be more like if it ever achieves peace.

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Commentary
12:16 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Time To Stop The Crying Game In Venezuela – And Start The Waiting Game

An unidentified Venezuelan woman rails against the socialist government on the Caracas metro this year.
Credit YouTube

  A YouTube video has become a tear-jerker hit among opponents of Venezuela’s socialist government.

An unidentified young woman stands up in a Caracas metro car and screams at fellow passengers. Wearing a T-shirt that says, “He who rests loses,” she rails for a good five minutes at the authoritarian shambles Venezuela has become under the Bolivarian Revolution the late Hugo Chávez began 15 years ago.

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Latin America Report
11:38 am
Wed September 3, 2014

More Cuban Rafters Escaping Communist Failure But Needing Capitalist Help

Cubans wave goodbye to rafters headed across the Florida Straits.
Credit Al Diaz / Miami Herald

José has experienced policy failure both communist and capitalist.

    

José asked that I not use his last name to protect his family back home in Cuba. He arrived in Florida two weeks ago on a homemade raft, the kind of illegal exit that makes you a counter-revolutionary – a gusano, or worm – in the eyes of the communist dictatorship there.

Economic despair in Cuba was the main thing that compelled José to float away. “Every day you feel like a needy person,” he told me.

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Coral Reefs
11:04 am
Tue September 2, 2014

Feds Say 5 South Florida Coral Species Are Threatened By Global Warming

Pillar coral, one of the South Florida species now designated as threatened due to global warming.
Credit National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Coral reefs have been under assault for decades from water pollution, coastal construction and overfishing. But coral today face a new and bigger danger – and that matters a lot to South Florida livelihoods.

The federal government is designating 20 more types of coral as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, five of which are prevalent off South Florida’s coast. 

The reason: climate change.

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Steven Sotloff
6:14 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

ISIS Captive Steven Sotloff's Mother Makes Video Plea To Terrorists

Shirley Sotloff pleas for the life of her son Steven Sotloff.
Credit Sotloff Family

It’s been a year since American journalist Steven Sotloff was kidnapped by terrorists in Syria. In that time, Sotloff’s family here in Pinecrest has not spoken publicly. But that changed Wednesday with a plea from Sotloff’s mother.

The short but moving video message from Shirley Sotloff is addressed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He’s the leader of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – or ISIS – which has threatened to kill her son if the United States continues bombing ISIS targets.

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Latin America Report
8:33 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Argentina's New Debt Drama: A Boost For South Florida Condo Sales?

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
Credit Flickr / Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación

Argentina is no stranger to financial crisis. But an unprecedented drama is playing out there this summer, one that could alter the rules in global debt markets – and boost the sales in South Florida condo markets, as more Argentines look for safer places to put their money amid the turmoil.

At issue is $100 billion: the mountain of sovereign debt Argentina defaulted on in 2001 amid a horrific economic collapse. It was the largest default in history.

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