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

Susan Walsh / AP via Miami Herald

This was a tense day for democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Venezuela’s leftist government got smacked by the Organization of American States. Haiti may have to redo a presidential election. And both crises reflect a discouraging regional failure.

Regarding Venezuela, the OAS has taken an unprecedented action: It invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter to decide if the country should be suspended from the OAS.

Courtesy Leal

These days, Venezuela’s street soundtrack isn’t salsa or joropo. It’s a loop of anti-government chants and blasts of teargas cannisters.

It’s clashes between police and protesters calling for the removal of socialist President Nicolás Maduro – as the Western Hemisphere’s most oil-rich nation suffers deeper social, political and especially economic collapse.

But amid the angry unrest and crippling food shortages there are a few sanctuaries where Venezuela’s future looks a little less miserable – even a little less torn apart.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

It’s hard to believe that guards at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas still let Venezuela’s breathtakingly clueless President Nicolás Maduro through the gate each morning.

Because history will remember Maduro – the laughable lefty who was fodder for a John Oliver monologue this week – for transforming the western hemisphere’s most oil-rich nation into the Caribbean Korea.

Meaning, North Korea.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Last month we thought Cuba’s communist hardliners had put the brakes on growing the island’s private sector. But you never know with Cuba.

Today Havana issued a hopeful reform that Cuba’s half a million fledgling entrepreneurs – or cuentapropistas – have long waited for. The island’s communist government announced that small private businesses may now become genuine legal entities.

Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement

Miami-Dade County’s population is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan. And its police force reflects that.

In 2012, the State Department decided to put that diversity to use beyond our borders. State recruited Miami-Dade police to help train and build law enforcement in Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica and even Egypt. Federal officials say it worked out so well that this week they re-upped the Miami-Dade force for another five years.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Few entrepreneurs straddle the Florida Straits as masterfully as Hugo Cancio.

Cancio arrived in Miami from Cuba 36 years ago during the Mariel boatlift. Today he's one of America’s most high-profile business liaisons to the island. His flagship company, Fuego Enterprises, deals in publishing – it's launched a new magazine, ART OnCuba – as well as music promotion, telecom and finance.

Carl Juste / IrisPhoto Collective

Former Haitian President Michel Martelly has returned to his pre-political life as pop singer “Sweet Micky.” He's performing at Cafe Iguana in Pembroke Pines tonight and at Miami's Bayfront Park on Saturday.

But last night he had a literary gig: presenting his just published memoir, "Michel Martelly Autobiographie," at Miami-Dade College in a Haitian Flag Day event sponsored by the Miami Book Fair.

Courtesy Family of Parker Amet

COMMENTARY

The impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was last week’s biggest Latin American story, but maybe not the most important.

Personally, I think the weightier news was three scientific studies that conclude that the Zika virus does indeed cause fetal microcephaly – the heartbreaking condition that leaves newborns with reduced head and brain size.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

A recent poll shows presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are neck-and-neck in Florida. As a result, one voter bloc will likely be key to winning the state – and, since this is Florida, maybe the election.

Last week’s Quinnipiac University survey shows presumptive Democratic candidate Clinton leading de facto Republican nominee Trump in Florida by just one percentage point – 43 to 42.

Alex Silva / AP via Miami Herald

Last week Brazil’s Senate voted overwhelmingly to impeach and suspend the country’s President, Dilma Rousseff. She now faces a long trial on charges of illegally using state bank funds to cover up big budget deficits.

Rousseff is caught up in an angry public revolt against Brazil's epic corruption, including a $3 billion scandal at the state oil firm Petrobras. But she calls her impeachment a hypocritical "coup" – pointing to the fact that more than half the members of the Brazilian congressional committee that recommended her ouster face corruption charges too.

Florida International University

President Obama’s National Security Advisor – Ambassador Susan Rice – came to Miami Wednesday.

And she was recruiting.

WhiteHouse.gov

A large majority of Miami-Dade voters agree with President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba. But Miami-Dade Cubans are still divided – even if they applaud the President’s recent performance in Havana.

Those are some of the findings of a survey conducted by WLRN, Bendixen and Amandi, the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and Univisión 23.

Diane Guerrero / Twitter

Diane Guerrero is best known as prison inmate Maritza Ramos in the acclaimed Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.” Or as Lina in the CW series “Jane the Virgin,” set in Miami.

But Guerrero plays another, arguably more important role nowadays: celebrity immigration-reform spokesperson.

And for good reason. In 2001, when she was 14 years old, Guerrero came home from school one day to find her parents had disappeared. Her mother and father were undocumented immigrants from Colombia – and that day they had been deported.

Keeping Up With the Kardashians / Via Instagram

This week Chanel brought its haute couture fashion show to Havana. But if you think the whole Cuba chic trend has become a bit too much, a prominent Miami politician has the quote of the week for you.

Ricardo Arduengo / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

As the waters of the Florida Straits warm up again, a new surge of Cuban rafters is landing in Florida. Sixty arrived in Key West in just the past week, in large part to escape the island’s moribund economy.

But Cubans aren’t the only panicked wave hitting our peninsula. Florida’s Puerto Rican population now tops 1 million, more than double the number in 2000. And they keep coming, thanks to a massive economic crisis in Puerto Rico that forced the government to default on a big chunk of a $422 million debt payment that was due Monday.

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