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
6:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Battling For Brazilians: Broward Challenges Dade For Latin American Tourists

Fort Lauderdale Beach is gaining more Latin American visitors, who previously beelined for Miami's oceans.
Credit Eric Barton

In the 1980s, after the bolívar crashed and Venezuelans suddenly couldn’t fly to Miami every weekend, a gaita band recorded a sardonic song whose chorus lamented, "Qué triste domingo sin Miami Beach."

How sad Sunday is without Miami Beach.

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Americas
6:00 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Why The Reign Of Argentina's 'Queen Cristina' Is All But Over -- And How Miami Benefits

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
Credit Flickr

I met Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2007, just before she was first elected president of Argentina. In our interview, she talked a good deal about the rise of women leaders in the Americas, from then Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to then U.S. presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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Americas
7:00 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Cuba's Currency Correction: Will Castro Fall Short Again?

Cuban leader Raul Castro (middle) recently with other senior members of the Communist Party elite.
Credit Flickr

Last year I spoke by phone with a frustrated woman in Santiago, Cuba, who was trying to start a seamstress business. It’s the sort of small private enterprise that Cuban leader Raúl Castro claims to be encouraging as part of free-market reforms meant to salvage the island’s threadbare, communist economy. (But don’t dare say Raúl is copying China’s communist-capitalist system. That makes him mad.)

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Americas
6:00 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Why Dilma's Doldrums Nixed Her State Visit To Washington

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attends a recent meeting of the G-20 in St. Petersburg, Russia

Click the play button above to hear the radio version of this post by WLRN Americas Editor Tim Padgett.

Washington was supposed to fete Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff today. But she canceled her formal state visit, the only one the White House had scheduled for a foreign head of state this year.

By now most people know why. Rousseff is protesting revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on her personal phone calls and e-mails.

“Without respect for sovereignty,” she said in a blistering speech last month at the United Nations aimed at the Obama Administration, “there is no basis for relationships among nations.”

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Americas
11:37 am
Mon October 21, 2013

A Look Back At The Protests That Drove Brazil's Dilma To Cancel Her U.S. Visit

Demonstrations in Fortaleza, Brazil, part of a movement that began against bus fare increases and expanded to include spending on soccer stadiums for the 2014 World Cup.
Credit Semilla Luz/Flickr

Preocupado, sim. Surpreendido, não.

Worried, yes. Surprised, no.

That’s how most Brazilians in South Florida are reacting to the sudden and sometimes violent outburst of protests sweeping their home country this week. While they’re obviously concerned to see hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in Brazil’s major cities, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, they’ve long seen the frustrations bubbling beneath the surface of the nation’s waning economic boom.

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Americas
11:19 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Think Driving In South Florida Is Scary? Try Brazil

Brazilian carmakers, capitalizing on rising demand as the nation’s middle class expands, are making a 10% profit these days, twice the global average.
Credit emergingmoney.com

Like Miami Herald sportswriter David J. Neal, who wrote so eloquently about his boyhood memories of the Indianapolis 500, I’m a Hoosier-turned-Miamian who spent many a May in my own youth at the world’s most famous race car track.

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Americas
6:30 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Why So Many Latinos Are Becoming Muslims

Latino Muslims marching in New York. The sign they're carrying says in Spanish: Reclaiming our Islamic Heritage.
Credit middleeastamericas.info

Click the play button above to hear the radio version of this post by WLRN Americas Editor Tim Padgett.

Most Latinos know the country is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month right now. What far fewer Latinos know is that next week marks Eid al-Adha, one of Islam’s most sacred holidays.

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Americas
6:00 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Deja Vu Venezuela: How Rotted Is The Revolution?

U.S. dollars and Venezuelan bolivares being exchanged in Caracas.

Anyone who’s traveled to Caracas in the past few years knows the drill. As soon as you clear customs, you scan the airport terminal for the guys in trench coats.

They’ve got the good stuff: bolívares, the Venezuelan currency, which they exchange for your dollars at the black market rate. That means what the bolívar is actually worth -- about six times less than the laughably overvalued official rate of 6.3 to the dollar.

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Americas
6:00 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Why Uruguay Is Latin America's Marijuana Reform Laboratory

La Mano (The Hand), a modernist sculpture at Punta del Este, is one of Uruguay's best known landmarks.
Credit Flickr

This article was originally published in October and has been updated.

Uruguayans love it when you tell them what a resort paradise Punta del Este is. Or how tasty the country’s Tannat wine is. Or what a stable democracy their small nation (pop. 3.5 million) has turned out to be.

What they don’t like is to hear Uruguay called, as many do label it today, “the Switzerland of South America.” Not that Uruguayans dislike Switzerland. But many if not most of them think the comparison is cliché, exaggerated, inaccurate, condescending.

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Americas
11:00 am
Fri September 27, 2013

How Miami (And The U.S.) Are Becoming Latin America

A homeless man in Miami.
Credit Surrender Ministries

There's an old joke about Miami: Latin Americans love to visit the city because it's so close to the United States.

Then there’s the chestnut about Miami being the capital of Latin America. Or, Miami is Latin America where the phones work. And so on.

The point is, Miami takes pride in saying, We are Latin America as much as we are America. And that’s a good thing.

Except when it’s not.

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Americas
11:20 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Capriles in Miami: Are Venezuelans For Henrique Or Just Against Nicolás?

Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles (left) responds to a question from WLRN Americas Correspondent Tim Padgett (right) on Capriles TV on Sept. 17.
Credit YouTube

I know Henrique Capriles speaks decent English. So because I work for English-language radio, I asked him during his visit to Miami last week if I could put a question to him en inglés.

“Go ahead,” he told me. “But I’ll answer it in Spanish.”

I’d forgotten one of Capriles’ rules as the political opposition leader of Venezuela: To keep the ruling socialist revolution back home from branding you as a puppet of the U.S. “empire,” it’s best to avoid being recorded speaking yanqui – especially when you’re in Miami, the counterrevolutionary capital.

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Americas
7:00 am
Wed September 18, 2013

New Book Explains Why Simón Bolívar Is Both Deified, Demonized

The cover of Arana's new book on Bolivar.
Credit mariearana.net

Click the play button above to hear the radio version of this post.

During his glorious military career he logged 75,000 miles on horseback. Some might slyly suggest he also logged 75,000 lovers.

But as "The Liberator" that his admirers call him, or as the libertine that his detractors call him, Simón Bolívar’s life was epic – and so were the paradoxes that marked that life. Was South America’s 19th-century independence hero, best known to Americans as the George Washington of Latin America, the founder of his continent’s democracy? Or was he the archetype of its long line of dictatorial caudillos?

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Americas
7:00 am
Fri September 6, 2013

How Venezuela's Maduro Mess Keeps Getting Worse

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (right) next to an image of the late Hugo Chavez.
Credit aim.org

I’m becoming more certain that leftist Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro keeps a Ouija board on his desk at Miraflores Palace in Caracas.

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Americas
7:00 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Why Jamaica's Falling Crime Rate Can't Last Without Rising Employment

Kingston gang members being rounded up by Jamaican police.
Credit newxcorp.com

In May of 2010, the streets of Kingston, Jamaica erupted in fierce gun battles between security forces and followers of drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke. It took most of us in the international media by surprise -- and many of us were also at a loss to explain what had sparked such an epic showdown, which would leave more than 70 people dead.

To help me understand the upheaval, which revolved around efforts to extradite Coke to the United States, I turned to respected Jamaican-American legal scholar David Rowe.

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Americas
7:00 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Why We Can't Blame Cuba For Our Doctor Shortages

Brazilian Health Minister Alexandre Padilha (right) welcomes Cuban doctors in the capital Brasília.
Credit Cadenagramonte

Millions of angry Brazilians have taken to the streets this summer to demonstrate against their government and political class. And right now we’re seeing a vivid example of why: the controversy over Brazil’s recruitment of 4,000 Cuban doctors to work in its remote regions.

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