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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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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Opinion
8:55 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Saving El Salvador: Why The Vatican Needs To Make Archbishop Romero A Saint

Archbishop Oscar Romero's image on the wall of a home in El Salvador.
Credit Alison McKellar / Flickr

In the 1980s, it was hard to find a scarier place than El Salvador. Crushing poverty and right-wing death squads. Civil war and left-wing guerrillas.

The flashlight in that darkness was Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero.

In his last Christmas Eve homily, Romero urged El Salvador’s reactionary oligarchs to find the infant Jesus on the nation’s streets – among the hundreds of thousands of children “who go to bed with nothing to eat, who sleep covered by newspapers in doorways.”

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Middle East
3:58 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

ISIS Hostage Journalist Steven Sotloff Has Miami Roots

An undated photo of journalist Steven Sotloff at the Great Sphinx in Egypt.
Credit Facebook

Now that U.S. officials have verified the beheading of U.S. photojournalist James Foley by the terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), attention has turned to another American journalist being held by the group.

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Latin America Report
6:44 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

The Cuba Debate: Can Capitalist Rookies Thrive In A Communist Revolution?

Visiting Cuban entrepreneurs speak at Miami Dade College this month.
Credit Miami Herald

When you’ve spent your entire life on a communist island where staples like eggs and chicken are rationed, lunch in Miami can be overwhelming.

Ask Sandra Aldama, a Cuban mother and former special education teacher who made her first visit to the United States this month. Settling into a downtown Italian restaurant as waiters whizzed by with plates of fettuccine alfredo and veal parmesan, Aldama was almost certainly reminded of what the average Cuban can’t get at home.

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Haiti
11:34 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Haitian Prison Break Highlights Larger Justice Dysfunction

Accused Haitian kidnapper Clifford Brandt
Credit Haitian National Police

  The prison breakout in Haiti last weekend was one of the impoverished country’s worst. More than 300 inmates escaped – and many are alleged violent offenders. But the getaway highlights larger problems.

The recently built penitentiary in Croix-des-Bouquets, outside Port-au-Prince, was funded by Canada and was hailed as a modern facility. But the breakout may well have had more to do with Haiti’s justice culture than with its jail security.

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Latin America Report
12:16 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Canal Quarrel: How PortMiami's Future Is Tied To Tiny Panama

Epic Endeavor: Building the Panama Canal's wider locks.
Credit Panama Canal Authority

The original version of this report was published on May 13 2014.

PortMiami has finally opened its new, billion-dollar tunnel. It’s the jewel of a $2 billion port makeover, which includes a major dredging project and skyscraper-size loading cranes for sending a lot more auto parts to Brazil and getting a lot more handbags from China.

But the long-term success of that effort may depend to a large extent on whether a quarrel gets solved a thousand miles to the south. In Panama.

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Cuba
9:28 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

Cuba's Fledgling Entrepreneurs Visit Miami For Capitalist Consultation

Credit Miami Herald

A fledgling private sector is taking root in communist Cuba. Last week a group of Cuban entrepreneurs made an unprecedented visit to Miami to learn how to run a business -- and to convince Americans they’re the real deal.

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Opinion
6:12 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

As Central Americans Flee Their Countries, Their Leaders Take Refuge In Hypocrisy

Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez (left) talks with U.S. Marine General John Kelly during his Southcom visit on Wednesday.
Credit U.S. Southern Command

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández dropped by the U.S. Southern Command in Miami this week to talk about security in Central America. Or the utter lack of security in Central America. Honduras has the highest murder rate on Earth, and things are almost as deadly in neighboring Guatemala and El Salvador.

That’s why the Southcom visit was a nifty photo op for Hernández – who'd like the world to believe that he’s having to wage a war with vicious narco-gangs solely because Americans have an insatiable appetite for drugs.

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Latin America Report
4:25 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Should The Panama Canal Join Classes As Well As Oceans?

Two Panamas: Panama City's gleaming new towers directly above its large shanty slums.
Credit Peter Nickalls / Flickr

This story originally ran on May 7, 2014  

Jorge Quijano has one of the coolest office views in the Americas: the Pacific port entrance to the Panama Canal. The panoramic vista seems to help Quijano, who heads the Panama Canal Authority, see the bigger picture.

On the one hand, Quijano understands why Panama has run the canal much more effectively than the United States did.

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Latin America Report
10:50 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Zahra Burton Of "18 Degrees North" Aims To Make A "60 Minutes For The Caribbean"

Zahra Burton, host of "18 Degrees North"
Credit 18 Degrees North

Eighteen degrees north is the latitude where Jamaica and much of the Caribbean sit. It’s also the name of a new television newsmagazine show, perhaps the first to take an unflinching look at the problems and potential of the Caribbean.

“18 Degrees North” is in its second season. It debuted in South Florida this summer, airing Sundays at 2:30 p.m. on CBS affiliate WBFS-TV, My 33. It’s hosted by former Bloomberg TV reporter Zahra Burton.

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Latin America Report
7:11 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

How Panama Cut Poor Kids Out Of A Florida Millionaire's Will

BEQUEST BATTLE: Impoverished children in Panama.
Credit Appropriate Projects

Panama today is best known for its economic boom, and rightly so. But unfortunately, poverty and piracy remain as much a part of the country's image as the Panama Canal.

According to the World Bank, half of Panama’s children are poor. A fifth of them are malnourished. Those underfed kids cram Panama charity centers like Nutre Hogar. On a recent visit there I saw the devastating effects of child malnutrition, including brain damage.

“We don’t only feed them,” one Nutre Hogar staff member told me. “We spend a lot of time repairing their motor skills.”

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Opinion
10:14 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Why Brazil's Futebol Failure Is the Best Thing For The Country

ROLE MODEL: Neymar before his World Cup injury
Credit Flickr

I’m as speechless as any sports fan on this planet. Seven-to-one. That’s how badly Germany defeated – no, demolished – Brazil in the semi-finals of the soccer World Cup on Tuesday.

Granted, Brazil was without two of its best players, team captain Silva and star striker Neymar. But even so: 7-1? The Bloodbath in Belo Horizonte – at a World Cup Brazil is hosting, no less – was the worst humiliation South America’s soccer superpower has ever and probably will ever suffer.

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Venezuela Crisis
5:33 pm
Fri July 4, 2014

Jetting To Venezuela Just Got Harder: Why American Is Slashing Flights

FEWER FLIGHTS: An American Airlines aircraft at Caracas' Simon Bolivar Airport.
Credit Simon_sees / Flickr/futureatlas.com

It’s going to get even tougher to find a seat on a flight to Venezuela now. International airlines are cutting if not ending their service to the South American country. And that now includes the major U.S. carrier  – American Airlines.

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