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

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.”

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.

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.

middleeastamericas.info

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.

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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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.

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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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.

Book on Bolivar
mariearana.net

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?

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.

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.

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.

Full disclosure: My wife is a bilingual teacher and my children grew up speaking English and Spanish. But you don’t need those factors in your life to have a vested interest in how well the school program commonly known as ESOL – English for Speakers of Other Languages – is faring in this country, state and community.

Latinos are now the largest minority in the US. Florida’s population growth today is driven largely by Latinos. And Latinos make up almost two-thirds of Miami-Dade County’s residents.

Catholic Archdiocese of Miami

A month before he died last year at the age of 83, Agustín Román was honored by the Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews for his interfaith work as a Roman Catholic bishop. So the fact that a Jewish author will pen Román’s authorized biography  isn’t just fitting -- it is itself a reassuring Miami narrative.

During the final months of his life, Román designated El Nuevo Herald religion writer Daniel Shoer Roth, a Venezuelan Jew, to tell his life story.

Besides the horrific carnage inside Port-au-Prince, one of my most vivid memories of the 2010 Haiti earthquake is military helicopters idling out in Port-au-Prince Bay.

From the bridge of the Navy aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson, I watched H-53 and Seahawk choppers waiting for rescue and relief supplies that seemed agonizingly slow in arriving from U.S. and other foreign aid sources. International coordination, in fact, felt as wanting in those first few post-quake days as the food and medicine.

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