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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Latin America Report
1:06 am
Wed May 28, 2014

Why So Many Latinos Are Leaving Catholicism – And Religion Altogether

The Rev. Albert Cutie, a former Roman Catholic priest, baptizing a Latino baby at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

To gauge how dramatically things have changed in the Latino community, look no farther than the gold chain around Marisol Medina’s neck.

The necklace, which Medina’s devoutly Roman Catholic mother gave her, once held a cross – which has been replaced by a globe.

“It represents my shift from religion,” says Medina, “to the world, which I now believe in more than the cross or religion.”

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Latin America
4:30 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Colombia Election: Is President Santos On The Run-Off Ropes?

Challenger Zuluaga speaks in Bucaramanga, Colombia, in 2011.
Credit Wikimedia Commons / Archivo de Marco Antonio Melo

  It’s on to Round Two in Colombia. Challenger Oscar Iván Zuluaga, a right-wing former Finance Minister, pulled an upset over the incumbent, President Juan Manuel Santos, in Sunday’s presidential election. But Zuluaga didn't get a majority ­­­– far from it at 29 percent to Santos' 26 percent – so they'll go to a run-off on June 15. 

Colombia’s peace process hangs in the balance – but Santos has to counter growing skepticism about his ongoing peace talks with the country's Marxist guerrillas, the FARC. Zuluaga has pledged to halt those negotiations.

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Opinion
8:20 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Venezuela's Socialist Millionaires May Be Appalling, But Can We Sanction Them?

Globovision co-owner Raul Gorrin steps into his Ferrari in Miami.
Credit El Nuevo Herald (courtesy)

El Nuevo Herald journalist Antonio Delgado reported something pretty nauseating this week.

In his excellent May 19 article, Delgado details the opulent Coral Gables lifestyle enjoyed by the new owners of the Venezuelan television news network Globovisión.

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Latin America Report
3:39 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Could Trying To Forge Peace With Guerrillas Cost Colombia's President An Election?

Colombian presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga (right) on video that allegedly shows him receiving hacked intelligence
Credit Semana

Any presidential election in Colombia these days is a matter of high stakes.

That’s because the country – now South America’s second-largest economy and the United States’ most important ally on that continent – is in the midst of peace talks with Marxist guerrillas known as the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, or FARC, to end a half-century-long civil war.

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The Santa Maria
11:48 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Have They Found The Ship That Found The New World?

A diver inspects the remnants of what may be the Santa Maria.
Credit Brandon Clifford (courtesy)

Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492 on a ship called the Santa Maria. The vessel ran aground that Christmas Eve, off Haiti’s north shore near what is now Cap Haitien. Using historical records, underwater archeologist Barry Clifford says he recently located remnants of the ship.

The job of confirming the blockbuster find falls to Charles Beeker, the director of Indiana University’s underwater science program. Beeker says the evidence he’s seen so far, including wrought iron guns, is strong.

Hear an interview with Charles Beeker here:

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Latin America
10:49 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Panama Election: Is President Martinelli Pulling A Fast One?

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli
Credit Edgar Alberto Dominguez / World Economic Forum

The Panama Canal is expanding, but is Panama's democracy shrinking? The country is holding a presidential election on Sunday, May 4 -- and there are growing concerns that right-wing President Martinelli is trying an end run around the constitution.

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Latin America Report
11:21 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Why Miami's Tech Scene Shouldn't Try To Compete With Silicon Valley

Miami often embraces trends later than other U.S. cities, as has been in the tech-industry boom. But as Latin America's tech hub, Miami is leading.
Credit Ines Hegedus-Garcia / Flickr CC

A lot of people have been throwing a lot of cold water lately on the notion of Miami as a high-tech “Silicon Beach.”

Even Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine this year called it “the dumbest idea in the world.”

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Cuba
11:15 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

#CubaNow Policy Group Highlights Key Generational Shift

One of the #CubaNow ads placed in Washington D.C. metro stations this week.
Credit #CubaNow

This year has seen a growing chorus of polls, studies and statements calling for an overhaul of U.S. policy on communist Cuba. On Monday a new group called #CubaNow added its voice -- and signaled the growing generational shift among Cuban-Americans.

#CubaNow, based in Miami and Washington, D.C., is comprised mostly of younger Cuban-Americans who feel that a half-century of isolating Cuba has failed. They favor more open economic engagement as a way to help democratize the island.

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Latin America Report
10:57 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Why Caribbean Rum Is The New Cognac – And Why Miami Is Its Showcase

Bye-bye Blackbeard: Aged rums in snifters waiting to be tasted at the Miami Rum Fest.
Credit Miami Rum Fest

There was a time when rum was rotgut. Blackbeard the pirate liked to mix his cane alcohol with gunpowder and light it. Rum and croak.

Fast forward a few centuries to rum respectability – specifically, to Rob Burr’s patio deck in Coral Gables.

From the waterfall pond to the tiki bar, it sets a mood not for swilling rum but for tasting it. Not the way spring-breakers chug Captain Morgan but the way cognac drinkers sip Napoleon. Not with Coke (or gunpowder) but neat, in a snifter.

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Gabriel García Márquez
12:59 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Gabo And Gringos: Did Magical Realism Bridge Or Divide The Americas?

Gabriel García Marquez, 1927-2014
Credit Ricardo Timão / Flickr

Gabriel García Márquez, who died Thursday at age 87, provided one of the eerier moments of my journalism career.

In 1996, a colleague and I had been conducting a series of interviews with the Colombian Nobel laureate about his newest book, called “News of a Kidnapping.” It was a nonfiction work on his country’s violent drug-crime culture. Shortly after García Márquez sent the final proofs to his publisher, I called him at his Mexico City home and he sounded shaken.

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Venezuela Crisis
5:34 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Florida Senators In Doral To Make Stronger Call For Venezuela Sanctions

Florida Senators Bill Nelson (left) and Marco Rubio in Doral Thursday morning.
Credit C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

Not one but both Florida Senators came to Doral Thursday morning to show solidarity with the state's large Venezuelan community.

In their bipartisan appearance at the Arepazo Dos restaurant, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio said U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's socialist government - which has been widely criticized for its heavy-handed response to anti-government protests - may be a stronger possibility now. 

Hear the full story below.

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Latin America Report
10:56 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Was "Cuban Twitter" Dumb Or Defensible? Or Both?

A Cuban state television camera at the Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana.
Credit cubadebate

Confession: When I criticized ZunZuneo as the story emerged earlier this month, I left something important unsaid.

I support its basic intent. That is, the effort to help Cubans or anyone else access news, information and opinions that authoritarian governments around the world try to block.

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Latin America Report
6:40 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Miami Shedding Its Tabloid Image, Gaining Int'l Respect – At Least In The Legal World

Miami hosted the prestigious International Council for Commercial Arbitration congress this week.
Credit ICCA

There’s never a shortage of unusual legal proceedings in Miami. It’s just that very few of them ever enhance the city’s image, as last month’s court hearings on Justin Bieber’s genitalia so charmingly reminded us.

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Opinion
11:50 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Cuba Clueless: Covert Twitter Scheme Tweets U.S. Policy Failure

Cuban woman walk by wall graffiti in Havana.
Credit Flickr

If you needed any reminding of how archaic and clueless U.S. policy on Cuba can be – and the extent to which it so often actually aids an oppressive communist dictatorship – look no further than Thursday’s excellent Associated Press article about the “Cuban Twitter” fiasco.

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Latin America Report
10:37 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Costa Rica Set To Elect A Professor To Recoup Country's Fading Luster

Luis Guillermo Solis campaigning for Sunday's presidential runoff election in Costa Rica.
Credit Flickr

It’s hard to look at Costa Rica these days and not feel an urge to paraphrase Shakespeare:

Et tu Ticos?

Ticos, as Costa Ricans are affectionately known, used to sit on a hemispheric pedestal. Their country was the prosperous, democratic Boy Scout of Central America if not all of Latin America – an oasis of good government and social equality in a region notorious for dictators and dysfunction.

It was the green nation that dumped its army so it could spend more on schools.

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