Latin America Report

Brazilian investors buy Miami real estate. Haitian earthquake survivors attend South Florida schools. It's clear what happens in Latin America and the Caribbean has a profound effect on South Florida.

WLRN’s coverage of the region is headed by Americas editor Tim Padgett, a 23-year veteran of TIME and Newsweek magazines.

He joins a team of reporters and editors at the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and NPR to cover a region whose cultural wealth, environmental complexity, vast agricultural output and massive oil reserves offer no shortage of important and fascinating stories to tell.

Tim Padgett

Government of Dominica

Since Hurricane Maria crashed through the Caribbean last month, most of the attention has focused on Puerto Rico. But smaller nearby islands were even harder hit. Especially Dominica. It was the first to feel Maria’s Category 5, 160-mph winds. They demolished the country, leaving 27 dead, 50 still missing – and the population of 71,000 still with little access to food, water and power.

Courtsey Carla Leon

Before Hurricane Irma ravaged Cuba’s north coast last month, Carla León’s private business – renting her family’s three-bedroom house in Havana through Airbnb – had already begun losing customers thanks to another force of nature: Donald Trump.

AP

UPDATE: President Trump visited Puerto Rico on Tuesday and possibly heightened rather than diffused tensions between him and the U.S. island territory. He quipped that Puerto Rico's hurricane disaster had "thrown our budget a little out of whack. We've spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico." Then he suggested the storm had not been a "real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He also lauded Puerto Rico for its low hurricane death toll compared to Katrina.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Standing outside his church in Palmetto Bay on Sunday, Jesus Figueroa listened intently to information coming across his iPhone from Puerto Rico on Zello. The walkie-talkie app transmits messages on group channels when cell phone service is a challenge – and in Puerto Rico right now it’s an epic ordeal.

Joel Rouse / AP via Miami Herald

Atlantic hurricanes rarely leave the Caribbean unscathed. The basin is like a bowling alley for storms and the islands its pins. Hurricane Irma – which left at least 36 people dead in the Caribbean last week, including 10 in Cuba, before roaring into Florida on Sunday – was an outsize bowling ball, setting strength records as it crashed into the Leeward Islands on the basin’s eastern fringe.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP via Miami Herald

The official song commissioned for Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia this week is called “Let’s Take the First Step.” It concludes with a paso the 80-year-old pontiff probably isn’t too familiar with: the hip-hop beat called reggaeton.

Flickr

Latin America is still a low-tech place – and computer hackers are preying on it. Cybercrime cost Latin America and the Caribbean more than $100 billion last year, and the Inter-American Development Bank says it’s growing as much as 40 percent a year.

Fernando Vergara / AP via Miami Herald

When Vice President Mike Pence toured Latin America last week – Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama – it was the Trump administration’s first visit to a region that's wondering if Trump has any interest in it besides building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

The targets on the backs of Venezuelans like Gustavo Marcano grow larger by the day.

Marcano is the mayor of the eastern Venezuelan city of Lechería. Like most places in Venezuela this year, Lechería has been the site of angry anti-government protests as the country’s economy collapses – and as its socialist regime morphs into what critics call a dictatorship.

YouTube

On Sunday a small band of Venezuelan soldiers staged a revolt at a military base in the city of Valencia and made off with weapons.

Courtesy Pro Footvolley Tour

Lately you may have seen a strange marriage of soccer and volleyball playing out on your local beach. It’s called footvolley.

Teresa Frontado / WLRN.org

More than 100,000 Venezuelan expats came out to vote in South Florida Sunday in a hastily arranged election that officially means nothing - but which could end up meaning a lot if the international community is paying attention.

Twitter via El Nuevo Herald

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López was released from prison over the weekend. But that doesn’t change the fact that Venezuela’s unpopular socialist government remains firmly in power – thanks largely to the loyalty of Venezuela’s military leaders. Many of those top brass are accused of having links to drug trafficking – and they fear that if President Nicolás Maduro is overthrown, they’ll have to face justice.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Note: This story was first broadcasted on Jan. 16, 2017. 

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