Latin America Report
6:21 pm
Mon May 25, 2015

Bandwidth And Bikinis: Cuban Entrepreneurs Make Web Pilgrimages To Miami

Miami swimwear entrepreneur Mel Valenzuela (right) explains online strategies to Cuban business owners Victor Rodriguez (middle) and Caridad Limonta (left) in Wynwood this month. Miami boutique owner Monica Minagorri (rear) watches.
Credit Tim Padgett /

When Cuban bikini maker Victor Rodríguez visited Miami this month, he was on a pilgrimage – not just for bathing suits but for bandwidth.

The most important stop on Rodríguez’s schedule was lunch in Wynwood, Miami’s high-tech district, with Mel Valenzuela, who owns the online swimwear store Pretty Beachy.

As Valenzuela showed Rodríguez how to do business online, his awe-struck expression seemed to evoke José Arcadio Buendía in “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” who when he first touches ice declares it “the great invention of our time.”

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4:41 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

Dear Venezuelan Revolution: It's Not Just The Economy, Stupid. It's The Corruption.

In Legal Limbo: El Nacional publisher Miguel Henrique Otero in Miami this week.
Credit Tim Padgett /

Back in January, a Venezuelan security chief arrived in Washington, D.C. But he hadn’t come to rant at U.S. officials. He was there to sing to them. He had details about the allegedly epic ties between his country’s ruling socialist revolution and South American drug traffickers.

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Latin America Report
11:40 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Radio Martí Turns 30 – But Is Anyone In Cuba Listening?

Anchors broadcasting news from Radio Marti's studios.
Credit Charles Trainor / Miami Herald

May 20, 1985: Ronald Reagan was president. Madonna was topping the charts. And Radio Martí went on the air.

The Miami-based, federally-funded station began beaming Spanish-language news and entertainment into communist Cuba 30 years ago today. It was a sort of tropical version of Radio Free Europe – a Cold War effort to transmit information beyond the control of the island's totalitarian Castro regime.

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Latin America Report
7:08 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Former Miami Mayor Ferré: Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis Is Florida's Migration Boom

Michelle Datiz holds a Puerto Rican flag at Miami's Calle Ocho festival in March.
Credit Alexia Fodere / El Nuevo Herald

The Caribbean is known for blue water, white beaches – and red ink. The region is home to seven of the world’s 10 most indebted nations.

But the Caribbean’s worst crisis involves a U.S. territory: Puerto Rico, whose debt is a staggering $73 billion.

That burden now threatens to financially sink the island of 3.5 million people – and that in turn promises to drive more migration into Florida. Puerto Ricans are the state’s fastest-growing Latino group, especially in the central I-4 Corridor.

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U.S.-Cuba Relations
9:49 am
Sat May 2, 2015

Zoo Miami Star Finds Out He's A Hit In Cuba – And Not A Villain Back In Miami

Ron Magill poses with restaurant employee fans in Cuba last month.
Credit Ron Magill

Zoo Miami's mediagenic spokesman, Ron Magill, is a celebrity in Latin America thanks to his appearances on Spanish-language TV. But Magill had no idea he was famous in Cuba – until he finally visited the island last month. 

Communist Cuba is still a controversial subject in Miami. And because he’s such a high-profile Miami-Dade County employee, Magill had been hesitant to go there. But like so many Cuban-Americans, Magill resolved to see where his late Cuban father was from when President Obama announced last December the U.S. and Cuba were normalizing relations.

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Latin America Report
11:28 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Don Quixote At 400: Why The Spanish Loon Flies Higher Than Ever

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
Credit Gustave Dore / Wikimedia Commons

En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme...

Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember...

-opening to "Don Quixote"

Anyone who’s grown up under communism can appreciate Cuban émigré Erisbel Tavio’s taste in books.

To survive totalitarian governments, and occasionally stand up to them, it helps to be a little insane. And there’s no more heroic nut in all of literature than Don Quixote, the protagonist of the classic novel of the same name by Spanish author Miguel Cervantes.

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12:19 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Francis Folly: Why The Pope's Man In Chile Should Resign

Protesters shout at bishops arriving at the cathedral in Osorno, Chile, last month for the installation of Bishop Juan Barros.
Credit Mario Mendoza Cabrera / AP

Argentine-born Pope Francis knows it’s not enough to be the first Latin American pontiff. He also has to make that mean something.

So far he has. He’s condemned the region’s still epic inequality, he's tried to mediate the unholy mess in Venezuela – and most famously he's brokered a rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba that could thaw a century of bitter mistrust between Washington and Latin America.

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Latin America Report
8:17 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Why Cops Are In The Crosshairs Of Venezuela's Murder Crisis

Venezuelan policemen outside Caracas carry the coffin of a fellow officer slain by gang criminals.
Credit Andrew Rosati

Venezuelans are emigrating in droves to South Florida, and it’s not just because Venezuela’s economy is collapsing. Public security has imploded too: South America’s most oil-rich nation has the worst murder rate on the continent.

The homicide crisis has gotten so bad, in fact, that some of the most frequent victims today are the very people who are supposed to fight it: the police.

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Latin America Report
10:02 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Cuba's Next Communists: Why Obama Needs Them To Make Engagement Work

Patricia Flechilla, a member of the Federation of Cuban Women, at the Summit of the Americas in Panama last week.
Credit Tim Padgett /

Cuban President Raúl Castro was the longest speaker at last weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Panama. At age 83, he was also the oldest.

And that matters as the U.S. and Cuba normalize relations after a half century of cold war – a process that on Tuesday led President Obama to remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of terrorism sponsors.

It matters because President Obama says his new engagement policy isn’t meant to change Cuba overnight. It’s meant to help the U.S. influence democratic change once Castro’s generation of hardline communists is gone.

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The Americas
12:00 am
Mon April 13, 2015

IEFA Forum: Miami Now Home To Yet Another Major Hemispheric Gathering

Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza will be one of the IEFA forum's featured speakers.
Credit Tom Rollo / IEFA/Grace Photography

Starting today, Miami is the home of yet another major hemispheric gathering. The International Economic Forum of the Americas has moved one of its biggest events here - from a South Florida neighbor.

The International Economic Forum of the Americas, or IEFA, has become a key platform for issues affecting the Western Hemisphere. The Montreal-based group used to hold its annual World Strategic Forum in Palm Beach County. But it aims to raise its profile now by taking advantage of Miami-Dade’s more Latin American atmosphere.

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10:46 pm
Sun April 12, 2015

Summit Summary: U.S.-Cuba Sitdown Drowns Out Venezuelan Meltdown

Cuban President Raul Castro (left) and U.S. President Barack Obama at their historic meeting Saturday at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
Credit White House

Imagine a U.S. President came to the Summit of the Americas and, while criticizing the government of a certain oil-rich South American nation, remarked that he does enjoy Venezuelan salsa singers like Rubén Blades.

He’d be the butt of jokes on late-night Latin American TV – because Blades is Panamanian, not Venezuelan.

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Summit of the Americas
6:40 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

After Messy Start, U.S.-Cuba Handshake May Send Panama Summit To Smoother Finish

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and Cuban President Raul Castro shake hands Friday night after the inaugural ceremony of the Summit of the Americas in Panama City.
Credit Presidencia de Panama

The Summit of the Americas kicks off Friday evening when the hemisphere’s heads of state inaugurate the two-day gathering in downtown Panama City. But while there a host of issues to discuss, all eyes are on just two guys: President Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro.

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1:40 am
Thu April 9, 2015

How Obama Rescued The Summit For Latin America – And How He Could Ruin It Again

A worker makes final preparations for the April 10-11 Summit of the Americas in Panama City.
Credit Arnulfo Franco / AP

Here’s the conventional line you're hearing about President Obama and this week’s Summit of the Americas:

Up to now, Obama had been doing many smart things to improve dysfunctional U.S.-Latin American relations. On issues like immigration, the drug war and especially Cuba – in December he announced the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations with its cold-war communist foe – a gringo president was finally getting it.

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The Caribbean
7:39 am
Wed April 8, 2015

Obama Heads Into Jamaica And The Caribbean As Venezuela Withdraws

Kingston, Jamaica
Credit Lechmoore Simms / Flickr

President Obama heads this week to the Summit of the Americas in Panama where he’ll meet with the hemisphere’s other heads of state. But Obama first travels on Wednesday to Jamaica – where Caribbean leaders may be happier than usual to see him.

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Latin America Report
7:37 am
Wed April 8, 2015

Communist Cuba Once Produced Capitalist MBAs – And Needs To Graduate A Lot More

Guennady Rodriguez shows off his Cuban MBA degree at his Miami home.
Credit Tim Padgett /

Guennady Rodriguez may be a Cuban émigré, but his musical tastes aren’t exactly counter-revolutionary.

Inside his apartment near Miami International Airport, Rodriguez likes to pull out his guitar and strum tunes by Pablo Milanés, a Cuban troubadour who’s considered a favorite of the Castro regime.

It’s when the 33-year-old Rodriguez puts on a suit and tie and goes to work in downtown Miami that his break with Havana becomes obvious. Rodriguez is a senior sales executive at a large international company that organizes corporate events.

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