Americas

Cuba
9:04 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Cuban Emigré Helps U.S. Companies Prepare For An Embargo-less Future

Emilio Morales doing Cuba market research.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

Now that President Obama wants to normalize U.S. relations with communist Cuba, the big question is: Can the U.S. trade embargo last much longer? WLRN Americas editor Tim Padgett spoke to a Cuban émigré here in South Florida who doesn’t think so – and who’s helping U.S. companies prepare for an embargo-less future:

“It’s like a storm now. A storm. I finished work last night at one o’clock in the morning.”

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Opinion
12:37 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

The Cuba Illusion Has Vanished – And Now The Embargo Should Too

Cuban women walk by wall graffiti in Havana.
Credit Flickr

In the wake of the historic Cuba policy changes President Obama ordered yesterday, Congress will now debate whether to scuttle the failed, 52-year-old trade embargo against the communist island.

Capitol Hill should indeed ditch it – and if it’s looking for reasons, it should consider some of the repulsive folks Washington has had to engage this year.

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Latin America Report
2:33 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Why Latin America's Richest Man Still Needs To Raise His Giving Game

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (right) with former U.S. President Bill Clinton (center) and Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos at the Future of the Americas conference.
Credit Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

When I met Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim six years ago, he was the world’s richest man.

Slim, however, wasn’t the world’s most generous giver. He was called the Latin American Scrooge because he’d steered such a relatively small share of his then $65 billion fortune to philanthropic causes. In our interview at his Mexico City office, he said he was correcting that – and he read a passage from “The Prophet” by the Christian philosopher Kahlil Gibran:

“Give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.”

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News
4:12 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Will Haiti PM's Resignation Defuse The Political Crisis? Don't Count On It

At the time this photo was shot, Jan. 8, 2014, Haiti's then-Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe talked about the many challenges ahead for his country.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Yesterday’s resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe was supposed to help end Haiti’s long and sometimes violent political crisis. Don’t get your hopes up.

Most Haitians weren’t even awake when Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s taped resignation speech was televised at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. The government blamed technical difficulties for the delay.

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Latin America Report/Herald Wish Book
8:20 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Migrant Farm Worker Family Loses Its Mom — But Not Her Christmas Hopes

Lucas Ajtum at home in Florida City with his children (clockwise from left) Leonardo, Francisca, Margarita and Bani Luz. He's holding a family portrait that included their late mother, Veronica.
Credit Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Cocking her head with an impish grin, 6-year-old Francisca Ajtum gives her holiday voice a spin at home in Florida City.

“I want to wish you a Merry Christmas!” she sings, belting out José Feliciano’s bilingual classic “Felíz Navidad” in equally proficient English and Spanish. Her showmanship elicits giggles and shrieks from her three siblings: Her 8-year-old sister Margarita, brother Leonardo, 7, and her kinetic little sister, Bani Luz, 4.

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Opinion
3:20 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Venezuela's Truly Indictable Offense? President Maduro's Governance

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Credit chavezcandanga / Flickr

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government indicted opposition leader María Corina Machado this week for allegedly plotting to assassinate him.

But the thing to remember about Machado is that she isn't exactly the most competent anti-government operative.

She’s best known for blunders like leading the 2005 opposition boycott of parliamentary elections. That essentially gifted the National Assembly to Venezuela’s ruling and radical socialist revolution, turning it into a rubber stamp for then-President Hugo Chávez.

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Venezuela
8:14 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Venezuela Opposition: Machado's Indictment For Plot To Kill President Is A Political Move

Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado
Credit World Economic Forum / Flickr

Among Venezuela's opposition leaders, María Corina Machado is a favorite of ex-patriates in South Florida for her strong defiance of the country's radical socialist government. But now that regime hopes to put her behind bars for a long time.

Machado, a conservative, was a congresswoman until she was stripped her of her seat this year. Officials were angry that she'd denounced Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro before the Organization of American States.

On Wednesday his government indicted Machado on charges of conspiring to assassinate him.

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Cuba
8:23 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Alan Gross Marks Five Years In Cuban Prison, Family Warns He's "Wasting Away"

Alan Gross, left, with his wife and daughters at their Maryland home before his 2009 arrest in Cuba.
Credit Gross family

Today marks five years since U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross was jailed in Cuba on controversial spying charges. Gross's wife is warning he may not survive another year -- and says the family is “at the end.”

Gross, 65, is serving a 15-year sentence for bringing what Cuban officials called illegal communications equipment into the communist island. Gross was more likely arrested as retaliation for the U.S. 2001 conviction of five Cuban spies. Three are still in U.S. prisons, and the Cuban government wants them freed as a condition for freeing Gross.

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Mexico Crisis
12:58 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

What's A Good Way To Overhaul Immigration? Overhaul Mexico

Pres. Obama addressing the nation on his executive order on immigration and in an undated photo of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Credit Day Donaldson and Edgar Alberto Domínguez Cataño / Flickr

Coincidence or communiqué?

When President Obama issued his executive order on immigration last week, including his decision to halt the deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants, some of his foes noted the date: Nov. 20.

Nov. 20 commemorates the start of the Mexican Revolution 104 years ago. So Americans for Legal Immigration PAC wondered if the president purposely chose that day as a way of “comparing his new immigration orders to the violent Mexican revolution and civil war.”

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Mexico Crisis
5:38 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Mexico Crisis A "Last Call" For Rule Of Law Reforms, Says Nation's Miami Consul

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto
Credit Edgar Alberto Dominguez Cataño / Flickr

After weeks of angry protests in Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto will reportedly announce major changes to the country’s police and justice systems on Thursday. U.S. and Florida politicians are also worried about the Mexican crisis, as is the nation's representative in Miami. 

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Latin America Report
5:51 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

The 21st Century Sends Low-Tech Latin America A Warning: "Innovate Or Die!"

Brazilian engineering student Lara Nesralla conducts research at the University of Florida as part of her government's Science Without Borders program.
Credit University of Florida

One look at the Brazilian flag and you think: This must be a space-age, high-tech country. That star-spackled orb in the middle glowing like a planetarium. The banner wrapped around it hailing “Order and Progress.” Engineers must be rock stars there, right?

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Latin America
8:49 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

News Of A Kidnapping: Will Colombian Peace Talks Survive?

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos talking with WLRN's Tim Padgett in New York in September about peace talks with the FARC.
Credit Presidencia de Colombia

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recently told WLRN that his government’s peace talks with Marxist guerrillas were “at their most difficult moment.” After a kidnapping last weekend, we now know what Santos was talking about.

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Miami Book Fair International
5:55 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Richard Blanco's New Miami Memoir Explores 'Becoming' Cuban-American

Richard Blanco reading from a book of his poetry
Credit Joyce Tenneson / RichardBlanco.com

From the opening pages of poet Richard Blanco’s refreshing memoir, “The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood,” it’s clear that you’re not wandering Calle Ocho in one of those nostalgic, Little Havana paradises that so many Cuban-American chronicles try to recreate.

Instead, you’re wandering a Winn Dixie in Westchester.

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Opinion
7:51 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

El Salvador's Jesuit Massacre: A Reminder Why Fewer Latin Americans Are Catholic?

Garden memorial to the six Jesuits murdered in El Salvador on November 16, 1989.
Credit Universidad de Centroamerica

This Sunday marks one of the sadder remembrances on both the Latin American and Roman Catholic calendars: The 25th anniversary of the brutal military massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter during El Salvador’s civil war.

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Marijuana
10:53 am
Thu November 13, 2014

U.S. Adapting To New World Of Permissible Pot

William Brownfield speaking recently in Costa Rica.
Credit State Department

Last week, voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia became the latest to approve legalizing marijuana use. They join Colorado and Washington state.

That movement conflicts with federal law, which still says pot is illegal. And it poses a foreign policy challenge for Washington, since it complicates the message the United States conveys to other nations about the drug war. That's especially true in Latin America, where Uruguay this year became the first country to legalize pot.

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