Americas

Latin America Report
3:15 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Crist And Cuba: Is Florida Ready For An Embargo Reversal?

Charlie Crist (left) announces his anti-embargo stance to Bill Maher.
Credit Real Time With Bill Maher / HBO

What does Charlie know that we don’t know?

Charlie Crist, Florida’s ex-Republican governor and now its leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate, assumed a real political risk this month: He called on Washington to lift the 52-year-old U.S. trade embargo against communist Cuba.

In an interview with WLRN, Crist insisted his changed stance is a matter of common sense.

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Opinion
8:14 am
Thu February 13, 2014

America, Florida Want Cuba Policy Change Because They Want Change In Cuba

Cuban women walk by wall graffiti in Havana.
Credit Flickr

A major poll released Monday confirms most Americans, and especially Floridians, feel it’s time to normalize relations with communist Cuba after more than a half century of Cold-War rupture.

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Latin America Report
6:10 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Chocolate And Chávez: Valentine's Day Confronts Venezuela's Strife

Alejandra Bigai, owner of Romanicos chocolate shop in Miami, shows off her assortment of truffles made from Venezuelan criollo
Credit Sophia Padgett Perez

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. Big deal. This is Valentine’s week, when cocoa matters more than crude – and what’s important is that Venezuela produces the world’s best chocolate.

Problem is, will politics soon drag down Venezuela’s cacao (cocoa) industry the way it’s reduced the country’s oil output? On Feb. 14, at least, that’s a worrisome question, especially inside gourmet chocolate shops like Romanicos.

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Commentary
4:46 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Can Venezuela's U.S. Dollar Restriction Keep $1 Billion Out Of Florida?

Trading U.S. dollars for Venezuelan bolívares
Credit venezuelaanalysis.com

What do you do when your country’s foreign reserves are dropping at a rate that would make avid bungee jumpers nauseous? If you’re left-wing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, you take strong, decisive macroeconomic action.

You withhold dollars from Mickey Mouse.

Yessir, you discourage your countrymen from traveling to Florida, by further restricting the amount of dollars they can spend there with their bank credit cards – from $2,500 to $700.

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Latin America Report
7:36 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Colombia's Peace Crisis: Pres. Santos Confronts The Skeptics – And The Spies

Credit El Nuevo Herald

This week’s Colombian voter poll had to feel like a back-handed compliment for President Juan Manuel Santos.

The new survey by the Bogotá research firm Ipsos-Napoleón Franco shows Santos with a 17-point lead over his closest competitor in his bid to win re-election in May. But Santos garners just 25 percent of the vote. Half of those polled said they were undecided or intend to cast a blank protest ballot. That’s hardly cause for cumbia dancing at the Casa de Nariño presidential palace.

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Latin America Report
5:58 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Brazil's Slaves Are Being Freed – But Are Its Slaveholders Being Punished?

An enslaved worker hauling charcoal for pig-iron production in rural Brazil.
Credit Chernush / Free the Slaves

I bought Francisco Lima his first taste of freedom in decades.

A cheeseburger.

It was 2004, and Brazil was starting to confront one of its most distressing problems: slavery. I was in northern Pará state, in the Amazon, observing a special police unit that raided slave-holding farms and firms and liberated workers like the 74-year-old Lima.

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Latin America Report
10:37 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Alan Gross And The Vatican: Could The Keys Of St. Peter Unlock A Cuban Jail Cell?

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

Can the Vatican free Alan Gross in Cuba? It helps first to consider how the Roman Catholic Church freed itself in Cuba.

Cuba has seen surprising turns in recent years. Fidel Castro handing the communist dictatorship to his younger brother Raúl. Raúl decreeing capitalist reforms to save the communist dictatorship.

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Commentary
6:19 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Holy Hispaniola! New Haitian Cardinal Rises While Old One Next Door Stumbles

Bishop Chibly Langlois, Haiti's first Roman Catholic cardinal.
Credit haitilibre.com

Pope Francis didn’t have to say it. He let the timing say it for him.

The pope this week named Haitian Bishop Chibly Langlois as one of 19 new cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church. In the process, he all but declared a shift in clerical power on the large Caribbean island of Hispaniola. And he may also have delivered a rebuke to the Dominican Republic, the country that shares that isle with Haiti, and to the D.R.’s controversial cardinal, Nicolás López.

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Latin America Report
7:22 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

U.S. Aid Official: 'We Have To Change The Way We Do Business In Haiti'

USAID Haiti mission director John Groarke visits Haitian farmers.
Credit haiti.usembassy.gov

Right after Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people, I rode in a U.S. Army helicopter ferrying food and medical supplies into demolished Port-au-Prince neighborhoods.

As we descended near the suburb of Pétionville, and as corpses became visible amid the ruins and campfire smoke billowed up in our faces, the pilot said he couldn’t put us down. Too many people were running to the landing spot, and they risked being killed by the chopper rotors.

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Commentary
11:12 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

The Miss Venezuela Murders: Maduro Needs To Create Police Instead Of Plots

Mónica Spear and ex-husband Thomas Henry Berry. Both were murdered by gunmen during a botched roadside robbery in Venezuela on Jan. 6.
Credit Thomas Henry Berry / Facebook

Latin American leaders don’t know how to stop their violent-crime epidemic, but they sure know how to spin it.

Former Miss Venezuela and telenovela star Mónica Spear and her ex-husband were murdered Monday night during a botched highway robbery near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. Their 5-year-old daughter was shot, too, but survived. As the shocking news spread throughout Venezuela and then Miami, where Spear often lived and worked, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro hit a spin cycle I’ve seen countless other presidentes employ after high-profile homicides.

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Politics
5:47 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Caribbean Crusader: St. Vincent PM Gonsalves On Development And Disaster

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves assumed the Caricom chairmanship this month.
Credit secretariat.thecommonwealth.org

Christmas 2013 was the best and worst of times for Ralph Gonsalves.

Gonsalves, Prime Minister of the Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Dec. 19. For Gonsalves, an outspoken populist who was about to take over as chairman of the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, it was a moment of valuable political cachet: Francis has proven a champion of poor global underdogs like the small republics of the Caribbean.

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Commentary
6:04 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Wise Men Say: Time For A Truce Between Atheists And Believers (And More Toys)

The Magi hand out toys at a Three Kings Day event in Miami's Little Havana.
Credit C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

As a boy, I always envied Hispanics at Christmas. That’s because they got a bonus Santa Claus.

Three, actually: Los Reyes Magos, a.k.a. the Three Kings, the Wise Men, the Magi – the fellows who each Jan. 6 lavished an extra round of toys on every kid I knew who had a Spanish surname.

As an adult, I’m still a big fan of los Reyes. And I think Jan. 6 – Epiphany, the day that Christians, especially in Spain and Latin America, celebrate the Magis’ visit to the newborn Jesus – offers another potential bonus:

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Americas
8:26 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Caribbean Deluge Disaster Raises New Climate Change Warnings

A man in St. Vincent and the Grenadines inspects an SUV washed away in flooding and landslides on Christmas Eve
Credit Nibiru-PlanetX.com

On Christmas Eve, the islands of the eastern Caribbean were hammered by 15 inches of torrential rain. The flooding and landslides killed at least 13 people. South Florida’s Caribbean diaspora is gathering relief supplies - and officials are sounding the climate change alarm.

Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, calls last week’s downpour “a disaster of a proportion…we have not seen in living memory.” Gonsalves himself lost a cousin killed in a landslide.

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Commentary
9:45 am
Mon December 30, 2013

New World Pope Challenges Old World Church: Francis Is Top LatAm Story in 2013

Pope Francis wears an indigenous Pataxo headdress during his visit to Brazil last July for World Youth Day.
Credit L'Osservatore Romano

They say Americans will do anything for Latin America except read about it. But even gringos couldn’t ignore the noise next door in 2013.

Seemingly overnight, Brazil experienced violent anti-government unrest – then just as quickly it became the spokesnation for a world outraged by the U.S. surveillance overreach exposed by Edward Snowden.

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Politics
11:00 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Turks & Caicos Drownings Latest Sign Of Spike In Haitian Migration

Haitian migrants in an overloaded vessel similar to one that capsized off the Turks & Caicos Islands Christmas morning.
Credit rapadoo.com

Christmas Day turned tragic when a boat carrying Haitian migrants capsized off the Turks and Caicos Islands. Seventeen of the more than 50 passengers were killed, while some fled and are still being sought.

This is just the latest in a growing spate of Haitian disasters on the Caribbean. Last month 30 Haitians drowned in a similar incident off the Bahamas.

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