Americas

Commentary
7:36 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Why Obama Went Over The Top On Venezuela This Week

National Security Threat? U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Credit Common Cause-Embassy of Venezuela DC/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Roberta Jacobson is burning up Twitter in English and Spanish this week trying to recover President Obama’s fumble on Venezuela.

She’s worried – and gosh, we can’t imagine why – that left-wing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is giving his people the wrong impression about Obama’s ill-advised announcement on Monday that Venezuela is a “national security threat” to the U.S.

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Latin America Report
2:51 am
Wed March 11, 2015

Conan And Communism: Are U.S. Ties Nudging Cuba Toward Reform After All?

Cuban electoral authorities sift through questions and remarks from Cuban citizens during a recent - and unusual - online forum on elections.
Credit Roberto Morejon Guerra / Juventud Rebelde

All the Cuba buzz these days is about Conan O’Brien, who broadcast his TV show last week from Havana -- the first time an American late-night talk show host has done that since 1959.

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Commentary
11:19 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Why Venezuela's Maduro Can Cry Wolf About The U.S. – And Get Away With It

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Credit Flickr

We know that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is crying wolf when he claims – over and over and over – that the United States is plotting to carpet bomb his socialist revolution.

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Latin America Report
1:49 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Painting And Passion: Frida And Diego Come To The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale

Frida Kahlo's self-portrait "Diego En Mis Pensamientos" (Diego On My Mind)
Credit NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale/Gelman Collection

In my interview this week with Fort Lauderdale philanthropist Stanley Goodman, he made a simple but salient observation about Latin American art:

“Latin America is more than Cuba.”

That fact still surprises some people in Miami-Dade County. But in Broward County – where Goodman and his wife Pearl are two of South Florida’s most prominent art collectors – it’s a less shocking idea.

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Latin America Report
12:45 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Telemedicine For Haiti: The University Of Miami Makes Trauma More Survivable

Dr. Shailesh Garg (foreground) in Miami advises Dr. Kathleen Charles (on video screens) in Haiti.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

Haiti is no stranger to trauma – as we were reminded on Tuesday, when a power-line accident and the ensuing panic killed 16 people during Carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince.

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U.S.-Cuba Relations
6:56 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

New Cuban Import Rules Are Historic – But No Cigar

A private Cuban vendor in Havana.
Credit Brookings Institution

The United States hasn’t imported a thing from communist Cuba in 53 years. Today the Obama Administration set out the rules for changing that. 

But you won’t see any of Cuba’s famous cigars arriving at PortMiami just yet.

The new trade regulations, announced by the State Department, are President Obama’s latest step toward normalizing relations with Cuba. They allow independent Cuban entrepreneurs to export goods and services to the U.S. – something that hasn’t happened since Washington established a trade embargo against Cuba in 1962.

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Opinion
1:35 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Latin America Needs To Be Institutionalized. Seriously

John Oliver ripping into Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa this week on HBO's "Last Week Tonight."
Credit HBO/YouTube

Kudos to British comedian John Oliver for his hilarious smackdown of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa this week.

The host of HBO’s satirical “Last Week Tonight” skewered – impaled, really – Correa and his juvenile social media war against anyone who dares criticize him. Oliver told the infamously thin-skinned presidente to “stop Googling yourself” and advised him that “being a world leader might not be for you.”

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Latin America
9:39 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Venezuela's Condom Crisis Could Kill More Than Romance

Latex condoms like these are so scarce in Venezuela that a standard 36-pack can cost more than $750.
Credit Flickr

It seems as though every week we report on a new product shortage in Venezuela, from rice to toilet paper to breast implants. Now the western hemisphere's most oil-rich country has an acute lack of condoms. But this latest scarcity to emerge in Venezuela’s economic crisis could be deadly to more than just romance.

Thanks to a national currency crisis, Venezuela doesn’t have enough dollars to import the contraceptives. They’re so rare in Venezuela that a standard pack of 36 now costs more than $750 at the official exchange rate.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

New Cuba Policy Faces Attacks On Capitol Hill But Still Moving Ahead

Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen speaks at a House Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on human rights transgressions in Cuba.
Credit C-SPAN

Today concluded three days of U.S. congressional hearings on President Obama’s plan to restore diplomatic relations with communist Cuba. The administration faced tough skepticism – at times some outright hostility – but the new policy came out largely unscathed.

Senate and House committee members from both parties questioned President Obama’s efforts to normalize Cuba relations. Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio warned Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson the policy change “will not be effective” in democratizing Cuba.

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News
6:26 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Senators Move To Eliminate Cuba Travel Ban – But Do They Have The Votes?

Cuban taxis wait for tourists in front of Havana's Grand Theater.
Credit exfordy / Flickr/Creative Commons

As President Obama moves ahead to normalize relations with communist Cuba, Congress is weighing in with its own measures. The first big bill was introduced today in the Senate – a measure to eliminate the Cuba travel ban – but its passage is hardly certain.

The legislation would end all restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba, which have been in place since 1963. Right now Americans can legally visit the island for certain reasons like cultural exchanges. But tourism remains prohibited.

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Opinion
10:01 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Venezuela's Collapse Looks More Like Economic Suicide

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Credit chavezcandanga/Flickr

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has warned us all this week that “a hell of solitude awaits anyone who betrays” his nation’s socialist revolution.

Duly noted, Señor Presidente! But we also can’t help noting that nobody’s in a lonelier hell right now than Nicolás Maduro.

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Latin America Report
10:10 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Obama's Top Negotiator In Cuba Says Human Rights, Private Sector Will Be U.S. Drumbeat

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson (center) meets with Cuban dissidents last week in Havana.
Credit State Department

Here’s one indicator of how much things have changed between the United States and Cuba:

When President Obama announced last month that he planned to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba’s communist regime after a half-century of bitter estrangement, no one heard from former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. And no one really cared.

Here’s another:

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Roberta Jacobson
1:24 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Cuba Talks: Capitalism Vs. Communism, Rights Vs. Repression

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson speaks with journalists at the Miami Herald newsroom on Saturday.
Credit Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

This past weekend, the top U.S. negotiator in the talks to normalize relations with communist Cuba stopped in Miami on her way back from Havana.

She briefed journalists from the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and WLRN about the historic negotiations – but she seemed more impressed by what she saw at lunch.

Roberta Jacobson is the assistant U.S. secretary of state for the western hemisphere. Last week in Havana, she and her delegation kicked off talks with Cuban officials to restore diplomatic ties, which were severed 54 years ago. 

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U.S.-Cuba Relations
5:10 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Top U.S. Negotiator Meets With Cuban Dissidents About Rights After Havana Talks

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson (center) meets with Cuban dissidents Friday in Havana.
Credit State Department

The U.S. and Cuba have wrapped up the first round of historic talks to re-establish diplomatic relations. But the lead U.S. negotiator stayed on in Havana today to meet with dissidents and address Cuba’s human rights record.

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Latin America Report
9:13 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Now Starts The Hard Part Of Pulling The U.S. And Cuba Out Of Their Cold-War Time Warp

A car in Havana sports Cuban and U.S. flags in advance of talks there to normalize relations between the two countries.
Credit Day Donaldson / Flickr/Creative Commons

Like Michael J. Fox struggling to power his DeLorean back to the future, the United States and Cuba on Wednesday start the labor of propelling their relations out of a Cold-War time warp and into the 21st Century.

Senior officials from both sides will meet in Havana to make history. They’ll launch talks to re-establish diplomatic ties that were severed 54 years ago in the wake of Cuba’s communist revolution.

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