Americas

Commentary
12:46 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Bring Peace To Colombia Or Block Venezuela From A U.N. Seat? Pick One

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos speaking to WLRN's Tim Padgett at the U.N. General Assembly this week in New York.
Credit Pilar Calderon / Presidencia de Colombia

Today’s international affairs quiz: Would you rather see Venezuela denied a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council, or would you prefer to see an end to Colombia’s eternal civil war?

Pick one. Can’t have both.

That’s at least what Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told me this week during our interview in New York, where he and a host of other heads of state are gathered for the U.N. General Assembly.

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Latin America Report
12:39 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Marina Silva: From Amazon Orphan To President Of Brazil?

Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva on the campaign trail this month.
Credit Marina40

A political phoenix has risen from the ashes of a plane crash in Brazil. Next month it might result in South America's political upset of the decade.

Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was killed in that Aug. 13 accident outside São Paulo. Days later Campos’ running mate – environmentalist and former Senator Marina Silva – took his place as the Brazilian Socialist Party’s nominee. In voter polls, Silva quickly catapulted alongside the incumbent front-runner, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. She’s now tied with Rousseff ahead of the Oct. 5 election.

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Commentary
11:57 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

A Breast Implant Shortage In Venezuela Might Save Us A Miss Universe Headache In Miami

Miss Universe 2013, Venezuela's Gabriela Isler
Credit Wikipedia.org

Let’s be clear: Breast implants are no laughing matter.

Women who’ve had mastectomies can depend on them. Women who’ve had self-esteem issues can turn to them. And if they’re defective, women can die from them.

But let’s be honest: When the Associated Press this week reported a shortage of breast implants in Venezuela – the latest of a host of product scarcities in that whack economy – a lot of people chuckled.

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Latin America Report
7:08 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Does Escaping El Salvador's Abortion Law Nightmare Mean Flying To Miami?

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

Cristina Quintanilla’s tragic story now includes a sad epilogue.

Quintanilla was 18 when she suffered a miscarriage at her home in rural El Salvador. But when she awoke on an operating table that night in 2004, she didn’t see doctors. She saw cops.

Someone on the hospital staff had accused Quintanilla of inducing an abortion. And abortion under any circumstance is a felony in El Salvador.

“They arrested me while I was in surgery,” says Quintanilla, now 28. “I was handcuffed to the bed. They didn’t care how badly I was hemorrhaging or how terrified I was.”

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Cuba
11:05 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Miami Businessman Accused Of Illegally Smuggling Yasiel Puig, Cuban Baseball Stars

Cuban baseball star Yasiel Puig playing outfield for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Credit Chris Yarzab / Flickr

Migrant smuggling is big business in the Caribbean – and it’s a gold mine if you’re smuggling a top Major League Baseball prospect from Cuba. Now a Miami businessman has been charged with smuggling one of the most lucrative talents of all. 

Cuban baseball star Yasiel Puig defected to Mexico two years ago. He eventually went to the United States and now plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers. But federal prosecutors in Miami say the way Puig got to the big leagues is a long and even violent criminal story.

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Latin America Report
5:25 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Can Juan Valdez – And Colombia's Mighty Coffee Corps – Challenge Starbucks?

Customers sipping samples this summer at the opening of Miami's first Juan Valdez coffee cafe.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Juan Valdez and his burro aren’t just symbols of Colombia’s world-famous coffee.

They’re the faces of what is arguably the most effective and democratic institution in Colombia: the National Coffee Growers Federation. The federation – which owns the Juan Valdez brand – offers a glimpse of what the war-torn South American country might be more like if it ever achieves peace.

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Commentary
12:16 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Time To Stop The Crying Game In Venezuela – And Start The Waiting Game

An unidentified Venezuelan woman rails against the socialist government on the Caracas metro this year.
Credit YouTube

  A YouTube video has become a tear-jerker hit among opponents of Venezuela’s socialist government.

An unidentified young woman stands up in a Caracas metro car and screams at fellow passengers. Wearing a T-shirt that says, “He who rests loses,” she rails for a good five minutes at the authoritarian shambles Venezuela has become under the Bolivarian Revolution the late Hugo Chávez began 15 years ago.

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Latin America Report
11:38 am
Wed September 3, 2014

More Cuban Rafters Escaping Communist Failure But Needing Capitalist Help

Cubans wave goodbye to rafters headed across the Florida Straits.
Credit Al Diaz / Miami Herald

José has experienced policy failure both communist and capitalist.

    

José asked that I not use his last name to protect his family back home in Cuba. He arrived in Florida two weeks ago on a homemade raft, the kind of illegal exit that makes you a counter-revolutionary – a gusano, or worm – in the eyes of the communist dictatorship there.

Economic despair in Cuba was the main thing that compelled José to float away. “Every day you feel like a needy person,” he told me.

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Latin America Report
8:33 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Argentina's New Debt Drama: A Boost For South Florida Condo Sales?

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
Credit Flickr / Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación

Argentina is no stranger to financial crisis. But an unprecedented drama is playing out there this summer, one that could alter the rules in global debt markets – and boost the sales in South Florida condo markets, as more Argentines look for safer places to put their money amid the turmoil.

At issue is $100 billion: the mountain of sovereign debt Argentina defaulted on in 2001 amid a horrific economic collapse. It was the largest default in history.

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Opinion
8:55 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Saving El Salvador: Why The Vatican Needs To Make Archbishop Romero A Saint

Archbishop Oscar Romero's image on the wall of a home in El Salvador.
Credit Alison McKellar / Flickr

In the 1980s, it was hard to find a scarier place than El Salvador. Crushing poverty and right-wing death squads. Civil war and left-wing guerrillas.

The flashlight in that darkness was Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero.

In his last Christmas Eve homily, Romero urged El Salvador’s reactionary oligarchs to find the infant Jesus on the nation’s streets – among the hundreds of thousands of children “who go to bed with nothing to eat, who sleep covered by newspapers in doorways.”

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Latin America Report
6:44 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

The Cuba Debate: Can Capitalist Rookies Thrive In A Communist Revolution?

Visiting Cuban entrepreneurs speak at Miami Dade College this month.
Credit Miami Herald

When you’ve spent your entire life on a communist island where staples like eggs and chicken are rationed, lunch in Miami can be overwhelming.

Ask Sandra Aldama, a Cuban mother and former special education teacher who made her first visit to the United States this month. Settling into a downtown Italian restaurant as waiters whizzed by with plates of fettuccine alfredo and veal parmesan, Aldama was almost certainly reminded of what the average Cuban can’t get at home.

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Haiti
11:34 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Haitian Prison Break Highlights Larger Justice Dysfunction

Accused Haitian kidnapper Clifford Brandt
Credit Haitian National Police

  The prison breakout in Haiti last weekend was one of the impoverished country’s worst. More than 300 inmates escaped – and many are alleged violent offenders. But the getaway highlights larger problems.

The recently built penitentiary in Croix-des-Bouquets, outside Port-au-Prince, was funded by Canada and was hailed as a modern facility. But the breakout may well have had more to do with Haiti’s justice culture than with its jail security.

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Latin America Report
12:16 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Canal Quarrel: How PortMiami's Future Is Tied To Tiny Panama

Epic Endeavor: Building the Panama Canal's wider locks.
Credit Panama Canal Authority

The original version of this report was published on May 13 2014.

PortMiami has finally opened its new, billion-dollar tunnel. It’s the jewel of a $2 billion port makeover, which includes a major dredging project and skyscraper-size loading cranes for sending a lot more auto parts to Brazil and getting a lot more handbags from China.

But the long-term success of that effort may depend to a large extent on whether a quarrel gets solved a thousand miles to the south. In Panama.

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Cuba
9:28 pm
Sun August 10, 2014

Cuba's Fledgling Entrepreneurs Visit Miami For Capitalist Consultation

Credit Miami Herald

A fledgling private sector is taking root in communist Cuba. Last week a group of Cuban entrepreneurs made an unprecedented visit to Miami to learn how to run a business -- and to convince Americans they’re the real deal.

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Opinion
6:12 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

As Central Americans Flee Their Countries, Their Leaders Take Refuge In Hypocrisy

Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez (left) talks with U.S. Marine General John Kelly during his Southcom visit on Wednesday.
Credit U.S. Southern Command

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández dropped by the U.S. Southern Command in Miami this week to talk about security in Central America. Or the utter lack of security in Central America. Honduras has the highest murder rate on Earth, and things are almost as deadly in neighboring Guatemala and El Salvador.

That’s why the Southcom visit was a nifty photo op for Hernández – who'd like the world to believe that he’s having to wage a war with vicious narco-gangs solely because Americans have an insatiable appetite for drugs.

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