Americas

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org


PETA

The Kardashians have visited Cuba. So have Chanel models. So it was just a matter of time before animal rights activists showed up wearing bikinis made of lettuce. Right?

They did indeed fly to Cuba on Tuesday – but something might be wrong with this picture.

Most people want Cuba to be democratic. They want it to be Internet accessible. Now the Virginia-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, wants the island to get vegan.

YouTube (left); Tim Padgett(right) / WLRN.org

For some of his countrymen, Venezuelan cross-country skier Adrián Solano’s performance in Finland last week was uplifting – even though it involved a lot of falling down. To others it was mucha pena. Really embarrassing.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

It’s Valentine's Day. And once again, Latin America is front and center: Colombian roses. Venezuelan chocolate. Argentine tango.

But here’s another Latin love link guys like Erik Calviño want you to consider: Caribbean cigars.

Southern Africa is facing an invasion by an army — but not the sort of force you can defeat with ammunition. This foreign invader is an agricultural pest that is threatening the breadbasket of the region.

Zambian farmer Daniel Banda noticed in late December that something was munching through his crop of corn, destroying the maize fields on his small farm just outside the capital, Lusaka. Voracious caterpillars, known as fall armyworms, had nestled in the cobs and chomped through the leaves.

Dieu Nalio Chery / AP via Miami Herald

It has been a year since Haiti has had an elected president. On Tuesday one was at last inaugurated: Jovenel Moïse. And among the witnesses were Haitian-Americans from South Florida who played a role in making it happen.

Haiti’s been torn by violent election chaos since 2015. But businessman Moïse was finally elected President in November and sworn in Tuesday morning in Port-au-Prince.

Tornasol Films/Netflix

Veteran actor Jorge Perugorría was a smart choice to play detective Mario Conde – if only because Perugorría is 51 years old.

AP via Miami Herald

Most civil rights experts will tell you this: Before Martin Luther King Jr., before Malcolm X, before Nelson Mandela – there was Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican-born black empowerment leader who died in 1940.

“Marcus Garvey was before his time," says Niyala Harrison, a Jamaican-American attorney in Miami and president-elect of the Miami-based Caribbean Bar Association.

“He was speaking about things that had never been spoken about before when we’re talking about self-determination and the advancement of black and colored people.”

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Donald Trump becomes President on Friday – and now here we wait to see how he plans to keep his pledge to roll back normalized relations with Cuba.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

The "wet foot, dry foot" policy is over. For more than 20 years, Cubans migrating to the U.S. enjoyed that special privilege, which meant if they made it to dry land here they could stay. President Barack Obama ended it on Thursday– and even most Cubans here agree with him.

President Bill Clinton created the wet foot-dry foot policy in 1995 as a way to appease both the Cuban government and Cuban exile leaders. But since then it’s become a controversial rule that many Cuban-Americans say is antiquated now that the U.S. and Cuba have normalized relations.

Courtesy Christina Frohock

Among its demands for normalized relations, Cuba wants the U.S. to leave its naval station at Guantánamo Bay on the island’s southeastern tip. But the lease Cuba signed more than a century ago lets the U.S. stay there forever if it wants to.

EFE via Miami Herald

Venezuela’s socialist government is known for its revolving door of ministers. So it wasn’t unusual Wednesday night when President Nicolás Maduro changed his vice president. But this shift is cause for concern – especially in South Florida.

Brittany Peterson / McClatchy via Miami Herald

Only 5 percent of Cuba’s population has home Internet access. It’s one of the world’s lowest connectivity rates – but the island’s communist government may finally be moving this week to rectify that.

AP

Cuba’s communist leadership remains reluctant to open the island to more free market reforms and foreign investment. But Cuba’s latest economic data for 2016 might make those hardliners reconsider.

Just a few months ago, Cuba’s economy was forecast to grow 1 percent this year. It wasn’t much; but at least it was growth. This week, President Raúl Castro has admitted even that was an illusion: Cuba’s GDP, he said, will actually shrink 1 percent in 2016 - the first economic contraction in more than 20 years.

Desmond Boylan (left), Charles Tasnadi (right) / AP via Miami Herald

2016 was a year of historic highs and lows for Latin America and the Caribbean. A U.S. president visited Cuba – for the first time in 78 years. A Brazilian president was impeached. A Colombian president won the Nobel Peace Prize. And Haiti finally elected a president.

WLRN’s Tim Padgett sat down with Miami Herald deputy editorial page editor and veteran Latin America correspondent Juan Vasquez – who is retiring this week after an outstanding career of more than 50 years – to look back on the region’s top stories.

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