Americas

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

The forklift’s working overtime at Vikom Export, one of the hundreds of shipping companies nestled in the warehouse labyrinths of Doral, just west of Miami.

Almost all of Vikom’s shipments go to Venezuela – and they’ve doubled since last year.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

For the past year, the border between Venezuela and Colombia has effectively been closed. That’s only worsened the suffering of Venezuelans who can’t find enough food and medicine inside their collapsing economy. But relief may be coming tomorrow.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro shut down his country’s western border last year for what he called “security reasons.” Critics said he was just trying to deflect attention from his catastrophic mismanagement of Venezuela’s economy – which has led to severe shortages of basic goods.

Logan Riely / Miami Herald

COMMENTARY 

 

Dr. Esper Kallas shared a prediction about Zika with me earlier this year. And I could have made big bucks betting that unfortunately he’d be right.

Facebook via Miami Herald

Since the U.S. and Cuba normalized relations almost two years ago, Cuban migration here has surged. But a new study shows us just how dramatic that wave has become.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Even after thugs broke into Anahís Montiel’s house, dragged her into the street, murdered her with machetes and threw her corpse into a nearby ravine, they still had time to return to her home and rob everything while her husband and six children were forced to watch it all.

They had about eight hours, in fact, since local cops did nothing.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

At a Brazilian restaurant in Doral called Brazuca’s, Danilo Leão is whipping up his most popular dish, feijoada. Pronounced fay-ZHWAH-dah, it's a heavenly stew of black beans, meats and spices created centuries ago by Brazilian slaves.

Carolyn Kaster / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

On immigration, this month’s Republican and Democratic conventions were as different as pit bulls and collies.

Carolyn Kaster / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Here’s a flashback from the Cold War tape loop we used to call Cuba policy:

In 2004, then U.S. President George W. Bush tightened the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, including stricter limits on how often Cuban-Americans could visit family on the island. The aim was to pressure the communist regime in Havana to adopt democratic reforms.

“We’re not waiting for the day of Cuban freedom,” Bush said, “we are working for the day of Cuban freedom.”

Panama Canal Authority

The new, wider Panama Canal opened this month – and this week the disputes over its big cost overruns start getting settled in Miami, a fact that reflects South Florida’s growing international legal stature.

The expanded canal opened two years later than originally planned. A big reason was the legal fight over who should pay for the billions of dollars the project went over budget. The Panama Canal Authority? The European construction consortium? Or both?

Spencer Parts / WLRN.org

Puerto Rico’s economic crisis has gotten deeper this summer. This month the U.S. commonwealth defaulted on $1 billion of debt – and the U.S. Congress approved a federal oversight board to rescue the island.

Puerto Ricans living on the U.S. mainland want a say in how that happens. So they recently created a more unified front called the National Puerto Rican Agenda (NPRA). The group includes a South Florida chapter – which reflects the surprising growth of Florida’s Puerto Rican population down here, not just in Central Florida.

Felipe Dana / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

When the Bahamas issued a travel advisory last weekend about visiting the U.S. – citing police brutality against black people – my first reaction was:

The Bahamas is warning Bahamians about cop cruelty against blacks in America? How about warning Bahamians about cop cruelty against blacks in the Bahamas?

Felipe Marrou / WLRN TV

Billy Causey has a keen eye for recreational boaters doing dumb things around vulnerable coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

Especially on heavy boating holidays like the Fourth of July.

“Lookee there,” says Causey as his boat heads out from Big Pine Key. He points to a nearby cluster of party boats. “A lot of them are up on the sea grasses and people are walking around on top of small colonies of coral.”

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

The wider Panama Canal opened two weeks ago – servicing more massive post-Panamax ships. On Saturday PortMiami received its first vessel of that kind from the Canal. And it may mean a new era for Miami as a world commercial hub.

The Chinese ship MOL Majesty measures almost a thousand feet long and 150 feet wide. Larger than any cargo ship PortMiami has ever seen. Post-Panamax ships like the Majesty can carry three times the cargo of ordinary vessels. And PortMiami was recently dredged down to 50 feet to accommodate them.

Eraldo Peres (left) and Molly Riley (right) / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

We’ve seen enough media comparisons of Donald Trump and Hugo Chávez to make us think they had the same father.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee and the late Venezuelan president are indeed nifty portraits of egomaniacal demagoguery. But if 2016 election pundits are looking to Latin America for ominously useful parallels, they might give the Donald-Hugo chatter a rest now and consider Hillary-Dilma.

Courtsey Pro Footvolley Tour

This story first aired on December 14, 2015.   

These days, if you’re sitting on a South Florida beach and someone shouts, “Shark attack!” it’s probably got nothing to do with “Jaws.” Instead, it’s all about feet.

Namely, a sport called footvolley.

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