Americas

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

It’s been almost a year since President Obama announced the U.S. was normalizing relations with communist Cuba. Some Cuban dissidents embrace the move. But others - including artist Danilo Maldonado, known as "El Sexto" - say it’s done little to improve human rights on the island.

“El Sexto" (which means "the Sixth" in Spanish) just got out of prison in Cuba and is visiting Miami this week to convey that message.

Courtesy Daniel Shoer Roth

In one respect, the late Roman Catholic Archbishop Agustín Román was just like many of his fellow Cuban exiles he ministered to for almost half a century in Miami.

As long as the communist regime that expelled him and so many other priests at gunpoint in the 1960s remained in power, Román would never return there. And until he died in 2012, he never did.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Cuban culture has dominated Miami for decades. Cuban-Americans are the area’s largest Latino group and have loads of political representation.

 

But the number -- and influence -- of immigrants from other Latin American countries is growing. And there’s a tense debate over the immigration privileges Cubans enjoy -- because no other immigrant group gets them.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

In a 2008 interview, then Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva offered me his formula for success: “I allow the rich to earn money with their investments and I allow the poor to participate in that economic growth.”

Lula’s capitalist-socialist policies, and soaring commodities prices, led Brazil to an astonishing boom in the 2000s. By 2010, as Lula was leaving office, the country was the world’s sixth-largest economy, and 40 million people were added to its middle class.

It was a confident global player.

Now it’s a foundering cautionary tale.

Gaston de Cardenas / El Nuevo Herald

Guatemala is full of sublime volcanic geography, rich Maya culture – and some of the world’s most sinister politics.

Politically motivated murder is so commonplace in Guatemala that a foreign diplomat once quipped that even drunks watch what they say about the issues.

What happened Sunday, though, is no joke: By a landslide, Guatemalans chucked their political establishment and elected a TV comedian – Jimmy Morales – as their next president.

Andrew Medichinie / AP via Miami Herald

When the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed gay marriage last summer, Miami’s Roman Catholic archbishop, Thomas Wenski,  compared the ruling to the Dred Scott decision.

The one that upheld slavery.

Wenski’s response was certainly over the top. But it was also more than a little ironic.

World Circuit Records

It’s been more than half a century since any musical artists living in Cuba have performed at the White House. But los cubanos will take the stage there Thursday night –  and it turns out many Americans will recognize the tunes.

Carnival Corp.

What would a U.S. tourist invasion of Cuba be without yanqui cruise ships – especially cruise ships owned by the Miami-based Carnival Corporation?

Last summer the Obama Administration gave U.S. cruise lines the green light to drop anchor for the communist island. Pending Cuba’s approval, Carnival plans to have its Fathom brand’s 710-passenger ship Adonia heading to Havana’s port by May. It will mark the first time in more than half a century that a U.S.-owned cruise vessel has docked there.

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald Staff

Despair wrought by corruption scandals also drives migration to the U.S.

TEGUCIGALPA    |    Hondurans don’t get riled easily. And they’re not known for takin’ it to the streets.

But this has been a year of loud and angry torchlight protest marches in Honduras — and for good reason. The impoverished Central American country is wrestling with perhaps the worst government corruption scandal in its history.

Or as Honduran protesters like Eldan Cruz put it: “Corruption on such a criminal level it’s basically sociopathic behavior.”

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald Staff

El Edén in Honduras is no paradise for those on trek to the U.S.

SAN PEDRO SULA    |    It seems the entire world is wrestling with immigration emergencies today. And lest you think the western hemisphere’s crisis is over, consider the look on Oscar Ortega’s face.

He just got a WhatsApp message that made his eyes pop.

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald Staff

Reform and beefed-up police presence is making Hondurans feel safer.

SAN PEDRO SULA    |    On June 26, 2014, 13-year-old Andrea Argeñal had just dropped her young cousins off at school in the Rivera Hernández section of San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second-largest city. Relatives say it’s the sort of favor she frequently did for her family.

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald Staff

Some U.S.-funded programs help would-be immigrants improve their lives and stay home.

TEGUCIGALPA    |    Here’s the first thing to know about Jessel Recinos: He’s a breathtaking rollerblader.

Almost every day, Recinos skates in Cofradía Park in San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second-largest city. He spins, makes hairpin turns and takes soaring jumps, his long locks blowing like wind socks. Kids scream his name as if he were a Honduran sports icon.

Here’s the second thing to know about Recinos: He should probably be dead.

Pope Francis' Visit Means More Than Religion To Cubans

Sep 20, 2015
Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Pope Francis' arrival in Cuba was met at Havana's Plaza de la Revolución by 300,000 spectators who braved the heat Sunday morning to hear the Holy Father deliver Mass and talk about the need to serve. 

"The importance of one person is always based on how they serve the frailty of their brothers," the pope told the assembled crowd. "In this we find one of the true fruits of humanity. Because, brothers and sisters, those who don't live to serve, do not have a life worth living."

Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba this weekend showcases the island’s Roman Catholic recovery after half a century of communism.

But that narrative is misleading. In reality, Catholicism wasn’t all that vibrant in Cuba before communism.

Puerto Ricans Head To Central Florida At Fast Pace For Climate, Jobs

Sep 14, 2015
Concilio via WMFE

In a small, crowded shopping plaza, the smell of mofongos drifts from Melao, a popular Puerto Rican bakery. A few doors down people eat plantains at Puerto Chino a Puerto Rican-style Chinese spot. Others buy books at libreria cristiana, a Spanish bookstore.

This is Buenaventura Lakes, part of Kissimmee St. Cloud, where Spanish is the new lingua franca and Puerto Rican flags propped in windows is now a common sight.

Janet Colon remembers less than ten years ago when the area was different.

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