Latin America

Americas
12:10 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

In Colombia, A Town Badly Scarred By Wartime Rape

Isabel Narvaez, in El Placer, says she is still traumatized by the rape she suffered. The small hamlet in Colombia is just one place where women were victims of violent crimes during the civil conflict.
Paul Smith for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 5:08 pm

El Placer is a remote hamlet deep in southern Colombia, on the edge of the Amazon. Founded half a century ago by farmers who found it fertile and bucolic, its name means "The Pleasure."

But for women and girls in El Placer who suffered years of sexual assaults after an illegal armed group stormed in, the name is only associated with unspeakable violence and murder.

Brigitte Carreño, 25, is among the women who suffered. A feared local warlord in El Placer raped her when she was 12, leaving her with searing memories that remain vivid and painful to this day.

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Americas
12:05 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Honduras Claims Unwanted Title Of World's Murder Capital

Members of the 18th Street gang announce a truce during a press conference at a prison in San Pedro Sula, on May 28. The gang is involved in drug trafficking that has brought terror to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Loenel Cruz AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 5:03 pm

Latin America is riddled with crime, and no place is more violent than Honduras. It has just 8 million people, but with as many as 20 people killed there every day, it now has the highest murder rate in the world.

It would be easy to blame drug trafficking. Honduras and its Central American neighbors have long served as a favored smuggling corridor for South American cocaine headed north to the U.S.

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Americas
2:24 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

In Venezuela, A Family Blames The Police For Their Misery

Eloisa Barrios visits the humble graves of nine male family members in the Guanayen cemetery. She says all nine were killed by the police, in what was a vendetta against her family. Recently, a 10th member of the family was stabbed to death. He was 17.
Meridith Kohut for NPR

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 5:05 pm

The story of Venezuela's Eloisa Barrios is especially revealing because so many of her relatives have been killed. Revealing because of who she believes pulled the trigger.

Some weeks ago, Barrios climbed into our van for a drive to a cemetery. The burial ground is outside a village in the Venezuelan countryside. We went there to visit the Barrios family dead.

She told us nine relatives had been killed in shootings over the past 15 years. All nine were young men.

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Americas
11:41 am
Tue June 11, 2013

How Venezuelans in South Florida Are Shopping For Toilet Paper In Caracas

A woman in Venezuela stocks up on toilet paper and other necessities.
Credit El Mundo/Flickr

Last week a Venezuelan-American friend in New York sent me an e-mail raving about a new, free mobile phone app called Abastéceme. Its most important use: locating toilet paper. Well, that and about two dozen other basic everyday items, from rice to deodorant, which are in chronically short supply these days in Venezuela.

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Americas
9:30 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Inmates In A Venezuelan Prison Build A World Of Their Own

At this prison in Barinas, Venezuela, the inmates are in charge.
Steve Inskeep NPR

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 5:23 am

In Latin America — home to the vast majority of the world's most violent cities — it's said the only part of a prison a guard controls is the gate, leaving convicts to fend for themselves inside, even running criminal networks from behind bars.

I wanted to understand how a prison like that worked, and I was in luck: A colleague knew a man serving time a Venezuelan prison. The prisoner got in touch with the leader of the inmates, who sent word that he'd be willing to see us.

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Americas
6:00 am
Wed June 5, 2013

How The Most Violent Places On Earth Benefit Miami

South Florida has benefited from the combination of Latin America's financial wealth and its criminal scourge as immigrants transfer new wealth to the United States.
Credit seguridadjusticiaypaz.org.mx

Latin America and the Caribbean is a region of stark paradoxes, and that has never been truer than in the past decade: Even as the continent enjoys one of its most dynamic economic booms, it’s suffering one of the worst violent crime crises in its history.

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Americas
12:44 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Rio Goes High-Tech With An Eye Toward Olympics, World Cup

Rio's Operations Center brings together more than 30 agencies and allows them to coordinate on daily issues such as traffic, as well as on emergencies such as the frequent flash floods in hillside slums.
Raphael Lima Courtesy of the Operations Center, City of Rio De Janeiro

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 10:27 am

We are standing in front of a huge bank of screens, in the middle of which is a glowing map that changes focus depending on what the dozens of controllers are looking at.

The room looks like something straight out of a NASA shuttle launch. The men and women manning the floor are dressed in identical white jumpsuits. With a flick of a mouse, they scroll through dozens of streaming video images coming into the center.

This is Rio de Janeiro in real time.

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Americas
1:15 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

New Laws Enshrine Domestic Worker Rights In Brazil

Cassia Mendes, who has worked as a housekeeper for more than 20 years, cleans a house in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 19, 2012. Brazil enacted on April 2 a constitutional amendment to grant domestic workers health insurance and other benefits.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 27, 2013 4:57 pm

The phone is ringing off the hook at the crowded waiting room at the Domestic Workers Union in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil.

In the past decade, millions of Brazilians have joined the middle class. Advocates say this isn't just the result of a growing economy or social spending, but also laws like the one just passed that enshrine domestic workers' rights.

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Americas
8:20 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Why China Is Behind Fresh U.S. Moves In Latin America

School children in Sao Paolo, Brazil take a Mandarin-language proficiency class at the Confucius Institute, which offers language courses and Chinese cultural programs.
Credit Juan Forero/NPR

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will visit Colombia, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago next week. President Obama already swung through Mexico and Costa Rica this month and next month Obama will host the presidents of Chile and Peru at the White House.

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News
6:00 am
Mon May 13, 2013

WLRN Adds Latin America Correspondent In Collaboration With NPR And The Herald

Tim Padgett is the new Americas Correspondent for WLRN-Miami Herald News. The former Time correspondent will be based in Miami but coordinate coverage with reporters throughout Latin America.
Credit C. DiMattei

Journalist Tim Padgett spent nearly a quarter of a century covering Latin America and the Caribbean for TIME and Newsweek magazines.

But he's always been envious of the way foreign correspondents deliver the news for NPR.

"They're giving listeners a richer sense of the sounds and the colors than perhaps I'm able to do as a print reporter," he says.

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Miami Dish
9:48 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Borderless Latin American Cooking With Maricel Presilla

Credit W.W. Norton & Company

When she won a James Beard award for her cookbook, Gran Cocina Latina, Maricel Presilla felt gratified to be acknowledged for the "work of a lifetime," as well as for "the collective work of millions of Latin Americans that live on two continents, in the Caribbean Islands, and also in the U.S."

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Gateway Miami
11:08 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Violence, Hardship Fuel Central American Immigration To U.S.

Honduran Army soldiers patrol streets in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in April. Gang violence has many Hondurans fleeing to the U.S.
Orlando Sierra AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 5:03 pm

William Ordonez and his wife, Carolia, thought that starting a new business in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, was a great idea.

But just two weeks after they started selling chips, candy and soda, gang members showed up and ordered them to pay about $25 a week.

"We tried explaining to them that we just opened, we aren't making that much, we can't pay you," Ordonez says.

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Gateway Miami
5:38 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

As Youth Crime Spikes, Brazil Struggles For Answers

A youth smokes crack in the Manguinhos slum in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. A crack epidemic is one factor contributing to the sharp rise in crime committed by Brazilian minors.
Felipe Dana AP

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 9:34 am

In Rio de Janeiro, tourists are drawn to Copacabana for its wide beach and foliage-covered cliffs. But a month ago, not far from the tourist hub, an American woman and her French male companion were abducted. She was brutally gang-raped; he was beaten.

Perhaps what was most shocking to Brazilians, though, was the age of one of the alleged accomplices: He was barely in his teens.

"Why? That's what you ask yourself," says Sylvia Rumpoldt, who is walking with a friend at dusk by the sea in Rio. "It's horrible. It's criminal energy."

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Gateway Miami
5:58 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Will Spanish Thrive Or Decline In The U.S.?

Actors Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, and actresses Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez attend a Universal Pictures presentation to promote their upcoming film "Fast & Furious 6."
Ethan Miller Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:11 pm

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Food
8:02 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Exploring Coffee's Past To Rescue Its Future

Eduardo Somarriba is a researcher at the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Education in Turrialba, Costa Rica.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 3:47 pm

At the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Education (CATIE) in Turrialba, Costa Rica, you can touch the history of coffee — and also, if the optimists have their way, part of its future.

Here, spread across 25 acres, are coffee trees that take you back to coffee's origins.

"The story starts in Africa, no? East Africa," says Eduardo Somarriba, a researcher at CATIE, as we walk through long rows of small coffee trees.

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