Americas

Brazilian investors buy Miami real estate. Haitian earthquake survivors attend South Florida schools. It's clear what happens in Latin America and the Caribbean has a profound effect on South Florida.

WLRN’s coverage of the region is headed by Americas editor Tim Padgett, a 23-year veteran of TIME and Newsweek magazines.

He joins a team of reporters and editors at the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and NPR to cover a region whose cultural wealth, environmental complexity, vast agricultural output and massive oil reserves offer no shortage of important and fascinating stories to tell.

Tim Padgett produces the weekly Latin America Report, made possible by Espírito Santo Bank.

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Latin America Report
8:17 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Why Cops Are In The Crosshairs Of Venezuela's Murder Crisis

Venezuelan policemen outside Caracas carry the coffin of a fellow officer slain by gang criminals.
Credit Andrew Rosati

Venezuelans are emigrating in droves to South Florida, and it’s not just because Venezuela’s economy is collapsing. Public security has imploded too: South America’s most oil-rich nation has the worst murder rate on the continent.

The homicide crisis has gotten so bad, in fact, that some of the most frequent victims today are the very people who are supposed to fight it: the police.

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Latin America Report
10:02 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Cuba's Next Communists: Why Obama Needs Them To Make Engagement Work

Patricia Flechilla, a member of the Federation of Cuban Women, at the Summit of the Americas in Panama last week.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Cuban President Raúl Castro was the longest speaker at last weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Panama. At age 83, he was also the oldest.

And that matters as the U.S. and Cuba normalize relations after a half century of cold war – a process that on Tuesday led President Obama to remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of terrorism sponsors.

It matters because President Obama says his new engagement policy isn’t meant to change Cuba overnight. It’s meant to help the U.S. influence democratic change once Castro’s generation of hardline communists is gone.

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The Americas
12:00 am
Mon April 13, 2015

IEFA Forum: Miami Now Home To Yet Another Major Hemispheric Gathering

Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza will be one of the IEFA forum's featured speakers.
Credit Tom Rollo / IEFA/Grace Photography

Starting today, Miami is the home of yet another major hemispheric gathering. The International Economic Forum of the Americas has moved one of its biggest events here - from a South Florida neighbor.

The International Economic Forum of the Americas, or IEFA, has become a key platform for issues affecting the Western Hemisphere. The Montreal-based group used to hold its annual World Strategic Forum in Palm Beach County. But it aims to raise its profile now by taking advantage of Miami-Dade’s more Latin American atmosphere.

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Commentary
10:46 pm
Sun April 12, 2015

Summit Summary: U.S.-Cuba Sitdown Drowns Out Venezuelan Meltdown

Cuban President Raul Castro (left) and U.S. President Barack Obama at their historic meeting Saturday at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
Credit White House

Imagine a U.S. President came to the Summit of the Americas and, while criticizing the government of a certain oil-rich South American nation, remarked that he does enjoy Venezuelan salsa singers like Rubén Blades.

He’d be the butt of jokes on late-night Latin American TV – because Blades is Panamanian, not Venezuelan.

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Summit of the Americas
6:40 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

After Messy Start, U.S.-Cuba Handshake May Send Panama Summit To Smoother Finish

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and Cuban President Raul Castro shake hands Friday night after the inaugural ceremony of the Summit of the Americas in Panama City.
Credit Presidencia de Panama

The Summit of the Americas kicks off Friday evening when the hemisphere’s heads of state inaugurate the two-day gathering in downtown Panama City. But while there a host of issues to discuss, all eyes are on just two guys: President Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro.

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Commentary
1:40 am
Thu April 9, 2015

How Obama Rescued The Summit For Latin America – And How He Could Ruin It Again

A worker makes final preparations for the April 10-11 Summit of the Americas in Panama City.
Credit Arnulfo Franco / AP

Here’s the conventional line you're hearing about President Obama and this week’s Summit of the Americas:

Up to now, Obama had been doing many smart things to improve dysfunctional U.S.-Latin American relations. On issues like immigration, the drug war and especially Cuba – in December he announced the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations with its cold-war communist foe – a gringo president was finally getting it.

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The Caribbean
7:39 am
Wed April 8, 2015

Obama Heads Into Jamaica And The Caribbean As Venezuela Withdraws

Kingston, Jamaica
Credit Lechmoore Simms / Flickr

President Obama heads this week to the Summit of the Americas in Panama where he’ll meet with the hemisphere’s other heads of state. But Obama first travels on Wednesday to Jamaica – where Caribbean leaders may be happier than usual to see him.

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Latin America Report
7:37 am
Wed April 8, 2015

Communist Cuba Once Produced Capitalist MBAs – And Needs To Graduate A Lot More

Guennady Rodriguez shows off his Cuban MBA degree at his Miami home.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Guennady Rodriguez may be a Cuban émigré, but his musical tastes aren’t exactly counter-revolutionary.

Inside his apartment near Miami International Airport, Rodriguez likes to pull out his guitar and strum tunes by Pablo Milanés, a Cuban troubadour who’s considered a favorite of the Castro regime.

It’s when the 33-year-old Rodriguez puts on a suit and tie and goes to work in downtown Miami that his break with Havana becomes obvious. Rodriguez is a senior sales executive at a large international company that organizes corporate events.

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Cuba
8:52 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Yoani Sanchez Hopes To Give Cubans 'Alternative Voice' At Summit

Yoani Sanchez working in Havana.
Credit Andre Deak / Flickr

The meeting of heads of state from throughout the western hemisphere known as the Summit of the Americas starts later this week in Panama.

For the first time, Cuba will be there – and so will Cuba’s most famous dissident blogger, Yoani Sánchez.

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US-Cuba Relations
6:09 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Washington And Havana Start Human Rights Talks; Will Cuba Ramp Up Internet Access?

Tom Malinowski, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, who heads the U.S. delegation at talks between the U.S. and Cuba on human rights
Credit AP

Talks between the U.S. and Cuba on human rights started Tuesday in Washington as part of the effort to restore diplomatic relations. And while they won’t reform Cuba overnight, rights experts say they’re at least a start - and may bring Cuba under more global scrutiny than it's used to.

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The Two-Way
1:01 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Despite Protests From Brazil, Trial For 840-Pound Emerald Will Continue

This 2008 file photo provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department shows the so-called Bahia Emerald.
Anonymous AP

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 9:27 am

A trial about who owns a 840-pound emerald will continue despite international protest.

The ownership of the Bahia Emerald, as the massive rock is known, has been hotly contested for years. But in September, the stone became the subject of international controversy, when Brazil said all the ownership questions were irrelevant because the 180,000 carat, $372 million rock was illegally exported.

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The Two-Way
12:44 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Venezuela Cuts Oil Subsidies To Caribbean Nations

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 2:57 pm

Low oil prices are forcing Venezuela to cut a generous subsidy program to Cuba and a dozen other Caribbean nations.

Venezuela is Latin America's largest oil producer, and its economy depends heavily on oil exports. It's been been hit hard by the tumbling oil prices.

"Venezuela is in desperate straits. The oil sector has been deteriorating, and now with the slumping oil prices, they needed cash desperately," says Michael Shifter, the president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, D.C.-based group that studies the region.

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Latin America Report
2:56 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Stalin Stupor: Why Venezuela Keeps Getting Ranked "Most Miserable" In 2015

A woman stands in line outside a Caracas pharmacy hoping to find diapers for her infant daughter.
Credit Ariana Cubillos / AP

Thirty years ago, when I was a graduate student in Caracas, I met a young Venezuelan socialist who introduced himself as Stalín.

“Yes, after the Russian,” he told me rather condescendingly – hoping to shock an American with the news that the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was his namesake.

I didn't take the bait. But I did think of Stalín recently when Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro expressed his own admiration for “Comrade Stalin, who defeated Hitler.”

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Tennis
9:23 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

It's The Miami Open Now. Obrigado, Itaú.

The new Miami Open logo designed by the tournament's new lead sponsor, Banco Itau
Credit The Miami Open / Banco Itau

The big pro tennis tournament that starts Monday on Key Biscayne has had four different corporate names since its debut 30 years ago. But now the event is free of a commercial label. And that may be the smartest corporate move yet.

It was most recently the Sony Open. Now – and many hope from now on – it’s the Miami Open.

For that you can say obrigado – thank you – to Brazil’s Banco Itaú.

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