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.

Updated at 5:30 a.m. ET Wednesday

Even though Maria has weakened to a Category 4 storm, it remains a dangerous hurricane. Maria's maximum sustained winds are near 155 mph. The National Hurricane Center says the storm should keep that intensity until it makes landfall. Puerto Rico has long been spared from a direct hit by a hurricane.

Updated at 2:20 a.m. ET Wednesday

Government of Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda was the first country to greet Hurricane Irma’s more than 185-mile-per-hour winds - the fiercest Atlantic storm ever recorded. Speaking from the capital of St. John’s on Antigua island, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the destruction the island of Barbuda suffered is also historic. Only one person died on Barbuda, but Browne noted the place is now a “ghost town.”

“For the first time in 300 years, Barbuda is uninhabited," Browne told WLRN.

With communications still sketchy on many Caribbean islands smashed by Hurricane Irma, it requires a view from space to take in the magnitude of the destruction from one of the most powerful storms to form in the Atlantic.

Image after image, stretching from Barbuda in the east to Turks and Caicos in the west, shows devastation on a scale that will certainly take years and billions of dollars to rebuild and surely will never be forgotten by those who endured it firsthand. Nearly three dozen people died throughout the Caribbean.

Joel Rouse / AP via Miami Herald

Atlantic hurricanes rarely leave the Caribbean unscathed. The basin is like a bowling alley for storms and the islands its pins. Hurricane Irma – which left at least 36 people dead in the Caribbean last week, including 10 in Cuba, before roaring into Florida on Sunday – was an outsize bowling ball, setting strength records as it crashed into the Leeward Islands on the basin’s eastern fringe.

Updated at 6 a.m. ET Saturday

Hurricane Irma is again a Category 4 storm as it slowly moves along the Cuban coast. The storm made landfall on the Camaguey archipelago of Cuba late Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. As of 5 a.m. Saturday, the hurricane's center was just off the northern coast near central Cuba. The report puts Irma's traveling speed at 12 mph, about 245 miles south-southeast of Miami.

About 5.6 million people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate; forecasters expect the hurricane to hit Florida early Sunday morning.

Rinsy Xieng / Twitter

While South Florida watches Hurricane Irma’s dangerous approach, the record storm already began tearing through the Caribbean Wednesday morning. But Irma’s path across the basin could help limit its destruction there.

The first to feel Irma’s fierce Category 5 winds were the Leeward Islands in the eastern Caribbean. Gusts were clocked at 155 miles per hour at Antigua and Barbuda. Still, the storm’s center passed to the north, and officials said the island nation emerged better than expected.

Updated 3:20 a.m. ET Thursday

France's Interior minister says Hurricane Irma has killed at least eight people and left 23 injured on French Caribbean island territories. The Associated Press reports:

Speaking on French radio France Info, Gerard Collomb said the death toll in Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy could be higher because rescue teams have yet to finish their inspection of the islands. Collomb said Thursday: "The reconnaissance will really start at daybreak."

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP via Miami Herald

The official song commissioned for Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia this week is called “Let’s Take the First Step.” It concludes with a paso the 80-year-old pontiff probably isn’t too familiar with: the hip-hop beat called reggaeton.

Flickr

Latin America is still a low-tech place – and computer hackers are preying on it. Cybercrime cost Latin America and the Caribbean more than $100 billion last year, and the Inter-American Development Bank says it’s growing as much as 40 percent a year.

Fernando Vergara / AP via Miami Herald

When Vice President Mike Pence toured Latin America last week – Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama – it was the Trump administration’s first visit to a region that's wondering if Trump has any interest in it besides building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

By now everybody knows the bigly favor President Trump did the Alt-Right this week.

On Tuesday, like a bad parent defending his skinhead bully kid in the principal’s office, Trump insisted the deadly mayhem that torch-carrying white supremacists wrought in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend wasn’t all their fault.

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