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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Americas
5:49 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Brazil's Traffic Is A Circus, So Send In The Clowns

The Brazilian city of Olinda has a novel approach to taming its ever-growing traffic problem: traffic clowns known as palhacos.
Andrea Hsu NPR

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

On a busy avenue in Olinda, in northeastern Brazil, two men in wigs, big red noses and full clown makeup are squeaking horns and making a good-natured ruckus.

"Where's your helmet?" shouts one as a motorcyclist whizzes by. "Fasten your seat belt!" calls out the other.

Uncle Honk and Fom Fom are traffic clowns, or palhacos, hired by the city to make the roads a bit safer. They lean into traffic, making exaggerated gestures, like the sweep of the arm to mimic fastening a seat belt, and a mimed reminder to never drink and drive.

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Americas
5:48 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Brazil's New Middle Class: A Better Life, Not An Easy One

Roberto de Carvalho (left), who maintains a truck fleet in Recife, Brazil, is shown here with his daughter Sandra, 22, wife Enilda and daughter Susana, 16. The family makes just enough to belong the rapidly expanding ranks of the country's middle class, though they still can't afford a house or even a car.
Melissa Block NPR

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

Tens of millions of Brazilians have risen out of poverty over the past decade in one of the world's great economic success stories. The reasons are many: strong overall economic growth, fueled by exports. A rise in the minimum wage. A more educated workforce. And big government spending programs, including direct payments to extremely poor families.

But becoming middle class in Brazil means a better life, not an easy one. The new, lowest rung of the middle class is what in the U.S. would be called the working poor, with monthly incomes of between $500 and $2,000.

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The Sunshine Economy
12:48 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

The Sunshine Economy: Tomato Trade War

Tony DiMare is vice president of DiMare Companies, one of the largest growers of tomatoes in Florida.
Credit Tony DiMare

The juicy red tomato has been the target of an international trade war since the mid-1990s. It pits U.S. tomato growers, including DiMare Company of South Florida, against growers in Mexico.  

RELATED: The Sunshine Economy: Agriculture

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Americas
7:00 am
Wed September 18, 2013

New Book Explains Why Simón Bolívar Is Both Deified, Demonized

The cover of Arana's new book on Bolivar.
Credit mariearana.net

Click the play button above to hear the radio version of this post.

During his glorious military career he logged 75,000 miles on horseback. Some might slyly suggest he also logged 75,000 lovers.

But as "The Liberator" that his admirers call him, or as the libertine that his detractors call him, Simón Bolívar’s life was epic – and so were the paradoxes that marked that life. Was South America’s 19th-century independence hero, best known to Americans as the George Washington of Latin America, the founder of his continent’s democracy? Or was he the archetype of its long line of dictatorial caudillos?

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Americas
5:31 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

As Economy Cools, Brazilians Find Themselves Trapped In Debt

A woman looks at clothes inside a shop in Rio de Janeiro. Consumption has been a huge driver of the Brazilian economy, but the boom years are over, and economists say the outlook isn't good.
Sergio Moraes Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:44 pm

It all started out so promisingly. She was young, still in her teens, and she'd landed her first job. As is the custom in Brazil, to get your salary you have to open an account with the bank the company deals with — and with that new account came the woman's first credit card.

"The banks say, 'I want to help you,' " she says. "And if you have a credit card, it's a status symbol, you are well-regarded."

She switched jobs. That company dealt with another bank — which issued her another credit card. She got a store credit card, too.

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Americas
2:54 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Brazilian Leader Postpones State Visit Over Spying Concerns

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attends the first working meeting of the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday.
Handout Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 7:16 pm

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Tuesday that she would not travel to the United States for a state visit on Oct. 23.

It is the first concrete diplomatic consequence of the revelations made by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed widespread spying by the U.S. government on foreigners.

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Americas
4:18 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Venezuelan Opposition Leader Capriles Delivers Message To Supporters In Miami

Henrique Capriles Radonsky waves to supporters gathered at the James L. Knight Center following a speech in which he urged Venezuelans living in the United States to continue working for a Democratic change in Venezuela.
Credit JOSE A. IGLESIAS / El Nuevo Herald Staff

Former Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles — who has been criticized by certain segments of the opposition that would like to see him take a more radical position against Nicolás Maduro’s regime — came out Sunday to convince nearly 5,000 people at a Miami convention hall that he knows exactly what he’s doing.

Capriles, who ran against the late Hugo Chávez in an election in October and then did it again versus Maduro in April, said he feels that change will come soon to his country and called on Venezuelans to continue supporting him and join the fight.

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Americas
2:29 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Brazilian Believers Of Hidden Religion Step Out Of Shadows

Men possessed by orixas dance before getting dressed in orixa costumes. They are participating in an Olubaje party, a Candomblé ritual for cleansing life of bad things and healing. The main god at the party is Omulu (the one with straws), known for healing diseases.
Marcello Vitorino Fullpress for NPR

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 5:45 pm

Amid chanting and drumming, a crowd gathers in Sao Paulo and waits for the gods to come to them from the spirit world.

They are celebrating a sacred festival day in honor of Omulu, a deity of life and death. The women wear white dresses with crinolines, colorful belts and headdresses. The men wear lace, pajama-style suits. They sing and dance in a circle for hours; the room gets warmer, the chanting more intense.

Suddenly, they are here: Orixas have possessed the chosen among the faithful. They are spirit gods, the deified ancestors who link humans to the other world.

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Americas
7:58 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Is Brazil Ready To Step On The World Stage?

An under-20 soccer team trains on the beach in Recife, Brazil.
Melissa Block/NPR

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 6:04 pm

As Brazil readies to host next year's World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, All Things Considered host Melissa Block is in the country reporting on how it's all coming together.

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Weather
7:56 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Mexico Faces A One-Two Punch From Tropical Storms

An image provided by NOAA taken at 2:45 a.m. EDT Sunday shows Hurricane Ingrid approaching from the Gulf of Mexico and Tropical Storm Manuel just off the western coast of Mexico.
AP

Originally published on Sun September 15, 2013 12:00 pm

From the east and the west, two storm systems are closing in on Mexico, bringing strong winds and heavy rains. Hurricane Ingrid is moving toward the country's east coast in the Gulf of Mexico; Tropical Storm Manuel is closing in on the southwest coast in the Pacific Ocean.

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Americas
11:24 am
Wed September 11, 2013

How Miami Is Filling The High-Tech Void In Latin America

Miami hackers at The Battle Hack Hackathon in Miami's Wynwood district last month.
Credit ANDREW ULOZA / Miami Herald

I’ve just arrived at the offices of YellowPepper, a software and tech services company headquartered in Aventura. Waiting for me is Alexander Sjogren, YellowPepper’s chief product developer – and he’s holding an ax that’s big and sharp enough to kill me.

“Yeah, this is a Viking ax,” Sojgren tells me. “We won it a couple weeks ago at a 24-hour PayPal hackathon here in Miami for developing the best application for withdrawing money from local merchants….”

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Americas
11:04 am
Wed September 11, 2013

In Argentina, A Winter Heat Wave Brings Record Highs

Temperatures have reached record highs in Buenos Aires this week. Here, the city's market of Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo is seen on Sunday.
Alexander Hassenstein Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 5:31 pm

It's still officially wintertime in Buenos Aires, but the city is in a record heat wave. Tuesday's high was 34.4 degrees Celsius (94 degrees Fahrenheit), the hottest temperature recorded in September since 1940, La Nacion reports.

"The unusually high temperatures are expected until tomorrow and may reach the maximum of 40 degrees," the Buenos Aires Herald reports.

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