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
12:45 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Telemedicine For Haiti: The University Of Miami Makes Trauma More Survivable

Dr. Shailesh Garg (foreground) in Miami advises Dr. Kathleen Charles (on video screens) in Haiti.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

Haiti is no stranger to trauma – as we were reminded on Tuesday, when a power-line accident and the ensuing panic killed 16 people during Carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince.

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U.S.-Cuba Relations
6:56 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

New Cuban Import Rules Are Historic – But No Cigar

A private Cuban vendor in Havana.
Credit Brookings Institution

The United States hasn’t imported a thing from communist Cuba in 53 years. Today the Obama Administration set out the rules for changing that. 

But you won’t see any of Cuba’s famous cigars arriving at PortMiami just yet.

The new trade regulations, announced by the State Department, are President Obama’s latest step toward normalizing relations with Cuba. They allow independent Cuban entrepreneurs to export goods and services to the U.S. – something that hasn’t happened since Washington established a trade embargo against Cuba in 1962.

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Opinion
1:35 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

Latin America Needs To Be Institutionalized. Seriously

John Oliver ripping into Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa this week on HBO's "Last Week Tonight."
Credit HBO/YouTube

Kudos to British comedian John Oliver for his hilarious smackdown of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa this week.

The host of HBO’s satirical “Last Week Tonight” skewered – impaled, really – Correa and his juvenile social media war against anyone who dares criticize him. Oliver told the infamously thin-skinned presidente to “stop Googling yourself” and advised him that “being a world leader might not be for you.”

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Latin America
9:39 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Venezuela's Condom Crisis Could Kill More Than Romance

Latex condoms like these are so scarce in Venezuela that a standard 36-pack can cost more than $750.
Credit Flickr

It seems as though every week we report on a new product shortage in Venezuela, from rice to toilet paper to breast implants. Now the western hemisphere's most oil-rich country has an acute lack of condoms. But this latest scarcity to emerge in Venezuela’s economic crisis could be deadly to more than just romance.

Thanks to a national currency crisis, Venezuela doesn’t have enough dollars to import the contraceptives. They’re so rare in Venezuela that a standard pack of 36 now costs more than $750 at the official exchange rate.

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Politics
5:00 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

New Cuba Policy Faces Attacks On Capitol Hill But Still Moving Ahead

Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen speaks at a House Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on human rights transgressions in Cuba.
Credit C-SPAN

Today concluded three days of U.S. congressional hearings on President Obama’s plan to restore diplomatic relations with communist Cuba. The administration faced tough skepticism – at times some outright hostility – but the new policy came out largely unscathed.

Senate and House committee members from both parties questioned President Obama’s efforts to normalize Cuba relations. Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio warned Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson the policy change “will not be effective” in democratizing Cuba.

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The Two-Way
10:14 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Argentina's President Will Write To Mia Farrow And Martina Navratilova About Scandal

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will send letters of clarification to two celebrities, after they tweeted about the controversial death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Kirchner is seen here during her current trip to China.
Pool/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 3:47 pm

Responding to criticism over a scandal involving an alleged bombing cover-up and a prosecutor's death, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will write letters to Mia Farrow and Martina Navratilova, who tweeted about the case this week.

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Cuba
2:02 am
Wed February 4, 2015

Cuban Relatives Bring Differing Views To The Dinner Table

Chris Alvarez's entryway displays framed copies of essential American documents.
Credit Maria Murriel / WLRN

Polls have shown most Cuban exiles who fled the island in the '60s and '70s oppose lifting the embargo and don't believe rekindling diplomatic relationships is a smart, or permissible, political move.

But professor Jorge Duany, head of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, says it's different for younger Cuban-Americans.

"In many cases," he says, "they're willing to try a different way to relate to Cuba."

Chris Alvarez, 31, and Arianna Mendez, 22, are dating. They each relate differently to the island of their ancestors.

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News
6:26 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Senators Move To Eliminate Cuba Travel Ban – But Do They Have The Votes?

Cuban taxis wait for tourists in front of Havana's Grand Theater.
Credit exfordy / Flickr/Creative Commons

As President Obama moves ahead to normalize relations with communist Cuba, Congress is weighing in with its own measures. The first big bill was introduced today in the Senate – a measure to eliminate the Cuba travel ban – but its passage is hardly certain.

The legislation would end all restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba, which have been in place since 1963. Right now Americans can legally visit the island for certain reasons like cultural exchanges. But tourism remains prohibited.

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Opinion
10:01 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Venezuela's Collapse Looks More Like Economic Suicide

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Credit chavezcandanga/Flickr

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has warned us all this week that “a hell of solitude awaits anyone who betrays” his nation’s socialist revolution.

Duly noted, Señor Presidente! But we also can’t help noting that nobody’s in a lonelier hell right now than Nicolás Maduro.

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News
4:30 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Department Of State Opens Media Hub Of The Americas At Freedom Tower

Valerie Fowler, a spokesperson for the Department of State, and Miami-Dade College's President Eduardo Padron signed a memorandum of understanding at Wolfson Campus.
Credit Junette Reyes / WLRN

The State Department has had a relatively small presence in South Florida, despite Miami being an important nexus for the U.S. and Latin American relations.

The federal agency hopes to change that by partnering with Miami Dade College to expand what it calls the “media hub of the Americas.”

With its new home at Miami’s downtown Freedom Tower, the hub will have a physical location to hold conferences, seminars and interviews with dignitaries about foreign policy.

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Latin America Report
10:10 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Obama's Top Negotiator In Cuba Says Human Rights, Private Sector Will Be U.S. Drumbeat

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson (center) meets with Cuban dissidents last week in Havana.
Credit State Department

Here’s one indicator of how much things have changed between the United States and Cuba:

When President Obama announced last month that he planned to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba’s communist regime after a half-century of bitter estrangement, no one heard from former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. And no one really cared.

Here’s another:

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Roberta Jacobson
1:24 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Cuba Talks: Capitalism Vs. Communism, Rights Vs. Repression

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson speaks with journalists at the Miami Herald newsroom on Saturday.
Credit Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

This past weekend, the top U.S. negotiator in the talks to normalize relations with communist Cuba stopped in Miami on her way back from Havana.

She briefed journalists from the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and WLRN about the historic negotiations – but she seemed more impressed by what she saw at lunch.

Roberta Jacobson is the assistant U.S. secretary of state for the western hemisphere. Last week in Havana, she and her delegation kicked off talks with Cuban officials to restore diplomatic ties, which were severed 54 years ago. 

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