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.

Nadege Green / WLRN

This story originally ran on September 22, 2015

I was born and raised in Miami, but my very Haitian mom always kept true to her roots — especially whenever I didn’t feel well.

Have a sore throat? Sour orange leaves can fix that.  A tummy ache? Freshly picked mint from the backyard will ease the pain.

She is a believer of remed fey, or bush medicine.

My mom comes from a line of Haitian women herbalists from Gonaives, Haiti.  She learned from her mother, who learned from her mother, who learned from her mother and so on.

Felipe Marrou / WLRN TV

Billy Causey has a keen eye for recreational boaters doing dumb things around vulnerable coral reefs in the Florida Keys.

Especially on heavy boating holidays like the Fourth of July.

“Lookee there,” says Causey as his boat heads out from Big Pine Key. He points to a nearby cluster of party boats. “A lot of them are up on the sea grasses and people are walking around on top of small colonies of coral.”

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

The wider Panama Canal opened two weeks ago – servicing more massive post-Panamax ships. On Saturday PortMiami received its first vessel of that kind from the Canal. And it may mean a new era for Miami as a world commercial hub.

The Chinese ship MOL Majesty measures almost a thousand feet long and 150 feet wide. Larger than any cargo ship PortMiami has ever seen. Post-Panamax ships like the Majesty can carry three times the cargo of ordinary vessels. And PortMiami was recently dredged down to 50 feet to accommodate them.

Eraldo Peres (left) and Molly Riley (right) / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

We’ve seen enough media comparisons of Donald Trump and Hugo Chávez to make us think they had the same father.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee and the late Venezuelan president are indeed nifty portraits of egomaniacal demagoguery. But if 2016 election pundits are looking to Latin America for ominously useful parallels, they might give the Donald-Hugo chatter a rest now and consider Hillary-Dilma.

Courtsey Pro Footvolley Tour

This story first aired on December 14, 2015.   

These days, if you’re sitting on a South Florida beach and someone shouts, “Shark attack!” it’s probably got nothing to do with “Jaws.” Instead, it’s all about feet.

Namely, a sport called footvolley.

Fernando Vergara / AP via Miami Herald

In Latin America, scientists have become more convinced of the link between the mosquito-borne Zika virus and the birth defect known as microcephaly. Colombia is the one country that hasn’t fit the pattern. But that may now be changing.

Microcephaly causes unusually small heads and brains in newborn infants. Many Latin American countries – especially Brazil – have reported cases believed to be related to Zika infection in pregnant women. 

Moises Castillo / AP via Miami Herald

On Sunday morning, a 984-foot-long Chinese container vessel – aptly renamed Panama – became the first ship to enter the new, wider locks of the Panama Canal. The waterway’s $5.5 billion expansion ran over budget and almost two years behind schedule. But now that it can accommodate more massive, post-Panamax ships, it should be a boon to U.S. harbors like PortMiami.

Seychelle Hattingh

A Key Largo native is making a name for herself in stand up paddling, and is now among the top 10 fastest female paddlers in the world.

Twenty-eight-year-old Seychelle Hattingh started using a stand up paddle board two years ago. Already, she has become a world class competitor. Hattingh just came home to the Keys after a series of wildly successful competitions in France, Spain and Germany.

Tim Padgett / WLRN

Imagine you’re an ambitious 25-year-old business school grad in Spain. But it’s 2013 – and unemployment there is a scary 26 percent. Where do you take your entrepreneurial talents?

Communist Cuba. Seriously.

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