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.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

When Donald Trump becomes President on Friday, what we’ll be asking in South Florida is: Will he cancel normalized relations with Cuba? And will he still let Americans travel there?

But here's another question: If Trump does allow Americans to visit Cuba, will they reconsider how they visit the island? Will they think about something Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco told me a couple years ago:

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<a href="https://twitter.com/UNHaiti/status/805826804497993728">Nations Unies Haïti</a>

It was seven years ago today, at 4:53 p.m., that Haiti was violently shaken. In just 35 seconds, the 7.0 earthquake destroyed much of the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and claimed more than 200,000 lives.

Just over three months ago, on Oct. 4, Hurricane Matthew dealt another devastating blow to the country. The Category 4 storm’s 145-mph winds tore through Haiti’s southern peninsula, washing away farmland — one of the island nation's “breadbaskets” — along with vast swaths of homes and trees, and killing hundreds of people.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

The "wet foot, dry foot" policy is over. For more than 20 years, Cubans migrating to the U.S. enjoyed that special privilege, which meant if they made it to dry land here they could stay. President Barack Obama ended it on Thursday– and even most Cubans here agree with him.

President Bill Clinton created the wet foot-dry foot policy in 1995 as a way to appease both the Cuban government and Cuban exile leaders. But since then it’s become a controversial rule that many Cuban-Americans say is antiquated now that the U.S. and Cuba have normalized relations.

Courtesy Christina Frohock

Among its demands for normalized relations, Cuba wants the U.S. to leave its naval station at Guantánamo Bay on the island’s southeastern tip. But the lease Cuba signed more than a century ago lets the U.S. stay there forever if it wants to.

EFE via Miami Herald

Venezuela’s socialist government is known for its revolving door of ministers. So it wasn’t unusual Wednesday night when President Nicolás Maduro changed his vice president. But this shift is cause for concern – especially in South Florida.

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Marco Bello/Reuters

Latin American transparency activists are keen to see what becomes of the Office of Congressional Ethics, a corruption watchdog in the US House of Representatives that's now in the media spotlight.

Republican lawmakers voted to gut the powers of the independent office Monday night. But on Tuesday they withdrew the plan under heavy criticism, including from President-elect Donald Trump. 

Alejandro Salas, Transparency International's regional director for the Americas, worries that the US is sending mixed signals to those fighting corruption around the world.

Brittany Peterson / McClatchy via Miami Herald

Only 5 percent of Cuba’s population has home Internet access. It’s one of the world’s lowest connectivity rates – but the island’s communist government may finally be moving this week to rectify that.

AP

Cuba’s communist leadership remains reluctant to open the island to more free market reforms and foreign investment. But Cuba’s latest economic data for 2016 might make those hardliners reconsider.

Just a few months ago, Cuba’s economy was forecast to grow 1 percent this year. It wasn’t much; but at least it was growth. This week, President Raúl Castro has admitted even that was an illusion: Cuba’s GDP, he said, will actually shrink 1 percent in 2016 - the first economic contraction in more than 20 years.

JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES

This week on The Florida Roundup...

2016 was a big year. It played host to a long contentious and historic election with Donald Trump winning the presidency--with a big hand from Florida. 

Desmond Boylan (left), Charles Tasnadi (right) / AP via Miami Herald

2016 was a year of historic highs and lows for Latin America and the Caribbean. A U.S. president visited Cuba – for the first time in 78 years. A Brazilian president was impeached. A Colombian president won the Nobel Peace Prize. And Haiti finally elected a president.

WLRN’s Tim Padgett sat down with Miami Herald deputy editorial page editor and veteran Latin America correspondent Juan Vasquez – who is retiring this week after an outstanding career of more than 50 years – to look back on the region’s top stories.

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