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
12:27 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Why It's Time For A Reality Check On Normalizing Relations With Cuba

An unidentified Cuban exile speaks out against President Obama's plans to normalize relations with Cuba at a downtown Miami rally on December 30.
Credit Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

What President Obama did on December 17 was hardly going to prevent what Cuban leader Raúl Castro did on December 30.

Obama last month announced plans to normalize relations with communist Cuba, which were severed 54 years ago. As if to test the waters in the wake of that historic decision, a new Cuban dissident group called Yo También Exijo (I Also Demand) called a free-speech gathering in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución for December 30.

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Immigration
6:32 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

For Some Immigrants, Temporary Life In U.S. Can Mean A Long Stay

Alex Sanchez with his wife, Blanca, and sons Duvan and Irvin. Sanchez has been eligible to live and work legally in the U.S. since 2001, when his home country, El Salvador, experienced a major earthquake.
Alexandra Starr for NPR

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:45 pm

Earlier this month, the U.S. government gave more than 200,000 Salvadorans living here temporarily the opportunity to stay for at least another 18 months.

These immigrants are on something called Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. It's for immigrants who are already living in the United States illegally when a natural or humanitarian disaster hits their home country.

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News
3:34 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Young Miamians Amp Up Annual Protests Against Guantánamo

Young Protesters in orange suits line up along the fence at United States Southern Command in Doral, FL, to protest the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Credit Julia Longoria / WLRN

It's been 13 years since the first prisoners arrived at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. To mark that anniversary, this past Sunday protesters took to the streets in cities across the country.

But among all those cities, 64-year-old Miamian Linda Belgrave said Doral was one of the most important places to protest and demand that President Obama make good on the promise he made in 2009: to close the Guantánamo Bay prison.

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News
3:05 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

How One Group Is Remembering Victims Of The Haiti Earthquake

The 112Haiti memorial wall, where victims of the 2010 earthquake are remembered by name.

Nonprofit organization Color of Hope is remembering the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake by updating a digital memorial wall with 12 names every hour on Monday, Jan. 12.

Five years ago, the disaster ended over 300,000 lives -- and Color of Hope has been maintaining a memorial ever since. The wall can be found at 112haiti.com.

Ed Shakespierre, the organization’s founder, sought to represent victims who he says may have remained nameless otherwise.

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Feature
10:57 pm
Sun January 11, 2015

Haiti's Tragic Anniversary – And A Political Earthquake To Boot?

A Haitian woman walks by a new U.S.-built housing development in Caracol, Haiti, for displaced earthquake victims.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Five years ago today Haiti – the western hemisphere’s poorest country – was devastated by an earthquake that killed some 300,000 people. Haitian officials, the U.S. and other donor countries promised to “build back Haiti better.” But so far the question is whether they’ve been able to build back Haiti… much at all.

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News
10:45 pm
Sun January 11, 2015

Vatican Casts Spotlight On Haiti Five Years After Earthquake

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in ruins after the Haiti earthquake. A crucifix is left standing.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Monsignor Augustin Almy was in Haiti five years ago when the earthquake hit. When the country’s Catholic Church fell apart along with most of Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010.

Almy, a priest at St. James Catholic Church in North Miami, was visiting Haiti for his mother’s 100th birthday.

He was in his room at the Port-au-Prince seminary where he worked for years before moving to South Florida.

“I see the house shaking,” he said.

It was 4:53 pm.

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Culture
4:04 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Miami's King Sporty, "Buffalo Soldier" Songwriter, Dies at 71

Noel "King Sporty" Williams.

Noel “King Sporty” Williams, reggae songwriter and DJ, died at Jackson Memorial Hospital Monday evening. He was 71.

Williams was a prolific, if not widely known, musician. He made several contributions to popular music -- including penning the Bob Marley hit “Buffalo Soldier.”

Roger Lewis, Sporty’s friend and member of the Grammy Award-winning band Inner Circle, reflects on Williams -- who he says was a key figure in the formation of Miami’s musical styles.

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Latin America Report
3:04 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

China Proves Obama Right On Cuba! And Other Top Latin America Stories Of 2014

As far as I’m concerned, one of the year’s most important Latin American stories happened this week in China.

Yep, communist China. On Monday the government’s Internet watchdragon, known as the Great Firewall, pulled the plug on Gmail because it's a subversive instrument of free speech and dissent.

In the process, Beijing affirmed President Obama’s historic decision this month to pursue a policy of engagement with communist Cuba.

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Americas
8:54 am
Mon December 29, 2014

The Nicaragua Canal: A Waterway To Development Or Disaster?

Protesters clash with police during demonstrations against the construction of a cross-isthmus canal in Nicaragua.
Credit Jorge Mejia Peralta / Flickr

  The Panama Canal marked its centennial this year. But another place engineers have always wanted to build a waterway across Central America is Nicaragua. Construction on a Nicaragua canal started last week – and so did protests, there and here.

The Nicaragua Grand Canal, as it’s called, will cost an estimated $50 billion. And at 173 miles it will be more than five times longer than the Panama Canal.

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The Latin America Report
9:55 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Mexican Miami: South Florida's Surging Immigrant Group Shines At Christmas

Mexican-Americans in Homestead (and Paco, right) portray Biblical Christmas characters during street processions known as Las Posadas
Credit Edward Garza / Mexican-American Council

South Florida’s best known Christmas traditions involve food. La caja china. Hallacas. But one of the richest customs involves street theater – plus a really cool donkey named Paco – and it reflects the increasingly important role Mexicans play in this region today.

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Cuba
10:18 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Older Cuban-Americans Protest Obama, But Poll Suggests Younger Generation Approves

Cuban exile protesters at a rally in Little Havana hold up a sign that says in Spanish: "We are all part of the resistance."
Credit Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald

  President Obama's decision last week to normalize relations with Cuba was bad news for Cuban exiles who oppose engagement with the communist island. And a new poll released over the weekend doesn't give them a lot of future comfort, either.

The survey by the Bendixen and Amandi International firm, conducted for the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and Tampa Bay Times, shows Cuban-Americans are split on President Obama’s new Cuba policy: 48 percent say they disagree with it while 44 percent agree.

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Cuba
9:04 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Cuban Emigré Helps U.S. Companies Prepare For An Embargo-less Future

Emilio Morales doing Cuba market research.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

Now that President Obama wants to normalize U.S. relations with communist Cuba, the big question is: Can the U.S. trade embargo last much longer? WLRN Americas editor Tim Padgett spoke to a Cuban émigré here in South Florida who doesn’t think so – and who’s helping U.S. companies prepare for an embargo-less future:

“It’s like a storm now. A storm. I finished work last night at one o’clock in the morning.”

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Opinion
12:37 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

The Cuba Illusion Has Vanished – And Now The Embargo Should Too

Cuban women walk by wall graffiti in Havana.
Credit Flickr

In the wake of the historic Cuba policy changes President Obama ordered yesterday, Congress will now debate whether to scuttle the failed, 52-year-old trade embargo against the communist island.

Capitol Hill should indeed ditch it – and if it’s looking for reasons, it should consider some of the repulsive folks Washington has had to engage this year.

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Latin America Report
2:33 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Why Latin America's Richest Man Still Needs To Raise His Giving Game

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (right) with former U.S. President Bill Clinton (center) and Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos at the Future of the Americas conference.
Credit Pedro Portal / El Nuevo Herald

When I met Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim six years ago, he was the world’s richest man.

Slim, however, wasn’t the world’s most generous giver. He was called the Latin American Scrooge because he’d steered such a relatively small share of his then $65 billion fortune to philanthropic causes. In our interview at his Mexico City office, he said he was correcting that – and he read a passage from “The Prophet” by the Christian philosopher Kahlil Gibran:

“Give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.”

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