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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Cuban Migrants
10:16 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Coast Guard Working Overtime To Rescue Cuban Rafters This Week

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter rescues Cuban migrants from their sinking boat Wednesday morning.
Credit U.S. Coast Guard

Dozens of Cuban migrants are lucky to be alive after a U.S. Coast Guard plane spotted their boat Wednesday morning as it took on water in the Atlantic off Boca Raton. But it was just the latest drama in a remarkably intense week – and year – for rescuing Cuban rafters.

The Coast Guard C-130 aircraft was already engaged in a search for two Cuban rafters reported missing earlier this week. But about seven miles off the coast of south Palm Beach County, here’s what it found instead:

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Latin America Report
6:32 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

In "The Cuban Spring," Vanessa Garcia Confronts The "Familial Embargo"

From left: Nick Duckart, Carlos Orizondo, Ethan Henry, Evelyn Perez and Tanya Bravo (as Siomara) in "The Cuban Spring."
Credit Eileen Suarez / New Theatre

“Taste this, Siomara, and tell me that this doesn’t taste like Cuba.”

“Mom, I don’t know what Cuba tastes like.”

-- from “The Cuban Spring” by Vanessa Garcia

The national media are heavy at the moment with The Cuban Debate. This month The New York Times called on President Obama to end the failed, 52-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and try engaging the repressive communist regime for a change as a way to reform it.

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Commentary
10:47 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

If Panama's Anti-Corruption Hunt Continues, Miami Should Watch Out

Panamanian Supreme Court Justice Alejandro Moncada Luna
Credit Panama Supreme Court

This past summer I wrote an article about Panama’s ultra-corrupt judicial system. It looked at the case of a dead man whose will had left tens of millions of dollars to poor children – and how the Panamanian Supreme Court made the highly suspicious decision to nullify that will and hand the money instead to rich adults.

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Venezuela
4:49 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

How Bad Are Things In Venezuela? It's Rationing Food – And Importing Oil

Oil installation in Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela
Credit Flickr

Venezuela’s economic woes just won’t quit. Its currency recently hit an all-time low with black market traders. Now the South American country has to ration food – and, believe it or not, import oil.

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. But it produces mostly thick, heavy crude that has to be mixed with lighter oil to make it usable. Problem is, Venezuela’s seriously mismanaged state-run oil industry isn’t pumping enough light crude. So this weekend the country will receive its first ever shipment of foreign oil: two million barrels from Algeria.

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Latin America Report
7:41 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

What The Non-Cuban Latino Vote Means For Florida Politicians

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist (center) and running mate Annette Taddeo-Goldstein (right) talk with Hector Parra (left) and his daugher Marcela Parra.
Credit Charlie Crist campaign

Latinos, as if you needed more media reminding, are America’s largest minority today. Winning their swing vote matters more than ever – even if means politicians making speeches in really bad Spanish.

In Florida, that exercise used to be a day at the beach. Or rather, an hour at Miami’s Versailles restaurant. Drink a café cubano. Declare your hatred for Fidel Castro. Head to the next campaign stop.

But that was back when Latino in Florida meant almost exclusively Cuban. And Cuban meant Republican.

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Latin America
4:24 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Gangs Can't Stop Colombia's Butterflies From Rescuing Women In Need

Three Butterflies flew to Geneva to accept a humanitarian award: Maritza Asprilla Cruz (from left), Gloria Amparo, Mery Medina.
Juan Arredondo Courtesy of UNHCR

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 4:09 pm

They call themselves "the Butterflies."

And that's not just wishful thinking.

When Gloria Amparo, Maritza Asprilla Cruz and Mery Medina sweep into NPR's bureau in central London, they are indeed as beautiful as butterflies: bright clothing, big beaming smiles. They look around in wonder at the newsroom spread out before them, laughing and joking as I make them a cup of tea.

Yet these are women who've led tough lives — born into Colombian society, where violence and abuse are commonplace.

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Haiti
2:59 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Petition Opposes State Funeral For Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier

Jean-Claude Duvalier during an interview in Laboule, outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on April 16, 2011.
Credit Andres Martinez Casares / For The Miami Herald

 

The death of former Haiti president Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier has stirred strong emotions locally and in Haiti.

After learning of Duvalier’s death, many Haitians took to social media and radio to recount the horrors and brutality suffered under his regime.

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Latin America Report
11:01 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Haiti's Crucial Question: Would Baby Doc Have Gone To Jail If He'd Lived Longer?

The late Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1975.
Credit Flickr user a-birdie

As Haiti’s national police director from 1996 to 2002, Pierre Denize had a mission: to help the country’s fledgling democracy build a more professional and humane justice system.

Denize had seen too much of the polar opposite in his youth – especially when his parents were jailed, brutalized and exiled during the three-decade-long reign of cruelty and corruption known as the Duvalier dynasty.

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Haiti
3:20 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Reporting On Duvalier: Diary Of A Dictator

Wedding day in Haiti for former President Jean-Claude Duvalier and Michele Bennett, May 27th, 1980.
Credit Miami Herald

There can come a time when reporters and photographers spend so much of their working lives immersed in covering one issue, one person or one country, that their relationship with the subject being covered becomes almost symbiotic.

Think of it as a detective who must know his or her suspect’s every thought and every move.

Where will they be today? What will they say today? Perhaps, more importantly, what can be confirmed today -- and what is the real reason behind the latest action?

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Haiti
8:21 am
Mon October 6, 2014

The Baby Doc Divide: Why South Florida's Haitians Disagree On Duvalier

Notre Dame d'Haiti church in Little Haiti, where Miami's Haitian community discussed Baby Doc Duvalier's death over the weekend.
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN

From Stalin in Russia to Pinochet in Chile, there’s at least one thing we’ve learned about dictators: Despite the terrible things they often do, people’s memories of them can be fond as well as frightening.

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier – who ruled from 1971 to 1986 and died on Saturday in Portu-au-Prince at age 63 from a heart attack brought on in part by a tarantula bite – was no exception.

 WLRN spent the weekend listening to the divided opinion on Baby Doc in Miami’s Haitian community.

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Venezuela
6:59 pm
Sun October 5, 2014

No End To Venezuela's Gloom, Whether It's Currency Or Killings

NEW LOWS: Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, hit 100 to the U.S. dollar on the black market
Credit Flickr Eduardo!

Venezuela just finished another terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week on both the financial and security fronts. And it suggests things could get even worse.

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