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.

A trial about who owns a 840-pound emerald will continue despite international protest.

The ownership of the Bahia Emerald, as the massive rock is known, has been hotly contested for years. But in September, the stone became the subject of international controversy, when Brazil said all the ownership questions were irrelevant because the 180,000 carat, $372 million rock was illegally exported.

Low oil prices are forcing Venezuela to cut a generous subsidy program to Cuba and a dozen other Caribbean nations.

Venezuela is Latin America's largest oil producer, and its economy depends heavily on oil exports. It's been been hit hard by the tumbling oil prices.

"Venezuela is in desperate straits. The oil sector has been deteriorating, and now with the slumping oil prices, they needed cash desperately," says Michael Shifter, the president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, D.C.-based group that studies the region.

Ariana Cubillos / AP

Thirty years ago, when I was a graduate student in Caracas, I met a young Venezuelan socialist who introduced himself as Stalín.

“Yes, after the Russian,” he told me rather condescendingly – hoping to shock an American with the news that the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was his namesake.

I didn't take the bait. But I did think of Stalín recently when Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro expressed his own admiration for “Comrade Stalin, who defeated Hitler.”

The Miami Open / Banco Itau

The big pro tennis tournament that starts Monday on Key Biscayne has had four different corporate names since its debut 30 years ago. But now the event is free of a commercial label. And that may be the smartest corporate move yet.

It was most recently the Sony Open. Now – and many hope from now on – it’s the Miami Open.

For that you can say obrigado – thank you – to Brazil’s Banco Itaú.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Cruise Shipping Miami – the cruise industry’s premier convention – is taking place this week on Miami Beach. One big and lingering topic is how our Caribbean neighbors can leverage more revenue from all those ships stopping at their ports of call.

Some 125 countries are represented at the Miami Beach Convention Center for Cruise Shipping Miami. But those with the most at stake may be the island nations of the Caribbean.

Organization of American States

Let’s say the U.S. representative to the Organization of American States – the Washington-based diplomatic body that embraces the western hemisphere – appears on a television talk show. And let’s say he makes this neanderthal remark about members of a rival political party:

“When a sniper shoots them in the head it makes a quieter sound, like a click, because their cranial cavities are hollow, so the bullet passes through faster.”

Common Cause-Embassy of Venezuela DC/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

Roberta Jacobson is burning up Twitter in English and Spanish this week trying to recover President Obama’s fumble on Venezuela.

She’s worried – and gosh, we can’t imagine why – that left-wing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is giving his people the wrong impression about Obama’s ill-advised announcement on Monday that Venezuela is a “national security threat” to the U.S.

Roberto Morejon Guerra / Juventud Rebelde

All the Cuba buzz these days is about Conan O’Brien, who broadcast his TV show last week from Havana -- the first time an American late-night talk show host has done that since 1959.

Flickr

We know that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is crying wolf when he claims – over and over and over – that the United States is plotting to carpet bomb his socialist revolution.

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