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.

If you want to get a sense of how complex racial identity is in Brazil, you should meet sisters Francine and Fernanda Gravina. Both have the same mother and father. Francine, 28, is blond with green eyes and white skin. She wouldn't look out of place in Iceland. But Fernanda, 23, has milk chocolate skin with coffee colored eyes and hair. Francine describes herself as white, whereas Fernanda says she's morena, or brown-skinned.

Tiffany Madera / Courtesy


They call themselves ABCs: American-born Cubans. Well before Cuba and the United States began to normalize relations this year, a crop of younger Cuban-Americans were working to engage the communist island.

Many Gen. X-ers, in particular, have challenged their parents and communities' wishes in an attempt to lift what some artists and writers have been calling the “emotional embargo” on Cubans on and off the island. 

The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce is using renewed relations between the Obama Administration and government of Cuba to re-establish the link between the “Cigar City” and Havana.

Larry Wilder is chairman of the chamber.  He said Havana and Ybor are a natural fit since the Cuban capital pretty much gave birth to Tampa's cigar industry when so many cigar workers moved here in the late 1800s.

David Gilkey / NPR


Last week I slammed the Dominican Republic for risking its global image with an immigration policy that has unjustly made hundreds of thousands of Haitian-Dominicans targets for deportation.

Tim Padgett /

Five years ago today, Wyclef Jean – the Haitian-American hip-hop star whose 2004 hit song mused, “If I was President” – revealed in an interview with me that he was actually running for President. Of Haiti.

Rebecca Blackwell / AP via Miami Herald


You don’t need to be a detective to know that the Dominican Republic has already begun deporting Haitian-Dominicans.

International media report this week that tent cities are sprouting up at towns like Anse-à-Pitres on Haiti’s side of its border with the D.R. This morning I spoke by phone with Mia Pean, a Haitian-American relief worker who lives near Anse-à-Pitres. Her organization just received a group of Haitian-Dominican youths who say they were deported from the D.R. a few days ago – even though they claim they were born there.

We’ve gotten used to hearing about chronic shortages in Venezuela – everything from food to medicine to condoms. Those hit Venezuelans where they live. Now there's a looming shortage that hits Venezuelans where they relax: Cerveza. Beer.

This is bad news for customers at Arepas, a Venezuelan sports bar in Miami Beach. They love ice-cold Polar – which is Venezuela’s most popular beer and a brand that’s well known outside the country as well.