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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News
4:12 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Will Haiti PM's Resignation Defuse The Political Crisis? Don't Count On It

At the time this photo was shot, Jan. 8, 2014, Haiti's then-Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe talked about the many challenges ahead for his country.
Credit Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Yesterday’s resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe was supposed to help end Haiti’s long and sometimes violent political crisis. Don’t get your hopes up.

Most Haitians weren’t even awake when Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s taped resignation speech was televised at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. The government blamed technical difficulties for the delay.

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Latin America Report/Herald Wish Book
8:20 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Migrant Farm Worker Family Loses Its Mom — But Not Her Christmas Hopes

Lucas Ajtum at home in Florida City with his children (clockwise from left) Leonardo, Francisca, Margarita and Bani Luz. He's holding a family portrait that included their late mother, Veronica.
Credit Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Cocking her head with an impish grin, 6-year-old Francisca Ajtum gives her holiday voice a spin at home in Florida City.

“I want to wish you a Merry Christmas!” she sings, belting out José Feliciano’s bilingual classic “Felíz Navidad” in equally proficient English and Spanish. Her showmanship elicits giggles and shrieks from her three siblings: Her 8-year-old sister Margarita, brother Leonardo, 7, and her kinetic little sister, Bani Luz, 4.

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Opinion
3:20 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Venezuela's Truly Indictable Offense? President Maduro's Governance

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Credit chavezcandanga / Flickr

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government indicted opposition leader María Corina Machado this week for allegedly plotting to assassinate him.

But the thing to remember about Machado is that she isn't exactly the most competent anti-government operative.

She’s best known for blunders like leading the 2005 opposition boycott of parliamentary elections. That essentially gifted the National Assembly to Venezuela’s ruling and radical socialist revolution, turning it into a rubber stamp for then-President Hugo Chávez.

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Venezuela
8:14 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Venezuela Opposition: Machado's Indictment For Plot To Kill President Is A Political Move

Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado
Credit World Economic Forum / Flickr

Among Venezuela's opposition leaders, María Corina Machado is a favorite of ex-patriates in South Florida for her strong defiance of the country's radical socialist government. But now that regime hopes to put her behind bars for a long time.

Machado, a conservative, was a congresswoman until she was stripped her of her seat this year. Officials were angry that she'd denounced Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro before the Organization of American States.

On Wednesday his government indicted Machado on charges of conspiring to assassinate him.

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Cuba
8:23 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Alan Gross Marks Five Years In Cuban Prison, Family Warns He's "Wasting Away"

Alan Gross, left, with his wife and daughters at their Maryland home before his 2009 arrest in Cuba.
Credit Gross family

Today marks five years since U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross was jailed in Cuba on controversial spying charges. Gross's wife is warning he may not survive another year -- and says the family is “at the end.”

Gross, 65, is serving a 15-year sentence for bringing what Cuban officials called illegal communications equipment into the communist island. Gross was more likely arrested as retaliation for the U.S. 2001 conviction of five Cuban spies. Three are still in U.S. prisons, and the Cuban government wants them freed as a condition for freeing Gross.

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Latin America Report
10:30 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Free From A Dark Past, Peruvian Entrepreneurs Embrace Their Roots

Chef Gaston Acurio, second from left, and his Leche de Tigre Gang prepare seafood dishes at La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental.
Credit Maria Murriel / WLRN

Superstar chef Gastón Acurio is a trend-setter.

For the past four years, Astrid y Gastón, his flagship restaurant in Lima, Peru, has made the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

His fusion of traditional Peruvian foods and French cooking techniques has earned him fame on gastronomy’s global stage. And it’s helped put Peruvian cuisine on the map, especially in South Florida.

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Mexico Crisis
12:58 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

What's A Good Way To Overhaul Immigration? Overhaul Mexico

Pres. Obama addressing the nation on his executive order on immigration and in an undated photo of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Credit Day Donaldson and Edgar Alberto Domínguez Cataño / Flickr

Coincidence or communiqué?

When President Obama issued his executive order on immigration last week, including his decision to halt the deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants, some of his foes noted the date: Nov. 20.

Nov. 20 commemorates the start of the Mexican Revolution 104 years ago. So Americans for Legal Immigration PAC wondered if the president purposely chose that day as a way of “comparing his new immigration orders to the violent Mexican revolution and civil war.”

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Mexico Crisis
5:38 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Mexico Crisis A "Last Call" For Rule Of Law Reforms, Says Nation's Miami Consul

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto
Credit Edgar Alberto Dominguez Cataño / Flickr

After weeks of angry protests in Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto will reportedly announce major changes to the country’s police and justice systems on Thursday. U.S. and Florida politicians are also worried about the Mexican crisis, as is the nation's representative in Miami. 

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Parallels
12:29 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

A Warning For Latin America's Faltering Economies: 'Innovate Or Die'

A woman waits for customers at a street market where she sells shoes in Sao Paulo. Brazil and other Latin American economies have prospered by selling commodities and low-tech goods. But now many economies are struggling, and some point to the region's lack of high-tech and other cutting-edge industries.
Andre Penner AP

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 5:54 pm

One look at the Brazilian flag and you think: This must be a space-age, high-tech country. That star-spackled orb in the middle glowing like a planetarium. The banner wrapped around it hailing "Order and Progress." Engineers must be rock stars there, right?

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Latin America Report
5:51 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

The 21st Century Sends Low-Tech Latin America A Warning: "Innovate Or Die!"

Brazilian engineering student Lara Nesralla conducts research at the University of Florida as part of her government's Science Without Borders program.
Credit University of Florida

One look at the Brazilian flag and you think: This must be a space-age, high-tech country. That star-spackled orb in the middle glowing like a planetarium. The banner wrapped around it hailing “Order and Progress.” Engineers must be rock stars there, right?

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Latin America
8:49 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

News Of A Kidnapping: Will Colombian Peace Talks Survive?

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos talking with WLRN's Tim Padgett in New York in September about peace talks with the FARC.
Credit Presidencia de Colombia

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos recently told WLRN that his government’s peace talks with Marxist guerrillas were “at their most difficult moment.” After a kidnapping last weekend, we now know what Santos was talking about.

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Miami Book Fair International
5:55 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Richard Blanco's New Miami Memoir Explores 'Becoming' Cuban-American

Richard Blanco reading from a book of his poetry
Credit Joyce Tenneson / RichardBlanco.com

From the opening pages of poet Richard Blanco’s refreshing memoir, “The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood,” it’s clear that you’re not wandering Calle Ocho in one of those nostalgic, Little Havana paradises that so many Cuban-American chronicles try to recreate.

Instead, you’re wandering a Winn Dixie in Westchester.

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Opinion
7:51 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

El Salvador's Jesuit Massacre: A Reminder Why Fewer Latin Americans Are Catholic?

Garden memorial to the six Jesuits murdered in El Salvador on November 16, 1989.
Credit Universidad de Centroamerica

This Sunday marks one of the sadder remembrances on both the Latin American and Roman Catholic calendars: The 25th anniversary of the brutal military massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter during El Salvador’s civil war.

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Marijuana
10:53 am
Thu November 13, 2014

U.S. Adapting To New World Of Permissible Pot

William Brownfield speaking recently in Costa Rica.
Credit State Department

Last week, voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia became the latest to approve legalizing marijuana use. They join Colorado and Washington state.

That movement conflicts with federal law, which still says pot is illegal. And it poses a foreign policy challenge for Washington, since it complicates the message the United States conveys to other nations about the drug war. That's especially true in Latin America, where Uruguay this year became the first country to legalize pot.

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