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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Opinion
8:14 am
Thu February 13, 2014

America, Florida Want Cuba Policy Change Because They Want Change In Cuba

Cuban women walk by wall graffiti in Havana.
Credit Flickr

A major poll released Monday confirms most Americans, and especially Floridians, feel it’s time to normalize relations with communist Cuba after more than a half century of Cold-War rupture.

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Latin America Report
6:10 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Chocolate And Chávez: Valentine's Day Confronts Venezuela's Strife

Alejandra Bigai, owner of Romanicos chocolate shop in Miami, shows off her assortment of truffles made from Venezuelan criollo
Credit Sophia Padgett Perez

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves. Big deal. This is Valentine’s week, when cocoa matters more than crude – and what’s important is that Venezuela produces the world’s best chocolate.

Problem is, will politics soon drag down Venezuela’s cacao (cocoa) industry the way it’s reduced the country’s oil output? On Feb. 14, at least, that’s a worrisome question, especially inside gourmet chocolate shops like Romanicos.

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Commentary
4:46 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Can Venezuela's U.S. Dollar Restriction Keep $1 Billion Out Of Florida?

Trading U.S. dollars for Venezuelan bolívares
Credit venezuelaanalysis.com

What do you do when your country’s foreign reserves are dropping at a rate that would make avid bungee jumpers nauseous? If you’re left-wing Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, you take strong, decisive macroeconomic action.

You withhold dollars from Mickey Mouse.

Yessir, you discourage your countrymen from traveling to Florida, by further restricting the amount of dollars they can spend there with their bank credit cards – from $2,500 to $700.

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Latin America Report
7:36 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Colombia's Peace Crisis: Pres. Santos Confronts The Skeptics – And The Spies

Credit El Nuevo Herald

This week’s Colombian voter poll had to feel like a back-handed compliment for President Juan Manuel Santos.

The new survey by the Bogotá research firm Ipsos-Napoleón Franco shows Santos with a 17-point lead over his closest competitor in his bid to win re-election in May. But Santos garners just 25 percent of the vote. Half of those polled said they were undecided or intend to cast a blank protest ballot. That’s hardly cause for cumbia dancing at the Casa de Nariño presidential palace.

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Latin America Report
5:58 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Brazil's Slaves Are Being Freed – But Are Its Slaveholders Being Punished?

An enslaved worker hauling charcoal for pig-iron production in rural Brazil.
Credit Chernush / Free the Slaves

I bought Francisco Lima his first taste of freedom in decades.

A cheeseburger.

It was 2004, and Brazil was starting to confront one of its most distressing problems: slavery. I was in northern Pará state, in the Amazon, observing a special police unit that raided slave-holding farms and firms and liberated workers like the 74-year-old Lima.

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Latin America Report
10:37 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Alan Gross And The Vatican: Could The Keys Of St. Peter Unlock A Cuban Jail Cell?

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

Can the Vatican free Alan Gross in Cuba? It helps first to consider how the Roman Catholic Church freed itself in Cuba.

Cuba has seen surprising turns in recent years. Fidel Castro handing the communist dictatorship to his younger brother Raúl. Raúl decreeing capitalist reforms to save the communist dictatorship.

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Earthquake
8:49 am
Mon January 20, 2014

3.3 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Haiti

The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting that a 3.3 magnitude earthquake shook Haiti about 6 miles southwest of Carrefour at 1:56 a.m. this morning.

A USGS map shows that there have been tremors near the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in the last few days. 

About two weeks ago, there was a 5.1 magnitude earthquake between Key West and Cuba.

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The Sunshine Economy
6:30 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Doing Business While Black

South Florida business owners: (from top right) Felecia Hatcher of Feverish Pops, Adrian Foster of Foster Construction, Suzan McDowell of Circle of One Marketing and Kevin Michael of Invizio
Credit Tom Hudson

The quartet pictured above own and operate their businesses.  Some may consider them black businesses.  Some may not.  But they all operate in a commerce climate in South Florida that has been partially shaped by an economic boycott 24 years ago. In 1990, South Florida’s tourism industry was boycotted by blacks for three years.

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Commentary
6:19 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Holy Hispaniola! New Haitian Cardinal Rises While Old One Next Door Stumbles

Bishop Chibly Langlois, Haiti's first Roman Catholic cardinal.
Credit haitilibre.com

Pope Francis didn’t have to say it. He let the timing say it for him.

The pope this week named Haitian Bishop Chibly Langlois as one of 19 new cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church. In the process, he all but declared a shift in clerical power on the large Caribbean island of Hispaniola. And he may also have delivered a rebuke to the Dominican Republic, the country that shares that isle with Haiti, and to the D.R.’s controversial cardinal, Nicolás López.

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Latin America Report
7:22 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

U.S. Aid Official: 'We Have To Change The Way We Do Business In Haiti'

USAID Haiti mission director John Groarke visits Haitian farmers.
Credit haiti.usembassy.gov

Right after Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people, I rode in a U.S. Army helicopter ferrying food and medical supplies into demolished Port-au-Prince neighborhoods.

As we descended near the suburb of Pétionville, and as corpses became visible amid the ruins and campfire smoke billowed up in our faces, the pilot said he couldn’t put us down. Too many people were running to the landing spot, and they risked being killed by the chopper rotors.

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Commentary
11:12 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

The Miss Venezuela Murders: Maduro Needs To Create Police Instead Of Plots

Mónica Spear and ex-husband Thomas Henry Berry. Both were murdered by gunmen during a botched roadside robbery in Venezuela on Jan. 6.
Credit Thomas Henry Berry / Facebook

Latin American leaders don’t know how to stop their violent-crime epidemic, but they sure know how to spin it.

Former Miss Venezuela and telenovela star Mónica Spear and her ex-husband were murdered Monday night during a botched highway robbery near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. Their 5-year-old daughter was shot, too, but survived. As the shocking news spread throughout Venezuela and then Miami, where Spear often lived and worked, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro hit a spin cycle I’ve seen countless other presidentes employ after high-profile homicides.

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