Tim Padgett

Americas editor

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. He has reported on Latin America for almost 30 years - for Newsweek as its Mexico City bureau chief from 1990 to 1996, and for Time as its Latin America bureau chief in Mexico and Miami (where he also covered Florida and the U.S. Southeast) from 1996 to 2013.

Padgett has interviewed more than 20 heads of state, including former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and he was one of the few U.S. correspondents to sit down with the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. He has covered every major Latin American and Caribbean story from the end of the Central American civil wars of the 1980s to NAFTA and the Colombian guerrilla conflict of the 1990s; to the Brazilian boom, the Venezuelan revolution and Mexican drug war carnage of the 2000s; to the current normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.

In 2005, Padgett received Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the oldest international award in journalism, for his body of work from the region. In 2016 he won a national Edward R. Murrow award for Best Radio Series for "The Migration Maze," about the brutal causes of - and potential solutions to - Central American migration. His 1993 Newsweek cover, “Cocaine Comes Home,” won the Inter-American Press Association’s drug coverage award.

Padgett is an Indiana native and a graduate of Wabash College. He received a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School before studying in Caracas, Venezuela, at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. He started his career at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he led the paper's coverage of the 1986 immigration reform. Padgett has also written for publications such as The New Republic and America and has been a frequent analyst on CNN, Fox and NPR, as well as Spanish-language networks such as Univision.

Padgett has been an adult literacy volunteer and is a member of the Catholic anti-poverty organization St. Vincent de Paul. He currently lives in Miami with his wife and two children. 

Ways to Connect

A video of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro eating gourmet steak in Turkey while millions go hungry at home has provoked outrage worldwide. Venezuelan expats in South Florida are especially upset. But Maduro-watchers say that may be exactly what the socialist leader wants.

Courtesy Ernesto Morales

President Trump astonished people across the country last week when he denied 3,000 Puerto Ricans died as a result of Hurricane Maria. He insisted (falsely) that Democrats inflated the death toll to make him “look bad.”

For Ernesto Morales, Trump’s tweets exacerbated his awful memories of the storm, which demolished Puerto Rico a year ago this Thursday.

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Here’s an only-in-Miami story. This week a woman who speaks no Spanish tried to order food at a Taco Bell drive-through in Hialeah. Things didn’t end happily.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

Over the weekend the New York Times created hemispheric buzz. It reported that U.S. officials talked privately this past year with rebellious Venezuelan military officers. Those officers wanted U.S. help to overthrow Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolás Maduro.

Apparently nothing came of the talks; the Trump Administration declined to help the rogue militares. But the Times story was more evidence that President Trump is exploring unusually strong action to topple Maduro. At the White House last summer, he'd already displayed that impulse.

“We have many options for Venezuela," Trump said then, "including a possible military option if necessary…”

Fernando Vergara / AP

The mass exodus from Venezuela is being called one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in Latin America’s history. On Thursday a prominent human rights group came to Miami to urge Latin America to forge a more unified response to the crisis – and its cause.

Courtesy Guerda Nicolas

Haiti’s misfortunes – extreme poverty, political crises, natural disasters – are more than just material. They’ve also led to mental health issues. And until recently those were rarely adequately addressed in Haiti. That’s changed – and Guerda Nicolas is a big reason why.

Nicolas is a professor of psychology at the University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development, and the American Psychological Association just awarded her its international humanitarian award for her work promoting mental health services in Haiti.

AP

Many Central America observers say this past weekend was disappointing for democracy in the region. In Nicaragua and Guatemala, critics charge the country’s presidents are behaving like the dictators of Central America’s past.

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COMMENTARY

As a registered independent, I neither supported nor opposed Maria Elvira Salazar’s Republican primary run for Congress from Florida’s 27th District, where I reside.

But there’s one thing about Salazar’s landslide victory on Tuesday that I’m unabashedly enthusiastic about. It may have finally driven a stake through the heart of one of South Florida’s most poisonous political practices: accusing your opponent of being soft on communist Cuba.

Manuel Rueda

Last week José Molleja became one of the countless Venezuelans stranded on the border between Colombia and Ecuador.

The 22-year-old Venezuelan can’t find enough work to live in crisis-torn Venezuela. So he spent a week on a bus getting from Caracas to join relatives who’d already emigrated to Ecuador.

But when Molleja arrived he was stunned. Before, Ecuador had only asked Venezuelans to show a photo ID to enter the country. Now the country was suddenly making them present passports.

This week the U.S. froze assets in South Florida worth hundreds of millions of dollars. They belong to people charged with embezzling and laundering Venezuelan oil money. South Florida bankers are getting tuned in to this Venezuelan problem.

Gregorio Borgia / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

As a Roman Catholic, I’m supposed to be encouraged by the anguished letter Pope Francis issued this week. The one in which he condemns the monstrous and never-ending “atrocities” of sexual abuse of children by priests – and their equally monstrous and never-ending cover-up by bishops.

But I’m not hopeful.

That’s because aside from being a Catholic I’m also a Latin Americanist – and I know how badly Francis, the first Latin American pope, failed Latin America in this crisis. That's why Latin Americans, particularly South Americans, seem to understand that this criminal tragedy won’t be solved by a papal crackdown on the priesthood. It can only really be addressed by a papal crack-up of that priesthood.

Venezuelan Government

Critics joke that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blames the U.S. – especially his Venezuelan foes living in the U.S. – whenever he stubs his toe. And most of the world ignores his leftist scapegoating.

But this month the world is wondering, cautiously, if Maduro might have a case, at least when it comes to some Venezuelans residing here.

Ariana Cubillos / AP

Oil-rich Venezuela has the world’s cheapest gasoline. But it’s also dealing with the world’s worst economic crisis. So desperately cash-strapped Venezuelans are about to pay a lot more at the pump.

Natacha Pisarenko / AP via Miami Herald

Last week, the new President of Colombia, Iván Duque, swore in his vice president, Marta Lucía Ramírez.

She is Colombia’s first female vice president.

Venezolana de Television via AP

COMMENTARY

It’s tempting to call last weekend’s failed drone attack on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro daring.

Unfortunately, the only thing you can ultimately call it is dumb – because assassination attempts are only going to make Maduro dig in, not give in.

When Maduro claimed last Saturday he’d been the target of exploding drones, the world was rightly skeptical. He and his socialist regime are shamelessly notorious for concocting assassination conspiracies to divert attention from their disastrous and dictatorial rule.

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