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

Felix Marquez / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

I’ve learned to think like President Trump. That should probably scare the hell out of me, but journalists get paid for that kind of thing.

It was Tuesday when I knew I was finally on the same page with the man. That’s because my head didn’t do a 360 like Linda Blair’s in “The Exorcist” when he said he was thinking of cutting off U.S. aid to Honduras.

Thomas Becker / Center for Constitutional Rights

Fifteen years ago, violent clashes between Bolivian security forces and protesters over control of natural gas resulted in many civilian deaths. On Tuesday a jury in Fort Lauderdale found Bolivia’s president at that time responsible for the killings.

More than 60 Bolivian civilians were killed in 2003 when security forces opened fire on demonstrators during the so-called Gas War. Many of them were Aymara Indians.

Leslie Ovalle / WLRN.org

It’s now been more than six months since Hurricanes Irma and Maria demolished the Caribbean. Former President Bill Clinton brought his foundation to Miami on Tuesday to propose ways to rebuild Florida’s island neighbors stronger.

Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused $106 billion damage when they roared through the Caribbean last September in just two weeks. Small islands like Dominica and Barbuda were decimated; larger islands like Cuba and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico need years to recover.

Fernando Vergara / AP via Miami Herald

At a warehouse near Miami International Airport, Adelys Ferro is unpacking boxes and making a checklist of donated medicines for Venezuelans.

Andrew Harnik / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Ever since he ran away from immigration reform, Americans no longer look to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for bridge-building leadership on that issue. But I’m still willing to believe Rubio’s heart is in the right place, even if his head left the building.

So I was also willing to believe the Miami Republican was sincere when he told reporters in Tallahassee this week that he doesn’t “see the problem” with the Trump administration’s proposal to ask folks if they’re U.S. citizens in the 2020 Census.

U.S. Attorney Southern District of Florida

The Bay of Pigs is one of the darkest episodes of Cuban-American history. But that failed 1961 attempt by Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro had another dark result. Some of its resentful veterans came back to the U.S. to form a violent Cuban-American mafia called The Corporation.

Evan Vucci / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

When Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died two years ago, then U.S. President Barack Obama issued a lame response: “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”

Mister Rogers would have offered a tougher assessment of Castro, a communist caudillo whose repressive revolution has ruled Cuba for 59 years. When Obama’s statement reached Havana, you could hear regime apparatchiks high-fiving each other all over the island.

Associated Press

As of Friday morning, officials reported six people had died in the disastrous pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University (FIU). At least nine others were injured, two critically. The tragedy involved a red light – but also serious questions about whether this new, highly celebrated bridge should have gotten the green light.

Leslie Ovalle / WLRN News

Demanding change and promising their generation would make it happen, students walked out of schools across South Florida and the country on Wednesday — one month after 17 students and teachers died in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Fernando Vergara / AP via Miami Herald

As hundreds of thousands of desperate Venezuelans pour out of their country, calls are growing to officially designate them as refugees. The United Nations has now taken a big step in that direction.

The numbers – and the suffering – have simply gotten too big for the international community to ignore. Venezuela’s economy is in the middle of the worst collapse in the world today. Food and medicine shortages are catastrophic. Since 2014, more than a million people have fled the country - and the number of Venezuelans seeking asylum abroad has risen 2,000 percent.

Jose Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald

Two Category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, ravaged the Caribbean within two weeks of each other last September. Afterward, the world's attention fell largely on the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico. But just as badly hit was the American territory next door: the U.S. Virgin Islands, including St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Venezuelans are fleeing to places like South Florida because of their country’s humanitarian crisis, but also because of its human rights crisis. On Thursday the University of Miami was a focal point of the outcry over the socialist regime’s abuses.

More and more, the international community is waking up to the worsening human rights situation in Venezuela. This week, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an inquiry into reports of hundreds of killings of civilians by state security forces.

Desmond Boylan / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

This Sunday, Cuba will hold what passes for parliamentary elections there. Voters will ratify National Assembly candidates pre-selected by the ruling Communist Party. On April 19 the Assembly will elect one of its own as President of the country.

It’s a neat little system that’s even less democratic than the U.S. Electoral College.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis is now a crisis in next-door Colombia. Thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing their country’s economic collapse each day, and pressure is mounting to help them. The diaspora here in South Florida is making an especially strong call.

Former Venezuelan Senator and opposition leader Pablo Medina just arrived in Miami after touring the Venezuelan-Colombian border. Some 600,000 Venezuelans now reside in Colombia, and thousands more keep coming by the day.

YouTube

COMMENTARY

I’ve covered a lot of racist political ads.

In 1983, I watched bigoted white Democratic leaders in Chicago urge voters to reject black mayoral candidate Harold Washington “before it’s too late.” It didn’t work; he became the Second City’s first black mayor. In 1988 I was gobsmacked by Republican presidential candidate George H.W. Bush’s race-baiting Willie Horton spots. They did work; he became the U.S.’s 41st President.

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