Latin America Report

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

YouTube

Last week Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said his country had found “the perfect kryptonite to defeat Superman!” By Superman he meant the U.S. And by kryptonite he meant cryptocurrency – el petro.

Fernando Llano / AP

Every day thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing their country to escape the worst economic collapse in the world today. Many have come to South Florida. Venezuela’s GDP is sinking so deep, and its hyperinflation is rising so fast, it’s hard to keep track of exchange rates, food prices, minimum wages, foreign reserves and other critical economic indicators. And the authoritarian socialist regime is trying to keep a lot of that embarrassing data hidden.

Courtsey Diana Caballero

Sometimes an accent can render a language sexy. Even elegant.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Last week the renowned Key West Literary Seminar held its 36th annual gathering – and the theme of this year’s four-day event was “Writers of the Caribbean.” Thanks to President Trump, it turned out the organizers could not have picked a timelier subject.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

This month, when you walk into a Colombian café in Kendall called La Candelaria, you’re met by música decembrina. December music. Meaning, Colombian Navidad or Christmas music. Old-time cumbia favorites like “El Año Viejo.”

Adopta un Bolsillo / Twitter

This Friday, Dec. 15, is the day Puerto Rico’s governor pledged to have all the island’s electric power restored. That’s not going to happen – but some Puerto Ricans have gotten power back after their long, long night in the dark.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Last Friday, with dignitaries and civic hoopla, the new home of the ICA – the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami  – was inaugurated in the Design District. It was an exuberant kick-off to Miami’s Art Week.

But even then, the air was much quieter behind the new museum building, in its patio sculpture garden. In that more contemplative space, one immense sculpture stood out – not only because it’s striking but because it’s achingly somber. And because it’s very timely.

Angel Valentin / National Association of Hispanic Journalists

It's been two months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. But more than half the U.S. island territory's residents still have no electricity. A fifth still don't have running water. And so far there's no reliable official death toll from the storm – even though it's becoming apparent that hundreds more died than first reported.

Ariana Cubillos / AP

Two things happened last week that gave hope to opponents of Venezuela’s socialist regime – especially to Venezuelan exiles in South Florida.

Conectando Territorios

Thais Pinheiro runs a unique Rio de Janeiro tourism company, Conectando Territórios, or Connecting Territories. It gives guided, historical tours of Afro-Brazilian communities like quilombos – settlements founded by the descendants of slaves.

“I think it’s really important to show how we exist in Brazil as black identity, because we are really strong,” says Pinheiro.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

PATILLAS, Puerto Rico – Jan Carlo Pérez’s family has a farm in Patillas, Puerto Rico. It’s a town of lush green hillside forests known as the Caribbean island’s “emerald of the south.” But right now Patillas – close to where Hurricane Maria made landfall in September – is a struggling disaster casualty.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

TOA BAJA – Heavy rains fell last week in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, a town west of San Juan. The sound of the downpour took 68-year-old Carmen Rivera back to September 20 – the day Hurricane Maria roared into Puerto Rico and destroyed her home.

Government of Dominica

Since Hurricane Maria crashed through the Caribbean last month, most of the attention has focused on Puerto Rico. But smaller nearby islands were even harder hit. Especially Dominica. It was the first to feel Maria’s Category 5, 160-mph winds. They demolished the country, leaving 27 dead, 50 still missing – and the population of 71,000 still with little access to food, water and power.

Pages