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

Ways to Connect

Boris Vergara / AP

It’s been a week since Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for the overthrow of authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro. That effort failed when top military leaders balked at joining him. But it sparked renewed anti-government unrest and showed cracks in the military's loyalty to the socialist regime – which is widely blamed for dismantling Venezuela’s democracy and destroying its economy.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Three years ago, Venezuelan doctor Marco Salmeron seemed to have a good case for asylum in the U.S. Salmeron had fled Venezuela because prosecutors there accused him of human organ trafficking – but they’d provided little if any evidence to back it up. Salmeron called the charge political persecution.

Still, on a September morning in 2016, U.S. agents from the international police organization Interpol showed up at Salmeron’s home  in Pembroke Pines. As his wife and two kids looked on, they handcuffed Salmeron and took him to the federal immigration detention center in Miramar.

Desmond Boylan / AP

Last week, National Security Advisor John Bolton came to Miami to announce President Trump is unleashing a tool of the Cuban embargo: Title III.

“Americans who have had their private and hard-earned property stolen in Cuba will finally be allowed to sue,” Bolton, to resounding applause, told hundreds of mostly conservative Cuban exiles at a luncheon for Bay of Pigs veterans.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Venezuelan art dealer Romy Moreno was in South Florida last month when she got an urgent call from her husband, Roberto Marrero, in Caracas.

Agents of Venezuela's authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro were ransacking their apartment and arresting Marrero – who is the chief of staff to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The U.S. and 50 other countries recognize Guaidó as Venezuela's legitimate president.

Phil Laubner / Catholic Relief Services

Last week President Trump threatened to close the U.S. southern border because record numbers of Central American migrants are arriving there – including 100,000 apprehended in March. “I’m not playing games,” Trump warned. “We can’t hold people anymore.”

But what’s lost in Trump’s border-security bluster is that there’s something unusual about this wave of Central American migrants. Most are not from Honduras or El Salvador. Most are instead from Guatemala. And immigrant advocates say the main force driving them to flee here is climate change.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

It’s been less than a month since the visitor visas for Cubans coming to the U.S. were scaled down. A lot.

They used to be good for five years and you could come in again and again – similar to U.S. visitor visas for people from many other countries. But now: three months – and just one visit. And that’s clouded the future of Cuban entrepreneurs like Rubén Valladares.

Ariana Cubillos / AP

Most of the news from Venezuela in recent days is not encouraging for the restoration of democracy there. Late last week President Nicolás Maduro's regime arrested Roberto Marrero, the top aide to opposition leader Juan Guaidó - whom the U.S. and 50 other countries recognize as Venezuela's legitimate president. Then on Sunday, Russia flew a military advisor and 100 troops into Venezuela to support Maduro.

WLRN's Luis Hernandez spoke with Americas correspondent Tim Padgett on Sundial about the latest developments.

Jose A. Iglesias / Miami Herald

One of the more disturbing sounds to hit the media airwaves last summer was a recording obtained by ProPublica of Central American children crying at an immigration detention center in Texas. They’d been separated from their parents, who had come to seek U.S. asylum.

At that same place the summer before, in 2017, a Guatemalan girl named Ana was taken from her father. She was three. Ana was sent to a relative in Immokalee, Florida, who took her to immigration lawyer Jennifer Anzardo Valdes in Miami.

Desmond Boylan / AP

Cuban exiles and other foes of Cuba's communist government woke up Monday morning hearing that President Trump was going to get tougher on the regime. Specifically, they expected Trump to activate an unused tool of the Cuban embargo known as Title III. He did. But what they got instead was more of a letdown than a crackdown.

WLRN's Luis Hernandez spoke with Americas correspondent Tim Padgett about Title III – and why a lot of Cuban-Americans right now say it's still an unused tool.

Fernando Llano / AP

After the deadly clashes along Venezuela's borders this past weekend, authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro still looks firmly entrenched in power. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó is recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries as Venezuela's legitimate president. And now he says "all options" - even U.S. military intervention - should be considered to topple Maduro's socialist regime.

WLRN's Christine DiMattei and Tim Padgett talked about where the Venezuela crisis stands now - and where it's probably headed.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Venezuelans in South Florida woke up on Saturday to the first crack in the Venezuelan military’s loyalty to President Nicolás Maduro.

It was a video of Air Force General Francisco Yanez renouncing Maduro – the authoritarian leader widely condemned for trashing their homeland’s economy and democracy. Yanez insisted that “90 percent of the armed forces oppose Maduro,” and he called on other high-ranking officers to recognize National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president – as the U.S. and many other countries have.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

A top official at the Venezuelan consulate in Miami on Monday recognized National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as the rightful president of Venezuela. First Consul Scarlet Salazar was just the latest diplomat to abandon Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. The authoritarian socialist leader is facing an ever-growing chorus inside and outside his country demanding that he leave office.

WLRN's Christine DiMattei spoke with Americas correspondent Tim Padgett about the rapid developments in this crisis – and about whether or not Maduro can survive it.

Fernando Llano / AP

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Most Venezuelans had never heard of Guaidó – until President Nicolás Maduro’s intelligence agents dragged him from his car near Caracas last week and briefly detained him.

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