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Watching Latin America; NPR's Latino USA Now In Miami; Driving Legislative Session Coverage

Maria Hinojosa, right, is the founder of Futuro Media Group and host of Latino USA for over 25 years. WLRN is the new carrier for Latino USA. The program airs Friday nights at 8 p.m.

Important news involving Latin America affects many South Floridians. U.S.-Cuban relations are strained. Puerto Rico continues to recover three months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the island. Venezuela’s constant political turmoil continues to oppress its citizens. Thus, continuous coverage of Latin America is vital for 2018. WLRN’s America’s editor, Tim Padgett, joined the program to talk about what to expect for Latin America in the new year.

Puerto Rico continues to struggle after the devastation caused by back-to-back storms. Many Puerto Ricans fled to the U.S. mainland after the storms. Many fear that there may not be enough young skilled people left in Puerto Rico to help rebuild the island.

On Monday, the Trump administration ended the Temporary Protected Status for 200,000 Salvadorians leaving them to face deportation. Salvadorians were assigned TPS protection in 2001 after earthquakes devastated the country. Miami has a small congregation of Salvadorians, as the majority lives in the Washington D.C area. They have until September of 2019 to leave the country or obtain a green card.

Presently, El Salvador suffers from gang violence. It has the highest murder rate of a non-warring country, and a rapid influx of returning citizens may destabilize the current socioeconomic atmosphere. However, the Department of Homeland Security says that conditions resulting from the 2001 earthquake no longer exist and that temporary nationals in the U.S may return  to El Salvador.

“I think the full-fledged intent of the Trump administration is to eliminate the TPS program in general,” Padgett said.

Last year, TPS protection was canceled for Nicaraguans and Haitians living in the U.S. The deadline for Nicaraguans is January 2019; for Haitians, July 2019.

Overall, Padgett said that U.S relations in Latin America are at a “low-end.”

Mission Accomplished.

Latino USA, NPR’s only national Latino news and weekly cultural program, is celebrating its 25h anniversary with a new hour-long format and a new South Florida home. WLRN is the new carrier of the nationally syndicated show that explores news, art and culture from a Latino perspective. Maria Hinojosa, anchor and executive producer of the show, joined the program.

“We were born as a result to fulfill the mission of public media,” Hinojosa said. The mission is to bring diversity and excellent programming, which lacked a Latino emphasis when Hinojosa was growing up.

Born in Mexico City but raised in Chicago, Hinojosa  grew up in the midst of the civil rights era, in the time of Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez. She watched the news and listened to public radio and realized Latinos were underrepresented in the stories she heard.

“We never saw ourselves,” she said. “When you have much of the mainstream media without people like me you get a skewed story.” Hinojosa helped launch Latino USA and has been the host of the show for its 25-year run.

Hinojosa desired to creative freedom and entrepreneurship. She founded Futuro Media Group with the mission to continue to focus on diversity and stories often overlooked by mainstream media outlets. The group now produces Latino USA.

“One of our goals was to get on WLRN,” Hinojosa said. The show made its Miami debut on Friday, Jan. 5.  The show will be broadcast every Friday night at 8 p.m.

You can help drive legislative session coverage.

The Florida legislative session is underway. For the next two months, lawmakers will deliberate important issues that can impact people living in Florida. The major issues for the sessions include education, hurricane preparedness, gun control and healthcare.

WLRN wants to give listeners the chance to voice their opinion on which issues  the newsroom should consider. Listeners can text their questions, comments and concerns to the ground source line. Text the letters WLRN to 63735 and follow the instructions to send your inquiries.

Your input can help drive  legislative session coverage.  Visit the WLRN Instagram page for video recaps of the legislative session.