Americas

Menly Cortez / State Innovation Exchange

Two months ago, Democratic state Rep. Cindy Polo of Miami Lakes visited a prison in El Salvador. Polo met an inmate named Berta Margarita Arana, a Salvadoran woman serving eight years for attempting an abortion.

YouTube

In 2012, the Presidents of Venezuela and Iran met at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. The bromance between Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad alarmed Washington, since Venezuela and Iran were (and still are) sworn enemies of the U.S. So Chávez had fun joking that Ahmadinejad had come to help him “fire large missiles” at America.

That remark may have sounded merely mischievous back then. But not today. Not with the U.S. and Iran actually trading missile fire this month and raising fears of a larger military conflict.

Julie Jacobson / AP via Miami Herald

Port-au-Prince was a canyon of crushed concrete and horrified screams as Jean Samson Edouard ran panicked and barefoot through the capital’s Carrefour-Feuilles district.

It was shortly before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010 — a decade ago this Sunday. A magnitude-7.0 earthquake had just destroyed much of Haiti — and killed anywhere between 100,000 and 200,000 people, according to most estimates (although the Haitian government had put the toll as high as 300,000).

Rodrigo Abd / AP

It's hard to wrap your arms around everything that happened 2019 in Latin America and the Caribbean. It's even harder to find any good news — from the violent political unrest that rocked capitals from La Paz to Port-au-Prince, to a record number of fires that ravaged the Amazon rainforest.

Courtsey Sonny Holtzman

Thirty years ago this Friday – Dec. 20, 1989 – the U.S. invaded Panama. The main objective was to capture the Panamanian dictator, General Manuel Noriega, who was wanted in the U.S. for drug trafficking. The invasion also restored democracy in Panama.

What's less known is that the effort in Washington to oust Noriega started in Miami, at what was then Dadeland Bank. The bank was owned by Panamanian exiles — and the man who connected them to Congress in the 1980s was a board member: Miami attorney Sylvan “Sonny” Holtzman.

Broward County Convention Center
Courtesy of Broward County / WLRN

This post was updated with additional information at 5:09 p.m. Tuesday Dec. 3. 

Plans to build a Latin American and Caribbean Presidential Library in Fort Lauderdale are still on hold.

Broward County Commissioners voted 5 - to - 3 to indefinitely defer funding the project at a meeting Tuesday. 

YouTube

Last month a big anniversary in the western hemisphere went largely unnoticed in the U.S.

Havana – one of the oldest capitals in the Americas – celebrated its 500th birthday. Among the few Americans at the fiesta was former Key West city commissioner and Cuba native Tony Yaniz.

WSVN via YouTube

Twenty years ago this week, on Thanksgiving Day, a 5-year-old Cuban boy named Elián González was found floating on an inner tube in the Atlantic off Fort Lauderdale. His mother had taken him with her fleeing communist Cuba. She drowned. For the next seven months, Elián was the focus of a bizarre tug-of -war between his father in Cuba and his Cuban exile relatives in Miami – who wanted to keep Elián in the U.S.

David J. Phillip / Associated Press

Few issues dominate our politics today more passionately than immigration, but we rarely see the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border dramatized in fiction. Now Texas author and border native Oscar Cásares has written what one critic calls a “quietly suspenseful” novel titled “Where We Come From.”

Instagram

Two years ago, Levin de Grazia told WLRN he was the victim of a malicious online defamation campaign.

“This situation is like a witch hunt,” he said.

De Grazia is a Venezuela native and co-owner of the Bocas restaurant chain in South Florida. He’s based in Doral – the largest Venezuelan enclave in the U.S. – and he feared the effort to smear his name could ruin his business.

“It could break us,” he said at the time. “No Venezuelans want to go to a Chavista restaurant.”

Daniela Granadillo / MDC Idea Center

Of all the problems immigrants need to solve when they settle in the U.S., Yllis Hernandez faced the kind that so often leads to a business.

Courtesy Bibenetakole

We first met Christherson Jeanty last week in our report on Haiti's grave political and economic crises. Jeanty was born in Haiti, grew up in Pompano Beach — and now lives in Haiti, where he owns a job placement and outsourcing firm. He also hosts an internet talk show, “Haiti Biz News,” on his YouTube channel SeeJeanty.

Rebecca Blackwell / AP

Over the weekend Haitians again took to the streets of Port-au-Prince to demand the ouster of President Jovenel Moïse. They've been protesting for a year now – and they say they’re tired of an endless economic crisis that’s made it hard to find food and fuel. Or to pay for it if they do find it.

NEON

Midway through the new Colombian film “Monos,” there is a haunting moment that illuminates, literally, the evil of using children as soldiers.

Rafael Urdaneta Rojas / AP

Are Venezuela and Colombia headed for war? Believe it or not, that's the big worry in South America right now.

Pages