Americas

University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Thanks to research done at the University of Miami, we know the epic dust clouds that drift out of North Africa may sometimes prevent hurricanes. (They block the solar energy those cyclones need to form out in the Atlantic.) Now UM scientists have made another discovery linking Africa and the Americas – and this time it’s about smoke. They’ve found that fire smoke from southern Africa also floats our way and has a big, often beneficial impact on the Amazon rainforest and our oceans.

Michel Euler / AP

In Paris last week, Egan Bernal became the first Colombian – and the first Latin American – to ever win the Super Bowl of cycling: the Tour de France. At one point during his victory ceremony near the city’s Arc de Triomphe, an NBC sports commentator mused that “the Colombians have taken over” – and he may not have been far off.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

In the U.S. today we use hashtags to hash out everything in our lives, from women’s rights to cancelled flights. But in Cuba, socialism has kept social media out of people’s lives.

Until now.

Wilfredo Lee / AP

Miami is often called the capital of Latin America. So when 20 Democratic presidential candidates gathered for debates in Miami last week, WLRN’s Americas editor Tim Padgett thought he'd hear more about Latin America policy. But as Padgett told WLRN’s Luis Hernandez, he and a lot of other South Floridians were disappointed.

Catharine Skipp / University of Miami Law School

When Sergio Moro gave a lecture at the University of Miami last year he got a loud, standing ovation — because what he was doing in Brazil struck a loud, resounding chord in South Florida.

Moro was the man who was draining the deep, fetid swamp of corruption in Brazil.

Matias J. Ocner / Miami Herald

Last week President Trump dealt another blow to the U.S. policy of engagement with communist Cuba. He banned U.S. people-to-people travel to Cuba – and also cruise line travel, which last year carried an estimated 800,000 passengers to the island. It was just the latest rollback of the normalization of relations that Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, began five years ago. And it raises the question: Does U.S. engagement with Cuba have a future anymore?

YouTube

During heavy rains last year in a small town outside Havana, people saw something remarkable. Large freshwater catfish called claria were swimming in the flooded streets. In a video posted on YouTube, excited locals splash out to grab them.

But that happy scene was also an environmental alert. Claria are an invasive species in Cuba. They’re supposed to be confined to aquaculture fisheries, where they’re bred for food. Outside those farms – as these claria obviously were – they’re notorious for devouring anything in their paths.

Ariana Cubillos / AP

Last week representatives of Venezuela's socialist regime and its political opposition met for talks in Oslo, Norway. Norway had offered earlier this year to mediate between the two sides – but news of the meetings was a surprise, because less than a month ago opposition leader Juan Guaidó called (unsuccessfully) for an outright military overthrow of authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro.

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.

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