Americas

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.

Victor R. Caivano / AP

Last week Brazilian soldiers were working to put out this year’s record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest. The irony is that they were there on the orders of their commander-in-chief, President Jair Bolsonaro – because he’s trying to put out another kind of fire.

NOAA via AP

Hurricane Dorian is predicted to finally leave the Bahamas Tuesday after spending two days wrecking - and in many places drowning -  the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

WLRN’s Sundial host Luis Hernandez spoke with Americas editor Tim Padgett about the Bahamas devastation – and the urgent need to help make South Florida’s island neighbors more resilient to monster storms.

Facebook

In the past year, Cuba’s communist government has finally granted its citizens mobile internet access and legalized WiFi in their homes and businesses. The media are now fond of saying the island is getting wired for the first time ever.

But in reality, Cubans have had their own online platform for most of this century. Now, Cubans like Denisse Delgado are worried the state is taking it away.

Ingebjorg Karstad / Norwegian Refugee Council

The U.N. announced last week it has to ramp up humanitarian aid to Venezuelans. But it admits this new effort to deliver more food, medicine and other essentials to Venezuela will be “modest in terms of responding to the scale of needs” there. A new survey shows as much as a fifth of Venezuela's population have fled the country – and that number is rising.

WLRN’s Luis Hernandez spoke with Americas editor Tim Padgett about where the Venezuela crisis is going – especially since the socialist regime critics say is responsible for the mess doesn't look to be going anywhere soon.

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.

You Tube

When Silvia Sarmiento saw the photo of drowned Salvadoran migrants Oscar Martínez and his toddler daughter Valeria, she gasped and recalled how close she'd come to their fate.

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.

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