Americas

Courtesy Guerda Nicolas

Haiti’s misfortunes – extreme poverty, political crises, natural disasters – are more than just material. They’ve also led to mental health issues. And until recently those were rarely adequately addressed in Haiti. That’s changed – and Guerda Nicolas is a big reason why.

Nicolas is a professor of psychology at the University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development, and the American Psychological Association just awarded her its international humanitarian award for her work promoting mental health services in Haiti.

Manuel Rueda

Last week José Molleja became one of the countless Venezuelans stranded on the border between Colombia and Ecuador.

The 22-year-old Venezuelan can’t find enough work to live in crisis-torn Venezuela. So he spent a week on a bus getting from Caracas to join relatives who’d already emigrated to Ecuador.

But when Molleja arrived he was stunned. Before, Ecuador had only asked Venezuelans to show a photo ID to enter the country. Now the country was suddenly making them present passports.

Venezuelan Government

Critics joke that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blames the U.S. – especially his Venezuelan foes living in the U.S. – whenever he stubs his toe. And most of the world ignores his leftist scapegoating.

But this month the world is wondering, cautiously, if Maduro might have a case, at least when it comes to some Venezuelans residing here.

Natacha Pisarenko / AP via Miami Herald

Last week, the new President of Colombia, Iván Duque, swore in his vice president, Marta Lucía Ramírez.

She is Colombia’s first female vice president.

Peter Haden / WLRN.org

Florida Congresswoman Lois Frankel recently toured the U.S. southern border, talking to undocumented parents and children separated by President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.

During a forum this month at the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth, Frankel, a Democrat from West Palm Beach, heard how that border policy has begun to touch the Florida peninsula. Frankel interviewed a woman from Guatemala whose cousin was one of the migrants stopped at the border this year and separated from her child – a 10-year-old boy.

Gilda Cespedes

The burn scars on Jaime Paz Zamora’s face and body are the most vivid reminders of why many consider him a hero of Latin American democracy.

In 1980, Paz was a vice presidential candidate in Bolivia, campaigning in an election meant to restore democratic rule after decades of military dictatorship.

One day, the small plane carrying Paz and his staff crashed after takeoff. Everyone on board was killed – except Paz. Authorities later called it an assassination attempt by military leaders.

Marco Ugarte / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Latin American governments often get a boost from the success of their national soccer teams. But Mexico’s emocionante advance at the World Cup on Wednesday probably can’t save the country’s ruling party from humiliating defeat in Sunday’s presidential election.

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Ariana Colón’s 1-year-old son Sebastian shows off his first word – “Mamá” – as she speaks with me over the phone from the hotel room in Kissimmee, Florida, where they’ve been living this year.

Along with Sebastian’s father, they arrived there shortly after Hurricane Maria devastated their home island, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, last September.

The family has benefited from a federal program for disaster victims called Transitional Sheltering Assistance. It pays their hotel tab while they find gainful employment and permanent housing.

But meeting landlord conditions for that housing has proven as difficult for Puerto Ricans like Colón as it so often does for longtime Florida residents.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Ramon Espinosa; Evan Vucci / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Intellectual honesty is rarely a politician’s strong suit. But Florida Senator Marco Rubio showed us just how epic his hypocrisy is when he didn't denounce President Trump’s bromance this week with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. So epic it can only be explained by a line from another epic, “Lawrence of Arabia.”

To wit: There’s a big difference between a politician who merely hides the truth and a politician who’s forgotten where he put it.

Ariana Cubillos / AP

Last month Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro won another six year term in an election widely considered fraudulent. He tightened his authoritarian socialist regime's hold on Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves on the globe but is suffering the world's worst economic collapse today. As a result,  Venezuela experts say the opposition to Maduro desperately needs new leadership.

Paul Smith / UNHCR

CÚCUTA, COLOMBIA | La casa de Angélica Lamos es uno de los pocos lugares en Cúcuta donde se puede oir a los niños refugiados venezolanos reír en vez de llorar. De hecho, los niños chillan de placer jugando con globos en el patio de la casa mientras el ritmo alegre de una cumbia se cuela desde el café de la esquina.

No están desnutridos. No están enfermos.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

CÚCUTA, COLOMBIA | No es fácil para Jesús Mendoza hablar de todas las cosas que ha tenido que vender para comprar medicinas - medicinas que lo mantienen con vida.

Jesús recibió un transplante de riñón y tiene que tomar medicinas para no rechazar el órgano, sin importar cuánto cuestan. Y como Jesús vive en Venezuela, el precio es frecuentemente astronómico.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

CÚCUTA, COLOMBIA | Así suena la crisis de refugiados huyendo de Venezuela: los puños, nudillos y las manos abiertas de venezolanos indigentes -y sobretodo hambrientos- tocando las puertas de metal de las estaciones de ayuda humanitaria establecidas en la ciudad de Cúcuta, en el lado colombiano de la frontera.

Paul Smith / UNHCR

CÚCUTA, COLOMBIA | Angélica Lamos’ house is one of the few places in Cúcuta where you can hear Venezuelan refugee children laughing instead of crying. The kids are squealing, in fact, playing with balloons in the courtyard as jaunty cumbia music wafts in from a corner cafe.

They’re not malnourished. They’re not sick.

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