Latin America

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.

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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.

AP (left) and Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Most of America, even some Republicans, were stunned this week by President Trump’s letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That is, the raging, six-page tirade at the articles of impeachment against him — you don’t often see “you have found NOTHING!” typed on Oval Office stationery — which the U.S. House of Representatives approved Wednesday night.

But in South Florida, people probably weren’t all that shocked.

2019 is a record year for dengue fever in Latin America. The mosquito-borne disease has surged across the continent, from Mexico down to Chile and Argentina, with nearly 3 million cases reported.

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. 

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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.

Marcelo Ruiz Mendoza / AP

COMMENTARY

Even by the satanic standards of all the clerical sexual abuse cases the world has learned of, this one is especially evil.

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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.

Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez is wrapping up a trade mission to Colombia on Wednesday with a delegation that included 19 Florida companies hoping to start or expand trade with the South American country.

Juan Karita / AP

Bolivia has been dealing with political unrest since the resignation of former president Evo Morales earlier this week.

Morales, who was elected the country’s first indigenous president, is now in exile in Mexico City. He stepped down amid allegations of fraud in thee most recent presidential election.

Juan Karita / AP

COMMENTARY

Usually the only thing more narrow-minded than a right-wing American wading into Latin American politics is a left-wing American wading into Latin American politics.

Which brings us to U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When left-wing Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned this week and went into exile in Mexico, the left-wing New York congresswoman tweeted he was the victim of a coup – of a “violent power grab.”

Updated at 8:46 p.m. ET

Evo Morales has announced that he is leaving for Mexico, which offered him asylum after he resigned as president of Bolivia.

A number of urgent questions face the nation and its neighbors: Who's in charge? How would a successor be chosen? And should the sudden upheaval be regarded as a military coup or a democratic uprising?

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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.

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