Latin America

Updated at 4:15 a.m. ET on Monday:

The lights came back on late Sunday for some 44 million people in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay after the sudden collapse of an interconnected South American power grid.

At about 7 a.m., the Edesur electric utility tweeted that "a massive failure" left Argentina and Uruguay without power. Electricity was not fully restored until late in the day.

Eduardo Verdugo; Patrick Semansky / AP

COMMENTARY

A conservative Facebook friend in my native Indiana recently endorsed a meme that features right-wing radio rage-monger Rush Limbaugh saying today’s immigrants want to “erase America.”

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?

John Pardo / Courtesy

For Coconut Grove resident John Pardo, "cooking is the ultimate expression of love." That's been true his entire life -- even when he was shot in the back in his hometown of Caracas, Venezuela, causing him to be paralyzed from the waist down.

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.

Fernando Llano / AP via Miami Herald

Florida's U.S. senators are increasing pressure on the Trump administration to act on the crisis in Venezuela, calling it a national security matter.

After a Friday discussion with Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan exiles, Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio chastised Cuba for aiding socialist president Nicolas Maduro in a standoff with U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

The Cuban government denies accusations that it has troops in Venezuela.

The U.S. and more than 50 nations view Maduro's re-election last year as illegitimate because of fraud.

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.

Phil Laubner / Catholic Relief Services

Last week President Trump threatened to close the U.S. southern border because record numbers of Central American migrants are arriving there – including 100,000 apprehended in March. “I’m not playing games,” Trump warned. “We can’t hold people anymore.”

But what’s lost in Trump’s border-security bluster is that there’s something unusual about this wave of Central American migrants. Most are not from Honduras or El Salvador. Most are instead from Guatemala. And immigrant advocates say the main force driving them to flee here is climate change.

Fernando Llano / AP

The political turmoil in Venezuela continues to intensify.

On Tuesday, officials loyal to President Nicolas Maduro stripped opposition leader Juan Guaidó of immunity – which means he could face prosecution and arrest.

In January, Guaidó declared himself Venezuela’s interim president. More than 50 countries, including the United States, have recognized him as president.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

It’s been less than a month since the visitor visas for Cubans coming to the U.S. were scaled down. A lot.

They used to be good for five years and you could come in again and again – similar to U.S. visitor visas for people from many other countries. But now: three months – and just one visit. And that’s clouded the future of Cuban entrepreneurs like Rubén Valladares.

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