Latin America

Sam Turken / WLRN

South Florida Democrats said Monday the U.S. must increase pressure on the Venezuelan government to end a devastating humanitarian crisis that has forced millions of people to flee the country.

Rampant inflation and corruption has left Venezuela with dire shortages of food, water, medical supplies and electricity. During a roundtable discussion with Venezuelan community activists in Sunrise, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the U.S. has given the crisis limited attention.

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The U.S. just slapped heavier economic sanctions on the Nicaraguan government for its violent repression of protesters. Among the Nicaraguans denouncing that regime here in South Florida is the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Luis Enrique. Known as the “Prince of Salsa,”  Luis Enrique today lives in Miami – where his new protest anthem “Mordaza” is a popular hit.

Manuel Rueda / WLRN News

ABOARD THE USNS COMFORT | A few years ago, Dr. Juan Manuel Zambrano was a family physician in Mucuchíes, Venezuela, in the country’s mountainous western Andes region. That is, until the day he realized Venezuela’s medicine and medical equipment shortages made it all but impossible for him to practice anymore.

Brazil has rescinded its bid to host a major U.N. conference on climate change next year, raising questions about how the incoming far-right administration will handle environmental issues.

Brazil's foreign ministry made the announcement, saying it withdrew its offer due to "the current fiscal and budget constraints, which are expected to remain in the near future," according to a statement provided to The Associated Press.

Eraldo Peres / AP via Miami Herald

This month Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro took a hard line against communist Cuba. The right-wing congressman said when he becomes President in January, he’ll take aim at a program that pays thousands of Cuban doctors to work in Brazil.

Jose Iglesias / Miami Herald

In remarks made in Doral on Monday, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and a retiring commander of U.S. military operations in the Caribbean and much of Latin America offered starkly different readings of the state of security in the Western Hemisphere.

The comments came during a change of command ceremony for the U.S. Southern Command, or SOUTHCOM, the branch of the Pentagon that oversees operations in the Caribbean as well as Central and South America.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

José Ignacio Valenzuela is one of Latin America’s most popular authors. His “Malamor” trilogy is among the best-selling young adult novels in the Spanish-speaking world today. The trilogy’s first part – “To the End of the World” – was just translated into English.

Valenzuela was born in Chile and often goes by the nickname “Chascas.” He now lives here in Palmetto Bay with his husband – and he sat down with WLRN’s Tim Padgett to talk about his romantic, magical-realist fantasy novels and their bilingual appeal.

Brazilian Expeditionary Museum

Would America have won World War II if hadn’t won Latin America over to its side? Veteran foreign correspondent Mary Jo McConahay answers that question in her new book, “The Tango War: The Struggle for the Hearts, Minds and Riches of Latin America During World War II.”

Tara Chadwick / Courtesy

When I was a little girl, my mom told me, “Nadie sabe lo que tiene hasta que lo ve perdido,” which translates to, "you don’t know what you've got til it's gone."

Her words still resonate with me today, especially since this is my first year away from Texas – my home.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Earlier this month, thousands of Brazilian expats converged on downtown Miami to vote in the first round of Brazil’s presidential election.

It wasn’t hard to figure out who their favorite candidate was. Most erupted in cheers when a truck passed the polling station with an electronic billboard flashing the picture of right-wing Congressman Jair Bolsonaro.

Rising rates of homicides and drug violence have created an overflow at Mexico's morgues. So much so, that several cities have resorted to storing dead bodies in refrigerated trailers.

This sparked a national scandal after some residents complained about the stench coming from one of the trailers parked in their neighborhood in the western city of Guadalajara.

Christian Palma / AP via Miami Herald

Mexico was in the news a lot last week. It hailed a new trade agreement with the U.S. and Canada to replace NAFTA – and President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador and President Trump even spoke by phone about ways to improve Mexico’s economic development in order to reduce illegal immigration.

“We estimate joint investments of more than $30 billion toward that effort,” López Obrador said then in Mexico City. It was a major break from the animosity that’s existed between Mexico and the U.S. since Trump was elected two years ago after running a campaign that insulted Mexico – and Mexicans – at about every stop.

So this feels like a big moment for Mexico, which is economically and politically the most important country in Latin America for the U.S. Yet in this part of the U.S. – Florida and especially South Florida – we’re so focused on Cuba and South America that we rarely think about Mexico.

The University of Miami thinks that has to change.

Five South American countries and Canada have asked the International Criminal Court, a Netherlands-based tribunal, to place Venezuela under investigation for crimes against humanity. This is the first time a country has been referred to the ICC for investigation by an outside state. Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Paraguay and Canada submitted their request on Wednesday to the court.

Keith Dannemiller/Photo courtesty of the International Organization for Migration ©2014 IOM

Central America is now the largest source of undocumented migration across the U.S. southern border. The U.S. government has ramped up deportations of Central Americans to deter people from coming. In June, Vice President Mike Pence even traveled to Guatemala to warn Central Americans: "Come to the U.S. legally or don't come at all."

And yet they keep coming. A new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University says that’s because the U.S. is in denial about the real reason Central Americans continue leaving home. It's not poverty, they say, but violence.

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