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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.

University of Miami Center for Civic and Community Engagement

A new tool created by the University of Miami Center for Civic and Community Engagement identifies potential land around Miami-Dade County that can be used for affordable housing. Called LAND, which stands for "Land Access for Neighborhood Development," it identifies parcels of empty or underutilized land. 

Alejandra Martinez / WLRN

Mark Richt announced his retirement as the head coach for the University of Miami football program last December and the school didn't waste time looking for his replacement. There was only one name that mattered and he had just taken a job as the head coach at Temple.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald

On Thursday Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro will be sworn in after his unconstitutional re-election. Much of the world considers his socialist regime a dictatorship – and a disastrous one: Venezuela is suffering the worst economic collapse in the world right now.

But is it also a dangerous one? Lately the U.S. and much of Latin America are calling Venezuela an erratic security threat. It's escalating tensions with its neighbors – and last month welcomed Russian bomber planes into the country.

To understand what's going on with Venezuela, WLRN’s Tim Padgett spoke with Bruce Bagley, a University of Miami international studies professor and an expert on South American security issues.

Who Is Manny Diaz? A Closer Look At The New Miami Hurricanes Head Football Coach

Dec 31, 2018
Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Within a span of 12 hours, the Miami Hurricanes went from announcing that their head football coach was retiring to naming a familiar face as his replacement.

Out is Mark Richt, who stepped down Sunday after 18 years as a head coach, including the past three at his alma mater UM.

His replacement: Manny Diaz, Richt’s defensive coordinator all three years at Miami who had accepted the head coaching job at Temple earlier this month on Dec. 12.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Immigrant caravans – and family separation. Venezuela and Nicaragua rocked by refugee and human rights crises. Someone not named Castro becoming president of Cuba; Brazil and Mexico electing populists as presidents – one of them with a big reputation for sexism. But women surging big at the polls, too.

Marine Research Hub
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

A collaboration of marine researchers presented their research projects at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show Thursday, in hopes of finding funds and support among boaters with a stake in the state's waterways.  

Members of the collaboration include South Florida universities and business development agencies.  

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.

Dieu Nalio Chery / AP

Folks on Haiti’s north coast are still shaken after Saturday night’s strong earthquake there killed at least a dozen people and injured almost 200. The quake was produced by a Caribbean fault line that’s been relatively quiet for centuries.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

The president of the University of Miami is hoping to significantly increase the institution’s endowment — and its national and international stature — ahead of its centennial celebration in 2025.

President Julio Frenk calls the private university’s newly adopted strategic plan a “roadmap to our new century.”

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to become a university not just of Miami, not just of this country, but also of the world,” Frenk said during a state of the university speech on Monday night.

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.

COURTESY OF JAMARAH AMANI

When Jamarah Amani sent her daughter to a one-week STEM summer camp at the University of Miami, she expected her 12-year old to come home excited to share all of the cool things she was learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Instead, on the second day of camp, Mahoro Amani told her mom that she was called the n-word and a derogatory term for lesbian by a white camp participant.

“She didn't come home and tell me, ‘This is what I learned in camp today.’ She came home and said,  ‘I was called a n----r to my face.”

University of Miami

Scholarship on Cuba at the University of Miami has been the subject of controversy lately. But at least one part of UM’s Cuban studies is getting a fresh start on Monday.

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