Tim Padgett

Tim Padgett is WLRN-Miami Herald News' Americas correspondent covering Latin America and the Caribbean from Miami. He has covered Latin America for almost 25 years, for Newsweek as its Mexico City bureau chief from 1990 to 1996, and for Time as its Latin America bureau chief, first in Mexico from 1996 to 1999 and then in Miami, where he also covered Florida and the U.S. Southeast, from 1999 to 2013.

Padgett has interviewed more than 20 heads of state, including former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and he was one of the few U.S. correspondents to sit down with the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez during his 14-year rule. He has reported on, and written cover articles about, every major Latin American and Caribbean story from NAFTA, the Cuban economic collapse and Colombian civil war of the 1990s to the Brazilian boom, Venezuelan revolution and Mexican drug-war carnage of the 2000s. In 2005, Padgett received Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the oldest international award in journalism, for his body of work from the region. His 1993 Newsweek cover, “Cocaine Comes Home,” won the Inter-American Press Association’s drug-war coverage award.

A U.S. native from Indiana, Padgett received his bachelor’s degree in 1984 from Wabash College as an English major. He was an intern reporter at Newsday in 1982 and 1983. In 1985 Padgett received a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School before studying in Caracas, Venezuela, at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. He started his professional journalism career in 1985 at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he led the newspaper’s coverage of the 1986 immigration reform. In 1988 he joined Newsweek in its Chicago bureau. Padgett has also written for publications such as The New Republic and America, and he has been a frequent analyst on CNN, Fox and NPR, as well as Spanish-language networks such as Univision.

Padgett has been an adult literacy volunteer since 1989. He currently lives in Miami with his wife and two children. 

By the end of this year, an estimated 3 million Venezuelans will have left their country – and the humanitarian crisis there – since 2015. The U.S. government just made another contribution to help those Venezuelans get settled in other countries.
 

This month the big topic of discussion about Venezuela isn’t focused on its plummeting oil output or food shortages or economic collapse. It’s about invasion.

According to reports, last year President Trump told top aides he wanted to order a military invasion of Venezuela.

Those aides talked him out of it, of course. But the reports have Venezuelans like 19-year-old Camila Duarte feeling confused – and irritated.

COMMENTARY

Right now The Beautiful Game doesn’t look so pretty on this side of the pond.

When Belgium knocked Brazil out of the World Cup in Russia last Friday, it meant no team from the Western Hemisphere would make it to the tournament’s semi-finals for the first time since 2006. Soccer pundits immediately began waxing about the seemingly waning role of the Americas on the global fútbol stage.

We haven’t heard much from Miguel Díaz-Canel since he became the new President of Cuba three months ago. But new regulations for private Cuban businesses came out Tuesday - and they may confirm fears that Díaz-Canel doesn’t wield much power.

The past few days in Nicaragua have been some of the bloodiest since protesters began calling for the removal of President Daniel Ortega in April. International human rights groups – and Nicaraguans in South Florida – are calling on the world to do more.

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.

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.

Human rights groups say the number of anti-government protesters killed by security forces in Nicaragua has risen sharply in recent days. That's prompted a key anti-government activist – who had fled to Miami – to go back to Nicaragua.

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.

COMMENTARY

I’m a critic of U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s push to isolate Cuba, which I consider an outdated means of achieving change on the communist island. But I’m an admirer of the Miami Republican in most other regards – especially her fundamental decency.

She reminded me why last year, when she didn’t show up in Little Havana for President Trump’s get-tough-on-Cuba show. Sources close to her tell me she found the Republican president’s “rollback” of U.S.-Cuba relations about as meaningful as one of his late-night tweets. More important, she really didn’t want to be in the same camera frame with Trump – a guy she seems to find as bereft of fundamental decency as most Americans do.

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.

More than 130 people have been killed in anti-government protests raging in Nicaragua since April. Demonstrators are calling for the removal of authoritarian President Daniel Ortega – but his security forces have responded with widely condemned brutality.

Rescue workers have suspended efforts at the Fuego volcano eruption in Guatemala, which has killed 109 people and left 200 missing. Officials in Miami-Dade County – home to a large Guatemalan population – launched a drive for relief aid on Thursday.

COMMENTARY

Here’s the logic behind the Trump Administration’s wrongheaded policy of separating undocumented migrant parents from their children when they’re detained: It’s only doing what law enforcement does any time it arrests suspects – who, after all, don’t get to take their kids to jail with them.

But the logic snaps when the Trumpistas also insist separating families this way is a big deterrent to illegal immigration. Just like it deters all crime, right?

Medellín is one of the century's most impressive comeback stories. Colombia's second largest city was once synonymous with the late cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and drug cartel terrorism. Today it's a modern, thriving - and mostly peaceful - metropolis.

But Medellín still can't shake its bloody reputation, as evidenced by the popularity of 'narco tours,' which show visitors key sites from the city's criminal past.

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