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. 

Last week José Molleja became one of the countless Venezuelans stranded on the border between Colombia and Ecuador.

The 22-year-old Venezuelan can’t find enough work to live in crisis-torn Venezuela. So he spent a week on a bus getting from Caracas to join relatives who’d already emigrated to Ecuador.

But when Molleja arrived he was stunned. Before, Ecuador had only asked Venezuelans to show a photo ID to enter the country. Now the country was suddenly making them present passports.

This week the U.S. froze assets in South Florida worth hundreds of millions of dollars. They belong to people charged with embezzling and laundering Venezuelan oil money. South Florida bankers are getting tuned in to this Venezuelan problem.

COMMENTARY

As a Roman Catholic, I’m supposed to be encouraged by the anguished letter Pope Francis issued this week. The one in which he condemns the monstrous and never-ending “atrocities” of sexual abuse of children by priests – and their equally monstrous and never-ending cover-up by bishops.

But I’m not hopeful.

That’s because aside from being a Catholic I’m also a Latin Americanist – and I know how badly Francis, the first Latin American pope, failed Latin America in this crisis. That's why Latin Americans, particularly South Americans, seem to understand that this criminal tragedy won’t be solved by a papal crackdown on the priesthood. It can only really be addressed by a papal crack-up of that priesthood.

Critics joke that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blames the U.S. – especially his Venezuelan foes living in the U.S. – whenever he stubs his toe. And most of the world ignores his leftist scapegoating.

But this month the world is wondering, cautiously, if Maduro might have a case, at least when it comes to some Venezuelans residing here.

Oil-rich Venezuela has the world’s cheapest gasoline. But it’s also dealing with the world’s worst economic crisis. So desperately cash-strapped Venezuelans are about to pay a lot more at the pump.

Last week, the new President of Colombia, Iván Duque, swore in his vice president, Marta Lucía Ramírez.

She is Colombia’s first female vice president.

COMMENTARY

It’s tempting to call last weekend’s failed drone attack on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro daring.

Unfortunately, the only thing you can ultimately call it is dumb – because assassination attempts are only going to make Maduro dig in, not give in.

When Maduro claimed last Saturday he’d been the target of exploding drones, the world was rightly skeptical. He and his socialist regime are shamelessly notorious for concocting assassination conspiracies to divert attention from their disastrous and dictatorial rule.

It's August. And as we approach the most intense period of the hurricane season, a lot of us are thinking: How warm are the waters in the Atlantic and the Caribbean? How much fuel is out there for hurricanes to feed on?

What most of us don’t know is that the ocean waters here have an unusual feature that can actually help fuel hurricanes. We’re learning more about that now thanks to researchers like Johna Rudzin at the University of Miami.

In recent weeks Cuba’s communist government has been rolling out a revision to the island’s 1976 Constitution. The regime is now making an unusual outreach for feedback – across the Florida Straits.

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.

Venezuelan officials released videos that seem to confirm President Nicolás Maduro was the target of a drone attack on Saturday. And that’s made Maduro’s opponents fearful of a hard regime crackdown.

COMMENTARY

Some thought it stunning last week when former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe announced he was resigning his Senate seat to defend himself in a criminal investigation.

But actually it was very fitting.

Last week we learned that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro may be under investigation in the U.S. for money-laundering. But it turns out Maduro has more immediate problems – like keeping his country’s lights on.

When the year started, we were astounded to hear Venezuela’s 2018 inflation rate could top 13,000 percent. That’s pretty bad hyperinflation. But Venezuelans now look at that forecast as the good news.

Florida Congresswoman Lois Frankel recently toured the U.S. southern border, talking to undocumented parents and children separated by President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.

During a forum this month at the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth, Frankel, a Democrat from West Palm Beach, heard how that border policy has begun to touch the Florida peninsula. Frankel interviewed a woman from Guatemala whose cousin was one of the migrants stopped at the border this year and separated from her child – a 10-year-old boy.

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