Tim Padgett

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.

Padgett has reported on Latin America for more than 30 years - including for Newsweek as its Mexico City bureau chief and for Time as its Latin America and Miami bureau chief - from the end of Central America's civil wars to the current normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations. He has interviewed more than 20 heads of state.

In 2005, Padgett received Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize for his body of work in Latin America. In 2016 he won a national Edward R. Murrow award for the radio series "The Migration Maze," about the brutal causes of - and potential solutions to - Central American migration.

Padgett is an Indiana native and a graduate of Wabash College. He received a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School and studied  in Caracas, Venezuela, at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. He has been an adult literacy volunteer and is a member of the Catholic poverty aid organization St. Vincent de Paul.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Democratic presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders has upset Cubans in South Florida with his recent remarks praising Fidel Castro. But it’s not just conservative Cuban Americans who are dismayed by Sanders’ rhetoric.

Hurricane Dorian is predicted to finally leave the Bahamas Tuesday after spending two days wrecking - and in many places drowning -  the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

WLRN’s Sundial host Luis Hernandez spoke with Americas editor Tim Padgett about the Bahamas devastation – and the urgent need to help make South Florida’s island neighbors more resilient to monster storms.

The haunting pictures of smoke in Brazil this week have made the world aware of the emergency level of Amazon deforestation. Brazil experts here warn South Floridians this crisis is not as distant as it seems.

COMMENTARY

Good riddance, Ricky.

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló has finally agreed to resign, effective August 2, after protesters all but shut down the Caribbean island this week demanding he get lost.

But I’ll at least give Rosselló this: Ironically, his crass, clueless performance as governor has helped strengthen the case for what he’s always said is a key solution to Puerto Rico’s problems: statehood.

Last month President Trump said he was considering granting Venezuelans living in the U.S. Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. But it turns out it was best those Venezuelans didn’t get their hopes up.

COMMENTARY

Border Patrol clowns on Facebook to the right of me. Open-border jokers at Democratic debates to the left. Here I am, America, stuck in the middle with you on the Fourth of July.

This report will be updated during the evening.

8:00 pm

After traveling here from Springfield, Illinois, Mark Daniels paced up and down outside the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami - the site of the two Democratic presidential debates - and waved yarmulkes for sale. That is, yarmulkes engraved with the names of the 20 different candidates taking part in the debates - and even one with President Trump's.

COMMENTARY

It’s a photo that makes a cry of pain slip from your throat.

Lying face down on the bank of the Rio Grande in Mexico are the corpses of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Martínez and his toddler daughter Valeria. She is tucked inside his T-shirt; her tiny arm still clings to his neck. They drowned trying to cross the river into the U.S. this week – another tragic image, another border Pietà, for America’s bitter conversation about immigration and the suffering of migrant families.

It’s no surprise the Democratic presidential hopefuls in Miami for debates this week want to reverse President Trump’s Cuba policy. But it’s not completely certain most Cuban-American voters will want that.

Venezuelans are still a relatively small voter bloc in Florida. But they’re growing, thanks to the crisis in Venezuela. And a survey was released Tuesday that Democratic presidential candidates gathered here this week may want to see.

When Sergio Moro gave a lecture at the University of Miami last year he got a loud, standing ovation — because what he was doing in Brazil struck a loud, resounding chord in South Florida.

Moro was the man who was draining the deep, fetid swamp of corruption in Brazil.

COMMENTARY

Every few months now, Vice President Mike Pence drops into Miami-Dade County to remind voters the Trump Administration is putting the squeeze on Venezuela’s dictatorial dimwit president, Nicolás Maduro.

The U.S. Navy is again deploying its medical ship Comfort to Latin America – this time from PortMiami. Vice President Mike Pence was here Tuesday to see Comfort off – and he made clear its key mission is to aid the exploding number of Venezuelan refugees.

Last week Haiti saw violent street clashes between police and protesters calling for the ouster of President Jovenel Moïse. Moïse is accused of embezzling a million dollars in public funds earmarked for building new roads in rural Haiti – a case that’s part of a $2 billion embezzlement scandal rocking the western hemisphere’s poorest nation.

Moïse denies the charge. Still, the alleged larceny hits Haiti where it hurts most: its ruined agriculture industry.

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.”

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?

The desperate exodus from Venezuela hit another startling milestone on Friday. But that’s not the only disturbing news from the crisis-wracked South American country.

COMMENTARY

I’m as big a fan of the U.S. national women’s soccer team as you’ll find.

On Tuesday the Trump Administration further tightened U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba. This time the changes are heavy – and a potential blow to an important South Florida industry.

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.

Venezuela’s authoritarian regime is still in power. But that hasn’t stopped the country’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó from conducting a parallel government.

Guaidó declared himself Venezuela’s legitimate president this year, and the U.S. and more than 50 other countries recognize him.

Tuesday night his ambassador to the U.S., Carlos Vecchio, visited Doral to talk with Venezuelan expats about a new website where they can register for consular services Guaidó hopes to offer them, such as new Venezuelan passports.

Earlier this year the U.S. all but cut off oil imports from Venezuela to put more pressure on the country’s authoritarian regime. Now another major importer looks like it’s turning its back on Venezuela.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are finally rebounding after suffering two major hurricanes back-to-back. One tourism innovation may have played a part in that.

COMMENTARY

Broward County Mayor Mark Bogen was right to get worked up last week. He blasted the Trump Administration when it seemed poised to release thousands of migrants detained at the U.S.’s southern border into Broward and Palm Beach Counties each year. (The administration, which never confirmed the reports, has since backed off.)

But in his outrage, Bogen made a rather bogus assertion: “We are not a border state.”

When we talk about security in the Americas these days, Venezuela dominates the conversation. That was the case Wednesday at Florida International University – where the top U.S. military official here addressed the debate over U.S. intervention in the Venezuela crisis.

Authorities in Broward and Palm Beach counties are rejecting a new plan by Border Patrol that would deliver around 1,000 migrants every month to South Florida, arguing that it would burden the already overstretched resources of the counties and could put communities in danger.

COMMENTARY

As a U.S. correspondent who covers Latin America and the Caribbean from South Florida, I chafe watching my country acquire traits of the developing nations I write about. Obscene wealth disparities. Zero-sum tribal politics. Mass incarceration.

And now, extremist attacks on abortion rights.

Most of the stories about Central American migrant children coming to the U.S. in recent years have been sad ones. That’s especially true of Guatemalan children. Since December, three Guatemalan minors have died while in U.S. immigration custody – including a 16-year-old boy in Texas this month.

Which is why Mayra Pedro Andrés’ story matters.

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