Tim Padgett

Americas Editor

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. 

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Latin America Report
7:11 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

How Panama Cut Poor Kids Out Of A Florida Millionaire's Will

BEQUEST BATTLE: Impoverished children in Panama.
Credit Appropriate Projects

Panama today is best known for its economic boom, and rightly so. But unfortunately, poverty and piracy remain as much a part of the country's image as the Panama Canal.

According to the World Bank, half of Panama’s children are poor. A fifth of them are malnourished. Those underfed kids cram Panama charity centers like Nutre Hogar. On a recent visit there I saw the devastating effects of child malnutrition, including brain damage.

“We don’t only feed them,” one Nutre Hogar staff member told me. “We spend a lot of time repairing their motor skills.”

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Opinion
10:14 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Why Brazil's Futebol Failure Is the Best Thing For The Country

ROLE MODEL: Neymar before his World Cup injury
Credit Flickr

I’m as speechless as any sports fan on this planet. Seven-to-one. That’s how badly Germany defeated – no, demolished – Brazil in the semi-finals of the soccer World Cup on Tuesday.

Granted, Brazil was without two of its best players, team captain Silva and star striker Neymar. But even so: 7-1? The Bloodbath in Belo Horizonte – at a World Cup Brazil is hosting, no less – was the worst humiliation South America’s soccer superpower has ever and probably will ever suffer.

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Venezuela Crisis
5:33 pm
Fri July 4, 2014

Jetting To Venezuela Just Got Harder: Why American Is Slashing Flights

FEWER FLIGHTS: An American Airlines aircraft at Caracas' Simon Bolivar Airport.
Credit Simon_sees / Flickr/futureatlas.com

It’s going to get even tougher to find a seat on a flight to Venezuela now. International airlines are cutting if not ending their service to the South American country. And that now includes the major U.S. carrier  – American Airlines.

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Latin America Report
5:35 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Power To Peru: The (Quiet) Latin American Boom That's Making South Florida Swoon

IN THE SUN: Apparel from Peru's Escudo line on the runway at Miami Fashion Week in May.
Credit Miami Fashion Week

Peru is the loudest Latin American boom you’ve probably never heard – but should.

These are the kind of macroeconomic data that made the world swoon over Brazil in the 2000s:

Ÿ● Peru’s economy has grown an average of almost 7 percent the past four years. Wall Street expects equally robust growth for the next five years.

Ÿ● Wall Street also ranks Peru No. 2, behind only South Korea, when it comes to resisting external shocks to its economy.

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World Cup
7:17 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

The Suárez Scandal: Why Uruguay Should Banish Luis The Lout

To the rest of the world he's Bat Boy
Credit Jimmy Baikovicius / Flickr

From Chile to China, soccer fans like to think their teams reflect their national characters.

That’s a delusion, of course. These are jocks, not exchange students. But if international fútbol really is the continuation of war by other means, you at least want to believe your soccer soldiers share your values.

Which is why Uruguay – a nation whose progressive values are so often applauded these days – should follow this advice: Lose Luis.

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Immigration
11:54 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Child Migrant Crisis Growing In South Florida

Recently arrived Salvadoran teen Andrea (center; she did not want to give her last name) with her mother Sandra (left) and immigration attorney Jose Teurbe-Tolon.
Credit Jose A. Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald

It’s easy to think the current crisis of undocumented child migrants from Central America affects only the U.S. Southwest. But the problem is very much South Florida’s too.

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Latin America Report
6:54 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Brazilians: Look At Our Businesses, Not Our Bikinis

Fast Casual: Joao Barbosa at a South Florida Giraffas.
Credit CW Griffin / Miami Herald

To see Brazil for the first time is to see the New World for the first time.

That’s not a travel brochure cliché. If you’re in Rio de Janeiro, standing atop the Pão de Açúcar and surveying the Baía de Guanabara, it’s easy to recall what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about the way any European must have felt upon arriving in the Americas five centuries ago: “…face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity to wonder.”

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Opinion
1:35 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Until Moderate Cuban-Americans Vote, No Poll Will Change U.S. Cuba Policy

A Miami Cuban sports a T-shirt calling for an end to the embargo.
Credit Flickr/futureatlas.com

The Cuba policy hardliners in this country look more panicked than Fidel Castro trying to find his dentures.

Each month seems to bring more evidence that Americans – and Cuban-Americans – reject Washington’s long and failed strategy of isolating the communist island. The latest is this week’s Florida International University poll: A majority of Miami Cubans favor dropping the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and engaging the country as a way of undermining the Castro dictatorship.

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Latin America Report
9:00 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Why Brazilians Worship Soccer -- And Why Their Leaders Can't Hide Behind It Anymore

Yellow-and-Green Fever: Brazilian World Cup fans at Boteco in Miami.
Credit Julia Duba / WLRN

Do Brazilians still care about soccer?

I know, that seems as dumb a question as "Does the Vatican still care about Jesus?" Brazilians are arguably the most soccer-passionate people on Earth.

But check out this poll result just before the World Cup started last week in Brazil: A majority of Brazilians said they were not happy about hosting international soccer’s biggest event.

That’s because Brazil’s World Cup preparations were such an embarrassment. And because the Cup’s billion-dollar cost overruns are such a source of anger for Brazilians right now.

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Colombia
1:49 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

President Santos Is Colombia's Comeback Kid, Wins Re-Election

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the University of Miami last December.
Credit C.M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is back from the brink. Polls had indicated he could lose his re-election bid in Sunday’s presidential run-off vote. But he won another four years in office – and that also breathes new life into Colombia's peace process.

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Marijuana
1:40 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Jamaica Decriminalizes Marijuana: Is This A Hemispheric Trend?

A Jamaican man tends his marijuana crop.
Credit Greg Weeks / Flickr

First Uruguay, now Jamaica. Last week, the Caribbean island became the western hemisphere’s second country to make marijuana possession OK. Is this a trend?

Ganja, as Jamaicans call marijuana, has long been part of their culture. The island’s Rastafarian religious movement promotes it as a means of enlightenment. Still, marijuana has been illegal there. Now Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller says Jamaica will decriminalize small amounts of ganja – up to 57 grams, or 2 ounces. Other Caribbean governments look poised to follow suit.

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Latin America Report
10:57 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

How Brazil's Hubris Jeopardized Its World Cup

A Brazilian World Cup soccer stadium under construction in March.
Credit Gabriel Smith / Flickr

The line between confident and conceited was pretty thin in Brazil in October of 2007.

The South American giant was in the midst of a boom that would make it the world’s sixth largest economy. Massive new oil reserves were being discovered off its coast. It considered itself a global player that deserved a permanent seat on the ultra-exclusive U.N. Security Council.

And it had just been awarded the 2014 soccer World Cup.

“God,” then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva declared, “is Brazilian.”

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Midterm Elections
12:05 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Wasserman Schultz: GOP Relying On "Distractions" In November

Credit Debbie Wasserman Schultz / Courtesy

As chair of the Democratic National Committee, South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz faces a tough task in November: Keeping her party from losing its U.S. Senate majority and keeping the GOP from enlarging its majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Polls so far indicate both could happen.

But in an interview with WLRN, Wasserman Schultz says she's convinced voters will ultimately reject Republican "extremism" and what she calls the GOP's "distractions" strategy.

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Medical Marijuana
9:19 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Why DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Is Cautious On Medical Marijuana

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks during a recent visit to South Florida.
Credit Constanza Gallardo / WLRN

A new medical marijuana controversy erupted over the weekend when South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz weighed in.

Wasserman Schultz chairs the Democratic National Committee. So last week, when she voted against legislation in the House that would prevent the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana laws, Florida took notice. That's because Sunshine State voters will decide in November whether or not to legalize medical marijuana.

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Latin America
8:52 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Locked Up In Latin America: Why These Controversial Cases Are Hard To Resolve

Andrew Tahmooressi, while still a Marine, with his mother Jill Tahmooressi, who lives in Weston, Fla.
Credit Courtesy Jill Tahmooressi

There’s an old saying among Mexican officials when dealing with the United States: Always tell the gringos yes, but never tell them when.

That dance is the result of two centuries of tortured bilateral relations marked by U.S. insensitivity and Mexican hypersensitivity. And it’s most likely what’s playing out now as Washington and Mexico City haggle over the fate of a former U.S. Marine, Andrew Tahmooressi.

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