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
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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Commentary
6:39 am
Wed June 4, 2014

How Central American Kids Gave Us An Immigration Reality Check

Migration of the Innocents: A Central American toddler migrant being lifted onto the Mexican train known as "The Beast."
Credit Keith Dannemiller / Photo courtesy of the International Organization for Migration. ©2014 IOM

We thought we had the border licked.

Both President Obama and his Republican opposition had been patting themselves on the back of late for making the 2,000-mile-long frontera between the United States and Mexico more forbidding for undocumented migrants. Fewer and fewer had been crossing each year, because of beefed-up border security and because Obama had made a policy of deporting indocumentados in record numbers.

And then a bunch of Central American kids had to spoil the celebration.

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Americas
11:32 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Jailing Of Florida's Aqua Quest Crew Raises Honduran Justice Issues

The Aqua Quest before it was impounded last month on Honduras' Miskito Coast
Credit Michael McCabe / Aqua Quest International

Six U.S. crew members of the Aqua Quest, a 65-foot ship out of Florida, have been sitting in a jungle jail in Honduras for almost a month now. The charge against them: bringing weapons into the violent Central American country illegally. But the case is questionable – especially since Aqua Quest International, the Tarpon Springs ocean exploration and recovery company that owns the vessel, was invited by Honduran officials to carry out development projects like river clearing.

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Opinion
2:38 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Please Don't Call Yoani Sánchez A Hero If You Really Don't Want To Help Her

Yoani Sanchez working in Havana.
Credit Andre Deak / Flickr

It’s hard to tell what’s most striking these days: Yoani Sánchez’s heroism or America’s hypocrisy.

Last week, when communist authorities tried to block Sánchez’s new digital newspaper, 14ymedio, Florida Senator Marco Rubio called her “one of Cuba’s most courageous” dissidents. And rightly so.

But he also called the internationally acclaimed blogger “an aspiring Cuban media entrepreneur.” And that’s where the inconsistency starts.

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Latin America Report
1:06 am
Wed May 28, 2014

Why So Many Latinos Are Leaving Catholicism – And Religion Altogether

The Rev. Albert Cutie, a former Roman Catholic priest, baptizing a Latino baby at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park.
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN

To gauge how dramatically things have changed in the Latino community, look no farther than the gold chain around Marisol Medina’s neck.

The necklace, which Medina’s devoutly Roman Catholic mother gave her, once held a cross – which has been replaced by a globe.

“It represents my shift from religion,” says Medina, “to the world, which I now believe in more than the cross or religion.”

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Latin America
4:30 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Colombia Election: Is President Santos On The Run-Off Ropes?

Challenger Zuluaga speaks in Bucaramanga, Colombia, in 2011.
Credit Wikimedia Commons / Archivo de Marco Antonio Melo

  It’s on to Round Two in Colombia. Challenger Oscar Iván Zuluaga, a right-wing former Finance Minister, pulled an upset over the incumbent, President Juan Manuel Santos, in Sunday’s presidential election. But Zuluaga didn't get a majority ­­­– far from it at 29 percent to Santos' 26 percent – so they'll go to a run-off on June 15. 

Colombia’s peace process hangs in the balance – but Santos has to counter growing skepticism about his ongoing peace talks with the country's Marxist guerrillas, the FARC. Zuluaga has pledged to halt those negotiations.

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Opinion
8:20 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Venezuela's Socialist Millionaires May Be Appalling, But Can We Sanction Them?

Globovision co-owner Raul Gorrin steps into his Ferrari in Miami.
Credit El Nuevo Herald (courtesy)

El Nuevo Herald journalist Antonio Delgado reported something pretty nauseating this week.

In his excellent May 19 article, Delgado details the opulent Coral Gables lifestyle enjoyed by the new owners of the Venezuelan television news network Globovisión.

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Latin America Report
3:39 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Could Trying To Forge Peace With Guerrillas Cost Colombia's President An Election?

Colombian presidential candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga (right) on video that allegedly shows him receiving hacked intelligence
Credit Semana

Any presidential election in Colombia these days is a matter of high stakes.

That’s because the country – now South America’s second-largest economy and the United States’ most important ally on that continent – is in the midst of peace talks with Marxist guerrillas known as the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, or FARC, to end a half-century-long civil war.

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The Santa Maria
11:48 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Have They Found The Ship That Found The New World?

A diver inspects the remnants of what may be the Santa Maria.
Credit Brandon Clifford (courtesy)

Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492 on a ship called the Santa Maria. The vessel ran aground that Christmas Eve, off Haiti’s north shore near what is now Cap Haitien. Using historical records, underwater archeologist Barry Clifford says he recently located remnants of the ship.

The job of confirming the blockbuster find falls to Charles Beeker, the director of Indiana University’s underwater science program. Beeker says the evidence he’s seen so far, including wrought iron guns, is strong.

Hear an interview with Charles Beeker here:

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Latin America Report
9:33 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Canal Quarrel: How PortMiami's Future Is Tied To Tiny Panama

Epic Endeavor: Building the Panama Canal's wider locks.
Credit Panama Canal Authority

PortMiami is set to open its new, billion-dollar tunnel next week. It’s the jewel of a $2 billion port makeover, which includes a major dredging project and skyscraper-size loading cranes for sending a lot more auto parts to Brazil and getting a lot more handbags from China.

But the long-term success of that effort may depend to a large extent on whether a quarrel gets solved a thousand miles to the south. In Panama.

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Latin America Report

Tim Padgett

Brazilian investors buy Miami real estate. Haitian earthquake survivors attend South Florida schools. It's clear what happens in Latin America and the Caribbean has a profound effect on South Florida.

Latin America Report
6:58 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Should The Panama Canal Join Classes As Well As Oceans?

Two Panamas: Panama City's gleaming new towers directly above its large shanty slums.
Credit Peter Nickalls / Flickr

Jorge Quijano has one of the coolest office views in the Americas: the Pacific port entrance to the Panama Canal. The panoramic vista seems to help Quijano, who heads the Panama Canal Authority, see the bigger picture.

On the one hand, Quijano understands why Panama has run the canal much more effectively than the United States did.

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Latin America
10:49 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Panama Election: Is President Martinelli Pulling A Fast One?

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli
Credit Edgar Alberto Dominguez / World Economic Forum

The Panama Canal is expanding, but is Panama's democracy shrinking? The country is holding a presidential election on Sunday, May 4 -- and there are growing concerns that right-wing President Martinelli is trying an end run around the constitution.

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Latin America Report
11:21 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Why Miami's Tech Scene Shouldn't Try To Compete With Silicon Valley

Miami often embraces trends later than other U.S. cities, as has been in the tech-industry boom. But as Latin America's tech hub, Miami is leading.
Credit Ines Hegedus-Garcia / Flickr CC

A lot of people have been throwing a lot of cold water lately on the notion of Miami as a high-tech “Silicon Beach.”

Even Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine this year called it “the dumbest idea in the world.”

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Cuba
11:15 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

#CubaNow Policy Group Highlights Key Generational Shift

One of the #CubaNow ads placed in Washington D.C. metro stations this week.
Credit #CubaNow

This year has seen a growing chorus of polls, studies and statements calling for an overhaul of U.S. policy on communist Cuba. On Monday a new group called #CubaNow added its voice -- and signaled the growing generational shift among Cuban-Americans.

#CubaNow, based in Miami and Washington, D.C., is comprised mostly of younger Cuban-Americans who feel that a half-century of isolating Cuba has failed. They favor more open economic engagement as a way to help democratize the island.

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