Latin America

Americas
9:30 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Inmates In A Venezuelan Prison Build A World Of Their Own

At this prison in Barinas, Venezuela, the inmates are in charge.
Steve Inskeep NPR

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 5:23 am

In Latin America — home to the vast majority of the world's most violent cities — it's said the only part of a prison a guard controls is the gate, leaving convicts to fend for themselves inside, even running criminal networks from behind bars.

I wanted to understand how a prison like that worked, and I was in luck: A colleague knew a man serving time a Venezuelan prison. The prisoner got in touch with the leader of the inmates, who sent word that he'd be willing to see us.

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Americas
6:00 am
Wed June 5, 2013

How The Most Violent Places On Earth Benefit Miami

South Florida has benefited from the combination of Latin America's financial wealth and its criminal scourge as immigrants transfer new wealth to the United States.
Credit seguridadjusticiaypaz.org.mx

Latin America and the Caribbean is a region of stark paradoxes, and that has never been truer than in the past decade: Even as the continent enjoys one of its most dynamic economic booms, it’s suffering one of the worst violent crime crises in its history.

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Americas
12:44 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Rio Goes High-Tech With An Eye Toward Olympics, World Cup

Rio's Operations Center brings together more than 30 agencies and allows them to coordinate on daily issues such as traffic, as well as on emergencies such as the frequent flash floods in hillside slums.
Raphael Lima Courtesy of the Operations Center, City of Rio De Janeiro

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 10:27 am

We are standing in front of a huge bank of screens, in the middle of which is a glowing map that changes focus depending on what the dozens of controllers are looking at.

The room looks like something straight out of a NASA shuttle launch. The men and women manning the floor are dressed in identical white jumpsuits. With a flick of a mouse, they scroll through dozens of streaming video images coming into the center.

This is Rio de Janeiro in real time.

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Americas
1:15 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

New Laws Enshrine Domestic Worker Rights In Brazil

Cassia Mendes, who has worked as a housekeeper for more than 20 years, cleans a house in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 19, 2012. Brazil enacted on April 2 a constitutional amendment to grant domestic workers health insurance and other benefits.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 27, 2013 4:57 pm

The phone is ringing off the hook at the crowded waiting room at the Domestic Workers Union in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil.

In the past decade, millions of Brazilians have joined the middle class. Advocates say this isn't just the result of a growing economy or social spending, but also laws like the one just passed that enshrine domestic workers' rights.

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Americas
8:20 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Why China Is Behind Fresh U.S. Moves In Latin America

School children in Sao Paolo, Brazil take a Mandarin-language proficiency class at the Confucius Institute, which offers language courses and Chinese cultural programs.
Credit Juan Forero/NPR

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will visit Colombia, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago next week. President Obama already swung through Mexico and Costa Rica this month and next month Obama will host the presidents of Chile and Peru at the White House.

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News
6:00 am
Mon May 13, 2013

WLRN Adds Latin America Correspondent In Collaboration With NPR And The Herald

Tim Padgett is the new Americas Correspondent for WLRN-Miami Herald News. The former Time correspondent will be based in Miami but coordinate coverage with reporters throughout Latin America.
Credit C. DiMattei

Journalist Tim Padgett spent nearly a quarter of a century covering Latin America and the Caribbean for TIME and Newsweek magazines.

But he's always been envious of the way foreign correspondents deliver the news for NPR.

"They're giving listeners a richer sense of the sounds and the colors than perhaps I'm able to do as a print reporter," he says.

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Miami Dish
9:48 am
Thu May 9, 2013

Borderless Latin American Cooking With Maricel Presilla

Credit W.W. Norton & Company

When she won a James Beard award for her cookbook, Gran Cocina Latina, Maricel Presilla felt gratified to be acknowledged for the "work of a lifetime," as well as for "the collective work of millions of Latin Americans that live on two continents, in the Caribbean Islands, and also in the U.S."

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Gateway Miami
11:08 am
Mon May 6, 2013

Violence, Hardship Fuel Central American Immigration To U.S.

Honduran Army soldiers patrol streets in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in April. Gang violence has many Hondurans fleeing to the U.S.
Orlando Sierra AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 5:03 pm

William Ordonez and his wife, Carolia, thought that starting a new business in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, was a great idea.

But just two weeks after they started selling chips, candy and soda, gang members showed up and ordered them to pay about $25 a week.

"We tried explaining to them that we just opened, we aren't making that much, we can't pay you," Ordonez says.

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Gateway Miami
5:38 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

As Youth Crime Spikes, Brazil Struggles For Answers

A youth smokes crack in the Manguinhos slum in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. A crack epidemic is one factor contributing to the sharp rise in crime committed by Brazilian minors.
Felipe Dana AP

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 9:34 am

In Rio de Janeiro, tourists are drawn to Copacabana for its wide beach and foliage-covered cliffs. But a month ago, not far from the tourist hub, an American woman and her French male companion were abducted. She was brutally gang-raped; he was beaten.

Perhaps what was most shocking to Brazilians, though, was the age of one of the alleged accomplices: He was barely in his teens.

"Why? That's what you ask yourself," says Sylvia Rumpoldt, who is walking with a friend at dusk by the sea in Rio. "It's horrible. It's criminal energy."

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Gateway Miami
5:58 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Will Spanish Thrive Or Decline In The U.S.?

Actors Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, and actresses Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez attend a Universal Pictures presentation to promote their upcoming film "Fast & Furious 6."
Ethan Miller Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:11 pm

Vin Diesel speaks lousy Spanish. No surprise, that. So why then was he invited to hand out a music award at the Premios Billboard and why did he say Sí to the invitation when it seems that's about all he can say in Spanish?

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Food
8:02 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Exploring Coffee's Past To Rescue Its Future

Eduardo Somarriba is a researcher at the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Education in Turrialba, Costa Rica.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 3:47 pm

At the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Education (CATIE) in Turrialba, Costa Rica, you can touch the history of coffee — and also, if the optimists have their way, part of its future.

Here, spread across 25 acres, are coffee trees that take you back to coffee's origins.

"The story starts in Africa, no? East Africa," says Eduardo Somarriba, a researcher at CATIE, as we walk through long rows of small coffee trees.

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Coffee Culture
1:49 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Azuquita Pa'l Cafe: What Coffee Songs Mean To Latin America

A worker collects coffee beans at a farm in Cuatro Esquinas, on the outskirts of Diriamba.
Hector Retamal AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 12:09 pm

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Trade
10:09 am
Mon April 22, 2013

How Coffee Brings The World Together

The best coffee comes from high altitudes with a warm climate like in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 3:51 pm

Coffee is more than a drink. For many of us — OK, for me — it's woven into the fabric of every day.

It also connects us to far corners of the globe.

For instance, every Friday, a truck pulls up to the warehouse of Counter Culture Coffee, a small roaster and coffee distributor in Durham, N.C., and unloads a bunch of heavy burlap sacks.

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Venezuelan Election
12:22 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Venezuelan Humorist Engages Kidnappers In Election Dialogue

Laureano Marquez, a popular Venezuelan writer and political satirist, says he is always opposed to the government in power. "The mission of humor is to show the people that things can be better," he says.
Nishant Dahiya NPR

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 1:18 pm

Earlier this week in Caracas, we were about to go to an interview when it had to be rescheduled. The man we were going to speak with was unavoidably detained — kidnapped, to be precise.

It took awhile after that for Laureano Marquez to free up his schedule and meet us in a coffee shop.

"I'm so sorry," he said when he finally arrived, as if it was his fault for being thrown into a car and driven off to the far reaches of town.

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Venezuelan Election
6:35 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Oil, Chavez And Telenovelas: The Rise Of The Venezuelan Novel

Venezuelan author Romulo Gallegos (1884-1969), circa 1950.
Edwin Karmiol Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 10:55 am

Marcela Valdes is the books editor of The Washington Examiner and a specialist in Latin American literature and culture.

For more than 40 years, the most important book prize in South America has been bankrolled by the region's most famous petro-nation: Venezuela. Yet Venezuelan novelists themselves rank among the least read and translated writers in the entire continent. Over and over again as I worked on this article, I stumped editors and translators with a simple question: Who are Venezuela's best novelists?

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