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. 

Like many in Congress, Florida Senator Bill Nelson had been frustrated by not being able to see Puerto Rico’s hurricane destruction first hand. So Sunday he took a commercial flight to the U.S. island territory – and voiced some criticism of U.S. relief efforts.

ANALYSIS

Ever since former President Barack Obama normalized relations with Cuba three years ago – heralding the possibility of a new era after half a century of hostility – cold warriors on both sides of the Florida Straits have gnashed their teeth at the rapprochement.

But in the coming days and weeks, sources say the Trump Administration may well shelve a good chunk of the new normal in favor of the old normal the hawks prefer – in effect, the re-freezing of U.S.-Cuban relations.

Standing outside his church in Palmetto Bay on Sunday, Jesus Figueroa listened intently to information coming across his iPhone from Puerto Rico on Zello. The walkie-talkie app transmits messages on group channels when cell phone service is a challenge – and in Puerto Rico right now it’s an epic ordeal.

Puerto Rico woke up Thursday morning to catastrophic damage and flooding after Hurricane Maria. The major storm roared across the Caribbean island on Wednesday, and the devastation – especially power outages – is island-wide.

Growing up in Miami, Luis Gazitúa lived through Hurricane Andrew in 1992 – one of the most destructive storms ever to hit South Florida. That’s why the Coconut Grove attorney recognized the awful danger of Hurricane Irma.

Irma was even bigger and stronger than Andrew. So when early forecast models this month showed it heading straight for Miami, Gazitúa and his family decided to evacuate South Florida.

“We had actually booked rooms in Orlando,” Gazitúa says at his law office in Coral Gables. “My father, my brother, our children and our wives and my mother.”

Political conditions in Venezuela are growing darker by the day. But so is Venezuela’s financial situation. In the meantime, Florida politicians are calling for more help for Venezuelan immigrants.

Much of the international community now labels Venezuela’s socialist government a dictatorship. And this week the regime is doing its best to live up to that billing.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence came to the Venezuelan enclave of Doral on Wednesday promising that  the Trump administration would “bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until democracy is restored in Venezuela.”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Miami-Dade County on Wednesday to thank it for helping the feds deport undocumented immigrants. But experts say his claims about crime in cities that don’t cooperate – so-called “sanctuary cities” – are exaggerated.

This year President Trump ordered local governments to comply with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants who’ve been arrested. He warned sanctuary cities they would lose federal law enforcement funding if they didn't.

Uruguay has long been known for its sweet pastries called medialunas. But right now it’s better known for marijuana. On Wednesday the small, progressive South American country became the first in the world to allow the nationwide commercial sale of pot – and the U.S. is watching.

President Trump will be in Miami Friday to unveil his new Cuba policy, which will reverse some of his predecessor’s normalization measures. The main targets are Cuba’s military – and wannabe American tourists.

It looks as though President Trump is coming to Miami next Friday to announce his new Cuba policy. But White House officials appear to be in disagreement over whether June 16 will be the day - and sources say Miami's Cuban-American congressional delegation is split over whether the President should even travel here next week since he's unlikely to unveil any significant changes to his predecessor's normalization of relations with the communist island.

COMMENTARY

Nine years ago a colleague and I had dinner in Culiacán, Mexico, with local journalist Javier Valdez. At the time, Mexico was locked in of some of the bloodiest narco-violence in its history. Culiacán – the capital of Sinaloa state, home to the powerful drug cartel once run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán – was ground zero.

COMMENTARY

Is the presidential candidate who threw promises to Little Haiti throwing a dragnet over it now that he’s President?

Candidate Donald Trump pledged to Haitian-American voters here that he’d be their “greatest champion.” But the Associated Press reports the Trump Administration is fishing for criminals among Haitian immigrants – specifically the 50,000 Haitians living in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.

On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to pull its peacekeeping troops out of Haiti. But it seems few Haitians will be sad to see them go.

The U.N. peacekeepers arrived in Haiti in 2004 to bring order to violent chaos after the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. And for a while, the more than 2,000 U.N. soldiers did that.

Last summer the first U.S. commercial flights to Cuba in more than half a century took off to jubilant fanfare - and landed to cheers and water cannon salutes. U.S. airlines were giddy about resuming commercial flights to the communist island.

Maybe too giddy.

In a field near Florida City, zucchini pickers are filling bushel basket after bushel basket as irrigation trucks shoot geysers into the sky behind them. Many if not most are Mexican and Central American. Many if not most are undocumented immigrants.

The Kardashians have visited Cuba. So have Chanel models. So it was just a matter of time before animal rights activists showed up wearing bikinis made of lettuce. Right?

They did indeed fly to Cuba on Tuesday – but something might be wrong with this picture.

Most people want Cuba to be democratic. They want it to be Internet accessible. Now the Virginia-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, wants the island to get vegan.

The "wet foot, dry foot" policy is over. For more than 20 years, Cubans migrating to the U.S. enjoyed that special privilege, which meant if they made it to dry land here they could stay. President Barack Obama ended it on Thursday– and even most Cubans here agree with him.

President Bill Clinton created the wet foot-dry foot policy in 1995 as a way to appease both the Cuban government and Cuban exile leaders. But since then it’s become a controversial rule that many Cuban-Americans say is antiquated now that the U.S. and Cuba have normalized relations.

Among its demands for normalized relations, Cuba wants the U.S. to leave its naval station at Guantánamo Bay on the island’s southeastern tip. But the lease Cuba signed more than a century ago lets the U.S. stay there forever if it wants to.

The wider Panama Canal opened two weeks ago – servicing more massive post-Panamax ships. On Saturday PortMiami received its first vessel of that kind from the Canal. And it may mean a new era for Miami as a world commercial hub.

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