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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. He has reported on Latin America for almost 30 years - for Newsweek as its Mexico City bureau chief from 1990 to 1996, and for Time as its Latin America bureau chief in Mexico and Miami (where he also covered Florida and the U.S. Southeast) from 1996 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. He has covered every major Latin American and Caribbean story from the end of the Central American civil wars of the 1980s to NAFTA and the Colombian guerrilla conflict of the 1990s; to the Brazilian boom, the Venezuelan revolution and Mexican drug war carnage of the 2000s; to the current normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.

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. In 2016 he won a national Edward R. Murrow award for Best Radio Series for "The Migration Maze," about the brutal causes of - and potential solutions to - Central American migration. His 1993 Newsweek cover, “Cocaine Comes Home,” won the Inter-American Press Association’s drug coverage award.

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 before studying in Caracas, Venezuela, at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. He started his career at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he led the paper's coverage of the 1986 immigration reform. Padgett has also written for publications such as The New Republic and America and 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 and is a member of the Catholic anti-poverty organization St. Vincent de Paul. He currently lives in Miami with his wife and two children. 

FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA | Claudina Swann is searching for an object in the storm debris scattered around her backyard in the Bahamas.

“Something was here, and I was trying to, well, I don’t know,” she says in a perplexed voice. Maybe it’s part of a light pole. A wooden chest. A truck tire. Swann doesn’t really know what the object is. But she’s obsessed with finding it.

She says it saved her life and the lives of her two youngest children as they were being swept away last Monday during Hurricane Dorian.

FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA After Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas this week, the need for relief aid is dire. WLRN was on hard-hit Grand Bahama island Friday with crew members of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship ferrying food and water to storm victims.

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.

This story was updated on September 6, 5:07 p.m. 

Shortly after Hurricane Dorian made landfall at Abaco island Sunday afternoon, it was obvious the storm would be one of the most catastrophic the Bahamas had ever experienced. The Category 5 storm's wind gusts reached a terrifying 220 mph, while storm surge plowed the coast as high as 20 feet, submerging whole towns like Marsh Harbour.

Lawyers representing the families of students and staff killed or injured in last year's mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland began filing 20 lawsuits on Wednesday against defendants including: the Broward County School Board, the Broward County Sheriff's Office (BSO), Broward County Sheriff's officer Scot Peterson, MSD campus monitor Andrew Medina and Henderson Behavioral Health Inc. of Florida.

The shared complaint, at least of the first 10 suits filed, is negligence:

One of the more disturbing sounds to hit the media airwaves last summer was a recording obtained by ProPublica of Central American children crying at an immigration detention center in Texas. They’d been separated from their parents, who had come to seek U.S. asylum.

At that same place the summer before, in 2017, a Guatemalan girl named Ana was taken from her father. She was three. Ana was sent to a relative in Immokalee, Florida, who took her to immigration lawyer Jennifer Anzardo Valdes in Miami.

President Trump was in Miami Monday to declare to Venezuelan expats that he’s committed to the campaign to squeeze authoritarian Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro out of power. In his speech at Florida International University, Trump repeated his threat that U.S. military intervention is still possible.

South Florida’s Venezuelan expats welcomed Vice President Mike Pence to Miami on Friday to hear him rally them behind the Trump Administration’s campaign to dislodge socialist Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power. Most were left feeling unusually hopeful.

Cuba’s economy barely grew at all this year. Officials this week say the communist island will probably show the same dismal performance next year. And the one thing that is growing in Cuba are shortages.

Turns out Kathy Ann Paul – aka Sweet Hand Kathy – is as capable a DJ as she is a baker.

Right now, when you walk into her Miami Gardens restaurant – called, of course, Sweet Hand Kathy – you’re likely to be regaled with “parang,” a festive blend of music like Trinidadian calypso and Venezuelan gaita. That’s because parang season means Christmas season in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean island country where Paul grew up.

A U.S. Navy hospital ship leaves Norfolk, Virginia, Thursday on a mission that means a lot to people here in South Florida. It hopes to help bring relief to the worst migrant refugee crisis in modern South American history.

President Trump astonished people across the country last week when he denied 3,000 Puerto Ricans died as a result of Hurricane Maria. He insisted (falsely) that Democrats inflated the death toll to make him “look bad.”

For Ernesto Morales, Trump’s tweets exacerbated his awful memories of the storm, which demolished Puerto Rico a year ago this Thursday.

Haiti’s misfortunes – extreme poverty, political crises, natural disasters – are more than just material. They’ve also led to mental health issues. And until recently those were rarely adequately addressed in Haiti. That’s changed – and Guerda Nicolas is a big reason why.

Nicolas is a professor of psychology at the University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development, and the American Psychological Association just awarded her its international humanitarian award for her work promoting mental health services in Haiti.

It's August. And as we approach the most intense period of the hurricane season, a lot of us are thinking: How warm are the waters in the Atlantic and the Caribbean? How much fuel is out there for hurricanes to feed on?

What most of us don’t know is that the ocean waters here have an unusual feature that can actually help fuel hurricanes. We’re learning more about that now thanks to researchers like Johna Rudzin at the University of Miami.

Florida Congresswoman Lois Frankel recently toured the U.S. southern border, talking to undocumented parents and children separated by President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.

During a forum this month at the Guatemalan-Maya Center in Lake Worth, Frankel, a Democrat from West Palm Beach, heard how that border policy has begun to touch the Florida peninsula. Frankel interviewed a woman from Guatemala whose cousin was one of the migrants stopped at the border this year and separated from her child – a 10-year-old boy.

When the year started, we were astounded to hear Venezuela’s 2018 inflation rate could top 13,000 percent. That’s pretty bad hyperinflation. But Venezuelans now look at that forecast as the good news.

We haven’t heard much from Miguel Díaz-Canel since he became the new President of Cuba three months ago. But new regulations for private Cuban businesses came out Tuesday - and they may confirm fears that Díaz-Canel doesn’t wield much power.

Cuban officials are still identifying the 111 people who died in last Friday’s crash of a Cubana Airlines 737 on takeoff from Havana. Two surviving passengers remain in critical condition. Some Cubans here hope the tragedy will bring changes to how Cuba – and the U.S. – approach air travel on the island.

Fifteen years ago, violent clashes between Bolivian security forces and protesters over control of natural gas resulted in many civilian deaths. On Tuesday a jury in Fort Lauderdale found Bolivia’s president at that time responsible for the killings.

More than 60 Bolivian civilians were killed in 2003 when security forces opened fire on demonstrators during the so-called Gas War. Many of them were Aymara Indians.

The Bay of Pigs is one of the darkest episodes of Cuban-American history. But that failed 1961 attempt by Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro had another dark result. Some of its resentful veterans came back to the U.S. to form a violent Cuban-American mafia called The Corporation.

After last week’s school shooting in Parkland that killed 17 people, a lot of focus has fallen on the home where the confessed shooter was living. WLRN spoke with the father of that family about the young man’s mental health issues – and about issues of gun ownership.

Updated Feb. 16

The 19-year-old man who’s confessed to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people on Wednesday left a violent social media footprint. But the teens and adults who might have stopped him say they weren’t aware.

Like so many recently arrived immigrants in South Florida, Nykoll Hernandez is proud of the college education she’s getting here – and just as proud to tell you what she’s studying at Broward College.

“I’m doing my major in hospitality and tourism management,” she says.

Except, “major” was not what came out of Hernandez’s mouth. What she said instead was “mayor.” In other words, she uttered one of the most common accent mistakes any native Spanish speaker makes in English: turning the j into a y.

Congress ended the federal government shutdown on Monday only after Republicans assured Democrats they would move to pass a DACA bill. DACA means Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – the 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. They're also known as Dreamers. Their struggle to avoid deportation – and live here legally – began almost two decades ago, and it's one of the century's most compelling immigration stories.

Last week the renowned Key West Literary Seminar held its 36th annual gathering – and the theme of this year’s four-day event was “Writers of the Caribbean.” Thanks to President Trump, it turned out the organizers could not have picked a timelier subject.

The Trump Administration announced Monday it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 200,000 Salvadorans living in the country. South Florida’s Salvadoran population is relatively small - but the TPS ruling will still be felt here.

This Friday, Dec. 15, is the day Puerto Rico’s governor pledged to have all the island’s electric power restored. That’s not going to happen – but some Puerto Ricans have gotten power back after their long, long night in the dark.

Almost eight years after an earthquake destroyed their country – and prompted the U.S. to let them stay in this country protected from deportation – more than 50,000 Haitians were told on Monday they will soon lose that benefit.

We still don’t know what or who caused the alleged sonic attacks that injured U.S. diplomats in Havana. Which is why Cuba put its own scientists online this week to debunk the claims.

Some two dozen personnel at the U.S. embassy in Havana say they were victims of acoustic attacks. The high-pitched sonic blasts started last year and caused hearing loss and other illnesses.

COMMENTARY

In 2012, conservative Florida Senator Marco Rubio made one of the strongest pitches for the DREAM Act I’ve ever heard.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which has been sitting on Capitol Hill in one form or another since the turn of the century, would grant legal status to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Rubio, a Cuban-American, said helping those so-called Dreamer immigrants was a “humanitarian mission.”

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