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.

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.

The haunting pictures of smoke in Brazil this week have made the world aware of the emergency level of Amazon deforestation. Brazil experts here warn South Floridians this crisis is not as distant as it seems.

Last week Haiti saw violent street clashes between police and protesters calling for the ouster of President Jovenel Moïse. Moïse is accused of embezzling a million dollars in public funds earmarked for building new roads in rural Haiti – a case that’s part of a $2 billion embezzlement scandal rocking the western hemisphere’s poorest nation.

Moïse denies the charge. Still, the alleged larceny hits Haiti where it hurts most: its ruined agriculture industry.

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.

Ever since U.S. diplomats in Havana, Cuba, began complaining of mysterious illnesses two years ago, scientists have struggled to identify the cause. Doctors at the University of Miami released their own report on Wednesday – and it shows they’re still struggling.

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.

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.

Ariana Colón’s 1-year-old son Sebastian shows off his first word – “Mamá” – as she speaks with me over the phone from the hotel room in Kissimmee, Florida, where they’ve been living this year.

Along with Sebastian’s father, they arrived there shortly after Hurricane Maria devastated their home island, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, last September.

The family has benefited from a federal program for disaster victims called Transitional Sheltering Assistance. It pays their hotel tab while they find gainful employment and permanent housing.

But meeting landlord conditions for that housing has proven as difficult for Puerto Ricans like Colón as it so often does for longtime Florida residents.

At a warehouse near Miami International Airport, Adelys Ferro is unpacking boxes and making a checklist of donated medicines for Venezuelans.

Almost two weeks after the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 people, Florida Gov. Rick Scott came to Miami-Dade County on Tuesday to detail his vision for stronger school safety. He was joined by parents of two of the student victims.

At Miami-Dade police headquarters in Doral, Scott laid out a three-pronged, $500 million proposal to prevent future school shootings in Florida:

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.

The U.S. military’s Southern Command, or Southcom, hosted a summit of experts in Miami Thursday on America’s growing opioid crisis. Among them was Jim Walsh, the deputy assistant secretary of state for international narcotics.

Walsh told WLRN one of his big concerns is the growing potential for increased production of fentanyl – widely considered the most addictive and dangerous opioid. Walsh said in the past China has been the sole source of fentanyl. But there are signs it’s now being produced in this hemisphere:

RIO PIEDRAS – Puerto Rico’s government says power should be fully restored to the island by mid-December. But that’s three months after Hurricane Maria demolished the U.S. territory. And some fear that Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable people can’t wait that long.

It has been more than two months since the Zika virus was found in Miami-Dade County and almost three-fourths of voters surveyed in a new WLRN-Univision 23 poll are satisfied with the response by county government.

Mario Stevenson is a respected virus expert. He heads the infectious diseases division at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. He’s done pioneering research on HIV.

But until last year he’d barely registered Zika.

“Four months ago,” Stevenson told me, “I thought Zika was an Italian football player.”

How will Florida keep paying healthcare costs for its poor and uninsured? That issue has brought the state legislative session to a halt. But it’s getting public hearings this week. On Thursday, the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration brought the discussion to Doral - and South Floridians are especially anxious.

Haiti is no stranger to trauma – as we were reminded on Tuesday, when a power-line accident and the ensuing panic killed 16 people during Carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince.