1 Child Dead, 3 People Missing After Migrant Raft Overturns In Rio Grande

U.S. Border Patrol cars are seen from the bridge connecting Eagle Pass, Texas, with Piedras Negras, Mexico, near the banks of the Rio Grande in February.

Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters


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Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters

U.S. border authorities have recovered the body of a 10-month-old child and continue searching for two other children and an adult whose raft overturned in the Rio Grande as they were attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday night near Del Rio, Texas, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“What we’re dealing with now is senseless tragedy,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz in a statement released Thursday. “The men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol have been doing everything in their power to prevent incidents like this. And yet, callous smugglers continue to imperil the lives of migrants for financial gain.”

Border agents on patrol encountered a 27-year-old Honduran male who reported that he was one of nine people on a rubber raft that had overturned in what was described as cold and fast-flowing waters. The man said that his wife, two sons who were 10 months old and 6 years old, and a 7-year-old nephew were swept away. Two other families were also on the raft, a CBP official told NPR.

A border agent later found the wife and 6-year-old son of the man who made the initial report. The boy was rushed to a local hospital.

An adult male and two children – the 7-year-old boy and a girl whose age was not immediately known – have not been located, the official said.

Government data show that 103,492 people were apprehended at the southwest border in March, the highest monthly level in more than a decade. The spring runoff has made crossing the Rio Grande a potentially treacherous journey.

The reports of the missing migrants come a day after a 16-year-old migrant boy from Guatemala died in U.S. custody in Texas on Tuesday. He is the third migrant minor to die since early December after being detained.

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Chef Enrique Olvera Celebrates Simple Pleasures Of Mexican Cuisine In ‘Tu Casa Mi Casa’

Enrique Olvera’s flagship eatery, Pujol, has repeatedly made lists of the best restaurants in the world. “The inspiration in our restaurant is home cooking and simple cooking,” he says. “We’ve always been very connected to that. Whenever we want to travel for inspiration, we go to small towns in Mexico and visit people’s homes.”

Courtesy of Araceli Paz


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Courtesy of Araceli Paz

As a kid, Enrique Olvera spent hours in his grandmother’s bakery in Mexico City. He loved watching everyday ingredients like flour, sugar and eggs fuse into something entirely different.

For Olvera, even the simple act of baking a cake felt like magic.

He absorbed every detail as his grandmother gently coaxed masa into handmade tortillas. On Sundays, he joined his father in the kitchen, chopping onions and tomatoes for breakfasts of scrambled eggs and dry beef.

That vantage point drives Olvera’s new cookbook, Tu Casa Mi Casa: Mexican Recipes for the Home Cook. But Olvera, the chef behind Mexico City’s Pujol, one of the world’s top restaurants, almost turned away from a career in the kitchen.

Despite the draw of the family bakery, Olvera’s father didn’t want his son spending too much time there. He wanted Enrique to go to college and get a degree.

So for a while, Olvera reserved his bakery work for summer vacation. It was the art of seduction that ultimately led him from his grandma’s kitchen to the world of high cuisine.

Enrique Olvera grew up spending hours in his grandmother’s bakery in Mexico City. His formal culinary training is steeped in European techniques.

Photo by Maureen M. Evans. Courtesy Enrique Olvera


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Photo by Maureen M. Evans. Courtesy Enrique Olvera

The teenage Olvera fell in love, and wanted to impress the girl so much, that he learned to cook beautiful meals for her. Those meals not only landed him a wife, they also inspired him to sign up for culinary school. But with that decision, the debate between father and son bubbled up again.

“I think it was really tough for him because as he was growing up, my grandparents had a fight over whether he should go to school or take over the pastry shop,” Olvera says.

Those difficult conversations may have contributed to his grandparents’ marriage falling apart, Olvera says. For his father, the pain of those long-ago conversations still lingered, a generation later.

“For him, it was personal — the fact that I was going to go back into the kitchen,” Olvera says.

Olvera made a compromise with his dad. He found a culinary program that offered a bachelor’s degree — at the Culinary Institute of America — and left Mexico for New York.

“I think once we went to school and he saw it was not just like guys having fun, he was OK with it,” Olvera says.

In New York, Olvera immersed himself in the curriculum at the top-notch culinary school. Like most training grounds for professional chefs, Olvera’s lessons were steeped in the cooking of Europe. For example, he dutifully learned to speckle the rims of his dishes with little dots of sauce — drawing on the traditions of France, not Mexico.

“Mexican food doesn’t respond to any of that,” he says. “So if you see how we cook, we don’t saute, we’re burning things down, we’re using the stems. The only thing that you can apply to Mexican technique is the passion for the craft. But the techniques are entirely different.”

At 24, Olvera returned to Mexico City — and opened Pujol. Olvera’s flagship has repeatedly made lists of the best restaurants in the world — its success built on the techniques he learned as a kid in his grandma’s bakery and his parents’ kitchen.

“It is impossible then to separate our cooking from our family story, from the products from the region we grew up in, or the regions our ancestors hailed from,” Olvera writes in Tu Casa Mi Casa. “It is impossible not to carry, wherever your path leads you, the flavors you grew up with.”

With Pujol’s success, Olvera went on to open four more restaurants in Mexico and two in New York. Now, he’s getting ready to roll out two more — this time, in Los Angeles.

Over the years, the flourishes he learned in cooking school began to fade — decorative sauce dots and all.

“We’ve made peace with our own aesthetic, with the aesthetic of Mexican cuisine,” he says. “Because after going to culinary school, when I would see chiles rellenos, it was like, ‘I don’t know if that’s beautiful or not.’ I was too close to it.”

Now, the cover of Olvera’s new cookbook features a simple photo — of chiles rellenos.

“Now I see that picture, I feel it’s so beautiful. It’s colorful — simple but elegant. And the plate is a little chipped. Before, that would be unacceptable. And now, it’s perfect. That imperfection actually attracts me a lot more.”

Because perfectly imperfect is exactly how it would be at home.

The radio story was edited by Matt Ozug.

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Opinion: Venezuela’s Guaidó Is On A Long-Haul Mission. Are His U.S. Backers?

An anti-government protester walks near a bus that was set on fire by other protesters during clashes between rebel and loyalist soldiers in Caracas, Venezuela, on Tuesday.

Fernando Llano/AP


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Fernando Llano/AP

Tim Padgett (@timpadgett2) is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN.


So Juan Guaidó is now 0-for-3 in his attempts to incite a regime-changing military uprising in Venezuela.

The opposition leader had hoped to get the armed forces to back him in January, when he declared himself (rightfully so) Venezuela’s constitutionally legitimate president. And again in February, when he tried to push humanitarian aid into Venezuela from Colombia.

And again on Tuesday, when he stood with a handful of rebel soldiers at a Caracas airbase and summoned the rest of los militares to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro — who has trashed Venezuela’s democracy and once oil-rich economy, creating the worst humanitarian crisis in modern South American history.

Each time Guaidó vastly overestimated — and vastly oversold — the desire of the army brass to tip their red berets in his direction. So did his Washington backers, like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who on Tuesday kept honking excited tweets like: “Report says even more military units are joining effort of Interim President @jguaido in #Caracas #Venezuela.”

Report says even more military units are joining effort of Interim President @jguaido in #Caracas #Venezuela https://t.co/jxJpffKY8v

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) April 30, 2019

Except they weren’t. Some rank-and-file troops did defect, as they have in previous instances, and they did fire bullets at Maduro forces along with the rocks the street protesters threw. But not whole units — and certainly not the chiefs who command those units, who matched Rubio tweet for tweet with declarations of loyalty to Maduro.

None of that means Tuesday’s unrest didn’t rattle the regime — or that it didn’t create new cracks in the high command’s allegiance to Maduro. I’m sure it did.

But that’s precisely the point. Far more often than not, when you’re trying to topple a dictatorship — whether it’s Augusto Pinochet’s regime in Chile a generation ago or Omar al-Bashir’s in Sudan a month ago — the job is to keep creating and exploiting cracks in the wall. The job is not to bring the whole wall down in one fell, heroic swoop — because every time that fails, as it usually does, it sets you back.

Which is why Tuesday now looks to most of the world like Guaidó’s third strike instead of another crack in Maduro’s wall.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó greets supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday. He took to the streets with a small contingent of armed troops and called for the military to rise up and oust President Nicolás Maduro.

Fernando Llano/AP


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Fernando Llano/AP

That’s precisely what Rubio, President Trump and the rest of the Washington committee that claims to support Guaidó’s movement don’t get — and don’t seem to want to get. That was obvious when the Trump administration made Guaidó’s lost battle sound like a lost war.

“If [Tuesday’s] effort fails,” said Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, “[Venezuela] will sink into a dictatorship from which there are very few possible alternatives.”

That’s not exactly an inspiring postgame pep talk. But it was, of course, the pre-scripted cue to beat the U.S. military drum again. Florida Sen. Rick Scott said it was time for American troops “to defend freedom and democracy… in our hemisphere.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted, “[U.S.] military action is possible [in Venezuela], if that’s what’s required.”

They seemed to insinuate it is now required. It’s not — and not just because it could create an Iraq-style quagmire.

Tipping points

Even if Tuesday’s effort to bring down the regime failed, Bolton got it wrong when he suggested that Venezuelans’ larger effort to oust Maduro has failed. Tuesday actually showed that the effort is still alive — and should be kept alive until, to cite one scenario, U.S. and international economic sanctions bankrupt the regime and make the military bosses reconsider their Maduro marriage. Granted, a lot of those colonels and generals are allegedly rich thanks to drug trafficking. But even they have tipping points that should make Guaidó’s offers of amnesty to security forces that abandon Maduro look more attractive.

In the meantime, the Trump administration’s threats simply undermine Guaidó’s leverage with the ruling socialists by making his opposition movement feel like a yanqui-run show. It also alienates the unusual Latin American and international coalition his movement has managed to galvanize against Maduro — which is critical to negotiate the military’s change of heart.

The problem is that overthrowing autocracies is a long-haul mission. But Guaidó is having to work with U.S. foreign policymakers who envision it as a swashbuckling, one-fell-swoop act of Monroe Doctrine heroism. One that meets the cable news cycle deadline — if not the 2020 election deadline.

And they believe their short-haul, reverse-domino-theory approach will bring down the regimes not just in Venezuela but in Cuba and Nicaragua, too. But so far they’re 0-for-3.

Check out WLRN’s Latin America Report for more coverage on the region.

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