Carrie Kahn | KERA News

Carrie Kahn

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.

Since arriving in Mexico in the summer of 2012, on the eve of the election of President Enrique Peña Nieto and the PRI party's return to power, Kahn has reported on everything from the rise in violence throughout the country to its powerful drug cartels, and the arrest, escape, and re-arrest of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. She has covered extensively the increasing Central American migration through the region, gang violence in Central America, and the historic détente between the Obama Administration and Cuba.

Prior to her post in Mexico, Kahn had been a National Correspondent based in Los Angeles since joining NPR in 2003. During that time, Kahn often reported on and from Mexico, including covering the country's presidential election in 2012. She was the first NPR reporter into Haiti after the devastating earthquake in early 2010, and returned to the country on numerous occasions to continue NPR's coverage of the Caribbean nation.

Her work included assignments throughout California and the West. In 2010 Kahn was awarded the Headliner Award for Best in Show and Best Investigative Story for her work covering U.S. informants involved in the Mexican Drug War. In 2005, Kahn was part of NPR's extensive coverage of Hurricane Katrina, where she investigated claims of euthanasia in New Orleans hospitals, recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast, and resettlement of city residents in Houston, TX. Since then, she has covered her share of hurricanes, firestorms and mudslides in Southern California, and the controversial life and death of pop-icon Michael Jackson. In 2008, as China hosted the world's athletes, Kahn recorded a remembrance of her Jewish grandfather and his decision to compete in Hitler's 1936 Olympics.

Before coming to NPR in 2003, Kahn worked for two and a half years at NPR station KQED in San Francisco, first as an editor and then as a general assignment reporter with a focus on immigration reporting. From 1994 to 2001, Kahn was the border and community affairs reporter at NPR station KPBS in San Diego, where she covered Northern Mexico, immigration, cross-border issues, and the city's ethnic communities.

Kahn's work has been cited for fairness and balance by the Poynter Institute of Media Studies. She was awarded and completed a Pew Fellowship in International Journalism at Johns Hopkins University.

Kahn received a bachelor's degree in biology from UC Santa Cruz. For several years, she was a human genetics researcher in California and in Costa Rica. She has traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East, where she worked on a English/Hebrew/Arabic magazine.

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Editor's Note: Unaccompanied minors surged across the U.S. southern border last year. In response, the Obama administration has introduced a program that would allow families to reunite. In this story about the divided Leveron family, NPR's Richard Gonzales reports first from California, followed by Carrie Kahn in El Salvador.

The 66th floor of Panama City's Trump Tower is a fine spot to experience Panama's booming economy. Beyond the building's windows, hundreds of skyscrapers stretch the length of the capital's skyline. Inside, a hand of blackjack will set you back $200, but all-you-can-drink champagne costs just $10.

On average, economic growth in Panama has topped 8 percent in the last five years, making the country the envy of its struggling Latin American neighbors.

In the U.S., the Supreme Court's widely anticipated ruling on same-sex marriage has been the focus of nonstop speculation and debate. In Mexico, meanwhile, the highest court effectively legalized same-sex unions this month with a decision that was so low key many failed to notice.

Mexico's Supreme Court quietly published an opinion, known as a jurisprudential thesis, ruling that defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman is discriminatory and in violation of Mexico's constitution.

Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli wasn't always rich.

One of Central America's richest and most eccentric former politicians, Martinelli started off as a credit officer at Citibank in Panama. He bought one business, then another. Among his holdings is the country's largest supermarket chain, Super 99, known for bargain prices and catchy jingles.

But while his jingles may get Panamanian's hips moving, Martinelli's alleged pilfering and profiteering make their blood boil.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to fill the streets of the capital of El Salvador on Saturday to celebrate as one of Latin America's most revered and controversial religious figures is beatified — the last official step before sainthood.

They will gather to pay tribute to former Archbishop Oscar Romero, a beloved priest and staunch defender of the poor, who was murdered while celebrating Mass in 1980.

Panama, like its Central American neighbors, is struggling with a rise in gangs. A recent census by the country's security forces put the number of criminal organizations operating in Panama now at about 200.

One neighborhood, in the capital's historic district, is taking on its gang problem with a group of strange bedfellows.

First, meet K.C. Hardin.

"I moved to Panama 12 years ago just to surf and do nothing for a couple years, I thought," says Hardin.

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Presidents Obama and Raul Castro of Cuba shook hands last night before opening ceremonies of the Summit of the Americas in Panama. But the informal meeting between the two men today was the most anticipated moment of the conference.

In the village of Tuffet, a rocky 45-minute drive from the closest city along Haiti's southern coast, several men get down to work in Monique Yusizanna Ouz's rural home. They're wiring up her two-room, dirt floor house with a breaker box, an outlet and a light fixture.

She's 66 years old, and for the first time in her life, she's going to have electricity.

Ouz, who has five grandchildren, wants a refrigerator. She wants cold drinks — for herself but also to sell. And she wants ice cream, too.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission is dealing with a new case of alleged violations by federal officials. This complaint, however, comes from the country's most vicious and notorious criminals — more than 100 of them.

Nearly 140 prisoners at Mexico's maximum security prison say they're being housed in unsafe and inhumane conditions.

In Mexico, the problem of drug trafficking is well publicized, but you can't say the same when it comes to the problem of drug addiction.

While nowhere near the levels seen in the U.S., Mexico is battling a growing problem — in the past decade illicit drug use has grown by more than a third.

Two of Mexico's most ruthless drug cartels have lost their leaders. In the span of just one week, the Mexican government captured the heads of the Knights Templar and the Zetas trafficking organization. That brings the number of capos taken out by the current administration to 11.

But many analysts believe the spectacular arrests will do little to tackle the country's growing insecurity.

Mexican cops have gotten a bad rap. They are known more for taking bribes than fighting crime. One police department in Mexico hopes that body cameras, a high-tech tool gaining popularity in the U.S., will redeem its reputation.

The police chief in the border city of Tijuana says they will show that it's not just bad cops that are the problem; the public plays a big role in corruption, too.

Within days of three Tijuana police officers clipping on the cameras, one recorded an eye-opening traffic stop.

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Cuba has promised its citizens better Internet access in this New Year. The few Cubans who now manage to get online find it expensive and slow.

Warming ties with the U.S. have stirred hope for improved telecommunications. But until then, many residents have devised an ingenious work-around, or should we say walk-around.

On Havana's Malecon, roaming guitarists play for the crowds resting against the iconic sea wall. In this nightly gathering spot, it's old fashioned interacting. No one is on a cell, no eyes glued to smart phones.

In Havana, two religious communities are celebrating the holiday season but have taken very different approaches to the news that relations between the U.S. and Cuba are warming.

For Jews who belong to Temple Beth Shalom in Havana, their numbers may be small, but size doesn't matter.

On Sunday night, a couple hundred people filled the temple's sanctuary to light six Hanukkah candles, watch teens put on a play, and clap to a group of toddlers dancing to the holiday classic "Eight Little Candles," sung in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language.

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If you want to give your taste buds a gustatory tour of Mexico, then Margarita Carrillo is ready to be your guide.

The Mexican chef and food activist has spent years gathering hundreds of recipes from every region of the country for Mexico: The Cookbook, her new, encyclopedic take on her country's cuisine.

This is the story of the murder of two aid workers in Mexico. The men fed Central American migrants traveling north through Mexico on a freight train that stopped near their home.

They were critical of both corrupt police, who abused and extorted the migrants, as well as the organized crime gangs that kidnapped and robbed them.

It wasn't hard to find the two men — they were never far from the train tracks — but there were no witnesses to their deaths, and police won't comment about the case. The double homicide didn't even get a mention in the local press.

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