KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Carrie Kahn

Mexico City's Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera is handing out plastic whistles. A half-million of them. At three bucks a pop, he's hoping that women will use the whistles to scare off harassers on the packed public transportation system.

When the plan was announced this summer, it received a flurry of scathing criticism and mocking memes on social media. But city officials are moving forward and have been handing out the whistles by the thousands at subway and bus stops.

If the old real estate adage holds true — it's all about location, location, location — then about 100 miles off the tip of Florida, it's boom time. The real estate market in Havana, Cuba, is roaring.

The communist country is seeing its colonial-style mansions and Art Deco apartments selling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Add a Caribbean sea view or a prized spot in a pre-revolution, exclusive neighborhood, and the price can top a million bucks. The prices are soaring, along with speculation in this budding and risky all-cash real estate market.

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Cubans are bracing for a tough end of the year, after what has already been a rough summer. The island's economy is in trouble. Venezuela, Cuba's main patron and supplier of cheap oil, has slashed its generous subsidies, while Cuba's other top cash commodities are facing worldwide price plunges.

Since the U.S. and Cuba improved relations and President Obama made his historic trip to the island in March, expectations had been running high among Cubans that better economic times were coming.

Cuba Fights Off Zika

Sep 17, 2016

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Costa Rica is best known for its vacation beaches and lush rain forests. But recently it has become a thoroughfare for tens of thousands of migrants from South America and elsewhere who are hoping to reach the U.S.

Many are from the Caribbean, but a significant number trekking through the country are Africans and Southeast Asians, and collectively, they are straining Costa Rica's welcoming reputation.

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In a perplexing and high-profile trip just hours ahead of his speech on immigration, Donald Trump traveled to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

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Remember the toucan in Costa Rica who had its upper beak hacked off by a perpetrator who was never found?

Well, here's an update to a story we first told you about last year. And, spoiler alert — it has a happy ending.

Local residents brought the bird to a nearby animal rescue center. And thanks to its dedicated workers, amazing doctors and engineers, the toucan now has a prosthetic beak.

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Holocaust survivor, Nobel laureate and author Elie Wiesel has died at the age of 87. Wiesel survived the World War II Nazi death camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. After liberation, he went to France, then Israel and the United States, where he advocated on behalf of victims of hate and persecution around the world.

Wiesel's son, Elisha, confirmed his death in a phone call with NPR.

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For the first time in nearly 80 years, Mexicans can fill up their cars in a gas station not run by the state-run petroleum monopoly. Since the 1930s, Pemex, Mexico's gas and oil monopoly, has own every gas station in the country and controlled all the prices.

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After more than $5 billion and close to a decade of construction, Panama opens the long awaited expansion of its storied canal. Set to potentially double its current cargo, the expansion has weathered cost disputes, serious questions regarding its design and a global slump in international shipping.

Will the canal bring the benefits promised to this tiny Central America nation?

Costa Rican officials say more than 800 people claiming to be from Africa have come to their country in just the last two months. Most are believed to be from the two neighboring Congo states in central Africa. But in a visit this week, NPR also found Eritreans, Angolans and Nigerians.

Authorities also suspect that some are from Haiti.

Central America has long been the route north for people fleeing violence or poverty in Latin America. Now it's also a route from Africa.

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Dozens of people crowded into the main hall of the Panama Canal Authority's headquarters last month to see which ship would win the coveted maiden voyage through the expanded canal slated for June 26.

All eyes were on 9-year old Margarita Rivas Silvera as she stuck her hand in a metal cage and pulled out the winning name.

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