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Brazilian investors buy Miami real estate. Haitian earthquake survivors attend South Florida schools. It's clear what happens in Latin America and the Caribbean has a profound effect on South Florida.WLRN’s coverage of the region is headed by Americas editor Tim Padgett, a 23-year veteran of TIME and Newsweek magazines.He joins a team of reporters and editors at the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and NPR to cover a region whose cultural wealth, environmental complexity, vast agricultural output and massive oil reserves offer no shortage of important and fascinating stories to tell.

More Cuban Doctors Than Ever Defecting From Venezuela To South Florida

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How bad are things in Venezuela? Even doctors from Cuba – one of the hemisphere’s most economically deprived countries – want out of Hugo Chávez's revolution. And now we know just how many are defecting.

Communist Cuba sends tens of thousands of doctors and other medical personnel to Venezuela, its key South American ally. In return, Cuba gets oil at a deep discount. 

That was a good deal for Cuban doctors when Venezuela’s economy was healthy. But Venezuela’s own socialist blunders have brought the country to one of its worst economic crises. Shortages of food, basic products and especially medical supplies have gotten critical even by Cuban standards.

Now those doctors are bolting Venezuela through neighboring Brazil and Colombia to come to the U.S. In fact, the number of defections in the past year has more than doubled from the previous year to 700. That’s according to the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal.

Solidarity Without Borders, a Miami group that helps those doctors, says almost all of them come to South Florida.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.