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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.

Venezuela And Colombia To Re-Open Border This Weekend

venezuela_colombia.jpeg
Fernando Llano
/
AP via Miami Herald
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after their meeting in Venezuela this week.

For the past year, the border between Venezuela and Colombia has effectively been closed. That’s only worsened the suffering of Venezuelans who can’t find enough food and medicine inside their collapsing economy. But relief may be coming tomorrow.

Venezuelan President NicolásMaduro shut down his country’s western border last year for what he called “security reasons.” Critics said he was just trying to deflect attention from his catastrophic mismanagement of Venezuela’s economy – which has led to severe shortages of basic goods.

This past week, Maduro and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos met in Venezuela – and they agreed to re-open the border starting Saturday.

That’s good news for Venezuelans who will be able to cross into Colombia to buy products there. In fact, South Florida shipping firms tell WLRN that many Venezuelans living here – who send goods to relatives back home – say they may now want to ship some packages to the Colombian side.

"It's a security issue," says Venezuelan Miguel López, who manages a shipping company in Doral. "Their families can pick up the packages on the Colombian side and avoid any corrupt Venezuelan customs officials."

López says his own brother, who still lives in Venezuela and struggles to find even bread these days, may want that arrangement himself.

"Most days," says López, his brother "eats only one or two meals so his children can eat three."

The Venezuelan-Colombian border is also a hotspot for illegal smuggling of goods.