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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.

Alan Gross Marks Five Years In Cuban Prison, Family Warns He's "Wasting Away"

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Gross family
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Today marks five years since U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross was jailed in Cuba on controversial spying charges. Gross's wife is warning he may not survive another year -- and says the family is “at the end.”

Gross, 65, is serving a 15-year sentence for bringing what Cuban officials called illegal communications equipment into the communist island. Gross was more likely arrested as retaliation for the U.S. 2001 conviction of five Cuban spies. Three are still in U.S. prisons, and the Cuban government wants them freed as a condition for freeing Gross.

But in an ominous statement today, Gross’ wife, Judy Gross, insisted that he is “resolved that he will not endure another year imprisoned in Cuba…After five years of literally wasting away,” she writes, “Alan is done.”

The statement urges President Obama to do more to win Gross’ release. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake visited Gross last month and said he was still hopeful a release can be negotiated. Gross' case is the biggest obstacle to thawing U.S.-Cuba relations.

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