The Evolving Character and Story of a Major Urban Metropolitan City by an Immigrant Group
For the last half a century, Cuban immigrants have had an enormous historical, political, and economic influence on the city of Miami, Florida. Their diaspora has contributed to the ‘Latinization’ of the United States more than any other group. The nostalgia and love for Cuba that those in exile portray is strong and evident in their way of life.
Maria Vasquez is the owner of Sentir Cubano (Cuban Feel), which is a store that offers all sorts of Cuban souvenirs and memorabilia, particularly those portraying how life was before the Castro regime. She describes Miami as a place that has American organization with Cuban flavor—the best of both worlds.
For the past fifty years, close to one million Cubans have fled or have been exiled from their homeland. That amounts to close to ten percent of the island’s population. Miami, Florida has become the first stop or the eventual stop for most of these Cuban exiles and refugees. Some fled in planes and boats, but many were desperate enough to flee on rafts. The first to leave the country were those who had been affiliated with the previous dictator Fulgencio Batista.
The Cubans arrived in the United States with a pre-constructed society. A large number of them were business people, professionals, and even clergy. Some came with money and influence, but many came with knowledge.
If you observe other groups of immigrants, you notice that the first generation arrived and started to work, the second generation goes to study, and the third generation starts occupying positions of power. However, with the Cubans the entire process has taken place is less than two generations.
In 1958 there were only about 10,000 Cubans living in Miami. Today, those born in Cuba or of Cuban descent, represent Miami’s largest ethnic group and Miami-Dade County’s largest demographic, making up almost half of all Hispanics registered in the county and 35% of the county’s overall population.
During the 1960s the Cubans concentrated in a portion of downtown Miami in South West 8th Street region. This place later became known as Little Havana. By the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, Cubans could be found in greater numbers throughout most of Miami.
Everybody agrees that Miami, Florida would have been a very different place, had it not been for the presence of Cubans. They managed to transform Miami from a sleepy vacation town into a major metropolitan area. Without a doubt, their impact remains unrivaled in American history. Cubans are proud to state that they came, they took what was available, and they made it better.
As Cubans arrived in Miami, they created a ‘home away from home’ because they had no plans to return to their homeland anytime soon. Miami is the place with the highest concentration of Cubans outside of Cuba itself.
The exiles succeeded in accomplishing everything they set out to do, except one thing: overthrow Castro. Watch this interesting film now.