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Probably no ethnic group has had more influence on the fortunes of a city in a
short period of time than have the Cubans on Miami. Most consider the Cubans??™ economic
influence positive. The Cuban and other Latin American immigrants have
transformed Miami from a quiet resort to a boomtown. To a large degree, they have
re-created the Cuba they left behind. Today, the population of metropolitan Miami is
more than 35 percent foreign born??”more than any other city. Residents like to joke
that one of the reasons they like living in Miami is that it is close to the United States
(Clary 1997b).

All Cuban immigrants have had much to adjust to, and they have not been able to
immediately establish the kind of life they sought. Although some of those who fled
Cuba were forced to give up their life??™s savings, the early immigrants of the first wave
were generally well educated, had professional or managerial backgrounds, and
therefore met with greater economic success than later immigrants. However, regardless
of the occupations the immigrants were able to enter, there was tremendous
adjustment for the family. Women who typically did not work outside the home often
had to seek employment. Immigrant parents found their children being exposed to a
foreign culture. All the challenges typically faced by immigrant households were complicated
by uncertainty surrounding those they left behind in Cuba.
The primary adjustment among south Florida??™s Cuban Americans is more to each
other than to Whites, African Americans, or other Latinos. The prolonged immigration
now stretching across two generations has led to differences between Cuban
Americans in terms of ties to Cuba, social class, and age. There is not a single Cuban
American lifestyle (Navarro 1999).
The long-range prospects for Cubans in the United States depend on several factors.
Of obvious importance are events in Cuba, for many Cuban refugees publicly
proclaim their desire to return if the communist government is overturned. A powerful
force in politics in Miami is the Cuban-American National Foundation, which
takes a strong anti-Castro position. They have actively opposed any proposals that the
United States develop a more flexible policy toward Cuba. More moderate voices in
the Cuban exile community have not been encouraged to speak out. Indeed, sporadic
violence has even occurred within the community over U.S.??“Cuban relations. In
addition, artists or speakers who come from Cuba receive a cold reception in Miami
unless they are outspoken critics of Fidel Castro (L. Martin 1996).
Cuban Americans have selectively accepted Anglo culture. But Cuban culture has
been tenacious; the Cuban immigrants do not feel that they need to forget Spanish
while establishing fluency in English, the way other immigrant children have shunned
their linguistic past. Still, a split between the original exiles and their children is evident.
Young people are more concerned about the Miami Dolphins football team
than they are about what is happening in Havana. They are more open to reestablishing
relations with a Castro-led Cuba. However, the more recent wave of immigrants,
the recien llegados (recently arrived), have again introduced more openly anti-Castro
feelings, as evidenced in the battles over Elian Gonzalez in 2000 and travel restrictions
in 2004.

The beginnings of the Mexican experience in the United States were as varied as
the people themselves. Some Mexican Americans were affluent, with large land holdings.
Others were poor peasants barely able to survive. Along such rivers as the Rio
Grande, commercial towns grew up around the increasing river traffic. In New Mexico
and Arizona, many Mexican American people welcomed the protection that the
U.S. government offered against several Native American tribes. In California, life was
quickly dominated by the gold miners, and Anglos controlled the newfound wealth.
One generalization can be made about the many segments of the Mexican American
population in the 19th century: They were regarded as a conquered people. In fact,
even before the war, many Whites who traveled into the West were already prejudiced
against people of mixed blood (in this instance, against Mexicans). Whenever Mexican
American and Anglo interests conflicted, Anglo interests won (Servin 1974).
A pattern of second-class treatment for Mexican Americans emerged well before
the 20th century. Gradually, the Anglo system of property ownership replaced the
Native American and Hispanic systems. Mexican Americans who inherited land
proved no match for Anglo lawyers. Court battles provided no protection for poor
Spanish-speaking landowners. Unscrupulous lawyers occasionally defended Mexican
Americans successfully, only to demand half the land as their fee. Anglo cattle ranchers
gradually pushed out Mexican American ranchers. By 1892, the federal government
was granting grazing privileges on public grasslands and forests to anyone
except Mexican Americans. Effectively, the now Mexican Americans had become outsiders
in their own homeland. The ground was laid for the social structure of the
Southwest in the 20th century, an area of growing productivity in which minority
groups have increased in size but remain largely subordinate (Moquin and Van
Doren 1971:251).

Puerto Ricans

The beginnings of rule by the United States quickly destroyed any hope that Puerto
Ricans??”or Boricua, as Puerto Ricans call themselves??”had for self-rule. All power
was given to officials appointed by the president, and any act of the island??™s legislature
could be overruled by Congress. Even the spelling was changed briefly to Porto Rico
to suit North American pronunciation. English, previously unknown on the island,
became the only language permitted in the school systems. The people were colonized??”
first politically, then culturally, and finally economically (Aran et al. 1973;
Christopulos 1974).
Citizenship was extended to Puerto Ricans by the Jones Act of 1917, but Puerto
Rico remained a colony. This political dependence altered in 1948, when Puerto Rico
elected its own governor and became a commonwealth. This status, officially Estado
Libre Asociado, or Associated Free State, extends to Puerto Rico and its people privileges
and rights different from those of people on the mainland. Although Puerto
Ricans are U.S. citizens and elect their own governor, they may not vote in presidential
elections and have no voting representation in Congress. They are subject to military
service, Selective Service registration, and all federal laws. Puerto Ricans have a
homeland that is and at the same time is not a part of the United States


The challenges to immigrants from Latin America are reflected in the experience
of Colombians, numbering close to a half million in the United States. The initial
arrivals from this South American nation after World War I were educated middleclass
people who quickly assimilated to life in the United States. Rural unrest in
Colombia in the 1980s triggered large-scale movement to the United States, where
the Colombian immigrants had to adapt to a new culture and to urban life. The adaptation
of this later group has been much more difficult. Some have found success
through catering to other Colombians. For example, enterprising immigrants have
opened bodegas (grocery stores) to supply traditional, familiar foodstuffs. Similarly
Colombians have established restaurants, travel agencies, and real estate firms that
serve other Colombians. However, many find themselves obliged to take menial jobs
and to combine the income of several family members to meet the high cost of urban
life. Colombians of mixed African descent face racial as well as ethnic and language
barriers (Guzman 2001).

After researching all four groups Mexican, Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Columbians have come to the conclusion that all four groups are similar in why they came to the United States. But are very different in many ways in which would be reglious beliefs, economics, and political. In which they each have their own beliefs. One prime example of all four groups would be they are all very family orienated. All four groups speak Spanish in which have their own lanuage and are not the exact same at all. These groups are all latin but would not like to be called anything else but who they are, for example Mexican is Mexican not Puerto Rican. In which you would understand if you was called something other then what you actual are and was always being confused with other ethic groups. Each group is their own group and would prefer you not to group all latin in one, it takes away from each groups identity.


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