At the present moment, Miami is characterized by emigration from Cuba, and the area has become known as “Cuban Miami”. In today’s world, many locations have become multi-cultured and multi-racial. It may also be due to the influence of international politics on them. The present rate of the growth of internationalization within Miami has driven towards the phenomenon of social polarization. It is due to the fact that the increasing number of Cubans that have emigrated to Miami have retained loyalty to their culture, customs, language and religion (Sicius 34). After the increased influx of Cubans into Miami, there were lurking fears among the original residents that the social landscape would be much altered because of this, and the quality of life may decrease. Today, the growth of Miami is greatly defined by the immigration of Cubans (Winsberg 406).
Pre-1959 Migration of Cubans
In the 1950s, the USA enforced a trade embargo on imported cigars, and afterwards, the tobacco industry made its headquarters in New York, Florida and New Jersey. Emigrants from Cuba, who came in order to flee from the volatile situation that happened, and members of the ousted government arrived here, and most of them were black. Because of racial discrimination that existed in the USA at that time, especially as a result of the Jim Crow laws, some black Cubans were forced to live in secluded communities, and some visited separate schools opened for them. Due to the volatile situation here, some of the Cubans decided to migrate to New York. These migration trends from the South towards the North painted a similar picture of the Northern migration, which occurred after the tobacco industry had suffered a blow in the late 1930s, and the population of blacks declined by 50% in Tampa.
Migration of Cubans from 1959 to 1973
After the Cuban Revolution in 1959, after Fidel Castro had assumed power, the emigration of Cubans towards America took place in three groups:
1) The first group of over 200,000 supporters of Fulgenico Batista took flight towards the USA.
2) The second one comprised the elite class of migrants, and this included high profile managers, professionals and executives. These Cubans were previously familiar with the economic system in the country, to which they migrated (Winsberg 409).
3) The third class included middle class Cubans and the working class, especially skilled workers (Winsberg 409).
Migrants were mostly females, old men and boys under the age of fifteen (Winsberg 412). Among them, there were some white immigrants because of the strict laws in place, which favored the migration of those Cubans, who had families in the USA. The revolution in the country broke down inter-social differences. The earliest migrants, which had arrived in the USA, were unskilled female workers, and they had to face many problems, such as antagonism on the part of Miami lower class residents. Low-wage workers, who were males, went to the tobacco industry, whereas female ones were engaged in the garment industry (Grillo 7). In 1961, court hearings were held, in which local inhabitants and officials complained about the Cuban influx. However, the administration decided to maintain the practice of permitting migration from communist states and considering them as political refugees. The Eisenhower administration also decided to establish a support program for Cuban migrants called the Cuban Refugee Program (CRP). It provided them with health facilities, monthly allowances, food, student loans and transport facilities from Cuba to the USA. In addition to that, the CRP also trained women and helped them find appropriate jobs. In this way, emigrants had improved housing and employment.
Late 1880’s Migration of Cubans
In 1886, there was an economic expansion in Florida, which had been mainly caused by the influx of Hispanic migrants from Cuba and Key West. They established the cigar industry, and the local economy underwent a huge change. Tampa became known as a cigar capital in the world. It was during the era, when Jim Crow’s racial policies were put in place, and migrants were forced to work at low wages and live away from the original inhabitants. The blacks were tolerated more in the Latin Quarter, but in West Tampa and Ybor City, there were some areas that were less tolerant, and few of them were divided between the blacks and whites on racial lines. Many authors also agreed on the fact that Cubans had to face many issues during the reign of Jim Crow. It did not even matter, if they were black or white, they were perceived as backward and trouble-brewing people (Hay 54).
There were many reasons why there was a high level of immigration of Cubans during the late 1880s. The foremost was that the geographic distance was short, and travelling was easy and less expensive (Grillo 67). Basically, the people of Cuba were from the lower class and had low wages, and anyone of them hardly got management positions. Moreover, these socio-economic differences made it difficult for migrants to be accepted by the mainstream. The white Cubans decided to ignore their African traditions and became more associated with the people of Spanish descent. Due to this, the black Cubans were left alone (Grillo 69). The prejudice increased to such an extent that there were signs at public places, such as beaches, that Cubans (and dogs) are not permitted to enter. The imagery of these people as being violent led them to face more discrimination than other ethnic groups. The black Cubans did not only have to suffer from the laws made by Jim Crow that did not apply to the whites, they also had to be marginalized not only from outsiders, but their own communities.
It has been noted by Susan Greenbaurn (18) that because of their skin color, Cubans were subject to the laws made by Jim Crow for the blacks. Those of them, who were residing in Tampa, also considered themselves as blacks. Susan Greenbaurn (22) mentioned that Cuban migrants were considered as “transnationalists”, because they worked hard to establish communities for themselves, and set up business institutions. She also noted that they worked their utmost to help each other and set up aid organizations, such as the La Sociedad la Union Marti y Maceo organization, which provided financial support to workers in the cigar industry, as well as other industries. At first, the aforementioned organization was integrated racially, but later the blacks were forced to leave it. Later, the black Cubans established the society known as Marti-Maceo. Greenbaurn (23) emphasized that this pointed to the fact that the black Cubans were trying to stress their own ethnic differences.
Reasons for Choosing Miami
It was 1959, when Cubans became disillusioned with the communist regime of Fidel Castro. As a sort of protest, immigrants decided to flock towards Miami and make it their new habitation. It was also called the “golden exile” that took place in the early 1960s. In the 1980 Mariel boatlift, nearly 125,000 Cubans were ship-lifted to Florida. Many of them decided to settle in Miami-Dade County (Hay 69).
While the major reason behind their migration to Miami was to escape from Fidel Castro’s rule, emigrants also wanted to seek a secure economic future for them in the most advanced country in the world. They may also have desired to prove Fidel Castro wrong and prove that Cubans created economic success for themselves. The materialistic approach also helped in attracting more and more Cubans to Miami. This Cuban emigration came to an end in 1973. However, the population has been continuously growing since then because of two reasons: one is that Cubans from other parts of the USA have been entering Miami since then, and that Latin Americans have much higher average birth rates.
It can be said that Miami’s demographics has been greatly influenced by Cuban immigration and will be affected more in the future. There was a reduction in the net influx of African Americans to Miami because of the competition posed by Cuban immigrants to jobs, which had been previously offered to African-Americans. It reflected the increased power of Cubans in Miami (Hay 71). As it has been mentioned earlier too, the increased influx of Cubans also took place from other states in the USA towards Florida, mainly to Miami, where more than 35,776 Cubans moved towards Miami from within the country, and 21,231 migrated to other places in Florida. It also forced African Americans and other non-Hispanics to leave Dade County in Miami.
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