Cuban migration to Miami

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Cuban immigration has greatly influenced modern Miami, creating what is known as "Cuban Miami." However, Miami reflects global trends as well, such as the growing trends of multiculturalism and multiracialism; this reflects the way in which international politics shape local communities.[1] Essentially, the coexistence of growth and internationalization within Miami has perpetuated an ethnically driven social polarization.[2] The growing number of Cubans in Miami have remained loyal to their cultural norms, mores, customs, language, and religious affiliations. The transnational force of immigration defines Miami as a growing metropolis, and the 20th century Cuban influx has greatly affected Miami's growth.[1]

As of 2012, there were 1.2 million Cubans in Greater Miami. As of that year, about 400,000 had arrived after 1980.[3]


About 500,000 Cubans, most of them business people and professionals, arrived in Miami during a 15-year period after the Cuban Revolution. Some figures in Fulgencio Batista's administration were among those who arrived in Miami. The Miami Cubans received assimilation aid from the federal government. The Cubans established businesses in Miami.[3]

The Cubans arriving after 1980 did so primarily because of economic reasons.[3]

Housing segregation[edit]

With the influx of Cuban immigrants into Miami-Dade County, there was increased residential competition and segregation. Cubans have migrated to Miami in large numbers since 1950, and the majority of these immigrants had middle-class backgrounds. Essentially, this propelled their economic assimilation and prosperity. However, these 20th-century Cuban immigrants have not become residentially assimilated with the non-Latin population.[4] "Instead, through invasion and succession they are creating their own ethnic ghettoes … typical of ethnic minorities who have recently arrived in United States cities, the Miami Latin population was highly centralized; 70 percent lived within a three mile semicircle on the western side of the city's central business district”.[4] As a result, Miami's non-Latin populations (which includes Jewish and Black populations) have become increasingly polarized in a geographic sense. Essentially, the vast impact of Cuban migration has greatly affected Miami's non-Latin populations.

As Cubans began to arrive in large numbers the number of residents within the average household grew, and single unit homes became multiple units. Furthermore, many houses were removed to make way for the building of apartment structures. "Zoning restrictions, however, regulated the conversion of homes to multiple unit dwellings as well as the construction of new apartment houses, preventing a precipitous rise in the density of population. In addition, urban renewal in the inner city converted much land from residential to other uses”.[4]


With the emerging importance of ethnicity and the increased effects of segregation, Cubans within Miami attempted to reassert the Spanish language. In Miami, the Spanish language was spoken to a larger extent than in other cities with large Hispanic populations; also it was spoken in more diverse settings in Miami than any other city.[1] The 1970 census revealed that Spanish speakers made up 24 percent of Miami's population.[4] The Spanish language was becoming a norm in Miami as it was more extensively spoken by Miami's Cuban elite.[1] Language became increasingly important in 20th-century Miami as a result of the Cuban influx and this had impacts on other non-Latin communities.

Non-Hispanic communities began to oppose the rise of the Spanish language as a growing force within Miami. This can be seen in the anti-bilingualism/English Only movement. This movement came about in 1980, after a long period of vast Cuban immigration and social reform. Language was becoming a pressing issue as "Miami had the first bilingual public school program in the modern period (1963) and the first English Only referendum (1980)".[5] In fact the debates of English as Dade County's official language led to violent and dangerous riots in the 1980s.[6] Cubans felt that by preserving their language, they were preserving a fundamental component of their culture. In the 2000 census, 59.2% of people in Miami-Dade County said that they spoke Spanish at home.[7]


Although the media in Miami allows a certain amount of cultural labeling to flourish within the community, it also portrays the growing importance and domination of Cuban immigrants. For example, the Miami Herald's June 14, 1996 headline reads "Vanishing Spanish".[2] The headline refers to, and deplores the fact that, only a small percentage of recent high school graduates were fluent in Spanish; whereas the majority of second-generation Cuban immigrants spoke broken Spanish, and only spoke it in the home.[2] "This was described as an alarming trend since it erodes Miami's advantage as a bilingual community and diminishes its economic competitiveness".[2] During the 20th century, many Spanish-language newspapers were founded in Miami. "The Miami Herald created a Spanish-language insert, el Nuevo Herald, in 1976".[8] This addition received a vast amount of support and "by 1981 circulation reached 83,000 on weekdays and 94,000 for weekend editions. el Nuevo Herald is now published as an independent newspaper and reports a weekday circulation of about 100,000. It too is accessible on the World Wide Web ( As the Hispanic population has grown and achieved considerable economic success, it has also moved beyond Miami's city limits: Spanish-language newspapers are now published in adjacent Hialeah and Fort Lauderdale. This expansion can be seen at a statewide level as well, for Tampa, Orlando, and Immokalee each have Spanish-language newspapers".[8] Essentially, through the founding and growth of distinctly Hispanic newspapers, Cuban immigrants established a distinctly Latin American media.

Rioting and social uproar[edit]

The growing number and power of Miami's Cuban population increasingly impacted African-American communities within Miami. In fact, "countless media and public reports portray Miami in terms of a fragile truce among Hispanics, blacks, and Anglos that threatens to dissolve into a full-blown culture war".[6]

"African American rioting erupted on four separate occasions during the 1980s in Miami. With the exception of the events following the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles, Miami experienced the worst U.S. rioting since the 1960s when Liberty City erupted in violent protests in 1980. African Americans' non-traditional protests and civil disturbances in Miami coincided with the social upheaval attendant on the arrival of 125,000 refugees from the Cuban port of Mariel".[1] Although the link between racial tensions and ethnicity need to be further examined, African Americans nonetheless are impacted by Cuban immigration into Miami. Cuban Americans' attachment to their culture further fuels the conflict and promote social fragmentation. Essentially, "racial tensions and periodic episodes of civil unrest in its ghettos".[6]

Immigration, emigration, and interregional migration[edit]

Cuban immigration greatly affected Miami's future demographics. For example, the net immigration of African Americans into Miami was reduced during the 1960s in comparison to previous years.[4] This was the result of Cuban immigrants competing for jobs that had often been afforded to African Americans living in Miami. This reduction of immigration of non-Hispanics displayed the growing power of Cubans in Miami. Miami "posts a low emigration rate-43.6 per 1,000. This, of course, stems from the huge Cuban presence in Dade County and is testimony to the holding power of the Cuban enclave in Miami".[9]

Furthermore, Miami receives much interregional Cuban migration. "Miami posted an in-migration of 35,776 Cubans from elsewhere in the United States between 1985 and 1990 and an emigration of 21,231, mostly to elsewhere in Florida. Flows to and from Miami account for 52 percent of all interregional migration in the Cuban settlement system".[9] This migration to Miami shows Miami's appeal to diverse Cuban communities. Furthermore, it greatly affects non-Hispanic communities, causing them to leave Dade County.


Historically the Miami Cuban community has strongly opposed Fidel Castro and has blocked normalization in Cuba-United States relations. The Cubans arriving after 1980 have closer ties to those remaining in Cuba. They tend to take charter flights to and from Miami to Cuba.[3]

Parks and recreation[edit]

Máximo Gómez Park is named after Máximo Gómez.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Stack, John F. Jr. (1999), "The Ethnic Citizen Confronts the Future: Los Angeles and Miami at Century's Turn", The Pacific Historical Review, 68: 309–316, doi:10.2307/3641990 
  2. ^ a b c d Nijman, Jan (1997), "Globalization to a Latin Beat: The Miami Growth Machine", Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 551 (1): 164–177, doi:10.1177/0002716297551001012 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Cuban-Americans The Miami mirror." The Economist. March 24, 2012. Retrieved on February 8, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e Winsberg, Morton D. (1979), "Housing Segregation of a Predominantly Middle Class Population: Residential Patterns Developed by the Cuban Immigration into Miami, 1950-74", American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 38. 403-418
  5. ^ Castro, Max, J. (1992), "The Politics of Language in Miami", Miami Now: Immigration, Ethnicity, and Social Change (University Press of Florida): 109-133
  6. ^ a b c Croucher, Sheila, L. (1999), "Ethnic Inventions: Constructing and Deconstructing Miami's Culture Clash", The Pacific Historical Review, 68: 233-251
  7. ^ 2000 US Census Profile of selected social characteristics for Miami-Dade County
  8. ^ a b Huntz, Maura E. (1996), "Spanish-Language Newspapers in the United States", Geographical Review, 86: 446-456
  9. ^ a b Skop, Emily H.; Miyares, Ines M; Skop, Emily H (1997), "The Magnetism of Miami: Segmented Paths in Cuban Migration", Geographical Review, American Geographical Society, 87 (4): 504–519, doi:10.2307/215228, JSTOR 215228 

Further reading[edit]