Push and Pull Factors
Cuban immigrants that now reside in Florida have migrated for several reasons. There were many different pull factors that intrigued these Cubans to emigrate to the United States. energyofanation.org argues that many Cubans sought a better quality of life in their new country. They were drawn by the freedoms of a democracy, such as the freedom of speech and the press, and ultimately wanted to remove themselves from leader Fidel Castro and his Communist regime. The democratic government of the United States made it ideal to many citizens that suffered through communism and dictatorship governments. And in this case, Cubans were able to escape into freer, better lives in their new country. In fact, to this date, many Cubans have held high governmental positions and have been able to even improve the government that they now live under. 1959 was when Fidel Castro took over Cuba and this started many large Cuban migration waves to the United States. Many Cubans also had family members in the United States with whom they could live with to begin their new life. In 2008, more than 1.24 million Cubans had settled in the United States, mainly in South Florida. Also, 63% of people who live in Miami today are Cubans. These large immigration waves have really helped the American government and economy, and improved the lives of these Cuban immigrants.
Journey and Treatment
The Cuban immigrants endured rough travels on their way to America, and were not always accepted or respected in their new land. According to Countries and Their Cultures, there was a large Cuban migration wave from about 1965-1973 during which 300,000 Cubans arrived in America. During this time, Cuba and the United States reached an agreement allowing Cuban relatives living in the United States to be transported from Cuba. They were taken by boat from the northern port of the city of Camarioca, Cuba, and later, by plane from the city of Varadero, Cuba. This large number shows the amount of Cubans looking for more freedoms and a better quality of life in a new country. Another large migration wave, the Mariel Boat Lift, occurred in 1980 after leader Fidel Castro allowed Cuban Americans to visit relatives in Cuba. About 125,000 Cubans took advantage of this opportunity. However, at this time, president Bill Clinton enforced a policy in which Cuban immigrants were held in centers at Guantanamo Bay and throughout Latin America, angering many other Cuban Americans.
There were three major immigration waves to America in Cuban history. According to the Library of Congress, the immigrants of the first two waves were welcomed in the U.S. The U.S. government opened a Cuban Refugee Center in Miami, which offered medical and financial aid to new arriving Cubans. In 1966 Congress passed the Cuban American Adjustment Act, allowing any Cuban who had lived in the U.S. for at least a year to become a permanent resident. However, next major group of immigrants were not nearly as openly welcomed. At the peak of the Cold War, immigrants from Cuba were commonly viewed by Americans as “refugees from a dictatorial regime”. In 1980, the Cuban government opened a port in the city of Mariel to any Cubans wanting to leave Cuba for the United States. Word got around in the Cuban American community, and within days, many private yachts, merchant ships, and fishing boats reached Mariel to bring Cubans to Florida. The port remained open for six months, and during this time 125,000 plus Cubans were sent to the United States. Many of these immigrants, known as the Marielitos, were “stigmatized in the U.S. as undesirable elements, and thousands were confined in temporary shelters and federal prisons—some for years.”(Library of Congress). This third group of immigrants definitely were not treated as equally as the first two groups were.
Influence on New Culture
Cuban culture has influenced the United States in many different ways. Their value of education has led them to be able to support sufficient lives in their new country. In fact, according to energyofanation.org, Cubans are one of the most educated groups in the United States. They own 25% of all businesses in Miami, and the 2007 census survey states states that, 251,000 Cuban-American-owned businesses have contributed $51 billion to the United States economy. The facts show the positive impact of Cuban immigrants on the American economy. They were able to give up their past life, and come to the United States where they continued to work and helped the American government. Also, Cubans have held high governmental positions, and served in many branches of of the United States Armed Forces. Many have risked their lives to defend our country. One specific is Armando Alejandre, who voluntarily joined the United States Marine Corps, and served two tours in Vietnam. He was also a Brothers to the Rescue participant, (a pro-democracy organization that promotes and supports the efforts of Cuban people to non-violently free themselves from the Cuban dictatorship.) He sacrificed his life in a military jet shooting for the good of his country. This situation shows that despite the hardships Cubans faced in their home country of Cuba, they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of their new country.
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