Cuban Americans

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Editor: Thomas Riggs
Date: 2014
Publisher: Gale, a Cengage Company
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Cuban Americans

Sean T. Buffington


Cuban Americans are immigrants (or descendants of immigrants) from the island nation of Cuba. Located on the northern rim of the Caribbean Sea, Cuba is the largest of the Greater Antilles islands. To Cuba's east is the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Off the southeastern coast of Cuba lies Jamaica, and to the north is the state of Florida. The island is composed of rolling plains, with a few mountain ranges located in the southeast and the central regions. Although several rivers cut across Cuba's interior, the inland possesses only one large natural reservoir, the Laguna de Leche. In 1971 the Cuban government built the Zaza Reservoir, which is the largest inland water source in the country. Cuba's total land area is 42,426 square miles, which is slightly larger than the state of Tennessee.

According to a census conducted by the Cuban government, Cuba had a population of 11.2 million in 2010. In 2011 the World Bank estimated that the country's population was 11.3 million. Although the Cuban Constitution was amended in 1991 to define the nation as secular rather than atheist, approximately 40 to 45 percent of the population identify, at least nominally, as Roman Catholic. Many who call themselves Catholic practice Santería, a merging of traditions from Roman Catholicism and the Yoruba religion of West Africa. It is estimated that 5 percent of the population is affiliated with Protestant churches. Other religious groups include Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Bahá'ís, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Cuban government maintains a series of restrictions on religious practices. However, since 1992 the restrictions have been eased, and the government now legally recognizes Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, and Jews. Additionally, the government works closely with the Cuban Council of Churches to monitor officially sanctioned religious practices. According to the United Nations 2010 Human Development Index, Cuba's economy and developmental potential are above the regional average of other Latin American and Caribbean countries. Cuba's socialist economy used to rely heavily upon the country's sugar, tobacco, and nickel enterprises; 75 percent of its GDP now comes from the service sector, which is composed mostly of doctors and medical professionals. Since 2010 Cuba has encouraged some private sector growth, particularly in tourism.

Cubans began migrating to the United States in large numbers in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, settling mostly in the lower Florida peninsula, where they engaged in tobacco manufacturing. A second wave occurred during the early to mid-twentieth century, with many seeking economic opportunities in the United States. Following the Cuban Revolution in 1959 that unseated Fulgencio Batista and placed Fidel Castro in power, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled the communist country. The exodus continued throughout the next several decades, forcing the United States to continually revisit its immigration policy toward Cuba. In 1995 President Bill Clinton signed an agreement with the Cuban government to repatriate Cuban immigrants picked up at sea. In what was commonly known as the “Wet Feet, Dry Feet” policy, the Clinton administration agreed not to admit Cubans it found at sea but said it would continue to grant asylum and a chance for citizenship to Cubans who made it to shore. In 2008 the U.S. government began working with Mexico to curb the number of Cubans migrating to the United States by illegally crossing the Mexico-United States border.

The 2010 U.S. Census indicated that 1.8 million Cubans live in the United States, accounting for approximately 4 percent of the Hispanic American population. The majority of Cuban Americans live in Florida, particularly in Miami and the surrounding area, as a result of the state's proximity to the island. The largest population of Cuban Americans outside of Florida resides in the New York City metropolitan area.


Early History Cuba was colonized by the Spanish in 1511. Before colonization the island was inhabited by Ciboney and Taíno (or Arawak, as the Spanish named them) Indians. Shortly after colonization the native population was ravaged by disease, warfare, and enslavement, leading to their eventual extinction. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Spain lavished attention on its mainland colonies in the Americas but Page 592  |  Top of Articleignored its Caribbean colonies, including Cuba. By the end of the seventeenth century, Spain had begun to decline as a world power because of financial mismanagement, outmoded trade policies, and continued reliance on exhausted extractive industries. Cuba suffered during this period, as did all of Spain's colonies. In 1762 the British captured Havana and encouraged the cultivation of sugar cane, an industry that would dominate the economy of the area for centuries to come.

British rule of Cuba was short-lived, lasting only ten months before Spain resumed control. However, during this brief period North Americans had become buyers of Cuban goods, a factor that would contribute greatly to the prosperity of the island population. Meanwhile, the need for labor on sugar and tobacco plantations and for raising livestock (the island's first major industry) resulted in the growth of African slavery.

Trade increased in Cuba over the next sixty years, as did immigration from Europe and from other areas of Latin America. The introduction of the steam-powered sugar mill in 1819 hastened the expansion of the sugar industry. While the demand for African slaves grew, Spain signed a treaty with England agreeing to prohibit the slave trade after 1820. The number of slaves entering the area did decrease after that time, but the treaty was largely ignored. Several slave revolts took place over the next three decades, but all proved unsuccessful.

Cuba's political relationship with Spain during this period became increasingly antagonistic. The island's creoles—those of Spanish descent who had been born in Cuba and were chiefly wealthy landowners and powerful sugar planters—resented the control colonial administrators in Europe exercised over them in political and economic matters. Many of these landowners and planters were also concerned about the future of slavery on the island, wanting to protect their investment in slaves and their access to cheap African labor from zealous imperial reformers. At the same time, black slaves in Cuba and their liberal allies were interested in national independence and freedom for the island's slaves. There were three wars for independence: the Ten Years' War (1868–1878), the Little War (1879–1880), and the War of Independence (1895–1898). During the final war independence-minded black Cubans and white Cubans joined in a struggle against Spanish imperial forces. Their rebellion was cut short by the intervention of U.S. troops, who defeated the Spanish in the 1898 Spanish-American War and ruled Cuba for four years. Even after the end of its direct rule, however, the United States continued to exercise an extraordinary degree of influence over Cuba's politics and economy. The U.S. interventionist policy toward Cuba aroused the resentment of many Cubans, as did the irresponsible and tyrannical governance of the island by a succession of Cuban presidents.

Modern Era During the 1930s economic hardship and the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado led to another revolution. After the Revolt of the Sergeants (1933), led by Fulgencio Batista, the army succeeded in overthrowing Machado, who resigned and fled the country. Batista, backed by the United States, appointed himself chief of the armed forces and ruled Cuba through a series of handpicked puppet presidents. He was elected president once (1940–1944) and in 1952 led a military coup that established him as dictator. Anger at the oppressive rule of Cuban leaders, many of them backed by the United States, exploded in the late 1950s, when a cross-class insurrection led by Fidel Castro launched an uprising against Batista's brutal dictatorship. Castro formed a socialist government after taking control of the island, turning to the Soviet Union for support in the polarized world of geopolitics during the Cold War. The relationship between Cuba and the United States has been cool at best since Castro's victory. In 1960 the United States enacted a partial commercial, economic, and financial embargo against Cuba, later strengthening it to a near-complete embargo in 1962. In January 1961 the United States broke diplomatic relations with Cuba. The 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, an unsuccessful attempt by the U.S. government and Cuban exiles in the United States to overthrow Castro, was the first of many clashes between the two nations. Also noteworthy is the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, in which the United States successfully resisted an attempt by the Soviet Union to place nuclear weapons in Cuba.

During the 1970s and 1980s Castro's Cuba supported socialist revolutions throughout the world, particularly in Africa, with the Cuban military stationing troops in Angola and Ethiopia. In Cuba Castro used a heavy hand against dissidents, and many who opposed him were imprisoned, executed, or exiled. During the 1980s the Soviet Union experienced a series of financial crises and an extended period of political unrest that weakened the country. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, Cuba lost its most important trading partner and supporter.

The next decade brought immense challenges to the Cuban economy. Faced with a depleted oil supply and limited trading partners, Castro's Cuba fell into a deep economic depression, an era known as the “Special Period.” During that time Cuba's infrastructure struggled and its people faced mass food and power shortages. The Cuban government sought to resurrect the country's economy through a variety of innovative methods, including mandated organic farming, permaculture, and mass transportation. Throughout the 1990s the economy continued to struggle, and although the United States provided some humanitarian aid, its economic embargo against Cuba continued to put additional strains on the island nation's fragile economy. In spite of the immense challenges that the country faced, the Cuban government found some Page 593  |  Top of Articlerespite by focusing on tourism, cash crops, mineral exports, and its public health care system, considered one of the most successful in the world.

After protests erupted in Havana in 1994, Castro responded by tightening his power. However, he also instituted a series of measures that promoted urban gardens to help remedy the country's food shortages and reduce food transportation costs. In 1998 Cuba entered into a lucrative partnership with Venezuela's newly elected socialist president, Hugo Chavez. In exchange for Cuba's medical and educational assistance, Venezuela agreed to enter into a variety of economic agreements with Cuba that alleviated Cuba's energy shortages. At the turn of the century, Cuba's economy had gotten a boost from the growth in tourism, and the government began to invest in rebuilding the country's infrastructure.

Throughout the country's economic instability, however, many Cubans had openly voiced their dissatisfaction with the government, leading to increased crackdowns and suppression of dissidents by the state. To maintain its legitimacy, Castro's government continually attempted to reinvent itself by allowing more foreign investors in the country, loosening some social restrictions, and investing in social services. Yet even as the government was attempting to stabilize the nation, thousands of Cubans continued to flee the island, leading to even greater government suppression.

In 2006 Fidel Castro fell ill and delegated all of his presidential duties to his brother Raúl Castro. Raúl served as temporary president of Cuba until he was officially elected in 2008. He then implemented a series of reforms, including removing restrictions on consumer goods such as electronics and releasing some state-owned land to independent farmers. Initially positioning himself as a reformer, Raúl Castro promised that he would institute a sweeping set of economic, social, and political changes that would rejuvenate the country. His reforms came slowly, leading many citizens and outside observers to question his ability to alleviate the country's problems within the confines of a one-party system.


Cubans have a long history of migrating to the United States, often for political reasons. Many Cubans, particularly cigar manufacturers, came during the clashes between Cuban nationals and the Spanish military known as the Ten Years' War (1868–1878). Yet the most significant Cuban migrations occurred in the second half of the twentieth century, with at least four distinct waves of Cuban immigration to the United States since 1959. Although many, if not most, Cuban migrants in the twentieth century were fleeing Cuba for political reasons, migrants in the early twenty-first century were more likely to have left the country because of its declining economic conditions.

Cuban refugees arrive in the United States in 1980.

Cuban refugees arrive in the United States in 1980. BETTMANN / CORBIS

The first of these four waves of Cuban migration began immediately after Castro's victory in 1959 and continued until the U.S. government strengthened its embargo against Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Supporters of Batista were the first to leave Cuba, but they moved to the Dominican Republic. They were later joined by Cubans who had not been prominent Batista allies but who nonetheless opposed Castro's socialist government. Before the U.S. government imposed its embargo, almost 250,000 Cubans had left Cuba for the United States.

The second notable wave of migration started in 1965 and continued through 1973. Cuba and the United States had agreed that Cubans with relatives residing in the United States could be legally transported from Cuba. The transportation of migrants began by boat from the northern port of Camarioca. After many migrants died in boat accidents, the transportation later continued by plane from the airstrip at Varadero. Almost 300,000 Cubans arrived in the United States during this period.

The third migration, known as the Mariel boatlift, occurred in 1980. It was precipitated by an incident in which five Cubans used a bus to crash through the gates of the Peruvian embassy in an attempt to gain political asylum. The Cuban guards stationed outside the embassy opened fire on the bus, and one of the guards was shot. When the Peruvian government refused to give up the five Cubans, Castro removed all guards from the entrance of the embassy, which was subsequently flooded by more than 14,000 Cubans seeking asylum. Finally the Cuban army was called in to cordon the area. Castro then announced that the Mariel port would be open to Cubans wishing to leave Cuba. More than 125,000 registered, but only 50 percent of them were allowed to emigrate. The ones that were denied were targeted as being disloyal to the Castro regime. Many of the people allowed to leave Cuba were hand-selected by the Cuban government and had not even registered; they also included prisoners and patients from mental institutions.

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As economic conditions in Cuba continued to worsen after the fall of the Soviet Union, more and more people set out in makeshift boats from Cuba's shores in an attempt to make it to Florida. It was a criminal offense for anyone to leave the country without government permission, and anyone caught leaving was sentenced to several years in prison. The Cuban navy and air force patrolled the perimeter of the island, making escape difficult. As the numbers of people leaving in boats grew, the enforcement became stricter. In August 1994 the Cuban military shot at a boat filled with Cuban immigrants, causing a riot in Havana. Castro temporarily suspended the law that restricted immigration, and within days about 35, 000 Cubans headed for the United States by boat. U.S. president Bill Clinton initiated a policy of intercepting those migrants at sea and detaining them in tents at Guantanamo Bay, a policy that outraged many in the Cuban American community. In order to stop this mass exodus, the United States and Cuba signed an agreement that the United States would intercept the people at sea, but not the people who make it to U.S. soil. This policy was a revision of the 1966 Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act. The Cubans who are picked up at sea can request political asylum and are resettled in a third country. However, 95 percent of people picked up are sent back to Cuba. By 1996 the camps at Guantanamo Bay were closed and most of the Cuban immigrants residing in them were admitted to the United States. As part of the changes made to the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1994, the United States agreed to grant 20,000 visas a year to Cubans. However, each person is allowed to bring everyone listed on his or her ration card. Several family members can be on one ration card, which means that more than 20,000 Cubans each year immigrate to the United States.

These four waves of migration have brought substantial numbers of Cubans to the United States. Over the years, just as the migration “push factors” have changed, so has the composition of the migrant population. While the earliest migrants were typically from Cuba's highly educated and conservative middle and upper classes (those who had the most to lose from a socialist revolution), later migrants were generally poorer and less educated. Over the past several decades the Cuban American population has come to look more like the Cuban population as a whole and less like the highest socioeconomic stratum of that country.

According to the 2010 United States Census, nearly 1.8 million people of Cuban descent reside in the United States. Although there are sizable Cuban American communities in New York, New Jersey, and California—with those three states accounting for 23 percent of the Cuban American population—approximately 66 percent of Cuban Americans live in Florida. Florida is home to the most significant Cuban American political organizations, research centers, and cultural institutions, and Miami specifically is the center of the Cuban American community. The first Cubans to arrive in Florida settled in a section of Miami referred to by many as “Little Havana.” Little Havana was originally the area west of downtown Miami, bounded by Seventh Street, Eighth Street, and Twelfth Avenue. However, the Cuban American population eventually spread beyond those initial boundaries, moving west, south, and north to west Miami, south Miami, Westchester, Sweetwater, and Hialeah.

Many Cuban immigrants moved even farther into the United States with the encouragement and assistance of the U.S. government. The Cuban Refugee Program, established by President John F. Kennedy's administration in 1961, provided assistance to Cuban migrants, enabling them to move out of southern Florida and into other areas of the United States. Almost 302,000 Cubans were resettled through the Cuban Refugee Program, although many subsequently returned to the Miami area.

For political reasons, returning to Cuba has not been an option for most Cuban Americans. Many early migrants expected Fidel Castro to be ousted quickly, allowing them to return to the country, but Castro retained his power for decades. In 2006 he passed the presidency on to his brother Raúl Castro, with whom he was politically aligned. Although there have been many prominent and powerful political organizations in the United States dedicated to ridding Cuba of its socialist government, recent surveys have shown that most Cuban Americans do not plan to return to Cuba permanently.

In 2009 U.S. president Barack Obama returned travel and remittance rules to pre-Bush levels because former president George W. Bush had not honored the Cuban Adjustment Act during his two terms. After decades of U.S. sanctions and trade embargoes, President Obama announced that his administration would remove all restrictions on Cuban Americans returning to Cuba to visit family members and on their remittances to family members still living in the island nation.


According to statistics compiled in 2010 by the Pew Research Center, 58.3 percent of Cuban Americans are proficient in English, while almost 70 percent of Cuban Americans speak a language other than English at home. Among Cuban Americans born abroad, 74.3 percent said that they speak Spanish better than English, though more than one-half of that same segment stated that they have some English ability.

These statistics do not capture the phenomenon of “Spanglish,” a linguistic mixture of Spanish and English that is a common mode of verbal

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CENGAGE LEARNING, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED U.S. Census Bureau, 2009–2011 American Community Survey

communication among Cuban Americans born in the United States. Many of them speak English at school and in other public domains but speak Spanish at home with relatives and neighbors. Younger Cuban Americans in particular often use Spanglish to talk with friends and acquaintances, incorporating English words, phrases, and syntactic units into Spanish grammatical structures. Facility with Spanglish, however, does not necessarily imply lack of facility with either English or Spanish, though a lack of facility with either language may characterize some Spanglish speakers.


Most people living in Cuba identify themselves as either Roman Catholic or as nonreligious. The large number of nonreligious people in Cuba is a consequence of the socialist government's stance toward religion, which is now more accepting than it was in the years immediately following the government's formation but nevertheless remains restrictive. In the United States, Cuban Americans are less likely to attend religious services than other Hispanic immigrant groups.

Information gathered in 2010 by the Pew Hispanic Research Center demonstrates that Americans of Cuban descent overwhelmingly identify themselves as Roman Catholic. That research showed that almost 80 percent of foreign-born Cuban Americans and 64 percent of those born in the United States are Catholic, while 14 percent of foreign-born Cuban immigrants and 10 percent of U.S.-born Cuban Americans follow some form of Protestantism.

Among Protestant Cuban Americans living in Florida, most belong to mainline Protestant denominations, the most common being Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Lutheran. However, there are increasing numbers of independent Cuban American church members, including Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Seventh-Day Adventists. This growth parallels the increasing popularity of charismatic, fundamentalist, and independent churches throughout Latin America and in the United States. Jewish Cuban Americans, while few, are also notable.

The Cuban religious tradition that has received the most publicity is Santería. Santería has been portrayed in movies and on television since the mid-1980s as a form of Afro-Caribbean black magic, similar to Haitian vodun, popularly known as voodoo. These largely negative and frequently inaccurate media portrayals have led to a public misunderstanding of the nature of Santería. The tradition is, like vodun, a synthesis of West African and Roman Catholic religious vocabularies, beliefs, and practices. Santeros, or adherents of Santería, seek the guidance, protection, and intervention in their lives of orishas, divine personages who trace their lineage both to Yoruba West African gods and Roman Catholic saints. The practice of Santería involves healing rituals, spirit possession, and animal sacrifice. This latter aspect of Santería

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1 pound small white beans

1½ pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 small spanish chorizo sausages or ½ a large one, casing removed cut into rounds

1 green bell pepper, minced

1 onion, minced

½ head garlic, pressed with garlic press

1 pound winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks (banana, kabucha, butternut, hubbard squash, etc.)

3 medium potatoes peeled cut into chunks

1 teaspoon salt, and more to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin extra-virgin olive oil or lard as needed

Bring beans to a boil in enough water to cover them about 2–4 inches. After it comes to a rolling boil, add beef stew meat and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and let boil until beans are tender at medium-low heat, about an hour.

When beans and beef are tender, heat olive oil or lard in a large pan over medium high. Begin the the sofrito by sautéeing the Spanish chorizo; when the oil turns reddish, add the onions and bell pepper and cook for about until translucent. Then add garlic and cook another 1–2 minutes until fragrant. Put the sofrito, squash, and potatoes into the pot of beans and beef, along with cumin and more salt if necessary. Return to a boil and cook together, uncovered, until the squash and potatoes are tender and soup has thickened.

caused controversy in the late 1980s when leaders of a Santería church challenged a Miami-area law prohibiting animal sacrifice. The U.S. Supreme Court later struck down the law as unconstitutional. In a similar case decided in 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of Jose Merced, a Santería priest who had been banned from performing goat sacrifices as part of his religious ceremonies, under the Texas Freedom of Religion statute.

In 1997, after an agreement between Fidel Castro and Pope John Paul II, Cuba recognized Christmas as a national holiday and eased some of its restrictions on religious practices in preparation for Pope John Paul II's 1998 visit to the country. Both Pope John Paul II in 1998 and Pope Benedict XVI in his 2012 visit to Cuba refused to meet with leaders of the Santería faith. In spite of the Vatican's dismissal of the religion, Cuba maintains its secular society while allowing the practice to continue.


The Cuban American community is well assimilated in the United States, but the challenges presented to Cuban immigrants serve as a reminder that Cuban Americans are not a monolithic community. Rather, they are quite diverse. The initial waves of migrants were comprised mostly of affluent and well-educated Cubans, allowing them to assimilate somewhat easily into the larger American culture. Since the 1990s, however, the population of Cuban immigrants has become more economically diverse. Cubans who come to the United States in search of jobs and economic prosperity have a more difficult time assimilating than financially stable Cubans who arrive in the country.

Older generations of Cuban Americans maintain many of the habits they held in their home country. For example, older men gather to play dominoes and participate in political debates. However, younger generations appear to have embraced the American way of life, generally participating in the vibrant nightlife of cities like Miami. By merging traditional dances with contemporary music, the “New Cubans” have found a way to negotiate the pressures of assimilation by retaining elements of their cultural heritage.

Most Cuban Americans attempt to maintain their traditional cultural beliefs and activities. According to a 2006 Susan Eckstein essay titled “Cuban Emigres and the American Dream,” many Cuban Americans resist English-only movements and celebrate their Cuban heritage by forming Cuban-only social groups and starting Cuban businesses, professional associations, and humanitarian groups.

Cuisine Like many recent migrant groups, Cuban Americans enjoy both Cuban and American cuisines. Traditional Cuban food is the product of the mingling of Spanish and West African cuisines in the climate of the Caribbean. Pork and beef are the most common meats in the traditional Cuban diet. Rice, beans, and root vegetables usually accompany such dishes. The ingredients necessary for Cuban cooking are available in most major cities where there are significant Hispanic populations. Dishes commonly prepared in Cuban American homes include arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), a Cuban variation of the tamale, white-bean stew (such as fabada), and a panini-type sandwich known as a “Cuban.” Many Cuban Americans, especially those raised in the United States, have easy access to a variety of American foods and tend to reserve traditional cooking for special occasions.

Traditional Dress As in much of Latin America and the Caribbean, the clothing commonly worn in Cuba is designed to be comfortable in a warm climate. Thus, the guayabera style of shirt is extremely popular. With various unconfirmed claims about its origins, including some who argue that it was invented in Cuba, guayabera shirts are loose, short-sleeved, collared shirts made of thin material. They can have Page 597  |  Top of Articleeither two or four pockets and have vertical pleats running along the front and back. When Cubans began immigrating to the United States in large numbers after the revolution, they brought the guayabera style with them. Today, it is popular not only among Cuban Americans but also, albeit to a lesser degree, among Americans at large. Though largely worn by men, guayabera shirts and even dresses are also designed for, and worn by, women.

Traditionally, Cuban girls wear an elaborate white ball gown and tiara for their quinceanera, a celebration of their fifteenth birthday and transition into womanhood. While Cuban Americans still celebrate this occasion, girls have more freedom in choosing their style of dress and often decline to wear the conventional style of gown.

Dances and Songs Cuba has a rich musical and dance tradition that emerged from the country's unique blend of Spanish, African, and indigenous influences. The result is a unique and diverse style of song and dance that had a profound influence on both Latin and American music. From such diverse sources as Spanish flamenco music and Yoruba religious songs emerged the conga, rumba, mambo, and chacha-chá. At the heart of Cuban dance music is a musical style called son, which emerged in the late nineteenth century and formed the foundation for many of the popular rhythms that followed. Son is structured from call-and-response vocals known as the montuno, a syncopated bass line, and a five-note pattern called the clave that is kept on a pair of sticks known. The clave was soon incorporated in a new Cuban style: the salsa. Many of the dance styles based on the son found popularity in the United States, both within and outside Cuban American communities.

The connection between American and Cuban musical styles became tightly intertwined during the twentieth century. Jazz was heavily influenced by Cuban music, and, in turn, jazz music became popular and influential in Cuba in the 1910s and 1920s. Later in the century, beginning in the 1960s, American rock, funk, and dance styles were integrated with Cuban son rhythms to create new sounds on the island. More recently, rap and hip-hop merged with Cuban rhythms to form a new style known as timba.

Among Cuban Americans, Cuban music remains popular. Traditional groups are common throughout Cuban American communities and especially in Miami, where clubs featuring Cuban music and dance thrive in Little Havana and throughout the city. Interest in traditional Cuban culture, including its music and dance, has grown in recent years among the Cuban American population, as the community's connection to its homeland has grown increasingly remote and distant and young people have become more interested in connecting with their cultural roots. Miami is also a hotbed for the ongoing melding of American and Cuban musical traditions and dance styles. By merging traditional dances with contemporary music, the Cuban Americans have found a way to negotiate the pressures of assimilation by retaining elements of their cultural heritage.

Cuban American children march in the Calle Ocho Parade in Miami, Florida.

Cuban American children march in the Calle Ocho Parade in Miami, Florida. JEFF GREENBERG / ALAMY

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Sarna con gana no pica y si pica no mortifica.

A rash when desired doesn't itch, and if it itches, doesn't torment.

Si la cosa no tiene remedio, ¿por qué te preocupas? Y si tiene remedio, ¿por qué te preocupas?

If the situation cannot be remedied, why worry? And if it can be remedied, why worry?

No llores como mujer lo que no supiste defender como hombre.

Don't cry like a woman for what you could not defend like a man.

En el reino de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey.

In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Mono vestido de seda, mono sigue.

A monkey dressed in silk is still a monkey.

El hombre que no probó la adversidad es el más desdichado.

The man who never experienced adversity is the most unlucky of all.

El perro tiene cuatro patas y coge un solo camino.

The dog has four feet, but it takes only one path.

Holidays Like other Hispanic communities, Cuban Americans tend to observe traditional Roman Catholic holidays, such as Christmas and Easter. Cuban Americans may also celebrate Three Kings' Day (January 6), marking the day when the “three wise men” delivered gifts to Jesus Christ. Additionally, many Cubans celebrate All Saints' Day (November 1), commemorating those who have achieved sainthood, and All Souls' Day (November 2), sanctifying the souls that remain in purgatory. While celebration of the 1959 Cuban Revolution is a hotly contested issue among many Cuban Americans, many immigrants from Cuba observe Cuban Independence Day on May 20, celebrating the nation's independence from Spain.

Health Care Issues and Practices According to an article by Fernando S. Mendoza published in a 1991 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Cuban Americans are generally healthier than other Hispanic Americans but often less healthy than non-Hispanic white Americans. Several indicators demonstrate the overall health of Cuban Americans. The proportion of Cuban American babies with low birth weight is lower than the percentage of all infants in the United States with low birth weight and slightly higher than that of non-Hispanic white Americans. Similarly, the proportion of Cuban American Winfants born prematurely, while lower than the proportion of Mexican Americans or Puerto Ricans born early, is nonetheless higher than that of non-Hispanic white Americans.

In another article in the same issue of JAMA, the Council on Scientific Affairs described the relative position of Cuban Americans in other areas. If found that Cuban Americans are far more likely than non-Hispanic white Americans to be murdered or to commit suicide. Still, they are less likely to be murdered than black or Puerto Rican Americans and less likely to die in accidents than black, Puerto Rican, or Mexican Americans. The article also stated that when Cuban Americans seek treatment for injury or disease, they frequently must pay the entire cost of emergency care, since Cuban Americans as a group are more likely to be uninsured than the general U.S. population. Many Cuban Americans turn to the Santería tradition for health care, participating in Santería healing services and seeking the advice of Santería healers.


The Cuban American family is different in signifcant ways from the Cuban family. The Cuban family is characterized by patriarchy, strong parental control over children's lives, and the importance of non-nuclear relationships for the nuclear family. In the United States these elements have become less characteristic among families of Cuban descent. For example, the Cuban tradition of selecting compadres, or godparents who maintain a close and quasiparental relationship with a child, has begun to decline among Cubans living in the United States. However, Cuban Americans have the lowest rates of teen pregnancy (23.5 percent) of any group in the United States, including non-Hispanic whites. This is may be due to a greater sense of obligation they feel toward their family to not get pregnant until married.

In 2010 about 52 percent of Cuban Americans over the age of eighteen were married, while almost 12 percent of U.S.-born Cuban Americans were divorced, compared with a 7 percent divorce rate among other Hispanic American communities. Cuban Americans born in the United States are less likely to have children than Cuban Americans born abroad. Finally, nearly 30 percent of married U.S.-born Cuban Americans are married to Anglo-Americans, compared to 3.6 percent of Cuban-born Americans.

Gender Roles Although women in Cuba are legally recognized as being equal with men, gender equity has not been achieved in practice. Because of the persistence of gender stereotypes and sexism, women are disproportionately burdened with Page 599  |  Top of Articlehousekeeping and caregiving responsibilities, despite also often working outside the home. The burden of such housework is, in important ways, greater in Cuba than in the United States, because Cubans have greatly reduced access to such common American conveniences as dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves, and frozen foods.

Cuban American women are more likely to have greater authority in the family than women still living in Cuba. This is in part attributable to the greater workforce participation of Cuban American women. These women, because they contribute to the household income and to the overall security and independence of the family, claim a greater share of authority and power within the household.

Education In Cuba a sixth-grade education is compulsory, and the literacy rate in 2010 was close to 100 percent. There is a strong emphasis on math and science in the country, and Cuba has become a center for preparing medical personnel, generating scores of young doctors. Cuban Americans are equally concerned about education, and their children are often well educated. The overwhelming majority (83 percent) of U.S.-born Cuban Americans have completed high school and some form of further education. In 2011 the National Center for Education Statistics found that more than 25 percent of U.S.-born Cuban Americans have gone to postsecondary schools, compared to less than 16 percent of U.S.-born Puerto Ricans and 10 percent of U.S.-born Mexican Americans.

More than any other Hispanic migrant group, Cuban Americans have shown a willingness and an ability to pay for private education for their children. Almost 47 percent of U.S.-born Cuban Americans have attended private schools. These numbers indicate that education is extremely important to Cuban Americans and that, more than any other Hispanic migrant group, they have the resources to pay for postsecondary schooling and private education.

Relations with Other Americans The first waves of Cuban immigrants entered the United States with the blessing of a president and a nation committed to combating communism. However, they endured severe discrimination when they arrived. In Miami in the early 1960s, it was common for businesses to hang signs that said “No Dogs, No Cubans.” The movement of Cuban Americans beyond the Little Havana enclave of Miami was accompanied by a movement of non-Hispanic whites out of the areas into which Cuban Americans were moving.

There has also been long-standing antagonism between Cuban Americans and African Americans in Florida, especially as Cuban Americans have asserted themselves politically and economically in the Miami area, becoming the dominant ethnic community there. African American community leaders have accused Cuban Americans of shutting them out of the political process and have even charged the powerful Cuban American Chamber of Commerce with blocking African Americans from making significant gains in the tourism industry. In 1991, according to an article by Nicole Lewis in Black Enterprise, black residents in one Florida community were so outraged by five Cuban American mayors' failure to officially welcome South African president Nelson Mandela that they initiated a boycott of all tourism-related businesses in the Miami area.

Most Cuban Americans report and perceive a nondiscriminatory relationship with white Americans. A survey of Hispanic Americans conducted from 1989 to 1990 showed that 82.2 percent of Cubans who were U.S. citizens said they had not personally experienced discrimination because of their national origin. Nonetheless, 47 percent of Cuban Americans surveyed said that they thought there was discrimination against Cuban Americans in general.


Cuban Americans enjoy slightly more economic security than other Hispanic groups in the United States. In 2006 the median family income of Cuban Americans was $38,000, which was $10,000 less than the median of overall family incomes in the United States but $2,000 more than the median of overall Hispanic American family incomes. Approximately 61 percent of Cuban Americans owned their own home, compared to 47 percent of other Hispanic American groups. Cuban Americans are also highly educated compared to other Hispanic migrant groups. Approximately 25 percent of the Cuban American population has completed college or college with some graduate schooling, compared to 12 percent of other Hispanic American groups. In other significant ways, too, Cuban Americans closely resemble the total

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Sometimes I have dreams, and I see myself walking to my grandparents' house in Cuba. …It brings back a lot of memories. The States is home. I have no qualms about it, but I'm still attracted to that little island, no matter how small it is. It's home. It's your people. You feel, if it's ever possible again, you'd like to reconstruct what was there. You want to be a part of it.

Ramón Fernández in 1961, cited in American Mosaic: The Immigrant Experience in the Words of Those Who Lived It, edited by Joan Morrison and Charlotte Fox Zabusky (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1980).

U.S. population. Two-parent households account for 78 percent of all Cuban American households, compared to 80 percent of all U.S. households. The average U.S. family has 3.19 members, while the average Cuban American family has 3.18 members.

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Cuban Americans have traditionally maintained a higher employment rate than other Hispanic American groups. Cuban Americans, both foreign-born and U.S.-born, maintained an 11.2 percent unemployment rate in 2011. Their rates of unemployment are lower than those of Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans, though somewhat higher than those of non-Hispanic white Americans. Almost 20 percent of employed Cuban Americans are professionals or managers. More than one-third of Cubans Americans are employed in technical, sales, or administrative support positions, compared to 15 percent of Anglo-Americans holding those positions.

Financially, Cuban Americans are nearly as well off as the average American. Their economic and employment profiles look very little like those of other recent Hispanic Caribbean immigrant groups (Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, for example). In the Miami area, the center of the Cuban American community, Cuban Americans are prominent in virtually every profession. The 2007 Survey of Business Owners found that Cuban Americans own 186,312 private companies in Florida, totaling $34.6 billion in sales. Manuel Viamonte's book Cuban Exiles in Florida: Their Presence and Contribution states that there are approximately 2,000 Cuban American medical doctors in the Miami area. Similarly, the Cuban Medical Association in Exile claims more than 3,000 members in the United States.

Cubans are widely regarded as a successful migrant group. They are reputed to be excellent and dedicated entrepreneurs who have been able to build profitable industries in the United States despite arriving in the country with almost nothing. Scholars report that more recent Cuban immigrants have been able to build upon the connections and resources of the established Cuban community in the United States. Many of the wealthiest Cuban American businesspeople built their businesses by catering to the Cuban community or by using their connections to it. Nonetheless, there are many exceptions to this portrait of the successful Cuban American. More than 33 percent of Cuban American households earn less than $20,000 per year. While this proportion is close to the proportion of Anglo-Americans in the same income category, it represents a large number of Cuban Americans who have not yet achieved the “American Dream” of security and prosperity.


Cuban Americans share many basic political values and a willingness to exercise their voting power to advance those values. Fully 78 percent of Cuban Americans registered to vote in 1989 and 1990, compared to 77.8 percent of non-Hispanic white Americans. Moreover, 67.2 percent of Cuban Americans reported that they voted in the 1988 presidential election, compared to 70.2 percent of Anglo-Americans, 49.3 percent of Mexican Americans, and 49.9 percent of Puerto Ricans. This trend continued into the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, with close to 70 percent of Cuban Americans reporting that they voted in the 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential elections.

Cuban Americans are reputed to be politically conservative and to vote overwhelmingly for the Republican Party. Dario Moreno and Christopher L. Warren's 1992 essay in the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy explored this reputation by examining the voting patterns of Cuban Americans in the 1992 presidential election. Voting returns from Dade County, Florida, showed that 70 percent of Hispanic Americans in that county voted for President George H. W. Bush, a Republican. Another survey indicated that, of Cuban Americans who voted in 1988, almost 78 percent voted for Republican candidates. This trend continued throughout much of the 1990s and early 2000s, with approximately 80 percent of Cuban Americans voting Republican. In 2008, however, data showed that while older generations maintained their loyalty to the Republican Party, closer to 50 percent of Cuban Americans thirty years old or younger voted for the Democratic Party. During the 2012 presidential election, Democratic president Barack Obama received 47 percent of Cuban Americans votes, which is 10 percent more than 2008 election.

Owing at least in part to its large size, the Cuban American community has significant political influence in the United States. Some of the most powerful Cuban American political organizations are dedicated to shaping U.S. policy toward Cuba and—prior to the election of Raúl Castro as president in 2008—ridding Cuba of Fidel Castro. Perhaps the most important of these organizations is the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), which was headed until 1997 by Jorge Mas Canosa, a wealthy and well-connected Miami businessman who participated in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion attempt. In 1993 CANF successfully lobbied against the Clinton administration's appointment of an Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs whom it viewed as too sympathetic to the Cuban regime. CANF also pushed for the passage of the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act, which imposed further restrictions on trade with Cuba, and for the passage of the controversial Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (the Helms-Burton Act). This law, which allowed the United States to impose sanctions on foreign companies that trade with Cuba, provoked intense resentment throughout the world and was challenged in the International Court of Justice. In addition to sponsoring research on Cuba, raising money for political purposes, and lobbying elected officials, CANF occasionally supports antiCommunist ventures outside the United States. Many regard the organization as representative of the Cuban American community. Some, however, have charged that the foundation tries to stifle dissent within the community.

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Cuban Americans march in Miami and display crosses representing loved ones who died in Cuba.

Cuban Americans march in Miami and display crosses representing loved ones who died in Cuba. AP PHOTO / ALAN DIAZ

After Mas's death in 1997, the role of CANF diminished. Growing numbers of Cuban Americans resent what they consider the organization's excesses, and, in opposition to the CANF position, prefer an end to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Groups such as the Cuban Committee for Democracy, which advocate an end to the embargo, were given renewed support when Pope John Paul II denounced U.S. policy toward Cuba when he visited the island in 1998. The fact that President Bill Clinton softened restrictions on travel to Cuba and on donations of food and medicines to the country suggested to many that CANF's power to dictate U.S. policy toward Cuba had begun to wane during the late 1990s.

As diverse as the population it represents, CANF has pursued a variety of goals in the twenty-first century. The organization has repeatedly pushed for dialogue between its leaders and the Cuban government (excluding Fidel and Raúl Castro). In 2007 CANF released a report that challenged the policy of the George W. Bush administration to democratize Cuba, citing bureaucratic corruption and claiming that 80 percent of the money earmarked for Cuba had been spent in the United States by the organizations responsible for delivering the funds to Cuba. Although CANF continues to be a powerful organization, its waning influence among Cuban Americans illustrates the community's diversity and the inability of one organization to represent all its desires.

Cuban Americans have been elected to Congress, and they dominate the political arena in the Miami area. Consequently, candidates have courted Cuban Americans as a group in the past few presidential elections. Although Cuban immigrants have been known to vote predominantly for the Republican Party, change may lie in the community's political future. Some within the community have raised questions about the conservatism that has guided Cuban Americans since the 1960s. Canosa, a staunch Republican, gave some support to Bill Clinton in the 1992 campaign, and CANF donated $275,000 to the Democrat's coffers during that election cycle. Indeed, Clinton received more Hispanic support in the Miami area than any of his Democratic predecessors. More than 75 percent of Cuban Americans supported George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, but only 64 percent supported John McCain in 2008. This slight shift did not necessarily translate to support for Barack Obama, however. Although 35 percent of Cuban Americans voted for Obama in the 2008 presidential election, a larger percentage of Cuban Americans voted for Bill Clinton in 1996.

Since they began immigrating to the United States, Cuban Americans have been greatly concerned with the political status of Cuba, and many remain committed to Cuba's political transformation. In their voting habits, Cuban Americans have been largely conservative, supporting candidates who take a hard line against Cuba. However, Cuban Americans Page 602  |  Top of Articleare becoming less committed to the struggle against socialism in their home country—or, perhaps more accurately, the anti-Socialist, anti-Fidel Castro struggle is becoming less central to the Cuban American identity. A principal challenge facing the Cuban American community in the years ahead is a reconsideration of what it means to be Cuban American. What had once seemed like a politically united community is now divided on issues such as immigration, the U.S. embargo against Cuba, and the Cuban American commitment to politically conservative values.

These internal divisions may serve to strengthen the Cuban American community. Since his election in 2008, Raúl Castro has pushed for better relations with Cubans who have emigrated from the country. In an attempt to lure back some Cubans to the island, Raúl has enacted several policies that allow for the sale of private property under certain conditions and has loosened restrictions on foreign currency. Nevertheless, most Cuban Americans view Raúl Castro's promises of reform with skepticism, in part because he retained many of the high- and mid-level functionaries of Fidel Castro's government. When Raúl released fifty-two political prisoners in 2010, the Cuban government said that it continued to hold only one political prisoner. However, Amnesty International estimated that at least 167 political prisoners remained in Cuba, and Human Rights Watch and a number of Cuban exiles and nationals estimated that the count was far greater.

Cuban Americans are becoming less resistant to the idea of the U.S. government's pursuing talks with the Cuban government. Although much of the Cuban American community remains pessimistic about the changes that may occur in Cuba, some Cuban Americans are becoming more optimistic about the country's future and, according to a 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center, almost 45 percent of them say that they would consider returning to Cuba if a Democratic government took shape.


Academia Lydia Cabrera (1900–1991) was one of Cuba's most prominent scholars and writers. Cabrera was born in Havana and later lived in exile in Spain and Miami. She studied Afro-Cuban folklore and edited many collections of folk literature. She was also a prolific fiction writer.

Poet and art historian Ricardo Pau-Llosa was born in Havana in 1954 and moved to the United States in 1960, later becoming a naturalized citizen. He is an authority on contemporary Latin American art and has written texts for more than thirty exhibition catalogs. He has also published several collections of poetry.

Gustavo Pérez Firmat is an author, poet, and academic who writes in both Spanish and English. Born in Havana, he moved to the United States in 1960 and eventually became a naturalized citizen. He has been awarded numerous fellowships and taught at Duke University before becoming a professor of literature at Columbia University.

Ruth Behar (1956–) is a prominent Cuban-born scholar who specializes in the Jewish-Cuban community. Ernesto Sosa (1940–) is a leading American philosopher. Gregory Rabassa (1922–) is a distinguished translator and literary historian.

Business Born in Havana, Roberto Goizueta (1931–1997) was the chief executive of the Coca-Cola Company. Jorge Mas Canosa (1939–1997) was a Miami businessman and chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF). Born in Cuba, Mas was also president of his own company, the Mas Group, and chair of the advisory board of Radio Martí, the U.S.-government-sponsored radio station that broadcasts to Cuba. Alvaro de Molina (1957–) served as chief financial officer of Bank of America Corporation and the chief executive officer of GMAC. Raul Fernandez (1967–) is one of the few minority owners in American professional sports and has served as co-owner of the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, and Washington Mystics.

Literature Cristina Garcia (1958–) is a journalist and a fiction writer who was born in Havana. She has served as a bureau chief and correspondent for Time magazine and was a National Book Award finalist for her book Dreaming in Cuban.

Oscar Hijuelos (1951–), a Cuban American born in New York City, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1990 for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, a novel that was later made into a movie of the same name. One of the leading voices in contemporary American literature, Hijuelos is the author of several novels and short stories that address his Cuban American heritage.

Reinaldo Arenas (1943–1990), who came to the United States in the Mariel boatlift in 1980, was considered one of the leading experimental writers in Cuba. Imprisoned by Fidel Castro for homosexuality and political dissent, Arenas wrote frankly about his erotic life, most notably in his posthumously published memoir, Before Night Falls. Arenas committed suicide in New York City in 1990 while in the last stages of AIDS.

Medicine Pedro José Greer Jr., born in 1956 in Miami to Cuban immigrants, has been nationally recognized for his contributions to medical care for the homeless. Greer founded the Camillus Health Concern in Miami and developed a medical-school course that focused on the specific medical needs of homeless persons. He has received numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1993, and has advised the federal government on health care reform. His book Waking Up in America, which details his work with the homeless, was published in 1999.

Isabel Pérez Farfante (1916–2009) was a Cuban-born zoologist specializing in the study of crustaceans. She became the first Cuban American woman to graduate from an American Ivy League school when she Page 603  |  Top of Articlecompleted her PhD at Radcliffe College, which at the time was the coordinate college for Harvard University.

Albert Siu is the chairman of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City and is one of the most respected practitioners in the field of geriatrics and palliative medicine.

Music The popular salsa musician Celia Cruz had a cameo role in the film The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love.

Gloria Estefan (1958–), a Cuban-born singer and songwriter, enjoyed top-ten popularity when the song “Conga” propelled her band, Miami Sound Machine, to national prominence in 1985. Estefan went on to launch a successful solo career, selling more than 100 million albums worldwide.

Juan Croucier (1959–), Dave Lombardo (1965–), and Al Jourgenson (1958–) found success in American rock groups Ratt, Slayer, and Ministry, respectively.

Cuba-born Senen Reyes (1965–) and U.S.-born Louis Freese (1970–) were two of the primary members of hip-hop group Cypress Hill.

Politics Lincoln Diaz-Balart (1954–) is a Cuba-born Republican who has been representing Florida as a member of Congress since 1993. U.S. Senator Marco Antonio Rubio (1971–) is a Cuban American who previously served in the Florida House of Representatives, including two years as Speaker of the House.

Robert Menendez (1954–) is a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate, representing New Jersey. Born in New York City to Cuban immigrants, Menendez was also a member of the New Jersey State Assembly and served as mayor of Union City, New Jersey, from 1986 to 1993.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (1952–) is a Cuba-born Republican member of Congress from Florida. Born in Havana, Ros-Lehtinen became the first Hispanic woman to serve in Congress after being elected in 1989.

Born in Las Villas, Cuba, Xavier Suarez (1949–) was the first Cuba-born mayor of Miami, serving two separate terms in the 1980s and 1990s.

Bob Martinez (1934–) served as the first Hispanic governor of Florida from 1987 to 1991. In 1991 President George H. W. Bush appointed him director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Sports Tony Oliva (1940–) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) right fielder and designated hitter for the Minnesota Twins who won the American League batting title three times.

Tony Perez (1942–) was an MLB infielder, mostly with the Cincinnati Reds, and a seven-time National League all-star.

Cuban-born José Canseco (1964–) began playing for the MLB team the Oakland Athletics as an outfielder in 1985, and the following year he was proclaimed rookie of the year. In 1988 Canseco became the first player to have forty home runs and forty stolen bases in one year, though his career was later tarnished by his admitted steroid use.

Rafael Palmiero (1964–) was a perennial MLB all-star and slated to be a Hall of Famer until steroid allegations also tainted his legacy.

Stage and Screen Desi Arnaz (1917–1986) was an actor and musician who is perhaps best remembered for his role in the popular 1950s TV series I Love Lucy, which he helped create with his wife, Lucille Ball.

Cuban American dancer Fernando Bujones (1955–) danced with the American Ballet Theatre from 1974 to 1985.

Maria Conchita Alonso (1957–) is a Cuba-born singer and film actress. She has appeared in films such as Moscow on the Hudson and House of the Spirits, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for a solo album.

Andy Garcia (1956–), a Cuba-born television and film actor, has starred in such films as The Untouchables, Internal Affairs, When a Man Loves a Woman, Ocean's Eleven, and The Godfather Part III, for which he was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor.

Elizabeth Peña (1959–) is a television and movie actress. Born in New Jersey, she has appeared onstage and in such films as Jacob's Ladder, Blue Steel, La Bamba, and The Waterdance, as well as in the television series Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law.

Cameron Diaz (1972–) is a high-profile actress who has starred in blockbuster movies that include There's Something About Mary, Being John Malkovich, and Gangs of New York.


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Cuba Update

Reflects the aim of the Center for Cuban Studies, which is to disseminate accurate and up-to-date information about Cuba. Recurring features include editorials; book reviews; forums; a calendar of events; notices of publications issued by the center; and news about research, conferences, and exhibitions.

Sandra Levinson, Executive Director
Center for Cuban Studies
231 West 29th Street
Suite 401
New York, New York 10001
Phone: (212) 242-0559
Fax: (212) 242-1937

Diario Las Américas

Although not strictly Cuban American, one of the principal forums for Cuban American expression since 1953. Its readership is around 70,000.

Alejandro Aguirre, Deputy Editor and Publisher
2900 Northwest 39th Street
Miami, Florida 33142
Phone: (305) 633-3341
Fax: (305) 635-7668

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El Nuevo Herald

The Spanish-language subsidiary of the Miami Herald. Founded in 1976, it has a circulation of 120,000.

Manny Garcia, Executive Editor
One Herald Plaza
Miami, Florida 33132
Phone: (305) 376-3535

El Nuevo Patria

Founded in 1959; has a circulation of 28,000.

Eladio Jose Armesto, Publisher
P.O. Box 350002
José Martí Station
Miami, Florida 33135
Phone: (305) 530-8787
Fax: (305) 577-8989


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WAQI-AM (710)

A Spanish-language news and talk station.

Tomas Regalado, News Director
2690 Coral Way
Miami, Florida 33145
Phone: (305) 445-4040

WRHC-AM (1550)

Programs Spanish talk and news shows.

Tomas Regalado, Jr.
3330 Southwest 27th Avenue
2nd Floor Miami, Florida 33135
Phone: (305) 541-3300
Fax: (305) 541-2013


WLTV-Channel 23 (Univision) and WSCV-Channel 51 (Telemundo) are two of the most prominent Spanish-language television stations serving the Cuban American population in the Miami area and provide diverse programming created by Cuban American journalists and administrators.

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WLTV-Channel 23 (Univision)

Alina Falcon, News Director
215000 Southwest 27th Street
Miramar, Florida 33027
9405 Northwest 41st Street
Miami, Florida 33178
Phone: (305) 471-3900
Fax: (305) 471-4160

WSCV-Channel 51 (TelemundoC)

Phone: (305) 888-5151
Fax: (305) 888-9270


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Cuban-American Committee

Works to improve interaction between the United States and Cuba.

Alicia Torrez, Executive Director
733 15th Street NW
Suite 1020
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 667-6367

Cuban American National Council (CNC)

Aims to identify the socioeconomic needs of the Cuban population in the United States and to promote human services.

Sonia Lopez, President and CEO
1223 Southwest 4th Street
Miami, Florida 33135
Phone: (305) 642-3484
Fax: (305) 642-7463

Cuban American National Foundation (CANF)

Consists of Americans of Cuban descent and others with an interest in Cuban affairs. Serves as a grassroots lobbying organization promoting freedom and democracy in Cuba and worldwide.

Francisco Hernandez, President
1312 Southwest 27th Avenue
Miami, Florida 33145
Phone: (305) 592-7768
Fax: (305) 592-7889

National Association of Cuban American Women of the U.S.A.

Addresses current issues, concerns, and problems affecting Hispanic and minority women.

Siomara Sanchez-Guerra, President
308 38th Street
Union City, New Jersey 07087
Phone: (201) 271-9308
Fax: (201) 223-0035


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Center for Cuban Studies (CCS)

An organized collection of individuals and institutions that provide resource materials on Cuba to educational and cultural institutions. Sponsors film showings, lectures, and seminars; organizes tours of Cuba; sponsors art exhibits; and maintains a Cuban art collection with photographic archives, paintings, drawings, ceramics, and posters.

Sandra Levinson, Executive Director
231 West 29th Streat
Suite #401
New York, New York 10001
Phone: (212) 242-0559

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Fax: (212) 242-1937

Cuban Research Institute

An integral unit of Florida International University, operates under the direction of the Latin American and Caribbean Center. Sponsors an annual teacher training workshop and a journalist workshop in addition to supporting and encouraging research on Cuba.

Jorge Duany, Director
Modesto A. Maidique Campus
Deuxième Maison, 363
11200 Southwest 8th Street
Miami, Florida 33199
Phone: (305) 348-1991
Fax: (305) 348-3593


Ackerman, Holly, and Juan M. Clark. The Cuban Balseros: Voyage of Uncertainty. Miami: Policy Center of the Cuban American National Council, 1995.

Álvarez-Borland, Isabel. Cuban-American Literature and Art: Negotiating Identities. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009.

Boswell, Thomas D., and James R. Curtis. The Cuban American Experience: Culture, Images, and Perspectives. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Allanheld, 1983.

De la Garza, Rodolfo O., et al. Latino Voices: Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban Perspectives on American Politics. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1992.

González-Pando, Miguel. The Cuban Americans. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Grenier, Guillermo J., and Lisandro Pérez. The Legacy of Exile: Cubans in the United States. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2003.

Herrera, Andrea O'Reilly, ed. Cuba: Idea of a Nation Displaced. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007.

Ojito, Mirta A. Finding Mañana: a Memoir of a Cuban Exodus. New York: Penguin Press, 2005.

Pérez Firmat, Gustavo. Life on the Hyphen: The Cuban-American Way. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

West-Durán, Alan, ed. Cuba. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2012.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3273300057