US Latinos
About Contacto



















  Cuban Americans, Profile of a Community

When Roberto Goizueta became CEO of Coca-Cola in 1981, Cubans living in the United States saw him as a symbol of their business community
success in the world's most powerful country.

Also in 1981, Jorge Mas Canosa, who at the time was a very successful businessman, established the Cuban American National Foundation along with a group of his fellow Cubans. Very soon, the CANF became the most powerful lobby machine of Latin American origin ever seen.

In the early 80s, the Cuban exodus had been moving to the United States for the
past 22 years, after Fidel Castro took control of the island in 1959. More than 600,000 Cubans had arrived in America, including 14,000 children of the well known Pedro Pan Operation, who traveled from Cuba without their parents; those of the brief Camarioca boatlift; those who took advantage of the so-called Vuelos de la Libertad from Varadero; and 125,000 "marielitos" in 1980. Many Cubans also traveled to Spain, Mexico, Venezuela and Panama, and years later came to America.

Over 30,000 "balseros" arrived in 1995, after risking their lives in the dangerous Florida Straits in the summer of 1994. The Clinton Administration sent them out to the Guantanamo Naval Base and said they will never come to America. One year later, "balseros" were allowed to enter into the United States. In fact, the exodus has not ended up yet.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 1.2 millio
n Cubans lived in America in 2000, but they might be many more as of 35.3 million Hispanics counted during the census, at least 6 million did not specify their nationalities. Today 44.3 million Latinos live in the United States.

The Cuban-American community is made up not only by business people but also scientists, artists, writers, scholars, and blue-collar workers, as well as political activists advocating respect for human rights and democracy in Cuba.

There are five Cuban-Americans in the U.S. Congress, four in the House of Representatives and
two in the Senate: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican of Florida who in 1989 became the first U.S. Congresswoman of Latino origin; Lincoln Diaz-Balart, also a Florida's Republican; Mario Diaz-Balart, a brother of Lincoln and also a Republican of Florida, and Albio Sires, a New Jersey Democrat. In November 2004, Mel Martinez, a Republican of Florida and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the first term of George W. Bush, was elected to the U.S. Senate. Robert Menendez, a Democrat of New Jersey and a high ranking figure of his party in the U.S. Congress, was also elected U.S. Senator in November, 2006.

Pop music celebrities of Cuban origin are also very well known. The late Celia Cruz, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Willy Chirino, Albita, Paquito D'Rivera, Israel Lopez (Cachao), Arturo Sandoval, and Juan Pablo Torres are only a few Cuban singers, composers and instrumentists living in the United States. Hollywood also opened its doors to Cubans like Andy Garcia, Cameron Diaz, Eva Mendes, Elizabeth Pena and Steven Bauer, among others. The late Nestor Almendros, a cinematographer who was born in Spain but considered himself a Cuban, has been the only Cuban American who has won an Academy Award. Mr. Almendros won the Oscar in the late 70s for his
work in "Sophie's Choice" in the category of Best Photography. He was nominated five times.

Desi Arnaz and his American wife Lucille Ball were pioneers of the U.S. television with their "I Love Lucy" show. Mr. Arnaz was also a successful TV producer and businessman. "I Love Lucy" is being aired by many TV stations even today.

Bob Vila, the Sears' spokeperson for years, is also a Cuban American.

A number of Major League baseball players like brothers Orlando and Livan Hernandez, are of Cuban origin.

When you go to universities and concert halls, you will also find Cubans in outstanding positions. Composer Aurelio de la Vega has been Emeritus and Distinguished Professor at Cal State/Northridge. His profile can be read in two American encyclopedic books. Dr. Enrico Mario Santi, a writer and a scholar, has been a professor at Georgetown University and the Kentucky University. Playwright Nilo Cruz became the first Latino who has received a Pulitzer Prize in the category of Drama. Mr. Cruz won the Pulitzer in 2003 for his play "Anna in the Tropics." Cundo Bermundez is currently the most important Cuban painter alive. In the 60s he lived in Puerto Rico as an exile, then he moved to Miami.

According to the 2000 Census, Cubans enjoy the highest levels of education among U.S. Hispanics, with 23% of those who are 25 years old graduated from colleges and universities. Central Americans show a 17.4%, Puerto Ricans 13%, and Mexicans 6.9%

But Cubans are also the oldest Hispanics, with an average age of 40.7 years, while Mexicans are the youngest Hispanics with 24.2 years. Puerto Ricans average age is 27.3 years. The national average age is 35.3 years.

Cuban Americans have been so succesfull in business that many people think of them as the Jews of Latin America. Also according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1997 Cubans owned 125,300 companies with annual revenues of $26.5 billion.

Seven of every 10 Cubans live in Miami-Dade, Florida. The U.S. nearest point to Cuba is Key West, Fla., 90 miles away from Punta Icacos, Varadero, in the Cuban province of Matanzas.

The New York/New Jersey area with more than 150,000 Cubans is second to Miami-Dade, followed by California where 75,000 Cubans are living and working.

The Cuban presence in the United States did not begin with the anti-Castro exodus of 1959. Juan de Miralles, born in Spain and raised in Cuba, where he became a very successful businessman, was a close friend of George Washington during the American Revolution. He was the first ambassador of the Spanish Kingdom to the Continental Congress. He died in April 1780 assisted by Washington's doctors and wife Martha C. Washington.

Later on, Cuban ladies from Havana and Matanzas donated jewels valued at 1.2 million Tournaise pounds (a currency of the 18th. century) to help Washington defeat Britons in the decisive battle of Yorktown, in October 1781.

In the early 1800, Cuban priest Felix Varela was very active in the Catholic Diocese of New York. He helped the poor and had time to write a number of texts in defense of the Cuban independence. He was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in 1997. Father Varela was Editor of the New York Catholic Register, a religious newspaper. In 1823 he founded El Habanero, which is considered the first Spanish-language newspaper established in the U.S. He died at the age of 65 in St. Augustine, Florida, after living 30 years in America.

In 1892, Jose Marti, the Cuban national heroe, founded in America the Cuban Revolutionary Party, the key political movement of the Cuban Independence War which began on February 24, 1895. Marti lived 14 years in the U.S. Since 1985 Radio Marti, a U.S.-government radio station, broadcasts regular programming and news to Cuba, where the Communist regime runs all news media. In the early 90s, TV Marti was also created and is still airing programming to the Caribbean island.

Many experts believe that the extraordinary economic power of Cuban Americans will
be a very important factor in a post-Castro's Cuba, when democracy and market economy will rule the small country.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The Cuban American Legacy - Special Edition

Cuban Population - The size of Cuba as a country

Cuba en Español

  Web Contacto Magazine

Digital Cover - Privacy