Many of those who came here in the first wave after the revolution believed they would be returning home, perhaps within a few months, but as the years have passed the Cuban population has become more socially and economically integrated into the U.S. culture in Florida even while maintaining ties with Cuba and while trying to keep alive the hope that Castro could be overthrown and democracy restored in Cuba. These Cuban ex-patriates still constitute a potent political force in Cuba with considerable influence on the federal government, especially when there is a Republican administration. To a degree, the population in Cuba is better off economically than most of the Mexican-American population in the Southwest, but evidence also shows that migration to Miami is strongest for the elderly, foreign-born Cubans, and more disadvantages Cubans, with a concentration in the Metropolitcan Miami area (McHugh, Miyares, & Skop, 1997). While Miami faces some issues with delivering social services and economic benefits to much of this population, the Cubans are also benefiting from the economic changes in the area as Miami has become a commercial and financial capital for the Caribbean region (Portes, 1987, p. 340).
Puerto Ricans have concentrated in New York City but are found in many other cities as well. The migrants from Puerto Rico share a basic characteristic with most Mexican migrants, since both groups are seeking better economic opportunities in the United States (Enchautegui, 2005, p. 6). This differs from the political motivation for many Cubans. The diet of all Hispanics is tied first to traditional foods from their country of origin, but evidence also shows that the process of acculturation to an American diet has contributed to an increase in diabetes among members of this population. Studies have also found high rates of depression for middle-aged and older Hispanic primary care patients, notably for a Puerto Rican group in one study (Robison, Gruman, Gaztambide, & Blank, 2002, p. 308).
The Colombian population, like many from the Central American region, fled to the United States to escape revolution and war, though many do immigrate for economic reasons. Colombian society is divided by social class, and this tendency is evident in the population in the U.S. As well. In the early period, most Colombians settled in the New York-New Jersey area and Central-South Florida, but more recently, the population is more widely dispersed. many of these immigrants are fluent in English. More males than females are successful in the U.S. labor market, though more females than males are immigrants. The rate of naturalization increase with the length of residence in the United States, and presumably the greater fluency in English contributes to the high rate of naturalization (Aysa-Lastra, 2007, pp. 5-7).
Language is the primary element shard by these four groups, though all have a segment of their population that experiences economic hardship in their new land even when they do find opportunities better than they had in their homeland. All of the groups have tended to congregate in large cities, many in Florida and New York, with more Mexican-Americans in San Diego and Los Angeles. These groups have also since started moving throughout the country.
Aysa-Lastra, M. (2007, May). Diaspora philanthropy: The Colombia experience. www.tpi.org/downloads/pdfs/Colombia_Diaspora_Philanthropy_Final.pdf.
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