In This Review

Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994
Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994
By Maria Cristina Garcia
University of California Press, 1996, 290 pp

This comprehensive book focuses on the immigration and adaptation of the first three waves of Cuban migrants to the United States following Castro's seizure of power. The emigres of the first wave of 1959-65 were disproportionately white and middle class. The second wave of 1965-73 -- the freedom flights -- and the third wave of 1980 -- the Mariel boatlift -- saw the migration of people more representative of Cuban society, not only in socioeconomic status, but also in terms of race, ethnicity, and geographic distribution. The fourth wave, in 1994, the balseros, those who crossed the Straits of Florida in small boats and homemade rafts, is briefly mentioned but was too recent for detailed analysis. Over half the Cubans from the earlier waves settled in south Florida, especially Dade County. The Cubans saw themselves initially as exiles rather than immigrants, but as time went by and Castro remained in power, they created an economic and cultural enclave balancing Cubanidad with a skillful working of the American political system, becoming key players in Miami and Washington. This development provoked resentment among other Florida groups. Garcia deals with these complex consequences lucidly and dispassionately in a book that will doubtless become the standard reference.