Fifty years ago, hundreds of thousands of Cubans immigrated to the southern tip of Florida. Now, the city has to teach a new generation how to thrive in a bilingual economy.
MIAMI—Spanish is an integral part of daily life here. In downtown restaurants, men in suits order cafecitos and huevos in Spanish before heading into their Brickell Avenue jobs. At night young professionals sipping on craft cocktails at outdoor Wynwood bars banter in their parents’ native tongue. Even disc jockeys on Top 40 radio stations speak in a way that’s distinctly Miamian, effortlessly cutting in and out of English, Spanish, and local slang before playing the latest hit.
Over the last 60 years, Miami has been the gateway to America for Hispanic immigrants. And ever since waves of Cuban exiles came to South Florida in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, the city’s economy and culture has been intertwined with Spanish. The local economy grew around immigrants who spoke Spanish (sometimes only Spanish), which in turn brought increased business opportunities, media operations, and tourism exchanges with Latin American countries.
Matt Vasilogambros, March 15th, 2016
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