Book Review: 'Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994.'
Journal of American Ethnic History, 16, 3 (Spring 1997): 137-139.
4 Pages Posted: 21 Apr 2015
Date Written: 1997
Writing contemporary history is a rough and risky business, and all the more when the subject of inquiry is the rambunctious and raucously political Cuban exile community in Miami. María Cristina García's Havana USA is a vivid example of those inescapable perils: it ends abruptly in late 1994 in the after math of the balsero crisis and the sudden reversal of three decades of United States policy toward Cuban emigration, and was published in early 1996 in the middle of yet another crisis over the Cuban downing of two small planes flown by Miami-based exiles and the United States passage of the Helms-Burton law, which significantly strengthened and extended the U.S. embargo against Cuba (called a "blockade" in Cuba). Moreover, as the aging protagonists of the drama of exile and revolution pass on while post-exile and post-revolution generations come of age on both sides of the Florida Straits, Cuba and Cubans await a rendezvous with demographic destiny. Sharp changes loom for both the real Havana and "Havana USA", as García aptly calls the hybrid society the exiles have built in South Florida since 1959 and whose history she traces over three tumultuous decades. It is all the more remarkable, then, that she succeeds admirably in her portrayal: whatever happens in the tumult still ahead, this book is unlikely to be matched any time soon as a history of the period and of the exile experience in Cuban Miami. Havana USA is a fascinating case study in American immigration and ethnic history.
Keywords: Exile, refugees, immigration policies, Cuba, Cuban Americans, Havana, Miami, Mariel boatlift, history, immigrant generations, adaptation, discrimination
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation