more than 40 years ago, Cuba experienced one of its most important migration criseswhich was immortalized as the exodus of the Mariel, because it was called the port of departure for the islanders. South Florida, one of the arrival points for thousands, has become a land of opportunity and a new beginning for many, especially Miami-Dade County, where nearly a million Cubans reside today, according to the US Census Bureau.
Cuba is currently facing the worst food and medicine shortages in decades, as well as runaway inflation, so leaving the island is drawn as a pressing need. In 1981, the migration of about 125,000 people was recorded, but now the number is higher. According to Jorge Duany, director of the Cuba Research Institute at Florida International University, some 157,000 people make up the new migratory wave.
However, for this anthropologist, that figure does not include those who are detained at the border and returned to Mexico or Cuba. But those who manage to enter the country, already guided by the experience of previous generations, immediately apply for federal aid.
Likewise, the path, in general, is already mapped out. After the Mariel boatlift, many settled in various Miami-Dade cities, including Hialeah, where 75% of the inhabitants are of Cuban originaccording to a report by BBC.
Such is the imprint left by the Hispanic heritage in that city, that almost 96% of the inhabitants identify themselves as Latino and it is about a city where practically only Spanish is spokenaccording to the Census Bureau.
However, although the New Herald noted that Hialeah does not compile statistics on immigration in the city, various civil associations that provide assistance report the increase in the demand for help. Such is the case with churches, which support people with clothing, medicine, food and even a place to sleep.
As stated by the New Heraldfor Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo Jr. -who is also of Cuban descent-, the new migratory wave represents an important flow of people that “sooner or later is going to burst”, and pointed out that one way to measure this phenomenon is through the increase in enrollment in schools.
However, the same quantity of services for a flow that increases progressively could translate into a deterioration in the quality of the services if the demand is not satisfied. This not only in terms of education, but also health and safety.
In that sense, another item that would be impacted by this new exodus is housing. Hialeah would not be exempt from the increase in rents that was registered at the national level during the last year. Only in neighboring Miami, the increases were so pronounced that they placed it as the fifth city with the most expensive rent canon, that is, 29%.
Another area that could be severely affected is employment. With a significant number of people arriving in the city with the urgent need to produce, it is possible that a large part engage in informal trades while they settle downas is the case with house cleaning tasks, child and elderly care, cafeteria care, and even car washing.
According to the Census Bureau, 1,589,455 Cubans live in the United States, and of them, 986,926 are established in Miami-Dade. Other counties with a strong presence are Broward and Hillsborough. As far as cities are concerned, Hialeah leads the list with 173,549 people of island origin.