Cuba: La Perla De Las Antillas

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Cuban Americans

Cuban Americans form the third-largest Hispanic group in the United States and also the third-largest group of White Hispanics.

Cuban Americans Population:

0.5% of the total US population (2007)[

Prior to the Louisiana Purchase and the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819, all of Florida and Louisiana were provinces of the Captaincy General of Cuba (Captain General being the Spanish title equivalent to the British colonial Governor). Consequently, Cuban immigration to the U.S. has a long history, beginning in the Spanish colonial period in 1565 when St. Augustine, Florida was established by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, and hundreds of Spanish/Cuban soldiers and their families moved from Cuba to St. Augustine to establish a new life. Thousands of Cuban settlers also immigrated to Louisiana between 1778 – 1802 and Texas during the period of Spanish rule.

Many early Cubans migrated to New York City, St. Augustine, Florida, Miami, Key West, and Tampa, Florida. Many Cubans were absorbed into the mainstream of American culture after the United States claimed Florida from Spain in 1821.

In the late 1800s, a Cuban entrepreneur named Vicente Martinez-Ybor started a cigar making business in Tampa. Soon, other Cuban businessmen {Fuente, Villazon, Garcia, and Vega} followed Ybor's example. Within several years, Tampa had a thriving cigar-making industry. Numerous Cuban families lived and worked in the area known as Ybor City near Tampa, and there are many third and fourth generation Cuban Americans who trace their Cuban heritage directly to this early immigration.

Smaller waves of Cuban emigration to the U.S. occurred in the early 20th century (1900-1959); most settled in Florida and the northeast U.S. The majority of an estimated 100,000 Cubans arrived in that time period usually came for economic reasons {1929 depression, volatile sugar prices}, but included anti-Batista refugees fleeing the military dictatorship, which had pro-U.S. diplomatic ties.


The median household income for Cuban Americans is $36,671, a figure higher than other Hispanic groups, but lower than for non-Hispanic whites.

In contrast, US-born Cuban Americans have a higher median income than even non-Hispanic whites, $50,000 as compared to $48,000 for non-Hispanic whites.


25% of Cuban Americans have a college education, about twice the average of all other Hispanic groups, and lower than that of non-Hispanic whites, of which 30% are college graduates.

However, 39% of US-born Cuban Americans have a college degree or higher, as compared to only 30% of non-Hispanic whites, and 12% for all other Hispanic groups.

Political Representation

There are now four Cuban American members of the United States House of Representatives and two Senators (Mel Martinez of Florida, and Bob Menendez of New Jersey) in the United States Senate, as well as the Cuban American Secretary of Commerce, Carlos M. Gutierrez

In 2006 Marco Rubio became Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. Eduardo Aguirre served as Vice Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States in the George W. Bush administration and later named Director of Immigration and Naturalization Services under the Department of Homeland Security. In 2006, Eduardo Aguirre was named US ambassador to Spain. Cuban Americans have also served other high profile government jobs including White House Chief of Staff, John H. Sununu.

Cuban Americans also serve in high ranking judicial positions as well. Danny Boggs is the current chief judge of United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Raoul G. Cantero, III, served as a Florida Supreme Court justice until stepping down in 2008.