CHC's El efecto Mariel Series - Before, During, and After: The Exile Community Responds: Solidarity and Stigmatization


Thursday, September 17, 2020, 11:00am

This event is virtual, to register click here.

Speakers: Siro del Castillo, Human Rights Advocate and Community Leader on Immigrant Issues; Danielle Clealand, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Mexican American and Latino Studies, University of Texas at Austin; Monika Gosin, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, College of William; and Mary Aida Levitan, PhD, President, The Levitan Group and President, ArtesMiami
Moderated by: Fabiola Santiago, Author and Columnist at The Miami Herald

By 1980, Miami’s Cuban community, made up of refugees and exiles who arrived in South Florida in the 1960s and early 1970s, had begun to garner significant economic and political power locally. These early Cuban immigrants—many of whom are informally known today as el exilio histórico, or the historic exile community—were in many ways a monolithic group, i.e. mostly white, Catholic, socially and politically conservative, and hailing from the island’s pre-revolutionary professional and middle classes. That demographic and cultural picture changed considerably when beginning in April of 1980, and over the span of only a few months, more than 125,000 new refugees arrived on the shores of South Florida after fleeing the island via the Port of Mariel. How did the established Cuban community in Miami respond to this new influx of Cuban refugees who were more racially and culturally diverse, and whose experiences on the island were in many ways quite different? This panel explores how the newly arrived Cubans (Marielitos) were greeted with an outpouring of support, on the one hand, and increasingly with deep suspicions (especially along lines of class and race), on the other. Panelists will further explore how Mariel migrants settling in Miami added new complications to the city’s already fraught inter and intra-ethnic dynamics. For that reason, the story of their early reception in the United States, like the story of their migration as a whole, is arguably one that resists easy moral lessons.

Presented in collaboration with Cuban Heritage Collection | University of Miami Libraries