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Hi, I'm Tony Batten, and this is Interface. When we began the series of Interface programs last year, we were concerned about the ways that different cultures in America come together, struggle for dominance, blend and occasionally explode. We felt when we began Interface and we feel now that such a definition of cultural relationships, especially presented from a black perspective, was crucial to understanding what happens to blacks in our struggle for full citizenship in this society. This edition of Interface will be a good case in point, as we focus on Cubans in Miami, Florida. A little more than 15 years, over 400,000 Cuban exiles have flooded into Dade County, Florida, which includes cities like Miami and Hylia.
The impact of these exiles has been great, and now we can begin to see what some of the results of the largest in migration in American modern history may be. But this migration has not occurred in a vacuum of sociological significance. For example, the influx of about 1,000 Haitians has had quite different reactions from the United States government and long-time Miami residents. So come with us now to Miami and Little Havana, join us at the Miami Interface. Those of us who live in sections of the country that experience winters share many of the same ideas about Florida. For those who can afford it and are inclined to the luxury of high-priced hotels, the gold coast of the sunshine state has become epitomized by a single word, Miami. But the Miami a lot of us might yearn for is really two cities, Miami Beach, somewhat down at Hylian for years now, a retirement center for a great many transplanted New Yorkers,
and the city of Miami, one of 27 municipalities in Dade County. It is this other Miami that we are primarily interested in for this report, because it is here in Dade County that one of the largest and most sudden in migrations in modern history has taken place. Nearly half a million Cubans have come to settle in Miami Dade County, and these Cubans seem to be in Dade County to stay. Alfredo Durán was born in Cuba, came to the states during the first years of the Castro takeover, and later fought with other exiles in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs. He was captured, imprisoned, and then released under an amnesty negotiated by the United States. He returned to Miami, and today has a thriving law practice. We came here originally, not as immigrants, but we came here originally as people who were leaving it nation because of political problems or political ideology.
We sort of started out sticking together, and we created a little ghetto in Dade County, which we call little Havana, and we gathered around that little Havana, and we started dealing with each other because we had a common purpose. And that common purpose, because also of the language different, turned out to be what might be called an economic miracle. In the sense that we have established our own economy, we have established an economy which is mostly self-sustaining, and just at this point, after 15 years, that economy itself is starting to expand and push out. But it doesn't necessarily mean that we have mastered the financial establishment of this county, or that we necessarily have dealt with the financial establishment of this county. We originally dealt with ourselves.
Aside from their ownership of many small businesses, Cuban exiles have begun to compete for job slots formally considered the exclusive province of White Miamians, anticipating a struggle for the larger economic benefits South Florida has to offer. The Cubans have begun to organize politically. Javier Bray was born in Michigan of Latin American parents, served a few stints in AID programs in South America, and recently moved to Miami where he organized the Spanish-American League against discrimination. Bray is determined to speak out for Hispanic rights in South Florida. If there is a Cuban problem in this town, or if there is a black problem in this town, it hasn't been created either by the Cubans or by the blacks, but it has been created by the dominant Anglo-European that seemed to believe that anybody who is racially or culturally different does not really belong to the first class America, but have to take second-class citizenship, and I think that I, for one, am trying to articulate this very
strong feeling that is beginning to be formulated by more and more of the younger Cubans. We are here to stay, and we intend to make a contribution in this country. We intend to make our presence felt, not necessarily as an assimilated, lower class, but as an equal. Now, if we take indicators such as, well, what business enterprises are the Cubans running here in Miami? You are going to find that with very few exceptions, there are very small businesses. Their volume of business is very small, comparatively speaking. There are payroll, this doesn't exceed 10, 20 people, and that, I don't think, that can be comparatively shown as a measure of great success. The Cuban affluence that Javier Bray tends to minimize as myth is grounded in some hard
realities. According to the Dade County Community Improvement Program, statistics show that the Cuban presence has created at least 10,000 new jobs that did not exist in the beginning of the 1960s. Media and income of Cuban families rose from better than $5,000 to over $8,000 annually in 1970. The speed of this economic success represents, in less than a generation, a phenomenon virtually unprecedented in the history of large migrations to the United States. But the success of the Cuban entrepreneur has clearly not been shared by all refugees. One Cuban workman in Little Havana gave us their views. In the last few years, I've been living here for more than 40,000 years, and I've never seen this situation.
I've never been stopped for more than a week. If you work on one side, you'll work on the other side. I've never been stopped for more than a week. I've never been stopped for more than a week. I've never been stopped for more than a week, and I've never been stopped for more than a week. I've never been stopped for more than a week. Many black mayamians view the sudden in migration of Cubans with bitter irony. Black mayamians watched as Cuban exiles were given assistance, aid and money that native
born black Americans never received. Some blacks began to feel that the Cuban migration and the federal government's attention to Cuban needs blunted demands that blacks were making during the 1960s civil rights struggle. Jesse McCrary is an attorney in Miami. At 34, McCrary has had a fast-moving career. He's been an assistant state's attorney general and for a time sat as one of Florida's federal court judges. McCrary likes to remember that he is one of few blacks that is able to maintain offices on Miami's Biscayne Boulevard. He asked McCrary what he thought the Cuban immigration means to blacks in Miami. Well, one Tony, it means that economically, when you look at what the Cubans have done in terms of that economics versus what blacks have done, it means that we are once again at the bottom of the barrel. There are no predominantly black financial institutions in this county. Some people would say that, even though there is a bank here with a number of blacks on
the board of directors, but when you look at the control of the bank, where the major portion of the stock has held, it's held by white Miamians. During that, you have Cubans who have a bank that reportedly is one of the fasting-growing banks in the country. Now that poses a problem because I believe that the whole strength of any community happens to be what kind of financial institutions do you have? Is there an institution that can make a loan to a man who wants to go in business? Is there an institution that is sympathetic to a man who wants to build a house? Is that institution where he can borrow money to send his children to school? If you don't have those kinds of institutions, then certainly, when other people have them, that is, white Miami, Cuban Miami, and then black Miami does not have it, it certainly puts them in a pretty poor position, I think. We don't further along than we were years before.
All we've done in many instances, not voluntarily, not because Miami wants to do it, it's been done in many instances because of litigation, because they are programs in this community of receiving federal money. They don't want to lose that federal money, so what they do is sprinkle around in this big fat bowl of buttermilk a few little black spots. The question is, are those black spots spots of power? Secondly, is there a kind of block, and that's a bad word in some quarters? Is there a kind of cohesiveness, let me say? Have we galvanized to the point that blacks are concerned now about moving themselves economically? Maybe we don't have a rallying point. Maybe that may be it. If life is hard for unskilled Cubans in Miami, it's been even harder for blacks who have no skills.
The supply of poor blacks in Florida has not changed appreciably in 15 years. The current economic recession has made the workless lives of the black poor even more empty, and in the black communities of South Florida, workers sit in clumps waiting for something to change. Suppose the prices keep going up, things get started getting tighter. We have to start getting tighter, you know, we're going to turn with the change, if we get tighter, we're going to tighten up too. And do what? You know, whatever comes, what opportunity to present itself, that's what we have to do. And sit out here and start. Hang on style with nothing to eat in the street, if something might hit the eat, you know, we don't eat. Hang on style. You have to do something else in order to get somebody. And a turn has to cause a lot of the blacks to be jailed. But there's no need in sitting back up under our old tree and just feeling sorry for yourself. But what do you call a man? It's like I said, you work, you work a little and you sit down a little. But you don't let it get you down.
A black person, he never did a hair too much, you know. So the Cuban and the other, they get, they hold on to it, they keep it in the family, you know. I mean, a black can't go to a Cuban place, they ask for a job. I mean, do you have a job, they'll say no, but when the Cuban come around, they give him work. You know? I mean, that was make the black go out and do things that would happen to the day. Like, say, people get robbed every day, people get shot at the blacks do this and go, they got the hair, they lose, they got a responsibility, they've got the hair money. Unlike the Cubans, not all refugees have been welcomed or prospered in this subtropical city. During the past two years, more than a thousand Haitians have arrived illegally. Like the Cubans, all have sought political asylum, but most have been put in jail, denied authorization to work or deported. Some of those who remain receive weekly subsistence funds from the Haitian Refugee Information Center, located in the predominantly black Northwest section of Miami.
Haitian director of the center, Reverend Jacques Montpremier, feels the Haitian plight is similar to that of the Cuban. It is very hard to establish, to put a line of separation in the condition of the Haitian people and Cuban people. There are Cuban people have run away for being persecuted by fiddle castles. There are Haitian people have done the same, they have run away also for being persecuted. As the name, the use of fiddle castles is a communist, but there is no difference between the communists and dictatorship. Duvalier killed 100 and 100. Duvalier has thrown in jail and kept in jail 100 and 1000. In Cuba, there's something happening.
Many hundred have been killed also. When the Haitian come, they say I have been persecuted by total makut of Duvalier regime, they are right. If I come back today in my country, I take, after they finish to investigate me, I will get shot. They shoot me anyway. Why? Why? Because before the coast guard shot on the palace, I was police in the first government, Daniel Fjuli. And when this government came in, I left the army and my border in law was surging in the coast guard, mechanic man. So the revolt, I was slave, that's mean I was supposed to hide all time in the mountains. One total makut named Fits, Middle East, spied me all time and one night beat me with
ill-secretized imputmane de jail. So without work here, are you working here? So without work here, you think it's better than living and hated? Is it better than living in the first government? I think it's better than living in the first government. My brother and my sister were in jail, they had been killed in jail. Do you think they were killed by a Jew? They said when I get released from jail, I never find my family in my guilty. Why would you call in jail? Why would you call in jail?
Because I was an opponent party. He said after you got into power, he arrested everybody in my party. In the night, working the house. You think it's good you call the government there at dictatorship? In a city northeast section of Miami, some two dozen Haitian men are housed in the basement of the Biscayne Boulevard Lutheran Church. They sleep on wooden frame cuts under the low black bean ceiling of the dimly lit basement which has been equipped with a few showers, a stove, and a refrigerator. With food provided at cost by local merchants, they are fed two meals a day, six days a week.
Volunteers hold English classes at the church in the hope of better equipping the Haitians to avoid exploitation so that they may deal with the American culture. That's not allowed to work, the men mostly wait. Wait until authorities decide to jail them, deport them, or give them political asylum. Neal Sonnet of the Miami law firm Sonnet and Bierman has been contesting the Haitian deportation rulings in the courts since 1972. When the first boatload of Haitian refugees arrived here in South Florida in December of 1972, they were immediately paroled into the custody of a group of Baptist ministers. A refugee center was set up by private persons and religious groups. The Haitians that were here were not required to post bonds of any kind. They were allowed to seek employment so they could make a living and provide for their own needs.
All of a sudden that changed. I think it changed when the government decided that they'd better start getting rough on the ones that were here so as to discourage more Haitians from coming over. And the result was that now Haitians are denied the right to work even though there are jobs despite the unemployment rate that are going begging that are unfilled. And we have statistics to show that. Haitians are jailed immediately upon their arrival here and are required to post $500 bonds. And that's lowered from what it used to be, which was $1,000 in order for them to get out of jail. Well, of course, a Haitian that comes over here with no money and is required to make a $500,000 bond is put in a position that's tantamount to no bond at all. The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service contends that the stories of persecution told by the Haitians are false. Immigration authorities insist that the Haitians come for economic reasons, better jobs and living conditions, and that those Haitians who say they will be killed if they're returned can't prove it.
We spoke with Louis T. Gadel, Acting District Director of Immigration. Now, with that in mind, we took their statements. We evaluated their statements carefully. We went to the Office of Refugee and Migration Affairs in Washington, D.C., and they evaluated the statements carefully. We, through the Refugee Office of Migration Affairs in Washington, also made extensive checks from time to time with the embassy in Haiti. We found no evidence that these people actually were subject to persecution. They were denied political asylum because we found nothing to believe that they would be subject to persecution upon return. Now, I might add that not every case was turned down. In 1959 or 1960, I am not sure the date. 116 I believe it was Coast Guardman from Haiti. In a Coast Guard boat, lobbed a shell at Porta Prince. You may have read about that. They came here to Miami, were towed by our Coast Guard, and brought in.
Every one of those 116 were given political asylum because if they returned, it was felt that they would be subject to persecution. Well, the government, I think, would like us to have the burden of showing that every individual Haitian made an assault on Duvalier's palace. I don't really think that's the test. It certainly wasn't the test when we allowed in the Hungarian refugees. It wasn't the test when we allowed in 600,000 of more Cuban refugees. And it hasn't been the test traditionally speaking with regard to refugee groups from communist countries. There has been a real open arms attitude when somebody comes from a communist country. And yet there has been, it seems to me, a failure of the government to realize that tyranny can occur on the right as well as on the left. I think that we can show in almost every case that these Haitians were actively opposed to the Duvalier government. But I'm not sure that we ought to have that burden of proof. The immigration's definition of political refugee is a person's subject to persecution because of race, religion, or political opinion.
Now, that's the official definition on the immigration law, a person's subject to persecution because of race, religion, or political opinion, and the word opinion, I emphasize. Our government has said that Cuba was a communist-dominated country. Is a communist-dominated country and people coming from there are subject to persecution. The same is Hungary, the same is Czechoslovakia, the same is Russia. It is true without any question that the Haitians have not enjoyed the same privileges that the Cubans did when they arrived. The Haitian refugees are mostly poor, illiterate, and semi-skilled or unskilled. 30% of them are women. They come in groups of 40 to 60 on 20-foot boats packed in like sardines. It is a treacherous 800-mile voyage to the Miami shore, and some of the Haitians who have attempted to make it to this country are known to have been lost at sea.
The Reverend Jack Cassidy of the Christian Community Service Agency talks about his organization's efforts to aid the Haitians. As they are released from custody, they are taken to the Haitian Refugee Information Center, given temporary shelter and care either through a local church or a home depending on the numbers. Every week, the Haitian Center makes up a list of persons who need immediate assistance for food, shelter, clothing, or medical needs. And that list is brought to us. We review the list with the Director of the Center, and insofar as the money that we have available will cover it, we issue the money for that. The Haitian staff themselves distribute the resources. Congress is usually reluctant to deal with the revision of immigration laws. It's not an issue that is very popular for people, particularly in times of high unemployment. However, in the Haitian case, we can show a serious or gross injustice done to them, both
in terms of due process and in terms of the administrative decisions that have been made by immigration naturalization services, so that we believe that it is possible for Congress or at least the Congressional Committee to alter the administrative process or to have influence on the administrative process. Members of the small Haitian community in Miami are incensed about the treatment of their countrymen. V. Justa has been here 12 years, and six months ago he opened Lake Uzair, record, and bookshop. He feels the Haitian should be given the same chance as the Cuban. What there should be in point of Haitian, if this could take the thing that, among the Haitian, there are a class of Haitian who deserve some consideration. I'm talking especially about the refugees. There are people who can get back to Haiti, and I'm not trying to put any input or blame somebody and don't blame this one.
And that is not my intention. Martha Bria Ford has been here six years, and is owner of the new breed restaurant. What about the other Haitians who are here? Do you think that they're going to get help from the government? But I know. I don't see it. Do you think that's fair? What happens to them? No, I don't believe so. The others, they can't find a lot to keep one. They can find a lot to keep the other one, too. You mean when they got deported? Yes, they can find a lot. If the Cuban come here, they got reason, political reason, yes, to come over here. But the other one is keeping for their own, for different reason, which is not the same. But they should find an answer, if they ask, they come. What do you mean the Haitians? The Haitians. They come here. Yes, they come. They beg for pardon. They beg for mercy. They should have a law to help them out. They should not be pushing them out like that. What do you think they do that?
Well, I don't know. We black. That's the only thing I can say. Well, it's clear that soon in a few elections, perhaps in only a few months, the Cuban exiles in Miami will demonstrate their manipulation of power politics in South Florida. Without doubt, the Cubans already have a piece of the American pie. The question seems to be whether their piece will exclude a significant share for others. Next week, join us again on Interface for an in-depth profile of jazz-great-less McCann. Until then, this has been Interface. I'm Tony Baton. See you next week.
Miami Si, Cuba No
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Producing Organization: WETA-TV (Television station : Washington, D.C.)
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Chicago: “Interface; Miami Si, Cuba No,” 1975, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “Interface; Miami Si, Cuba No.” 1975. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: Interface; Miami Si, Cuba No. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from