In the eyes of Julia Tuttle in 1891, Miami was to be a center of trade with South America and a gateway to the Americas. Through World War II and the Cold War the United States became a major player in the fight against communism causing many immigrants fled to the US for political refuge. Miami's geographical closeness to South America made it an ideal choice of entry for South Americans and Caribbeans. Since the 20s, Miami has been the number one tourist center and one could possibly go far as to say it has become a new Ellis Island. Based on the 2000 census, Hispanics comprise more than ½ of Miami-Dade County's 2 million residents. With this is mind, Miami has now become a vibrant, colorful community with a wide array of cultures, languages, lifestyles, and festivals. Here are some examples of the influence Latinos have had on the Miami-Dade community and how they are able to preserve their culture in foreign land. (33)
“La Feria de las Americas ”, Exponica International
This is an event in November at the Fair and Expo Center, Tamiami Park on 107 th Ave and Coral Way, that shares the rich Hispanic culture and traditions for the residents and visitors of the multi-cultural community. People from all different cultures are united by Latin music, dance, and folklore as well as performances by top Hispanic music entertainers.
This event is put on by Exponica, a non-profit multicultural organization started in 1991, to display Latin American cultural activities, products, food, and life styles in Miami . It is an organization which is committed to preserving the cultural and artistic traditions of Latin Americans in Miami. With President Armando Arroyo and Directors Adolfo Gutierrez, Luis Lacayo, and Eduardo Arroyo, Latinos in Miami are able to keep up their culture with events such as this one. (34)
“Viernes Culturales” (Cultural Fridays)
7pm to 11pm on the last Friday of every month, Calle Ocho's 14th through 17th Avenues close down and transform into an open-air gallery with artists, sculptors, and artisans, as well as local restaurants and art galleries who participate. This gallery allows residents and visitors to enjoy the rhythms and sights of Little Havana on a weekly basis. It is an artistic, cultural, and social happening which shows off the talented visual artists and entertainers, allowing them to establish their own identity.
Viernes Culturales is a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote cultural awareness in Little Havana. A Board of Directors, made upof community leaders and local merchants living in Little Havana, such as Vanessa Alvarez, Office Manager, guide the monthly planning of these events. This organization strives to provide talented Latinos who might not have their name out there, a chance to strive and show their community who they are. (35)
“El Festival de la Ocho”, Calle Ocho Festival
This event is Little Havana's largest celebration of Hispanic culture, closing down S.W. 8 TH St. from 27 th to 4 th Ave for 2 weeks in March. It features meringue, salsa, pop, and Caribbean music as well as ethnic food kiosks and youth programs. This festival attracts local community members as well as others from around the world to experience the Latin culture that has become a large part of Miami-Dade County.
The festival consists of concerts, golf tournaments, culinary competitions, a Latin Jazz festival and then the actual Carnaval. The festival is put together by a volunteer group called the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana who are committed to raising money to support the future of Latino children in South Florida. They have been known to help 100s of Hispanic students get scholarships, mentoring, and day care. Sylvia Vieta, Teresa Callava, and Aracelys Torrez are among the leaders of this organization who annually put on the most famous Latin festival in the United States which celebrates Latino culture in Miami. (36)
Coconut Grove Art Festival
Even though this is not just a Latin appreciation festival, it is a nationally recognized fine arts festival which showcases 330 festival artists and craftsman from around the world. It is a signature cultural event in Miami and a great networking opportunity for local artists. Guests sample delicious cuisines, enjoy live entertainment, and much more as a means to promote awareness, appreciation, and patronage of the arts. This festival is produced by the Coconut Grove Arts & Historical Association, Inc. which is a non-profit organization, largely influenced and led by Latinos in the community. Mario Toca and Jose Matute are the Chair and Chair-Elect, respectively, that lead the Board of Directors to put on recent festivals.
This festival is a perfect example of how entertainment in Miami has been influenced by Latin Culture. This is a true conglomeration of what Miami has become today. Latino influence is not seen solely in neighborhoods such as Little Havana, but throughout all of Miami . (37)
Miami Sound Machine
Miami Sound Machine defines Miami sound, with its mix of Latin rhythms and pop sense. It was started by a Cuban-born musician, Emilio Estefan, who moved to the United States in 1986. He began working in the mail room of a local Bacardi factory and gradually moved up to the Latino Marketing department, but it just wasn't for him. He then started a local music group, the “Miami Latin Boys” which played at private parties and events around Miami . In 1977, Emilio Estefan asked Gloria Farjardo to join there group. From then on they were known as the "Miami Sound Machine." Gloria sang while Emilio showed his talent on the accordion. In 1978, the year in which they happened to have gotten married, Gloria and Emilio linked with CBS/Discos International to produce their first album, “Otra Vez” which was entered into the charts geared toward the Hispanic market. (38)
As the years went on, they realized they needed to do a crossover album and produced an English album called ‘Eyes of Innocence”. This set the stage for the group's sassy mix of Latin and pop. Hit songs became popular at the hip Miami club. Not only were they influential and producing Hispanic culture for the Latinos in Miami , but they became a hit among the Non-Hispanic whites by making their Latin flavor crossover to English language. It is the blend of Latin/pop sounds with percussion effects and catchy lyrics.
In the late 80s the group began to die down as Gloria Estefan was solely trying to influence the Latin market in the US against the tough competition of other Latino women such as Selena . She became a major singer while Emilio moved on to become a respected producer in the US for other Latin/pop artists. He is also a major producer of the Latin Grammy Awards shows.
This couple and group has influenced many Latin artists in Miami to help pursue their talent in a foreign land as well as being able to spread their influence and Latin culture all over Miami . (39)
Telemundo and Other television and music companies
Not only does Miami have festivals and art exhibits to represent the Latino culture of its community, it is also home to Telemundo Communications Group, Inc. Telemundo is a U.S. Spanish-language television network which broadcasts national and local entertainment, news, and sports to the U.S. Hispanic audience. Telemundo Communications Group, Inc. is owned by NBC Universal, a national broadcasting network, and targets the Latino population by delivering the best in Latino experiences. (40)
The television channel is produced for the entertainment value of the Latinos who are a major part of the community, and the programs director team is made up of many high-powered Latinos in Miami. Donald Browne, President, Andre Fernandez, Chief Financial Officer, Steve Mandala, E V.P. of Sales, and Marcos Santana, International Program Sales Manager, are among the many that run this influential program. Everyone needs some entertainment in their lives and those Latinos who are gaining power have just the right solution to providing comfort to those foreigners living in Miami , as well as around the country. (41)
Not only do Emilio and Gloria Estefan influence the music industry but they are also at the center of a crucial concentration of Spanish-language media, such as Telemundo, presented earlier, and Univision, which is another all Spanish television network. They both have Cuban-backed management with their headquarters in Miami .
Besides the television influence of Latinos, the main offices of the Spanish language divisions of Sony, Universal, Warner Bros, and BMG-Polygram-EMI are in Miami to give jobs to Latinos in the community as well as advance their influence in our country and community. (40)
Latin Grammy Awards- Florida Chapter
Because of the diversity and talented music community in Miami , it is recognized as one of the most, nationally and internationally, active music centers across many genres. This Chapter was established in November of 1995 to revel on the music which Latinos, in Miami as well as other places in Florida , have influenced. Not only is this chapter geared toward helping produce the Latin Grammy Awards, but the Florida Chapter has developed programming for its diverse membership with events all around Florida , which consist of educational and networking opportunities such as panel discussions about specific topics in the music industry.
This group, which is geared toward advancing Latin music and artists in the county, is led, specifically in this chapter, by Trevor Fletcher, Ronny Cates, Eric Shilling, Jose Tillan, and others. (42)
With these arts and different groups to advance and diversify entertainment in Miami, Latinos are being well represented in the United States. Miami was once viewed to one day be a place of civilization for Anglos as well as a trade center for the Americas, but today has transformed into “not quite in the United States” feel. Because of the new immigrants in Miami , there is an attraction to the multitude of cultures and to represent their cultures in their new home.