Northern Capital of the Latin World

Miami may technically be part of the USA, but it’s widely touted as the ‘capital of the Americas’ and the ‘center of the New World.’ That’s a coup when it comes to marketing Miami to the rest of the world, and especially to the USA, where Latinos are now the largest minority. For the visitor, Miami seems a salsa-fueled backdrop packed with Latin American culture, which manifests in colorful shops, restaurants, street fests and nightlife.

A Latin Migration

Miami’s pan-Latin mixture makes it incredibly ethnically diverse. At the turn of the 21st century, the western suburbs of Hialeah Gardens and Hialeah were numbers one and two respectively on the list of US areas where Spanish is spoken as a first language (over 90% of the population).

How did this happen? Many of Miami’s Latinos arrived in this geographically convenient city as political refugees – Cubans fleeing Castro from around the 1960s, Venezuelans fleeing President Hugo Chávez (or his predecessors), Brazilians and Argentines running from economic woes, Mexicans and Guatemalans arriving to find work. And gringos, long fascinated with Latin American flavors, can now visit Miami to get a taste of the pan-Latin stew without having to leave the country.

Latin American Business in Miami

This has all led to the growth of Latin American businesses in Miami, which has boosted the local economy. Miami is the US headquarters of many Latin companies, including Televisa, a Mexican TV conglomerate. Miami is also home to Telemundo, one of the biggest Spanish-language broadcasters in the US, as well as MTV Networks Latin America and the Latin branch of the Universal Music Group. Miami is the host city of the annual Billboard Latin Music Conference & Awards.

Cuban Americans & Politics

Cubans have a strong influence on local and international politics in Miami. Conservative exile groups have often been characterized as extreme, many refusing to visit Cuba while the Castro family remained in power. Since the death of Fidel Castro in 2016, however, exiles have leaned toward more engagement with Cuba. Things are definitely changing fast with the restoration of diplomatic relations, the opening of direct commercial flights between Miami and Cuba, and the loosening of trade restrictions and financial transactions (which make it easier for Cuban exiles to send money back home). While there is still plenty of resentment among older Cubans, the newer generation – often referred to as the ‘YUCAs’ (Young Urban Cuban Americans) – are more willing to see both sides of the issues in Cuba.

The Latinx Influence

While many of the subtleties may escape you as a visitor, one thing is obvious: the Latino influence, which you can experience by seeking it out or waiting for it to fall in your lap. Whether you’re dining out, listening to live music, overhearing Spanish conversations, visiting Little Havana or Little Buenos Aires, or simply sipping a chilled mojito at the edge of your hotel pool, the Latin American energy is palpable wherever you go. Having some words of Spanish in your vocabulary will be useful too!