The Cuban-American Political Machine: Reflections on Its Origins and Perpetuation

  • Alejandro Portes
Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)


“In order to appraise Miami’s present-day development, it is convenient to look at that city in 1959. To simplify, Miami was then a typical southern city, with an important sector of retirees and veterans, whose only interest was the exploitation of tourism during Miami’s warm winter months. The growth achieved by Miami has no precedent in the history of the United States. It occurred during what has been called The Great Cuban Miracle. So I believe that those who left the Island after 1959 and those who have arrived more recently with the same faith and hope must feel proud not only of what they achieved for themselves but also what they have accomplished for the entire community.”1 These remarks, written almost 20 years ago by one of the most prominent members of the Miami Cuban establishment, were part of the response of Cuban exiles in that city to attempts by the native Anglo population and its leaders to deal with newcomers and, as it were, ‘show them their place’ in America’s ethnic hierarchy. During the Mariel exodus of 1980, the Miami Herald, arguably the principal institution of the old Anglo establishment, led a vigorous campaign to remove the new arrivals from the city. After the end of the exodus, a rapid grassroots mobilization led to an overwhelming vote against the public use of Spanish. “We did not come to Miami to live in a banana republic,” proclaimed one of the organizers of the anti-Spanish referendum.2


Social Capital Moral Community Economic Sociology Dade County Cumulative Causation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Luis J. Botifoll, Introducción al futuro de Miami (Miami: Laurenty, 1988), pp. 3 and 10.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alejandro Portes and Alex Stepick, City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993), chapter 2.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Joan Didion, Miami (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987)Google Scholar
  4. David Rieff, Going to Miami (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1987)Google Scholar
  5. Guillermo J. Grenier and Alex Stepick, Miami, Now! (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 1992).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Jorge I. Domínguez, “The Secrets of Castro’s Staying Power,” Foreign Affairs, 72 (2), Spring 1993: 97–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Susan Eva Eckstein, Back from the Future, Cuba under Castro (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994)Google Scholar
  8. Miguel Ángel Centeno, “Lessons for the Transition: Cuba after Fidel?” Cuban Affairs/Asuntos Cubanos, 3–4, Fall-Winter 1998: 1–14.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    A standard finding in the literature on naturalization and citizenship change is that immigrants and refugees whose return to their home country is blocked are significantly more likely to naturalize than those able to return. See Alejandro Portes and Rubén G. Rumbaut, Immigrant America: A Portrait (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996), pp. 115–124.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    John Logan and Harvey Molotch, Urban Fortunes: The Political Economy of Place (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Rieff, Going to Miami, chapter 12; T. D. Allman, Miami, City of the Future (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987), chapter 16; Lisandro Pérez, “Cuban Miami,” in Guillermo J. Grenier and Alex Stepick III (eds.) Miami Now! Immigration, Ethnicity, and Social Change, 83–108 (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida).Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    James S. Coleman, “A Rational Choice Perspective on Economic Sociology,” in N. J. Smelser and R. Swedberg (eds.), Handbook of Economic Sociology (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press and Russell Sage Foundation, 1994), pp. 166–180Google Scholar
  13. Mark S. Granovetter, Getting a Job: A Study of Contacts and Careers (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Howard Becker, Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance (New York: Free Press, 1963); Coleman, “A Rational Choice Perspective on Economic Sociology”Google Scholar
  15. Robert K. Merton, “The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy,” in Social Theory and Structure (New York: Free Press, 1968), pp. 475–490.Google Scholar
  16. 20.
    Pierre Bourdieu, “Le capital social: Notes provisoires,” Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales, 31, 1980: 2–3Google Scholar
  17. James S. Coleman, “Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital,” American Journal of Sociology, 94, 1988: 95–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Alejandro Portes, “The Two Meanings of Social Capital,” Sociological Form, 15, 2000: 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 21.
    Portes, “The Two Meanings of Social Capital”; Alejandro Portes and Julia Sensenbrenner, “Embeddedness and Immigration: Notes on the Social Determinants of Economic Action,” American Journal of Sociology, 98, May 1993: 1320–1350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 22.
    Portes and Sensenbrenner, “Embeddedness and Immigration”; Mark S. Granovetter, “The Economic Sociology of Firms and Entrepreneurs,” in Alejandro Portes (ed.), The Economic Sociology of Immigration: Essays on Networks, Ethnicity, and Entrepreneurship (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1995), pp. 128–165.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Bert Hoffmann and Laurence Whitehead 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alejandro Portes

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations