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Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, 100 Years in New Jersey

Rutgers University Libraries NEH/ALA Grant Project 2015-2016

Peril and Promise (1980-2000) Episode Description

In the 80s the nature of the Latino Diaspora changes again. From Cuba a second wave of refugees to United States – the Mariel exodus – floods Miami . The same decade sees the sudden arrival of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans (Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Nicaraguans) fleeing death squads and mass murders at home like activist, Carlos Vaquerano. By the early 1990s, a political debate over illegal immigration – has begun. Globalization, empowered by NAFTA, means that as U.S. manufacturers move south, Mexican workers head north in record numbers. A backlash ensues: tightened borders, anti-bilingualism, state laws to declare all illegal immigrants felons. But a sea change is underway: the coalescence of a new phenomenon called Latino American culture-as Latinos spread geographically and make their mark in music, sports, politics, business, and education. Gloria Estefan leads the Miami Sound Machine creating cross over hits in Spanish and English. Oscar de la Hoya, a Mexican-American boxer from L.A., becomes an Olympic gold medalist and the nation's Golden Boy. Is a new Latino world being created here as the Latino population and influence continues to grow? Alternatively, will Latinos in America eventually assimilate into invisibility, as other groups have done so many times? Latinos present a challenge and an opportunity for the United States. America's largest and youngest growing sector of the population presents what project advisor Professor Marta Tienda calls, The Hispanic Moment. Their success could determine the growth of the United States in the twenty-first century; however their failure, contributing to an underclass, could also pull this country down. The key, according to Tienda and Eduardo J. Padron, Ph.D., President of Miami Dade Community College, is education.

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