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A Turning Point in Miami

            1980: A Turning Point in Miami's History .
             With promising dreams of political asylum in a democracy, Miami was that magic city Cuban and Haitian exiles were looking for. Although it is plausible and easy to see the convictions of these victimized Cubans escaping a cruel dictatorship in their native homeland, and one of the poorest countries in the world in Haiti, the turmoil that was to come in the forthcoming months after their arrival, was critical to the transformation of Miami. Times of uncertainty, struggle for integration, discrimination, and trouble awaited these Marielitos. To these Mariel exiles, Miami meant freedom, therefore, in their eyes; it was still the magic city. But things were different for the Anglos, Blacks, and the older Cubans who were already established in Miami. The arrival of the Mariel immigrants, Haitian refugees, as well as the McDuffie case resulted in increased tension amongst the communities. Alejandro Portes and Alex Stepick, authors of City on the Edge: The Transformation of Miami, feel nineteen eighty was a critical turning point for the city because of the unforeseen pivotal events that occurred all within the year of 1980. The criminals of the Mariel Exodus, the result of the McDuffie case, and the riots amongst the Haitian refugees, contributed to this notion.
             The arrival of the Mariel Cubans was quite an episode for Miami. Although Miamians were concerned about the thousands of new immigrants, a more significant problem arose with the Cubans leaving from the port of the Mariel. During the May Day Celebration Speech, Fidel Castro announced that amongst those leaving from Mariel were the "scum of the country- anti-socials, homosexuals, drug addicts, and gamblers, who are welcome to leave Cuba if any country will have them" (Portes and Stepick 21). When this announcement went public, Miami was out of control. According to Portes and Stepick, "Mariel destroyed the image of Cubans in the United States and, in passing, destroyed the image of Miami itself for tourism" (Portes 21).

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