October 15th brings the end to Hispanic Heritage month and it is worth a nod to the majority of Miami Beach’s population whose roots are based in some kind of Hispanic background. The term “Hispanic” was one derived from the US Census Bureau in order to create a count of the many peoples emigrating from Caribbean, Central and South America. There are about 26 different countries that fall under that classification, with numerous more indigenous influences within those boundaries. Many of these countries don’t get along politically, so it’s a little awkward to have their people all fall within one general defining word. For me, I always knew I was Bolivian growing up; it wasn’t until I got involved with the community that I learned I was “Hispanic”.
Miami Beach is unique in the United States in that we have had the principal wave of immigration from Cuba and they have settled here with now several generations making Miami Beach home. More recently, other Caribbeans and South Americans have found that this is a tropical paradise and they are comfortable with the second language of Spanish being so prevalent in this community.
The City’s Hispanic Heritage Festival was a well-attended family event held last Friday at North Shore Park and Youth Center, with local musicians, games, food and awards to popular local figures from the community and the City Manager and the Parks Department should be commended.
Community people were there, recent immigrants who as of yet don’t speak English but have come to Miami Beach filled with hope for their children’s future. And that is where we come in, those of us that work with the schools, community centers, government and other agencies that are here to protect these people who are working residents of our city and need us to protect their children, provide jobs for them and make sure they have decent places to live.
Miami Beach has a great Hispanic Heritage which you see at every corner – if you are looking closely. South Beach is known for its party atmosphere, but the hospitality and medical industry is filled with Hispanic staff members who live here on Miami Beach and are contributing to our community. As we end Hispanic Heritage month, let’s be observant of all this community has offered the city.
Ana Cecilia Velasco serves on the Hispanic Affairs Committee for the City of Miami Beach.