Harvest of Empire

by Juan González

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According to Juan González, which group's immigration to the US was significantly influenced by communism?

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Cuban Americans are the group whose immigration to the United States has been most severely influenced by communism. Following the 1959 Cuban Revolution, in which Fidel Castro and his followers took power, many Cubans fled their island nation. Another wave of migration occurred in the early 1980s after the Castro government released many prisoners.

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In exploring the immigration patterns of people from all parts of Latin America, Juan González emphasizes the importance of communism for Cuban Americans in the United States. The most significant single event that generated this influence was the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Fidel Castro and a group of fellow revolutionaries gained control of the government, ousting the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Many people opposed to Castro’s communist political philosophy fled the country. US opposition to the Castro government, fueled by Cold War tensions over the Soviet Union’s high degree of involvement, led to an unsuccessful attempt at military invasion in 1961. While Cuban Americans—who tend to be politically conservative— live throughout the United States, they have an especially strong presence in Florida.

González gives the Cuban migrant experience a personal slant and explores a later wave of migration through the story of Luis Del Rosario. The Castro government heavily penalized political opposition and jailed countless dissidents, including Luis. In the early 1980s, acquiescing to international pressure, Cuba released a large number of prisoners, many of whom left the island by boat from the port of Mariel. Living in exile in the United States, Del Rosario devoted his efforts to helping other Cubans gain entry into the country.

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