Miami Misconceptions: The Banana Republic

Miami is often referred to as the Banana Republic. Cuban-American Republicans are sometimes called Banana Republicans. How charming. For several reasons Miami is despised by many. There are those that seem threatened by the notion of Hispanization in America and feel that Miami is at the forefront of it. These same folks claim to be protecting America’s social fabric and are proponents for a national homogeneous culture. Miami, of course, is a threat to this fictitious status quo. Naturally, such an unreasonable stance ignores the melting pot social roots of the U.S., but what more can you expect from these misguided folks? We live in a racist world, unfortunately. Miami cannot shake these prejudices. The irony is that those who feel threatened by America’s supposed Hispanization and Miami’s role in propelling it are right about one thing: Miami is a vision of what could be the future for the country.

The Hispanic minority has overtaken African-Americans as the largest minority group in the U.S. About half of Miami’s residents are bilingual and foreign born. Spanish is a language of commerce. Conversations of Latin American politics permeate the hot and humid air. On weekends cool breezes carry Salsa and Merengue tunes in the air. If you don’t speak Spanish in Miami, you may not be able to communicate with the gas attendant, grocery store clerk, etc. If you’re not from Miami you may think of Tostitos chips when you hear the word “Salsa” whereas a Miamian will think of dancing the night away. So, there are many aspects of Miami that make it vastly different from other U.S. cities. When something is different, it invites pessimistic points of view. But, Miami residents relish in the difference that is their social experiment city.

So somehow in all this rigmarole, Miami has been touted a Banana Republic by critics. What does this mean? Let Wikipedia inform you. It’s a derogatory description and serves to accentuate how Miami is perceived by many in the U.S. The term became especially popular during the Elian Gonzalez standoff. Miami took on the appearance of a semi-autonomous rogue state arrogantly defying Federal demands. The County mayor at the time, Alex Penelas, took a lot of flack for his defiance and ended up paying the price in his failed U.S. Senate bid. But this quasi-comical title shouldn’t be bothersome.

Miami was never supposed to be cookie cutter. The tropical city is a maverick. This title serves to reinforce this claim. It is the Banana Republic, by the way, that facilitates more trade between North and South America than any other city in the Union. This same Republic of Bananas offers the United States its best chance of securing the FTAA secretariat. It is the Banana Republic that is growing immensely in wealth and political clout and is the place where Europeans flock to most for vacation in the U.S. It is the most popular business venue in the United States for Latin Americans. It is one of the most exciting developing metropolis’ in the Western Hemisphere. It is the quintessential model city when it comes to embracing the Western Hemisphere’s various cultures. I guess being in the Banana Republic has it advantages—maybe that’s why outsiders critics are so upset.

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Filed under BoB Articles, Culture, Miami Misconceptions

11 responses to “Miami Misconceptions: The Banana Republic

  1. Pingback: One Year Later « Boom or Bust: Miami

  2. James Monday

    The Hispanic wouldn’t be so reviled if they would enculturate themselves into the American lifestyle. The sheer fact is, they refuse to move from the area and keep their own holidays and refuse to make English their main language. THat type of attitude is percieved as arrogance.

    • askirsch

      I live in Miami and what you say is not entirely true. The second generation, the ones born here, are perfectly at home in English as well as Spanish. And *their* kids may end up entirely English-speaking, especially if the second generation marries out (as some of my students at Miami-Dade College have done.) The problem only seems worse because the immigration of new Spanish-speakers is constant, not in one great wave as it was for the Germans or Italians. But the pattern is the same; my grandparents spoke one language (actually several) but I speak English.

  3. Gianni

    Miami Beach is full of arrogant, unfriendly people. We’ve moved here from Chicago (because of the weather) and regret it. The people here are not only disgusting, but self loathing *******s. I’m a very friendly person and have tried to make new friends but everyone is so stuck on themselves you can’t even say, “hello” to them without them looking at you like you have a flesh eating disease.

    I’ve never been so unhappy in my entire life. I though South Beach was going to be fun, friendly and pleasant because of the lovely weather but I swear to god, I’d rather be locked in jail than to live in Miami Beach agai

    The people who say “Miami is diverse” apparently haven’t lived here. Most people here are Arrogant cubans, whom live by scamms, or stealing money from medicaid There’s no diversity here. Diversity would be New York, Chicago… This place sucks and if I had the option to die or be stuck on this god forsaken island, I’d take the first.

  4. BoB

    Miami is more than Miami Beach. Try getting off the island every now then and you will find the real city. You shouldn’t generalize about the entire Cuban American community on the basis of limited interaction.

  5. Pingback: Miami’s Bum Wrap | The Poblete DC Dispatches

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  10. Sean

    It is useless arguing with these people. Like the article said, they are just upset that this country isn’t getting any whiter. Anglo Americans have never been know to travel outside their borders like their European of S. American counterparts. 2/3 of Americans have never left the USA. How is that for ignorance. On the other hand, more than half of Miami Dade county residents were not born here, but moved to Miami at some point in their lives. Which of the 2 defines arrogance, WOW. My mom came here in the 1980s from Peru. Her dad (my grandfather) worked for an international brewery marketing dept. in Peru and wanted to start his own business. He arrived in Miami with $1M. Now in 2014, he owns his own pharmaceutical company in PR with a branch in Miami, while my parents own an exporter in Miami that ships around the globe. Ya, I can’t see someone from Mississippi or Kentucky moving out of his hick town, learning another language foreign to him, and being successful. Oh ya and F*** You TOM TANCREDO (look it up)

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