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.
Images Credit: http://fotw.fivestarflags.com/us-fl-br.html