Half of Miami's residents are Spanish speaking. Coming from the Caribbean and South America, the Latinos give the city of Florida its tempo, but also its economic strength. The city's first community, Cuban exiles number nearly a million. Each year their Calle Ocho Festival, the culmination and finale of the Miami Carnival, puts the Little Havana neighborhood in turmoil. On March 16, the Latin Miami will display all its attractions during one of the biggest street parties in the United States. Join the dance !
Miami, Latin capital
Miami, Latin American metropolis? For those who know the southernmost city in the United States, the question no longer arises. Miami is indeed the symbol of the American melting pot, since 60% of its population was born abroad and more particularly in Latin America. Located a few hours by boat from the Caribbean, it is the gateway, and especially the home port, for Latin Americans in the United States. Spanish is spoken just as much as English on the streets, and major companies in South America have established their North American headquarters there.
It was from the 1960s that Miami became truly Latin. After the 1959 Castro revolution, the balseros who opposed Fidel's regime fled the country en masse. In the first year alone, 300 Cubans moved to Florida. Subsequently, waves of immigration took place in 000, 1965 and 1980, the most spectacular being that of 1994: Castro then let go 1980 opponents (kindly described as "earthworms" and "deviants"). the American ships went to look for Cuba!
Today, one million Cubans live in Florida (compared to eleven million in Cuba). Their community holds the reins of Miami's economy and sends a lot of money to families back in Cuba. The irresistible success of the anti-Castro exiles has also prompted the American government to practice the “Cuban exception”: any Cuban exile who treads American soil immediately obtains political asylum in the United States if he does so. Requirement.
Little Havana and Calle Ocho
Miami is therefore the promised land of the anti-Castroists, but also of very many Latinos who find there a climate, an environment and a culture which are familiar to them. In fact, the Latin touch permeates the city: Miami has a strong taste for parties and salsa, glamor, flashy colors and show off, while living a most Latin carpe diem. In the neighborhood of Little Havana, you will feel the heart of Latin Miami beating. On the SW 8th Street ("Calle Ocho" in Spanish), you will only hear the language of Cervantes. Only a few stores display a “We speak English” sign. Here you can see old Cubans playing dominoes, murals and even a cigar factory! In short, a little bit of Havana, but, let's face it, much less attractive.
It is in March (the 16th, this year) that you have to discover Little Havana. The district is then in turmoil for the Calle Ocho Festival which brings together a million people every year around Latino culture and music. This carnival, which sets Florida on fire, offers the possibility of “dance 'til you die” to salsa, merengue or even mambo.
For thirty years, Calle Ocho Festival has been the culmination (and final) of two weeks of Miami Carnival festivities, which kicked off three weeks earlier. Throughout the day, dozens of stages and dance floors take place on 8th Street in the heart of Little Havana. Music from the Caribbean, Cuba, but also Colombia and Brazil invades the streets, as do the food stalls and artisan products.
You can taste all kinds of Creole specialties while sipping rum, mojitos and other sunny cocktails. Finally, there is even an area of Calle Ocho reserved for children with entertainment, clowns, magic shows ... One downside, however: the place of sponsors, advertising and commercial launches is more and more invasive in over the years. The Calle Ocho Festival may sound like Latin America, but you are, after all, in Miami, USA!
Miami Carnival Official Site
Calle Ocho Festival website
Section dedicated to Little Havana (Miami tourist office)
University of Miami website, dedicated to the history of Little Havana
Go to lunch at Versailles (3555 SW 8th St, tel .: 445-7614), whose interior decoration oscillates between the cafeteria and a copy of… the Hall of Mirrors of Versailles! The boss loved our national castle, it seems. Decent Cuban food.
Absolutely avoid sleeping in Miami Downtown, which is rather dangerous after dark. After attending the Calle Ocho Festival, continue the party at the trendy bars of South Beach where you have reserved your room.