South Florida: Trouble in Paradise

South Florida is Hit By a Hurricaine of Crime, Drugs and Refugees

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well in Key Biscayne: "God, all I have to do is go out to the pool and I find everyone I knew there here. They are all speaking

Spanish and walking around in their bathing trunks."

The most visible exiles remain the Nicaraguans, and along with their bank accounts they have brought a distinct brand of right-wing politics. As they mingle in South Florida society, they become the sad spokesmen of old allegiances and lost causes. "Juan Carlos," an exile who once ran a match factory in Nicaragua, now commutes from Honduras to Miami in search of funds for his guerrilla forays into his old homeland. "What they are doing is putting on a road show that they hope someone will see and support," says a veteran political exile. "The Bay of Pigs was born in Miami, and they can't help feeling another Bay of Pigs is being prepared for Nicaragua."

The Latin tinge that now colors South Florida is still primarily Cuban. The refugees who began arriving from Castro's island in the early 1960s were largely middle-class professionals, and over the past two decades they have transformed Miami from a resort town into an international city where "buenos dias" and frijoles negros are as familiar as "good morning" and hamburgers.

The signs of Cuban influence are everywhere. Miami's Little Havana, the epicenter of the Cuban community that stretches along Eighth Street (or Calle Ocho,) is a foreign land. In Antonio Maceo Park (named for a black Cuban patriot), old Cubans pass the time playing dominoes or reading Spanish-language newspapers that carry headlines like THE PLAN TO INVADE CUBA IS READY. The Miami Herald, the city's largest newspaper, is printed daily in Spanish as El Herald. Its circulation: 421,236 in English; 60,000 in Spanish. Three television stations and seven radio stations in South Florida broadcast Spanish programs. There are six Spanish legitimate theaters, two ballet troupes and a light opera company. Some stores in Little Havana even carry the helpful message: Habla ingl├ęs.

Yet just beneath that cosmopolitan veneer, ready to erupt, are tensions between the Cubans and their fellow Floridians. Dade County voters last year approved, 3 to 2, an ordinance that forbids the spending of its public funds to promote bilingualism. The bad blood has risen dramatically since the arrival of the Marielitos last year. Whites in particular resent picking up the tab of caring for the newcomers, but the animosity spills over on all Cubans. "I wonder who really upsets whites the most," says Monsignor Bryan Walsh, who ran a resettlement program for Cuban children in the 1960s, "the poor Cuban on welfare or the rich Cuban with three Cadillacs and a Mercedes out buying the county."

The blacks are upset by both kinds of Cubans. Stuck on the bottom rung of South Florida's economic ladder, they have always resented the more prosperous Cuban minority. With the arrival of the Marielitos, blacks feared that they would lose out in the scramble for the few low-skill jobs avail able in the region. Even in Liberty City, the black enclave in North Miami where 18 people died in last year's riot, the Latin influence is apparent. White store owners who abandoned their businesses are being replaced by Latin landlords. "The only things blacks have in Miami are several hundred

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