Miami’s growth began in the 1920’s when real estate prices quadrupled within five years, only to be stopped by the hurricane of the same year.
However, growth of the city came alive again when Pan American Airways appeared and set their headquarters in the building where today the City Hall is located.
In 1959 the Cuban revolution emerged and established a fierce dictatorship in the Island that lasted more than fifty years Miami changed again. The settlement of hundreds of thousands of Cuban exiles fleeing communism resettling in the United States created what is today known as “Little Havana”.
In 2016 “Little Havana” has already become one of the most famous neighborhoods in the United States welcoming thousands of tourists every year. The mixture of the elderly playing dominoes and walking around their neighborhood, as well as other residents from Latin America make “Little Havana” what it is today. .
However, “Little Havana” is in the list of the most threatened districts according to the National Foundation for Historic Preservation. But, how much truth is there in this? By the end of 2015, Tomas Regalado, Mayor of the City of Miami was invited as ambassador by a few European cities. During this trip, our City attracted more than 70 entrepreneurs to invest in Miami and many more that joined this event. The City began a prodigious and massive urban growth that brings businesses and money! Something commendable, but many advocate that this success could lead to the disappearance of “Little Havana”, because many rich people want to live in that area so well located on the map, which would mean the disappearance of our famous neighborhood! with its name and everything! as the financial center of Brickell located between the coast and “Little Havana” grows out of space and moves inexorably with its huge and luxurious apartment buildings to the West beyond the limits of I-95.
“Little Havana” is not only famous but also the center of a large number of residents whose children are part of the new Cuban descendants in the United States, it is a piece of history, consisting by legendary small businesses with easy recognizable names, historical buildings, small monuments commemorating great events in Latin American history, the walk of the stars, artist’s studios, legendary restaurants etc., the list is long… But a “great tragedy” is approaching: Saturn is looming with his teeth of iron and concrete, taking its first bite off “Little Havana” and runs from mouth to mouth the news that the ancient roman god is devouring its children: small cafes, restaurants, vegetables and fruits stands, theaters, etc., etc., announcing the final closure. Final? Who would have guessed! Bankruptcy? Only God knows! Selling to the highest bidder? Well… It would not be the first time that someone sold their soul to the devil! It is undeniable that the Brickell financial center is moving West but, “Little Havana” is in its usual geographical location. It is in the map! and, no one has ever moved it! It remains there with thousands of small pieces of history and characteristics, and is the responsibility, not just of the district commissioner, but of the entire city commission , especially its Mayor Tomas Regalado, even Carlos Giménez and Miami Dade County Commission, composed mostly of Cubans, to watch and assure that urban development is regulated and conditioned in contracts, guaranteeing that all businesses and established remain in the same place, with the same names and, if possible, with the same owners.
The urban development and modernization are not enemies of history when politicians who rule, in most cases take appropriate measures, where history and traditions are concerned , and “Little Havana” although urban development crowns it with new walls, new sidewalks, new store windows, walks, skyscrapers, colorful awnings and all that would bring progress, it must preserve the original land were its roots took place, with its posters, its colors, the smell of sugar cane juice and rice and beans, pork meat, Cuban coffee and the legal guarantee of preservation that will allow it to remain the same as in the decade of the 60s of the twentieth century and even beyond 2060, in order to protect its cultural heritage because “Little Havana” historical! is not so little anymore!
Translated by Adelfa Yanes