Cuba is America’s Caribbean neighbor that most forget about unless, of course, you live in Florida. Many would scoff at the idea that Cuban influences can be found in American culture, however, these people scoffing probably live in the northwest. The food, music, language, and even buildings of Cuba can be found in traces around America, and most prominently in Miami. Cuba and Miami seem to be the only places on earth where one can order a colada, snack on a guava pastelito, all listening to salsa at the coffee window of a Cuban cafe. Throughout the United States though, Cuban goods such as cigars and rum are coveted and prized despite the fact that up until very recently were illegal.
Cuba has a special place in America’s history that many have forgotten. It was once a land of inspiration for great authors like Ernest Hemingway and also a thriving tropical island. During the Cuban revolution, though, hundreds of thousands of Cubans came to the United States and were granted asylum, along with all their culture and ways. Singer and songwriter, Gloria Estefan’s hits of the 80’s are the most notable of Cuban influences seen in music and no one can forget Jose Conseco, however, Cuban jazz and the music of Havana can be heard all over the eastern seaboard of the US. Famous Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes performed a number of concerts in New York and the Orchestras from the US have been known to visit Havana.
Along with Cuban bread, pan con bistec, and other simple but amazing dishes that are staples of Cuban cuisine, America also received some of Cuba’s incredible baseball talent. The MLB has accepted nearly a hundred Cuban defectors into their league from as early as 1960 during the cold war; most recognizable is Orlando “ El Duque” Pedroso who defected in 1995. Many other notable players are the sons of Cuban immigrants. It is no doubt that the Cuban culture of baseball raised the Cuban-Americans with the same lust for the sport as kids that grew up in the streets of Havana.
As arrogant as American’s are when it comes to the freedom provided by our government and politics, even Cuban leaders have had a major effect on the pop culture and US policy. Che Guevara’s role during the Cuban Revolution has made him a pop icon. Shirts with pictures of his face and the Cuban star can be found on celebrities and in clothing stores all across the U.S. Even Fidel Castro, a name that is infamous, is still widely known around the country.
Cuba, while being a rather small country, has exerted an enormous amount of influence on the culture of the United States, especially throughout Florida and the east coast. As relations continue to improve, it is obvious that the influence of Cuba on the America way of life is only going to increase.