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Cuban Catholics in the United States, 1960-1980

Exile and Integration

Gerald E. Poyo

Publication Year: 2007

Everyday life for Cubans in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s involved an intimate interaction between commitment to an exile identity and reluctant integration into a new society. For Catholic Cuban exiles, their faith provided a filter through which they analyzed and understood both their exile and their ethnic identities. Catholicism offered the exiles continuity: a community of faith, a place to gather, a sense of legitimacy as a people. Religion exerted a major influence on the beliefs and actions of Cuban exiles as they integrated into U.S. culture and tried at the same time to make sense of events in their homeland. Cuban Catholics in the United States, 1960-1980 examines all these facets of the exile and integration process among Catholics, primarily in south Florida, but the voices of others across the United States, Latin America, and Europe also enter the story. The personal papers of exiles, their books and pamphlets, newspaper articles, government archives, and personal interviews provide the historical data for this book. In his thorough examination Gerald E. Poyo provides insights not only for this community but for other faith-based exile communities.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xi

After completing in 1989 a monograph on the nineteenth-century Cuban communities in the United States, I knew my next project needed to focus in some way on the post-1959 Cuban exile experience. During the previous decade I had spent considerable time in Cuba, where most of the records of the nineteenth century’s exile experience are available, but now ...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-7

The flight of tens of thousands of Cubans during the 1960s from a radical revolution that eventually became an orthodox Marxist state along Soviet lines produced militant nationalist communities abroad dedicated to an eventual return. These refugees followed a long tradition of political exile in Cuban history. Throughout the island’s turbulent history highly politicized ...

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1. Reform and Revolution

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pp. 8-49

Thousands of Catholic activists fleeing the communist Revolution in Cuba arrived in south Florida during 1960 and 1961. Confused and disoriented by events in Cuba during the first two years of the Revolution, they acted with anger and determination to stop the communization of their homeland. Scenarios they could never have imagined overtook the ...

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2. Betrayal and Dissent

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pp. 50-80

He and tens of thousands of Catholics fleeing during the 1960s considered the Cuban Revolution a great deception, a sentiment they expressed regularly and with considerable intensity. They experienced this in different ways, depending on their particular concerns, but they all shared the same fundamental belief that the Revolution promised by Fidel Castro had been totally perverted and ...

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3. Faith Community

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pp. 81-107

Cubans who fled their homeland in the 1960s left for many reasons, but fundamentally because the Revolution systematically and radically transformed what they knew and valued. Their departure left them dispersed and disoriented, but they immediately sought protection and comfort by attempting to recreate abroad what they had abandoned. Catholics turned to their faith ...

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4. Identity and Ideology

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pp. 108-128

Cubans living in exile after the 1959 Revolution developed an intense and single-minded nationalism and a clear and unflagging militant, anticommunist, anti-Castro discourse that became a part of the community’s very identity. In creating new communities abroad, Cubans did not relinquish their claims to the land they had left. They celebrated their past, ...

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5. The Social Question

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pp. 129-156

Though Cuban exiles of whatever political persuasion embraced nationalism and opposition to communism as fundamental aspects of their exile identity, Catholics in particular remained true to their long-standing concern for social justice. Even as they departed a Cuba in the throws of social revolution, they continued to support the church’s social teachings ...

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6. "Just and Necessary War"

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pp. 156-180

At the end of the 1960s, Jos

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7. Ethnicity and Rights

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pp. 181-213

At first, to honor their origins and as an expression of defiance and a commitment to return, Cuban exiles hoped to live in single-minded isolation from the host society while they battled to free Cuba from communism, but this never really happened. Despite their great reluctance, they integrated into new societies. Exiles engaged societies with values different from ...

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8. U. S. Hispanic Catholicism

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pp. 214-239

The struggles of Cuban Catholics in south Florida during the 1970s for the right to participate in the U.S. church without shedding their own traditions brought them into contact with like-minded Hispanics across the country. Catholic activists of Latin American background in the United States demanded that the Euro-American dominated church respect their ...

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9. Dialogue

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pp. 240-270

Despite integrating into new societies, Cubans remained deeply engaged with their homeland. For years the overwhelming majority of exiles agreed with the fundamental goal of dislodging the Cuban government from power by any means at their disposal. Slowly, however, some came to see this as unrealistic and began in the late 1960s to adjust their thinking and strategies ...

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pp. 271-288

From the time Cubans arrived in the early 1960s, exile and ethnic identities interacted like a dancing couple seeking to meld two impulses into one motion. Their impulses sought return but, simultaneously, belonging in their new space. Everyday life for Cubans in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s involved an intimate interaction between commitment to ...


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pp. 289-323


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pp. 333-352


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pp. 353-309

E-ISBN-13: 9780268089771
E-ISBN-10: 0268089779
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268038328
Print-ISBN-10: 0268038325

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2007