A glamorized country where people come to pursue new lives, the U.S. is a country built on immigration. The Cuban community has grown rapidly since 2014 when President Obama shared intentions in a USA Today post to normalize the relations between the U.S. and Cuba. After the U.S. announced plans to close the U.S. embassy in Cuba, I have seen more Cubans interested in relocation to the U.S. While Cuban immigrants resettle all over the world, the majority come to the U.S., with a particularly large Cuban community residing in Miami and other parts of Florida.
Kansas City, too, has served as home for many immigrants from Cuba and around the world. Cuban communities along with Cuban coffee shops in the northern United States seem to be more geographically dispersed than in Florida where we see a more concentrated population.
One can see evidence of the growing Cuban presence in Kansas City in the larger number of people engaging in conversations about the role of Cuban immigration and immigrant communities than before. Ernesto Ariel is an example of someone promoting dialogue on this issue. As a Cuban advocate in Kansas City, he convenes Cubans for coffee or lunch, where they are invited to share their experiences. Many establishments in the metro area, including Thou Mayest Coffee, have opened their doors to host such Cuban reunions.
The growing Cuban community can also be seen in the increase in Cuban options in restaurants, including mojitos, plantain chips, or Cuban sandwiches, as well as in the presence of music groups like KC Latin Jazz All-Stars, which provide a real taste of Cuban culture.
Indeed, one does not have to look far to see and feel the growing diversity within the Greater Kansas City region. Whether it’s the Cuban community or the broader Latin American community, opportunities to experience and engage in these cultural groups abound.
About the Author
Reidel Rodriguez is the Summer 2018 community intern at the IRC. He is majoring in Global and International Studies with a specialization in Latin America and minoring in Business Administration at the University of Kansas.