Latinos in New England

Latinos in New England

Latinos in New England

Latinos in New England

Synopsis

This collection of essays assembles new writings from experts who examine the Latino impact on New England, a region often perceived as a hub of civility and tolerance, but which has become a new testing ground for public policies that challenge this progressive reputation. Latinos are playing increasingly central roles in significant contemporary debates on such issues as immigration policy, bilingual education, and political representation. Essays focus on how the growing diversity of Latino groups has shaped the evolution of specific communities in the area: Caribbeans and Central Americans in Cambridge, MA; Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and others in Connecticut; and Dominicans and others in Rhode Island. This book also examines the multiple interactions between Latino sub-groups over time - in their community organizations, political projects, businesses, religious and cultural settings - and raises the question: is there such a thing as a Pan-Latino identity in New England?

Excerpt

Andrés Torres

When the United States declared war on Mexico, more than a century and half ago, did anyone imagine that this act would ultimately bond this country into a permanent relation with our southern neighbor? It was a war of conquest, supported by the logic of Manifest Destiny and by the economic interests that desired the extension of slaveowning territories. U.S. imperial might (and Mexican internal division) dictated an easy victory, leading to the appropriation of half the land formerly belonging to Mexico. To this day Mexican-Americans can claim, with a measure of historical accuracy, “we didn't cross the U.S. border, the U.S. border crossed us.”

A little-known episode of the so-called Mexican War, which has ironic relevance to the present anthology, concerns the story of the San Patricios. This was a brigade of mostly Irish Americans who had been recruited to fight in the invading army, but who abandoned the U.S. side to join with the Mexicans. Like their putative enemy, these Irish had been colonial subjects and were Catholic. In the gateway cities of Boston and New York, the newcomers had been subjected to ethnic and religious discrimination. South of the border, they were enticed with promises of land and freedom if they joined the Mexican Army.

When U.S. victory came, the San Patricios met a tragic ending, most of them executed or jailed for desertion. North of the Rio Grande history treats them as an embarrassing chapter; in Mexico City a monument preserves their names in honor for their gallantry in battle. In 1997 the Mexican and Irish governments issued commemorative stamps of the St. Patrick's Battalion.

Decades later history would record another interesting link of a Hispano-Yankee character. Jose´ Martı´, writer and freedom fighter, was a leading figure in the Cuban independence struggle. In 1869 the Spanish authorities exiled him from his homeland, after which he lived many years in Latin America and in New York City. Though he was skeptical of . . .

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