One of the ironies of the Clinton administration's place in
history is that it may be known more for a foreign policy
development than for a domestic development.
And the foreign development may be a surprising one: the
beginning of the integration of the North American and Caribbean
countries into one society. The North American Free Trade Agreement
treaty is only one part of this massive change, although an
We are seeing the culmination of several decades of activity,
starting primarily with the Immigration Act of 1965. The essence of
what is happening in the 1990s is the order of magnitude of the
Take Cuba, for example. There are 11 million residents of Cuba,
and about 1 million Cubans in Florida. This means that nearly 10
percent of Cubans now live in the United States.
Or Mexico. There are 92 million residents of Mexico; nearly 13
million people of Mexican descent live in the United States; 10
percent of Mexicans now live in the United States. Comparable
movements have occurred from the Dominican Republic, Haiti,
Jamaica, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Caribbean immigrants now have some political influence on
American foreign policy, just as in the early and middle 20th
centuries, European immigrants influenced our foreign policy with
Europe. Florida's Cuban community is the most visible example.
The cultural incursions of the United States into Mexico and
the Caribbean are striking. In Monterey, northern Mexico's major
city, a shopping center with J.C. Penney and Dillard's is opening.
Cruise ships in the Bahamas and other West Indies islands bring a
large influx of U.S. citizens, who speak English, desire American
food and spread U.S. customs. The Miami Herald circulates
throughout the Caribbean.
Mexico has become a favorable retirement spot for Americans. A
Jamaican descendent (Colin Powell) led us to victory in the Persian
Gulf War; two Mexican descendants (Henry Cisneros and Federico
Pena) sit in the U.S. Cabinet. And, of course, major integration is
occurring in that great swatch of "Mexamerica," from Texas to
California on the U.S. side and encompassing the border states of
Mexico on the southern side. Manufacturing and trade - labor
and capital - are turning this area into one of the continent's
leading business sectors. There is talk of augmenting Texas'
interstate highway system to serve northern Mexico more adequately.
Nearly 10 percent of Americans consider themselves Hispanic.
And since there is a quite high rate of intermarriage with
non-Hispanics, by the next generation as many as one-fifth of all
Americans may have one or more grandparents born south of the
border, with first or second cousins in a Caribbean nation.
It is clear that, socially, culturally and economically, the
United States and the Mexico-Caribbean areas will more and more
become one. …