The profile of Cuban immigrants of the 1960s and '70s, educated and exiled to the United States for political reasons, has given way in later decades to that of poor foreigners with needs like those of immigrants from other countries, who basically want to make money to help the family they left back home.
This was the observation of Princeton University professor Alejandro Portes, who has studied this immigrant profile for years.
The first generations of Cubans who went into exile for political reasons created a successful community in Miami, with great economic and political power, he said in an interview with Efe.
But that situation "changed with Mariel (1980) and the succeeding exodus of people of a lower educational level and whose political orientation is different, not particularly criticizing the regime and more concerned about helping their family in Cuba economically," he said.
The growing number of Cuban immigrants who arrived in South Florida since 1980 have a much lower average income, being left "at the same level as Mexicans" or any other group of working-class immigrants, the sociologist said.
Portes, who has taken part this week in the Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at Florida International University in Miami, thus refutes the old idea that Cubans are the elite of immigrants in the United States.
In his opinion, the impoverishment of this group is partly due to the Cuban middle and upper classes who came before Mariel cutting their ties with immigrants that came later.
"The economic ties that previously helped so many Cubans climb the ladder of success were almost completely cut for the new immigrants, who have basically had to fend for themselves, getting jobs in a relatively poor labor market like Miami," he said.
Nonetheless, there has been no overt clash between the two groups, though the original Cuban exiles do not take kindly to the remittances and constant trips to the island by the new immigrants.
"In the end, all are Cubans, and what these new generations are doing to help their families corresponds to the values of traditional Cuban society, and people who are trying to help their families shouldn't be attacked," he said.