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Hispanic American Diversity

Updated on July 16, 2018

Central and South American People

People from Central and South American Countries are commonly lumped into the same group referred to as Hispanics. For many White American’s, the Hispanic population is further grouped into a category like Mexican, although many Hispanics are not from Mexico. A popular sentiment is that all Hispanics look alike, and it is hard to identify from what country they originate from. The various groups that will be discussed are: Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban’s, and Columbians.

“Mexican Americans are perhaps the most universally known groups of Hispanic origin
residing in the United States. A term most frequently used when regarding this group is
known as Chicanos”(Thomason, E). Mexican American are from Mexico and usually speak Spanish. “No Spanish was a rule enforced throughout the Southwest, Florida, and New York City by school boards in the 1960s. Children speaking Spanish on school grounds, even on the playground, might be punished with detention after school, fines, physical reprimands, and even expulsion for repeated violations” ( Schaefer, R.). They are one of the largest migrating groups to the United States. They also represent one of the most economically deprived groups with their income forty percent lower than their White counter parts based on the 2002 issue of Research Brief(Grogger, J and Trejo, S ).

Mexican Americans as a group are affiliated with organizations like League of United Latin American Citizens and the G.I. Forum. Mexican Americans as a whole are not involved in the politics. The younger the voter the less likely they will participate. One factor of low contribution is due to legal status according to Maria Christina- Garcia PhD of American Studies Today Online ( The majority of Mexican Americans are Catholic, with a much lower percentage being Protestant or Christian."Although nearly all Hispanics arrive in this country as Catholics, so many more options are available to them when they get to the United States” ( Rev. Javier Diaz-Munoz). The central part of their hierarchy is centered on the family. Women come second to their husbands. Husbands are the sole authority figure and the maker of decisions. Families are very large. “Within the Mexican family the significant role of the father and the concept of machismo play a valuable role in the socialization”( The role of the father is protector. The Mexican American identity comes from their family: background, belief and faith.

Puerto Ricans

The official languages of Puerto Rico are Spanish and English, with Spanish being the primary language according to Magaly Rivera from Top Puerto Rico. There is a difference between Spanish spoken in Spain and the Spanish of Puerto Rico. The main difference is the pronunciation. “Puerto Rico is unique in that it is an autonomous Commonwealth of the United States, and its people think of the island asun estado libre asociado,or a "free associate state" of the United States”(Green, D) The Island is represented the US house of Representatives. Puerto Ricans are US citizens whether they are born on Puerto Rico or on the mainland. The biggest controversy stems from Statehood verses Commonwealth status. They have a lot of the rights and privileges of a citizen with the exception of voting for the president and paying federal and income taxes.

Low Economic Status

The Island suffers from over population, leading to a low economic status. The unemployment is high in Puerto Rico, without many opportunities. This helped increase migration to the Mainland before 1960. After 1960 the people coming back in forth between Puerto Rico and the Mainland become more even. “In the late 1980s Puerto Rico became increasingly plagued by a number of social problems, including rising violent crime (especially drug-associated crime), increased overcrowding, and worsening unemployment”(Green, D). Puerto Ricans are the second largest Latino group in the nation, after Mexican Americans.

Their primary religion is Catholic with Protestant being secondary. “And like other Caribbean islanders and Latin Americans, Puerto Ricans traditionally believe inespiritismo,the notion that the world is populated by spirits who can communicate with the living through dreams.”(Green, D). Young Puerto Rican women are expected to marry and produce a lotof children. “The word”familismo”is a Puerto Rican word that means close family connections, and it emphasizes the concern for the well being of the family”(Serpa, M)


“The national language of Cuba is Spanish and many Cuban Americans have some facility with Spanish”(Buffington, S) A high percentage can speak Spanish or English, with most born in the US speaking English better. Cuban Americans represent conservative political views. They back the Republican Party in voting. “The driving ideological force behind most Cuban American political activity has been opposition to the Marxist regime in Cuba”(Buffington, S.) There has been Cuban Americans elected to Congress, and has been a leader in the political realm in the Miami area.

Unemployment Rate is Lower

Cuban Americans employment and economic traditions are unlike the Mexicans or the Puerto Ricans. They have higher education. Their unemployment rate is lower than both groups. They are doing better financially, and are involved or leading in most professions. “Cubans are regarded as a successful migrant group, they are excellent and dedicated entrepreneurs who came to the United States with nothing and built profitable industries that helped later immigrants build connections and resources”(Buffington, S) Cuban Americans identify with the Roman Catholic religion. Other religions that have influence are:Protestant denominations: Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Lutheran. “Cuban Americans are more likely to identify themselves as white than any other Hispanic group; and less likely to oppose abortion as compared to other Hispanic groups”(

The family structure is characteristically ruled by the man of the house. The house is ruled by powerful parental authority. The once highly favored Godparent tradition isn’t as prevalent in today’s society for Cuban Americans, and if the Godparent exists they do not play as important a role as the term once signified. “Cuban American women are more likely to have greater authority in the family than in Cuba”(Buffington, S). This can be attributed to the workforce that helps them provide money to their households and brings better assurance and less worry for their lives.


“Colombian Americans traditionally consider themselves the stewards of the most elegant Spanish spoken in South America”(Sturner, P) It is the chosen language for many Columbian Americans. They tend to speak and address people in a formal manner, first names are reserved for close friends. They are afraid of losing their traditions and tend to hold on to their native language; although, they yearn to learn English to secure better employment.“Colombian Americans have traditionally devoted themselves to politics in Colombia rather than the United States”(Sturner, P). They tend to see their home as Columbia and the United States as a place they are visiting. They suffer through a lot of discrimination based on stereotypical prejudices of the drug trade.

Columbian Americans have one of the largest incomes among Latinos

A huge reason for Columbian immigration is employment related. “In the United States they pursued professional careers, took employment as laborers, factory workers, and domestic servants, and opened small businesses, often catering to Latin Americans”(Sturner, P). Columbian Americans have one of the largest incomes among Latinos, according to Pamela Sturner, ‘Countries and their Culture’. “In Miami they have experienced racial tension with blacks over such issues as competition for work and provisions for more extensive measures to help the poor”(Sturner, P). The text, ‘Racial and Ethnic Groups’ states that “Columbians have found some success in catering to other Columbians through specialized grocery stores and restaurants offering customaryfoods”(Schaefer, R.).

Religious Beliefs

Columbian Americans enjoy their Catholic belief system. “Colombia has one of the most conservative church hierarchies in Latin America and one of the highest percentages of regular churchgoers”(Sturner, P). Columbian immigrant’s primary focus is to maintain tradition and family values. The man is the head of the house, and earns the dollar, the wife stay at home and raises the babies. Social Networks are very broad in scope. The first Columbian organizations were Doctors Association in New York City and Chicago.

How Latino Culture is Transforming the U.S.


The similarities between the four groups discussed are Language; Spanish is the primary language, the primary religion is Catholicism, and the family hierarchy is very similar; where the man is the head of the household, and women is the homemaker. The differences include: political views, economic status, and social groups that have a wide range that distinguishes one group from another. The migration of all these groups to the United States brings the commonality of a search for a better life, and the quest is separated by the manner of how they pursue this dream.


Buffington, S(2011) Cuban Americans. Retrieved January 27, 2011 from

Colombian Americans(2011) Retrieved January27, 2001 from

Cubans in the United States. Retrieved January 27, 2011 from

Garcia, M.C.(1996) Hispanic-Americans:an under-represented group in American politics. Retrieved January 26, 2011 from

Green, D(2011) Puerto Rican Americans. Retrieved January 26, 2011 from

Grogger, J and Trejo, S (2002) The Economic Progress of Mexican Americans, retrieved January 26, 2011 from

Mexican Culture(2011) Retrieved January 26, 2011 from

Munoz, J.D.(2005)Where Do Hispanic Americans Stand on Religion, Politics? Retrieved January 26, 2011 from religion-politics.aspx

Rivera, M(2010) Beyond Language. Retrieved January 26, 2011 from

Schaefer, R(2006)Racial and Ethnic Groups, Tenth Edition, p242 ch9 pp2, and p242 ch9 pp9 Published by Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.

Serpa, M(2005) Family Structures. Retrieved January 26,2011 from

Thomason, E(2011) Hispanic American Diversity Class American Diversity Class Americans Culture Hispanic Students. Retrieved January 26, 2011 from


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    • k2jade31 profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Shelden 

      8 years ago from Idaho

      Thank you for your nice comments. You hit both important points to me, informative and interesting.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 

      8 years ago from Southern Clime

      This hub is very informative. I voted up, useful, and interessting. thanks for sharing.


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