Back to the Herald’s Future – Part 2

This is Part 2 of an examination of a piece published in The Miami Herald’s Tropic Magazine in 1988. The piece was written as a fictional look back over a 20-year period between 2008 and 1988. As we have seen some of the events described by the author, John Dorschner, have actually come to pass. Part 1 is available here. There’s an intro to how exactly the piece was written, here.
In the next section of the piece, Dorschner begins to describe what happened to Miami on a cultural and political level.

The search for such unity had long been an obsession in South Florida. Ten years before, in 1988, Newsweek**3 had observed in a cover story that “El Nuevo Miami is . . . more than a little apprehensive about relations between the city’s Anglos, Cubans and Blacks. . . . Those who were betting on Miami’s future — the establishment’s civic boosters, both Anglo and Hispanic — are almost desperately eager to put the turmoil of the past 2 decades behind them.”
It had been neither easy nor swift. For years, South Florida has been inundated by continuing waves of immigrants, both legal and illegal.**4 From 1960 to 1990, the countries of the Caribbean Basin — including Mexico, Venezuela, Central America and the islands — had doubled in population,**5 making it one of the fastest-growing areas in the world. The population explosion, coupled with burgeoning poverty and sporadic civil unrest, had caused South Florida to be flooded with newcomers. Every few years, a new “Little” neighborhood sprouted up: Little Santo Domingo, Little Panama, Little Kingston.
Anytime it seemed that South Florida was settling into a tranquil equilibrium, some new event sparked more turmoil, but finally a harmony of sorts had emerged. The stinging wounds of the past 20 years — the 1993 Liberty City Conflagration, the divisiveness caused by the Pro-American Clubs, the trauma of Mariel II — had been healed.

First of all I have to admit that I did not know if the 1988 Newsweek article referred to by Dorschner actually existed or not. I suspected that it did, and that Dorschner used it as a jumping off point for his examination of what might happen in the near future. A further examination proved my hunch correct. The 1980s were characterized by racial animosity which was punctuated by riots in Liberty City and Overtown.
Dorschner was correct in predicting that waves of immigrants would continue to come from Latin America. I’ve heard of Weston referred to as “Little Caracas” but I haven’t heard of Little Santo Domingo, Little Panama, or Little Kingston. Many different immigrant groups have settled in Little Havana through the years but they never bothered to change the name.
Dorschner also predicted a conflagration in Liberty City in 1993 that never materialized. Instead it was just a year after Dorschner wrote this piece that the last riots in Miami to date occurred in Overtown after a Hispanic Miami police officer shot and killed a black suspect and his passenger who were riding on a motorcycle.
As for pro-American clubs, I’ve never heard of such a thing. And Mariel II? More on that later.

In reality, of course, the Baseball Caper was more a symbol than a cause of the new harmony. By the late ’90s, most of the ethnophobic Anglos had left South Florida, and the El Grupo power structure was showing considerable skill, after a shaky start, in smoothing the remnants of racial-ethnic strife.
The result was a vital, synergistic society that created what has become known around the world as “El Nuevo Culture.” The popularity of El Nuevo Sound now finances a 1/2-dozen major recording studios, producing hits that are played everywhere from Peoria to Prague, from Minneapolis to Montevideo. Seven U.S. network television shows are videotaped in Miami (4 in English, 2 in Spanish and 1 in Spanglish), plus another 5 series aimed at the Latin American market. Five major movie studios now have headquarters here (2 marketing primarily to the United States, 3 to Latin America). There is an El Nuevo Architecture (mixing Mediterranean, modern and Latin American vernacular), El Nuevo Art (known for its dreamy Hundred Years of Solitude surrealism), El Nuevo Fashion (hot colors, dramatic lines, but leaning more toward Paris than toward New York)**6 and even an El Nuevo Cuisine (black beans, raspberries, soft taco shells).
South Florida now ranks as an equal with Southern California and New York as a center where the tastes and fashions of Middle Americans are shaped. The reason, many observers feel, is not just the energy created by Miami’s “ethnic stew,” but also the United States’ shifting demographics: Between 1985 and 2000, the population growth of the United States had been 6.5 percent Anglo, 23 percent Black and 46 percent Hispanic. It is estimated that, in another 2 years, Hispanics will account for 14.7 percent of the American population, thereby surpassing Blacks as the country’s largest minority group.**7

There’s a lot to digest in those 3 paragraphs. First of all Dorschner predicted the exodus of Anglos from South Florida and while we have seen some of that it hasn’t been as sweeping as he made it sound. He then introduces “El Grupo” something he will explain later in the piece as being a confederation of Hispanic politicians that will take over the reins of power.
Then the author makes some bold predictions about culture and Miami’s role in it. The names he assigns like “El Nuevo Culture” and “El Nuevo Fashion” sound dumb but certainly some the predictions have come true, or half true. Miami has influenced music greatly and Miami-based artists are played around the country and the world. The movie industry has grown in South Florida and many feature films have been made here in the last 20 years but there are no major studios located here. And there is something called “Nuevo Latino Cuisine” which has been popularized by a Cuban-American chef named Douglas Rodriguez. Aside from the two major Spanish-language networks (both of which already existed in 1988 when this piece was written) and some exteriors for CSI Miami there isn’t a lot of TV content being produced in South Florida for the rest of the country.
Miami has also become a hip place, perhaps not equal to New York or Los Angeles in the American psyche but it is a place that many of those creative New Yorkers and Angelinos like to come to see and be seen.
The demographic predictions for the U.S. proved to be correct. Latinos now make up a greater proportion of the population than Blacks (which Dorschner failed to realize would now be called African-Americans). According to the Census Bureau in 2006 Blacks made up 12.8% of the U.S. population while Hispanics comprised 14.8%. Dorschner used census estimates of 14.7% in 2010, which has proven to be remarkably close.
Part 3 here

3. Newsweek January, 28 1988.
4. “Dade County will continue to be a magnet for immigrants,” says Metro planner Oliver Kerr. On this, virtually all experts agree.
5. United Nations Estimates
6. The idea of Peggy Landers, Herald fashion writer.
7. U.S. Census estimates.

2 thoughts on “Back to the Herald’s Future – Part 2”

  1. Mun2, LATV, and MTV Latin America are either headquartered in Miami or have heavy buisness down here. Mun2 is a national bilingual network for young hispanics and works out of hialeah with Telemundo. LATV also a national network shoots some shows in Miami but headquartered in LA. And MTV Latin America has its headquarters in western Dada and studios in Miami Beach.
    theres also Miami’s popularity with urban music artist now and days that ranks it up with LA and NY in that respect. And there is a handfull of shows being filmed in Miami like Miami Ink, Dexter, Burn Notice and countless reality shows. It should also be noted that Miamis importance in Telemundo and Univisions networks is incredibly higher now than 20 years ago, now Miami is the location of all national newscasts, talk shows, novelas, varieties, programs and all awards shows. And as always Miami is popular with movies, recently a Dubai company was intrested in building a studio in Florida that would attract any major production company, Miami is the leading contender amongst Tampa, Orlando and West palm Beach.

  2. correction – MTV Latin America is headquartered in Miami Beach – was never headquarted in Miami Beach and also had a studio there – with regional offices in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

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