Thousands of Argentines resettle in Miami
For Mancinelli and his employees, almos t all Argentines who have come
in recent years, the picture conjures up pleasant memories of home. But they have
other, less pastoral recollections, too: record unemployment, street violence and
five presidents in less than a month.
Thousands of Argentines, including 10 of Mancinelli's 12 employees, have
into Miami in the past three years as their nation struggles with its worst financial
crisis ever. Others have come to cities including New York, San Francisco and Los
The Argentine Consulate in Miami estimates about 90,000 Argentines live
Miami area; about half arrived in the past three years.
"They're leaving because every day it's more difficult to find opportunity,"
Mancinelli, who has paid for plane tickets, given away money and shared advice
with about three dozen immigrants.
As Argentines have settled in Miami, they've brought their culture with
adding another dimension to the changing face of the city's Hispanic community.
An oceanside neighborhood has been dubbed Little Buenos Aires, joining Miami's
Little Havana, Little Managua and Little Colombia.
Seated at sidewalk tables at the Confiteria Buenos Aires Bakery/Cafe, Argentines
nibble on dainty pastries topped with mangoes and cherries. At restaurants, they
dine on parrillada, an Argentine grilled meat specialty.
Stores in the Publix supermarket chain now sell mate, an herbal tea favored
Argentines, and some shopkeepers drape Argentine soccer jerseys and
blue-and-white flags in their windows.
There's a movement afoot to rename Miami's Northeast Third Avenue Eva Peron
Street, after Argentina's famous first lady, and in April a music festival organized by
Argentine newspaper publisher Enrique Kogan attracted about 15,000 people.
'I can think long term'
It all seems to point to an emigration by people who might rather have
their homeland but felt they had no choice but to move.
Marcelo Mancinelli, Atilio's son, was forced to close his garlic-selling
left Argentina in December, the same day the country's economic minister resigned.
"It was one of the quickest exits," said Mancinelli, now working at his
shop. "I had to find some way out."
Ernesto Vargas was attracted to Miami because he knew it had a large Hispanic
population. "We have the same language," said Vargas, now general manager at
Miami "had the image of being a place where you could find work, you could
forward," he said. "Here, I can think long term. In Argentina, you can't plan ahead."
The exodus hit a peak in December, when the International Monetary Fund
to provide further loans to Argentina, forcing it to default on $141 billion in foreign
debt. The country is now suffering from a deep recession, with more than one in
five laborers without jobs.
New visa requirement
The flow of Argentines has slowed since the Justice Department in February
requiring Argentine tourists and businesspeople to get a visa to enter the United
States because many were overstaying their 90-day admission period.
"They would arrive here and, with the crisis in the streets, Argentines
decided 'We're not going back,"' said Eduardo Gamarra, director of the Latin
American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University.
The arrival of the Argentines has once again shifted the dynamics of Miami's
landscape, where there already are many immigrants from Central and South
"Miami in general has become a very different society in the last five
to six years
because we are less Cuban, much more South American," Gamarra said.
Marcelo Mancinelli said he has been disillusioned by the lack of unity
Hispanics in Miami.
"I thought because people had left their roots, here they would find some
cause," he said. Instead, he's found "a lot of competition" among Cubans,
Colombians and Argentines.
He and his father still miss Argentina.
"That's where I was born, where my mother died, where my children were
Atilio Mancinelli said, gesturing at the landscape on the wall. "That hurts me, but
I'm still very grateful to be in this country."
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.