August 12, 2002

Thousands of Argentines resettle in Miami

                 MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- Atilio Mancinelli left Argentina a dozen years ago,
                 but each day he gazes at the deep, blue lake nestled among rolling hills in his
                 hometown of Cordoba -- a scene an artist painted on a wall of his auto repair

                 For Mancinelli and his employees, almos t all Argentines who have come to Miami
                 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 poured
                 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 in the
                 Miami area; about half arrived in the past three years.

                 "They're leaving because every day it's more difficult to find opportunity," said
                 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 them,
                 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 by
                 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 stayed in
                 their homeland but felt they had no choice but to move.

                 Marcelo Mancinelli, Atilio's son, was forced to close his garlic-selling business. He
                 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 father's
                 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
                 Mancinelli's shop.

                 Miami "had the image of being a place where you could find work, you could move
                 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 refused
                 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 began
                 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 basically
                 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 ethnic
                 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 among
                 Hispanics in Miami.

                 "I thought because people had left their roots, here they would find some common
                 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 born,"
                 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.