These letters, written by Cuban refugees to the staff of the Cuban Refugee Assistance Program (CRA), provide insight into the refugee experience in the United States. Since all of these individuals worked for the CRA, they also demonstrate how Cubans interacted with the CRA and the impact of the program on the Cuban community.
The CRA provided health, employment and educational services to Cuban refugees upon their arrival in the United States. The program, approved by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, was administered in Florida by the state’s Department of Public Welfare until 1974.
The CRA was an unprecedented effort brought about by the mass exodus of Cubans from their homeland following the Revolution of 1959. From the early 1960s to the mid-1990s, more than one million Cubans immigrated to the United States. The majority settled in South Florida.
At the national level, the CRA was an important component of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War. The U.S. hoped that programs like the CRA would help improve the reputation of the American government around the world. The CRA also allowed the U.S. to oppose the government of Fidel Castro by strengthening the Cuban exile community.
At the local level, the CRA helped alleviate social and economic problems created by the influx of Cuban refugees into Miami and South Florida. If not for federal assistance under the CRA, Florida and especially Miami-Dade County could not have assumed the financial costs of the Cuban refugee crisis.
De la Torre found a teaching job in Pennsylvania.
Anders worked as a medical social worker in Cuba before coming to the United States.
Minagorri explains the uncertainty Cuban refugees face upon arriving in the United States.
Miranda relates what it means to him to live in the United States.
Sierra worked as a social worker with the CRA.