Document: “United States, Cuban Refugee Assistance Program in Florida, Administered by Florida State Department of Public Welfare, P.O. Box 2050, Jacksonville, Florida, 32203”

Information for Teachers

The Manual

Background Information

This document was intended for distribution to Cuban refugees to help them understand the assistance available through the Cuban Refugee Assistance Program (CRA). This English language version dates to November 1963; Spanish language forms would have been commonly distributed to Cuban refugees. The CRA provided health, employment and education services to Cuban refugees in the United States. The program, approved by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, was administered by the Florida 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.

Use to illustrate:

  • The scope and nature of the Cuban Refugee Assistance Program in Florida.
  • The response of the United States government and the state of Florida to the Cuban refugee crisis.

Questions for students

  1. What was the purpose of the Cuban Refugee Assistance Program?
  2. What type of services did the program provide?
  3. Why was the program necessary?

Sample Answers

  1. The purpose of the Cuban Refugee Assistance Program was to help provide Cuban refugees with basic services when they arrived in the United States. Since most refugees arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs, they needed immediate help finding food, housing and employment.
  2. The CRA provided health, employment and education assistance to Cuban refugees until such time as they became economically independent. (Students should elaborate on the types of assistance given in each of these categories.)
  3. The CRA was necessary in order to alleviate the social and economic problems caused by the Cuban refugee crisis in South Florida. The United States government also considered the program to be a necessary component of its Cold War foreign policy.

Additional Relevant NGSSS

  • SS.912.A.7.16: Examine changes in immigration policy and attitudes towards immigration since 1950.
  • SS.4.A.8.2: Describe how and why immigration impacts Florida today.
  • SS.912.A.7.11: Analyze the foreign policy of the United States as it relates to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Middle East.
  • SS.912.W.8.2: Describe characteristics of the early Cold War.
  • SS.7.C.4.3: Describe examples of how the United States has dealt with international conflicts.