The Latino American community or the Hispanic Americans refer to a huge and diverse population, which shares a common heritage and language but are significantly different from each other. They mainly include the Mexican Americans or Chicanos, the Puerto Ricans, the Cuban Americans, and the Central and South American consisting of Columbians, Panamanian, Ecuadorian, Chilean, Nicaraguan, Costa Rican, Argentinean, Guatemalan, Peruvian, Honduran, Salvadoran, and Dominicans. There are more than 45.5 million Latinos in America where the Chicanos constitute 66.9%, the Central and South Americans 14.3%, the Puerto Rican 8.6%, the Cuban 3.7%, and the other Hispanic communities 6.5% of the total Latino population.
In this article, the four of the largest Hispanic communities have been discussed. They are the Chicanos, the Puerto Ricans, the Cuban Americans, and the El Salvadorians. Although individually each of the given four communities has an immensely diverse and rich cultural background, all of them have been categorized under the same term, which is Hispanics. All of these cultures share the same Spanish language but each community has its way where the words are pronounced and spelled differently and has different meanings and dialects for each. Thus, although these cultures appear to be the same in every way, they are unique and different from each other. Bilingualism is also practiced among these communities where both Spanish and English are used in educational institutions and workplaces. Through bilingual education, the children are taught in their native language and are gradually introduced to the English language. However, bilingual education is still not available in many states even though it has numerous positive aspects.
The Chicanos or the Mexican Americans are Americans having Mexican ancestry. At the present, almost 28 million people in the USA have Mexican origin. The Linguistics of the Chicanos has forever been a topic of discussion in the USA. Almost 26% of the Chicanos are bilingual, 23% are of English dominance and the rest 51% are of Spanish dominance. As most of these Chicanos have Spanish-speaking parents, they learn that language before learning English. Thus, bilingual education has had an extremely positive effect on these children helping them survive in America. Some have even become accustomed to using the Spanglish language, which is a combination of both English and Spanish and is mainly used near the US-Mexican border. Politically, the Chicanos are extremely active and even have a Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) for promoting their interests in the USA. It was formed in the ’60s and is a human and civil rights organization to stop discrimination against Mexican Americans. They have very firm religious beliefs and most of them are Christians, mainly Roman Catholics and Jews. Economically for them, fair payments, benefits, and wages are still a dream. For them their family tradition is everything and they all stay together.
The Puerto Ricans are the people born in Puerto Rico and their population has been estimated to be around 4 million. They mainly speak Spanish but also use English. 40% of them are bilingual, 39% have English dominance and 21 percent have Spanish dominance. Their ancestors were the Taino Indians who came from South America. They were originally used as slaves. Like the Chicanos, most of them are Roman Catholics but some of them firmly believe in Judaism and Protestantism. In 1950, a law was made allowing them to draw their constitution. However, they have mostly stayed out of politics utilizing their ethnicity to set themselves apart from others and improve their economic conditions. Their family and socio-economic backgrounds depend heavily on unity. They give their families a lot of importance and respect for elders and relations are a critical part of their culture.
The Cuban Americans are the people of Cuba and come 3rd in terms of population after the Puerto Ricans with almost 2 million people. Although some of them have immigrated to the USA, most of them still live in Cuba. Their main language is also Spanish and most of them are Roman Catholics. Nevertheless, they also have religious ties with Protestants, Santeria, and Jewish Cuban Americans. The Cubans also include some Chinese population who are descendants of indentured laborers from Cuba. They are economically very poor and the immigrants in the USA have to work very hard for meager salaries so that they can send their wages home to their families. After Fidel Castro came to power, Cuba’s relationship with the USA deteriorated and after her alliance with the Soviet Union Cuba was converted to a social republic. Soon afterward, the Cubans migrated to the USA. They later adopted their culture. They too have very strong family ties as they hold their cultural heritage and traditions together.
The population of the Central and South American Hispanic cultures is around 6 million and one of the groups is the El Salvadorians. They are from El Salvador and just like the above three cultures speak Spanish and have more Spanish dominance in their culture. They share similar religious beliefs with the Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans, as most of them are Roman Catholics. However, some of them also believe in the Pentecost religion, as its teachings are similar to their culture. The president in El Salvador is both the head of its government and the head of the state. Politically, El Salvador is a democratic, representative and presidential republic having a multiform and multiparty system. Earlier they were a poor culture and had immigrated to the USA to flee from poverty and war. However, unlike the Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, and the Cubans, the El Salvadorians are economically quite successful and theirs is the 3rd largest economy in the region. Although their economy has been brutally affected by, natural disasters they have never let down and always fought back. Politically they have not done anything worthwhile and normally do not take part in elections. Socially too their interaction with the USA is work-oriented. Family is very important for them just like the others and their whole life revolves around it.
As all of these cultures are very poor, most of the children do not get proper education and they have one of the highest rates of school dropouts in the USA. Without any educational qualification, these four Hispanic groups are not able to secure proper jobs and have to work hours for a small salary. Due to this, most of them illegally enter into the US without any work permits and papers. Thus, most of them have no legal or political standings and have to fight hard for their survival in poor working conditions. However, each of these cultures aspires to have better lives, for both themselves and their families.