Magazine

Hispanic Nation: Two Cultures -- Or A New Culture?


Living in Miami for 20 years and in Latin America for 30, I can assure you that Latino immigrants will assimilate in one generation ("Hispanic nation," Cover Story, Mar. 15). Elderly Cubans, mostly a very educated group of political (not economic) immigrants, still speak mostly Spanish. But their 30-to-50-year-old children are perfectly bilingual and have a hard time getting their children to speak Spanish. Which is a pity: Being able to communicate in two, three, or more languages, as most Europeans do, is culturally interesting, a big advantage in business, and certainly not a threat to the U.S. way of life.

We must admire the Mexican immigrant workers: As you say, they not only accept the lowest-paying jobs but also manage to send back $13 billion to their poor relatives back home. If those are not the solid family values we want in this country, then I don't know what are!

Wilhelm Roedenbeck

Miami

I live in a small agricultural community which has, in the past 25 years, gone from a Hispanic population of 5% to one of 60% or higher. Our schools are now 90% Hispanic. We were once a community that filled a gymnasium for basketball games on Friday and Saturday nights. The home stands at the basketball games are now half full, and most of the faces are white. In the fall, the soccer team, coached by a Hispanic, has only one or two white kids. At an open meeting to meet and interview prospective superintendents for our school district, of the 60 people attending, only one was Hispanic. But the meetings conducted at the elementary school by Spanish-speaking administrators have a better attendance than those done in English.

If my community is any indicator, America is not ready. Not unless we are ready to become two nations.

Kevin Wickenhagen

Tieton, Wash.

The flow of illegal immigrants has gone unchecked. The culture clash will only get worse as unskilled, poorly educated workers cling to their language, push down wages, and send their money back home instead of spending it here. In a couple decades, we'll have two countries -- Northern Mexico, north of the Rio Grande, and Southern Mexico to the south.

Robert Bubnovich

Irvine, Calif.

Politicians in both parties have largely ignored the calls of the public to put a stop to this tidal wave of humanity crossing our southern border.

Eric Dalton

Germantown, Tenn.

Tacos, tamales, and burritos are no more threatening than apple pie, bagels, or kippered herring. Welcome to the real world: America is alive and well.

Walter Scarborough

Houston

The notion of "Mexifornia"-type enclaves in California and Texas is historically inaccurate. It implies a recent takeover by Mexican immigrants. Readers should remember that Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas were all Spanish territories with Spanish-speaking residents long before the 13 colonies even existed. Second, language has successfully unified the ethnic diversity of Latinos formed from indigenous, European, African, and Asian ancestors. Erasing the Spanish language is tantamount to erasing culture, and with it, self-identity.

Paul Quintero

New York

The current boom in Spanish in the U.S. is only temporary. We are a commercial society, and companies use the language only as long as it is profitable. When children who are learning English are making the buying decisions, these companies will go back to English as quickly as they have recently changed.

Jesse Corn

New Orleans

The Latino community is a viable entity -- not an "emerging market." [Much of] Corporate America has not paid attention or given us our fair share. Yet there are companies such as Johnson Controls (JCI), Ford Motor (F), and others that are investing back in our community. Their supply-chain costs are lower, their market penetration is better, and they outperform their peers within their industries. The Latino community is extremely patient and loyal. However, if you take advantage of us for too long, it will be to your peril.

Ed Rodriguez

Stratford, Conn.

Hundreds of thousands and most likely millions of college-educated professional Hispanics live and work for large American corporations and firms in nontraditional Hispanic cities. We own houses, send children to private schools, spend our time in suburban America, and every day melt more into American culture and traditions. I agree that we continue to keep our treasured traditions (including language) and try very hard to pass them along to our children. But we are willing to work hard and continue to be a large contributing immigrant group in the U.S.

Victor J. Haddock

Newark, Del.

"Hispanic America" (Cover Story, Mar. 15) asks: "Is America ready?" No, it is not ready at all. Western politicians refuse to take into consideration the consequences of the population explosion in poor countries, whereas those countries see a unique opportunity of taking possession of Western fortune simply by moving the enormous excess of their population to America and Europe.

The highest interest of America is to remain one nation speaking one language. About 30 years ago, the second generation of immigrants were full Americans. Nowadays, naturalization doesn't automatically mean integration. You can reckon on naturalized but nonintegrated immigrants in the third or even later generations.

In view of the very high Hispanic birth rate, there is a serious risk that within two or three generations the U.S. might be split in two ethnic groups with two different languages and opposite interests with inevitable consequences for the international position of the U.S. Has anybody learned his lesson from the Kosovo case? I don't think so.

Jaraslav Teply

Voorburg, Netherlands

The influx of millions of Latinos into the U.S. is similar to the arrival into Britain and France of millions of people from those countries' former colonies. The Mexican-American War was a 19th century colonial conflict in which we invaded and conquered half of Mexico. We are now finding millions of Mexicans living in our country. As for the rest of Latin America, we have intervened in and occupied those countries at various points. It is no accident that Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans live in large numbers in the U.S.

Naim M. Peress

New York

Imposition of a colonial environment by European people within the territory that once belonged to Mexico did much to prevent our close union with the European mind-set. It was not that we did not want to assimilate but rather that we were not allowed to assimilate. Not surprisingly, we retained our culture with more vigor, as it was the basis for our survival. I don't foresee assimilation to the "American" culture, nor do I sense that the Mexican-American culture will continue to be independent. A synthesis of both will form a new culture, very much American.

Joe V. Martinez

Bethesda, Md. "An ancient drink, newly exalted" (Personal Business, Mar. 1) says "common store-bought tea bags are typically mass-produced using low-grade tea 'dust' (particles of crumbled tea leaves)." Redco Foods Inc., marketers of Red Rose and Salada tea brands, takes great care selecting teas from some of the world's finest tea estates in India, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Kenya, and Indonesia. Only good quality grades make their way into our products. We do not use any "dust" of "low-grade" teas in any of our blends.

The article also claims that rooibos "packs 500% more antioxidants than white, green, or black tea." While rooibos is an excellent, well-documented source of antioxidant polyphenols, it actually contains less total polyphenols than a similar serving of green tea. However, the types of antioxidants in each tea are different, so to compare total polyphenol content is misleading and unfortunate.

David Rigg

Vice-President for Sales and Marketing

Redco Foods Inc.

Windsor, Conn. I was extremely disappointed to see Harbor Bond Fund dropped from the Standard & Poor's/BusinessWeek list of Excellence in Fund Management winners for the alleged misconduct of PIMCO in its own funds ("The best mutual fund managers 2004," Personal Business, Mar. 22). Harbor Bond Fund is not under investigation with PIMCO for any alleged misconduct. Harbor Fund, not PIMCO, is responsible for investors in the Harbor Bond Fund.

The Harbor Bond Fund assets are managed by PIMCO but the assets are segregated from other PIMCO-managed assets for the benefit of Harbor Bond Fund shareholders.

David G. Van Hooser

Chairman and CEO

Harbor Capital Advisors Inc.

Toledo


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