Differences and Commonalties among Hispanic American Groups

Hispanic Americans are known as Latinos. They are residents of the United States (U. S. ) who can trace their ancestry to various Latin American countries such as Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama. Latinos started to move to the United States in the 17th century. Guzman (2000) states that in year 2000, 58. 8% of the Hispanic population are Mexicans, 9. 6% are Puerto Rican, 3. 5% Cuban. 2. 2% Dominicans. The large size of the Mexican population is a result of the adjacent borders with the U. S.

The high percentage of Cubans is a result of their fleeing from political persecution and economic hardship which started in the 19th century. All Latinos speak the Spanish language which provides a basic link between people, resulting in a common group identity (Fitzpatrick, 1971). Latinos also share a sense of community and dedication to family (Langdon and Clark, 1993). However, they still split into distinct ethnic groups. Each group has a different cultural identity. Many Hispanic Americans prefer to use terms to reflect their community organization such as Cuban American or Mexican American over the term Hispanic American.

This paper examines the diversity among different Hispanic American groups. It identifies and compares the following four Latino groups: Mexican, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and other South American. Economic Comparison Latinos economically lag behind whites in the U. S. The percentage of Latinos living below the poverty level is 22. 8%. This is much higher than the percentage of white Americans (7. 7%) living below the poverty level which indicates the continued economic struggle of Latinos in the United States.

Among U. S. Latinos, Puerto Ricans have the largest percentage of people living below the poverty level, with 25.8 percent. El Salvadorians are also extremely poor. They moved to this country to flee war and poverty and they come to the U. S. looking for work to send money home to their family. Of all full-time Latino workers, 23. 3% earn $35,000 or more.

Cuban Americans have the largest percentage (34. 4 percent) of workers earning $35,000 or more (Therrien and Ramirez, 2000). Language All Hispanic Americans belong to the Hispanic group on the basis of language. They all speak Spanish yet with different dialects. Some words are spelled and pronounced the same have yet they have different meanings.

Mexican Americans language is made up of a mix of their national language Spanish and English. They refer to it as Spanglish. Political Mexican Americans were led by Cesar Chavez who initiated the Civil Rights movement. The movement was pushing for fair pay, benefits and adequate wages. It encompassed other issues such as restoration of land grants, farm workers rights, enhanced education, and voting and political right (Mendoza, 2000). On the other hand, Puerto Rican Political Experience in the United States began with what was known as Class Politics. In it people from different classes banded together.

This eventually led to the socialism movement. First Puerto Ricans immigrants were influenced by radical political ideas like nationalism, internationalism, and socialism. However, they stayed out of politics and did not vote even though they wished to improve their circumstances in the United States (Torres, 2004). Puerto Ricans remained a separate entity on bases of their ethnicity. They sought to improve their socio-economic and political status as an ethnic group through politics (Torres, 2004). El Salvadorians are not active politically and do not participate in elections since most of them are illegal residents of the US.