April 2010
Centro Journal;Spring2010, Vol. 22 Issue 1, p84
Academic Journal
One of the distinctive features of the recent Puerto Rican exodus to the Orlando metropolitan area is a large number of well-educated professionals and managers, most of whom define themselves as white in the census. This group has had a significant impact on Puerto Ricans' settlement patterns, as well as on their reception by established residents of Central Florida. This essay analyzes in-depth interviews with Puerto Rican business, civic, political, educational, and religious leaders in Orlando. Of particular interest was how this privileged group represents itself as part of the growing Spanish-speaking population of Central Florida. A recurrent theme in the interviews was Puerto Ricans' contested relations with other Latinos, including Cubans, Venezuelans, Mexicans, and Colombians. Furthermore, the interviews generated a wealth of qualitative data on how middle-class members of Orlando's Puerto Rican community-primarily those born and raised on the Island-maintained transnational connections, especially kinship ties,with the homeland. This research complements earlier work based largely on census statistics by providing new insights into the immigrants' personal motivations, decisions, attitudes, and experiences. Most of all, the results shed light on how middle-class Puerto Ricans in Orlando construct and represent their identities.


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