The Miami Herald – Opinion | The Huffington Post – Latino Voices | September 9, 2011
Miami has the honor of hosting the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 32nd Annual Convention and Business Expo next week.
This is important for Miami business owners because the convention provides them the opportunity to communicate and showcase their products and services to decision-makers and other Hispanic business owners from across the country. Miami is a natural fit for this event as it is the secure, established multicultural gateway for doing business throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.
There is, however, an added benefit for the visiting chamber delegates and it’s not South Beach! It’s far more subtle than ” la playa.”
Miami offers the delegates a chance to get a flavor of what it may be like to be an American of Hispanic heritage in a major metropolitan center in 2035. Why?
Well, the chamber’s roots are in the Southwest. Therefore, many of the visiting chamber members most likely strongly and proudly identify themselves as Latinos. Being Latino may very well form the predicate for who they are personally, professionally and politically. Quite frankly, it should. Our Latino friends from the Southwest have had challenging times over the years and are often the victims of cheap shots depending where the country is in an election cycle.
In Miami, on the other hand, the visiting delegates will meet Americans or U.S. residents who enjoy a multicultural community whose development was fueled by entrepreneurs and business people of Hispanic or Latino origin. In my case, my family has been doing business here for over 70 years and that story is not unusual for other great families in Miami.
Here, the chamber members will find second-, third- or fourth-generation Americans who are clearly of Hispanic origins who most likely identify themselves as being from Miami instead of as Latinos. For instance, when I travel for business or pleasure and I’m asked about myself, being Latino isn’t my first response. Nor do I respond that my family is Basque, and that I’m part Chilean and Cuban unless that person is interested in my ingredients. My immediate answer is, “I’m from Miami.”
I’m proud of my heritage and truly enjoy the benefits of being from varied backgrounds, but I’m a product of this community.
Miami is a blend of fantastic ingredients: our pioneers like Henry Flagler and Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker; our city founders such as Mary Brickell; the Cubans who engineered a political, cultural and economic boom in Miami and the region; the Latin Americans whose continued investment has kept our local economy alive during the recession; and the Brazilians who are setting the bar in business every day by keeping us sharp and hungry.
Speaking of hungry, the best metaphor for being from Miami would be fantastic fusion cuisine. It’s both exciting and delicious without having to worry about the cultural origin of ingredients. Think of a fantastic tuna tartar, blended with a beautiful extra virgin olive oil, capers and avocados with a side of plantains. Just make sure to order that with a Black Label, mojito, pisco sour or caipirinha.
Finally, I’ll admit that we have certain charming banana republic type issues: recalls, fat cats, provincial governance, scandals, etc. But Congress isn’t doing much better. So why not!
To the visiting delegates, welcome to Miami. Our ingredients may be varied and different, but the flavors come together fantastically.
Luis Andre Gazitua, a lawyer, and Miami Lobbyist, specializing in government affairs, authored the strong-mayor charter amendment approved by the voters in January 2007.