Honduras Essay, Research Paper
Located in middle Central America, Honduras is a tropical country named after the depth of the water along the northern border of the Caribbean Sea (Lexis Nexis). Nicaragua to the South and Guatemala and El Salvador to the West border Honduras. The climate in Honduras varies depending upon the region. Along the coast the weather is hot and dry, yet, in the mountain ranges it stays cool the whole year round. Honduras is the third poorest country in the world. There are few corporations, universities, and land for the citizens to settle on in Honduras, causing many citizens to immigrate to other countries to find new opportunities. Due to the lack of employment, education, and land, Honduran citizens immigrate to the United States in order to find a better life.
Honduras is a very racially diverse country. Their backgrounds, housing, and economic patterns differ greatly than those of Americans. Ninety percent of the residence on the island are Mestizo or Ladinos while the other ten percent are poor groups known as the Garifuna and the blacks of the West Indies. The Garifuna and the blacks of the West Indies make up the problem of emigration in the states.
By the 1980?s there was economic and political crisis in all of Central America and the number of emigrants shot up. In Honduras, at this time, there was a ?national economic plan? (American Immigration Cultures 395). This plan took away much of the land from the common folk, and Honduras economy was so bad that there were no jobs to offer. This sparked the spike in emigration to the United States. At this time there was also a spike in the tuition for college and considering that there are only a few universities in the country.
Emigration to the U.S. started subtly. Much of the emigration is connected to the UFCo and the Stanford Fruit Company, which at one time monopolized all the banana trade. Because bananas or one of the main exports of Honduras, many workers, managers, and their families were granted entry into New York, New Orleans, Boston, and New Jersey. Even through World War II Hondurans were being sent to the U.S. to work in factories and housekeeping (American Immigration Cultures 395). It was not until the 1960?s and 1970?s that ?most Hondurans arrived as students, tourist, or family reunification quotas? (American Immigration Cultures 395). The emigration patterns mostly rose in the upper middle class and among single persons of both genders. The main ages that the emigrants were entering the country was twenty to thirty four, and four and under fifteen (American Immigration Cultures 395). These ages reflect that of a working class and their families they bring with them. At these ages many were excited about the new working experience and those that did not have families with them were excited about starting them.
When the U.S. has tried to take a census many of the Garifuna and the blacks for West Indies have been mistaken for African Americans. Some of the most accurate studies were performed in the 1980s ?that placed a total of 15,000 Hondurans in Los Angeles, 30,000 to 60,000 in New Orleans, and 5,000 to 10,000 in Houston in 1985. Considering that New York City had at least as many as New Orleans, and that Boston had at least as many as Los Angeles, this leaves an estimated 95,000 to 160,000 first generation Hondurans in those cities alone in the United States in 1985? (American Immigrant Cultures395). Even more studies show that in 1976 there were a total of 31,150 Honduran citizens according to the census and an additional 16,039 illegal aliens living in the U.S. (Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups 210).
Once in the United States, the unfamiliar settlers find their way to their permanent home or a secondary settlement. Many of the Garifunas have made their permanent home in different burrows of New York. The Hondurans live mostly in the South Bronx, which is home for many Dominican and Puerto Rican emigrants. Also there is a considerable number living in Harlem and Brooklyn where many African-Americans have settled. The Hondurans that live in New York often end up working in health care or in building maintenance. The Mestizos have made their homes throughout city in burrows like Long Island, Queens, and Brooklyn. These emigrants often find work as domestics, construction, restaurants, and day labor. The third group that has emigrated is the Blacks of the West Indies. They made their homes in neighborhoods in New Jersey and surrounding the Boston area.
Unlike the fortunate emigrants who find their homes and settled down, the new emigrants have to live in places known as secondary settlements. Secondary settlements are places where Honduran emigrants go before they find their place of permanent residency. In Houston and Los Angeles such settlements have expanded considerably. In Miami where usually middle class Hondurans settle, there has been a growth in secondary settlements as well.
There are numerous reasons Hondurans emigrate to the U.S. to live in cities or secondary residences. Many emigrate to receive and education in the colleges they have always dreamed of attending. Unlike many American kids that take college for granted, Hondurans know how valuable and education is and how fortunate they are to receive one. Another reason for emigrating is the hopes to make enough money to build their own house and start their own businesses. After they have established themselves they usually move their families to their new homes. The majority of the emigrants that move to the states stay here to live their lives while others return to Honduras for vacations and short visits. There are a select few, which earn enough money to return to Honduras and live a life that they desire.
As for the emigrants that remain in the states, their social cultures ?reflect this traditional system and their relationship to the race/ class system of the cities in which they live?(American Immigration Cultures 399). Once the emigrants are settled and working, it is hard for them to move up in the social hierarchy. Depending on where the Hondurans settle will determine what they will do with their life. The people who settle in a Hispanic or Honduran area will find themselves not learning the English language because they don?t have a use for it. This never puts them in main stream America and therefore, they struggle to make a life for themselves. The emigrants who grew up in New Jersey and Boston were surrounded by main stream America. They often grow up to be professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and teachers.
The main reason that many Honduran emigrate to the U.S. is to find more economic benefits. There are a few Honduran restaurants, travel agencies, and shipping agencies that exist. But many Hondurans can be seen selling food at the athletic games, working making tapes of birthdays and weddings, and childcare. Also many rely on the factories as their main source of income but since many factories have moved to other countries many Hondurans have been left to either go back to Honduras and working the factories there or find new jobs in America. There is only one exception that exists. A family in New York that has an ice cream company that sells ice cream to the Spanish community. The emigrants who enter into the country legally and graduate from college find themselves working as professionals. They usually live in middle class cities and work blue-collar jobs.
Whether through working or living in a community Hondurans have brought their culture with them. Hondurans, especially mestizos and Garifuna, excel in the arts around New York City. Secondly, there are many festivals that honor the Honduran culture. These festivals bring together dancers, bands, and Honduran food. These celebrations attract many even if they are not Honduran. Additionally there is a big Spanish language media. There are many Spanish journalists that are highly respected that work in New York. These Spanish reporters started a monthly newspaper and magazine called the Nosotros los Latinos that focuses on the arts. The Honduran journalist also print a paper called El Sol de Las Americas, which focuses on the Honduran community as a whole. The success to the Spanish media is related to the strong drive that holds their culture together.
Although Honduran emigrants keep their culture alive they seem to show a different view on American politics. This can be attributed to the lack of legal emigrants that have applied to get their visa. Many don?t even think about the fact of voting or getting involved in politics. The second reason involves the way the Honduran government runs. Many citizens do not get the chance to vote or do anything for their country. So it is almost second hand for them to not think about the future for our country.
Hondurans have made a life choice to come to America to start a new life. Once they arrive they have many decisions to make: the jobs they want, the places they choose to live, and the way they associate the culture in their lives. When the emigrants culturally blend with the others and they show America some of their culture they feel right at home. Although some remain in the United States and some return to Honduras, each has shed their personal culture into our country. We take them weak and strong and our arms are always open to the emigrants from Honduras.