The islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba have a great deal in common.
As near-neighbors in the Greater Antilles island chain, both lie
in the Caribbean between Florida and Venezuela. Both share Spanish
origins, and both islands have played key roles in the history
of the Americas.
The immigrant experience of each island’s people, however,
could not have been more dramatically different. In the latter
half of the 20th century, the people of Cuba found themselves
cut off from the United States, forced to overcome great dangers
and obstacles to leave their homeland. In contrast, the people
of Puerto Rico found themselves annexed by the U.S., and had to
discover what it meant to immigrate to a country that already
claimed them as citizens.
However different their political circumstances, the immigrants
of both islands had to face the challenges of 20th-century migration,
and to find new ways to establish lasting communities in a strange—if
not so distant—land.