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USF Libraries Exhibits

Establishing Roots

El Mundo explains, “Tampa is for Cubans a page in the history of Cuba”. Tampa and Ybor City have been places where Cubans sought refuge from political strife and hard times.  In return, the Cubans have embedded within Ybor City a strong culture and robust economy.  This is particularly true if one looks at the history of the Spanish-American War in the context of the development of Ybor City.  While many Cubans had already established roots sometime before the Spanish-American War, it is important to note that the war played a vital role in shaping the future dynamics of Ybor City. On April 25, 1898 the United States formally declared war on Spain.  Consequently, Tampa would become the port that would supply troops for an invasion of Cuba, and in which Ybor City’s own Cuban population would rally for Cuba’s independence.  Thus, the end of the Spanish-American War translated into new vistas for the Cubans in Ybor City.  While some Cubans did choose to return to a liberated Cuba, many Cubans realized that the economy of Cuba was crippled and that Cuba's prospects were still uncertain.  Therefore, Ybor City seemed to hold a more secure future.  Moreover, many Cuban exiles of the war chose to remain in Ybor City due to the economic opportunities it afforded.  Ultimately, the 20th century brought with it a series of political upheavals for Cuba, while Florida remained a haven for those individuals seeking refuge.