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urbanguy

Hispanics drawn to Island life

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Hispanics drawn to Island life

Source: Honolulu Advertiser

Cesar Gaxiola was looking for work. Martha Sanchez just wanted to visit paradise.

Despite leaving Mexico years ago for different reasons, both Gaxiola, the manager of a nonprofit organization on Maui, and Sanchez, who owns a market on O'ahu, made Hawai'i their home.

They are among a growing number of Hispanics who, lured by the warm climate, diverse population and, most of all, jobs, are beginning new lives in Hawai'i, which is a straight shot across the Pacific from Latin America's long Western shoreline.

Between 1990 and 2004, Hawai'i's Hispanic population surged from just over 80,000 to nearly 100,000, a 25 percent spike, according to the Census Bureau. Observers say as more Hispanics arrive here, government services and local businesses will need to adjust to serve a greater number of Spanish speakers.

Gaxiola was a 21-year-old farmworker when he immigrated to Hawai'i in the 1980s. He now helps as many as 1,300 immigrants on Maui each year through Enlace Hispano, or Hispanic Link. People visit his office to find out how to use public transportation, enroll kids in school, file taxes and take advantage of work benefits.

"The employer might sit down with them and they might say, 'Yes, yes, yes,' but understand very little," said the 40-year-old Gaxiola, whose organization is paid $110,000 annually by the county for its services.

"We definitely need something much larger to be able to provide services to everybody," he said.

Sanchez never intended on staying when vacationing here 30 years ago, but she met her future husband on her first day. The couple eventually split, and in 1994, Sanchez opened Mercado de la Raza, or People's Market.

"I needed a job to sustain my kids," said Sanchez, a 53-year-old mother of two who sells products from Mexico, Argentina and every country in between.

While Hawai'i may sound like an unlikely destination for Hispanics, many say it's only a matter of time before America's fastest growing minority group builds a significant presence in all 50 states.

Hawai'i's record-low unemployment rate of 2.4 percent makes the state even more attractive to those seeking a better life abroad, said Austin Dias, a Spanish professor at the University of Hawai'i.

"They are used to the tropical climate, and maybe the racial diversity in Hawai'i appeals to them as well," he said. "They are here to take those minimum- wage jobs that Americans don't like to take anymore."

The state's abundance of work in the construction and service industries, especially on Maui, has been a magnet for Hispanics, some of whom hold three jobs to send relatives money, said Molli Fleming, who teaches Spanish at Maui Community College and tutors immigrants in English.

"When we talk about, 'What did you do this weekend?' it is never 'I went to the movies, I went to the beach,' " she said. "Hardly anybody I talk with from the Hispanic community gets to enjoy the Islands. They are running around, working, working, working."

Some also start businesses. While the numbers of Hispanic-owned firms decreased by 25 percent between 1997 and 2002

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Yeah, Puerto Rico and Hawaii are very similar, and now Hawaii got coquies!!!

With more reason Puerto Ricans move to hawaii. They're like brother states.

urbanguy, are you currently living in Hawaii? How is that coqui situation going? Have you ever heard or seen any?

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Yeah, Puerto Rico and Hawaii are very similar, and now Hawaii got coquies!!!

With more reason Puerto Ricans move to hawaii. They're like brother states.

urbanguy, are you currently living in Hawaii? How is that coqui situation going? Have you ever heard or seen any?

Last I heard about the situation of the "Coqui" (Small tree frog originally from Puerto Rico), was that they were trying to eradicate them because they're too loud. I don't know how successful they have been.

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Not everyone. There is a group of ambientalist (or whatever it is) that are protesting against killing coquies.

But I understand the people who find them noisy. The Coqui sound is very loud and for those who aren't familiarized with it, is quite annoying.

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DreamerGuy, not but i go back at least once a year. The coquis are as mentioned most noticeable on the Big Island but there are pockets on other islands but i think they've been managed to control those. i haven't heard one yet so i don't know what the fuss is all about, plus frogs are cool. ;) Also San Juan and Honolulu are sister cities so there is some connection there. I think it became official during the 100th anniversary of Puerto Rican immigration to Hawaii in 2000. Like over 5,000 were recruited to work in the sugar cane fields back in 1900 and later other waves followed by i think only 3 waves of migrants were to work in the plantations. Others came later but in smaller numbers. There's roughly 40,000-45,000 Puerto Ricans and part-Puerto Ricans in the state now and growing at about 1,200 a year if the census is correct. My younger sister is half-Puerto Rican and i have several relatives that are too but most don't speak Spanish anymore.

Now a days most of the Hispanics are coming from Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Argentina. The Mexican population and Spaniard populations were the 2nd and 3rd largest in the state for many years but i think the Mexican population will finally out number the Puerto Rican population by 2010 or shortly after. Hawaii is the only state in the western half of the country where Puerto Ricans are the largest Hispanic group, all other western states are dominated by Mexicans.

Pasteles, Bacalao, Serenata, Chicharrones, etc are all popular and well known in Hawaii too. And Pasteles is pronounced like there's no "s". Salsa is also very popular too.

Here's some Hispanic related stuff in Hawaii for those interested:

you can click on the logos

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hawaii%20header%20logo_r1_c1.gif

salsathonbanner.jpg

A couple of music artists -- most Puerto Rican musicians in Hawaii play Salsa but back in the day it used to be like Jibaro music because most of the Puerto Ricans that originally moved to Hawaii came from the mountains and rural areas of PR.

Charlie y Charlie (reggaeton)

Los Maliantes (reggaeton)

Roland Sanchez and Salsa Hawaii

There are also thousands of people with Portuguese ancestry and now thousands of Brazilians

Brazilian Cultural Center of Hawaii

Portuguese Chamber of Commerce

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Most puerto ricans that migrated to the US were jibaros...thats why they're mostly black too(no racism intended),people here is mostly white

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^That's interesting. Is it still the same now? Because like in Cuba most of the people that have been leaving are supposedly the educated white people and that it was becoming more black because of it.

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Most of the people leaving now is the educated people but its been like that since about 1995 or 2000..before that it was the poor/uneducated people.

In Cuba its different.

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^Yeah i just read that most of those leaving Cuba are White, higher than any other Spanish speaking country in Latin America. While most of those leaving Mexico and Puerto Rico usually choose "Other" as their race.

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