Back to Little Havana: Controlling Gentrification in the Heart of Cuban Miami


  • This research would not have been possible without those who participated as respondents and informants, or by providing access to archives and records. We would also like to thank Alex Stepick and Melissa Sanchez for their encouraging feedback. We are very grateful to the two anonymous IJURR reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.


In this article we examine the nature and implementation of governing strategies to control the gentrification of Little Havana, the symbolic heart of Cuban Miami. We ask how Cuban American power relations at the neighborhood level operate to ‘produce’ the citizen best suited to fulfill and help reproduce policies and practices of ‘securing’ in order to gentrify Little Havana. Based on long-term ethnographic research in Little Havana and Miami, our analysis reveals how governance operates through neighborhood-level intermediaries and interpersonal relations. We apply Foucault's ‘pastoral power’ to Miami's Cuban exile community in order to explain how the ‘Cuban-ness’ and ‘Latin-ness’ of governing relations and the personification of political power are crucial to socio-spatial control in Little Havana. Elites shape the conduct of individuals in order to achieve strategic goals in the name of community interest. Residents are key partners in the relational ensemble that governs and disciplines the neighborhood comprised mostly of low-income, Central-American immigrants.