The tobacco industry became fertile ground for community organizations, such as the Puerto Rican Migrant Support Committee (CAMP), which struggled to protect migrant worker rights under increasingly difficult field conditions. With the support of the United Farmworkers Union in 1974, the Agricultural Workers Association (ATA) had hoped to unionize the workers. The ATA pulled out of the Northeast, however, before that dream could be accomplished, leaving in its wake the exposure of the Puerto Rican Secretary of Labor’s deals with the Tobacco Growers’ Association. Gradually Puerto Rico reduced its worker exports to the tobacco industry, down to 1,954 participants in 1984, and the industry in turn sought workers who were not part of the union effort.30
The founding of the Hispanic Health Council in Hartford in 1978 marked a concerted effort to address the health problems of the Latino community. The long his-
tory of community health research, education, and treatment promoted by the Hispanic Health Council has provided a wealth of resources to mitigate the specific problems of the Hartford community. There is also a tendency, however, within the social work literature about Latinos and health, to fetishize the specific practices of Latinos with respect to alcohol, drugs, and health. This has resulted in an enormous volume of studies that attempt to explain the âœdrinking behaviorâ of Latinos without placing this behavior in the larger context of U.S. society, conducting similar studies among other populations, or examining the structural and systemic economic and political factors that impinge upon Latino communities.31 The Connecticut Center for Eliminating Health Disparities among Latinos, founded by Rafael Perez-Escamilla (University of Connecticut, Nutritional Sciences) in 2006, seeks to change the research and clinical agendas with respect to Latino populations in Connecticut.
During the 1980s Guatemalan and Salvadoran populations, in particular, found refuge within Connecticut, as their countries were engaged in civil wars. During this period a new trend in immigrant education developed with several academic projects, such as Victor Montejo’s (Guatemalan Maya leader) doctoral dissertation about the impact of Guatemalan and U.S. governmental intervention in Maya communities.
Since the major devaluations of the Mexican peso in 1982 and again in 1994,32 Mexican migrants to Connecticut have increased exponentially. Two towns, Willimantic and Wallingford, are examples of the diversity of this population and the changes in industry that have occurred in the past 20 years. Despite the local high unemployment rate, agribusiness industries recruited laborers from Mexico, specifically the state of Puebla, and largely indigenous peoples from Guatemala. Wallingford’s history reflects an interesting twist in migration patterns. Whereas NAFTA provided the fodder for major steel industries, such as U.S. Steel and Bethlehem Steel,33 to close in major industrial centers, such as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wallingford’s steel industry thrived by importing Mexican workers and specializing in high-technology sheet metals.34
In 1972, La Casa Borinquena (now the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center) was established at the University of Connecticut to provide support for the growing Puerto Rican student movement. By 1974, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies was formed at the University of Connecticut, offering a major and minor as well as a graduate program concentration in Latin American Studies under International Affairs. In 1974, Yale University students and faculty organized La Casa Boriqua (changed to La Casa Cultural in 1977). Yale University currently offers a BA in Latin American Studies and a graduate certificate in Latin American and Iberian Studies through the Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies of the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. By 1994 Scott Cook, an anthropologist and former director of the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies at UConn, organized the Institute of.
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