Miami's role as an international city—the "financial hub of Latin America," as one businessman calls it—is threatened by its residents' declining Spanish skills, the Miami Herald reports. Many descendants of the Cuban entrepreneurs and businessmen who flooded South Florida in the '60s and '70s speak only "kitchen Spanish"—good enough to talk to grandma, but not for business transactions.
The school system focuses on making English the dominant language, not on cultivating Spanish skills. Nearly 1,200 multinational corporations operate out of South Florida, but finding bilingual employees is more and more challenging. Of course there could soon be a new source: "Fidel dies and a million people are going to show up here,'' cultural critic David Rieff quips.