The 10th annual Cultural Integration Day celebrates
Central American and Mexican independence days with traditional
food, music and costumes.
BY RODOLFO R. ROMAN
Special to the Miami Herald
Roberto Amador stood by a statue of Nicaraguan poet Ruben
Dario, watching dancers perform a folkloric dance from Nicaragua
to the sounds of the marimba, an instrument similar to the
For an emotional Amador, who left Nicaragua in the 1980s, of
the music brought back memories of his Central American
“The music penetrates into my soul,” said Amador, lives in
the Fountainbleau area and last visited his country about three
years ago. “The Nicaraguan music is so special. It’s very
emotional for me.”
Hundreds of people with ties to Central America, Mexico and
the 10th annual Cultural Integration Day to celebrate their
countries’ respective independence days at Ruben Dario Park, 9825
W. Flagler Street, on Sunday.
“This is a day to remember better days we had in our native
country,” said Amador, referring to the political and economic
troubles that has plagued his homeland over the years.
The Central American Independence Day is observed in
Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica on
Sept. 15, while Mexicans celebrate their national holiday Sept.
16. The venue for Sunday’s event, which also drew revelers
hailing from many Latin American countries, was fitting: Nearby
Sweetwater has become an enclave for Central Americans,
especially Nicaraguan, immigrants over the years.
A parade, which began at Sweetwater Elementary and ended at
Ruben Dario Park, kicked off the festivities. Seven army veterans
from the U.S. Southern Command led the parade by carrying an
American flag, followed by other members of local community
organizations, who each carried flags from all five Central
American countries and Mexico. Coral Park Senior High’s “Band of
Gold” also marched in the parade.
The non-profit Community Performing Arts Association,
based in South Miami-Dade, organized the event. The organization
helps promote Latin American tradition and culture in South
Florida, among other goals.
Organization founder Consuelo Espinosa said the
celebration is a way for Central Americans to remember their
“This is a way to conserve our tradition and culture that we
left in our country,” said Espinosa, who is from Nicaragua. “We
will always remember our roots.”
The non-profit hosts several cultural events
throughout South Florida.
Party-goers also participated in raffles, dance contests
and enjoyed traditional foods such tacos and carne asada.
“I love to celebrate the festivities for the 15th of
September,” said Jary Meza from Costa Rica, who was breathing
hard after winning a dance contest. “I get very emotional
celebrating my independence.”
The crowd also enjoyed several traditional dances like El
enano cabezon y la gigantona (which translates roughly to mean
The Short Man with the Big Head and the Giant Woman).
Little Havana resident Nubia Pomar’s dance group, made up of
10 young girls, danced Nicaraguan folkloric ballets such as La
casa de mi suegra (My Mother-in-law’s House).
Carlos Pereira, who is from Honduras, says it’s significant
to keep traditions alive.
“It’s important to teach our children our traditions, so they
can also have love to our country,” said Pereira, who remembered
the parades that would march through the Honduran capital of
Tegucigalpa during the annual celebration. “Because it’s
there’s, too, even though some were born in the United States.”
Pereira adds that his native country’s Independence Day
celebration can’t be duplicated, but he remembers being a family
As for Amador, attending the event is a moment to catch
up with old friends and be patriotic.
“Being here gives me a lot of desire to return back to my
country,” he said. “However, for some, it is difficult for
Other events celebrating the independence of Central
America and Mexico were also held in Little Havana and Miami.
For information on the Community Performing Arts
Association’s upcoming events email firstname.lastname@example.org.