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THE MIAMI HERALD
Magazine Rates Miami No. 1 U.S. City For Hispanics To Live
BY ELAINE DE VALLE
July 30, 2003
A drop in crime helped convince Hispanic magazine to name Miami, not even in the top 10 last year, as the No. 1 city to live in for U.S. Hispanics.
In a total turnaround from four years ago -- when Miami didn't even make the top 10 -- Hispanic magazine has named it the No. 1 city for U.S. Hispanics to live.
The reason for the about-face: A steep drop in Miami's crime rate, once so high that it overshadowed the city's more attractive qualities.
''This multicultural metropolis has got it all,'' writes Eman Varoqua, the New Jersey author of the August issue cover story. ``A thriving Latino community, a strong job market, striking streetscapes and a voice that's loud and clear across the country.''
Countless opportunities for cultural enrichment and top-notch universities with the highest Hispanic enrollment in the nation also helped the Magic City, which came in at No. 3 last year.
Miami's once-notorious crime problem had kept the city down -- or entirely off the list, published each year since 1996. However, the declining crime rate finally boosted this ''gateway to Latin America'' over San Diego, which dropped from first to second place.
The crime rate in Miami-Dade County dropped nearly 4 percent in the last year and nearly 35 percent over the last decade, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
''Thank God we've shed our Miami Vice image,'' Joe Martinez, Beacon Council vice president, said in the magazine, circulation 270,000.
``Miami is the total package. Those of us who live here, want to stay here. Forever.''
The magazine ranked the cities using a complicated formula based on the percentage of Hispanics, real estate values and trends, crime reports, wage statistics, political representation -- where Miami scored big -- recreation, higher education and growth potential.
Staff members also spoke to people who make each city home.
''It's a very obvious choice,'' said Carlos Verdecia, Hispanic's editor, in a phone interview from his Coral Gables office. ``All 10 cities are really great places to live, but when you talk about a multicultural environment, Miami is it.
``It has 63 percent of the population Hispanic and it's still pretty affordable -- which is one of the reasons New York is off the list, because the cost of living there is pretty high.
``If you're not 100 percent bilingual you still can make a decent living here. It's a good choice.''
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz happily agreed.
''It's good to be No. 1,'' he said Tuesday, adding that it was even more significant that Miami had inched its way up from No. 24 in 1999 to the top.
''Obviously, it shows we've been taking notes,'' said Diaz, who was glad the magazine made mention of his ''Clean Up Miami'' campaign and no reference to the city being named the poorest of its size in the nation.
``It's great. The world is recognizing what we always knew -- that we are the greatest city in the country.''
A Look At Major Ethnic Groups In Miami
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A breakdown of some of the major immigrant groups in Miami-Dade County, with a total population of some 2.25 million.
-- Cubans, 650,600
-- Haitians, 95,669
-- Puerto Ricans, 80,327
-- Colombians, 70,066
-- Nicaraguans, 69,257
-- Jamaicans, 41,576
-- Mexicans, 38,095
-- Dominicans, 36,454
-- Hondurans, 26,829
-- Peruvians, 23,327
-- Venezuelans, 21,593
Source: U.S. Census Bureau