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National Stereotypes / The Caribbean

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General Stereotypes

  • The sun always shines. Calypso, mento, reggae, dancehall, soca, rhumba and steelband are constantly being played. There's free fruit everywhere. Everyone is drunk and/or high, and may have a pet parrot. Nobody does any work, they just sit on the beach sipping fruity little drinks or coconut milk. At night, the careless or unlucky might see a voodoo ceremony, especially if they are in Haiti (see Pat Robertson after the earthquake there). The only serious activities are theft, drug trafficking and even worse crimes. Expect everyone to have a Jamaican accent, regardless of where they are. Also, the only countries that seem to exist there are Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica (maybe the Bahamas).
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  • Another association with many of the Caribbean isles are slaves imported from Africa, pirates and strong reminders of still quite recent colonial times.
  • The women are usually believed to be incredibly attractive and Ambiguously Brown.

The Bahamas

  • Best known for tropical fishes, sharks, marlins, flamingos, coral riffs and mangrove forests.
  • In the past it was a pirates' nest. The infamous buccaneer Blackbeard hid himself here.

Barbados

  • Barbados is most famous as a tropical beach resort and the birth place of pop singer Rihanna.

Cayman Islands

  • The Cayman Islands are known as a haven for offshore bank accounts.

Cuba

  • Cubans are often depicted as heavy smokers of Havana cigars.
  • Within Spanish-speaking countries there's the stereotype that Cubans end all their phrases with the word "Chico", and generally mangle Spanish grammar and/or pronunciation. There is a saying that "the Spanish language was born in Castille and died in Cuba".
  • Cubans are often lampooned for their self-given impression that they are more closely related to the Spaniards than the rest of Latin America and don't like to be reminded that there are Tainos and blacks in their country; truth is, almost everyone and their mothers in Latin America are descendants of the Spanish with varying degrees of generational removal and it's just a fact of life, not particularly noteworthy.
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    • To elaborate, claiming Spanish descent in Cuba is a fundamental and valued resource of the migratory process of Cuba, exponentially increasing an individual's possibility to leave the island and claim Spanish citizenship through legal means. Not being able to claim Spanish descent makes the alternatives, of course, a boat to Florida, or a treacherous trek through Mexico and being smuggled across the Mexican border with Texas, both which are, apart from being dangerous, are illegal as hell.
  • Inside Cuba people from the province of Pinar Del Rio are seen as somewhat dumb and terrible planners.
  • Before 1959 Cuba had a reputation for being a safe haven for maffiosi (famously depicted in The Godfather II). After the Cuban Revolution the world knows it solely for being one of the few Communist countries left in the world, embodied by president Fidel Castro. Under his regime Cuba gained a strong reputation for harboring the best doctors and hospitals in the world. The education system also reached high levels compared to other Third World countries. Yet, despite all that, the country still remains a dictatorship and since the fall of the Soviet Union they lost one of their major financial backers.
  • Many people have fled Cuba by boat and went to Florida, where they express firm anti-Castro and anti-communist opinions and vote Republican. Castro-hating Cubans are often cast as villains in JFK conspiracy theories because of his debacles with the American intervention on the island. Expatriates from other countries in the USA tend to see Cubans as extremely loud and entitled freeloaders. It doesn't help that they get green cards faster than any other nationality in an apparent American move to spite Castro.
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    • After the 2016 election, all special privileges given to Cubans once they reached the United States were promptly removed by the exiting Obama administration and the Democratic Party due to the fact that the Cuban immigrants were not fleeing due to political persecution in Cuba, but rather due to economic reasons. The other reason was, of course, because the notoriously right-wing first generation Cuban immigrants voted Republican against Hillary Clinton, in a classic case of wanting to have the cake and eat it. Said first-generation Cubans were not happy at the fact that Obama established talks with Cuba and lifted many migratory restrictions imposed on the island, which they saw as a pro-Castro move. Later, the Trump administration expressed their support to raise the blockade again, so no one got what they wanted and the only affected party ended up being the poor immigrants.
  • One of Cuba's most notorious aspects since Castro took over are the numerous old-timer cars that can be seen everywhere. Due to the American boycott of the country they cannot import newer models from there and thus rely on using and repairing the ones that were left there after the revolution.
    • This is just a piece of the picture. Well after the Revolution, there WERE cars being imported from the Socialist bloc, but the problem was that no private citizen could legally acquire one, as car ownership was state-regulated to the point that it required a permit signed by the Transportation Minister (yep, the highest Cuban authority on transportation). However, car ownership dating from before the Revolution was not covered by these regs, so these "grandfathered" cars were the only ones that could be legally bought and sold among private citizens. That's the biggest reason for so many vintage cars rolling around in Cuba - they've been rebuilt many times over the years, and they are out of the government's draconian regs concerning car acquisition.
  • Musically Cuba is best known for producing several catchy band leaders, singers and dancers, such as Pérez Prado, Benny Moré, Celia Cruz and the Buena Vista Social Club.
  • One of the most prevalent stereotypes of the Cubans in the United States is associated with the 1980 initiative that Fidel Castro pushed to have most of the inmates in Cuba's jails and mental health facilities, plus their fringe poor to be sent to South Florida in a mass emigration known as the Mariel Boatlift. The Cubans that emigrated were known as the Marielitos, which left a pervasive image of lawlessness among the Cuban population in Florida, prompting the plots of films like Scarface (1983) and TV shows like Miami Vice where Marielitos were portrayed as frequent villains.

Dominican Republic

  • Dominicans, are generally lumped in with all other Latin Americans. There is a stereotype (within the African-American community at least) of, like the Cubans, being in denial of any African roots, even if they are obviously of African descent. They also are stereotyped as being baseball enthusiasts who fake their age to play (based on the 2001 case of Danny Almonte who performed extremely well in the Little League World Series only to find out that he was 14 when the maximum age is 12).
  • A stereotype of Dominicans is that among the Spanish-speaking world, no one can understand what the fuck they're saying because they speak so fast. And they say coño - which means all the words - a lot. As a Dominican, this is all true.
  • Dominicans are always thought to be cheating on their spouses. The people doing paternity tests on Sábado Gigante almost always being Dominican doesn't help it.
  • Everything is ridiculously cheap, a middle class person can live or vacation like a king in their gated communities and all inclusive hotels.
  • There also a supposed tendency to give children weird names after stuff like objects, professions, baseball players, and even incredibly lame puns.

Haiti

  • Haitians, aside from the voodoo things, are seen as pity seekers in search of constant support and help. Even though they are considered to be French speakers, there is a great amount of the population that does not speak an ounce of French; it does not help that most of the contact they have with the world is with the Americas, which are largely English, Spanish and Portuguese speakers, having a language barrier by default.
  • In the USA, Haitians are known to be dutiful, yet extremely conflictive workers who pull the race card more often than not.
  • They are also often seen as living in poverty (especially after the 2010 earthquake) and in horrible living conditions.
  • These negative stereotypes have led to problems in Real Life. At the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in The '80s, there were believed to be the 4 H's that caused HIV — homosexuals, heroin addicts, hemophiliacs...and Haitians. This led to Haitians losing jobs and being evicted for fear of spreading the disease (as this was during a time when very little was known about how HIV was transmitted).

Jamaica

  • Before the late 1960s Jamaica was mostly known for being a pirates' hideout. From the 18th and 19th century onward it was world famous for the export of sugar.
  • Since the 1950s, 1960s and especially the 1970s the island has become internationally famous for their highly unique musical styles: calypso, bluebeat, mento, Ska, rocksteady, Reggae, dub, ragga, dancehall,... In popular culture Jamaicans will always be playing steeldrum or listening to Harry Belafonte or Bob Marley on their transistor radio.
  • Reggae in particular has popularized the image of Jamaica as a country where everyone is black, wears dreadlocks, smokes marijuana (ganja) and speaks in the the local dialect ("patois") with a deep voice.
  • A Jamaican will always use the following words and stock phrases: "I and I", "brethren", "riddims", "Babylon", "Jah live", "Jah rastafari", "Zion", "dread natty dread", "hey mon", "tally me banana", "smoke da herb", "smoke a spliff", "smoke ganja", "Jah bless ya mon"... They will refer to any woman as "woman".
  • All Jamaicans will be portrayed as being Rastafarians. This despite the fact that Rastafarianism is still nothing more than a cult on Jamaica and not even close to being the largest religion on the island.
  • For decades people had the impression that marijuana was legal in Jamaica, while in reality it wasn't. Its use was nevertheless so widespread that people were rarely prosecuted unless they were high (pun not intended) profile. Only recently, in May/June 2014, has it been decriminalized.
  • Don't try to start an argument between a Jamaican and a Colombian about who has the best coffee. It doesn't end well.
  • Jamaica is notorious for being dirt poor, corrupt and full of crime. Even reggae stars aren't safe from assassinations. Peter Tosh, Don Drummond, King Tubby, Prince Far I, Junior Braithwaite and Carlton Barrett (from Bob Marley & The Wailers),... have all been murdered over the years. Even Bob Marley was targeted, but survived the murder attempt.
  • Another negative reputation associated with the island is its homophobia. Many Jamaicans hate or fear "batty boys" (gays) and will resort to violence against them. Homosexuality is still a punishable offense on the island and local musicians even boast about murdering gays in their lyrics.

Puerto Rico

  • All Puertorican women are Jennifer Lopez expies, and thus insanely hot and of Hispanic origin. Puerto Rico is actually as diverse as it can be.
  • Generally thought off as a very poor and simple country, and most Americans forget its a territory of the US. It has a higher poverty rate than the rest of the US, is several billion in crippling debt and violence is widespread. Some amenities of the mainland are there, too.
  • A common portrayal of Puertoricans, whether in the island or elsewhere, is to show a bunch of men playing dominoes while drinking Medalla beer while others are dancing salsa. Puertoricans are either lazy or extremely relaxed, mostly running on "Island Time". Going to a restaurant usually involves waiting an hour.
  • They can also be uncultured peasants (called "jibaros" by locals) and wear the traditional clothing. The men wear very large straw hats (the pava) and long sleeve shirts and carry a machete knife, while the women wear white dresses with a flower on her hair, and do mostly agriculture. Needless to say that these are both very outdated stereotypes nowadays.
  • San Juan will always feature it's historic center, with the El Morro fortress being very prominent. The modern city is only shown as exposition, specifically the hotel zone with its beaches. Other mayor cities such as Mayaguez, Ponce, and other cities in Metro San Juan, contrary to what San Juan residents tend to claim (for the former two usually), are large and fully modern, but are barely shown in media outside the island. They are still smaller cities compared to San Juan, but far from rural little towns.
  • In popular culture Puerto Rico is mostly associated with the immigrants in West Side Story or perhaps the 1988 song 'Puerto Rico' by Belgian band Vaya Con Dios.

Trinidad and Tobago

  • Trinidadian people are often confused with those of other Caribbean countries, when it is a much richer and more modern country.
  • Trinis also see Jamaicans as poor, western tourists as patronising (redirecting them to Tobago), and also see Tobagans as rural and backward. Conversely Tobagans see Trinis as stuck up.
  • Much like Rihanna in Barbados, Nicki Minaj has become the defining image of Trinidad and Tobago in popular culture, although she moved to the United States at a young age.

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