Fusing Cultures: Hispanics in Missouri, Pt.
Maria Flores has lived and worked in Marshall for
two years. She and her family came from El Salvador to
find a new life.
"Life here is more comfortable," says Maria. "One
could offer nephews, nieces or children a more
More than 115,000 Hispanics have come to Missouri for
the same reasons. Domingo Martinez directs Columbia's
Cambio Center which provides support Latin Americans
new to the area.
"People move from one place to another and people
always have moved. They always do it looking for jobs
or running away from some injustices. And that's the
case in Missouri."
"The Hispanic population in Missouri has increased
more than 90 percent in the last ten years. Even
though this increase is large, Latinos account for
only two percent of Missouri's population."
From 2000 to 2003 the Hispanic population in Missouri
increased by more than 12,000. More than 2,700
Hispanics live in Boone County while neighboring
counties such as Howard and Callaway have a small
number. Some rural counties like Pettis and Pulaski
have a very large number of Hispanics living
Martinez says, "In some areas we do have a huge
increase of Spanish-speaking peoples, especially the
ones that are coming to work in the agricultural
industries, meat-packing plants or in (the) general
MU Agricultural Economist Corinne Valdivia sees
another change. "It used to be that mostly males would come and work
and then go back to their place of origin. So there
was a lot of seasonal movement of labor. Now families
are coming and settling, so that's a big difference
from the past."
Maria says she and her family plan to remain in the
U.S. "As long as God gives us life, here we will stay.
The reason is that it's a good place for business and
here you can make it, succeed here."
And that's a good thing, according to the Cambio
Center's Martinez. "A smooth integration benefits
everybody, benefits the people that live here, you and
me, that have lived here for many years and also the
Economist Valdivia says Hispanic immigrants are
boosting the state's bottom line. "Understanding that
they're a potential contributor to our economy and our
communities is something that's critical. And the more
we create awareness about that, the better off we will
Maria's family moved to Marshall to become part of
the U.S. They now own their own Hispanic grocery
store. She says, "The people in the community respond
to us very well. There are a lot of people that come
here and want everything that we offer here."
And when asked if she would ever go back to El
Salvador, Maria says she won't go back. "No, no. It's
very poor, it's really poor over there."
Reporter: Christine McCarty
Web Producer: Mike McKean
Original Air Date: May 29, 2005