Chilean Independence was celebrated Wednesday in Mineola at the County Legislature building by members of that thriving community. Einer Rubilar, Francisco Rojas Dyvinets, Ricardo Briceno, Jose Maldonado, Fernando Burgos, Silvanna Loyola, and Michail Safir were honored at the event.
Long Island became a center of Chilean culture in the United States following the coup that overthrew Latin America’s oldest democratic government. Beginning in 1973, thousands of refugees from the new Pinochet dictatorship arrived in the United States.
The largest single group of refugees came to the New York metropolitan area. There are now more than 20,000 Chilean Americans living in the Tri-State region. Long Island is the home of the largest suburban Chilean community in the United States.
In the early days of the refugee flow, Chileans arrived here in numbers that swamped the small pre-coup immigrant community. Many were from middle class backgrounds, but they were lucky if they could find even menial jobs here. Over time, the Chileans have entered the professional world here, started businesses, and seen their children become important contributors to our communities.
Two of the three United States municipalities with the highest percentage of Chileans are on Long Island. Manorhaven and Oyster Bay have the second and third highest percentage of people from Chile in the U.S. Inwood is 14th and North Lynbrook is 15th.
Happy Independence Day to all Chilean Long Islanders!