Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is ecstatic that his city is No. 5. "Oh, no, we don't want to be No. 1," Diaz quips. For years, Miami has been ranked the poorest city in the nation. But in a recent update, Cleveland moved into the top-bottom spot, and Miami fell — or rose — to fifth.
"Progress," Diaz says.
In a city where 62 percent of the residents are foreign-born, Diaz and Miami are examples of Hispanic ascendancy.
Manny Diaz: "I'm an immigrant. I had to leave Cuba when I was 6 years old, I had to leave my father. I came to a different country, a different language. My family, we were laborers. I lived in poverty. One of my first jobs was as janitor at the same school I was attending. My family instilled a sense of core values, education, moving up. All of those things affected who I am."
Since his election three years ago, Diaz has taken a black eye — police riots against demonstrators at a globalization conference. But he has seen prosperity begin to return to the Magic City.
Diaz: "The boom we're having, I pinch myself every day. We continue to have a steady inflow of immigrants. They come, move in, move up, move out, and new group comes in. We've got poverty, yes. But after decades of losing population, people are moving back into Miami. We've got 48,000 housing units under construction. That's huge!"