Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Latin American and Caribbean Studies

First Advisor's Name

Terry Rey

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lisandro Perez

Third Advisor's Name

Sarah Mahler

Date of Defense



The primary purpose of the thesis was to compare the present cultural and political significance of La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre for Cubans on the island and in exile, focusing on the Virgin's role as a symbol of national identity. The secondary purpose was to explore the historical evolution of the Virgin's myth through an analysis of documents and scholarly literature. In addition to participant observation, interviews of 50 Cubans were conducted at La Caridad's shrines in Cuba and Miami. These interviews reveal that the Virgin's symbol continues to meet the religious, economic, political, and social needs of Cubans everywhere. Furthermore, her symbol reveals insights into the nature of Cuban national identity. The thesis concludes that the myth of La Caridad, like Cuban identity itself, is dynamic, complex, multi-dimensional, and fluid





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