ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida has seen exponential growth in the last several years, particularly due to Hispanics looking to do business and raise their families here.
Among that population are people relocating here from Argentina.
“I’ve seen a lot of immigration, (over) the last two to three years, here in Central Florida of Argentinian families looking for a better future, and I think that’s a result of the failing politics in Argentina,” said Stella Siracuza, an Argentine immigrant. “They’re coming with a goal to invest, to create employment and that’s beneficial for all of us.”
Siracuza and her parents moved to Osceola County in 1989 from Mendoza, Argentina, the largest wine region within that South American country.
“We came with the purpose of growing,” Siracuza said.
In 1991, the Siracuza family opened a produce business, Tomato Express, which caters to the growing Hispanic population in Central Florida, specifically those relocating from Argentina.
“The Argentinian community then was very small, but in these past 30 years has grown incredibly,” Siracuza said.
The grocery and deli store offers 70% of imported products from South America. The majority of products come from Argentina—from Argentinian dulce de leche to a variety of Yerba Mate, an herb used to make a traditional drink called Mate, as well as Argentinian wines.
“Much of that immigration that I have seen in the last three years is also families that are looking to start their own businesses, the American dream. And I’m seeing it now more than ever,” Siracuza said.
Marisa Flores and her husband Julio Srur are just one example of Argentines chasing that dream, a couple originally from province of Córdoba, located in central Argentina, northwest of Buenos Aires.
“It’s more difficult to project in Argentina because things every day they’re changing, like the currency change, the dollar is changing,” said Marisa Flores, owner of Alma Argentina, a restaurant in Oviedo. Flores and her husband recently started a new venture, creating their first restaurant in the U.S. where the flavors of traditional foods from their country come alive. Among their specialties are baked empanadas.
“Argentinian empanadas have a lot of onions, green olives, hard-boiled egg. People get together to watch a soccer game and they say what can we order? Empanadas. It’s, like, very familiar,” Flores said.
A 2017 Pew Research Center analysis showed there were about 280,000 Argentinians living in the U.S. That number is expected to increase in the 2020 census count, where a breakdown of Hispanics, and their nationalities, in the U.S will be released.
“[To] Immigrate to a country that the language is different than yours, that’s a very difficult decision to make,” Siracuza said. “We come here to provide a better future for our children and we look to be in business of our own. We strive for that.”