Latino History of Rhode Island

A Timeline | 1800s to 1959

Ramon Guiteras Font, born in Matanzas, Cuba to a wealthy family, arrives in Bristol, RI (c.1856) where his son, Ramon Benjamin, is born (1858). While not making a significant impact in the history of Latinos in Rhode Island, he continues to reside in Bristol and maintains family connections and ties with Cuba through his financial investments. He dies in Bristol in 1917.
The 1800s
Bernardino Ramos, born on March 28, 1882, in Spain, arrives in Central Falls (1920) and has five children with Celsa Norgurol (1892–1977). He dies in 1956 in Rhode Island at the age of 74.

Ramos’s son Fernando (Freddie) is born in Central Falls (1921). In the 1960s, he rents family-owned apartments on
Cowden Street to three Colombians, who arrived in Central Falls to work in Lyon Fabrics textile mill.
Freddie dies in 2007, in Arizona at the age of 86.

The 1920s
Puerto Ricans are recruited by private business owners, and brought to Providence to work in locals factories and as temporary workers on farms and nurseries. Among them is Julio Casiano, who at the age of 22 came to Rhode Island as a temporary migrant worker in the spring of 1926.

Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina, nicknamed El Jefe, rules the Dominican Republic from February 1930 until his assassination in May 1961.

Mexican Consulate opens office at 42 Westminster Street in downtown Providence.
March 1938
El Club Panamericano, a Latin-American social club made up mainly of women, holds first meeting in Providence.

The first bracero program is implemented between the U.S. and Mexico.


WWII breaks out, which lasted from 1939 to 1945

In 1944, Puerto Ricans first move into naval base housing in Newport.
In January of 1944, 60 men, who came as braceros from Mexico and brought from California and Texas to a labor camp in East Greenwich, arrive to help meet a labor shortage suffered by the railroad in the Northeast due to WWII. They work in East Greenwich, Providence, East Hartford, Springfield and New Haven to lay down and maintain railroad tracks that connect the West Coast and East Coast, United States. Two months later, 82 more men arrive. (more…)
January 1944

“Operation Bootsrap” goes into effect, initiating a program of industrial and labor exchange between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico.

A residency at St. Joseph Hospital bring Argentinian Dario Herrera, MD and his wife Blanca to Providence. Dr. Herrera is one of three physicians at the Hindle Memorial Clinic placed there by the hospital to serve the needs of the fast-growing Spanish-speaking communities in the 1960 and 70s. Dr. Herrera, a cardiologist, continued to work with the Latino community until his death in 2004.

On February 16, 1959, Castro is sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba. In 1960 most economic ties between Cuba and the United States are severed, and the U.S. breaks diplomatic relations with the island country in January 1961.


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