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 1966, he rents family-owned apartments on Cowden Street to three Colombians, who arrived the previous year in Central Falls, to work in Lyon Silk Works, Inc. a textile mill owned by Joseph Giuttari. Later, he also helps Colombians who arrive in the 1970s with housing and jobs at Cadillac Mill & Pontiac Weaving. 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 A. Casiano, who at the age of 22 came to Rhode Island as a temporary migrant worker in the spring of 1926. While he traveled back-and-forth from Puerto Rico to Rhode Island, he eventually settled in Providence and remained there until his death in 1997.

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

1930
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.
1940

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

1942-1947

WWII breaks out, which lasted from 1939 to 1945

In 1944, Puerto Ricans first move into naval base housing in Newport.
1939-1945
In January of 1944, 60 Mexican men, as part of the original Bracero Program are brought from California and Texas to a labor camp in East Greenwich 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.
January 1944

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

1947
In March of 1949, Zanoni Ortega originally from Merida, Yucatan, Mexico arrives in Providence to begin a residency in cardiology at Roger Williams General Hospital. His wife, Estela and three children (Elia Astrid, Landy Eugenia and Victor Javier) join him in October. They are the first recorded Mexican family that remains in Rhode Island for the next five decades.
1949
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, among other things, serve the needs of the fast-growing Spanish-speaking communities in the 1960 and 70s. Dr. Herrera, a cardiologist, continues his practice until his death in 2004.
people
1956

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.

1959

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