Entries - Race and Ethnicity: Hispanic or Latin American

Bracero Program

To ensure that U.S. farmers had sufficient labor, the U.S. State Department and the Mexican Foreign Affairs Department signed a bilateral agreement to create the Bracero Program in August 1942. Preceded by the similar Emergency Farm Labor Program, it aimed to supply landowners with laborers so they could meet increased wartime demand for their crops. Under the terms of the agreement, workers were contracted for a period of no more than ninety days, and they could reenlist in the program each year. The program was administered by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and hiring agents in cities such as Tijuana, Guadalajara, Chihuahua, Monterrey, and Mexico City. The majority of braceros worked in the West—primarily California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas, and …

Cuban Refugee Crisis

Arkansas played a part in the international drama of 1980, when 125,000 Cubans left their homeland for a new life in the United States. Roughly 25,000 of these Cuban refugees—called Marielitos because they had departed Cuba from the port of Mariel—were housed for a time at Fort Chaffee in Sebastian County. Their presence in Arkansas created social and political tension widely thought to have had an impact on the Arkansas governor’s race of 1980. Cuba and the Boatlift The crisis of 1980 began April 11 of that year, when Hector Sanyustiz, accompanied by five friends, drove a Havana city bus through a gate onto the grounds of the Peruvian Embassy to Cuba. The six intended to seek political asylum. By …

Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas (HWOA)

The Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas (HWOA) is a non-profit organization founded in July 1999 by a group of women, mostly Hispanic, concerned with the well-being of their families and their community. HWOA engages in activities that reflect the mission “to advance educational opportunities for Hispanic women and their families, to celebrate and teach others about our culture, and to become active participants in the community.” Through programs and events, the organization strives to increase participation by Hispanics in community activities, opening channels for better understanding across cultures and bringing the diverse northwest Arkansas community together. HWOA arose in Springdale (Washington County) out of the need of the founding members to have a support system in their new adopted community. …

Latinos

aka: Hispanics
The Latino population in Arkansas, which began its rapid growth in the 1980s, has created significant political, economic, and social modifications within the state. Latino food and music, as well as bilingualism, have become common in several regions of the state. Numerous industries and economic ventures have prospered since the mid-1990s due in large part to the contributions of the immigrant workforce. The Latino influence has changed many towns and cities dramatically. In cities such as Rogers (Benton County) and Springdale (Washington County), Latinos make up more than thirty percent of the total population, creating a cultural impact in the area. Latino restaurants and businesses with Spanish signage are now seen in many Arkansas towns and cities. According to the …

Rodriguez, Dionicio

Dionicio Rodriguez, recognized as one of America’s foremost faux bois sculptors, created works that resembled wood, though made of concrete, with its peeling bark, wormholes, and signs of decay. Arkansas was a major beneficiary of his work, which was an outgrowth of a Mexican folk tradition known as el trabajo rustico (rustic work). Under the designation “The Arkansas Sculptures of Dionicio Rodriguez,” his Arkansas work was collectively listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 4, 1986. Dionicio Rodriguez was born in Toluca, Mexico, the son of Catarine Rodriguez; his birthdate is a matter of some dispute, usually stated as either April 11, 1891, or April 8, 1893. With little formal education, he began, at the age of …

Velazquez, Loreta

In late spring of 1861, a Cuban woman named Loreta Janeta Velazquez adorned herself with a Confederate uniform and fake facial hair, assigned herself the rank of lieutenant in the Confederate army, and adopted the name of Harry T. Buford. According to her own account, Velazquez embarked on a remarkable career as both a Confederate soldier and spy during the turbulent years of America’s Civil War, partially in Arkansas. As professor Jesse Alemán points out in the introduction to Velazquez’s memoir, there are historical inaccuracies in the memoir (which was put together by Velazquez and her editor, C. J. Worthington) that cast some doubt on Velazquez’s authenticity. However, Alemán stresses that the memoir holds its own as a Civil War …