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Hispanic Heritage

Events in Hispanic American History, 1901 – 1940

1492-1600 | 1601-1700 | 1701-1800 | 1801-1825 | 1826-1850 | 1851-1875 | 1876-1900 | 1901-1940
1941-1970 | 1971-


Under the Platt Amendment, the United States limits Cuban independence. Cuba cannot sign treaties with other countries or borrow money unless it is agreeable to the United States. The United States also reserves the right to build a naval base on Cuba. With these limitations written into the Cuban constitution in 1901, the United States turns the government of Cuba over to the Cuban people.


The Federación Libre de los Trabajadores (Workers Labor Federation) — or FLT — becomes affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, which breaks from its policy of excluding non-whites.


The Reclamation Act is passed, dispossessing many Hispanic Americans of their land.

Cuba declares its independence from the United States.


The Mexican Revolution begins, with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing north from Mexico and settling in the Southwest.


In Mexico, the long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz comes to an end when he is forced to resign in a revolt led by Francisco Madero.


Brutality against Mexican Americans in the Southwest territories is commonplace. Lynchings and murders of Mexican Americans in California and Texas result in a formal protest in 1912 by the Mexican ambassador of the mistreatment


During World War I, "temporary" Mexican farm workers, railroad laborers, and miners are permitted to enter the United States to work.

The Jones Act is passed, extending U.S. citizenship to all Puerto Ricans and creating two Puerto Rican houses of legislature whose representatives are elected by the people. English is decreed the official language of Puerto Rico.

February. Congress passes the Immigration Act of 1917, imposing a literacy requirement on all immigrants aimed at curbing the influx from southern and eastern Europe, but ultimately inhibiting immigration from Mexico.

May. The Selective Service Act becomes law, obligating non-citizen Mexicans in the United States to register with their local draft boards, even though they are not eligible for the draft.


Limits on the number of immigrants allowed to enter the United States during a single year are imposed for the first time in the country's history.

As the first of two national origin quota acts designed to curtail immigration from eastern and southern Europe and Asia is passed, Mexico and Puerto Rico become major sources of workers.

A depression in Mexico causes severe destitution among Mexicans.


The Border Patrol is created by Congress.


July. Rioting Puerto Ricans in Harlem are attacked by non-Hispanics as the number of Puerto Ricans becomes larger in Manhattan neighborhoods. By 1930 they number 53,000.


With the onset of the Great Depression, Mexican immigration to the United States virtually ceases and return migration increases sharply.

The League of United Latin American Citizens is founded in Texas by frustrated Mexican Americans who find that opportunities for them in the United States are limited.


The United States controls 44 percent of the cultivated land in Puerto Rico; U.S. capitalists control 60 percent of the banks and public services, and all of the maritime lines. In the period between 1930 and 1934, approximately 20 percent of the Puerto Ricans living in the United States will return to the island.


Many Mexican workers are displaced by the dominant southern whites and blacks of the migrant agricultural labor force.


The Roosevelt Administration reverses the policy of English as the official language in Puerto Rico.

Mexican farm workers in the Central Valley, California cotton industry go on strike, supported by several groups of independent Mexican union organizers and radicals.

Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado is overthrown.

September. Fulgencio Batista leads a barracks revolt to overthrow Cuban provisional President Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada, becoming the dictator of the Cuban provisional government.


The Platt Amendment is annulled.


Young Mexican and Mexican American pecan shellers strike in San Antonio.


The independent union Confederación de Trabajadores Generales is formed and soon replaces the Federación Libre de los Trabajadores (FLT) as the major labor organization in Puerto Rico.

Fulgencio Batista is elected president of Cuba.


Unionization among Hispanic workers increases rapidly, as Hispanic workers and union sympathizers struggle for reform.

Source: Hispanic-American Almanac, Gale, 1997.

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