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Central Carmen
Vega Alta


Date Established: 1895
Date Ceased Operations: 1945
Anual Production Graph
Average Annual Production: 13,203 Tons
Best Production Year: 1942/21,646 Tons
Family Ownership: Finlay, Georgetti, Gonzalez Martinez

Hacienda Carmen, located in Barrio Bajura of Vega Alta, dates back to the 1840s when its first reported owner was Manatí landowner Benito Maldonado who owned Estancia Carmen named in honor of "La Virgen del Carmen" and at one point in time was acquired by Juan Gualberto Landrón.  In 1867, L. Igaravides & Cia. became owner of Hacienda Carmen as a result of a partnership between Leonardo Igaravides Martinez and his mother-in-law Maria del Carmen Cordova Correa (1816-1896) the widow of Juan Gualberto Landrón.  A series of transactions between Igaravidez and his wife Carmen Landrón Córdova family members, allowed him to become the managing partner of Hacienda Carmen.  The operation of the Hacienda was very successful and profitable, accumulating a total of 1,468 "cuerdas" planted with sugarcane and updated with modern equipment.  

In 1873, Igaravidez had his sights on bigger and better things, specifically Central San Vicente , so he dissolved L. Igaravidez & Cia. and sold Hacienda Carmen to his brother-in-law Justo Skerret Marrero who was married to Natividad Landrón Córdova.  In 1884, Maria del Carmen Córdova, Skerret's mother in law and as stated before, the widow of Juan Gualberto Landrón, foreclosed on Carmen for unpaid debt and a year later British immigrant born in Cádiz Jorge I. Finlay Bastarrachea (1842-1902) acquired Carmen.  Under Finlay's ownership, by 1895 Carmen had grown into a Central sugar mill.  Upon Finlay's death, Carmen was inherited by his widow Emilia Francisca Van Rhyn and their three daughters Emilia Buenaventura, Micaela and Josephine who was married to Rafael Fabian Fabian.  The operation of the sugar mill was bestowed on Finlay Bros. & Waymouth Trading Co., organized May 23, 1901 by Jorge's brother Juan Finlay, Rafael Ojeda, Albert Lee and Thomas George Waymouth who was married to Emilia Buenaventura Finlay Van Rhyn, the daughter of Jorge I. Finlay.
 
By 1913 Carmen was under receivership of the Court with Jaime Sifre acting as Court appointed receiver.  West India Sugar Finance Corp., a Connecticut corporation organized August 1913 by sugar brokers Lorenzo D. Armstrong, F. S. Armstrong and Thomas A. Howell (President of the Cuban American Sugar Company) among others, was established to finance and invest in the sugar industry in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Louisiana.  James H. Post, President of National City Bank and the National Sugar Refining Company, also had ownership interest in the corporation.  Among the first loans made by the West India Sugar Finance Corporation were a $100,000 loan to Corsica Centrale and a Court approved financing to Central Carmen which provided the capital needed to get it out of receivership.  In 1916, the receivers were discharged and Central Carmen was returned back to its shareholders which included at the time Jorge I. Finlay's son-in-law and St. Kitts born Thomas George Waymouth as President, Eduardo Georgetti, Vice President, Jaime Sifre, Administrator and George D. Graves in representation of B. H. Howell Co. who controlled West India Sugar Finance Corporation financiers of the receivership and owner of the entire $700,000 company bond issue, as Treasurer.
 
Moody's 1922 analysis of West India Sugar Finance Corporation states about Carmen Centrale, Inc.; "Property consists of 10,000 acres of land, 12 miles of railroad, 6 locomotives and 165 cane cars.  The plant, located at Vega Alta, PR consists of a factory which was practically rebuilt in 1913 comprising 3 mills and crusher with a grinding capacity of about 800 tons (2,240 pounds each) a day, together with all necessary equipment, buildings for employees, laborers, etc.  Stores all sugar in public warehouses.  The factory is not as modern as those of the Cuban companies, but does efficient work and compares favorably with other Porto Rican factories."
 
We have not been able to identify at what point in time Manuel Gonzalez Martinez and Genaro Cautiño became principal shareholders of Carmen, however, a 1932 report by the Bureau of Property Taxes of the PR Department of Finance shows them as owners.  Carmen was an early casualty as it closed in 1945.  As can be seen from the production graph, its general production trend was upward until the year it closed.  After its closure, reportedly  Central San Vicente processed what Carmen used to, although in looking at San Vicente's annual production, it was not until 1952 when it had a big increase in tonnage.

Although within the boundaries of a different municipality, Carmen was only approximately 2.75 miles south, or inland, from the much larger  San Vicente , still on flat lands and on the banks of the Cibuco River.   In 1946 the mill was dismantled an its machinery and equipment reportedly sold to Central Matilde in Venezuela.  The only remains of this sugar mill is the brick smoke stack which was built between 1910 and 1912, it is finished in tiles and is the most elaborate of those we saw.
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