jaimemontilla.com

Central Igualdad
Mayagüez

 
Date Established: 1890
Date Ceased Operations: 1977
Annual Production Graph
Average Annual Production: 27,431 Tons
Best Production Year: 1951/59,500 Tons
Family Ownership: Nadal, Sanchez de Larragoiti, Valdés, Ramirez de Arellano, Garcia Mendez
Corporate Ownership: Central Altagracia Inc., Ana Maria Sugar Co.
 
Central Igualdad started in 1866 when Blas Nadal installed a steam mill in his Hacienda Altagracia, since it was the first steam mill in the area, it was known as "Vapor Viejo". 
 
The  Federal Reports  transcription of the court case which resulted in the 1909 acquisition of Altagracia by Spanish immigrant from Infiesta, Asturias Ramón Valdés Cobián (1856-1913), state that previous to 1905, Altagracia Sugar Central "consisted of a relatively small sugar mill of a somewhat ancient pattern and 22 cuerdas of ground upon which it is situated, with perhaps some other personal property.  At that time it belonged to a man named Joaquin Sanchez de Larragoiti who was then a resident of Paris, France."  In her book Mayaguez: Notas Para Su Historia, Silvia Aguiló Ramos states on page 88 that by 1878 Mayaguez had a Central Sugar Mill, Altagracia, owned by Juan Sanchez Lallaroity (sic).  Thus, it appears that the property passed from Blas Nadal to Sanchez de Larragoiti before 1878.  In his 1902 book Biografia de las Riquezas de Puerto Rico, José Ferreras Pagán states that Altagracia was destroyed by Hurricae San Ciriaco of 1899 and as a result its owner at the time deeded it back to Sanchez de Larragoiti who rebuilt it.  We do not know who that owner may have been. 
 
The Federal Report transcription also states that on 1/18/1905 Sanchez de Larragoiti, while residing in Paris, leased the lands he owned to Salvador Castelló Camps for 10 years, which lease was extended 6 months later to 20 years.  On or about July 1905, Castelló assigned his lease to Frederick Cromwell as trustee and for the benefit of the newly formed Central Altagracia, Inc.  The members of the Board of Directors of Central Altagracia, Inc., formed by Cromwell, Attorney N. B. K. Pettingil, Frank M. Hamilton, E. B. Commons and David D. Wilson, invested around $200,000 to replace and/or upgrade the existing equipment and operated Altagracia until 1909.  That year, as a result of the above stated court case, Ramón Valdés Cobián, who was married to Encarnación Cobián Romeu, foreclosed on the property for $65,000 lent by him to Cromwell & Pettingly and changed the name to Ana Maria Sugar Company in honor of his only surviving daughter Ana Maria Valdés Cobián born in 1891.
 
It is worthwhile mentioning that the David D. Wilson mentioned above is the same David D. Wilson mentioned in the Central Oriente  page. The case therein referred to was the result of the court case  Wilson vs. Altagracia  requesting a Court appointed receiver due to Cromwell's mismanagement and incompetence.  The Court decided the argument in March, 2007 not appointing a receiver, stating the issues were more due to incompatibility between Wilson and Cromwell.  As a matter of personal opinion, it may be after all that Wilson was correct in his allegations given the fact that Altagracia was foreclosed on by Ramón Valdés two years later for a $65,000 debt.
 
In 1925, Alfredo Ramirez de Arellano Rosell partnered with Juan Angel Tió and Luis Fajardo to acquire Ana Maria Sugar Co. from Valdés and changed the name to Central Igualdad, probably because of the Ramirez de Arellano  Hacienda La Igualdad  in Guanica, or some say because the partnership was equally shared between the three.  Later on, Miguel Angel Garcia Mendez took control of Igualdad until it was acquired by the Corporación Azucarera de Puerto Rico.
 
Igualdad was one of only six sugar mills in Puerto Rico that refined sugar, it produced "Brillante" brand refined sugar for sale in the local market.  In 1971 the Sugar Corporation leased the sugar mill and the refinery and in 1974 acquired both.  The refinery was shut down that same year and the sugar mill was shut down in 1977.
 
The weigh station for the for the incoming trucks loaded with sugarcane can be seen In one of the pictures, the fuel tanks in the background of that picture also belonged to the mill.  The house pictured was inhabited by the sugar mill's chemist.  It is still owned by descendants of the chemist who are in the process of restoring to its original condition.