Many Latins had settled in Tampa as a result of the importation
of the cigar industry by manufacturers from Spain, Cuba and Key West.
Beginning in 1886 with two factories in Ybor City, the suburb
named for Vicente Martinez Ybor, a pioneer cigar manufacturer, others
quickly followed, and in ten years there were more than fifty cigar
factories in operation employing several thousand workers.
This growing industry, native to Cuba and Spain, offered
employment at good wages and lured swarms of Latin workers from the
West Indies, also from Italy, and some from other American sections.
They came in increasing numbers until halted in 1921 and again in 193
by U. S. immigrations restrictions. Nevertheless, they were prolific
breeders, and by 1939 Tampa had nearly 30,000 people of the stock of
Spain, Cuba and Italy.
The employing class initiated the group medicine movement here
because insanitary [sic] conditions in the early Latin settlement resulted in many
cases of malaria and typhoid that caused much lost time from work, thus
cutting down production. Secondary, perhaps, was a paternalistic interest
in the welfare of their workers. Loss of wages through illness, many deaths
for lack of medical care, scarcity of doctors and a complete absence of
hospitals caused employees to join heartily in the movement.
Though emotional and impulsive by temperament the Latins
showed a remarkable faculty for organization and co-operation, in their
mutual-benefit medical societies.