History | Yonkers | Latino Communities
Cubans and Puerto Ricans remained the largest Latino groups in Yonkers throughout the 1960s, but immigration from countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic also began to increase during the turbulent decade.
Colombians began to arrive in Yonkers in the late 1950s. A small group of them met each other while shopping at La Embajada, a local grocery store that carried Colombian food and newspapers. They began the Colombian Community Center in 1978 with 33 founding members. Although some of the older members have since retired to Florida, the group continues to function with social activities, voter registration drives, Colombian Independence Day celebrations on July 20th, and an indoor soccer team.
A wave of immigration from the Dominican Republic occurred after the 1961 assassination of the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo and the civil war in the years that followed. Another surge in immigration from the island occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as depressed sugar prices caused Dominicans to come to the United States for jobs. Many of these recent immigrants arrived illegally, risking their lives to travel in small boats to Puerto Rico, from where they were able to enter the United States. Maria Garcia, a teacher, organized the Yonkers Dominican American Cultural Club in the 1980s. The organization sponsored a ceremony to raise the Dominican flag over Yonkers City Hall on February 27th of each year, and celebrated a Dominican Mother's Day luncheon on the last Sunday in May.