R.I.P. Carlos J. Arboleya: Miami’s historic Cuban exile community loses another outstanding leader

It’s a sad reality all of us in the Cuban American community face with more regularity; one by one, we’re losing those leaders who paved the way for the rest of us here in the land of freedom. Carlos J. Aroboleya is the latest leader to leave us, but his legacy will remain and never be forgotten.

Requiescat In Pace, Carlos. Thank your for all you did for our community and providing us with an outstanding example to follow.

Via The Miami Herald:

Cuban exile who played a key role in the business development of Miami dies at 91

Prominent Cuban-American banker and civic leader Carlos J. Arboleya died on Sunday at his home in Miami, a city he helped develop as a bank executive, offering loans and financial guidance to Cuban exiles fleeing the island and starting anew in the United States. He was 91.

Born in Havana in 1929, Arboleya received numerous awards and accolades throughout his illustrious career. Among his achievements was becoming the first naturalized Cuban American to be named as president of a national bank in the United States. His initial ties were with Barnett Bank, which later became part of Bank of America.

He also founded his own bank, Flagler Bank, which also ultimately became part of Bank of America.

Arboleya joined Barnett Bank in 1974. He rose to the position of Vice Chairman in 1981 for the Southern Region while simultaneously holding the Presidency of Barnett Leasing Company and the Presidency of Barnett Visa and MasterCard operations for the Southern Region, a position he held until his retirement In 1994.

“As a banker, he dedicated himself to empower Cuban entrepreneurs in exile, to give them access to the capital needed to set up companies and businesses,” said Eladio José Armesto, a friend of the family.

Arboleya was hospitalized a few weeks ago following a bout with the flu. He got well enough to return home, but his health faltered again. He died at 8 a.m. Sunday at his home, Armesto said.


Like tens of thousands of others who fled Castro’s regime, Arboleya also made his way to Miami with his wife, Marta Aurora, and their son. Arboleya arrived in the United States with $40 but would carve out a successful life for himself and countless others who turned to him for financial help. His wife died on Sept. 11, 2017.

In the early days of his exile, unable to find a job in banking, Arboleya took a job as a shoe factory inventory clerk, where he climbed to the post of vice president. Within seven years of returning to the banking industry, he grew to become a highly respected and influential community leader.

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