Wells Fargo has served and employed Latinos since its founding in 1852. Our heritage of more than 160 years includes services both for and by the Spanish-speaking settlers of the West and the Americas. Wells Fargo’s people, places and business extended from the old ranchos of California, the rail lines of an emerging modern Mexico, and offices throughout Central America and the Caribbean.
In Wells Fargo’s early years, side-wheel steamships carried Wells Fargo express shipments of gold and financial services. From the Columbia River basin to Pacific points in Latin America, steamers linked East and West. Wells Fargo agents served the growing Pacific Coast communities where the steamers called: Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Acapulco, and Panama.
Wells Fargo established a Mexican subsidiary in 1860, Wells Fargo y Compañía Express, S.A. (Sociedad Mexicana). Offices were opened in grocery and department stores, hotels, drug stores and real estate offices. By the turn of the century, the Compañía had over 300 offices, and fully ninety-eight percent of employees were Mexican.
Wells Fargo’s business in Mexico grew with the expansion of railroads in the last half of the century. Wells Fargo provided rapid delivery and was the only U.S. express company offering direct service. Wells Fargo printed special envelopes to carry personal and financial documents between Mexico and North America.
Wells Fargo’s first office outside the United States was in Panama, in 1852. Wells Fargo opened offices throughout Latin America as it grew, in South America, El Salvador and Cuba.
Wells Fargo had regularly scheduled business with Cuba since the late 1800s. Via steamships, Wells Fargo handled money orders and traveler’s checks for Cubans and tourists.
U.S. express operations, including Wells Fargo, were nationalized in World War I. Wells Fargo Express strengthened international relationships and began express services throughout Cuba, from Havana to Santiago.