José Miguel Tarafa

Col. José M. Tarafa Armas (1869-1932) and Manuel Rionda 's paths crossed for the firsttime when Tarafa was seeking investment capital for two small sugar mills in Matanzas province, Central Flora and Central Santa Filomena which he renamed Central Cuba.  Rionda was able to secure the financing in exchange for the exclusive right to sell their sugar.  The second time they crossed paths was when Tarafa, Regino Truffin and Haratio Rubens founded the Cuban Distilling Co., Rionda made sure the molasses they needed were supplied by Francisco and Tiunucú.

During his military service in the Cuban War for Independence, Tarafa got to know very well the then mostly jungle of the Camaguey province but realized that with railroad service it had great potential.  He saw the need for railroad service along the northern part of the province not serviced by neither the British owned United Railway that ran along the south nor Van Horne's Cuba Company 's Central Railroad that ran through the middle of the island.

One of Tarafa's greatest asset was his government connections.  His big breakthrough came in 1911 when he purchased a 2.5 mile railroad and received a land concession from his friend and Cuba's president José Miguel Gómez that gave him control of railroad links to the port of Matanzas.