Set to Clear Land in Ecuador Refugee Project

Spurred by the premature arrival of a number of German-Jewish refugees, the committee planning the settlement of exiles on the more than 1,000,000 acres ceded by the Ecuadorean Government has brought to a close more than a year and a half of planning and is about to begin actual construction of roads, building of homes and clearing of land.

In a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Comite Internacional de Inmigracion, which negotiated the contract for the land, disclosed that a member of the special mission supervising the project is on his way to New York to establish contacts with individuals and organizations who have expressed interest in the project. He is bringing with him data from the mission’s archives and samples of Ecuador’s products.

It was also disclosed that the committee has received almost 50,000 acres of private land and offers of fertile haciendas for distribution among immigrants, Frederico Paez, President of Ecuador, led the way by donating an extensive hacienda.

The committee reported that a representative of a large German group interested in emigrating to Ecuador was so enthusiastic after surveying the land that he decided to settle here himself and asked for a grant of land.

Other German refugees who have arrived here are being settled on privately-donated lands.

Anti-Semitism is described by the Comite as “virtually non-existent” here. The statement says: “Ecuador is perhaps unique among Latin-American nations in a complete lack of antangonism for the foreigner. The average Ecuadorean is a sympathetic, tolerant person who respects the scientific and material achievements of foreign nations and, realizing that Ecuador needs new population to exploit its vast, rich untouched areas, contemplates with enthusiasm the entrance of a large number of immigrants.”

The preliminary work just finished by the committee consisted of studying present and latent opportunities in the country, mapping, exploring and studying the agricultural and industrial advantages offered by the region, and planning of roads to connect future colonies with present highways.

The work of clearing a portion of each lot and constructing comfortable houses is now being launched, together with an intensified program of road-building, establishment of an institituion for receiving, guiding and placing the immigrants and creation of international machinery for disseminate information to prospective immigrants.

The contract ceding the more than 1,000,000 acres in Ecuador and the Galapagos, the statement said, was drafted with regard for the welfare of the immigrant. It guarantees the settler social and political rights and Government aid in the form of free transportation within Ecuador, to the point of destination, exemption from taxes and exemption from duty payments on machinery and personal necessities.

The committee will establish a cooperative bank to serve as a central purchasing and exporting agency, offering the immigrant “direct purchasing power without the costly intervention of middle-men, and the pooled financial resources of a Government-owned bank.”

Ecuador’s physical advantages are described thus:

“The tangible rewards in the form of abundant and easily marketed crops are certain for the land is fabulously fertile. Experts, including John C. Tredwell, special agent of the United States Chamber of Commerce, agree that probably nowhere in the world are there richer soils than those occurring in many of Ecuador’s vast, delightful vallies.

“Almost every product of the tropic, sub-tropic and temperate zone can be reduced here and most of them are, but in an unmethodical fashion on a small scale.

“In the province of Esmeraldas are found oranges unexcelled in size and taste. Cotton, Kapok, tobacco, sugar cane, cocoa are all grown. Ecuador produces the world’s largest supply of tagua, the vegetable ivory from which buttons are manufactured. In the lofty Andean mountains all products of the sub-tropical and temperate zones grow with excellent results. There are great, rich pasture lands with fine cattle.”

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