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Refugee Project in Honduras Slated to Start in March; is First Industrial Effort

Establishment of the internationally known Weisz-Budapest peasant handiwork industry in British Honduras–termed the first substantial refugee enterprise along industrial lines and expected to absorb 500 emigres in the first year–will get under way next month, the Refugee Economic Corporation announced today.

Head of the firm is Martin Weisz, whose family is now living in Canada. His two sons are going to Europe to select the first settlers for the project, arrangements for which were made with the British Colonial Office through the cooperation of Secretary Malcolm MacDonald, according to Charles J. Liebman, president of the R.E.C. The refugees will be given visas valid until the end of 1940.

The Colonial Office stipulates that 85 per cent of the settlers be refugees from Greater Germany now in Britain, France or neutral countries, and the rest can come from Budapest. The Weisz firm will select families of six, all the members of which have been working for them in the past. Weisz-Budapest has had 8,000 operatives throughout Central Europe.

Upon satisfactory development of the enterprise during the first year, the Colonial Office will take up the granting of further entry permits. The Governor of the British colony welcomes the establishment of the refugee enterprise. The local authorities have given assurances that the Government will bring electric power to the site and build the short road extension necessary.

British Honduras was selected, the R.E.C. said, because (1) the Colonial Office will grant immediate entry, (2) the Weisz firm will enjoy imperial preference under the tariff laws, (3) natives of British Honduras can be employed, owing to their special skills in designing and handicraft.

Site for the colony is in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, enjoying a cooler climate than the country generally, which has a mean temperature of 78ºF.

Liebman stated: “The local government’s support, the international reputation of the Weisz firm and the proper financing and direction by the Refugee Economic Corporation give promise that this first substantial refugee enterprise along industrial lines will prosper and prove to be the prototype of other similar undertakings in British Honduras and elsewhere.

“The project will develop the internal economy of British Honduras. The unfortunate exiles will prove a boon to the receiving countries. The historic analogy of the expulsion of the Huguenots from France comes to mind. They introduced many industries into England and in large measure contributed to its industrial development. England in the 17th century was principally an agricultural country.”

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