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Jewish Situation Tense in Costa Rica President Gives Assurances to JTA Director

President Teodoro Picador of Costa Rica, receiving Jacob Landau, managing director of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, assured him of his great sympathy for the Jews, and authorized him to state that instructions would be issued permitting Jewish ritual slaughter which had been prohibited in this country since 1940.

“I like the Jews,” the president said, “They are a constructive element enriching every country they inhabit. They work hard and their success arouses hatred of envious rivals.”

President Picado promised that he will not permit the application of a law adopted unanimously last December by the Costa Rican Congress prohibiting foreigners to engage in commerce, except in certain categories. The government postponed application of the law until after the war, but President Picado assured Mr. Landau that he will see to it that it is never enforced.

Although anti-Jewish propaganda in Costa Rica is not new, the Jewish community here is alarmed over the official and dramatic encouragement given it recently by Jose Joaquin Perota, Minister of Agriculture, who issued a public statement demanding that Jews keep their promise and engage in farming, or leave the country, Perota insisted that energetic measures are necessary in view of the economic situation in Costa Rica, which is suffering from an excess of merchants while not producing essential food supplies.

The minister’s statement was followed by vicious articles in the newspapers, including the government organ Tribuna, charging the Jews with monopolizing trade. A petition was signed by many merchants endorsing the statement of Perota who claims that he has received thousands of congratulatory messages.

Jewish leaders here fear that a pogrom atmosphere is developing. During the last few days windows in two Jewish houses and in a Jewish-owned tavern were smashed. Jews are being molested on the streets and one Jew had his beard pulled by hooligans, Stores refuse to sell goods to Jews, and some teachers discriminate against Jewish children who are treated in a hostile manner by other children. The Jewish leaders declare that only about twenty Jews promised to engage in farming, while at least an equal number of Jews who made no such promises are doing agricultural work.

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