Eye-witness accounts of rioting in the Dutch West Indies colony of Curacao have confirmed earlier reports that Jewish-owned business establishments suffered severe damage. Travellers reaching here mentioned Casa Cohen, Marine Store, El Globo. El Siglo, Touber, Casa Jose Verona and Spritzer & Furman among the shops that were sacked or burned by rampaging workers from the nearby oil refineries, all of them Negroes. But the riots, stemming from a wage dispute, were regarded by observers to be anti-white generally not anti-Jewish.
The Mikve Israel synagogue in Curacao, the oldest active Jewish house of worship in the Western hemisphere, was unharmed, nor was the 16th Century Jewish cemetery hit by the rioters.
Unofficial estimates from the colony put damages at $25 million and said 70 percent of the island’s businesses was destroyed. In addition there is the loss of tourist trade which, apart from the oil refineries, is the mainstay of Curacao’s economy. New rioting was threatened yesterday unless Premier Ciro de Kroon, reportedly in hiding, resigns. Willenstad, the island’s principal town, was under curfew today, patrolled by Dutch marines.
The island lies 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela and, because it is a duty-free port, attracts large volumes of tourists and is visited by many cruise liners. Its shops, which are to a great extent Jewish-owned, are located mainly in the narrow Heerenstraat shopping center. They depend almost entirely on tourists to whom they offer perfumes, jewelry, liquors and handicrafts from all over the world at purportedly bargain prices.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.