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Curacao Leader Says Most Jews Are Prepared to Salvage Damage Caused by Rioting

June 5, 1969
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Most Jews in the Netherlands West Indies colony of Curacao are prepared to salvage the damage done to their business establishments in last Friday’s rioting even though it may take as long as three years to recoup the losses put at $35 million, according to Lionel Capriles, a leader of the island’s Sephardic community and president of the Curacao Chamber of Commerce.

The rioting, which stemmed from a wage dispute at Curacao’s oil refineries, devastated the business and shopping center of Willemstad and resulted in the overthrow of the Government of Premier Ciro de Kroon. The latter agreed yesterday to dissolve Parliament and call for new elections in a few days, as demanded by local labor leaders. Mr. Capriles was credited with an important role in averting a threatened new strike and further violence, reports JTA’s Caracas correspondent, Edna Aizenberg.

Rabbi Leo M. Abram of Curacao’s historic Mikve Israel Synagogue said today that the Jewish community was prepared to begin anew on a “new social basis.” He hoped the upheaval, the worst in the colony’s 400-year-history, “would serve the purpose of social justice.”

Although Jewish-owned shops were among the hardest hit by looting and burning, Jewish observers described the rioting as mainly a reaction of “have-nots against the haves.” They said they saw no anti-Semitic overtones although there was a strong anti-white element among the rioters who were almost exclusively Negro. Jewish and non-Jewish shops were hit indiscriminately. A high proportion of Curacao’s business, particularly that catering to tourists, is Jewish-owned. In

addition to the physical damage sustained, they now face the loss of the tourist trade. Friday’s outbreak, which labor leaders claimed was caused by professional agitators, virtually emptied Curacao’s tourist hotels.

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