My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK—Recently Mr. Wallace Thorsen visited me to describe a plan that he and Mr. Alexander d'Arbeloff are working on, to provide new homes and new futures in a Latin American country for some 2,000 Hungarian refugees.

They hope to establish 500 Hungarian families in a new community, to be called "Freedom City," in the state of Mato Grosso, in Brazil. It is their belief that such a community would be not only an immediate help in the Hungarian refugee problem, but would prove to be an increasingly effective challenge to the growth of communism in all Latin American countries.

A committee for what is called "The Texas Ranch of Brazil, Inc.", a joint Brazilian-American private venture that has acquired 120,000 acres of land in Mato Grosso, has already arranged to make an outright donation of 25 acres of good farm and grazing land to each refugee family that has been screened and accepted. This land is about 65 miles north of Cuiaba, the capitol of Mato Grosso. The committee also has arranged a guarantee of employment by the Texas Ranch of Brazil, for all able-bodied refugees who settle in Freedom City.

Finding jobs for the refugees will, in fact, present no problems. They will clear the land, build houses, erect public buildings for Freedom City, create and maintain roads, a water system, electric plant, and of course, an airport. In addition, there will be jobs for those who want to work on the ranch, growing corn and cotton and coffee.

And as the community grows, there will be openings for administrative personnel and professional people in the municipal government of Freedom City and its schools, clinic, cooperative store, handicraft shop, theatre, etc. Long-range plans call for a 400 room hotel, golf course, swimming pool and other recreational facilities at the civic center.

The committee is now working with the Brazilian government's immigration authority, the Institute for Immigration and Colonization, in the hope that it (INIC) will contract with the Intergovernmental Committee On Migration (ICOM) to transport, feed, and eventually house the 500 Hungarian refugee families to whom the Texas Ranch of Brazil will donate land and provide jobs.

The committee has already found and tested suitable housing that it says can be built for $3,000 per family and amortized over a 15 year period. The Brazilian government's INIC is willing to arrange the financing of a major part of the necessary housing, but since European standards for housing are higher than those in rural Brazil, the committee is asking the United States to grant a loan, through our International Cooperation Administration, of more than two million dollars. The loan would be made by the ICA to the Brazilian government, which in turn would loan the money through INIC to complete the financing of the essential housing.

As can be seen, the committee has to seek cooperation from many different groups and agencies, but its members hope that this project of a new settlement in South America for the Hungarian refugees will be a truly significant venture, proving that the governments of Brazil and the United States can work with non-governmental organizations to achieve results that will mean a new and more hopeful existence for a sizable number of people.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL