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The meticulously researched History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles provides this background:

For many years, the Dutch West India Company sought to make Curacao the center for its West Indies slave trade.  When their Vice Director Jacob Pietersz Tolck... failed to achieve that goal, they seriously considered giving private individuals the right to colonize and trade freely in Curacao.  Beginning with 1643 while Peter Stuyvesant was governor of Curacao, the slave trade picked up, and after 1648, Curacao became a flourishing slave trade center.  Despite the improvement, the Company realized that not even a profitable slave trade could bring to the island the stable, orderly economy that only colonists and tradesmen could give it.  Therefore the Company went ahead and issued its proclamation inviting settlers to go to Curacao.

No stranger to the idea of taking risks, Joao de Yllan [go to the book for this Portuguese Jew's background] accepted the offer.  He immediately entered into negotiations with the Company to found a Jewish colony in Curacao.  In case of difficulty, he could count on the support of his father-in-law... Dr. Jacob Bueno.  In March, 1651, he obtained a contract, a copy of which was sent to Stuyvesant as director of  New Netherland and overseer of Curacao.page 40

They found it difficult to persuade Amsterdam Jews to populate the Caribbean backwater, so guess who did?

After ruling continuously for twenty four years, the Dutch had to abandon Brazil.  Some 600 Jews left with them, most of whom returned to Amsterdam. [...]  Some Brazilian refugees left for New Netherland, but many were soon driven back by Stuyvesant's open hostility.  Others went to London, Barbados, Martinique and Essequibo [today's Suriname]

Surely, colony minded Jews must have heard about De Yllan's colonization project from Drago and other ex-residents of Curacao.  They also must have learned to their dismay that neither Rodenburch nor Stuyvesant allowed the purchase of slaves, without which the colonization in the tropics was doomed from the outset.  The refugees therefore flocked to beckoning Barbados with its rolling sugar plantations.  Before long, the Dutch West India Company ... took practical measures to stem this flow to Barbados and to compete with the lively English trade.  Jeosuah Henriquez, who was in Curacao already in 1656, also did his part to encourage friends in Amsterdam to join him.  Between the Company and Henriquez, a goodly number of Jews decided to set forth to Curacao.

With a grant accorded by the Company in March 31, 1659, Isaac DaCosta headed the group.  A nephew of Uriel DaCosta, he was probably among the first Jewish settlers in Brazil.  In Recife, he had been counted among the prominent Jewish merchants and his father and uncles were outstanding personalities of the Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam.  DaCosta felt that he could depend on them for help if he ran into difficulties with the Dutch authorities in Curacao, and he also set great store on the cooperation of Governor Mathias Beck, who had lived in Brazil for many years. [...]

A sprinkling of Brazilian refugees who knew DaCosta had enough confidence in him to go along.  Thus he was able to gather several families, "making more than 70 souls, adults as well as children of our nation."  [...]

DaCosta's settlers have been regarded by all succeeding generations as the forebears of Curacoan Jewry.  These pioneering families of 1659 - progenitors of today's Portuguese Jews of Curacao were Aboab, Aboab Cardozo, Chavez, Henriquez Cotinho, Jesurun, De Leon or Leao, Marchena, DeMeza, Oliveira, La Parra, Pereira and Touro.  pages 45 - 47



"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Sun May 13th, 2007 at 07:51:36 PM EST
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