Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Charles Lahiguera
We didn't have any problems at all there. Everybody went to Florida to study or go on vacation. The relationship with the consulate general was very warm. The political differences really were with the Netherlands if there were any or with the other Latin American countries. We were the good guys in Curacao. I remember proposing an idea of having joint marine naval exercise in Curacao where we'd have the marines invade Curacao and everybody thought that was a splendid idea. Then we got a cable back from the Latin American bureau saying okay, we can do that. Of course the following attach�s would like to attend the exercise. They included the Venezuelan local attach�. His involvement blew the idea out of the water.
Q: Who was the consul general?
LAHIGUERA: Horace Euston was the consul general. He was a retired FBI officer. He must have had some political connection to have gotten this job. They were charming people and we got along very well with the government at the time.
Q: What about was there an independence movement there?
LAHIGUERA: Not the least. As I say, they didn't want to be independent because they felt if the Dutch left, the Venezuelans would be there. The Dutch supported the government and they gave them all kinds of study opportunities and scholarships. They had all kinds of programs to help the Curacaoans. I guess they just felt they wouldn't get such a good deal from anybody else and the Dutch really let them do what they wished aside from having them base a destroyer there which I think they eventually sent home.
Q: Was there much talk of Venezuela?
LAHIGUERA: Yes. We had a lot of boats come in from Venezuela selling fruits and vegetables. I would say the average person in Curacao spoke four languages, which I just found amazing. They had a local language and they spoke Dutch and they spoke English and they spoke Spanish. I don't know if I ever met any Curacaoan who didn't speak all four of those languages. They broadcast the television in all four. My children, my oldest one started in a Curacao school. All of the schools started in Dutch. You had Dutch the first year and you started English the second year. I think by the fourth year you were taking Spanish. If you watched their television, they'd have a program in English and the next one would be in Spanish and the next one would be in Dutch. They had Dutch news broadcast and they had English news broadcast. So, it was really very multi-language operation. Very interesting.