The Saint Louis is Close to Cuba
And Waits for the Outcome of the Negotiations in Cuba and Santo Domingo
As soon as the ship "St. Louis" left the Havana harbor yesterday after a special order from the President,1 the Joint2 and its American representatives, Mr. Lawrence Berenson3 and Mrs. Razovsky,4 began to negotiate further with the Cuban government on the matter of admitting the refugees into Cuba.
At the same time, it was announced yesterday evening that Santo Domingo5 is prepared to admit the 907 immigrants from the "St. Louis."
Before this issue went to print we received confirmation that the negotiations with the Cuban government are continuing further and there are prospects [for an agreement]. With regards to the proposal from Santo Domingo, it is a question of admitting only those immigrants who can pay five hundred dollars to the government, as the laws of that country demand. The government in Santo Domingo is now seeking to contact the captain of the "SS St Louis" regarding this matter.
In the afternoon we will have a special audience with the Consul in Santo Domingo, and all those who are interested can inquire about the results by calling the editorial offices of "Havana Life."
The "SS St. Louis" is still located very close to Cuban shores because it is waiting for the final result of the negotiations with the governments of Cuba and Santo Domingo. We have been told that the negotiations with Santo Domingo are being led by the United States.
In the Presidential Palace
In the last issue we reported about the negotiations that were conducted up until Wednesday morning. The "SS St. Louis" was discussed at the session of the Cabinet of Ministers in the morning, but no decision was made. After the meeting, the President’s secretary stated that the President of the Republic maintained the opinion that the law must be executed. The President did not want to receive anyone. Thursday morning the President received the representative of "HAPAG,"6 Herr Klausing, and his attorney, together with Lawrence Berenson, but he remained firm in his opinion that the ship must leave the harbor. At the same time, he promised that as soon as the ship left Cuban waters he would be prepared to continue negotiations regarding the issue. A decree was immediately signed Thursday morning that ordered HAPAG to sail the "St. Louis" out of Cuba, and if the ship line refused to do this immediately, a Cuban warship would escort the "St. Louis" out. This special decree was signed so that public order in the harbor would not be further disturbed by the suicides of despairing immigrants.7
The state of the immigrants on the ship
On Wednesday afternoon the immigrants on the ship waited for the official resolution from the Cabinet of Ministers. But since such a resolution was not passed, a panic broke out among them because they thought they would be expelled [from Cuban waters] in the middle of the night. The editorial offices of "Havana Life" established contact with the [Presidential] palace, where we learned that the negotiations were moving forward and that the President would receive Berenson on Thursday morning. This news was immediately sent out by telegram to the immigrants of the "St. Louis," in the name of the editor of "Havana Life," S.M. Kaplan, and the AP correspondent David Utiansky. These telegrams calmed them a little bit.
The Joint representatives on the ship
Thursday afternoon, as soon as the decree was announced that the ship must leave the harbor that same day, a representative from the Joint went on the ship and clarified the situation for the immigrants: that the President had assured Berenson that if the ship left Cuban waters he would continue to negotiate with him and hear out his plans regarding bringing the immigrants into Cuba, where most had relatives. The immigrants were calmed only with much effort because the news that the ship must leave the Cuban harbor threw them into a state of great despair.
But the ship left the harbor on Friday morning because it had to take in water, food, etc. Two representatives from the Joint, Mr. Goldsmith and Mr. Garfinkel, once more boarded the ship and held a meeting with the immigrants. The representatives from the Joint explained the situation to them for more than an hour and tried to convince them that the negotiations with the Cuban government would be continuing. The Joint representatives assured them that the ship would in no case go back to Germany and asked for all to remain calm and not to attempt to commit suicide. This quieted them again to a certain extent.
The ship departs
At 11:30 am the ship began to move. It was encircled with the boats of the port police and navy, which were prepared to rescue all those who attempted to throw themselves into the water. The representatives from the Joint also accompanied the chief of the port police on his boat, and this slightly encouraged the immigrants. As the Joint representatives reported to us, the delegate from Aduana [Sp. Customs], Israel del Rio, and the Sergeant Movilio displayed great sympathy for the immigrants and comforted them.
Despite the consolations of the Joint representatives, the immigrants on the ship sobbed with bitter tears and exhibited signs of the greatest despair. Their relatives on shore broke down, too. When they saw the ship leaving the harbor, all of their hopes that they had had these last seven days that the ship was in the harbor were shattered: their hopes to see their most dear and beloved, their wives and children, fathers and mothers. Heartbreaking scenes played out. Men wailed like small children and women completely broke down. It was a sad and tragic moment. The immigrants waited at the harbor until the ship dropped out of view. . .
The "St. Louis" is located 20 miles from Havana
As soon as the "SS St. Louis" left the Havana harbor, negotiations began once again with the Cuban government. The ship did not depart directly to Germany but rather drifted about 15 to 20 miles from the Havana shore. This news was reported by the Joint committee, which is conducting the negotiations with the assistance of Mr. Berenson and Mrs. Razovsky. This report was confirmed yesterday at twelve o'clock at night when the Immigrant Committee received a telegram from the "SS St. Louis," which said that the ship was located 20 miles from the Cuban shore.
Interventions on behalf of the refugees
Over the course of the past several days, all means have been brought to bear so that the immigrants can disembark in Cuba. Important Cuban figures have taken an interest in the matter and also the most important American organizations and figures have intervened on behalf of the unfortunate refugees of the "SS St. Louis." The labor leader John Lewis8 intervened from America, as did Chicago Archbishop Mundelein.9 The Havana Archbishop also spoke with the President of the Republic on behalf of the refugees. It is because of these and a whole set of other reasons that the Joint Committee is so optimistic with regards to the negotiations that are continuing up to this moment with the government, so that the refugees can once again come into Cuba and meet their families and relatives.
The Orduña and Flandre10
It is not yet clear what will happen with the immigrants from the Orduña and Flandre. But as far as we know, some of the immigrants from the Orduña were able to disembark in Panama.11 Work is also being done so that the others can get off in Chile. The immigrants of the "Flandre," who should arrive here Monday from Mexico, requested assistance from local organizations via telegram. The Joint is also doing all that is possible for the refugees from the two ships in question.