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600 peopleme of them were time, when
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. I would say at one time, when we operated all of our businesses, and some of them we have sold, we had an employment of over 600 people.
Senator CARROLL. And how many do you employ now in these corporations in which you have holdings?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. Presently we should employ, I would say, about 75 to 80 people.
Senator CARROLL. Getting back to the 600 people, what would be their average pay? I will tell you the reason for my question. I can see business expansion, and financial improvement in the hands of some folks, but I want to know what about the general population. How have they improved in 10 years?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. I think that the native population has improved substantially. Many of them have been able to send their children to the United States to go to school, and as to the question you ask me about how much do these people earn, in our business the average wage runs about, I would say, $40 to $60 a week.
Senator CARROLL. $40 to $60 a week? Mr. PAIEWONSKY. Yes, sir. We have always paid our employees fairly well and we have gotten efficient help as a result of that.
Senator CARROLL. And what are the living costs in view of the fact that you have to bring most of your foodstuffs over from this country? How do the living costs compare with the living costs in this country?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. I would say the the living costs for the continental American who would like to live on the same standard in the islands as he lived on up here would be about 20 to 25 percent higher.
Senator CARROLL. Higher in the Virgin Islands?
Senator CARROLL. I want to say to you that for a long time I have wanted to come and visit you folks in the Virgin Islands. I have heard reports that you have had some pretty bad slum conditions there. Is this still true? Do you have bad housing conditions? Has the housing situation changed?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. The housing situation for the low-income group has changed substantially. I think a number of slums have been eliminated. We have several projects, some of them completed and very well run and managed.
Senator CARROLL. You mean public housing projects? Mr. PAIEWONSKY. Yes, sir. Senator CARROLL. How many units do you have there? Mr. PAIEWONSKY. About 500, with two large units under construction now. I think there is a 300-unit in St. Thomas being constructed, and I think another 200-unit in St. Croix.
Senator CARROLL. Have you seen any improvement in medical aid to these people and their educational system in the last 2 or 4 years? Mr. DE CASTRO. There has been a tremendous improvement in the educational qualifications of our teachers and in our hospitalization and health programs.
Senator CARROLL. Who was your predecessor, Mr. Paiewonsky, assuming your nomination is upheld ?
Mr. DE CASTRO. The present Governor, John Merwin.
Senator CARROLL. That is the Governor that was appointed by President Eisenhower?
Mr. DE CASTRO. That is correct.
Senator CARROLL. Have you people progressed under the administration?
Mr. DE CASTRO. Unquestionably there has been tremendous progress in 212 years under the leadership of Governor Merwin, who is also a Virgin Islander.
Senator CARROLL. There has been a great deal of emphasis on this question of who was making money and how much profit was made. I wonder if you have some plans for these 31,000 people. What are your plans for them if you are appointed Governor? What are you going to do about housing? What are you going to do about their medical care?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. I think the question of housing for the low income group is very well taken care of. I think there is a program of urban renewal and slum clearance, an additional program, but I think the biggest problem we are faced with in the islands is housing for the middle income group, and this is the result of the advancement of our people in the islands, the common laborer, It is all right for him to live in a low-income unit, but as soon as he and his family have achieved a certain income status he has to leave and the highest rental paid in this unit, I think, runs about $40 or $45 a month for himself and his family.
Senator CARROLL. Are you speaking now about public housing? Mr. PAIEWONSKY. Yes. He has to leave and the next similar type of unit that he can rent will run maybe $125 to $150 a month, and so he has a terrible situation and the problem now is to try and devise for this group of people, and there is a substantial number of them, proper middle-income housing.
Senator CARROLL. In other words, you are saying the man in the low-income group has to pay $45; and when he is no longer eligible for public housing, he has to pay $125 although he is only making $50 or $60 a week.
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. Yes, sir.
Senator CARROLL. And he is, therefore, paying about 50 percent or more of his income for rent?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. He can't afford it and he has to go back into these slums because he has now reached a level where the total income he has reached does not qualify him to remain in these units.
Senator ANDERSON. We have to find out what the measure of the committee is. I have asked the ranking minority member. Are other members of the committee agreeable to meeting tomorrow morning and trying to complete these hearings? Quite obviously, we can't this afternoon.
Mr. DE CASTRO, May I be excused after my testimony this morning?
Senator ANDERSON. Yes. I was trying to finish with you so you could be on your way to see your family.
Would it be agreeable to meet tomorrow morning? Can you be here?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. Surely.
, I understween there I ame low-income P
Senator ANDERSON. We had two or three other witnesses. Is there anybody who can't be here? When we adjourn today we will adjourn until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning in this same place.
Senator Gruening, would you mind presiding?
Senator CARROLL. I want to say to Senator Allott, you started a line of questioning and if you don't mind I would like to pursue just two or three more questions along this line.
Senator ALLOTT. It is perfectly all right.
Senator CARROLL, How many thousands of your citizens are in the low-income group?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. I imagine from a recent survey there has been at least about 500 to 800 families that qualify in the middle-income group.
Senator CARROLL. No; the low-income group.
Senator CARROLL. Can you approximate it? Does it run into the thousands?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. Oh, yes, sir.
Senator CARROLL. So these thousands of people are living in how many units of public housing?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. Right at the present time I think there are about 500 to 600 units, and there are about another 500 under construction at the present time.
Senator CARROLL. I am not being critical.
Senator CARROLL. Not having been there I am trying to find out what this situation is. Where do the rest of the low-income people live? Under slum conditions?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY, In certain slum areas and certain houses where thy are doubled up, several families together.
Mr. DE CASTRO. May I answer something.
Mr. DE CASTRO. We have a local program now for clearing one of the slum areas in the St. Thomas where the local government is going to buy the land. The money has been appropriated and the land is being surveyed, and the people who live there there are probably about a hundred small homes and maybe 300 people live there-own their homes, but they don't own the land. The government is now acquiring the land and is going to assist these people by small loans to build their own homes.
Senator CARROLL. You mean the local government? Mr. DE CASTRO. The local government. The program is already there. We have $250,000 appropriated for it. Local money I am speaking about, Senator, and the plan is to buy the land, to clear the small houses which constitute a slum on these lands, and to assist the people to build their own homes at low cost, but satisfactory, sanitary, modern, little homes.
Senator CARROLL. You are going to assist the middle-class group that you are talking about ?
Mr. DE CASTRO. The one I am talking about is not the middle-income group.
Senator CARROLL. What is the pay of the low-income groups? Mr. DE CASTRO. One of the programs we have now in operation is to clear a slum and to buy this land, and these people, probably 200 people, now live on the land in their own little home.
Senator CARROLL. I don't think you understood me. What is the average income of these low-income groups that run into the thousands? I am talking about the employed people, not the ones on public assistance.
Mr. DE CASTRO. I would say the average income would be around $1,200 to $1,800 a year, for the common labor type, $100 a month.
Senator CARROLL. $1,800 a year?
Senator CARROLL. And this is the group that you call the low-income group? Mr. DE CASTRO. Yes.
Senator CARROLL. Now we will talk about the middle-income group. Did I understand Mr. Paiewonsky to say five or six hundred families.
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. Yes, sir.
Mr. DE CASTRO. Their income would be around $2,000 to about $3,000 or $4,000.
Senator CARROLL. These are the people that are finding it very diffi«cult to pay $125 a month rent?
Mr. PAIEWONSKY. Yes, sir.
Mr. DE CASTRO. That is why Mr. Paiewonsky was speaking of a project for purchase by the middle-income group.
Senator CARROLL. Let's go to the top-flight group, the families or groups who have the money to control the business on the islands. How many are those in number? What percentage ?
Mr. DE CASTRO. I think that is pretty well diffused. I don't think there is any concentration of families forming the larger part of the investment in the island.
Senator CARROLL. You said five or six hundred families now in the middle income group. How many families do you think are in the top group? Mr. DE CASTRO. I would say several hundred. Senator CARROLL. Several hundred families? Mr. DE CASTRO. Yes, sir.
Senator CARROLL. Who is the wealthiest man in the Virgin Islands? You are a banker. Tell me about it.
Mr. DE CASTRO. That is very difficult to answer.
Senator CARROLL. Is that confidential information which I am asking the president of a bank?
Mr. DE CASTRO. I could not pick one. There are a number of continental Americans who have moved down there who are quite wealthy people.
Senator CARROLL. You know who I am talking about. I am not talking about the Americans who just moved down there.
Mr. DE CASTRO. Who are living there.
Senator CARROLL. I understand, but I am asking about the people who have been running the businesses and working in the Virgin Islands. Who are the most wealthy? Mr. DE CASTRO. You mean by name? Senator CARROLL. No, not by name; by pocketbook, the wealthy. Mr. DE CASTRO. Well, do you want me to mention their names?
Senator CARROLL. Well, I would like to know how many are in this group, and then I will tell you the reason for asking.
Mr. DE CASTRO. I would say among the most wealthy there are probably about not more than 15 or 20 families.
Senator CARROLL. Fifteen or twenty?
Senator CARROLL. This is the reason I put the question. We are finding this, Mr. Chairman, in Latin America and we are finding it wherever there are a few people on top that are running everything financially, and it may be benevolent; we have a very few people in the middle class and great poverty underneath. This is a source of trouble.
Mr. DE CASTRO. I don't think that is so in the Virgin Islands.
Mr. DE CASTRO. No, sir. I unhesitatingly say that that is not so in the Virgin Islands, that is, there is no concentration of wealth.
Senator CARROLL. You are saying to me that you have political stability there?
Mr. DE CASTRO. That is a wide phrase to say we have political stability.
Senator CARROLL. We don't have too much in this country, in a sense.
Mr. DE CASTRO. I was about to tell you that, sir, but I am glad you mentioned it yourself.
Senator CARROLL. We have political stability. Difference of opinion does not mean instability, but I am saying that you find that generally speaking you think there is some political stability ?
Mr. DE CASTRO. I think that generally speaking there is considerable stability in the islands; yes, sir.
Senator CARROLL. Are there groups protesting in any manner? I mean vigorous protests.
Mr. DE CASTRO. In the past 3 or 4 years I haven't seen any vigorous protests against the administration. I have seen it in the past years, many, many of them. I would say in the past 3 or 4 years we have had cooperation and support of the local administration from all segments of the people of the islands, and may I say, because you mention Latin America, there is no oppression in the Virgin Islands. Everyone has his full say, and if you would read the newspapers there, you would see what I mean. For example, when I was Governorthat was quite some time ago—the principal topic of conversation was what De Castro was or was not doing, mostly what De Castro was not doing, and that remains the same. The people of the islands have a full say in running their government. They have a full say in their own mass meetings and elections. Generally speaking, they have all the rights and privileges of American citizens and they use them.
Senator Carroll. You, as a former Governor, forgetting now you are a president of a bankMr. DE CASTRO. I am not president of the bank. Senator CARROLL. What are you doing now? Mr. DE CASTRO. I am not connected with any private enterprise in any way. I am director of the budget of the Virgin Islands Government.