This is a speech given by Otis S. Mingus, then General Manager of Lago Oil & Transport Co., Ltd..  I received a copy of the speech from his son, Lad Mingus, and because it would not scan well, I retyped the text of the speech.  Lad says the speech was probably delivered around 1948 or 1948, but he is not sure. (I think it was later than 1950 based on what is said in the speech, Dan) Nor does Lad know to whom the speech was delivered.

I have taken as a topic to discuss the industrial development of Aruba.  We have there almost a classic textbook case of the transformation of a small, quiet, rural community to an island densely populated and highly industrialized.  All the more remarkable is that this metamorphosis has occurred largely within the past thirty-five years.

The ABC islands, of which Aruba is the "A", Bonair the "B" and Curacao the "C" were discovered by Alonso de Ojeda in July 1499.  The fine natural, easily defended, harbor at Curacao insured the early colonization and development of that island, but it was not until about 1580 that the Spaniards established a small permanent station on this island at Commandeurs Baai in the Sabaneta district.  The Spaniards used the islands as a plantation for raising horses, and indeed to this day the harbor at Oranjestad is called Paardenbaai, or Horses Bay.

The Spaniards, who were hard taskmasters had some trouble with the local Indian population, but with the advent of the Dutch in 1638, Aruba began a pastoral existence which continued for many years.  Maize was grown and ground into meal; fish were plentiful; the goats produced milk and meat.  Life was peaceful, but certainly not luxurious.
About 1872, a company started gold mining operations on the island.  This industry continued intermittently for many years, but was never a permanent financial success. Even today, you may see the remains of a rather extensive gold smelter near Frenchman's Pass.  In 1880, the Government imported aloe plants from North Africa and planted them in Aruba.  While this was an agricultural development, not an industrial one, it did create jobs, and for may years brought sizable amounts of cash to the island.  The first sizable industrial venture on the island was the initiation of phosphate mining in 1870.  This project was on the East end of the island in the San Nicolas area, the main deposits being in the vicinity of the Seroe Colorado lighthouse.  The biggest years were from 1883 to 1893.  The operation was abandoned in 1914 when the richest ore beads were worked out.
This brings us to August 1924 when three gentleman from England came to Aruba seeking a suitable harbor for trans-shipping crude oil being produced in the Lake Maracaibo district of Venezuela.  The reason for trans-shipping the crude was that the Maracaibo bar at that time limited ships' drafts to about 12 feet - thereby necessitation the use of small shallow-draft vessels to bring out the crude.  They chose the harbor of San Nicholas which had previously been used by the phosphate mining company.  The project that was planned was rather modest but it marked the beginning of the modern industrial history of Aruba.
Enlarging and dredging of the harbor, and construction of a dock, was started at once.  The first ocean tanker loaded a cargo at San Nicholas in November 1927.  In the meantime, the original company that started the project had been acquired by United States financial interests, and the decision was made to build a small refinery adjacent to the harbor.  Before the first crude oil was process in January 1929, many larger and more complex processing unites were under construction.
This has been an almost continuous pattern ever since.  More than $160,000,000 has been invested.  Today, the Lago refinery processes more crude oil than any other single refinery in the world.  It  should be mentioned that during this same period the Shell  interests erected and operated a small refinery on the west end of the island- a plant which is now shout down and is being dismantled.
But reinforced concrete, steel, and machinery do not make history.  People make history.  The impact on the people was terrific.  In the first place, there was simply not enough people on the island of Aruba to fill the jobs available; so, a massive recruiting program from neighboring islands and countries was necessary.  In the second place, there was a great dearth of mechanical and technical skills, so a large importation of expatriates- mainly from the U.S.A. was made.
A great change had to be made in the living and working habits of the people.  This was a continuous, 24-hour per day, 365 days per year operation.
Stills had to be manned and repaired - ships had to be unloaded and loaded - round the clock.  A great majority of the workers had come from a background that had demanded a much less disciplined allocation of time, and consequently, there was considerable absenteeism in the early days.  This was overcome fairly quickly and today the Lago absentee record compares favorable with, or is better than, that of North America or Western Europe.  It was simply a matter of education and understanding.
It was mentioned earlier that large numbers of expatriates were imported in the early days.  Indeed in 1933 - the earliest record readily available - one-third of the total force were expatriates.  Today, with a much more complex operation, this figure is under ten percent.  Aside from the obvious incentive of reducing expense, we felt, and feel, a very real obligation to the community to make every possible replacement of expatriates with local residents.  To attain this goal, the solution is education and training accompanied by a fair amount of patience.
At the start, training was a man-on-man on-the-job type, but it was soon evident that this procedure, usually followed in more industrialized communities, was far to slow for our purpose.  Full time instructors were established in every craft and in every process department.  Training courses instituted were of great variety - to name a few other than those above, I should mention truck driving and automotive equipment handling, watch making, electronics, sea diving, hospital nursing, chemistry and laboratory techniques, drafting and elementary civil engineering.  More recently a collaboration with I.C.S in the United States, we have been given accounting courses from elementary to advanced.  People wee paid to learn.  That is, full wages were paid during the time off the job training.
In a few years it was realized that the program, comprehensive as it was, did not fulfill the total objective.  In many cases, we were getting people to late in life to be amenable to much further training.
Reasoning from B to A, it seemed the proper answer was to start training at a younger age; therefore, in 1935 the Apprentice Training Program was begun.  It started in a very modest fashion with only one instructor and 24 pupils, but at its maximum strength had nearly four hundred participants in a four-year course.  The boys were paid a modest amount from the start - increasing as they progressed.  For Lago, this was an expensive, but exciting and rewarding experience.  Most of the graduates today are working in responsible positions.  In 1950, the local government saw the profit in training young men and started their very excellent Aruba Technical School which has supplanted the Apprentice Training Program at Lago.  Today, I believe it can be said that no populace can boast of more embryonic mechanical skills that the island of Aruba.
You have heard briefly the historical record of industrial development and some of the measures taken to cope with it.  There may be a difference of opinion on what constitutes happiness, but material progress can be measured.
The average income of the local employee has quadrupled in the last twenty years as compared with a rise in price of consumer good of about 135%.  The difference is reflected in improved standard of living. The automobile has replaced the burro (the automobile density on the island of Aruba is only exceeded by the U.S.A., Canada and New Zealand); the gas stove has supplanted the charcoal burner: electric lights have taken the place of the kerosene lamp.  Before the arrival of industry, the island economy supported around 9,000 people very modestly; today, 55,000 people are living in comfortable circumstances.  Yesterday, six years of schooling was the maximum available - today, 15 years of education are offered on the island, and 17,000 children are in school.  Furthermore, nearly two hundred young people from Aruba are in institutions of higher learning in Europe and the U.S.A. - many of them are receiving financial assistance from the Government and Lago.
This story has been told from the standpoint of only one company, and there is not intention to imply that more than a part of these changes can be credited to it.  Today, more industry is vitally needed, and you will hear something about this from other speakers.  I hope that I have given you some idea of what can be accomplished by the collaboration of private enterprise, a stable and enlightened government, and willing and able people.