and here they are:
maybe not so funny
refreshing your memory:
the conscience many political clowns lack
a selection of acts in Curaçao's political circus, starting with the most recent ones.
alphabetical searchable list—at page bottom are links to years past.
Politicians are the Nuts and Dolts of Society
The Day That Stopped the Clock!
Statuut-Dag as Koninkrijksdag
March AprilMay 2008 it was decided to postpone this, but not as previously thought
to December 2010 or 2011, but to
2012, or maybe 2013?
so don't blame me for not adjusting that clock once again - I give up
Former Politicians' Promise:
1 July 2007
The Show Goes On!
Politicians can survive sex scandals or fiscal mismanagement,
but they cannot survive being laughed at
Voodoo Science - Robert Park
That explains the colors of our flag!
Maritime flags stand for (from left to right:)
D - keep clear, maneuvering with difficulty.
G - require a pilot.
K - stop vessel instantly.
"Only a nation which is ill at ease with itself, or uncertain of its own identity,
needs to parade its national flag at every opportunity."
This July, for the first time in what's (for the Internet) a long history,
over 5% of our visitors came from the Netherlands Antilles
This button really was successful:
Literally overnight percentage grew to 7%, then to 11.6%.
Fight to the Finish
the third referendum
In 2007, 75 more Antilleans left for Holland than came back here. CBS Statistics expect it will be a lot more this year. They blame the economy. A good reason, but maybe potential YES voters are getting out while they still have a Dutch passport? Just maybe. Possibly.
At first, and second, sight the wrong adjective to apply to our PM, PA de Jongh-Elhage, but what she declares in Dutch newspaper Trouw certainly is: When the next referendum will be voted NO! she will take her leave as P.M. Don't make my mouth water.
Makes Us Sick, Too
A meeting of island government was canceled because there was no quorum; not enough coalition partners were there. PAR Jackson had the temerity, the chutzpah, to declare that was because 7 (seven) of them ware taken ill.
Wiels Sued by PM
PS/PA Wiels, while inciting his mob of followers on December 15, quoted PM PAR de Jongh-Elhage that the RTC-accord between Holland and the Antilles "must be signed, even if it causes deaths." Elhage denies ever having said or even thought that and wants to see Wiels in court.
Knights Were Us
First, author Frank Martinus Arion announced he would send his knighthood back in protest against the "discrimination" of Antilleans. There are suspicions that it was he who helped racist Wiels to the unholy idea to have him and his gang wear the Nazi "Jude" yellow stars in protest.
Then, ex-minister MAN Jules Eisden renounced his decoration, because he felt that some of the stipulations in the new constitution were already safeguarded by the Statuut. But Eisden forgets of what little use those 'safeguards' have turned out to be.
All in all, six knights decided do join the plebs again. Among which to my surprise PLKP Bakoba and (less surprising) Chin Behilia, well-known for his Blut und Boden stomping.
How Nice for Him
PAR deputy Rhuggenaath confidently predicts that, even if the rest of the world is in a recession, our economy will "probably" grow next year. If Rhuggenaath is not a religious man, he'd better start learning how to pray now to make it true, as that seems to be the only hope.
On the other hand, words are cheap - it's not the first time he predicts such a thing. Why should he care?
Pierrot Applies Pressure
NPA Pierrot, who earlier let it be known that he didn't care what the results of the third referendum would be - he would press on regardless - now shows that his left
brainhand doesn't know what his right one is thinkingdoing. He insists the date of that new referendum must be announced soon, as he fears that "opposition, discord and unrest will intensify and will result in bloodshed and deaths." Really, now. And how does Pierrot figure announcing a date will prevent that from happening?
It's not the first time a political leader prophecies this. Almost sounds like wishful thinking; but there's no denying they do their best to fulfill their own message of doom.
By the way, the date of the new referendum has been announced long since, April 25. So much for le Fou.
You're excused for having lost count by now. Let's see: Aqualectra had one, Curoil had one... surely there have been more. No matter, they never lead to any result anyway. Now, one is proposed on the personnel hirings we reported on before: Not one out of 539 followed the book. Comments FK Damoen: "What's the use of an audit? We have to decide what to do with the people hired. Do we accept those?" Don't worry, Damoen, we will. Just like we have to accept your salary and, probably, pension.
Gee, I wonder how much they pay for those audits.
Miss or Hit
It was planned so carefully: In the week before Xmas when the voting cattle would have other things on their mind, eilandsraad island government decided to give themselves a nicely glittering present of higher pensions. It was accepted with one vote against (DP); even the opposition, for safety's sake, added one vote "for".
DP George, who had seen it coming and alerted the press, is now protesting with gezaghebber Lindial that the matter should be handled and reversed by the country government, and ultimately the governor. Just like last time. As PAR was then the power in country goverment and now has voted for the pensions in island government, we await the result with bated breath. We may get one more proof that it doesn't matter what party you are a member of, as long as you are a party member. What utter chutzpah of the politicians to go for this while protesting against Holland's curtailing - with a new referendum in sight.
The pension, retrospective to 2000, has an eilandsraad member pay 6666,67/year for 12 years to build up a pension that starts at their 50th birthday (for us mere cattle it's 60) and ultimately pays out 1.4million guilders to them or their next of kin, 17.5 times their investment.
The way I figure this, while they're at "work" they have a salary of almost 10K/month. Another interesting tidbit: For once the committee that advised was unpaid; which didn't stop anybody from discarding their recommendations.
37866.69 Church Council Gives Up
The Council of Churches has repeatedly tried to start discussions between coalition and opposition parties, but have now given up. To listen to MAN Cooper's airing his own views, it's caused by the opposition not budging an inch and blaming the coalition for it.
Amazingly, the opposition seems to be counting on them winning the third referendum. Godett seems to be getting nervous, muttering vague threats he may ruin the coalition yet. Matter of fact, the same people who have repeatedly been shown to disgust the politicians may well be stupid enough to go for their emotional arguments that "Holland wants to drive them back into slavery." Really! They should realize it's their own representatives who will enslave them.
It has happened before and it will happen again. BOO had a problem - they have just enough capacity left so they can start-up under own power again. When it's been fixed. Eventually.
Meanwhile, Isla refinery has come to a forced halt as well, for the third time this year. Nobody knows when production will resume (no doubt accompanied by a hefty extra dose of pollution). The last two failures have cost Isla ANG20M.
Makes one wonder, does PdVSA pay for that? Or does it come out of the measly rent of 27M/year they pay?
Keep Trying! Well Worth It
All of a sudden, while we had all presumed (in our naive innocence) it was all off, the infamous pension deal for eilandsraad members is back on the agenda. Amigoe newspaper asked DP George about it and he gave as his considered opinion that this was because, with Xmas near and all that, the voting
cattlepeople might be too busy to notice.
The deal, putting it in a snapping turtle shell, enables eilandsraad council members to build up a 70% pension in 12 years ("lucrative" is how George expressed it and one can see why). It goes completely against the advice of a committee installed by the same government. Members of the committee labeled the handling of their advice "impudent" and the ratification "unacceptable". The advice entailed there was no reason to give eilandsraad members a higher pension than stipulated in the Apna civil servants arrangement.
The new pensions were accorded with one vote (George's) against: Just to make sure, MAN Macaay joined the coalition, for once. He said he voted for the high pension, not for the government. At least he's less of a hypocrite than Cooper, who acts as if he is against it.
But it would not be the first time that the pension deal was thrown out.
Illegal Thief Caught!
You are excused for thinking that means he was not in/with the government - wrong! he was an illegal immigrant from Santo Domingo.
Citizen Insists on Our Rights
Our "22nd council member" Etienne van der Horst has sent more letters to bestuurscollege. In one, he asks for a copy of the report on citizen's trust in government (or rather, the lack of it); the next one requests a copy of a report by the committee on appointments; and finally, he asks for copies of the yearly adaptations of the budgets 1997-2007. He informs recipients of the laws on which his requests are based (they wouldn't know) and informs them how much time they have to react (three weeks).
Van der Horst has not yet received a reaction to an earlier request and considers other steps
ifwhen he gets no replies.
Signed, But Not Settled
After the Round Table Conference between the Netherlands Antilles, Holland and Aruba, yesterday the accord on our political future was signed. The Kingdom of the Netherlands will incorporate Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, while St. Maarten and Curaçao will get a status aparte, like Aruba has "enjoyed" for decennia now.
As a result, a mini-war seems to be breaking out between the coalition and the opposition, of which only DP George has distanced himself. Hotheads are inciting the people to vote NO for the next and third referendum, planned on April 19. Not surprisingly, one of the things they take exception to (a proposal to registrate Antillean criminals in Holland in a VIA database) is now definitely retracted.
Robbers, No Cops
Another instance in our series 'rip-offs you learn to hate': Vick's Vapor Inhalers, for which we are accustomed to pay ANG7, are now available imported from India - for only ANG5! Good deal? Not really, as the Indian price stamped on it is 25 Rupees - that's less than 92 cents.
They Know It's "No"
As yet, nothing has really been decided on the future political structure, for which a round-table conference starts later this month, to be followed by a third and hopefully final referendum in April next year. But the "No-Brers" have already decided they want none of it. Several have even declared that, no matter what the people decide, they will go on pushing full autonomy. For us, that's a no-no.
That Seems Cheap - to Us
Just for the hell of it, we looked up how much 1m3 costs in Israel, one of the driest places on earth (like here, they use desalination). It works out at 5 shekels/m3 or ANG2.31/m3.
We pay 10.85, almost 5 times as much.
The Israelis pay 49.75Arogot/kWh, that's 23 of our cents (we pay 65). Next, you will tell me "Yeah, but the Arabs give Israel an oil discount."
"The citizens don't trust the government" concludes a Curaçao survey. How could that be?
The only high scorers are SVB (social insurance bank), civil registry and Selikor (sanitation). Island government itself (BC and Eilandsraad) are among the least trusted.
"Corrupt As Hell"
Hero Brinkman, Dutch politician who earlier vented criticism of our government, has now scandalized the Aruba MEP family business by stating for Fox TV that Aruba is "corrupt as hell" and that this is one of the reasons why the investigation of Natalee Holloway's disappearance never led to any result. Aruba justice minister Croes commented, Brinkman should investigate corruption in Holland. Now, if Croes would only investigate Aruba corruption, we may have a deal there.
Mainly because of the fire engine scandal, BC island government wants to clean up its act. NPA Pierrot, true to form, pled for a central purchase dept - something guaranteed to result in more bureaucracy and higher costs. Besides, we had something like that before; maybe that's why Pierrot is for it.
Now that Dokmaatschappij has an USD80M claim for enslaving three Cuban workers, all of a sudden those in charge are in an awful hurry to get rid of that albatross. Deputy Rhuggenaath says there are two potential buyers (with that claim?) and/or it can be "restructured" - turn it into another company leaving all debts behind and taking all assets along. That was tried with the ALM-DCA disaster and it's safe to bet it won't work in this case, either. They never learn, do they?
Island government could not agree if the recent economic recovery has done the population any good. PAR said yes, it was obvious from the long lines at McDonald's, and downtown the pastechis [patty-like pastry) were sold out very fast.
Schotte Struggles for Life
Although all we know is, Schotte is still warming a well-paid seat at DROV, he seems to be angling to get back to the much more lucrative CTB tourist office: Even more money has to be thrown in; a vain attempt to fill that bottomless pit. After thirty years of trying to open the American market, less and less tourists are coming from there every year. But if CTB gets more tax money thanks to Schotte, he may be welcomed back there and get a chance to "work" with all those lovely bills.
Godett and the Little Red Book
While it's improbable that Godett would even know what Chairman Mao's Red Book
iswas, he does seem to take Mao's totalitarian ideas to heart - no surprise there. "The staff at the agriculture dept should come out from behind their desks and dirty themselves working in the fields." FOĜL economy: First you give somebody an expensive education, and then you make him do low-level work. Why not take another page from that Red Book and use Godett to fill up some potholes, plenty of material there.
Democracy by Dummies
Next March, or so we are told, we will have the next referendum on our political future. Hopefully it will be the last one. But NPA Priceless Pierrot has already announced that, no matter how the people vote, he and his party will go on trying to stop the proces. Because, so he says, "it's antidemocratic." "Everybody has the right to express his opinion" is his view of democracy.
The Road Fund, under the inspired leadership of that great politician, Godett, was supposed to overtake its chronic arrears. But that bogey-man Rekenkamer accounting has figured out that, matter of fact, arrears have grown since he took over!
Amigoe newspaper subtly remarks that before then, in 2001-2006, responsible deputies were that same Anthony Godett (FOL), Hendriks Abraham (PNP), Maria Liberia-Peters (PNP) and Charles Cooper (MAN) who used the road fund for christmas decorations. Liberia-Pieters is remembered for buying solar streetlights at an twice the going price.
Not One Vote Against Budget!
But that's because the opposition left the meeting before voting started. With their 9 against 11 votes, what's the difference anyway? The island budget is for 15 million guilders in the red - a mere bagatelle? we'll see about that later.
FK Damoen thought it worthwhile to start a song and dance on how to save an impressive amount of 171 thousand, which inspired PAR Gomez to a tirade in which he told Damoen to give up his own salary as Finance director.
Gee, I wonder how high that salary is.
It's "buiten bezwaar", which means Damoen gets it without working for it, as he is a member of Eilandsraad [government] - for which he gets a salary as well, of course. And don't forget the pension!
Several weeks later, the governor wanted to see details of the decision - looks promising.
Welcome, Tourists... We're Happy to Pay for Your Trip!
Insel Air has recently opened a route to Miami, 4 weekly flights. If you fly from here, it's ANG758 (74 cheaper than American.) But if you fly from the US (AA or InselAir) the Tourist Board pays you $100 back! Guess who pays for that 25% discount? We suckers, right; an underhanded way to subsidize private companies with tax money.
Aren't you ashamed to come here as a tourist?
Blue Skies helicopters now offer diving trips. After take-off, they first take you under one bridge, fly over the harbor over another bridge, and then drop you wherever you want to go dive. Hopefully, they will not crash while you're out there, at least, warn the Coast Guard what they're up to.
Just go and try to get a permit to fly under the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge (about 2 times higher and 6 times wider than ours) or even over the Hudson in New York - let alone under a bridge there. But here, anything goes.
PAR deputy Willems, in a meeting on the 2009 island budget, said that it served to maintain "the refound confidence in Curaçao." It might be predictable the opposition didn't follow him there; that's because they have a point. DP George remarked it was copy'n'pasted from preceding 2005-8 budgets that weren't so hot already.
In the country budget deliberations, MAN Eisden chose to take exception to the fact that some ministers spoke in Dutch, not in what she called "the official language" (meaning, of course, Papiamentu, which is one of the three official languages - Dutch, English and Papiamentu. How like her.
Bad Day at Fuik Bay
Based on what the media, AKA "gossip sheets" told us, we carried an item on the brouhaha at Fuik between owner Willy Maal and trespassing Isla director Jimenez. We managed to get the real facts on this; please check them out. [sorry, not uploaded yet - want to get it right]
Wheels Whirl in Wiels' Head
December 14, the eve of agreement-signing on our new status, there will be a public concert in Willemstad to celebrate. Wiels has announced he's gonna spoil the party, "because the population is angry." Maybe it will be just as big a hit as his last demonstration.
He must have been reading up on Kristallnacht.
Holland has decided to take over virtually all debts of the Antilles; now said to be 3.1G guilders. As one result, local governments will now, as a December bonus? start paying their bills for contractors, drugstore medicines, dentists - you name it. About time, too. Many have been waiting for years and years.
Aqualectra behind the Times
So what else is new? At a trade show Aqualectra was distributing their future vision. But some students noticed that vision dated from 2005 (when oil prices were about $50; while they are even lower right now, Aqualectra tries to raise tariffs based on a $170/barrel crude price).
OPEC feels a "fair price" would be $70 tot $90. It's hard to know what they base this on. On December 1 gas-price will be lowered to ANG2.29/liter, still higher than January this year when crude was $84.70.
Blame It on the Weather
Again, schools had to close and send their pupils home for two days because of big black smoke clouds. Isla refinery manager Gijsbertha says it's just because of the weather, otherwise there'd be no problem: The wind didn't carry the pollution away. Anyway, Isla was working just fine, it was caused by BOO (which, as he and we all know, is largely owned by Isla).
Instinct Will Tell
A bunch of wasps has attacked FOL Godett so he couldn't make it to the bestuurscollege [island government] meeting.
Movementu SI wants to turn the Isla terrain into "Central Willemstad". Apart from the fact this seems over-ambitious, it's extremely doubtful if it is feasible (PdVSA does have a contract for another 11 years) or even desirable.
There are more groups working in this direction, but none of them seems to realize how extreme the pollution at this location must be. If you think you have a solution, contact MSI at 523-1930 or 518-0411. For a project of that scope, the prizes are rather meager (top: A flight to Amsterdam). They want a 3D presentation and for some reason are in an awful hurry: Before the end of this year. They'll get what they pay for.
Turns out (nobody tells us these things) Curoil manager Capella has not been fired because of "alleged" fraud by his personnel. We only learn it because he announces he refuses to pay the bill of a bureau that has investigated such "alleged" fraud.
A Purloined Letter?
On the other hand, Asjes, who these days regularly bores us with self-righteous and oh-so socially-conscious letters to Ye Editor, never even seems to have sent an original letter of application for his function at Selikor. Well, he says he has, but Selikor denies it. Whom to trust? An extremely moot point!
Maybe he never sent one, and Selikor managed to mislay it anyway. Anything goes.
Transparent Closed Doors
MAN Puriel is writing letters to PAR PM de Jongh-Elhage that it's about time she comes above board with results of and more interesting info on the geological search for oil in what, after all, really are "our" waters. "We" have already paid 315M guilders for this, and the follow-up will cost another 311M. But de Jongh-Elhage has chosen the easy way out by being offended by Puriel's first letter (10 weeks ago) and declaring she only wants to discuss the subject behind closed doors (translation: "So much for transparency").
Tours, Trips & Tips
NPA Rooijer is now asking rather nasty questions about trips made by employees and director of government-owned corporations (there are plenty of those... plenty.) He not only, just like us, is rather interested to learn how much they spend, but also in what good they do. In other words, "what's in it for us."
To get to the exact point, how many there have been per company this year, what they were undertaken for, how long they were and how much has been spent in total. As if anybody could know!
Selikor Goes in Business
Selikor is negotiating with DAF trucks, Holland, to become their dealer. Find it hard to believe? You'd better believe it!
More than a month later, Edgar Leito denied that he had leaked this to the press. What he said he had done was that the Selikor management never accorded the idea or manager Kook's trip to Holland to confer with DAF.
The last plastic bags have been banned. Now even FOL has started to wonder if this is such a good thing. No matter, "everybody knows" plastic is bad.
Or is it? In the first week, standing in line in supermarkets, I noticed twice a customer got a brown paper bag for his purchases. So much for progress!
A Joke? Revenge?
An envelope containing an odorless powder and the suspicion that this could be the deathly anthrax poison held workers at the tax office of Vaal, South Africa (another ex-Dutch colony), in the grip of fear for several hours.
When a worker opened the envelope, also containing a letter with the words "remember, remember", she was so frightened that she threw the envelope up in the air, causing the powder to fall out and to spread out over a large area.
Police said, it might be a joke, as it happened on Guy Fawkes day, November 4.
1.3 Million Guilders "Disappeared"
Reuklose poeier het SARS-werknemers op hol 'n Koevert met 'n reuklose poeier daarbinne en 'n vermoede dat dit dalk die dodelike gifstof antraks kan wees, het werknemers by die belastingkantore vir etlike ure in 'n angsgreep vasgevang gehad.
Die voorval het op Dinsdag 4 November omstreeks 10:00 plaasgevind toe 'n werknemer in die kontant-kantoor 'n koevert met die onbekende en reuklose poeier oopgemaak het. 'n Brief met die woorde 'remember, remember..' was ook daarby ingesluit. Volgens 'n ooggetuie het 'n werknemer die koevert oopgemaak en toe sy die poeier sien, so groot geskrik dat sy die koevert die lug in gegooi het, wat veroorsaak het dat die poeier uitgeval en oor 'n groot area versprei het.
Two new fire-fighting trucks were needed (at least, that's what we are told.) Lowest bid was 1.3 million, by Tigris n.v. (that's a river running though Baghdad). The company was exactly 18 days old. 50% was paid in advance, with 25% to follow with assembly in a satisfactory state and the rest after delivery. But somehow, Tigris rep. Witteveen got all the money transferred before building even started - and then disappeared. Nobody even knows if the first payment has reached the factory (if it did, we'd be out only 700K.)
Opposition had a field day asking nasty questions, but as we all know, awkwardly at the time this happened most of them were in power.
They Should Lower the Price
Aqualectra, in court to force us all to pay higher tariffs, argues that while present crude oil costs $120/barrel, their prices are based on $55.
Actually, though (tip for the judge) prices as of November 7 are $54.77 (OPEC) but for Venezuela crude only $52.96.
O Yeah? But When Will It Be Ready?
After Etienne van der Horst, citizen, asked BC island government to send him the yearly report over 2006, it took BC some 9 months to reply that "the reports 2003-2006 are not ready yet." No surprise there.
ERNA law stipulates that the report on the preceding year must be ready and available before April 1st.
Fist Fight in Aruba Parliament
Too bad I can't show you a picture: But after AVP Thijsen had been insulted by MEP Oduber they started a "scuffle" which ended when other MEP members physically restrained Oduber.
(Otmar Oduber; I mention his first name because the Odubers are quite a
gangclan - what you might call a family concern). Gee, wish I knew what Oduber said to Thijsen.
A Fat Lot of Good
FK Damoen asks BC island government what measures they plan to fight the world economy crisis; he wants BC to guarantee a continued flow of tourists. As that same flow is petering out all over the Caribbean, it's hard to see what BC can do about it. Let alone the world economy.
How nice to have a firm opposition that insists on proper steps!
Plastic Bags Are Tough
Since plastic bags have been banned from supermarkets it turns out, again, that not enough thought has been given to the introduction of the new bags. The supermarket boys who pack your purchases complain their income has been halved, as most people now pack'n'schlepp their stuff themselves.
For the record: People come with their own bought bags: Sturdy (50 cents), durable (2.99), deep-freeze (1.99) and the good old standby, a free cardboard box.
About the new 2009 budget, DP George remarks that while it does contain a 10M guilders income post for casino "player tax", the law arranging this is not even ready, nor will it be before January. Adds George, "not to mention many other budget problems and -posts for which the realistic content and feasibility are very disputable or, simply, do not comply with rules of law."
The budget also presumes growing tourism, while it is going down.
At a discussion on slavery at UNA university, where everybody spoke Dutch, two of the forum leaders insisted on speaking in Papiamentu, which the moderator then proceeded to translate. When he made a mistake the speaker corrected him - in perfect Dutch.
Ex PM IJs stated he had never had any wish to wallow in the past; he never had any truck with being a victim of something that had never happened to him; so at an early age he had decided to go to Holland and study there.
Hurry Up, It's Raining
In the midst of the rainy season, Curaçao farmers are complaining that it's next to impossible to rent a plow; that the drivers of tractors pulling that plow don't know what they're doing; that several plows have broken down (seems to happen every year); and that the farmers can't buy seeds anyway. MAN Koeiman says this can't go on: Crops, cattle and even fences are being stolen as it is. He has been informed a brand-new plow has arrived, but that it won't be available before November 4 when it will be officially transferred .
Koeiman hopes he will get a reply in the four weeks stipulated. By then, it's December 3.
Taking Their Leave - Really
PAR Deputies Rhuggenaath and Alcalá-Wallé have started resigning as commissary from government-owned companies. Rhuggenaath has 5 of these functions, Alcalá-Wallé 3. Note that PNP Davelaar and FOL Godett (there must be more!) have not announced any such intentions.
But, Is It Safe?
13 years ago 78% of the people, according to a poll, lived in fear of becoming crime victims. Now it's "only" 47. But 80% has been an actual victim, versus 71% then; only 46% (was 45%) took the trouble to go to the police.
PAR deputy Willem warns that we shouldn't make ourselves over-dependent on one income source: Many Caribbean islands are in trouble because tourism is going down. So he wants to invest more money to attract more tourists. Even if CHATA hotel association is with him all the way, it's hard to see the logic behind his utterances. Anyway, as it turns out there's no money on the 2009 budget. No surprise there; neither about CHATA's complaining we need more airlift from the USA (which has been receding from the market since way back when). Again anyway, next day Willem made a U-turn and said no extra money was available.
Of Little Help
PAR deputy Rhuggenaath does not accept an American court's ruling that CDM has to pay $80M to their former Cuban slaves. A local judge will have to look at this. Besides, says Rhuggenaath, "CDM doesn't have the money."
Dutch jurist professor de Waart disagrees, though: Even if CDM does not have the money, it is owned by the island - which means the island or, finally, the Kingdom of the Netherlands will have to pay up (with possible repercussions for the debt take-over). Comments de Waart "CDM management was unwise not to appear in court" (they fired their lawyers and claimed the judge was "partial".)
Compare Our Prices!
In Canada, a 250ml bottle of Calamine lotion costs, say, ANG5.40. Here, you pay ANG17.82 - well over 3 times as much.
Same Work, Less Pay
Workers for contractors doing jobs for Isla refinery habitually get paid only 50% of what those get who do the same work, but are hired by Isla. (Fair guess: The first tend to be Curazoleños, the last, Venezuelans.)
Opposition feels it's about time gas prices go down again. No such luck until now.
Finally, coalition has knuckled down to public opinion and will include an article in new laws to prevent ex-cons partaking in government. An all too rare yielding in of those in power to the wishes of those who gave them power.
Godett didn't like this at all and was very denigrating about the level of discussions. He thought they were all "useless." However, he did propose to introduce the death penalty. Jolly good idea! I have one candidate; first, we do business, then, we abolish it again.
The coalition claims it is against EC rules to remove a voted government member2008-10-22
merely because he's an ex-con:
That would be "undemocratic".
Cheap Slavery Comes Expensive
The court in Miami has ordered CDM to pay $80M compensation to three Cuban workers, who had escaped from their slavery-like job.
Possibly, a Curaçao court may have to force CDM to pay as USA courts do not have jurisdiction here, but CDM may be wise enough not to wash their dirty laundry here.
UPDATE: CDM is unwise enough to contest the US decision. They say the US judicial system is "partial". Besides, they don't have the money. We'll see about that. Yes, I know who will pay (you and me), but still...2008-10-22
Told Ya So
Several times: The National Debt is not the grosstimated 2.5 billion, but a whopping 1.5 times that of 3.7 billion.
If not more. Independence, anyone?
Not the First Lie They Told Us
Aqualectra is celebrating the 80th anniversary. Untrue: The company was set up by Dutch colonial enterprise OGEM (Overseas Gas and Electricity), to be nationalized in 1979 as Kodela and only later integrated (with Enron) in Aqualectra. For the occasion, they will hold a media campaign offering answers to burning questions like "Why keep prices going up in sync with failure rates?"
Ogem and Enron successively went down in quite similar scandals. Coincidence?
Cruise Tourism is Down; Let's Build Another Mega-pier!
While cruise tourism all over the Caribbean is going down and operators are now pushing other destinations, heavy lobbying is going on to build a second mega-pier in Otrabanda. Truly, there's money to be made on projects like that; look at Dubai!
What Goes up Does Not Have to Come down
Just like more people in other countries, we are only saddled with energy price increases. But with the oil price plummeting now, the inferior brand of Chavez economy is in severe trouble (and that of his friends in both Russia and Iran). Construction of a $4 billion oil refinery in Nicaragua is postponed, and subsidizing terms for oil exports to some Caribbean countries will be tightened.
Which means that PdVSA will go on needing Isla refinery, and that those who still dream of getting cheap oil deals can now definitely forget it.
By the way, begin October Curoil director Capella stated that gasoline price could be lowered when crude price should drop with another $10. It has since dropped at least $35.
A Joint Effort Succeeds
Tropical storm Omar and Aqualectra did it again: Hundreds of mains disruptions - contrary to UTS telecommunications, Aqualectra refuses to go for underground cables. One result is that at my friendly PC clinic the floor was covered with a stack of ruined computers.
Kick Him out! No, Keep Him in!
The ruling coalition has a real problem. Their proposed staatsregeling [say, constitution] omits every reference to keep politicians with a conviction record out of government. Figures, because their one-person (11-10) majority consists of Godett, a convicted crook (for corruption and fraud) who is now deputy and minister. It also figures that the opposition (which for the largest part wholeheartedly collaborated - le mot juste - with Godett in former governments) now want that stipulation in.
Surprising? Not to Us!
To some people's surprise, in the period 2005-2009 office costs for government are going up with 36% for rent and 60% for supplies. BC expects that with future central purchasing this will go down, but we're not so sure.
Holland's Groen Links: Close Isla
The Dutch Green Left party proposes to close down Isla refinery without more ado when there's no solution in sight.
They also want to force Curaçao to accept single-sex marriage, and to subsidize sporters so they can dedicate themselves to a full-time career. Evidently, it doesn't occur to them guys like musicians might deserve the same consideration (just one example).
Vantage and the Unions
It certainly looks like everybody has had a bellyful of Aqualectra. Now Vantage rejoins the club, accusing manager Casperson of "trying to stop publication [of Vantage's audit report] and to force them to change conclusions and recommendations." "We admit never having come across a company culture as the one that manages Aqualectra." Vantage has also sent copies of the report to several Curaçao instances.
The trade unions are also fed up and want to replace all Aqualectra management. Lots of luck - I mean it.
PS Wiels' Aliansa Patriótiko claims they held a successful action called rosea di pueblo (breath of the people - no comment) against the political changes. 100 people joined the action, which helps to explain why it went along so peacefully this time.
Isla Must Pay
In court, the judge decided Isla refinery must pay €25K for additional research into ways of improving conditions (they can afford it.) Isla thinks they need to invest 180M less than advised by StAB [foundation advise government jurisdiction] and that it all will take 2-6 years to implement; the judge feels differences are too large to be acceptable.
The Professionals Speak - Which Explains a Lot
Telecommunications trade union Sitcom (I'm not making that up, nor what follows) proposes laying an electricity cable between Venezuela and Curaçao. This cable can be earned back in 3-5 years and will deliver DC, which can be inverted to AC - or so "reasons" Sitcom: UTS phone company has ample experience with transforming AC to DC. They seem totally oblivious of the fact that, for long distances, all over the world high voltage AC is used, for very good reasons.
SEI Grinds to a Stop
The much-vaunted social economic initiative for which Holland made avalibale 130M to improve conditions, has not had any follow up to speak of. Maybe some people must first figure out how to get a slice in their own pockets.
Money Leaks Like Water
Utility Aqualectra, now suing the government because they want to raise prices - again - claims leakage loss has been reduced to (are you ready?) 29.9%. That's actually higher than in 2007, but they promise that by 2010 it will be reduced to 20%. Sure:
NPA Rooijer feels that as Aqualectra made a 21.7M profit in 2007 (while they claim that money problems prevented them to stop leakage problems) the company "abuses" the Curaçao population by wanting higher rates now.Look, you have to reckon like this: The more they leak, the more they charge, ergo, the more money they make.Meanwhile, Curoil complains that, while Aqualectra claims a profit of 27M they owe Curoil a 60M debt which will get Curoil in trouble with PdVSA. Which in turn astonishes deputy Davelaar, who claims that day before yesterday he was informed they had some shortages but could manage all right.
Godett: Go on Paying Twice
As it turns out, those who lease ground from the government have, just like owners, to pay property tax over that terrain as well. Godett sees no reason to end to that; after all, that would mean "the island will have less income."
DP's Difficult Demand
NO, we have NOT gone orange just to let you know we're out of the game
until half October
for your sake, hope you don't miss us
George has had no reaction to his remarks on 12% transport costs (the figure quoted for ocean transport by tanker) between Isla refinery and Curoil distribution company. He now accuses island government BC, Curoil and StIP privatization of "larceny" - they are in a conspiracy to rob the Curaçao people.
George asks PNP Davelaar what steps will be taken to stop this theft and to get back the surplus money paid for many years. He also wants to know who has profited by this dishonest practice. So do we.
Yes, of the 1.8M Wega di Number [number games] guarantee fund .7 has disappeared. This money serves to cover bets made at "number sellers" (who also pay for it) where you win if your number is the same as the winner of a more official lottery. The former director states it has been used to run the bureau, of which government subsidy was reduced from .5 to .25M - we can only guess per year? - with "4 or 5" workers. One of whom is César Prince, notorious co-director of national airline ALM/DCA when it went bankrupt and yet another "democratic" slotverklaring rejector. So that's where he ended up after his party was wiped out at the last elections!
Money? Who Needs It?
Of the 130 million made available in May by the SEI Social Economic Initiative "hardly a cent" has been spent. Except, presumably, on the bureau that was set up to manage all that beautiful money.
At the same time, it turns out that the debts that Holland agreed to take over have grown since - if only anybody knew with how much! Only this week a new emission of obligations at 5.5% interest was announced, shortly after finance minister PNP de Lannooy announced next year's budget would be balanced - even 10M in the black as a reserve. There are plenty of reasons to predict that won't be enough. Island government just plain seems to have given up.
Macaay's Memory Miss
MAN Macaay protests that PM de Jongh-Elhage keeps talking about "our" slotverklaring [final accord] with Holland. Let us remind Macaay that he was a member of the delegation that went to Holland and accepted the accord, only to renege once back here. We also remind Macaay that this is how democracy works; his party was voted out at the last elections. These guys just don't understand.
BOO: Back to "Normal"
Isla refineries announces the cat-cracker is up and running again. It has been out of service for two weeks, but now BOO electricity plant is back on line.
Makes us wonder why mains disruptions keep going on, with barrios switched off in a regular pattern, traffic lights not working. To be sure, by now that's "normal".
Juliana Teaches a Little Lesson
Another trade union man who turns politician (PLKP Bakoba started out the same way.) He fits right in with many of the present batch who don't understand what democracy is.
He feels we should have closer ties with Venezuela, as dictator Chavez is busy building up this great economic block in South America. (His sources are different from mine.) I'll spare you the tiresome rest.
Kura Hulanda Hotel Opens Junkie Rehab Annex
After having been told for years that the hotel had gotten rid of many Otrabanda junkies, making it so much cleaner, now we hear part of it will be turned into a 20-room center for treating High-Class alcohol and coke addicts. The difference is, these guys are rich or they couldn't afford the €600/day (20K total for a month). Clientele is expected to consist of doctors and lawyers, notorious junkies. (Competition for the Scientology Freewind ship, moored just across the street.)
The Hilton Hotel, planning 132 more rooms over and above the 196 ones it now has, puts the plans on the back burner. It seems that three US airlines have cut Curaçao from their schedules. That's the first we hear about this - how typical. They must have lost their subsidies... Can only be Delta, Continental - who else? Good, solid, info is so hard to come by here.
As I have a valid ticket for AA a week from now, I certainly hope they are still flying.
Who Cares? They Also Ruined My Airco!
BOO production is not what it's supposed to be, so once again Isla refinery has lowered capacity to 20% - it costs. Well, isn't Isla one of those who were insisting that BOO came? Stupid greed is punished - eventually. Too bad we are punished as well (as usual, too - there's that); exactly in these days when the temperature hits 35ş Celsius daily my airco blew up when the mains cycled off and on a couple of times.
Not to mention that night after night around 1 o'clock there's no water, I
guesshope because there's no electricty to pump it around.
manperson Davelaar said they still had an 88% productivity. Then it must be true, right?
PNP deputy Davelaar figured out Aqualectra must become much cheaper. It took him no more than 3 A-4 sheets, too - a welcome contrast to the fat reports by well-paid 'specialists' nobody ever reads or takes any action to. That should be no surprise, Aqualectra has had one of the highest tariffs in the world for many years now and is complaining that those are based on a crude oil price of $54, and it now is $161. Actually, it's 107 and keeps going down. (more on that)
Davelaar mentions, the first time we ever heard about it, Aqualectra pays a credit-card like interest of 16.75%. This may have to do with the many take-overs, about once every 5 years: From Ogem around 1980 to Enron (remember?) to Mirant to Marubeni - any banker will tell you that those things pay very well to those concerned.
Davelaar also feels Aqualectra, after all a crummy little utility serving less than 150,000 people, doesn't need a top-management of four directors.
As a matter of fact, crude oil price has been less than $30 from 1984 to 2003. It starting going up to $50 in 2005, went up still more and now is on its way down again. Iran may feel that it can't drop below $100/barrel, but it is falling perilously (for them) close to that level again and many analysts feel it may go down even more. The price of $161/barrel Aqualectra quotes is an outright lie, as it never went over $147 (July 11, 2008).
No Yellow Star
Dutch government thought it would be great to collect personal information on Antilleans (living in Holland, I guess) in a special database. Amazing for a country that went through World War II; but that's so long ago... DP George introduced a motion of protest to the Dutch government, which was, for once unanimously, excepted as a resolution.
A New Standard!
During recent Venezuela-Holland combined "fleet exercises" F-16 jets have flown, quite illegally, over Willemstad at a 200m height. For everybody else (except of course Blue Skies helicopters) it's 3000', say 915m. But armies, navies and air forces are notorious for not caring a damn about civilian laws; they just went ahead and did it - try and sue them. Now, PS Wiels proposes to set that noise level as maximum for the carnival Gran Marcha. First question: Has anybody actually measured it? Or how high they really flew? Nobody can even tell me how many F-16s were involved, nor whether they used afterburners - very popular to shake up the civvies a bit.
Remember what went on for months at Hato when they were stationed there, for the FOL base? The pilots made it a sport to play war, taking off and screaming over the airport at some thirty feet high, full power, afterburners on. Drove everybody working at the airport, and then some, nuts. Several requests to their commander didn't help one bit until they were finally threatened with some serious action.
No, alas, not for our policians' mentality - really physical. You have to know that we have fairly continuous wind from the East, the "Trade Wind". For a few days, happens every year, it hardly blew and came from the West. Several funny effects (depends, of course, how you look at it):
A school that a year ago, with lots of publicity (you bet!) had been renovated and equipped with airco, paid for by Isla refinery that also pays the utility bill, had to be closed regardless because of the stench.
This was not because Aqualectra did another of its famous disappearing acts: They have to switch between barrios every so many hours. This is, they say, because they cannot invest as they are not allowed to raise tariffs, based on a $52/barrel oil price. It's 162 now, they say (it has been that for a week or so, now it's only 107; if it's not an outright lie they don't know their business; maybe both.) But at that time, they already had the highest rates in the world. Besides, it's our own fault: Because it's so hot, the population just uses aircos and fans like there's no tomorrow.
Their publicity finally enabled us to figure out how much those veritable jungles of windmills deliver: about 15 megawatt, say 10% of the total capacity.
And of course, again several of those wonderful tourist-attracting artificial sandy beaches have washed away to sea, smothering another wonderful tourist attraction, the coral reefs. No doubt they will get new sand in time for the next round.
Skai (another of those acronyms the military and Antilleans are fond of: Skol Avansá Integrá, integrated advanced school) is, as far as I understand, a department of the "humanist" Erasmus college started by author Frank Martinus. They started a new project to teach the kids agriculture. Speeched Martinus that they already have their own windmill for electricity (no fair guessing how much of their needs it covers and against what cost), "now pupils will learn how to grow their own food." Sounds like Prince Charles talking; but then, they both have the same superstitious 1960s philosophy. Martinus also boasted it's the only school in the world teaching in Papiamentu; it has been that for almost 25 years and it certainly looks like it will remain that.
Race Riots Resolved?
Anyway, after a long time of waiting now 4 people have been put in jail for their role in the recent race riots. "Recent"? it took two full months. Two of them are mini-bus drivers, one even the headman of that tribe (I always avoid riding those things anyway - rather wait for a regular konvoi.) The original cause, before PS Wiels started inciting the mob, was a protest against high fuel prices.
The only good thing about the riots, they were the direct cause of disbanding the Aliansa Patriótiko gang; even that took 6 weeks.
They were both released for "lack of proof".
Jiminy Jiménez! Wild West in the Far East!
Isla director Jiménez (a cousin of dictator Chavez' wife) thought it a good idea to take two boats and go to the private Oostpunt property of the Maal family for a Saturday picnic. He was requested to leave, but refused as there weren't any "No Trespassing" signs. So Willy Maal turned up 15 minutes later and summarily told him so. Jiménez refused again, saying the paper Maal showed him to prove his authority was in Dutch which he can't read. (The same would go for those sorely missed signs.)
At this point it gets somewhat confused. Maal claims he was attacked by Jiménez and what sounds like a bodyguard, resulting in a bruised hand and a bruised rib. He (then?) pulled his gun and started shooting in the sand. Jiménez indignantly told a 61-year old woman got a burn mark caused by flying sand. (I wonder if you can see it without a magnifying glass.) He then left, but not in a real panic, as he found time to collect Maal's shells to show to the police.
Both Jiménez and Maal have lodged complaints with the police; Jimenez was held for 6 hours and Maal for six days.
To really appreciate this brouhaha, consider: While you may be excused for judging Maal over-excitable, remember that Oostpunt is bugged by a stream of coke smugglers, illegal immigrants and just thugs. Jimenez really conducts himself as a haughty aristocrat in the best colonialist tradition, not bothering to learn the language of the country where he's a guest. He kept yelling "I am the Isla-director", obviously feeling this gives him prerogatives. This got even more obvious as Lawyer Blaauw, who acts both for Maal and Isla, is now told he's lost the Isla account for not accepting Jiménez as a new private client.
Jiménez asks if this a way to attract tourism. Well, Jiménez, this is why some people prefer not to attract tourism.
It's really striking how exactly those politicians who always rave and rant about Dutch [neo-]colonialism want to associate with these Latin-American imperialists.
Check a corrected version, not based on mere gossip-sheet stories.
Because there's some illegal building going on at Caracasbaai, which MAN Cooper considers to be 'his baby', he has been calling all official authorities to stop this; and getting no action. Now, maybe, he knows how we feel all the time.
Doctors Detest Demands
The MDs of the Windward Islands vehemently protest the SVB (health insurance) demand that they take refresher courses of 40 hours per year - sounds like a bare minimum to us - or they lose their license.
Up to Date
Just a minute ago, a civil servant passed by our house (in a car) to deliver the tax sticker for the car license plate. It was supposed to have been stuck on almost two months ago, July 1st, and paid for in February. Millions have been lost because of crazy malversations here.
While I appreciate the service (beats waiting in a queue for hours), I'd rather have paid less and gotten it at once. Quick estimate: 44,000 of these things have been distributed by courier; to get a machine fixed I have to pay at least 50 guilders to get a truck to my house: At least half a million wasted.
We had occasion to see that all the bragging about how the most corrupted games in the world, the Olympics, are supposed to improve "international brotherhood", resulted in a surge of strong nationalism here when 'our' athlete Churandy won silver in some race. PM de Jongh-Elhage emotionally speeched he was "the figure-head, the symbol of success for the Antillean people." Then he was disqualified...
Didn't stop cars showing the Curaçao flag (not Antillean, naturally); UTS communication company gave out 100% extra yacking time free on phone cards bought that day. (They can afford it - wonder it it still counts? I bought some.)
Churandy got his medal anyway, in November - USA athlete Shawn Crawford handed it over because he figured Churandy really deserved it.2008-08-21
Sitek teachers' trade union held a meeting. They did not invite all of their members, and those they did invite only 1 day in advance (rules stipulate 7). No head count was done, but estimates are only 100 of 1500 members were present (to evaluate 2007-2008 and preparing new board elections.) When one member protested, they were shouted down by other members and the president who said it was quite legal, they "had done the same thing in the past." Quite in style for these guys who seem to have the same weird ideas about democracy as some of our politicians.
Wised Up, a Bit Late
Aliansa Patriótiko has been left by parties MAN, FK and NPA, who all realized that they had lost voters' support because of AP's tactics - to note, inciting race riots and starting fist fights (which caused DP to quit first). The only AP parties now are PLKP (no seat) and PS (one seat). But PS Wiels cries out they're growing!
There's Oil Below Them Thar Waves!
It's rumored that reports strongly indicate that there may be oil around the island. However, those are kept carefully out of sight. PAR Jamaloodin drops the pearl that "government transparency isn't always possible, circumstances may preclude it." Like when there's money on the horizon for those in the know. We should give the government the benefit of the doubt, she adds, not giving us a reason. I may be a dumb voter, but not that big a sucker - I prefer to doubt the government.
PM de Jongh-Elhage explains that there's a clause in the agreements stipulating secrecy (omitting to say who put that in there.) But as the country parliament Staten will get a peek, no doubt there'll be a leak.
Meanwhile, Isla workers agitate to keep the refinery open. People die all over the island, they 'reason', who is to say Isla causes deaths? Edgar Leito should shut up and pay his Shell-pension to ten downwind families. (There's a contradiction there.) It is claimed Leito has sent a letter to Venezuela Chavez to please dismantle the refinery and shove... no, not that: To take it to Venezuela. Too bad it won't work.
But you can hardly blame the (~900) Isla workers for getting paranoid: They are afraid that, just like in 1985 when Shell decided to close, they will be the last to hear about it.
We do have some guys participating in the Beijing games, but from what we hear they and their entourage form a much smaller group than the (you guessed it) government reps who made the trip to support them. Says minister Leeflang 'she needs to hold their hands' (not an exact quote, but close enough to make her think twice before suing for defamation.) How unselfish of her! We'd like to know how many times she's actually met them over there. One thing you have to admit, our sporters had great training for the Beijing pollution!
Tula, one of the leaders of the 1795 slave revolution, has a yearly remembrance day. Until last year, that was organized by a private committee, but minister Alcalá-Wallé found the ceremonies too "superficial" and stopped the subsidies (reason: application was one week late), long after she had already instructed island government organization Kas di Kultura to present their version. Opponents protest that this is only because the former organizers are strong sympathizers of the "complete autonomy" movement. So this August 17, we will have two Tula ceremonies! Ain't solidarity great?
Now They Tell Us
Not so long ago, CTB came out with their yearly misleading cooked-up statistical report on how well tourism was doing. But CHATA hotel association complains that tourism from the USA has gone down with 3%, while prognosis was 15% up. (Who does these prognoses, and how? Cut open a chicken and watch the entrails twist? Or a spreadsheet - yeah, that must be it!) Nou doubt it will get worse with the fuel prices, CHATA prognoses.
In Aruba, June cruise tourism has gone down with 82% - there's only one cruise-ship still coming there (Adventure of the Seas - better avoid it). We would really like to know about those cruise-ships coming here, as we don't remember getting statistics on that; a bad omen. (USA tourism throughout the Caribbean has gone down.)
Soab government accounting once more repeats their regular complaints that all govermnent accounting is a mess. It figures, because as those "working" there know, that makes for great fishing. No wonder that Soab feels the present financial problems are caused by bad administration.
Soab just now checked the Curaçao 2001 report without according it, and hopes to deal with 2002-2004 this year.
Compare this with the fines the taxman will give you when, for example, you're one day late with your monthly OB sales tax return. One more proof that "our" government works for itself as a separate entity in the country - not for the country. It's not unique, of course - you can say that about Hitler Germany, Stalin Russia, Castro Cuba and Chavez Venezuela. To name but a few.
Last joke is, the government hasn't paid Soab to the tune of ANG2.4M.
A Heave of Relief
As from next year, the catholic schools will go back to teaching pupils reading and arithmetic in Dutch, not Papiamentu, at a cost of ANG2M/year. Reason is that the government never came through with teaching materials, teaching the teachers or delivering the promised assistance. Típiko!
The teachers' union didn't like it one bit and will "support 8 catholic schools to prove Papiamentu is the best choice once again." Their words. Scientific, it ain't.
even the abandoned Snip
had a more graceful ending
The End of a Sordid Affair
The last DCA MD82, which had been sitting on Hato airport since 2004 when the company went bankrupt, has been towed to the western end of the airport to be demolished there by heavy machinery. It seems obvious no real effort has been made to sell this still very populair type; which exemplifies the disgracious way the affair has been handled ever since government took over from Dutch airline KLM.
Asjes' Future Threatened
Arsjes, who has gone to court again to fight the judge's last judgment (ending his Selikor job) now's mad because Selikor has scratched his former function there just so "he can't come back there in the future" if and when he wins his case.
While I feel Asjes sheds mere crocodile tears when he goes on about how Selikor has spent over ANG50M in the past twelve years without public tender, even if he's only jealous his point still is well taken. (I suppose they can miss the ANG132K salary of which we haven't been told if he's paying it back.)
Arsjes threatened he will hold everybody who cooperates with scratching the function "personally responsible." I cooperate! FOĜL gang member Rojer supports his boss (Godett, who helped Arsjes to the job) by asking his coalition partner PNP Davelaar nasty questions.
By the way, Schotte is still warming his comfy DROV-seat as far as we all know.
Feeling the Heat
MAN wants to get wider support for Aliansa Patriótiko. They're looking for 'social organizations', not political parties; let's face it, those are abandoning AP one by one.
Inflation Record - Gas Price Stays High (Here)
While in the USA and Canada gas prices are falling again after the first scare (and while the price of crude has gone down again with 16% from $145 to 125/barrel - was $100 end 2007) here they remain at the same exorbitant level. Shows once more how much Our Leaders really care about the people's problems. (Inflation over the past 12 months was a whopping 4.6%.)
But in Aruba, inflation was 8.4%.
Maal Has Had It, Lets Them Have It
After eight years of waiting and getting nothing but promises and committees [not] to negotiate with, Willy Maal is taking the Oostpunt affair to court again. Another instance where we will pay unnecessarily for the incompetence of those in charge.
Maal's views (in Dutch)
Gesundes Volksempfinden Backfires
Some years ago, Pietermaai was renamed after "Papa" Godett, notorious daddy of the present FOĜL party-boss. (Everybody keeps calling it Pietermaai regardless.) Now, the streetname-sign has been renewed after some "ruffians" had damaged it. Renewal went a lot faster than much harder needed repairs elsewhere.
Letter-writer Baselmans proposes to name all roads after that guy, so they'll be maintained.
Utility Aqualectra has been working on a Utility Plan 2020. That now has now been changed to Utility Plan 2030. No Comment (nor is any needed.)
Always Hard Up?
While the government keeps borrowing money, you can't pay your car tax for the second half of the year before August 8. Reason is, the license plate stickers will not have arrived before then.
FOĜL Godett, while deputy of infrastructure, also is president of UTS telecom (for which he gets a yearly salary of ANG45K.) UTS trade union protests, saying this is illegal and asks gezaghebber to take steps to stop it. Godett, not that this is a big surprise, thinks it's quite all right; "his predecessors also got it" and, which is unexpected, "he even paid income tax on it."
FK Wises up
FK Navarro, back here after a month, is disgusted with Aliansa Patriótiko's mongering; first NPA Pierrot hit DP George; then PS Wiels incited race riots. FK now considers leaving AP, which DP did already.
Willem Wised up! Blow Me down
PAR Willem figured it out: You might get a credit from Venezuela to get oil products on the cuff, sooner or later you're gonna have to pay anyway. He thinks it's better not to. We wholeheartedly agree.
Some, no doubt well meaning, people in Holland are collecting money to send a tractor to Curaçao, so we can start growing you-know-what to prove our "republic"'s name. First, we have at least one tractor, which you can order from LVV agricultural dept. for a nominal fee. Second, as Duke Ellington used to cry out, "Don't waste it!"
Close the Refinery - When the Contract Expires
A new Movementu Solushon Isla proposes to close the refinery - in 2019. Not to worry folks, it will then be closed no matter what, and you can quote me: No more oil left to process.
Amazingly, other groups want to keep it going after then! Processing hot air, no doubt.
Bad Bag Blues
This keeps popping up: Paper versus plastic bags. While everybody agrees white bags blowing about landscapes are a pest and an eyesore, they are not more polluting, no matter how you look at it. So we can stop worrying about that and concentrate on more important issues.
Check out this article; but to put it in a nutshell:-
Making a paper bag uses 5 times as much energy than plastic; 20 times as much water; it weighs 10 times as much and takes up 7 times the space in transport. In a landfill (where neither will decompose) they use up more space as well. Recycling paper takes 10 times as much energy per bag, or 100 times as much per pound. "Increased use of paper bags means an increase in environmental ills including air and water pollution, greater energy and water use and higher greenhouse gas emissions."
And remember, it's you who'll pay for all that.
Pink Paradise Lost
PAR Minister Leeflang published a letter in which she fulminated against the Dutch for imposing their pro-gay laws, like marriage, on us. Fair warning: If you happen to be gay, don't go for that tourist propaganda that this island is soooo gay-friendly.
Corruption? "Internal Affairs."
NL PVV Brinkman has asked some questions about corruption in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.
About the Antilles, staatssecretaris Bijleveld said she was discussing it with the Antillean government, but she had no formal power to intercede in "internal affairs". She did promise to come with more facts in October on nepotism and conflicts of interest, and that the financial aid would be on condition of several criteria connected with "proper governance". But she wouldn't have an idea on how many cases had recently been in court - those were "internal affairs". She did confirm "corruption is a punishable offence" here. (That's good to know - they had me worried there.)
Dutch minister Hirsch Ballin said about Aruba, there had been several corruption cases in court but he wouldn't know how much money was involved, that was Aruba's "internal affair". Same for public contracts, hiring personnel and working of department of justice: All Aruba's (you guessed it) "internal affairs".
Of course both know damn well all those "internal affairs" are public, and public knowledge.
Corruption? It's Endemic.
Two guys (Roberto Maldonado and Jason Debrot) working for Curoil, local distribution company for Isla products, took their leave when it became known they had set up their own company to sell products they bought on foreign markets to Curoil. Curoil said they knew all about it, but this was a quite usual way for them to do business - which explains a lot. They only got disgusted with the guys when a Panamá dealer seized two cars and one yacht belonging to them, because they omitted to pay his $1.4M invoice. Curoil first did not want to prosecute the guys and says they 'didn't lose any money' because of this; after all, they sold (to us) with a profit; no matter that it could have been higher.
After DP George started asking nasty questions about what's now called 'Curoilgate', Curoil fired director Capella and may sue for unrealized profits estimated at $287K.
Next thing you knew, Joost Pronk announced that, after all, there is clean (low sulfur) diesel fuel available on the island! One of the fired duo "told him so himself." I guess that makes it true. Seriously, last year Curoil promised they'd start selling clean diesel early this year. As it turns out now, they do sell clean diesel to Santo Domingo - and they buy it in Panamá cheaper (including transport) than from PdVSA/Isla.
Hurt Them Where They Feel It
Again, RD Lampe's car has been damaged on the parking place of the Aruba parliament, where he's a not very popular opposition member. Lampe "suspects" governing party MEP is involved; he feels the money now spent on luxurious interior decorating might better be applied to protecting the premises.
Another Seaquarium dolphin died, Nemo, # 7 in what's promising to be a long list. Not to worry, though, the remaining lot will make more hours to ensure therapy will go on as usual.
It's a never-ending source of wonder to me that the same people who rave about dolphins being so smart and almost-human tend to be the very ones that love to keep them as slaves.
Guess Who Pays for Tourism!
It turns out that the airlines flying to Curaçao all get guarantees if they are not full to 60% capacity. Lion's Dive hotel manager Will Vogel figures it all out in a letter to Amigoe editor:
airline flights/week seats à USD Total American 7 1036 52 53,872 Continental 1 124 52 6,448 Delta 1 154 52 8,008 Total per week: 68,328 Air Jamaica 4 500 (estimate) 20,800 InselAir 4 800 (planned) 39,736 JetBlue 3 800 (invited) 15,600 total capacity 139,464 total guarantee 83,928 yearly capacity 177,528 guarantee 4,364,256 US visitors maximum ever 45,000
A pity Vogel doesn't make clear if this is paid by CTB (or, island government). I'm pretty sure that it is not paid by CHATA.
Meanwhile, CTB is also insisting we need more hotel capacity...
One day after the USA court session on CDM slavery became public, MAN Eisden thought it opportune to blame the Dutch government once again for the slavery in the past, claiming it had to do with "bagatellising Curaçao people's right of self-determination" and referring to "UN-treaties accorded by Holland."
First, her own party was a government member while those Cuban slaves worked here for a government-owned company (which Holland ended effectively); second, the UN has let it known repeatedly that the treaties are respected by Holland.
After having seen the trailer for a documentary on the affair, newspaper Amigoe judges it is more anti-Castro (than anti-CDM?) and seems to agree with CDM management that the trio was just "looking for a way to escape from Cuba." We, only now, at least know 100 Cubans were at work at CDM.
The judge explicitly said that one of the reasons CDM will have to pay heavy fines is that the management has not deigned to appear at the sittings.
CDM Slave Case in Miami Court - Management Manages Not to Show up
Now it's coming out in the wash. Cubans sent over to work at Curaçao Dock (under the supervision of Castro's wife's nephew) were supposed to get $1500/month for 112 hours/week, but instead received 12/day - as a food allotment - plus $18 month in wages. Normal wages would have been $6.90/hour. They also got board and lodging - where they were forced to stay all the time.
The balance was used to allow Cuba to pay off its debts to the Curaçao government; the very same guys who now are complaining about neo-colonialism and the return of slavery. This cosy affair was broken up in July 2007 after Holland stopped giving Cubans visa to work at CDM. Yet another colonial intervention in our internal affairs! Castro's nephew, bomba Manuel de Jesus Bequer Soto Del Valle, "a Nazi", then sued CDM (he'd probably become superfluous) and was recompensed with $125,000 in damages. I guess [NOT] it was used to pay off Cuba's debt.
The management of CDM declined to show up in court and their attorneys have asked the court to allow them to be removed from the case, citing "irreconcilable differences" - a very rare thing for attorneys to do. The workers' attorneys assert Curacao Dry Dock is trying to dodge the case -- and a financial judgment against the firm -- by not cooperating in the suit.
After the USA court pronounces judgment, the case will probably move to Curaçao court, as the USA have no jurisdiction here. That could be fun!
Nice tidbit: Cuban government and the Curacao Dry Dock company may have formed the joint venture to skirt the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Final sordid detail: the escaped Cuban's attorneys claim revenge is taken on those families remaining in Cuba by refusing their children access to day care and higher education. ĦViva la Revolución!
Our information comes from The Miami Herald who gave it much more attention than our own newspapers.
Verdict (August 7): CDM, after having 'conspired' with the Cuban government, will be held responsible for the Cuban workers' damages. May well result in CDM having to pay millions of dollars. Like the Dutch are wont to say, "count out your profit."
Godett at Statistical Loss
OL Godett has been pushing for a statistical research into Curaçao agriculture, but disapproves of the professionals' questions to be asked. He specifically is afraid that those farmers may have to start paying taxes (just like the rest of us.) CBS' denials that they will transfer any results to the tax dept. do not convince him; after all, Godett knows how much such promises by government depts are worth, even if this is prohibited by law. Haw haw.
Farmers who work hard for a living should be exempt from taxes, he feels. Well, we all work hard for a living, Godett; then we pay taxes to support all those politicians who (he got that one right) do not do any real work.
Not Wanted by Police
The Customs Dept., always on the alert for cocaine smugglers, would not mind use of a helicopter to intercept beach landings, but doesn't want to pay for it alone. But minister of justice Dick is not enthusiastic at all. Maybe because his department has had experience with helicopters in the past.
Jolly Good Idea!
"The Ivory Coast government is halving the salaries of its ministers to pay for a reduction in the price of fuel" and "the managers of state-owned companies would also have their pay cut in half, to pay for a 10% cut in fuel prices." "Overseas trips by government members would be reduced to a 'bare minimum'" (all our country government trips are overseas) - "running costs and investments in government departments would also be cut."
"Having heard the people's cry from the heart, the government has decided to cut the price of fuel," PM Guillaume Soro said. (BBC 2008-07-21) Which explains why it won't happen here. Just like this.
That Might Explain It
PAR Deputy Jesus-Leito complains that the opposition is never present at the meetings of the Committee for Political Structure [staatkundige structuur]. But DP George says they never get the information they request, so what's the use of sitting there as a dummy?
George gives PAR PM de Jongh-Elhage one week to explain why the advice by Raad van State (on financial supervision) leaves out fundamental and politically sensitive matters from the concept. He joins many of us when he says he's disgusted with the 'mendacious, manipulative and intimidating actions' of island and country government. Finally, he feels that there is a conflict of interests by having Frank Kunneman as a committee member. De Jong-Elhage denies all this and gives George one week to show proof, but fails to show that concept-advice.
George's reaction was to request governor Goedgedrag to take steps for guaranteeing Raad van Advies' integrity. PAR Willem says George doesn't get it, "it doesn't matter how many functions you have, but how you handle them."
Why We Must Fear Neo-Colonialism
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety -
by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
Wiels Shows How Much He Knows
Wiels is against the governor, as the queen's rep., being a member of the Antillean Raad van Advies [advise council). Says Wiels that in Holland the queen may well be a member of the Raad van State, but Holland "has a monarchy for which it chose itself" - showing once again that most of the time he doesn't know what he's talking about. Not that we needed more proof.
This Is Getting Boring
Of the 539 job appointments by bestuurscollege [island government] between 2003-2007, there is hardly a single one that conforms to correct procedures. Anyway, theoretically there was a personnel hiring stop in force during that time. Just like now. Present BC has decided it will stop the practice of helping ex-members to lucrative jobs. O Yeah?
Tourism: What's in It for Us?
Building of that giant Renaissance hotel on the Otrabanda Rif is a year behind schedule, because of delays by Manhattan (USA) building contractor. Not only does Manhattan have a tax holiday, they thought they'd make some extra money by selling those import-duty free materials to a local contractor, Betonbouw, raided by Customs officials to check this. Again we ask bewilderedly, why are we supposed to pay all those taxes, but not the tourists? Aren't we supposed to make money on them?
Some bright guys from Holland want to start a Caribbean spaceport here, where they plan to offer trips in space. I am sure that the well-known risks to your health will not stop them from getting some foolish customers; on the other hand, the price may pose a limit.
Let's look at this in detail, lifted from their web site and a presentation held here to crimp investors.
Space travel could "possibly be possible" two years from now.The trip would go up for one hundred kilometers (just fine to get a massive dose of cosmic radiation) and return after 4-8 minutes of weightlessness. Total time 3 hours (about 1/30th of this spent up there, vomiting: "Also known as 'the vomit comet,' KC-135's are used to simulate weightlessness. The plane soars to high altitudes, then falls back toward the ground, giving passengers a few seconds of zero-G experience" - 911 myths. What fun!) Price $150K-$250K - who knows; anyway, surely stems from before the recent energy price problem. Don't forget either, all space travel turns out to be at least 4-10 times as expensive as originally
First phase investment $150M. "Aw, that's peanuts for some people" the promoters wishfully think; makes one wonder why they come search over here with things so tight. (Nobody shared their fresh enthousiasm.)
They want to use Hato airport with its long runway and other facilities, "which are not present at other locations." Huh? The space craft does not make much more noise than a Boeing 747, they claim, conveniently forgetting to mention how much more and which 747 (the 1970 models were well over twice as noisy than the latest).
TU-Delft has done feasibility studies; it's technically possible and there are sufficient potential customers. These at least have to be millionaires or have a yearly income of $250K. There are 9.5M of that species all over the world, and 12% of those may well be interested ["is wel geïnteresseerd"]. That's 100,000 potential customers (we figured that out, they somehow forgot to mention it - but, realistically, how many millionaires would spend one quarter of their possessions on this? and how many guys a year's income?); this total clientèle has to be shared with similar projects in Dubai, Sweden and California USA. Hmmm...
I have given this fruit of the loop more attention than it deserves, as it's a hobby of mine: There's no place for humans in space. Much to my regret, in more ways than one; but not surprising at all seeing where we evolved.
Come Home, Kids... Please?
Remigration is a subject that has been popular for many years (except with remigrators); now MAN Eisden brought it back up. Many subsidies have been spent on it (I did sound engineering for at least one tv-movie on it myself) without any business resulting. Small wonder; after those Antilleans got out and wised up they prefer to stay out. For some reason (hint: read on).
Is That News?
Newspapers published that in May island government has spent 13.7M more than budgetted for (18.3% over - compare with next item), which was ANG80M in the red already; so now that's over 94M as 0.5M less came in. Total debt grew to 2,9G. It may not be new news, but it is bad news.
No More Eggs... No More Nuffin'
The government in all its imposing wisdom has decreed that the profit margin of sellers to the public is reduced from 11% to 5%. (How they will control this isn't very clear). The supermarkets do not like it and will, in protest, stop selling "fresh" eggs. They call 'em fresh; it's hard to find one that won't stand upright in a pan of water (a stance to jump out?) when you boil it. The price of eggs went up from 2.95 to 4.95 a dozen, just like that, about a year ago. This more or less coincided with a lower feed price as agents were allowed to import foreign chicken feed, with the final demise of Continental Milling. The story is that government economic affairs does now allow a higher margin on egg production. Result is that about half (30,000/day) of produced eggs remain unsold. Egg producers are pushing for a retail price of ANG6.95/dozen (plus 5% sales tax) - USA retail is the equivalent of 6.66, but quality there tends to be appreciably higher. Egg producers complain imports are sales-tax free.
Meanwhile, a group of well-meaning but badly-thinking guys wants to stimulate our agriculture: "We must produce more food of our own." Please. What a waste of effort and energy.
Ready, Five Years Late - Now, Start All Over Again?
The Isla Refinery Upgrading Program is finally (almost) finished, five years late. Too bad they will now only fulfill stipulations that are 25 years old; times have changed and requirements have become rather more stringent. Then, the amounts of sulfur could still be much too high anyway acoording to those old stipulations; the judge is looking at this.
All this has cost ANG560M. If you figure that, as it seems, the refinery could save 6M a year by not having to burn all that sulfur in their crummy installations, if they had been on time 30M would have been earned back already. It has been paid by the island and Isla, read: Us.
We have been wondering before what Aliansa Patriótiko thought to achieve with enlisting Coppal's aid in their intrepid struggle against colonialism. Dutch foreign minister Verhagen agrees with us here. The UN decolonization committee only considers correspondence by governments (tough if that is a - legal - colonial government, of course), so there's not much Copppal can do. I thought so all the time.
Apart from this, did Coppal listen to anybody else but those Aliansa Patriótiko hotheads before deciding to storm the UN building?
This Can't Go On
Even the eternally optimistic tourist bureau CTB warns that the 40% higher number of visitors this year viz. last won't grow much higher. They even foresee lower numbers later this year, as well they might - what with oil prices boiling over out of the barrel. They try to get more Brazilians over here. Most visitors now are from Holland and Venezuela. Not many words about those USA-visitors staying away in droves, even if the Miami tourist office is the most expensive CTB has - for all we know, which isn't very much.
By the way, a week later we read cruise passengers rate Curaçao 16 on a list of 18. Efforts to build another cruise terminal in Caracasbaai will not be stopped by such facts.
Wiels Won't Shut Up
They took his radio program away after the race riots, because he was calling the coalition partners "thieves and prostitutes" (not puta=whore), so now he's going on with them on his PS party website.
FOL Adriaensz regretted that our judges held up the freedom of expression guaranteed in our constitution; 'they judge according to European standards' (read: not following politicians' whims as is more usual around here), so the only way to shut up Wiels was to threaten taking away the station's license.
About Time, Too - Two
The coalition, in power for over a year now (equals 1/4 of their total period) has finally seem fit to present their program. No, that's wrong - they say it's ready, but it has not been sent to eilandsraad.
About Those Prices
All over the world, all sorts of prices are going up. Unavoidably, here as well. But look at this: A supermarket reprices obviously old stock, making it 6.5% more expensive. It's worth their while because they underpay their personnel: That good old mining town island economy.
To mention in passing, the can was marked 2006 as last year of consumption.
Wiels Rocks the Boat
That nobody is all bad was shown by PS Wiels' proposal that all deputies who are members of eilandsraad [island parliament] as well, must relinquish their functions as chairman or director of government-owned companies. This because they cannot lawfully vote on those companies' budgets. Four deputies are in this position, and the coalition would be in trouble if they had to go. Good thinking, Wiels! Surprising! (Or did somebody whisper in your ear?)
This should have been obvious years ago, but who would rock the boat then?
Megalomania Up in the Air
While Curaçao had a police helicopter for some years and got rid of it (they couldn't settle the bill) there is talk again of renting a thing like that from Blue Skies, driven by Rob Tielen. He also had the luminous idea of going up every morning and giving traffic reports - as he said, Caracasbaaiweg and Gosieweg are congested each and every morning. Sure, we all know that. A fat lot of good (except to his wallet) it will do to have him report on it - where else can the poor
suckersautomobilists go drive?
Times are hard, sure. For us all, so consider. In Chicago, "David Bayless, spokesman for the 13,600-officer Chicago Police Department, said [...] helicopters wouldn't pay off." (Chicago city has 20 times our inhabitants on 1.5 times the area). I rest my case.
Great Public Circus Performance, "Free"!
Yes, all celebrations on the "Day of the Hymn and Flag" were free (not counting the tax payers' contribution, but nothing special about that.) In contrast to years past very few cars were adorned with a flag. People are wising up? All politicians held speeches spouting their particular hobbies; only DP George (continuing a growing tradition) wasn't there because 'he didn't want to affront the public by playing the hypocrite.' Regular letter-to-the-editor writer Donker next day called PLKP Bakoba, PS Wiels, MAN Cooper and FK Navarro 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' and pointed out their racism (he forgot fifth wheel NPA Pierrot). Stanley Brown who has been promoting a part-of-Holland status for Curaçao (after being involved in the 30 May 1969 riots) writes it's all racism - just like in 1969; which, oddly, he then pronounces to be a good thing, still!
Speaking about tax, to celebrate the occasion last year,
weeilandsraad members were treated on the new coalition not voting against their subsiantial salary increase, inherited from what had just become the opposition.
By the way, what happened to all those flags that we were supposed to get free four years ago? Well, free... they had been paid for with .6M of tax payers' money. They were later sold in hardwares and supermarkets - can't help wondering who raked in those proceeds.
Talk about Chutzpah
Alianso Patriótiko published an article in which they blamed all race riots not on Wiels' inciting speeches; no, on the coalition, because they had accorded financial supervision for the government. (See Wiels' style for yourself).
PLKP Bakoba (after announcing his retirement years ago, since then voted out by the people) advised us to fly the flags at half-mast on today's "Hymn and Flag" day. Not because it's so sad these riots broke out; no, because the coalition accorded government supervision. All very promising.
When will those asinine politicians finally wake up to the hard fact that it's exactly fascist Vollkslied und Fahne worshipping that stimulates racist feelings? Not to mention the Volkssprache.
Remember Wilhelm Tell where the people had to salute some guy's hat?
A Little Pollution - Who Cares?
The case of inhabitants breathing the pollution from Isla refinery came in court again yesterday. This time, Isla claimed that SO2 pollution wasn't so bad, really; they supported this by quoting wind factors different from those published by the Meteo service.Isla then asked for yet another report.
SMOC lawyer In 't Veldt felt time for reports was over and it was now a matter of conforming to requirements.
Isla would make $500K/year if they took the trouble to implement a Sulfur Recovery Unit (takes 10 weeks) improving efficiency from 65 to 68%; just never took the trouble even if it would result in acceptable figures. Same for the Sour Water Stripper, but extra profits there "only" $300K/year; makes their attitude very hard to understand.
Isla claims they couldn't use higher grade fuel, nor an additive to the cat cracker costing $2 or 3M/year (not very precise, that), 1% of their yearly profits.
The judge found Isla might have come a bit sooner with some proposals, than on the last afternoon of an 18-month procedure. He will pronounce judgement on August 11 (after getting more meteo-info), without waiting for yet another proposal to be presented on August 30. Isla also refused to answer several pointed questions on their former explicit statements that they would be forced to close down when they would have to clean up their act.
"Some of Our Best Friends Are White"
After the race riots, gezaghebber (technically chief of police) Lindial held a speech about what a shame it all was. Among the pearls that sprang, toad-like, from her lips was the remark that we all had some white friend; and that (are you ready?) even some white Curazoleños now are afraid to go out on the streets.
Being curious, I checked. The city of New York has 1 (one) police commissioner - we have 6 (count 'em: six); that's almost 55 times as many per head.
Race Riots Bring Back Fond Memories of May 1969
Before the Algemene Maatregel van Rijksbestuur [for financial supervision of our government] was accorded by the coalition, the opposition had its say, supported by an angry mob of supporters outside the building. They were against, making clear that their beloved autonomy wants to go on spending. Champ was PS Wiels, who not only loudly called for civil disobedience but proceeded to predict "war in this country if this goes through." He managed to make a nice start the same day:-
After newspapers first wrote that the riots at island goverment building had fudzed out, next day it turned out that later in the day the mob started throwing stones, bottles, traffic signs and even a molotov-cocktail (which failed to explode), while traffic was molested, cars turned over, power cables cut. As always, mobbers tried to seduce police into hard action to show that footage all over the world. It didn't work.
All very much like the muslim riots in France, which have just been getting underway for the season.
Later at night a group of (Dutch, white - yes, that's important in this context) students gathering in a bar was attacked by a mob of about 60 throwing stones, firecrackers and "liquids from jerrycans". (The same happened in another bar fairly far away from there. One male suffered a fractured skull.) When it was all over, police turned up to write out reports. The mob's slogan was "Nos ke saka tur makamba for di Kòrsou" [we want to kick all (Dutch) honkies off]. At least it made clear what Wiels' and consorts' real problem is, completely refuting his protestations. One does wonder if this gang of ruffians will, yes, 'discriminate' between Dutch and tourist honkies.
It took a month for the police to arrest one (1) of the stone-throwers.
Several deputies and counsellors went to the police and denounced Wiels for 'insults, intimidation and threats.'
Please Reverse Charges
The EU wants all inhabitants of the Netherlands Antilles to vote for Dutch parliament (in Holland). Fine. How about giving the inhabitants of Holland the same rights here? After all, Our Leaders insist on everybody having the same rights all over the kingdom, and fair's fair.
Once POK was safely over and done with, Bijleveld confirmed (in Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant) that Brinkman was quite right: Corruption is rife in the Antilles and the St. Maarten situation is "precarious".
"All public employees have larceny in their hearts or they wouldn't be feeding at the public trough."2008-06-26
Friday - Robert Heinlein
Keep on Trying
Not so many years ago, island government accorded the EOP [island development plan] in which, among other things, a number of terrains were set apart for conservation.
(One of those was Oostpunt, owned by the Maal family, which was declared out-of-bounds for development; next thing the government started charging property tax for something that had become valueless in commercial terms. But that's another story.)
Time and time again, when a developer casts his beady eye on some property, conservation turns out to be less desirable then cash money is, and politicians will eagerly aid and abet so the area will be developed; especially if their name is Godett. Like the Aqualectra wind mills producing energy. Now, it's at the Jan Thiel tourist developments, which feel they need still more built-up areas. As always all over the world, once some real estate has been declared a natural conservation area, the struggle is not over by a long way; the efforts by project developers to nibble away at them will never stop.
Looking at the drawings presented by Halabi, it seems pretty obvious that he instructed his architects not to bother with EOP restrictions - he'd fix that.
Amigu di Tera [Friends of the earth] has started a protest against this, which you can join by sending them an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Jan Thiel". Sorry, only in Dutch.
You can also sign a petition on-line (English).
Almost 5000 petitions were signed and presented to gezaghebber on July 25. This is an extremely high number for Curaçao.
As it turns out, the civil servants pension fund APNA was owner of the terrain involved, but Halabi sold his option to Dutch developer Breevast. Development costs >200M and will be financed, in part, by Korpodeko (set up to finance small business) and other government money. A heavy smell of fish permeates this project.
SMOC Starts Suing in EEC
SMOC is now suing PAR minister of health Leeflang at the European Court of Human Rights for not having taken action to protect children against the deadly pollution by Isla refinery. SMOC's George says they do no wish to wait until all court delaying actions have been exhausted by country and island government, Isla and PdVSA.
Rats Come Back on Ship
Another ex-con and deputy, MAN Benny Demei (as far as I know, no relation - certainly not in spirit) wants to come back to restart fishing in our waters, as those may be getting troubled enough for him. Demei is bragging he will stimulate our economy; he "brought sports betting to Curaçao which resulted in 2000 jobs" - an insolent lie: It resulted in him losing his deputy-ship and doing time in jail.
Demei also was the man who took along a director of Aqualectra to a USA conference on "zero energy"; a wild perpetuum mobile like idea to produce free energy at no cost with no input, based on quantum physics theories which he could not understand.
"A con man never stops being a con man; he can't." - Friday by Robert Heinlein2008-06-24
Our trash utility has published a book on its extensive history: They are fully 12.5 years old.
There must be pots o' money in the trash business.
Elsewhere, you can find my reports on the soft-drink battle. Here's an update: Until last week, a Venezuelan 2 liter bottle of Coca-Cola cost ANG3.25; it has now gone up to 3.95/$2.17). Don't try to explain to me that the Venezuela Bolivar exchange rate or transport costs have gone up - some supermarket owners had a friendly get-together at the Portuguese Club over the week-end and figured the market would bear it. Of course: where else can you go?
A Curaçao-made bottle, which used to be what a Venezuela bottle costs now, "coincidentally" simultaneously, went up to ANG4.95/$2.89. Meanwhile, inflation in Venezuela is over 30%, so for us the price should have gone down to about ANG2.17.
This morning, I shipped some negatives over by UPS to the USA for scanning. I had to pay a fuel surcharge of ANG23.60/$13.11. The US company will now refund what I prepaid for shipping from Hoboken NJ: $9.17. Total.
There is a lot to be said in favor of price controls; which doesn't mean government costs don't need some reigning in. Whoa!
Refinery Free to Pollute
In the latest round in court, island government had a rather original argument: The Nuisance Act can never be applied to Isla refinery as regards SO2 output, because everybody knew damn well all the time that it was impossible for them to comply. (Too bad they forgot to put that in writing.)
Meanwhile, the situation has changed because bestuurscollege [island government] has signed the SEI, promising to make Isla comply. Why they should have committed such a rash act may be as much a question to themselves as to us.
MAN Cooper has been rebuked by PAR because, as an Isla worker and a people's rep, he is not allowed to go about making propaganda to sell the refinery to PdVSA - lock, stock and barrel or otherwise.
My Chance to Make Some Money?
Is what I thought when I read there'll be yet another committee, now on the so-called "democratic deficit" - after all, you only have to read these pages to see why I would be a real expert there!
But alas, it's not on the deficit I keep going on about (that the government does what they want without caring one bit what we want;) nooooh, the deficit is that the island politicians feel there is no control of the kingdom's ministers by chosen people's representatives.
Too bad - no easy money will be coming this way. Gee, I keep wondering what they pay those committees.
Another Way of Looking at it
DP George, long since having stepped out (or having been kicked out) of Alianso Patriótiko has his own view on the Slotverklaring (under POK discussions) that same AP is so strongly against: If the situation here indeed is so bad, according to the Statuut Holland is obligated to do something about it. On the other hand, the Antilles have no guarantee that Holland will keep its promises as those have to ratified by Dutch parliament in which we have no say.
They Never Told Me That!
Brinkman's blog on the present POK talks is replete with interest, even if you don't agree with him. For regular Circus visitors, not much news there, but this was news to me: Pensioned Antilleans can get rid of all future income tax payments by paying 10% of their income in one year - that's it. Normal income tax itself is well over 10% of your income. Makes one wonder what one, or Brinkman, knows.
PAR Education minister Leeflang, in a letter to Amigoe editor, points at the racism spread by Aliansa Patriótiko, a combination of opposition parties whose main common characteristic is they want to be free of Holland; thankfully, they can't agree on very much else. This is worth delving into in some more detail.
Dirty pink to light brown, depending, myself, I was born here and in my school years thus was considered to be a yu'i Korsou; then in Dutch a landskind [child of the country]. Now, you have to be koló skur [dark colored] to be one, even if no politician as yet dares to come right out and say so; after all, many members of their own parties look white to the casual observer. With the fine disregard for history you'd expect from those guys, they say that the island belongs to "them" because "they" were here first. Firstly, they were not - the Europeans took 'em here much against their wishes; secondly, since when has this been an historical "right"?
Now that youngsters must be at school until they're 18 years old, parents find out there are not enough schools to absorb their children. Another proof that many of our 'policy makers' didn't pick up much when they were in school.
Now, It Can Be Done?!
All of a sudden, an island delegation has hurriedly departed for Caracas to meet with oil bosses and discuss the refinery problems. Until a short while ago, we were told it was impossible to execute those necessary improvements; but now it gets serious, so maybe it is possible after all. Not that this lowers Isla's credibility: It was zero long since.
The 2 Rs
Yes, only 2, because NPA R. Rooijer shows once again he doesn't have an inkling of Arithmetic. The supermarkets must lower their prices to help the poor population out: "Their profits increase when prices go up." Renfred must be too dumb to realize that the same goes for the 5% sales tax, import duties, profit taxes and... you know, all those things that result in more government money.
Not to mention that it's impossible to have the supermarkets lower their prices, as RR seems to ask, for only the poor sector of the population.
Transparent Discussions in Private
In the new meetings on future politics between the Antilles and Holland, the Antillean politicians insist on private discussions with no press present. I suppose this is all in the interest of the "transparency" they like so much (to talk about). They, for once as one person, say they won't pay attention to Brinkman's list, but the chairman has announced this will be not be so easy; he can't guarantee that the Antilleans won't get involved (like earlier this year) in such heavy quarreling that they can only save their face by leaving the meeting in protest - a regular habit for our so-called politicians. But, contrary to their act, they have read Brinkman's document and harbor (and stevedore company) director Lopez Ramirez is suing him. And at least one newspaper gives extensive daily quotations of Brinkman's column.
These meetings are titled POK, Parlementair Overleg Koninkrijksrelaties [parliamentary discussions on kingdom relations]. So now you know.
Boring Old Story: Incompetence and Worse
While the container harbor should be one of the pillars of our economy, most ships now prefer to use Aruba. Firstly, our harbor workers have an 8 hour workday, so ships have to spend valuable time in harbor overnight. (Those workers are united in a trade union inherited from Godett's father, a guy even more notorious than his kids.) Then, most of the cranes are out of order - just like at CDM Curaçao Dock shipbuilding yard.
DP George counts 14 permanent committees in eilandsraad [island parliament]. Of these, only four have been meeting at all during the past year, of which one has had only one (1) meeting. George feels they should be abolished.
What! And give up that extra recompensation? As I remarked before, and again, "Gee, I wonder how much those committee members get paid?"
Economy Not So Great?
This came earlier than we figured, but Rhuggenaath's optimism about the growing economy turns out to have been premature: Inflation over May was 0.8% compared with April, bringing the yearly figure to 4.2%.
Now, Experts Agree
Papiamentu's phonetic spelling is complicated, clumsy and a handicap in using it in education (and, I may add, anywhere else) say the people who publish Papiamentu-Dutch dictionaries: It should be discarded in favor of an etymological spelling.
The only problem I have with this is that those guys seem to think inconsistencies in spelling systems are avoidable. They're not.
Our Leaders must have heaved a sigh of elation when Dutch parliament decided not to follow up on Brinkman's motion. They announced the report was, after all, no reason not to enter into the POK discussions. Before, they threatened not to because Brinkman showed "no respect" for them and was always insulting them. Now read what minister Dick says: "Brinkman is derailed [...] unbalanced [...] I'm not going to a psychiatric ward for discussions with patients either." Not a legal expert (by the way, just like Dick) I educatedly guess Brinkman has ample grounds to sue our minister of justice for defamation here.
Meanwhile, as is only to be expected, the politicians have no inkling of how many voters here agree with Brinkman. E-mails referring to the list on Dutch PVV party site are making the rounds. And Dick's traffic bust isn't even on Brinkman's list!
Brinkman's Checklist of Corruption Cases
Judge for yourself if NL politician Brinkman is really all bad. "Our" politicians resent him, but that's only natural: As far as I can see, his cases are all correct; matter of fact, many of them have been listed on these pages. Check out the PDF version.
Amigoe newspaper comments it's all old hat, and chooses to refer to a letter of (you'll never guess) Asjes in support. Now, really! Is Amigoe now in league with the Bad Boys? Many of Brinkman's cases have been lifted from Amigoe's pages, but they also come from web site Korompi [corruption] for anonymous power abuse reporting.
Dutch parliament voted down Brinkman's motion to investigate Antillean corruption. No doubt they have their reasons.
The day before, it was announced that Marchena, first member of PLKP, then FOL and finally MSL, has been made Godett's agriculture advisor. Marchena is an aircraft mechanic who for a year has been "working" for government Stafburo without having any function there.
Island government tries everything in their means to stop ombudsman Wiels from investigating gezaghebber having given a job to an intimate friend (as the saying goes) as a member of a public committee. DP George concludes that Wiels is within his rights as stipulated in island law. His function is completely independent to guarantee nobody can stop his investigations.
The Boob Tube
Telecuraçao, a stronghold of Godett's FOL, only wanted to transmit a world championship football match NL-Italy when commentary was in Papiamentu. Holland gave in; with the result that there was a Dutch, English and Papiamentu commentary - but no stadium audience sound (admittedly, no great miss).
PS opposition member Wiels lodged a complaint against deputy Godett ordering his brother to teach Wiels a little lesson by knocking him around a bit. Godett denies this, adding "he didn't do a good job, I would have finished it." He took exception to Wiels' repeated statements Godett is a convicted thief, which (even while it's true) he thought offensive; he then offensively proceeded to insinuate once again Wiels is a homosexual.
Shades of Hitler and his gangs of ruffians roaming München.
Waiting for Godett
United groups representing Otrabanda interests have been waiting for an island government reaction to their proposals since July 2007. But politicians prefer the large-scale approach, where, might be not incidentally, there's more money to be made.
The Otrabanda proposal is more on Small is Beautiful lines, going for a participative economy, a healthy environment, human diversity and an open city, for a change accessible to everybody.
The Otrabanda groups lodged a complaint with ombudsman Wiels 3 weeks later.
The guy has been helped to a, no doubt lucrative, job as advisor to the refinery, and he now advises to sell it lock, stock and barrel to PdVSA. He pooh-poohs the "so-called" health problems and thinks that then we will get a discount, so future oil price jumps can just be disregarded. He claims the refinery is "easily" worth 3G guilders (.5G up from what he said last week). That last amount can be used for environmental improvements (needed are at least 1.5G-1.9G), and finally we'll have 1G left to pay our collective debts.
Meanwhile, island government, Isla and PdVSA have been trying for years to find a
suckerthird partner willing to cooperate with PdVSA. And we are left stupefied with wonder why Isla would pay good money for totally irrealistic, superseded and worthless advise to that clown. He's not even funny!
We Are Not Terrorists
The mini-bus drivers seem to have taken hints from Jihad and Fitna: When you call them terrorists, they protest terroristically. Rhuggenaath did so, and they went out in a violent mob, disrupting traffic (and leaving their esteemed clientèle in the lurch), puncturing tires of large buses, even slashing and burning tires of those colleagues who didn't join them. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
They want ANG25/day fuel subsidy. CHORUS: "Me too! Me too!"
Now that they asked for it, I can confirm this is a Wild Bunch in the first place. No road-rules seem to apply to them: They stop everywhere, even blocking crossings, to pick up passengers. I avoid riding them as a passenger - your heart jumps to your throat when they overtake in road bends.
Isla Closing Down This Year!
According to their own statements (but these have not always been completely truthful). What happened is, the SEI Social Economic Initiative signed last week decrees among many other things (under pressure of Holland) that "Isla must comply with nuisance act demands before the end of this year." As Isla has always claimed that's out of the question, this should mean they will have to shut down. But don't count on it.
Even then, SEI stipulates that in the long-term vision the desirability of having a refinery should be evaluated. Having it stay entails defining conditions, ownership structure, refinery life as related to international energy developments, and investments needed to reduce pollution and to keep Isla competitive. Finally, it's hinted that there is some hurry.
Isla should comply in this year's last quarter - that's three months from now.
Bijleveld strongly confirmed all this in a latter to Dutch parliament some ten days later.
Economy Going Great
Well, it's a relief to know. Rhuggenaath himself told us so; he has high expectations and expects the 3.8% growth of 2007 to continue.
Maybe he doesn't read newspapers, or at the very least watch television. We'll see about that optimism.
Slave Driver Sought
A lot has been going on about the new director needed for CDM Curaçao Dockyard. Requisites are a blameless past and shipbuilding experience. Franklin Sluis, who has neither, is the best candidate according to Soab government accounting. What he can claim is a sentence for forgery. Maybe PAR Rhuggenaath figures that's a great background to run notorious CDM.
Rhuggenaath, after all, is not happy at all with Sluis and has asked CDM to "thank" him (realizing Sluis may go to court as he has been appointed.) Rhuggenaath wants a replacement found in four months.
That Would Be a Miracle for Sure
The year is not even half over, but the 2008 budget is ready for discussing in island government. Now, it's 67.9M in the red (originally 66M). FOL Rojer was disappointed it wasn't balanced yet, "but you can't expect miracles just like that".
Only two weeks ago, it was announced the deficit had grown from 66M to 103M; now it appears to have shrunk back? It's a Miracle!
No doubt they just cut some posts out for the occasion, figuring Rekenkamer accounting bureau will tell us many years from now what the real deficit was. Which they will; it's a tradition.
When the PA system in eilandsraad fudzed out, opposition members were quick with allegations of sabotage: Just while they were discussing FOL! Very suspicious, that. For a guy who travels so much as NPA Pierrot, it was rather surprising to hear him say that Hato was the only airport in the world with a military base (actually, two bases). But many more exist; I just mention Frankfurt Germany and, closer by, Bogotá Colombia or Zanderij Suriname. Venezuela itself has many, starting with Barcelona.
Last week, a FOL Hato-based S3 aircraft happened to get lost over small Venezuelan island La Orchila, where socialist dictator Chavez has one of his many bits of real estate, and where there is supposed to be an army detachment (probably consisting of like two sleeping guards). Worse, it may also serve as a hide-out for Colombian FARC Commander Ivan Marquez, by courtesy of Chávez.
Integrity? They Don't Know What That Means
Peter Verton has been evaluating a process started in 2004, supposed to awaken civil servants and governants to the idea of integrity, and to ensure integrity is part of politics and of management of island services.
Putting it in a nutshell, they need not have bothered: There is no such thing as "integrity" in our government.
Tip to save money: You could have asked anybody and they could have told you, gratis and free. Just read on... But Verton is working on a new approach. Lots of luck, Peter!
Whatever Gave Her That Idea?
After fifteen hours of negotiations, NL Bijleveld said it took so long because it looked like St. Maarten's politicians had been speculating that Holland would retreat on the subject of corporate governance; the agreements "to stop political appointments in governmental companies." (They were mistaken.)
Whatever Gave Them That Idea?
Moproko [Movimentu Pro Kòrsou] complains about the level of discussion in island parliament.
Hear, hear: "Extremely disgusting behavior" and "verbal intimidation." Meant was ex-con Godett.
George Does Some Figuring
DP George comments on the 2007 Isla profit of ANG241M (as stated by PdVSA without any accounting shown - why should they?) is a measly 2.7% of that year's turnover of 8900M. Reading between the lines, George mistrusts that profit figure. He also mentions in passing that there is an international transport rate on gasoline and diesel of some 12%, which we have to pay as well, while there really isn't any transport at all between refinery and consumers.
Exactly What We Figured
Buletín # 3 on the future development of País Kòrsow has been distributed. What a waste of money - a fair guess is that not 10% of the population is interested enough to finish reading it in this form. It's all about the Social Economic Initiative that's supposed to reduce youth unemployment, the number of drop-outs and the number of households under poverty level. All very necessary, to be sure.
How this will be achieved is another matter. For example, I can't help always being very skeptical on the good more sports centra will do; to me, mere superstition. The (national curse, this) "preaching" illustrations tend to foster my feelings, with hollow cries like "Faith, Perseverance, Love, Responsibility, Respect." Such objectives which are not maddeningly vague tend, when they get more exact, to promise much more than seems humanly possible.
This culminated on the last page which announced yet another bureau to manage S.E.I. All alarms went off: Yet another handy excuse to hire more government personnel. As it turns out, accountants Deloitte will get more than their present 1.2M yearly fee to manage all this (paid by island government, who have denied it before), aided by island civil servants. All without any voting or discussion in island parliament.
They Can't Agree
Our Leaders are making many gestures to combat the hardships caused by higher oil prices, but those gestures are empty and exclude the one that would really help: Lower government costs.
There are three proposals to raise the minimum wage. Naturally, the Chamber of Commerce and entrepreneurs club VBC are firmly against any such measure: It will only cause inflation (and take money out of their pockets.) Anyway, the Staten [country parliament] want a 15% raise; the country government, 18%; and island government 5%. It's hard to find out what these percentages are based on - if on anything at all.
Present minimum is ANG6.35/hour (US$3.53); many people have to take 4 bus rides to go to their daily work and back at 2.80/ride, 22% of their earnings. (On which they also pay 12.5% old age pension fees.)
PAR Rhuggenaath wants a committee look into the results on the economy of such a generous 5% gesture. Gee, I wonder how much those committee members will get paid?
Next thing we know, the civil servants insist that their salaries, car expenses and all that will be adapted to higher levels. Only, they want it starting as from January this year! They also insist the government will control prices for consumers... I suppose that's what's meant with "budget-neutral".
Still Can't Make Ends Meet
It has long been clear to all of us, but we're mere voting cattle. Now, even those in charge are noticing: Even with Holland taking over our debts, there will still not be enough money to balance the island budget; in 2011 it will be 15.7M in the red. You'd do well not to trust this figure; after all, they even have not the vaguest idea how much they have spent until Rekenkamer tells 'em years later.
Good thing about this, it just might make that bore Cooper shut up for once; but that's wishful thinking. They're so desperate, they'll even introduce 'players' tax' for casinos - but not desperate enough to make those mafiosi pay profit tax or sales tax.
Hold Your Breath
The refinery catcracker is starting up again; after several subsequent BOO disasters it has been down and out since April 21. (Actually, April 15 comes closer.) Soot will be spewed out, and hidden in it many much worse things.
Dolphin Academy Gets Environmental!
No, they have not released the dumb brutes, nor do they plan to. But as they exist for six years, every child who visits them during that week will get a free 'durable canvas bag' so less plastic supermarkets bags have to be used. No doubt there's a captive dolphin prisoner logo on each of them.
They will also clean up three beaches - that is to say, schools will do the job, and the first nine schools to apply will get a tree planted - free! All primary schools will get an educative dolphin game; nice to drum up future customers.
Re those supermarket bags, it seems that problem is as good as solved (16-year Daniel Burd found a way to decompose them in 3 months: Chop 'em up, add water, dirt and yeast and let 'em stew.) So, shortly, we can go on using those extremely practical things - and save all trees we'd have to cut down for making brown paper bags. That is to say, if we could ever get Selikor to adopt such a cheap and simple method.
It Stinks More, Not Less
While Milieudienst has announced that Isla refinery performed better in 2007, a Dutch report gives this the lie: SO2 was on a yearly average of 156µg/m3, 13% up over 2006 (which was 60% up over 2005.) The 2007 result is almost twice the in itself unsatisfactory norm of 80µg/m3.
SMOC's Peter van Leeuwen reminded us once again that the refinery doesn't pay taxes, next to nothing for rent, and only last week had the chutzpah to announce a profit of hundreds of millions. He once again asked NL Bijleveld to take measures.
Rather nasty stuff, this SO2; it converts to vitriolic and sulfuric acid just like that, and is one cause of what's commonly, if not popularly called "bad breath".
No Need to Wonder
DP George has some pretty final comments on the energy committee. First, he wonders why
"we pay for Aqualectra's leaks (97%!); why energy is so expensive when BOO uses refinery residues; why the grid does not accept overcapacity of privately owned generators; why we pay international prices for inferior Curoil products; why Curoil's purchase bills are not made public."
He proceeds to give the answers himself:
"Aqualectra and Curoil are boss and for years have been taking care energy policy does not change, consolidating their power without opening their accounts. We have the highest water and electricity prices around; our gasoline and diesel fuel quality is inferior. And as long there's a refinery here, no related interested parties will allow a switch to alternative energy."
Says George, giving the final answer, "Aqualectra and Curoil are partners in that tripartite committee".
The Aliansa Patriótiko prefers the populist approach to have people come to island government building and have them protest (a fat lot of good that will do - ask the minibus drivers, who've tried it.)
In the continued effort to reduce their beloved transparency still further, island government has sent a letter to all Heads of government services forbidding them to talk with the press without previous clearance.
That, at Least, Is True Enough.
Students have informed police of an alleged swindle by Caribbean Medical University, where they paid money without getting any lessons.
There was trouble a while ago with this and other "universities". Photographs and more information shown on the web had nothing to do with Curaçao. Comments CMU lawyer that this is quite usual on the internet. That, at least, is true enough.
I Know How to Sponsor Him
Arsjes is looking for sponsors for a radio program. A swift kick where it does most good is what I'd suggest. (He is now preparing for the third round in court to get his Selikor job back. No news about paying his salary back.)
It's Possible, All Right
The Aruba ministry of justice has spent .4M florins more than its 2006 allowance. Of course, as the Aruba government is just as transparent as ours, minister Croes wanted to keep this a secret; after all, he's been convicted before for the very same thing. Croes now wonders how it's possible this leaked out. Shows how smart he is.
Later, Croes claimed that they hadn't gone over budget at all - it merely seemed so because of bureacratic procedures, where personnel that had left the ministry 1.5 years before were still on the salary list. Ah, quite, that explains it! (Then-director Hoveling comments that an accountant report was 'not feasible'. No doubt. What a bloody mess.)
The energy committee has finished mulling it over (only two weeks late). As the 5% sales tax on fuel will pay more when the price is raised, that extra money can be used to subsidize public transport. They expect that to be half a million guilders per month, and figure sales volume will go up with prices. Don't ask.
They also want to limit supermarkets to their present margin; not percentage-wise but absolute. Again the typical contrast with their own tax margin. Besides, those price controls never seem to work and, if they chance to do, sellers just opt out by simply stopping to carry the product.
Finally, they want to ask dictator Chávez for a discount on fuel. Again.
The preceding day, opposition parties had moved to get rid of one link in the cumulative sales tax chain on gas and diesel, to declare an emergency with government control over utility prices, and to raise welfare, pensions and minimum wages parallel with inflation - no doubt resulting in a vicious circle. Motion was labelled "populistic, unsympathetic and rash" and defeated with 10 against 9 votes (coalition disregarding the hard fact that pretending to be able to control all this is as "populistic" as politics can get; which is saying much indeed.)
We still don't know who was in the committee and how much they were paid; we only know it will be followed up by a new committee. One thing's for sure, entrepreneurs' club VBC was part of the committee and is now using our very "populist" term. It gets muddier and muddier.
The minibus drivers are not content with the higher fares they must charge. Instead, they want a subsidy on their diesel fuel. (Why not give everybody who wants one a minibus, then give 'em all a salary and make all public transport free.) When PAR Rhuggenaath labeled their blackmailing tactics "terrorism" they got very angry. Rhuggenaath wanted to see their union's statutes and membership number, but that seemed too much to ask.
Aruba Way of Looking at It
Aruba tourism minister Briesen is sued by opposition members Hessels and Lampe. Now he threatens to sue them for slander - based on the proof they submitted to court.
You know, I don't think that'd work.
When ex-PM Maria Liberia Peters wondered what Bakoba, whose PLKP party has not a single seat in island and country government, was doing in a delegation to a Copppal reunion, Cooper explained they were just concerned with patriotism, not with power relations. (I guess, to Cooper, that's democracy.) Cooper also bragged they had started a U.N anti-colonialism procedure for Curaçao and (surprise!) Bonaire - where the population is getting exactly what they overwhelmingly voted for. (I guess, to Cooper, that's democracy.) Keep trying, Cooper! It won't work.
Deputy Davelaar Disaster
PNP deputy (energy-companies and health) Davelaar resents Dutch parliament instructing Bijleveld to interfere in Isla pollution. His main argument seems to be that many people in Holland get lung cancer by smoking, and that many Dutch parliament members are chain smokers (Humphrey Dumphrey himself is overweight). He repeats "there's no scientific proof whatsoever for those 18 yearly deaths caused by the refinery."
It gets more interesting when he starts ranting against 'so-called local' newspapers who use the internet "to spread information internationally about our problems and internal discord, that we can't agree on a policy. Via internet they give negative information and keep silent on positive developments."
Gee, he should have a look here! Really spoil his appetite... Seems to me almost the only 'positive developments' come from non-politicians standing up against Davelaar and his likes, who would much prefer to keep it a cozy entre-nous.
Next day, SMOC's van Leeuwen reminded him that the numbers of deaths, denied by Davelaar, were based on research ordered by island government, and were probably higher by now as the situation has worsened.
Budget: Teetering Toppling Towers
It will have to be balanced (again); unlike the tower of Pisa it doesn't lean - there's nothing to lean on. Deficit grew from 66M tot 103M in four months! That's the island budget - the country budget, which was announced as having a positive balance, is in similar dear straits now.
They all blame Holland delaying the debt take-over for it - and whose fault is that? (One of Holland's conditions is a balanced budget - no deficits.) Says PAR Willems: "The policy followed for years had to be changed." But it hasn't.
"Bunch of Scoundrels" Refuses Negotiations
PAR Atacho has announced the Antillians will not participate in the next POK talks on kingdom relations if there will be no rules on partner behavior. They are all quite mad because Dutch MP Brinkman called them a "bunch of scoundrels" recently, but the Dutch refuse to accept such rules. No matter who's right here (there's at least one certified scoundrel in Our Gang) it seems to guarantee we'll have to adjust that clock once again, while Brinkman has announced that he doesn't need POK to insult the easily offended Antillian politicians further (he'll be introducing their corruption in Dutch parliament later this month): "Cancelling POK would save much time and tax money."
Final outcome: The Antillians accept "POK talks will be held conform the rules of Dutch parliament". Once again, much ado about nothing, as long as they remain seated when someone like Brinkman opens his mouth - as he's sure to do.
Don't Blame Papiamentu
Sitek teachers' union, predictably, is outraged because Papiamentu has been kicked out of (most) schools. The people responsible should find solutions for the problems with it. (Seems to us they did just that.) Re-introduction of Dutch will be a catastrophe, Sitek warns. (Seems to us the schooling system is a catastrophe compared with when it was all Dutch.)
Looking at Energy
In a special reunion, our island government has been looking at energy: High prices, coupled with high food prices, in combination with Isla refinery (still no final report from the committee?) Some good laughs, some wiser remarks.
FOL Rojer thinks everybody should start a vegetable garden. MAN Cooper estimates the refinery is worth US$2.5G "at least" - difficult to see what's that based on, if anything at all. PAR Jackson agrees there's not too much we can do about all this.
FOLMAN Schotte feels there's no reason Curoil (monopoly gasoline/diesel distributor) should throw money away on advertising and their own superfluous debit card. FOL Koeiman argues the government should get rid of the obligatory jacket-and-tie outfit and wear guayaberas, to save on airco; he's far ahead of Aruba there. He also wants to repair all dams (in line with Godett's latest hobby, agriculture) "so not one drop will run off to sea." DP George, supported by NPA Pierrot, reminds everybody that all talk about the refinery may be a waste of time, as PdVSA is building many more refineries and will not need us at all by 2012.
Which means all discussions on upgrading are just empty talk, as that will not show any results before 2015 (assuming upgrading starts this year.)
It Still Stands
Aruba has shown before that they figured it had gone away; and they certainly acted that way. But Holland remembers the 1993 protocol all right, and since 2006 has been prodding. It all sounds very familiar: Sound financial management, good public governance, responsible accounting, restoring the financial-economic balance, and normalizing budgets. What harm for a politician to say he agrees with all that?
Isla: Holland Gets Involved
After, finally, some serious questions were asked in Dutch Tweede Kamer on Isla refinery pollution, our leaders are getting nervous. They do not have very good answers to Dutch journalists who ask nasty questions of their own, something our politicians have very little experience with.
Meanwhile, demonstrations are starting in (downwind of Isla) Wishi and Marchena, where inhabitants are waking up from their lethargy now they are getting some hope that, finally, after years of pressure by SMOC, government and refinery may be forced to do something about what is becoming an international scandal.
We have added a new chapter to our ongoing saga on all this. Wish we could close it!
Holland Gets Involved
Crime Study Kept Secret
Justice minister Dick promised, over a year ago, to send the Staten country government a 400-page report on crime in the N.A. For some reason, he never did. Now MAN has been allowed to catch a glimpse and, to my surprise, acknowledges it gives good reasons for Holland to take responsibility on judicial matters. Dick's Department is also working on a "Criminality Image Analysis." (Sounds fine, don't you agree?) It will enable a structural tackling of organized criminality (still better) on condition the work can be carried out by having access to financing (best of all!) and people (I volunteer!)
Surprised? Schotte Swindled!
According to newspapers Bala [Bullet] and La Prensa, Schotte had a burglary a few months ago, but his insurance doesn't pay because "the burglary has been staged." (All this is merely alleged, wink wink.) Both newspapers won't retract a thing; La Prensa editor Heyden says "our information is correct," and Bala editor Constancia says that Schotte can't be injured in his name and honor, because he knows "Schotte has a name, but certainly no honor." Schotte's lawyer announced he will sue the newspapers and, for good measure, Fatum insurances as well for not honoring the claim. A fine brouhaha promising much future entertainment.
It only took two weeks for the judge to decide both newspapers were quite entitled to have published this. Schotte had to pay for the costs, which were very low because he was the only one who'd troubled to hire a lawyer.
Clown Begs Crook: Come Back to Our Gang
NPA Pierrot has written FOL Godett a letter begging him to leave the PAR-PNP coalition and join the opposition, as the present government's course "can only lead to the gallows." Wishful thinking - in which we wholeheartedly join him.
Godett may be much less smart then he thinks he is, but with all the shady deals going for him he'd be crazy to take this up.
Scientology Ship Sealed
The Freewind, proud flagship of the criminal church of Scientology organization, is in dry dock for the first time in twenty years. Might just be because guests at Tom Cruise's birthday party publicly complained what a crummy worn-out decor it had to offer.
Anyway, after their own crew had started renovations (a penny saved is a penny earned) the Good Shippe was taken to CDM for work on the engine room and hull, where it turned out the ventilation system is riddled with blue asbestos, a heavy carcinogen (not everybody agrees, at least not for all forms of asbestos) which is distributed freely through the ship. The ship has now been sealed off and CDM personnel has stopped working on it.
Tough if you've been a guest on the ship. A comfort to remember that "God Cures All" (except a belief in scientology - and then some.)
Unsurprisingly, Scientology denied anything was wrong, after taking an awfully long time on preparing a public statement. By then, CDM had already decided to stop work by their personnel. Truckloads of blue asbestos were later removed by Scientology's own "SeaOrg", which deserves some looking into as well. These guys should feel right at home among their fellow CDM slaves.
We're Still Waiting
The opposition asks when that "energy committee" will publish its report, and takes note BC hasn't done a thing yet. (Report should have been ready on April 23.) Not that BC, nor the opposition, can change one single thing thing about a global food and energy price inflation.
We didn't know it would be that bad! The national debt as per 31 December 2005 has grown somewhat bigger than it seemed previously, nothing new there. But that the national assets would turn out to be a mere 1.4G guilders against a debt of 2.8G is news to everybody. Besides, there's a debt of 1.3G obligations which do "not appear on the balance." This is provisional - betcha they'll turn out higher. So much for that "alternative" plan MAN Cooper still has the chutzpah to go on about.
Extremely small consolation to be able to say: "I told you so!" I told you so!" "I told you so!" And they still go on acquiring new debts.
Papiamentu Kicked out of Class!
The catholic schools will go back to Dutch as language of instruction next year. After six years of trying with an excessive number of civil servants working on just that, the government has not been able to produce a sufficient supply of Papiamentu teaching materials.
This while you can still see stickers on cars "Papiamentu ta bai skol!" [Papiamentu goes to school].
Most heads of schools have already indicated their approval. Two good guesses: Many, maybe most parents will heave a sigh of relief; and teachers' club SITEK will protest vehemently, just like they did when the protestant schools decided the same thing last September. Only schools run by the government and Frank Martinus' so-called humanist Colegio Erasmo use Papiamentu now.
Bribes Next Door
On that Happy Island (Aruba) the opposition is not so happy. RED Lampe has gone to court, charging PM Oduber and minister of tourism Briesen, both MEP, with "breaking compatibility law and forgery" in connection with Aruba Ports Authority, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the Spanish Trusam group. The whole affair started with the 2000 Namdar letter, in which 1M guilders were offered as bribes. After the letter was published, RCCL moved its attention to Curaçao Caracasbaai.
Oduber and Briesen will be defended by ex-minister of justice Croes, who was convicted himself last year.
You Can Always Try...
Veilig Verkeer [Traffic Safety] advises anyone whose car is damaged by road conditions, a not at all imaginary occurrence as Godett heads the responsible department, to have the gendarmerie write an official report. You can take that and shove... oops, you can take that and go to Godett's department with a damage claim (where they will shove it for you - perfect service.)
But the police are known to be unwilling to write such a report, probably wisely figuring "What's the use, anyway?"
Flying in the Face of Facts
Just when things were looking up, the tourist industry is faced with the nasty fact that fuel prices inhibit tourism. Now they are extra mad because air traffic control fees have gone up with 50%.
I guess they feel we should pay those. But like I say elsewhere, "what's in it for us?" The tourists don't even pay sales tax for their rooms, while we have to pay our own - on exports! Maybe this will make the Sacred Cow drown.
Throng of Trade Unions
There are now four (4) trade unions exclusively for Aqualectra personnel. Count 'em: Production - Production Staff - Distribution - Distribution Staff. Confirms there are far too many "workers" there; small wonder the rates are so high.
Energetic about Energy
SCPOSI (Concentrated Solar Power Open Source Initiative - not what you'd call snappy) has opened a "Showcase Curaçao" page on renewable power generation here. There's a forum as well. With Isla refinery and our present Aqualectra utility to contend with, they need all the help they can get. Have a look, by all means; but be warned, this is not entertainment.
FK Camelia is worried because he's read in the newspapers (just like us) that the Kingdom [read: Holland] may get involved in the future of "our" proud Isla refinery. That's transparency for you, Camelia! He says 400-1000 people are working for the refinery (not very precise, that; and it's not clear how many of those are from Curaçao), 1000 more are dependent on it, and that it pays 8% of our national budget. (According to Edgar Leito's Gachitu blog site, it's only 5%.)
If Camelia is completely and absolutely right, this means that for every 100 workers there's at least 1 death per year. That's six times as many as deathly road accidents in the USA, per vehicle. But Camelia is more worried about erosion of our precious independency.
Higher Phone Bill
While government is telling us we (not they) should spend less money to make ends meet, the UTS national phone company announces a price hike for a subscription from 18 to 30 guilders/month, with a later further raise to 38. Even while it's true that this tariff dates from the 1980s, 211% is rather exorbitant, and more than undoes the announced lowering of what feels like the slowest-in-the-world ADSL (with 26 guilders; nett result: +11 guilders.).
test your own speed now
a later test at 05:00 local (09:00 GMT)
resulted in eight (8) times the speed:
upload 1040 - download 395
World-Wide Scientology Picket - May 10!
This will be the fourth picket in a successful series, and we have an ideal object: The infamous Freewind ship of that criminal organization, used to indoctrinate cult members, rumored to serve as a kick-the-habit center for junkie cult members. A national disgrace! Recently scene of Tom Cruise's secret $100,000 birthday party - while many of us wonder where to get money for food. Accepted by most of our politicians who happily go to shipboard parties or on free cruises (makes one wonder if they declare those for their income tax).
And by our 3-no-evil press - never a cross word.
Don't count on me being there, though - four's a crowd -
even if I might well be the only one there.
He Might Well Wonder
NPA Rooijer wonders, just like us, about several things: "When was this 'energy committee' installed, who are the members, how much do they get paid, how many meetings do they have, when will they be ready?" But PNP Davelaar conveniently wasn't there and nobody else seems to know the answers.
What Were They Doing in There?
Another cop car damaged! This one contained a cop and female friend, when his ex (also female) friend knocked out the back window with a concrete building block.
Amigoe newspaper considerately omitted to mention if the cop, complete with car, was on duty.
The port stevedores of CPS (owned by Curaçao government) are on strike because, illegally, they have to pay a 3% old-age premium raise. As one result, many ships can be seen waiting outside the harbor, which is just about the only national endeavor thing that brings in money, what with tankers and cruise-ships.
More Delay, As Expected
The national debt sanitization, expected to commence in June/July, has to be postponed. One comment: This was confidently expected, by all of us. However, as it turns out, this will only cover the debts as per end 2005; it was also stipulated there would be no new debts. I'm just an amateur, but what is a bond issue (I count at least two since then) but a new debt? FK Damoen claims the island deficit is now ANG103M (was 66 last November), the country's 130 (claimed to be balanced at that same time).
Let us not forget to mention that in the Happy Island of Aruba civil servants have been striking for some weeks now. Things must be really bad... It took a judge to confirm those cops, firefighters and teachers (naming but a few) had a right to strike. It got so the airport had top close down, causing American Airlines to defer a flight to Curaçao and to threaten to stop all flights. The Aruba government, though, steadfastly stands firm. After all, who's whose Boss?
The First Man
While island government BC - bestuurscollege wants to extend business relations with (originally Aruban) de Veer, who are now building a giant hotel next to the Riffort (a project they saved in the process) FOL Godett would rather go ahead with a Venezuelan developer, or a Curaçao group. No doubt he has his reasons.
Incredibly, de Veer's proposal to invest about USD1G has been delayed for six months now. While PAR and PNP seem to prefer de Veer, fractious 1-man faction Godett has already publicly declared BC will accept his point of view (and he never lies.)
Joost Pronk, in a letter to Amigoe newspaper, claims Godett and his likes are planning a "little Amsterdam", complete with fake canals and kitschy windmills, and advises not to forget the red-light Walletjes. But that's what you get when you promote tourism, let us face it.
But Someone Must Pay...
The 5% sales tax introduced by that old tax poison, then PM Pourrier, has one problem. For the government, that is; for us there are plenty more. For those meager exports we do have (meager except for PdVSA who are exempt from all taxes anyway) you can't force a foreign customer to pay sales tax; even the European VAT recognizes this problem that financial genius Marchena ran into some years ago; in the US there's no sales tax in New York if you have the stuff sent to the state of NJ across the river, which often comes out cheaper.
Well, the solution is easy (for them): If you happen to sell something to a foreign customer, like we do with our Werbata CDs, you're supposed to pay that sales tax yourself! I can assure you I will appeal in court.
Well, after a fashion: If you are reading this, it means I've been able to upload it. I have to tell you, if I worked for our UTS internet (and phone) company I'd be ashamed to tell anybody. All day long you're annoyed by a window popping up: "A network cable is unplugged." It's not your cable - it's UTS! Then, at night when they've gone home to enjoy their well-deserved rest, things get to work again.
We were recently treated to the news that price of our ADSL line would go down from 120 to 100 guilders/month. They had to make some profit on their contracts, which they stated was 20%. So until then, they'll have been making an outrageous 33.3%.
Booh! BOO Breakdown [BIS]
After last week's breakdown BOO power plant was back on the job, so Isla refinery began a start-up. Which was aborted in a matter of days when BOO broke down again. Result: Yet another environmental disaster. (We're told the damage for Isla was 10M guilders; that is, before the re-run started.)
Well, I'm all for it to lower energy costs (OB [sales tax] and regular fuel taxes.) But what will our poor government do with less money? Especially when, another proposal, the population should be taught to use less. Not to worry about the government: PNP minister de Lannooy was quick to state that lowering sales tax should be "budget-neutral". Whatever that means, it means that we will have to pay it somehow else. So we have to adjust the life-style we are accustomed to, as PNP Davelaar has it - but the government can go on as usual.
For once, the committee was ready in half the time. They also propose approaching Venezuela with yet another committee, to ask for lower prices for Aqualectra and Curoil. Good luck!
HEY! What's Going On Here!
We receive the second bulletin to inform us about the new Nation we're Building. Now they tell us Holland will "largely" take over our debts - existing on 31 December 2005.
So who will pay for our nice, fat, new debts, built up since then? Don't have to tell me, I can figure it out: You + Me = We.
"In government, bureaucrats think
that if you're not spending, you're not working"
The Manhunter - John Pascucci and Cameron Stauth
Who Said Isla Should Close Down?
It was a civil servant working for the government, head of health department GGD Bodok, referring to the last environmental disaster: "If Isla cannot end its pollution now, closing it down becomes a real alternative."
Pierrot Hits George, But Does Not Beat Him
During recess of an eilandsraad meeting, NPA Pierrot hit DP George; I don't know where. He then apologized to George "and the community", only to lose it again on a radio interview, where he compared George with Hitler, who seemed so peaceful until he gathered power.
It's not the first time Pierrot makes it obvious he'd do well to study some history. Besides, what is he doing in eilandsraad, anyway? Besides, it's Pierrot who wears a moustache.
On April 21, when opposition union Aliansa Patriótiko had not taken any action to discipline Pierrot, George announced he was getting out of it without withdrawing his party's support for independence. Which shows who's the fastest mover.
Notorious power plant BOO is down again; so Isla refinery is down, too, with even more smoke and soot than usual. Isla claims every BOO breakdown results in 'many millions' of damage, while BOO has never bothered to pay the standard claim of 500K Isla is entitled to charge at every shut-down.
Question is, why doesn't Isla bother to collect? (Their spokesman didn't even know if that was US$ or ANG, an appreciable difference.)
Tips of Icebergs
The New York Times relates that "Federal employees charged millions of dollars for Internet dating, tailor-made suits, lingerie, lavish dinners and other questionable expenses to their government credit cards." 41 percent of roughly $14 billion in purchases were unauthorized or improperly received. In a sample totaling $2.7 million, hundreds of computers, iPods and cameras worth over $1.8 million were unaccountable.
Reminds me of this guy, what's his name. And come to think about him (much against my wish) is he going to pay that salary back? Or how about this one? Tips of those proverbial icebergs that stuck out too high.
Dutch politician Bijleveld has now insisted that our government starts taking measures to limit Isla pollution and, more, signs the Kyoto protocol, in the context of "good governance". She has promised technical assistance from Holland.This is a nice success for SMOC/Humane Care who were fobbed off a few days ago with a different-sounding message.
Meanwhile, the Aliansa Patriótiko [Patriotic Alliance] wants to kick DP (and SMOC) George out as he refused to sign a letter that they did not want to talk to Bijleveld. (He got the letter with 15 minutes to think it over.) This was against their rules, Cooper said. Comments George: "There are no rules in that AP. That is one of the reasons for the lack of communication and coordination."
We would all love to hear details when Edgar Leito states (in a letter to Amigoe newspaper) that "halfway through the period of agreement PdVSA comes with a number of demands government has no alternative for." What demands? Nobody tells us anything. That's transparent government, folks! Leito states Bijleveld has to end her conflict of interests between her work in Dutch parliament and her negotiations here. But that conflict is a political artifact: What's important is public welfare.
Lack of Tact
With all the complaints about Isla refinery, they decided to have a disaster training which started off totally unexpectedly with loud explosions, followed by shrieking alarm sirens. In siesta time, too. It scared many people living close by, many of whom are afraid for accidents already.
Isla claims they had warned police and the fire dept. - just over half an hour before the fireworks started. They had also informed the press (asking them to keep it under their hat), but only after the exercise should have been started.
As fas as anybody knows, this has nothing to do with the disaster plan - that doesn't exist yet.
Say, and how about that safety investigation, promised in 2006 by Arbeidszorg? Guess they're being really thorough.
Nah - That's Acceptable
Dutch staatssecretaris ['secretary of state' - not the same as in the US] Bijleveld feels the Isla problem is not an "unacceptable situation for which no solution can be found in the Antilles" and, therefore, does not call for Kingdom intervention. Humane Care Foundation and SMOC beg to disagree and ask her to reconsider, pointing to last year's health investigation.
94% of subjects are troubled, of which 65% seriously, by noise, sulfur, soot and smoke and/or damage in and around the home; 45% are under medical treatment; 3 out of 4 are afraid of accidents and 65% want to move.
However, government disregards the report and continues negotiating with PdVSA.
Now It's Official - We Told You So
Yes, told you time and time again: Our Liberation has been postponed - nobody tells us for how long. (Not that we care much.)
The opposition, including clowns Bakoba and Pierrot who long since announced they'd stepped out of politics, declared they did not wish to meet Dutch representative Bijleveld. They listed some old-hat reasons by way of explanation.
Amigoe newspaper calls it "remarkable" that DP George didn't sign the letter; we agree but would add the adjective "understandable".
MAN Cooper says when PAR concludes nothing has been done with Monte's "alternative" plan to finance Curaçao's gigantic debt problem (to sum up, "do not pay the country's debts and sell off all assets".) It has been accorded by BC, says Cooper, and even sent on to some committee. [The last we heard about it till now.]
Here, too, muslims are mad about a movie Fitna [strife] Dutch politician Wilders has posted on the web. Wilders doesn't seem to think much about the way the quran keeps inciting believers to war and violence, and about some other things in that holy book. The muslim community has lodged a protest with the vertegenwoordiger [representative] of Holland in the Antilles. Too bad they omitted to protest at 9/11-time and several other opportunities.
MAN immediately joined the bandwagon and expressed compassion with the muslims, especially those who voted for them (but naturally!) Can't help wondering how many of those voters are female, who wouldn't be allowed to vote under Sharia law which the muslims are obliged to keep trying to force upon us. By the quran, yes.
Not everybody agrees with the mad muslims and MAN. You can even sign an online petition in Wilders' defense.
Money for Isla
Yes, but don't jump for joy yet! There is an island budget of 23M guilders for "strategic orientation studies in possible future investments in the refinery, and into its macro-economic and business value" (to quote newspaper Amigoe.) It's all about upgrading the refinery, still for an amount of 1.5G which looks more insufficient by the day. PdVSA has no objection against a third partner; no, but third partners do have objections against PdVSA!
None of that money is meant for research into health problems which has ground to a halt because of lack of funds (needed are a mere 200K guilders.)
Energy Committee: Wasted Energy?
An Energy committee will look for alternatives to fuel price hikes. Members are not only from government, but also from trade unions and entrepreneurs. All members fearlessly declared "something needs to be done" (gee, we wonder how much they are paid for that.) They're supposed to present their recommendations four weeks from now; tune in by then. Maybe another energy fund?
By the way, what's the story on Aqualectra taking Vantage to court because they didn't agree with the audit's result? Will we ever hear more about that? (Vantage's report has been removed from their web site.)
We inquired with Vantage what was going on, and they confirmed our suspicions it's not kosher - by not responding. Or maybe mr. Rabinski was too busy.
No Hurry, Too and Two
Doesn't anyone realize that corruption doesn't go away by itself?
Cop Hunter - Vincent Murano with William Hoffer, New York 1990
The "Group Political Restructure" which was supposed to be ready this month won't make it. It will become April, or even May (or just maybe even later?)
Just a coincidence that the day this announcement was made, the giant Curaçao flag in the harbor was knocked down. It was fished out of the filthy water, probably to be re-used, unclean and all. Very little "respect" here. But flags cost money - just like independence.
PNP Davelaar already started the investigation of health among people enjoying Isla's pollution last December, but now it has stopped. Davelaar says that doesn't matter, it's only scientific research and doesn't mean there's a solution. We're not surprised.
Might Well Be Worth It
PNP Davelaar comes out with some interesting statements which are news to us. One: PdVSA is only interested in financing refinery upgrades when they can buy shares. Two: An alternative to selling Isla shares to PdVSA would be using the installations for product blending, and to stop refining with its inherent air pollution altogether. Three: This means ending the contract with PdVSA before 2019, which results in a US$500M penalty. Really interesting, because that's 33 times the yearly rent of $15M - in other words, as much as PdVSA would be paying in their entire rental period 1985-2019. Which rent does not even cover the yearly damage to the rest of the island in the first place.
The more you hear about all this, the more you wonder why then PM PNP Maria Liberia Pieters has never been prosecuted, or at least tarred and feathered, for working that deal together with George Hueck, partner of notorious FOL Nelson Monte. And how this person has the immortal crust to keep writing moralizing letters to newspaper editors. But of course, like cats politicians have no shame and they hold us all for suckers. You can see their point.
Look Who's Talking!
PAR PM de Jongh-Elhage asks commerce to absorb price increases, as poor people will suffer. Might be fair (but unrealistic, especially since in the same breath she asked for higher minimum wages!) if the government did its share.
Like figuring out what went wrong with the license plates, where they can't find a culprit or where the money went [they say: "very little has been recorded" - indeed! almost makes you think it's on purpose]; like lower the ~63 cents per liter of tax on gasoline, about 30% of the total cost.
She also conveniently does not refer to her own membership of the "networks of corruption" clan, with political and private interests inextricably entangled.
Dominica Democratically Declines
Chavez' PdVSA offered Dominica to build a 10K barrel/day refinery there for $76M as part of the PetroCaribe program. But last month PM Skerritt announced the program 'has been put on hold pending further discussion with the population.' Sounds like a far cry from our government that keeps negotiating with PdVSA (and also from Dominica governments of the past.)
Seems Dominica is wise: PdVSA's investment of $7.6K/barrel (exactly what PdVSA thinks to invest in Isla) is not even 1/6th of what Rotterdam Pernis seems to think appropriate. I'm told Dominica is scared by PdVSA's dismal Isla performance.
Di Nos E Ta! [It's Ours!]This is a weird affair. As happens more often, it's next to impossible to understand what's really going on from newspapers' accounts. I'm checking this out and will report later. Meanwhile, have the pot ready to apply a granum salis here and there.As FOL Godett is not prepared to stop illegal building of houses in 2 barrios, the inhabitants have announced they will seize all free places there today. They especially resent the fact that the illegal builders are illegal immigrants. Now, if they were Yu'i Korsow...
"Our people" have been building illegally all over ever since May 30, 1969 without anybody lifting a finger to stop them. So Godett does't discriminate against the immigrants; that at least is a welcome change.
For once, gezaghebber took measures: Stop the proposed actions and start looking at the houses already built. Why stop there? People are starting to think of themselves as suckers when they apply for an expensive building permit, or even pay money to rent or buy a terrain legally.
Not a Big Help
PAR Deputy Rhuggenaath wants to abolish purchase tax on necessities to help reduce rising costs (inflation has been 3.4% over the last years.) The repeated purchase tax any time a product is sold should also be abolished.
I don't exactly remeber how long we have been clamoring for all this, but it's since PAR PM Pourier started the tax; so it has been over ten years before they got around to adjusting it. Better late than never? Be thankful for small favors? Yeah, there's that.
Ruggenaad also wants to promote importing cheaper quality products, and more regional products. Hardly the task of the government (long live Free Enterprise!). Then, I don't think this will work anyway, as it's the same all over.
Bo Banku Amigu Profits - We Lose
"Your friendly bank" MCB announced a 14.4% higher profit in 2007: ANG134M on a capital of 341M (an almost 40% return on investments.)
They are fat and happy.
We are not so happy. They heavily charge for almost everything, while their savings accounts pay you a measly 2% interest (no matter how long or how much.) Enough said: Just compare with the New York Commerce Bank.
But don't accuse MCB of abusing their monopoly. They don't have a monopoly and they don't need one: All "our" banks are like that.
So What Can They Do?
Trade unions and opposition politicians are making so much to-do about prices of fuel and food, a gasoline price hike has been postponed for one month. Demonstrations and manifestations. But all that is largely unavoidable: World food prices have doubled between 2000-2007, and we all know about crude (now at $108/barrel.) The thing is, they have nothing else to try and gain some popularity.
A poll's result was kept secret; but that's impossible in Curaçao or, indeed, the Caribbean and South America. So La Prensa and Amigoe newspapers published some results anyway. It irked Big PNP Chief Metry who shot off an angry letter to Amigoe's editor, which newspaper had alleged PNP was behind the poll. This only got him another letter to the editor reminding us that Metry was the guy under whom the Plaza Hotel, after having been restored for many millions, was sold to notorious Dutch van der Valk chain for about 10% of that cost.
By now you must be curious about those results: PAR and FOL have remained the same, while all other parties have lost followers. So much for the opposition's big fat mouth.
But We Do Know Who Paid for It
PNP deputy Davelaar doesn't know if the island owns a rather large terrain in Schottegat harbor. They're trying to find out. But this self-same plot was filled up by a contractor some 25 years ago in connection with works for the container harbor; it has been sitting there empty and unused ever since then.
Could it possibly be somebody had them fill a much larger area then actually needed? More money spent means more bribery money available, after all. Hmmm.... exactly who was the deputy in charge at the time?
A lot of fishermen used to anchor their boats there - they were all forced to find new berths elsewhere.
Godett Never Lies - Oh, Really?
"In my seventeen years in politics I never lied, and I'm not lying now." But he was lying when he said that about the alleged (by him) deal between FOL, PAR and PNP about Asjes. The judges, up to the highest court, all thought different in a former case where Godett was jailed for forgery, accepting bribes and laundering money. Godett never made good on his statement that he would take that to the European supreme court, either.
If he keeps this up (he's dumb and stubborn enough for that) the present coalition just might break apart and we, as the Dutch say, sit with the shards. But then, at least one ex-con is out of the government.
Schotte's Effort Scratched
Just about the only thing
FOLMAN Schotte accomplished as tourism deputy was BMA Beach Management Authority. It never worked and yesterday was voted away, for a welcome change unanimously by coalition and opposition - but for one vote (Guess Whose?)
The Yearly Farce - No Joke
It's time to register new pupils at schools for next year and guess what? Even with one extra class added (they plan to do so every year for eight years) the only catholic school in Dutch can accept only 20% of pupils. Those who are not accepted will just have settle for a Papiamentu school.
First results are, schools can only absorb ten percent of pupils.
Fuel Rationing? You Must Be Kidding!
First, gasoline prices are going up. Again, yeah - the last hike was 1 March (crude oil is more expensive than ever; what do you want?) Maybe even worse, the largest distributor van der Dis complains he can't get enough and will have to start rationing if this goes on. This would be laughable if it were not so serious. Curoil says they will not deliver more before gasoline prices have gone up (they claim a loss of 49 cents per sold liter of diesel.)
Behind all this may be Chavez' PdVSA that's heavily underperforming, and might have our processed oil shipped back to feed the fleet of Hummers and other yuppiemobiles owned by his cronies. The heavily subsidized street price there is $0.14 per US gallon (Ang0.066/liter - we pay over 3000 times that much.)
But our government is still negotiating desperately with those crooks.
They Have My Sympathy, But...
A big manifestation organized by the opposition parties last Saturday night voted for the present cuntry oops! country and island government [bstuurscollege] to step down before Wednesday. While they may have a point, it's a mere waste of energy to suck their followers into such a pipe-dream. It just doesn't work that way; it's not even allowed by law.
So much for FK leader Navarro: He's either a bad lawyer or a good liar. Maybe both - but a bad liar can't be a good lawyer.
What to Do
While government, for reasons they do not tell us (nothing new there) really wants to speed up negotiations with PdVSA on the future of Isla refinery (in a letter to the Amigoe editor) Rob van Basten claims that, in the Dutch Pernis refinery, the investment needed is US$50K per barrel produced per day. As Isla produces some 200K barrels per day, one would expect the necessary investment would be some 10G. Meanwhile, for this aged and tired refinery, they are talking about 1.5G.
Van Basten thinks yet another referendum should give the answer on Isla's future. The problem with all that voting is, it gets so emotional. Last thing we need.
Easy to Believe That
Godett claims Arsjes' appointment was agreed upon by him, PAR and PNP party leaders when they formed a coalition (they deny.) There's also a deal between those parties that none of Selikor's managers [members of other parties] can get Arsjes' job of adjunct-director. To avoid more problems, Selikor may now scratch the function.
Sure brings back memories: Just as much a whining spoiled brat as Godett, when he was judged guilty as hell by all courts and had to go to jail, Arsjes now keeps denying there's anything wrong. It was all conform Selikor's statutes. Yeah, sure... yawn; tell it to the court of appeals (as he seems to plan to.) When Asjes claims there's a lot wrong with Selikor's management, who shall deny it? But that's beside this point.
While VBC entrepreneurs' club deplores the emission of bonds against 7.5%, a much too high interest rate, Maduro Curiels bank is afraid that, as Holland will pick up the bills and Curaçao will not even be allowed to borrow anymore, interest rates will go down soon; this will be bad for the financial sector. I dare say. Maybe that's why Lio Capriles now is pro-independence!
The bonds were a big hit as Holland will have to pick up the bill anyway, so why worry? HINT to our leaders: Try to borrow some more while you still can!
FK Damoen wonders if it's quite comme il faut that PAR deputy Jesus-Leito participated in a vote of no confidence against her own person. (It was defeated by 1 vote, hers - 11 to 10.)
About Time, Too
PAR Rhuggenaath confirms that the concept [only] for the government program is ready. The coalition was formed last June, when parties agreed the program would be ready in August. They still have to discuss it and vote on it - maybe before December?
Not So Fast!
FK Damoen complains about the fact that it took bestuurscollege two years for a reply to questions on energy matters: In their February 9 letter, crude prices are quoted of $50-70/barrel; these date from 2006, it's more like $100 now.
Any Help is Welcome?
Now, finally, when it looks like SMOC's efforts to fight the Isla-disaster may be succesful, a Dutch parliament member has been asking questions. Too bad it is theeco-fascist, green mafiarelated Groen Links party member Halsema. I suppose we need any help we can get.
Following this item on her blog, Halsema writes deprecatingly ironic on prudish American television where hysteria broke out because Jane Fonda referred to her vagina as her "cunt". But Halsema in all her liberated freedom spells the word as 'c..t'. The .un.!
Pot Calls Kettle Black!
Curaçao Moproko [Movementu Pro Kòrsou - Movement for Curaçao] has been started (somebody kindly explain, I can't make head nor tail out of this:) because the Dutch PVV [Partij voor Vrijheid - Party for Freedom] was blaming the movement for being racist, discriminating and denigrating. Moproko is dedicated to 'patriotism and solidarity' - I guess they won't like me much - maybe PVV has a point?
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel (James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson)Staatssecretaris [parliamentary undersecretary] Rosaria wants "culture laws" in the new constitution to protect local culture and identity, because "Curaçao has a tradition where the inhabitants embrace everything from abroad, while they repudiate their own people, history and cultural heritage." Well, if they choose to do so, why deny that great cultural tradition?
Rosaria would only be interested in local history, but his idea is imported from the 1930s Nazi Reich Kultur, and look what happened there next. Need I add that Rosaria is outspokenly pro total independence?
An accord has been reached that the Dutch minister of justice has authority to appoint key justice positions in the future island constitution. Predictably, this did not agree with the opposition. NPA Pierrot, after his final bow, made a come-back as Fool to fulminate that "this endangers our constitutional state" and threatened violence in the streets would follow; a great and funny act. PS Wiels joined him in this wishful prediction: "There'll be a great revolution, because Holland's arrogance and disdain just keep growing. It's our own governors' fault, who say hungry people have no dignity" (but omitted to state who, when and where had said so in what context.) MAN Cooper repeated his lie, which he seems to believe himself by now, that in the 2005 referendum the people voted for a status aparte equal to Aruba's; of course, they did no such thing, but voted for a status aparte, period.
Refreshing: FK Damoen said they were still studying the deal while DP George hadn't even seen it; both declined commenting on something they knew nothing about.
"Politicians and policemen are the boot-licking pimps of the scum" - Mark Twain
Curaçao Police Corps: Pig Sty
It's a filthy mess, says part 1 of Nu of nooit [Now or never], a slashing report by the Rotterdam police.
Not literally, no. But they do remark on "heavy burocracy with communication generally in writing, a culture of initialled notes - no or very slow decision-making - sickness leaves up to 30% - many working hours spent unaccounted for on 'personal affairs' with hardly any leader intervention - leader-permitted private use of vehicles and other service devices with fake explanations - large part of enormous overtime wittingly superfluous with insufficient leader preventive efforts - an 'excuse-culture' [read: eyewash] where invalid reasons are accepted and repeated."
We knew it all the time, but that's pitifully small consolation: Next thing you know, we may have vigilante mobs lynching criminals in the streets, just like in the Indian state of Bihar (where the police is worse than worthless, too.)
Dumb Dreamer Damoen
FK Damoen sees a way out of the present price hikes, mainly caused by higher fuel prices (and bad Euro exchange rates). It's easy: Lower gasoline taxes and take that money out of the 'solidarity fund' set up for quite different purposes. So those tariffs won't grow still higher as a result, government should remit Aqualectra's ANG40M debt, as Holland will pay our debts anyway. (Opposition member Damoen is one of those fighting that deal.) He finally advises to look into solar and wind energy (duh) and for more negotiations with Chavez' PdVSA.
Now that he mentions it, Aqualectra recently announced the wind generators spoiling our North coast will have to be replaced. Again? They can't be much more than ten years old. But if it's right that Dutch VMF (Werkspoor) makes those, that explains it: Werkspoor is notorious for paying Argentina ex-president Peron many millions in a deal worked by prince Bernhard. Nice to see fine old traditions still going.
Persona Non Grata
They wanted to declare Jacob Gelt Dekker persona non grata on Curaçao because of his tactful public remarks; too bad! the concept does not even exist in our laws. Now, the Aruba minister of justice (yeah, makes one wonder) wants to do the same to Joran van der Sloot (rightly or wrongly persecuted for the murder of disappeared Nathalee Holloway) because "he has caused irreparable damage to the Aruba economy" with his wild statements.
Which causes Armand Hessels (in Amigoe) to wonder, why not declare all those ministers and civil servants persona non grata - after all, he figures, these guys have cost the economomy many more millions (the national debt is now over 2G florins with a yearly interest of over 100M.)
Former MCBank director Capriles feels we should become independent in 5 years; his main argument seems to be that otherwise Holland might (eventually, not impossibly) force us to. (But not without another referendum.) Capriles reasons, not unreasonably, that presently the people do not trust their leaders' capability and integrity; then he modestly offers himself as an alternative. (The night before, visiting Dutch PM Balkenende declared that in the present world any country could forget about independence.)
Capriles' utterances really embarrassed that bank and its present director, his son.
Checking Speed - wacht een beetje [wait a bit]
For weeks and weeks now UTS' ADSL connection has been playing up. Again. Our IP number keeps changing, sometimes what seems like scores of times per day. This leads to much trouble when FTP-ing as firewalls will refuse us. And the speed! or rather, slowness also is typical for a government-owned company. We ran a speedtest and got this result:
The Chamber of Commerce has been looking into energy problems. They came up with the bright idea to have a railroad or tramcar system replace the buses. All over the world, those things are being dismantled as relics of the 19th century. Besides, where does the energy saving come in? Then, somebody ought to tell them that's ideal for building more burocracy - just what Aruba needs. And that's the private sector talking!
"Kick Him Out and I Want to See Him Bounce"
That would be the P.G. Wodehouse version of the verdict on Asjes: He does not have the proper capacities for his Selikor manager's function, and his hiring has been done under heavy pressure by FOL (Godett) and therefore can be labelled political. Island government BC has indicated this is contrary to good governance. Hiring him has been called, in a similar case, 'contempt of justice'; all that time, Arsjes has been paid ANG16.500/month without having worked a single day. In short, all highly illegal.
Following-up, Selikor is looking into ways to get all that money back.
Now for Schotte.
All in all, Asjes has received ANG132K in salary. It is not clear yet if he will have to pay this back or if he will sue Selikor for even more, as they, of course, hired him. What is perfectly clear is the 2 in 3 chance that we pay.
Abusing Minors in Party Buildings
Rumors have been circulating about how a minor was abused in a party building on the Churchillweg. Allegedly, to be sure. Sure... As many parties flock together there, FOL Godett sowed some more confusion by claiming it happened at DP (he is entitled to say whatever he wants in a government meeting, which explains a lot). We are actually paying those guys salaries and pensions for that?
DP George replied their building is on Rooseveltweg.
Cooper Causes Curiosity
MAN Cooper protested loudly against the campaign against him and his protégé Schotte, but was stopped from mentioning ten names who were given jobs by PAR; said stopping done by assistent gezaghebber Jacoba (PAR).
Commented FK Damoen: "It's not the opposition that doubts BC's [coalition] credibility. We don't have to do a thing. BC does it all."
Is That Bad or Good News?
The freezing by Exxon of >$12M PdVSA assets held in Aruba and Curaçao, means an enormous setback for the mulishly stubborn and amateurish efforts of island government to find a partner cooperating with PdVSA and Curaçao for renewal and updating of Isla refinery; something essential for its continued operation. The hard fact is, Chavez' regime has ruined the Venezuelan economy, with an average inflation of 18% for the past 5 years, where this year foreign reserves have dropped from $664M to 32M, and its driving force: the oil industry (production has fallen 50% since Chavez took over in 1999.) The frozen assets now constitute over 1/3 of Venezuela's foreign reserves, while Isla needs a gigantic $1.4G investment.
It's no surprise that everybody (government, Isla, PdVSA, Venezuela) vehemently denies this. We'll see. It's also claimed that PdVSA pays $18M, not 15, lease per year. Big Deal, even if true. It will surely grow harder and harder to find a company willing to deal with Chavez.
Selikor's Sudden Spurt
Selikor has finally decided to end Asjes' contract, which will enable Asjes to go to court for illegal termination. Explanation: Then, neatly, Asjes may keep receiving his salary even when a verdict (expected next week) in a case by 6 Selikor employees should end his contract.
In the similar case against Schotte, the judge has given him the opportunity to react. Meanwhile, court has already stated that Cooper and island government have acted contrary to their own policy (no new personnel), that there was and still is no vacancy, and that Schotte does not have the needed qualifications; and can only conclude that this is a political job, which shows abuse of power and onbehoorlijk bestuur [improper governance].
This much-feared expression, included in the Kingdom Statute, gives the Kingdom the right to interfere in local government.
DP Heerenveen calls it a "Holy War", neatly avoiding a choice between our alliteration and Jihad. But it does mean strong party cadre support for their 1-seat (Norbert George) government opposition's fight against corruption.
There have been recent protests by party-members against exactly that. They may already have forgotten how DP lost all their seats since the disastrous PM-ship of Boy Rozendaal (around 1980) and how it took them 25 years to make a come-back in the person of George.
Violence is the Trend
'Gibi' de Windt wants research into the causes of the violence that has the island in its grip. "It looks like those in power don't care about it" - yup, certainly does. De Windt is speaking as chairman of Ban Sembra Pas [Let's Sow Peace]. Alas and ironically, recently this foundation sent a letter hoping he would 'continue his efforts for world peace' to (are you ready?) Hugo Chavez.
Violence is the Trend is the title of a late 1960s short movie, made in Holland by Curaçao-born Gomez.
Boom Boom Boom Boomerang
Joost Pronk, in a letter to Amigoe, accused FOL Godett of irregularities with buying Fontein, the new license plates and Arsjes' Selikor job. Godett now wants to sue him for defamation. But Pronk is not scared - rather, he warns Godett about a "boomerang" effect if the case should come to court, as the facts will then be made public. Godett wants to proceed anyway. Verdict February 13.
Godett had the chutzpah to declare in court: "I do not accept money from anyone, not above and not below the table." He must have forgotten his former term in prison for exactly that.
Pronk will have to publish a statement that he can't prove Godett has "again" accepted money [for the Fontein deal] "from a gang of crooks"; otherwise his statements stand as-is.
Nah, That's Mere Science
PNP deputy Davelaar isn't concerned much with the reports that Isla kills 18 persons per year with its pollution. Those reports are just scientific, he feels: What happens to poison Chinese won't necessarily affect Curazoleños. Makes SMOC's Peter van Leeuwen desperately wonder (with us) how this guy got to be deputy of Health.
Davelaar then accused DP George of merely asking questions to get access to secret government reports (that probably say Curazoleños are not much different from Chinese, after all.)
Justice Minister Busted
PAR David Dick drove through a red light before it went green, not wearing his safety belt and with a portable phone to his ear. He denies the last fact, but did not get fined anyway by the obliging cops. So much for 'Zero Tolerance'.
Son of Salas and Arsjes Still in Salaried Saddles
Schotte still has his plush job; nobody knows when the judge will finally decide. Should, ought to, have been yesterday. Likewise, Arsjes is still drawing his salary albeit without resting his ample behind in a plush Selikor chair. Court supposedly will pass judgment on February 28.
Make More Money
FOL Godett, as head of public housing FKP, after buying expensive terrain at Fontein is now getting more ambitious by acquiring two pieces of real estate in business center Saliña for 100 and 462.50 guilders/m2 (about 5 and 40 times what FKP customarily pays - this for social housing!) The terrains are owned by Chris Winkel, crony of Nelson Monte who still is FOL advisor. Winkel's name has come up before in shady affairs concerning Curinta airport building and Post.
FKP gets a special deal of ANG22.50/m2 at Fontein, where plots are normally going for ANG16.
Suzy Sues George
When DP George, speaking about corruption, pointed out that many members of ruling parties PAR, PNP and FOL have been in trouble with the law, he took a side swipe at the many political nominations, mentioning ex-PM PNP Römer's recent appointment as president of Aqualectra utility. Römer now threatens to sue George for slander. Let her, says George.
George wants to introduce new laws to stop political appointments in government-owned companies, and rental of buildings by island government from (ex) politicians.
"What a Pity" - Just So
An opposition motion to spend a windfall of ANG18M on roads and tourism has been defeated. PAR coalition deputy Alcalá-Wallé said it was a real pity, as the money would have been very welcome. But because the motion came from the opposition, it lost 9-10 by 1 (one) vote (Alcalá-Wallé's).
In many countries, wearing a guayabera or chacabana is very much accepted on official occasions, even funerals. But Aruba leaders are so high-standing, they want opposition politician Lampe to stop wearing one and conform to their ties and jacket. Lampe does not wear those to show he's not one of them.
Lampe is the guy who recently got a motion accepted to raise the pension age of ministers and parliament members from 45 to 50 and 60 years.
It took some years, but finally people caught up with our remarks about the license plates (which we started in 2004). A storm of protests has gone up. It turns out the government tried to make an extra 1.75M guilders on these. Meanwhile, the manufacturer has made his pile and, presumably, some who we'll not mention have had their cut, anyway. So, if the money doesn't come from the plates, it will still come out of our pockets.
PAR Deputy Mike Willems promised an investigation into all that had been going on, but two months later nothing had been heard. (He must have been busy, Karnaval and all.) Payments to the manufacturer would be held up, but it seems 1.1M has been paid anyway. Under the table?
Finally, all the license plates had te be taken back and new ones distributed because nobody could read them.
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