Autonomy Monument new style:
look at 'em break away
The joke below is very popular in Aruba, the only Dutch Caribbean island where the Papiamentu word holó (this stinks) is in use.
The Arubianos voted for Status Aparte long before the Curazoleños did.
A man from Curaçao wants to become a Bonairean, for reasons of his own. They tell him this means they have to take part of his brains away, as Bonairianos are reputedly less smart than Curazoleños. When he wakes up after the operation, he's told by the surgeon there's been some slight mistake, and too much of the precious grey matter has been removed.
Says the guyHoló!.
Which is where we are now.
Let's see what the politicians actually do with the results of that vote
apart from the capers they cut in their circus.
to July 2007
By the way, it has been postponed by 3 months-
and again to December 2008-
but who's counting?
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the vote Only 54% of registered voters took the trouble to vote at all; in our opinion because they did not bother, seeing what had happened since the 1993 referendum. (They might as well have staid home then.)
Of those, 67% voted for future autonomy. That's only 36% of the population. This result is just barely legally binding: The EU insisted on a 50% turn-out and a 55% majority for the 2006 Montenegro referendum.
Not that it would have made any difference.
Curaçao will have realized the Status Aparte before July 2007, implementing its own judicial system.
This is completely against the option contents as described in the information supplied by the Referendum Commissie:There will be no real changes in the judiciary system.
Boletin #02, Option A, 10.
Kingdom GuaranteesThe Kingdom of the Netherlands guarantees fundamental human rights, legal security and quality of government. The Kingdom also supervises legislation and government.
Sounds fine, doesn't it? Resounding words.
Alas, these very same articles are in the 1954 Statuut and have never been upheld, not really - not by the Antilles and not by the Kingdom.
(Boletin #02, Option A, 3.)
Holland definitely refuses to consider any more proposals to help clear up the monstrous Antillean debts as long as it is not getting any guarantees on good government and legal security. As long as these are not forthcoming, extending credit isnot a drop in the bucket but in the ocean; to Dutch minister Pechtold theJesurun reportjustly emphasizes this. While our politicians have been pointing out how great Aruba is doing, the state deficit there is 42% of the GNP as well (onlyabout half of ours).
Cova at it Again
Errol Cova, invited to Venezuela as leader of the Pink PLKP Party, thought it opportune over there to declare as Antillean minister that colonialism had had its time, and it was a shame that Curaçao was still a part of Holland: We shouldintegratewith Venezuela, whatever that means (you can always hope for the best). No matter how, this is not the first time that Cova comes out as a government representative with that sort of unauthorized pro-Chavez declarations. And it's also not the first time that a politician just ignores what the people voted for in a referendum (you can always hope it will be the last time.) Cova with party was kicked out of the country government; now the island government is in trouble as his party left it in turn.
Rigging the Jury
All Antillean government politicians, also those from St. Maarten, feel that the new Antilles (whatever that is) should decide itself on an own judicial system. Aruba, too, has joined that movement. United, We Stand. But with the government infighting and quibbling steadily growing worse it looks like they won't meet their own deadlines, which is a favor to be thankful for, if a small one.
Crisis all over not over yet!
In spite of the politicians' declarations that we will be much better off with our own island government, a crisis there has been going on for longer than the country government crisis Cova caused. Nothing but quibbling, in-fighting and unrealistic proposals are forthcoming. At the same time, our relation with Holland has deteriorated because the country will not allow uneducated Antilleans to enter it any more. Another case where Holland may in essence have right on its side, but where the result is that the Antilleans are left in the lurch; even worse, driving us toward Chavez and an association with what by now may be calledhisVenezuela.
We finally did get a new government, after with the usual politicians' steadfastness, MAN party made a 180 degree turn-around and decided to join FOL and PLKP, which they had refused to do, on highly principled grounds, only three weeks before. One result is that MAN now threatens to fall apart, but that won't help us.
Help: They're Back!
Even before they had signed their government accord, the FOL leaders showed their true colors by wanting to appoint "their" Mirna Godett as a commissary in money-losing telecommunications company UTS.
On August 4 the accord was signed. Party leader Errol Cova showed the greatest of satisfaction at being back in business (he just loves Power). One of the more pressing items on their agenda was a threat to lodge complaints with the United Nations if the Central Government, legally still in charge for two more years, would interfere with the way the island is run. Convicted criminal Godett, slouching in his seat, seemed a bit bored. Maybe he prefers raking in money to appearing in public? In that case, he must love raking a lot. Really promising, especially since deputy Asjes is already going ahead with a newNational Airline. The only thing he may have learned from the ALM-DCA debacle is that his deputy job came too late: All money had already disappeared.
Coincidence? It does not seem a very political move to start your government with quite open un-veiled threats directed at your colleagues. Isn't politics supposed to avoid quarrels and quibbles? It does not come as much of a surprise, of course and alas - these guys are no politicians; they don't even know how to act as if they were. Just imagine a newly appointed US town-council's first official act is to threaten the State with complaints against the Country with the United Nations? It's so megalomaniac, it's not even funny but really sad.
Is it a coincidence that on the very day these guys announced their island government accord the Antillean government Centraal Bureau Statistiek published the results of a poll? Public confidence in politicians has sunk to an all-time low where only 8% of the population still has any trust in politicians. You've read that right and it's no typo - 92 percent of the voters has lost all confidence in Our Leaders. Where is that marvelousmajoritythat voted for future autonomy? Maybe they all went to Holland already?
conference of schemes and intrigues
The governments of the islands now constituting the Netherlands Antilles held a conference on St. Maarten where they discussed the future state of affairs. It was a great success, they all declared. Even though Curaçao at first didn't want to participate - they want to be free to discuss all this with the Kingdom on their own. Still weirder is that the governments of Holland, of Aruba and of the Netherlands Antilles were not invited to participate in this cozy entre-nous.
It didn't take long for Dutch minister Pechtold to announce that, with the Antillean debt being what it is and still steadily growing without any indications of change in sight, sticking to the year 2007 for the political change-over ispremature. Holland also wants guarantees for the judicial system, among other things. Hear, hear.
As expected, Uncool IJs came out with a statement that this was unacceptable meddling by Holland inourinternal affairs. But we still are in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Shon IJs. Is what we voted for, remember? We do.
Budget Windfall Gone with the Wind
The Curaçao island budget all of a sudden turned out to have not like an ANG100M deficit - sparing you technicalities, there was an unexpected one-time 150M windfall which resulted in a surplus for this year only. You and I would have salted at least part of that away for future lean years, but not those in power: They had spent it all in less than a week.
(And look what the Central Bank announced just two months later!)
The island government accepted a resolution that the country government could not speak for Curaçao. What's the use of that? This couldn't possibly stop those guys in Fort Amsterdam who are not bound by it. PAR members left the meeting, protesting this was a merepolitical comedyto throw suspicions on PM IJs - a better word would befiddlesticksor, in Dutch, poppenkast [Punch and Judy show]. Their opponents naturally were mad and complained PAR didn't show proper respect. But there's nothing to respect here - would be a welcome change in the first place.
Worrisome is, once again, that thetotal independenceclub now in power does not show any respect for the voters, who after all according to Amigoe newspaper turned in a 95% majority vote for a continued relation with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
(more on Chavez' Venezuela)
Chavez looms over the horizon
Venezuelan dictator Chavez has announced that he will subsidize political parties in the region, including Curaçao and Aruba. This at a point where Cova, Godett and Cooper plan to visit him to beg for a lower fuel price, asit's impossible for our local government-owned utilities to lower costs. Meanwhile, yearly profit & loss statements of same utilities have not been forthcoming for umpteen years. Remember Chavez is the guy who's complaining that the USA are meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs; while the Curaçao trio is complaining that the Dutch and Antillean governments are meddling in Curaçao internal affairs.Anyway, in June 2006 it turned out that most of the Caribbean countries that had opted to get cheap Venezuelan oil had not yet received a drop.The program bogged down because many governments don't have state-owned docking or storage facilities, or the know-how to run an oil business, a task previously left to private companies.Life is more complicated than simplistic agitators, naming no names, realize. The funniest part is that by this Chavez hopes to replace his US market with other customers - Fat Chance Department.
In August 2006, Smart Chavez started selling oil to China for a price that's lower than what the USA pay
(excepting the cheap oil he distributes to poor New Yorkers and other places
- one state announced they didn't want any, thank you so much anyway.)
Even the Chinese must wonder what to make of that. Probably think he's a fool.
copyright © AFP
All that will come later, when we've got time
Even before Dutch minister Pechtold arrived to discuss our future political structure, FOL announced there would be no discussions with him on justice, economy, poverty and all that - the Curaçao government is only interested in achieving independence. Well, we knew that about them already. Pechtold announced that, for him, these matters were inseparable: Independence would only proceed after economic guarantees were established.
Then, in the meeting those loud mouths did discuss all those other matters.
Preparations for Round Table Conferences between all those governments we have may be in full swing, even though the Island government has not been officially notified as yet about the first one, November 26. Declared PM IJsWe will not accept anything that is not to the islands' advantage.For many people it's still a question if independence is to the islands' advantage in the first place. If you were a politician, how would you like to negotiate with guys like that?
Anyway, the referendum still has to be acknowledged by the kingdom of the Netherlands. All hopes that it will after all not be ratified are in vain, though - even if only 36% of the population actually voted for independence.Without a solution for the Antilles' financial position the new political structure will not be feasible.Hear, hear. Work on that before going for independence would then seem more reasonable.
Central Bank director Tromp came out with a smart plan to get rid of the structural debts of the Netherlands Antilles. (If these are not taken care of, we can forget about independence.) Tromp's idea is, putting it in a nutshell: Have Holland take over our debts, for which act there is room and opportunity in the EEC - on condition that our own governments are not allowed to borrow any more. We're still supposed to pay the debts off; that can be managed out of development aid funds. Sounds fine to us as well, maybe even to Holland!? Well, not to the Dutch mob, which figures; also not to Dutch minister Pechtold who feels the people would feel disadvantageous consequences. Remember, we have the bad luck of dealing with what the Dutch consider the worst government they ever had. The really doubtful factor is constituted by our own politicians. 'Cause this would be meddling! That was the first reaction of political parties FOL and Forsa Korsow. To PNP finance minister de Lannooy it sounded likebeautiful musicif our government couldn't borrow any more. (I guess that goes for all citizens of all countries all over the world all through history.)
In his comment, two weeks later, Pechtold commented this plan had its attractions, but he wanted to guarantee development aid would continue to be available for education, fighting poverty and public safety. This can only be realized by fundamental changes in government (hear, hear!) with less rules, to make more competition possible, and an civil servant organization that's more friendly to the public. Pechtold also emphasized that the bilingual system must be maintained, an obvious reference to the eradication of Dutch in the school the present Bestuurscollege has been wasting so much money and efforts on.
Tomorrow's another day...
The first Round Table Conference, planned to last for three hours, is due in just a week, but nobody here seems to have been preparing much for it. FOL's Godett (or is that Godett's FOL?) doesn't even know yet if they'll participate at all. Let alone trying to make one front with the other parties. Small wonder nobody expects much of any importance will be discussed there. That may not be all bad!
Yesterday Went by Last Week-End
To at least my agreeable surprise, the first RTC was a huge success! They say. One clue may be FOL's Sedney Ignacio's remarkThe people can go to sleep quietly. Holland will come up with a solution to our debts.What chutzpah! This guy wants to be independent? Anyway, Dutch PM Balkenende said it wasn't that simple, Holland would not just take over those debts. A new Rijkswet [Kingdom Law} will have to take care of the little problem. Prerequisites are solid budget policy, effective financial supervision, prevention of new debts and observing international pacts. Not half a week later, IJs started releasing statements that had not been agreed upon at all. Nothing new, here. Better keep tossin' 'n turning' in your bed.While the next RTC will be in March, the islands will have to do some heavy homework before July 2006:
A complete list of tasks every island wants to execute in the new situation and of all tasks in co-operation with other islands; comprehensive proposals on the execution of that co-operation; list of tasks the island wishes to be executed by another island; a complete list of those international pacts signed by the Kingdom by which the island wishes to be held in the new situation.
(Looks like there may be some people getting more work than they bargained for when they became civil servants.)
There's No Hurry
After it was all over, FOL wanted more time to look at the final RTC accord before ratifying it. While you may think that reading so many printed words can only take a long time for our politicians, FOL member Douglass called it a mere way to thwart former FOL member Rignald Lak. (Makes one wonder when Douglass will leave FOL, on his own power or with a little push, or pull - just a thought.)
Almost simultaneously, the Curaçao Finance Dept. published a study from which it becomes clear that financially Curaçao island will be worse off after independence. Expenditure will go up with ANG510M, income by only 450M. Not only that (90M means 600/year per head) but worse, public debt will grow with 1.7G to 4G - 105% of the national income. Which means Curaçao will reach that state way ahead of schedule!
Vereniging Bedrijfsleven Curaçao VBC feels Finance Dept. mistakenly assumed Curaçao will take over debts and civil servants from the Antilles.
But who else would assume those debts and hire those loafers?
Let's stop voting! When shopkeeper Raoul ‘Carlito’ Ferreira was murdered in December 2005, in a memorial march the Vox Populum was heard to cry out:Stop the politikeria! Let us never vote again.(Politikeria is a rather obvious Papiamentu word play on porkeria, filth, hogwash.) There also was an outcry for help from Holland. It shows once again how the people have no confidence at all in 'their' political representatives, who are completely powerless to combat the crime wave - it is commonly suspected because they do not want to.
This, once again, makes the vote on the Referendum suspect: The Referendum is not valid: The voters have not voted.
On the same day, a corpse riddled with bullets was found, reputedly the body of Ferreira's murderer. Another sign how the country is sliding into anarchy: Even thedecent peopleare starting to take the law in their own hands.
The Vote of 2006
The Vox Plebeum kicked out Godett's FOL and Cova's PLKP (in all their hurry for independence next year these guys, with MAN, still hadn't got around to consolidating the results of that first RTC conference). Notwithstanding this fine result, the governmental mess we're in now might bring real problems in the relation island-country governments. MAN sold out to FOL and PLKP (but did not suffer at the ballot), and the three of them still have all power in the island government. As they have loudly proclaimed they will go for total independence, and that they will not accept any interference from this last national government, the question is if they will show enough decency to accept their loss graciously.
(They finally just left, but knowing these guys as we came to do, this had seemed a devout wish. Even if, after all, more people turned up to vote in this election than for the referendum.)
Zoals de wind waait, waait m'n rokje
[With the wind, so blows my skirt]
While Dutch minister Pechtold denies having promisedHolland will take over the ANG5G debtat the first RTC, in the final accord signed by his boss, PM Balkenende, one does find the sentence 'Holland will offer a solution for the debt problems.' Dutch parliament seems to find this and other matters (good government, healthy finance and judiciary arrangements) a bit vague. They also doubt the next RTC will be on schedule; it has already been postponed for 1 (one) week. They seem even more sceptical about the final 'independence' date of July 2007 than we are; there's just too much work left to do. But Renfred Rojer of Curaçao island government states they are on schedule. That's a relief?
Much Ado About Nothing? Well...
After all that palaver, you'd think the Statuut would have to be discarded. Now, after all, nobody really thinks so.
But it should be applied and practiced; after all those fifty years about time too. The Dutch certainly will not stand for helping out with our gigantic debt problems without guarantees for a working legal system, effective financial supervision, and sound government. (You'd better askWhat's right with this picture?)
At least the Dutch government now finally seems to realize that the Antillean people have been left in the lurch during that past half century, with politicians on both sides of the ocean free to mess around to their heart's content. Could be a start.
In March 2006 all the islands, at least their goverments, agreed on one thing. That's nice for a change? Wait until you hear it: They, on their own, should take care of their 'judicial (is-this-a) system', without any influence from the Country of Holland.Conclusions of Dutch parliament were summarized by PM Balkenende:Antillean PM IJs promises there will be no new debts when a solution for the old ones is found. Dutch minister Pechtold does accept new debts, as long as they not grow (whatever that means.) On these conditions Holland will offer a solution (whatever that means) for the debts problem.
Which is exactly what the Antillean government(s) want. Oh, Ensley Tromp, where are you now that we really need you?
Next RTC not on schedule
Dutch minister Pechtold has announced that the next RTC, planned for March 28, cannot proceed and has to be replaced with more preliminary discussions. PM IJs thinks this is not right; things should march on schedule as there is too little time anyway. Hear, hear. The Antilleans are acting paranoid, claiming Pechtold took good care the negotiations would not be finished in time. Maybe so; but with what purpose?
The funny thing which nobody has foreseen, certainly not the politicians pushing for independence, is that the new structure looks like much more intimate and direct relations with Holland; exactly what Bonaire and St. Eustatius voted for. In that manner, Aruba may again become a part of the Netherlands Antilles (a trend you can notice already on the WWW), even if the N.A. as a country would cease to exist.
Chavez sure brings back memories
A nice one to talk about Bush as being another Hitler, Chavez announces he will build up an army of 2 million. This means that 12.5% of all male and female adult Venezuelans would have to join. No wonder he thinks his order for 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles is not enough! All this is in the grand old totalitarian dictator tradition of selling the people the idea they have a common enemy: The Nazis made it the Jews, the Chavistas must make do with the USA.
After USA president Bush announced no more spare parts would be delivered for Venezuela's F16 fighters, Chavez went to Russia to order 30 replacement Sukhoi SU-30 jets, plus 15 helicopters with 18 more to come. The first 30,000 of 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles were delivered in June 2006, and Venezuela has plans to open manufacturing plants. Very ironic that all that money comes from oil, which is sold mainly to the USA. In July 2006 Chavez was hoping to sign an arms deal in Moscow worth around $3bn (including a submarine, anti-aircraft missiles and patrol boats, making Venezuela Russia's fifth customer on this market. He also became fast friends with Belarus' president Alexander Lukashenko, dubbedEurope's last dictator, now in power for his third term after what the EU called 'rigged elections'. Ominously, Chavez called Belarusa model of social development that we have only begun to establish at home.When Chavez got home from his spending spree, he had spent $5G. (He has been good friends with Cuba's Castro for a long time - or is it Castro's Cuba? a country known as havingone of the most brutally repressive regimes of modern times.The problems with Castro's serious illness can only be a source of worry to Chavez.) The EU has cancelled visas for Lukashenko and thirty of his top aides, and frozen their assets.
The Dutch, good businessmen as they are, see no problem with the 200M worth of radar and weapon guidance systems Chavez ordered in Holland. And after all, they have a point: If those rockets fall, it will probably be on our soil—certainly not theirs. Sweden did stop selling Saab-Bofors weapons to Venezuela, to the last's surprise.
Lukashenko and Chavez ©AFP
One result of all Chavez' spending is on ongoing inflation of 9% a year. Like France president Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s, Chavez thinks he can combat inflation by introducing a new coin, only he has to make it 1000 times the current value (de Gaulle only needed a factor 100); just like Zimbabwe not one month later. A bolivar will then be worth about ANG1, maybe not entirely coincidental? For as long as it lasts.
Venezuela has had a greedy eye out for our three Islas Inutiles for a long time. During the 1982 Falklands crisis Dutch PM Lubbers immediately sent a squadron over to keep the Venezuelans from getting ideas. With Chavez inevitably getting the same old tireless thoughts, Dutch defense minister Kamp declared not to worry: The Dutch navy could beat any Venezuelan attack off blindfolded with one arm tied behind its back. Ministers occasionally have been known to be wrong before, though. Some Dutch parliament members agree and want something more solid than these easy-going reassurances.
A good thing the Vox Plebeum kicked out Cova and Godett; but there are plenty of weirdly fanatical anti-Dutch types left in the present government.
Nobody seems to like Kamp's utterances much. The Aruba consul of Venezuela stated Chavezmerely wants to integrate South America and the Caribbean; whatever that means: could be anything between the Third Reich and the EU. Predictably and understandably, (not only) IJs is more scared of Chavez' reaction than of Holland. I, for one, am grateful that at least one country has the guts to come out and point at the danger. If only more diplomats had done so around 1936.
Harsh Words, Maybe
After IJs, now almost gone (he's made his pile) protested once again against things that really hardly matter, Pechtold came out with some strong statements.
Holland insists on a Rijkswet on public finance; one central bank and one coin unit; no independent borrowing; no Dutch help on debts without a sound financial management; arrangements for economic reforms and agreements on foreign relations.
The June 2006 announcement of World Bank/IMF that, of 18 countries of which debt had been halved 8 had just as heavy debts again after 5 years, will not do much to mollify Holland.
Holland further demands one court of justice. This includes all courts and prosecutors. Guarantees are also needed for public safety and against criminality and terrorism.
Ex economy minister Rosaria came out right away with a statement that one central coin was hard to realize with separate island entities. (He got the message but did not understand it.) Judges and prosecutors will be relieved to hear all this; and so are we.
One of the reasons for a new status of the Netherlands Antilles, so the politicians never tired of telling us, was that the present structure was top heavy and expensive. It was rather a surprise, therefore, when the March 2006 preliminary RTC decided to keep all existing civil servants, contrary to earlier statements. Not only was this meeting behind schedule, for which nobody can blame the Dutch; it also became clear that financial statements should have been ready now (they're not). Matter of fact, nothing much is ready yet. Don't say it: You knew it all the time.
Another interesting item is that Holland feels the debt situation should be ready for fixing by July 2007, but the island governments feel that they have a four year period of grace here. As for now, it's still not even a clear how much debt there is.
In St. Maarten, government party DP wants to exclude the opposition parties from deliberations on the future State of St. Maarten. They are a nuisance, deputy Wescott-Williams feels; maybe because they proposed to install an ombudsman last week? Anyway, this is not the way a democracy is supposed to work - and St. Maarten is not even independent yet.
Wish I'd been there - there must have been plenty of long faces to gloat over, when UN advisor Carlyle Corbin held a lecture at UNA University, on the possibilities of forcing Holland to grant us more autonomy. No doubt he was invited by the very same guys he set out to disappoint. According to Amigoe newspaper, 60prominentpeople were there. They got a different message than they must have hoped to hear - let's hope they really got it (get it?)
Putting it in a nutshell, do not expect any help from the UN in getting more autonomy than Holland wishes to grant:The N.A. has had more autonomy since 1955 [Statuut] than any other not completely independent Caribbean state.
The country was removed from the list of countries to be decolonized in that year. Follows that it is up to Holland to make the final decisions, for example on finance.
The UN committee for decolonization, of which Corbin is an advisor, is hardly functional anymore in the first place since 1990. Another proof, if anybody but them needed it, that our politicians' outcry for independence is passé and, with its Marxist connotations, has long since been discredited.
As J.F. Kennedy used to say,tough shit.
There's Still Hope
In June 2006 premier de Jong first announced that the Dutch government will take over 85% of our National Debt. It was not long before conditions started leaking out. They are not much to the taste of our politicians, but hardly came as a surprise.
We give you the gist here.
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