Published On: Mon, Mar 14th, 2016

Babel and Bientu

Jacob Gelt DekkerLast week, Babel and Bientu, Schotte and Dos Santos' illegal behavior, echoed through the media as a cathartic purification. The island is corrupt, and in times like these, that realization hits home.

It was not the first time, only ten years earlier, the Goddett-Monte cases also brought down an extensive clique of colluding populist politicians and businessmen. Although these criminals were of a different magnitude, for sure their public exposure did not change the society. The day after Goddett left jail, he was back in public office.

Being and becoming a narco-businessman became a highly desired status for all those undereducated, unemployed young men on the island, seeking fortune, fame and respect.

A new generation of fickle opportunists, in every sense even more flimsy than the last ones, was loudly applauded at political rallies and the masses elected them to public office.

A culture of opportunism and instant gratification appeared to be favorite on the island and by far outperformed integrity, long term strategy and social responsibility. But how come, why? Over and over, it turns out to be very destructive and counterproductive to the society and economy.

Will this latest round of prosecutorial cases in Court make any difference?? Will Curacao’s society better itself??

The prevailing sentiment on the island about the culture of corruption, crime, and opportunism is one of denial. For decennia, a chorus in the background hums an endlessly humdrum. "Crime on the island is not more than anywhere else," " Look at Holland, the most corrupt and criminal country in the world!" "It is all a hoax, a colonialism conspiracy by greedy Dutch, who are out to enslave us again and steal our oil." Often, also, the race- and slave-card trumped the game.

Convicted populist political leaders are typical phenomena in South and Latin America. Think of presidents, like Fujimori of Peru, Bouterse of Surinam, Chavez of Venezuela, Lula of Brazil, Morales of Bolivia, Salinas of Mexico, Noriega of Panama, Martell of Haiti, etcetera. None of their grand public trials and convictions did much to change the criminal corruption culture of nations they led.

Spanish colonial feudalism in concert with aboriginal Cacique systems was engrained in the society. It fostered grand privilege for a small, exclusive ruling elite, and often, fascism and authoritarianism for the masses.

The emergence of democracy in South and Latin American over the last thirty years faces the enormous challenge of reigning in privilege, breaking up the closed elite and creating an open, inclusive society in which all can participate, starting from a level playing field.

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