Published On: Fri, Sep 5th, 2014

Forgotten Boondocks or Prosperous Paradise?

Jacob Gelt DekkerHardly four years after the magic 10-10-10 -date of autonomy, Curacao is at its most crucial crossroad of major decisions. The island is to shape its immediate and long-term future.

Day after day, islanders are clamoring for richer well fare and more comfortable well being. Unfortunately, the economy is frozen in dead tracks and, according to the minister of Justice; organized crime has taking control of the island. More wealth and security is for many no more than a fata morgana in the blistering Caribbean sun.

Autonomy came with high strung, idyllic and ideological expectations. The maiden flight of island’s high flying politicians-of-the-first-hour and their electorate-of-dreamers crashed. Corruption, political games, extortion and even murder wiped out hopes of realizing utopias.

But the social–political-economical pirouette of the last four years was not in vain. The nation’s youthful exuberance is not to be treated as a malady, but exhibits the innate strength of a new autonomous island, and is to be cherished and nurtured.

Apathy and action-paralysis are the biggest hindrances to the island’s self- employment, to community building and successful and sustainable living. Now that islanders understand what can and cannot be done, the time is just right to exploit real opportunities and reach for the sky. So, after a few sobering experiences, the island is ready to re-launch!

Enormous opportunities gleam on Curacao’s horizon, like the fast growing and upcoming boom-economies of South America, the rediscovery by the USA and EU of the Caribbean as a temporary migration destination, the reorganization of the energy markets, new opportunities in data storage and IT, and endless new chances in traffic, trade and finance. An entire army of eager highly educated young men and women like to build their future with the island of Curacao as a jumping board.

Island politicians need to step up to the plate and have the courage to adapt to these eager markets and opportunities. They need to change outdated legislature, do away with obsolete protective economic structures that only benefit a few privileged, and accommodate new market demand.

For years, stifled government and union regulations forced most new business initiatives into the shadow economy, or offshore. The IMF, Central Bank of Curacao, Chamber of Commerce and VBC, often called for drastic changes. Liberalization of labor markets, immigration laws and government licensing practices is urgently needed. But so far, all petitions have been to no avail. Politicians, often caught in narrow tunnel vision, were preoccupied by grandiose idealistic political fantasies, self -indulgence, and pre-occupation. The cluttering of cobwebbed minds of a poorly functional corps of civil servants completed the paralysis.

The present team of ministers is very able, qualified and experienced to pull off the job of changes, but they appear to be bogged down in the trenches of local political warfare. Lack of public empowerment and endorsement, vision and leadership minimize all efforts to positive outcomes.

So now, it is totally up to the people go out and endorse their leaders and allow them to turn Curacao into a Paradise of Prosperity. Or will the people rather have their island become forgotten boondocks????

Written by Jacob Gelt Dekker - Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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