Published On: Wed, Jul 17th, 2013

From body bags to gift wrap

Jacob Gelt DekkerPrime Minister of The Netherlands, Mark Rutte, led a encouragement and empowerment delegation to Curacao. Rutte addressed his audiences with statement like , "For the first time in many years, there are no issues on the table between the countries. We finalized the formal process of autonomy. The Island debt restructuring is done. So now, it is time to join forces and make some money together."

The jubilant optimistic attitude of the delegation could not be in a starker juxtaposition to last year's attempted coup d'etat by Curacao’s Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte. and political leader- Helmin Wiels,' war cry, " We hold body bags in ample supply to send all Dutch back home," was hardly a welcome invitation.

Today, the former chairman of parliament, Ivar Asjes, who supported Schotte's coup d'etat by sending parliament home indefinitely, is the all smiles. As today’s Prime Minister of Curacao,. Asjes got in on Rutte's act and the visit became a two day empowerment mission, hesitant at first, and jubilant in the end.

A renewed economic challenge and great opportunity is begging in South America, according to Rutte. Years of divisive, belligerent bravado by Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez died down with the leader's demise. Hugo's entourage of anti- USA sycophants fizzled out as well and their financial structures imploded . Venezuela is experiencing giant inflation and currency deflation, enormous food shortages with its population daily for hours in food rationing lines , and seemingly unstoppable waves of brutal gang crime.

Rutte’s prevailing message is, Curacao should reconsider its potential hub function with its large, and extremely well equipped, natural sea port. Expansion of the airport, and reinforcement of its cross road internet facilities could bring the world to Curacao and with it, great welfare and well being for the island. The Kingdom governments pledged to work together on improving the conditions, the legal framework, and the entrepreneur is invited to follow suit.

What lacked the motivational sessions was a large audience of entrepreneurs. Curacao is predominantly and traditionally an island of civil servants and professionals. Family fortunes of the business community are mostly invested to reinforce the status quo and hold on power, radical renewal and extending risk capital are not the objective.

Renewal has to come from foreign investors and they have a wide choice of opportunities around the world. Curacao’s unique selling proposition has to entice them to extend their foreign investment capital and long term efforts.

For years, xenophobia of the island community, restricting labor and immigration laws have worked as a deterrent to foreign investors. Laws on the books may appear somewhat sympathetic but daily execution by a large dysfunctional body of civil servants often drives entrepreneurs to desperation.

I am happy with the enormous improvement of the relationships within the Kingdom, but for the entrepreneurs there is still a long way to go before the goods will be delivered.

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