Highs and hang-overs
A twenty-nine-hundred kilo cocaine bust in a residential mover's container, on transport from Curacao to Rotterdam, made front pages. It was remarkable that during the collection period, which lasted an estimated two years and involved hundreds of small couriers, bribed civil servants and competing, murderous gang members; the entire operation was left alone. Only once the bulk shipment reached shores in Rotterdam, officers confiscated the 100 million Euro stash and made a few arrests. The route used by home movers was an old, often used passway, in the past often exploited by wealthy wholesalers who took a few years of watersports- sabbatical on the islands. Once again, it confirmed that Curacao remains a major player in narco-trafficking from South America to Europe and that such shipments are supported by most of the local economy.
Another headline story reported on a poll taken amongst islanders regarding satisfaction with their governments. It showed that especially on Curacao, people regard their political leaders as, consistently corrupt, selfish, and incompetent. Autonomy is strongly supported, according to the poll, but a lack of oversight is demanding tougher big brother functions from the international community.
What to read into these two outcomes is puzzling. Do islanders wish to traffic their drug undisturbedly, while public servants should be patrolled and reprimanded for collecting backshish? Islanders are opting for the best of both worlds but obviously are not ready for the consequences. Unfortunately, this is incompatible. It demonstrates the dilemma of island mentality down to the core; short term quick profits, and without any readiness to accept long-term consequences; the slick and slippery path of every trader.
Over the last ten years, Curacao has been blessed with a tsunami of windfall profits, ranging from international handouts, canceling of most of the national debt, shifting of tourists market to its advantage, etcetera, but officially these blessings have not materialized in any economy growth.
That is to say, not growth that one can easily observe. A closer look shows hundred of thousands of islanders hopping back and forth to Europe several times a year, sporting double residences mostly in Holland, a wholesale exploitation of the Dutch welfare system, to a magnitude that was never before, and most of all, a thriving, and a rapidly growing narco-trafficking industry.
Dear Islanders, since this is the route to prosperity you have chosen, this is the course you are steering, you will have to put up with some negatives and share your life with parasite-politicians, gang wars, and international public embarrassment. De facto, this is what you decided to put up with; this is your future. Stop whining.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle