Published On: Mon, Feb 19th, 2018

The day after

Koos-SneekSlowly also by me it sinks in that Statia does not have an elected island council and an executive council anymore. This ultimate measure, which was taken last in The Netherlands in 1951 whereby the municipality Finsterwolde was stripped of its local government, appeared to be unavoidable.

The coalition, who claimed that they saw it coming long time, did not do anything to avoid it. One may wonder if this was because of a particular strategy or just simply stupidity. A small group of supporters protested in a silent march the measure taken by The Hague on the day Mr. Knops brought the message to us.

Although the former coalition members continue their rhetoric in the media and refuse to leave their offices, Statians remain rather calm and do not take to the streets. A petition to demand elections next year is the only action organized by autonomist groups Brighter Path and Pro Statia. As usual with these groups this petition is based on the wrong merits as they claim that Holland has cancelled the elections for 2019. The recently adopted law however states clearly that before December 1st the decision need to be taken whether elections will be held next year.

The answer depends largely on the progress being made to get our island back on track. This latter in its turn depends on the manner of cooperation received from us the people of Statia. The fact that the former coalition groups are putting up their customary fight reduces in my opinion the chance of elections next year. That is a pity. I too am a strong proponent of having elections as soon as possible.

Hereby I can understand the need for prolongation of special powers of a government commissioner also after these elections for a specific period of time to guarantee continued progress in good governance and the execution of projects needed to improve the situation for our people.

Seemingly because of lack of support locally, the leader of the former coalition is seeking support off island. Simultaneously other politicians and parties abroad deem it necessary to condemn the measure imposed on Statia. Mr. William Marlin, former prime minister of St. Maarten, wrote in the newspaper that The Hague is creating a precedent and warns that something similar may happen with St. Maarten.

It is a pity that even a man in his position apparently does not know that Statia’s constitutional status is not similar to the one St. Maarten enjoys. Statia’s island council last year decided to pass a motion whereby they put our national laws aside. I wonder if it is acceptable to Mr. Marlin if, for instance, Cole Bay or St. Peters decides that they will no longer adhere to the laws of country St. Maarten and that his government will not intervene.

I am reading that the Curacao political group Kousa Prome is organizing a solidarity meeting for St. Eustatius. They hold this meeting because according to them the people of Statia in 2005 and 2014 already had opted for an autonomous status. They do not even deem it necessary to have their facts straight. In the 2005 referendum Statia opted to remain in The Netherlands Antilles and this was therefore no call for autonomy. This option was made impossible by the same Curacao, that together with the other islands opted out of the NA. Curacao’s main reason for this was that they saw the smaller islands as a burden and wanted to get rid of them. It is nice to know that now they in Curacao are in solidarity with Statia, well actually with the former coalition government of Statia. Only the insiders, the people of Statia, know the detriment this coalition government has brought Statia. In 2014, as we all know, the referendum was invalid. Therefore, Statia also at that time did not opt for autonomy.

In a letter to the editor Mr. Finies of Bonaire claims that CPA, Caribbean Progressive Alliance, condemns the overthrow of our elected government. In his letter he claims that CPA consists of Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, BVI and a number of other territories, while in fact the group mainly consists of himself, Xiomara Balentina and Jacintha Brice from Brighter Path, Mr. Joseph lake from St. Maarten and who else but Mr. Clyde van Putten and Charles Woodley. I leave it up to the reader to draw his conclusions about the value of this condemnation.

I noticed that there are also political parties from the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles and Aruba that are condemning the measure and claim solidarity with the people of Statia. I noticed also that here it does not concern ruling political parties or official condemnation by the governments of these islands.

I wonder if the outpouring of solidarity is really meant for the people of Statia or rather an attempt to promote their own cause over the back of our people. The report of the committee of wise men does not give the impression that there is broad support on our island to keep the former coalition government in power. The lack of popular protests after the measure does not give this indication either.

February 7th Statia has hit rock bottom. The only direction now is upwards. The Hague needs to do their job. The national government has acknowledged its shortcomings. It needs now to put their money where their mouth is. And we need to cooperate. Instead of fighting it we, the people, the political parties, the interest groups, we all need to cooperate and work in the interest of our island to get it back on track a soon as possible. We cannot afford any more delays.

By Koos Sneek
Photo credit: Persbureau

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