Published On: Wed, Jul 23rd, 2014

Window dressing

Jacob Gelt DekkerCuracao’s Court is preparing for a Day-in Court next month of Helmien Wiels' assasins. During a recent press conference, Navarro, Curacoa’s 20th minister of Justice in 10 years, is laying down the law and bullying organized crime into submission, with a "Basta!." The population remains indolent and indifferent; disbelief and apathy prevail.

The minister still believes that many of those involved in daily, and organized crime are of good faith, and will come to proper insight, recant and change their lives for the better. Voluntarily, he hopes, and in anonymity, they will line up at government designated locations and turn in their fire arms in exchange for a small reward. As under Biblical acumen, the Minister is convinced that “….. they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks."

But nearly 20 years of law enforcement in the battle agains crime and corruption by the Courts and the Executive did no result in any reduction; to the contrary, the decline into Hades' hell has been continuous. Recently, the Minister proclaimed repeatedly that the island is “ in the firm grip of organized crime."

But what sense does it make then to continue, stubbornly, over and over, a mistaken course? Why repeating all those senseless efforts and procedures that do not result in any significant result? It appears that the problem is no longer posed only by the underworld of crime and corruption, but equally much by the stilted upper world of law, law enforcement, and politicians frozen in their tracks. The very reality has escaped politicians, administrators and Courts that if the People do not adhere to the law, the law should adhere to the People.

Crime and corruption is only such by the definition of applicable laws. In a not too long ago past, adultery could easily land you in jail for many years, or get you the death penalty. Today in the western world it is no longer a criminal act. And the Head of the U.N. for women's rights, Kamala Chandrakiran, stated recently that: "Adultery must not be classified as a criminal offence at all”. Or a more recently example. Over the years, the soft drugs prohibition in the USA landed millions in jail, whereas today the criminals are turned into contributing entrepreneurs of a medical marihuana industry with a simple change of the law. Yes, changing the laws will reduce crime!

In Curacao, crime and corruption only exist because politicians and a local closed elite refuse to accept the new rules of the game, the laws and regulations. Corruption created for many a shortcut via a backdoor to get things done anyway. Crime and corruption continues to grow on the edge of what is not tolerated by law, especially when it is heavily supported by benefits in economic markets. Why not bring both illegality and markets in line?? Why not eliminating a large portion of crime by lifting actions out of the underworld of crime and making them legal??

Curacao’s civil servant services gave birth to widespread corruption. The cause is obviously overregulation, and simple deregulation will free the system and reduce corruption instantly. Impossible and non-functioning immigration laws forced a large part of the population---by some accounts as much as 30%--- into the shadow economy, so how simple can it be to change those laws and bringing a large part of illegality into the open?

Curacao has not shown any readiness even to debate these opportunities. A closed, stubborn political and bureaucratic local elite, often strongly supported by unions, keeps the doors tightly closed for all liberating options. Fear of the uncertain and total lack of social entrepreneurship dominate.

While window dressing continues in Courts and at press conferences, the search is on for the 21st Minister of Justice

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