Published On: Tue, Dec 2nd, 2014

Dutch MPs at odds over Caribbean parts of the Kingdom

Dutch ParliamentWILLEMSTAD – The Dutch ruling party PvdA opposes the proposal of the coalition partner VVD to make the Kingdom of the Netherlands a Commonwealth British model. The VVD wrote, together with the SP, an initiative note which was discussed on Monday in the Dutch parliament. PvdA MP, Roelof van Laar spoke about a “crazy” solution.

Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, the three Caribbean countries in the Kingdom, often complain about the role of the Netherlands. This year alone, the Kingdom Council of Ministers gave instructions to the three countries that led to a lot of irritation.

Aruba must forcibly consolidate public finances, a fate that previously befell Curaçao. St. Maarten has to guarantee the integrity of its government and new ministers must be screened before they take office.

The Statute requires a 'guarantee function' of the Netherlands for the standard of living on the islands.

According to the MPs André Bosman (VVD) and Ronald van Raak (SP), the cause of the frictions is in the Charter of the Kingdom, a document with legal force that next month will be 60 years old. In their eyes, it is intended as a divorce document that would regulate the further decolonization after the independence of Indonesia.

Indeed, ever since the charter was accepted, Suriname became independent, but the Caribbean countries have never chosen to go on the same path. Beyond autonomy (Aruba in 1986, Curaçao and Sint Maarten in 2010) they did not choose independence.

The Statute requires the Netherlands to fulfill a 'guarantee function' for the standard of living on the islands. Therefore Netherlands intervenes when things go wrong. Although VVD and SP say that they don’t want to abandon the overseas populations, they still want to get rid of that responsibility. That would bring more clarity and balance in the relationship. The PvdA believes that it is a 'crazy' idea, because thanks to this guarantee the residents of the three islands are properly protected from the excesses of corruption and abuse of power. Also, CDA, D66 and CU take that position.

Netherlands cannot unilaterally impose a new form of government on the former colonies. CU MP Gert-Jan Segers therefore called the debate “voluntary philosophize”. The three islands do not feel anything for these proposals. Both MPs who proposed this new form of relationship, Bosman and Van Raak sent their initiative memorandum to the Caribbean parliaments, but received zero reactions.

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