Published On: Wed, Oct 7th, 2015

Anniversary, but no celebration (part 1)

curacao-willemstadWILLEMSTAD - Curaçao and Sint Maarten became autonomous countries five years ago. Better for them, better for the Netherlands, that was the idea. A political assassination, an alleged corrupt prime minister and mutual irritations have since determined the relations. Can it continue like this?

The anthem blares this morning over the Wilhelmina Square, the central square of the capital of Curaçao. The national anthem is played in honor of the governor Lucille George-Wout, who represents the Dutch king.

“That's not my anthem,” sniffs Lucho Rosales. He is a member of Pueblo Soberano, the largest political party on the island, which seeks independence for Curaçao. “I experience this as colonial. The governor represents the interests of the Netherlands.”

Curaçao celebrates this week its fifth anniversary as an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Also, Saint Martin became an autonomous country on October 10, 2010. A celebration is out of the question. Since 10-10-10, the day that the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved, the relations between the Netherlands and the Caribbean islands have become even more vulnerable than before.

In the last five years, the islands have been solely in a negative light in the news in the Netherlands. The murder of the popular political leader Helmin Wiels Pueblo Soberano in 2013, in broad daylight on the beach of Marie Pampoen was the absolute nadir. The first prime minister of the new country, Gerrit Schotte, is on trial for money laundering. Curaçao wore out five prime ministers in five years. Sint Martin's government fell last week.

Netherlands tries to enforce the law on the islands, especially on St. Maarten. The Dutch attorney general, Guus Schram, sums it up: “Corruption in politics and governance, electoral fraud, abuse of power, self-enrichment and criminal organizations that consider themselves untouchable.”

According to Schram, Justice in St Maarten is unable to cope with organized crime, which is what they precisely want, the small and young country, to nestle. “Anger towards this formulation of an outsider who does not know our community,” the parliament of Saint Martin unanimously passed a motion to replace Schram by one of the island’s own last week.

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