December 14, 2008


There aren't any scheduled "going away" parties for the following countries as the Netherlands bids adieu and washes their hands of these corrupt islands. Aruba didn't make the cut, as expected. It was last reported that certain unnamed Aruban Officials and a former PR consultant were at the new Senor Frogs and chatting old times with the bartenders.

It's quite a "Cheers" moment.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands finds itself on the eve of a historic event. After more than 60 years, the Netherlands Antilles will soon cease to exist. Two new autonomous nations will take its place: Curaçao and St Maarten. The smaller islands of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius will become 'special Dutch municipalities'.

The necessary legislation has been drawn up, and all the political leaders of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles need do at the Round Table Conference in the Curaçao capital of Willemstad on 15 December is place their signatures.

Exactly when this will happen is not exactly clear, as earlier deadlines were not met. All eyes are now focused on 1 January 2010. However, Deputy Kingdom Relations Minister Ank Bijleveld has said that "quality is more important than speed". Last week's debate on the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles - hosted by the Caribbean desk at Radio Netherlands Worldwide - showed there were still several stumbling blocks which must be cleared. Most important among them are a common Court of Justice, the internal divisions among Curaçao politicians, and the inadequate standard of law enforcement in St Maarten.

Tulip fields

'The "other women"...

The Netherlands Antilles includes five islands, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, the so-called BES islands, will become part of the Netherlands. Their island councils will become local councils, the governor will become a mayor, and their residents will in future be entitled to vote in Dutch and European elections.

And yet, they will retain a 'special status', and with good reason. The islands are far from the Netherlands. Or, as Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende recently put it: "We are different, at home, we speak different languages. Whereas one person grew up among palm trees, the other among tulip fields". This means that the Dutch political system will not be integrally copied by the islands. The system of pensions and social security benefits will be adjusted to Antillean standards and it remains to be seen whether the euro will be introduced as legal currency.


'What your grandmother always thought...'

In 1942, then Queen Wilhelmina spoke the historic words: "Each relying on their own strength, but with the will to support each other" with which she intended to say that the then Dutch colonies would become more autonomous in future. In 1954, her daughter Juliana definitively ended the colonial era when she signed the Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands which granted the islands autonomy.

National flag

'I'm coming by to take my stuff...'

As agreeable as things were back then, relations between the Netherlands and its former colonies became more pressurised as time went on. In the 1960s in particular, it became clear that the former colonies needed to become fully independent. Surinam led the way, and hoisted its own national flag in 1975.

Aruba also pressed for more autonomy, and was granted a separate status in 1986, with the express purpose of becoming fully independent in ten years.

The other five Antillean islands preferred to retain close ties with the Netherlands. The call for more autonomy was not heard again until the end of the past century. A 2005 referendum, in which the people of St Maarten and Curaçao voted for more autonomy, lent further weight to that call.

'Breaking Up is Hard to Do'

'What do You Mean, You've Been Planning This?

It nevertheless took several years before concrete plans were drawn up. The negotiations with Curaçao were particularly difficult. Deadlines kept being pushed back and politicians accused each other of obstruction, abuse of power, corruption and colonial interference. The people of Curaçao organised demonstrations against Dutch rule. A low point was formed by the Island Council's rejection of the hard-fought 'Final Accord' in 2006. The Netherlands and the other Antillean islands were astonished.

Opinion poll

'Screw Grandma...What You're Friends Always Thought...'

The Dutch people were slowly becoming fed up with the situation as well. An opinion poll showed that more than half the population wants to get rid of the Antilles. The islands' multi-billion euro debt in particular is a thorn in the side of many.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That paves the roadmap to boycott Aruba and arrest Joran. The Dutch people are ready and supportive of this U.S. action.