Monday , February 26 2024

Opinion: The independance card is considered again by St. Maarten

A commentary in the Daily Herald: St. Maarten going independent was mentioned again several times in Parliament during Thursday’s debate (see The Daily Herald of last Friday) on the instruction by the Kingdom Council of Ministers to Governor Eugene Holiday for an integrity investigation into the local government and its entities in various fields. Some of the elected representatives, but also cabinet members present indicated that if this is the way the island is to be treated by The Hague, perhaps severing the remaining ties with the Netherlands would be best.

Their reaction is not surprising, especially after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the islands only need to call if they wish to leave the kingdom, during the same visit in which he mentioned the investigation request to the governor. It should be noted that he was criticised afterward in The Hague too by, among others, D66 leader Alexander Pechtold, who rightfully called the remark unbecoming, certainly for the Chair of the Kingdom Council.

But by rushing into independence, St. Maarten would only be giving Rutte’s VVD and the PVV of Geert Wilders exactly what they want: To get rid of the Dutch Caribbean as soon as possible. That is obvious also from recent actions and statements by Second Chamber members of both right-wing parties. Moreover, a choice for independence is too important to take based on anger sparked by one or more incidents. After all, it’s not the first time there have been tensions between Philipsburg and The Hague, so there’s no reason to think this dispute won’t be resolved eventually as well. And while it’s easy for a parliamentarian to wave around his Dutch passport and say that alone shouldn’t be a reason to stay in a colonial relationship, such will be up to the population and not just politicians to determine. In any case, the independence option did not come close to getting majority support in both constitutional referenda up to now on the Dutch side.

Even murdered Curaçao leader Helmin Wiels (PS), who fought fierce verbal battles with The Hague, knew that leaving the kingdom would require a preparation of at least 10 years. It is simply not something one should do in an emotional upwelling, but requires careful consideration in light of the major consequences also for future generations, including the local students who are sent to the Netherlands every year to continue their education.

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