The Daily Herald writes that OCAN Foundation, an organisation for Dutch Antilleans living in the Netherlands, is touring Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba to offer their services to the people and governments of these islands.
While in Statia they explained the purpose of their visit. With the help of former member of the Second Chamber Committee for Kingdom Relations Cynthia Ortega-Martijn of the Christen Union, OCAN is trying to interest Statia, Saba and Bonaire in using them to strengthen the islands’ presence in The Hague, and intensify the relationship with their residents in the Netherlands.
As OCAN Chairman Glenn Helberg explained they can act as the “bridge in the Kingdom between our people on the islands and those in the European part” (of the Netherlands) and fill the vacuum in terms of representation of the three islands there. “Mrs. Ortega knows every little corner and door that matters in The Hague. OCAN thought it would be a waste not to use her connections and experience,” said Helberg. The role OCAN and Ortega are envisioning is not only lobbying for the islands in The Hague, but also professionalising the recruitment of professionals from the islands who are now working in the Netherlands and making it interesting for them to return. According to Helberg, there is a lack of information about the islands in the Netherlands. “People want to come back but they don’t know how. This includes the elderly who have many questions about health issues, their pension and immigration. They are insecure. But we also have a database of specialists from the islands and there are people who want to come back and contribute to the development of their home island but lack information. “We could act as the intermediary. We already have a roster of information sessions established, have been acting as lobbyists and have the infrastructure in place. And Mrs. Ortega knows the processes involved. She has all the information in her head. “There is a Curaçao House, Aruba House and St. Maarten House in The Hague. But there is no Caribbean Netherlands House, only the Ministry [of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Ed.], that threshold is just too high for people,” Ortega added. Ortega also pointed at the evaluation of the islands’ constitutional status, which is to take place in 2015. “What will be evaluated? Information is needed in order for democracy to work properly. That requires a steady process of interaction.”
As per July 1, the Law for Minorities Consultation WOM has been revoked. This means that the subsidy for OCAN has also finished. One of OCAN’s activities in the Netherlands is the organisation of gala award show Dutch Caribbean Pearls, which recognises talent in various fields highlighting the “human capital” of the Dutch Caribbean.
OCAN is looking for alternative money as a lobbyist since they lost confidence of the European Union. The BES-islands should not spend money to third parties for work that they can do themselves in my view.