Nine candidates for the May 22 elections of a new European Parliament tried to convince the Dutch Caribbean voters of their importance during a debate in Rotterdam on Saturday, writes The Daily Herald. Candidates present were Maruschka Gijsbertha of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats/PvdA, Marc Frans of the European People’s Party/CDA), Raoul Boucke of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe ALDE/D66), Lara de Brito of the Green European Free Alliance /GroenLinks, Stieneke van der Graaf of the European Conservatives and Reformers/ ChristenUnie, Michel van Hulten of I Vote for Honest, Yernaz Ramautarsing of the Article 50 party, Alexander van Steenderen of the European Unitair Left-North/SP) and Adriana Hernandez of the elderly 50+ party.
Some of the themes that were discussed with the some 40 people that came to the event titled “European-Dutch-Caribbean voices in the EU-parliament,” organised by the Consultative Body for Dutch Caribbean persons in the Netherlands OCAN included the influence and interests of the Caribbean voter in Europe and the benefits Brussels and the European Parliament for the Dutch Caribbean. The candidates tried to present the vision of their party as well as they could through five positions.
Boucke of D66 explained that his party has already achieved a lot for the Dutch Caribbean. “We made sure that the islands can utilise European funds for nature and the environment. Judge us on what we have done, not on campaign promises,” he said.
Marc Frans, who hails from Bonaire, is the only candidate who actually campaigned on the islands. He hopes to serve the interests of the Dutch Caribbean with the experiences and information that he gathered on the islands. Frans wants to get into the European Parliament so he can work on the realisation of the hub function of the Dutch Caribbean between Europe and Latin America.
Keynote speaker and former Aruba Minister Mito Croes saw great economic and creative opportunities for the islands by utilising their strategic position in the region and Latin America. “Europe is the biggest investor in Latin America. We should not isolate ourselves, but deploy our strong sides and seek synergy with others,” he said. Croes was convinced that Europe shouldn’t be a “far from my bed show.” He said the European Union and by extent the European Parliament was more important for the Dutch Caribbean than many people were aware of. He said that having a Dutch Caribbean representative in the European Parliament was necessary for the further development of the islands.