Tuesday , October 24 2017

Opinion: The Daily Herald editorial on re-colonisation

In its editorial The Daily Herald writes today:

MAN leader Charles Cooper did the right thing by apologising for saying “blood will flow” should the Kingdom Government try to apply in Curaçao the same instruction given to the Governor of St. Maarten on the screening of candidate ministers (see related article). He explained later that he was just trying to indicate he would fight with heart and soul for his country’s autonomy, but had used the wrong words.

This kind of uncalled for language is not only unbecoming of an elected representative, but also counterproductive. Empty threats and declarations of war generally don’t contribute to the resolution of disputes, because they only tend to make both parties dig deeper into their respective trenches.

In St. Maarten too strong terms were used, but the discussion remained within the parameters of decency. That is important, because meaningless insults and unnecessarily offensive shouting matches often actually lead to being taken less seriously by others, including the international community.

The notion that the Netherlands wants to “re-colonise” St. Maarten as mentioned by several local parliamentarians to make money with them also sounds a bit ridiculous. While it may not be correct certainly nowadays, the overriding perception in the European part of the kingdom is unfortunately still that the Dutch Caribbean only brings headaches and bills to be funded by taxpayers in the Netherlands.

Moreover, with anti-immigration parties having gained in popularity over the years, the political climate in The Hague is actually such that the majority probably wouldn’t mind seeing the islands off to independence sooner rather than later. Of course, this would give the Kingdom of the Netherlands considerably less content in the sense of prestige, but as the current mood already has led to limiting the crown’s role there severely, that probably wouldn’t bother very many.

So, it doesn’t make much sense to counter what some considered arrogant messages from Dutch politicians to just “give me a ring” should the islands want to get out of the kingdom by saying “let’s ring them,” and would only strengthen the position of those few who seem to really be aiming for such. That’s never a good negotiation strategy even if independence were to be pursued, which obviously would require going back to the voters who twice overwhelmingly have chosen to remain part of the kingdom.

Taking into account the decolonisation track record of the Netherlands in Indonesia and Suriname, for example, the islands should not allow themselves to be pushed in any direction, but instead should take decisions on their own terms in the best interest of the people who live there. That’s what the right of self-determination is all about.

Opinion: The Daily Herald on yesterday's plane crash
Opinion: Editorial The Daily Herald