Caribisch Netwerk reports that, on Statia, the doors of the polling station Ernest Wells Youth Centre will open on Wednesday, December 17th at 7:30 for the Statians that want to cast their vote in the constitutional referendum. The voting cards will delivered to the voters this week.
Governor Gerald Berkel has announced that the final outcome of the consultative referendum on the political future of the island will be announced at the polling station two days later, on Friday, December 19th at 10:00 am. As with any regular election, also for this referendum a real election battle has started.
The island government has launched a comprehensive information campaign and calls on residents to make use of their democratic right and make their preferences known. Several groups have sought their own way to win supporters by organising information evenings and commercials on local radio and TV.
The constitutional referendum Statia will offer four options: maintaining the current status as a public entity, independent, autonomous region within the Kingdom and full integration in the Netherlands.
Proponents of the various options from home and abroad recently took part in a panel discussion organized by the Executive Council. The Democratic Party (DP) of St Eustatius is the only party on the island in favor of the current status of public entity. Party chairman and former comissionner, Koos Sneek, said that the island can not afford further autonomy for financial reasons.
The candidate for the Labour Party in St. Kitts and Nevis, Terence Drew, is a declared supporter of independence. “If we can do it in St. Kitts, Statia can do it also. There may be fear, but sometimes you have to fall in order to stand up and become stronger, “says Drew. The politician of the neighboring St. Kitts called on Statia to become creative in increasing the self-sufficiency and told them that independence is the ultimate motive of every nation. “Just the way to that goal is a choice.”
Acting Prime Minister of St. Maarten Sarah Wescot-Williams shared her experiences from the autonomic Country St. Maarten. She stressed that if Statia would choose for autonomy, the fight would not be won yet. “Almost every day St. Maarten is fighting over some element of his new status,” Wescot said.
“Theory is one thing, but to make it work in reality is another.” According to Wescot, The Netherlands is abusing the consensus laws and stretches them to the maximum. She encourages voters Statia to base their choice in the referendum on information and “not frustration.”
Political activist from French St. Martin, Victor Paines was invited to explain the status of his part of the island as a fully integrated part of France. Acording to him, the French part of St. Maarten is no longer integrated into the French Republic. In fact, French St. Martin has a kind of hybrid status. It has autonomy, but at the same time less control over internal affairs. Thus, e.g., all social laws are made in Paris. Also, the French partdoes not have its not own parliament, as the Dutch part of the island does. Paines called this state “a half-empty bag.”