E tùnel bou di laman pa konektá Punda i Otrobanda

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Na lugá di usa brùg Juliana pa bai di Punda pa Otrobanda awe nos lo por tabata krusa via di un tùnel den fondo di Bahia Santa Ana. Na 1943 (predesor di) gobièrnu a entregá e diseño di “tunnel Curaçao” ku un kosto di 5 mion (awe ekivalente na 73 mion) na Staten. Polítika a sòru pa e no a lanta foi tera. 

Ku yegada di refineria tantu aktividatnan den haf komo tráfiko di vehíkulo a krese rápidamente. Mester a buska un konekshon efisiente entre Punda i Otrobanda. Brùg Emma ya no tabata kumpli. Gobernadó Helfrich kier a konstruí un brùg haltu pa konektá e dos partinan di Willemstad. E idea a muri asina un Gobernadó nobo a keda instalá. Na 1925 un di dos plan pa un brùg a keda presentá ku tambe a frakasá. 

Na 1943 Pieter van Stuivenberg di Landswater-voorzieningsdienst i su asistente Frans van Drimmelen ta presentá un idea revolushonario pa un tùnel den Bahia Santa Ana. Arkitekto van Stuivenberg tabata konosí pa diseño di Cinelandia, Palais Royal i edifisio di KNSM. E tùnel segun kálkulo lo a kosta ménos ku un brùg i lo a spar outomobilistanan tempu i gasolin pa hasi e kruse.

Tabata un “zinkertunnel”, un konstrukshon di forma di tubu di metal diki ku tratamentu spesial kontra salpeter i polushon den awa (zwavelzuur) ku lo a keda bahá den nos bahia na mas o menos 16m di profundidat. No a skohe pa koba un tùnel debí na kostonan haltu. Unabes e konstrukshon tabata den fondo, lo a bini ku un kapa di betòn pa protehá e metal.

E diseño di e tùnel: 7m hanchu, 3.5m haltu, ku kapasidat pa 1000 vehikulo pa ora den ámbos direkshon, i fasilidat pa baiskel i peaton. E proyekto ku un largura di 700m tabata den forma di un ‘L’ (wak foto di Amigoe, 2 mart 1943) ku e parti di entrada/salida na de Ruyterplein (Punda) i entrada/salida na Klipstraat (O).

Un komishon multidisiplinario Tunnel Curaçao a elaborá e proyekto di tùnel ku na komienso di 1943 a keda entregá na Staten. E intenshon tabata pa Staten i gobièrnu traha huntu. Dos dia promé ku tratamentu den Staten, Shon Henny Eman, Miembro di Staten pa Aruba, a yama e tùnel un ‘spoki i fantasma di Kòrsou’. E a deklará: “Het zijn dergelijke onverantwoordelijke dingen die men op Curaçao doet met de gelden der gemeenschappelijke begrooting, dat Aruba er toe geleid heeft met open vizier acties te voeren tot een scheiding van Curaçao” (Amigoe 3 mart 1943). Apesar di tur esfuerso, e proyekto a pega. Den añanan 50 brevemente a hunga ku e idea pa un tùnel. Finalmente a opta pa un brùg i e tùnel ambisioso i nunka bisto den nos region, a pasa pa historia.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Pakiko ta vota riba djabièrnè?

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Nos no sa ki dia e próksimo elekshon lo tuma lugá na Kòrsou, pero manera kustumber e lo ta riba un djabièrnè. E rason tin hopi ke ber ku iglesia katóliko. 

No semper elekshon tabata riba djabièrnè sinembargo. Entre di 1937 pa 1966 tabatin 9 elekshon pa Staten ku a tuma lugá 5 biaha riba djaluna, 2 bia riba djaweps i 2 biaha riba djarason. Despues di 1969 te awe, tur elekshon pa Staten tabata riba djabièrnè ku eksepshon di 2016 ku tabata riba un djarason pa menasa di orkan Matthew riba djabièrnè 30 sèptèmber. Pa loke ta trata elekshon pa Konseho Insular (KI) tur 3 elekshon entre 1951-1962 tabata riba djaluna. Di 1963 te e último elekshon di KI, tur tabata riba un djabièrnè. 

E konteksto históriko ta demostrá ku Kòrsou tabata konosé un divishon fuerte alimentá pa un lucha pa poder entre di protestant i katóliko. E élite ku tabata dominá gobernashon i polítika tabata e potestant. Katólikonan tabata defendé e masa ku histórikamente no tabatin poder polítiko i ku te 1949 kasi no tabata kalifiká pa vota. Pa haña poder polítiko i ekonómiko ku desproporshonalmente tabata den mannan no-katóliko, Monseñor Verriet di iglesia katóliko, na 1936 a lanta Partido Katóliko Romano di Kòrsou (CRKP) ku a gana e promé dos elekshonnan. Despues ku CRKP a kibra na 1948, partidonan di ideologia katóliko, Partido Katóliko di Pueblo (KVP) huntu ku Partido Nashonal di Pueblo (PNP) te medio añanan 60, tabata saka mayoria di voto.

Ban bèk pa djabièrnè. Oponentenan di partidonan di ideologia katóliko durante kurso di tempu a kansa ku iglesia katóliko tabata malusá su posishon instruyendo su pastornan pa riba djadumingu, bispu di elekshon, pa durante servisio kombensé pueblo pa vota katóliko. Sifranan ta mustra ku di e 8 elekshonnan riba djaluna, un partido di ideologia katóliko a gana 6 biaha!

No-katólikonan, prinsipalmente Partido Demokrat ku a lanta na 1944, a protestá fuertemente kontra e lokual e a mira komo maluso di poder. Ounke ku den komienso tabata difísil, poko poko e konsenshi ku religion no mester mete den asuntunan estatal, a kombensé outoridatnan pa pone elekshon riba djabièrnè. E pensamentu tabata ku kualkier propaganda polítiko di iglesia riba djadumingu pa influensiá e resultado elektoral, por a keda kontra-arestá 4 dia largu promé ku elekshon riba djabièrnè.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Referensia: Asina’ki Pueblo A Vota, Sidney F. Ritter; Staatkundige onwikkelingen der Nederlandse Antillen, Annemarie Kasteel

Venezuela: from failure to collapse

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It took some breathtaking acts of illegality and repression that at the end paid off handsomely. Mr. Maduro was just sworn in for a second term as Venezuela’s president. What’s next for this once richest country in Latin America?

In my mind there’s no doubt that Venezuela will sink from its current status of failed state to a collapsed state. See, if your economic, political and social policies are bad, you get an epic humanitarian meltdown. What’s needed is a strategy led by Venezuelans, sustained by a serious multilateral platform for fostering a political change when Mr. Maduro’s government collapses.

The odds that the UN Security Council accepts an intervention in Venezuela, I think, is zero considering the Chinese economic interests, Russian and Iranian (on a smaller scale) geopolitical ambitions. Hoping for diplomatic ‘negotiations’ with these countries to limit their support for Maduro is not easy as their presence there is connected with other global hotbeds (Kossovo, Syria, South China Sea). 

Also, suggesting military intervention only empowers hardliners and lead others to join Chavismo to ‘defend the motherland.’ Whilst I support targeted economic sanctions on the abetters of a patronage network that maintains the status quo in Venezuela, I don’t think indiscriminate sanctions as proposed by the right-wing Lima Group (a group that doesn’t recognize Mr. Maduro’s regime) are effective. It would only amplify the suffering and tide of refugees.

Fact is that we can’t count on Mr. Maduro to stop Venezuela’s crisis. As we’ve seen in parts of Africa, extreme socioeconomic collapse and the absence of rule of law tend to render the opposition toothless and send the common man to fend for himself in order to survive. This system has become Maduro’s most effective tool of repression and corruption. Venezuela’s economic and political crisis would have to worsen to such a degree that it threatens the power base of hard-liners and the military. I don’t see that happening soon.

People need an alternative to start believing change is possible in Venezuela when the collapse happens otherwise the unknown will only extends Mr. Maduro’s stay in power. The time may have come for a Venezuelan government in exile (GiE) and a provisional parliament shifting the centre of gravity of opposition decision-making beyond the borders of Venezuela. A GiE is a very rare move in international politics and results from widespread belief in the illegitimacy of the ruler(s), war or humanitarian crisis. The effectiveness of a GiE depends primarily on the amount of support it can receive, from foreign governments and its own population. It’s important that the Venezuelan GiE, from the onset presents itself as offering a democratic alternative for all Venezuelans. To be effective, it must be able to win over Chavistas who are (becoming) disenchanted with Chavismo. It’s no easy task, but the wounds of my neighbor country are too severe to respond quickly to standard procedures.

Photo: Pro democracy rally in Port Imperial, West New York. IPhone, 16 July, 2017.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Population crisis is on our doorsteps

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Last year a Minister forcefully downplayed the news that the Curaçao population was diminishing at an alarming rate. Now it turns out that the decline in 2018 was the largest we’ve seen in the past 15 years. Further analysis shows that the birth and mortality rates have remained unchanged meaning that the decline can only be ascribed to an exodus.

There’re other salient details. We have 92 men for every 100 women in Curaçao whilst according to the U.N. the global rate is 102 men for 100 women. A large group of women therefore can’t form lasting relationships, causing serious problems for our social fabric. Cases of single women leaving for this reason are more common than we realize. Women’s fertility rate here is 2.06 which is slightly below the replacement rate of 2.1 to maintain current population levels. In 1975 our population was 150,258, today it’s around 158,300, a growth of 5.3%. During this period Aruba’s population grew with 72%. 

What’s needed is not dismissing these facts, but to recognize the need for comprehensive demographic policy. An increase in population and replacing our aging workforce are indispensable for economic growth, social stability and competitiveness. In 2009 I made the case for such a policy and a population of 300,000. This idea never really took off because of our aversion to long term planning and predisposition to immediately bog down in details instead of first looking at the big picture. We must revisit this issue however.

While we have a rather diversified economy, we can’t be ‘all over the place’ pretending to be competitive in all sectors. We need to agree what kind of country we want to be and which economic sectors we’re going to pursue. Then, we determine what kind of people, workforce and skills are needed.

We have to make it more attractive for people to have children by reducing the opportunity costs of getting married and raising kids. More flexibility in the workforce allowing couples to split the maternity and paternity leave between themselves may be an innovative incentive. Flexi-work making it possible for more employees to work whenever and wherever they can, even at home is a game changer. Also needed is a balanced immigration policy to attract our diaspora and foreign workers according to local needs. Future immigration policy must be tightly coupled with infrastructure development, urban planning, a proactive management of migrant integration and social cohesion. 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but realize that economic growth is not possible with a shrinking population. Yet, population policy is not just economic policy, but it affects social policy as well as politics.

Finally, the exodus -mainly caused by our dismal economic performance- needs our immediate attention. We still chase after ad hoc ideas and dubious investors instead of concentrating on a policy mix that cuts bureaucracy, stimulate export, productivity and competitiveness. The lesson should be that what we put off as ‘too distant in the future’ will sooner than later turn up on our doorsteps.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Photo: Elderly man in a park in Yerevan, Armenia. Iphone, July 2018.

We all look up at the same moon (no matter who or where we are)

93734FFE-E4FB-4CFC-8287-0B757130AACEFinding your own way is what makes traveling so exciting. Ölgi, Mongolia.

I’ve visited a total of 98 countries so far, including 14 in 2018. I count myself lucky especially considering that one of the most common regrets at old age is not having taken that one trip. My advice is to not put off traveling until retirement only to find out that when you are finally ready to go, your health is not.

3CB7C065-AFAF-4C7E-84F6-C344139F36A5Little girl striking a pose during a windy and cold day in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

63CAE399-089A-45E4-A6B2-B620D8AF0C3FKazakh man and son are checking on me to see if I was lost, while walking litteraly in the middle of nowhere. Kazakhs in this region are (semi-)nomads who raom the mountains and valleys. They are known for their friendliness and hospitality.

F6839E79-DCE6-4F75-BC13-5E5B6F822F44Humans are the only beings that cook their food. Eating is also an excellent time to share different perspectives and ideas as demostrated here in Areni, not far the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.

18F58A45-EE0F-4D71-81EA-57D896BA8BE0 Many people (including me)  are fascinated with Soviet art like this one in the central park in Tirana, Albania.

98A48CC8-EEE4-4794-9158-852564962DFDEurope’s shame. Gypsies have been discriminated against in Europe for more than a thousand years. Unfortunately for Gypsies, Europe has shed light on discrimination in all corners of the world with the exception of this one in its own backyard. In Romania gypsies are systematically neglected and among the poorest. Gypsy girl selling flower in a restaurant late at night in Brasov.

Travel, compared to other things you spend your money on, is so much more rewarding. It gives you a sense of compassion, putting yourself in the shoes of “strangers,” and better understand the perspective of the very person we belittle or attempt to change. In other words, create a global consciousness among populations that the cultural differences that make us unique are greatly overshadowed by what we have in common with each other. Never forget that when we look up we all see the same moon.

9A222F77-CE62-49F6-B857-F18A610EC4FCMan reading in a park in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. 

C9260EE6-DA29-4F61-87CB-24D8FF0F6C97Only in Mongolia you’ll find a festival dedicated to the Golden Eagle, a fierce hunter. After a movie was made about this event (The Eagle Huntress), outside interest for this festival has grown. This picture shows 5 participants in this two-day event that crowned the most successful eagle hunter of 2018.

6FC78B55-1BDB-4C9D-9224-C82252BBDDADIstanbul, the largest city in Turkey, may as well be called the “cat city”. Stray cats roam everywhere and yes, they are revered. It is as if they own the city.

As for me, I look forward to more assignments and travels in 2019 in my quest to fill my bucket with mind-expanding experiences. Keep you posted.

(All picures were taken with my Iphone).

Willemstad, Curaçao

Grateful

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A year ago I started with this blog in order to make sense of local and world events as they interact with each other and directly or indirectly impact the quality of our lives. Sure, social media allows us today to express opinions like never before, but I’m more interested in making a persuasive case for a focused point. My writings are not directed towards sudden results. Nor do I expect my ideas and arguments to be readily accepted.  As 2018 draws to a close, I’m reminded how grateful I am for the thousands of visitors from more than 130 countries all over the globe who have viewed, liked or commented on my articles. Thank you very much. Happy holidays and a meaningful new year filled with compassion. See you in 2019. 

The new Cold War in the Caribbean

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Writing about the two Russian nuclear-capable bombers that landed two weeks ago in Venezuela, I cautioned that we should expect more such moves as Russia and China seek to enhance their presence in the Caribbean Basin. We didn’t have to wait long. Russia just announced that Venezuela will allow Moscow to establish a military base on the island of La Orchila, just 311 km east of Curaçao. 

 

The need for us to form a judgement to determine how best to relate to Russia and China in our region as they clearly seek to rebalance the historic dominance of Europe and the US is obvious. Yet so far we, especially our politicians, have remained conspicuously silent.

There are some crucial points we have to take into consideration.

China and Russia are cooperating on many fronts to weaken the Western grip on the global order. But they’re also competitors and will continue to collaborate -also in our region- until it’s no longer in either’s interest to do so.

Without a doubt a new Cold War is brewing in the Caribbean between the US on one side and China and Russia on the other. Because of this, some countries, especially Venezuela and Nicaragua, have gained a degree of geopolitical significance which they eagerly use to diffuse their domestic crises. Also, authoritarianism in Cuba, Suriname, Dominica and others are being emboldened by China and Russia.

Both Beijing and Moscow have their eyes on several regional small (island)states which they expect will align with them in the United Nations, further boosting their global influence.

The US has been cutting assistance to the region and taking a hard line on immigration making the US unpopular. Leaders like the Prime Minister of Dominica praised President Putin saying that Russian leadership has “provided a great balance in the world on international issues”.

Talks here and in The Hague about constitutional changes whilst we do not even have a referendum law may push us towards becoming a vassal state. We should also be aware of the practices Russia employs elsewhere to influence democracies via cyberwar and the presence of operatives. Some areas in Curaçao, especially politics as we saw recently, are especially vulnerable to outside influence.

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We need to have a frank conversation how best to relate to Russia and China in our region. I’m not saying we should dismiss them. We need to focus on our connections on the long run regarding these newcomers as well as our traditional partners. These important considerations need to be discussed here and should not be relegated totally to The Hague.

Willemstad, Curaçao