70 aña ku nos tur por vota pa tur nos representantenan

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Despues di kambio di nos konstitushon na 1948, riba 17 di mart 1949 pa promé biaha tur hende na Kòrsou por a bai urna i vota pa tur su representantenan. Un logro grandi den e lucha pa emansipashon polítiko. Den kuadro di komemorashon di e fecha aki mi kier a kontribuí ku algun opservashon i pensamentu.

No ta bèrdat ku hende muhé promé ku 1949 no tabatin derechi di voto. Korekto ta ku hende muhé no tabata tin derechi di voto aktivo (actief kiesrecht) promé ku 1949. Pues hende muhé no por a vota pa un kandidato. Sinembargo for di 1937 hende muhé tabatin derechi di voto pasivo (pasief kiesrecht). Pues hende muhé for di 1937 por a keda postulá komo kandidato riba un lista, basta ku e tabata kumpli ku e mesun rekesitonan vigente pa hende hòmber.

E lucha pa derechi di voto no a kuminsá ku Dòktor da Costa Gomez, pero na 1869 tempu ku e promé miembro di koló di Koloniale Raad, Généreux Jacob Richard de Lima a pidi pa derechi di voto pa Yu di Kòrsou. Despues di Sr. de Lima tabata Abraham Mendes Chumaceiro i e promé agrupashon (semi)polítiko di nos pais, Curaçaose Vrijheidsbond, ku a sigi hiba e lucha aki.

Katólikonan no tabata konsiderá pueblo sufisiente madurá pa votomentu universal. Frater Radulphus klaramente a formulá e pensamentu aki bisando: “Ku hòmbernan mes no ta reip, ta kon por papia di votamentu pa hende muhé”? (Hendrik Pieters Kwiers den Ideal Polítiko di Dr. da Costa Gomez). Esaki tabata e rason prinsipal ku Dòktor a bandoná Partido Katóliko.

Mester rekonosé e Damanan di Djarason ku a kana kas pa kas pa kolektá firma di hende muhé, pero tambe pa eduká tokante di nos sistema demokrátiko i responsabilidatnan ku ta bin ku derechi di voto. Un petishon di mi na Gobièrnu di Kòrsou pa onra e Damanan di Djarason, no a prosperá. Un di e kosnan mas impaktante pa mi tabata na 2007 ku mi a akudí na entiero di un pionero di Damanan di Djarason (mi no ta menshoná su nòmber) i ku no tabatin ni sufisiente hende pa karga su kaha hiba santana!

Na mes momentu ku nos wak atras,  mester evaluá kon durante tempu nos a atendé ku nos derechi di voto. Kon bin partidonan ta pone hende sin konosementu i asta ku antesedente kriminal riba lista pa nos skohe komo nos representante? Ta tempu pa introdusí rekesitonan mínimo pa un hende subi lista? Kon nos ta pone mas garantia pa evitá bendementu di voto? Ta tempu pa nos laga residentenan legal di Kòrsou sin nashonalidat Ulandes tambe vota? Pa nos demokrasia keda relevante e mester respondé na e nesesidatnan di awor. I mas importante, nos mester kuid’é. Ta di lamentá konstatá ku e pio enemigu di e lucha di emansipashon polítiko ta nos mes. 

Istanbul, Turkía

One hundred and still counting

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A few days ago a colleague dropped me off at the Kazakh-Uzbek border where I proceeded to walk into Uzbekistan, of course after taking care of all the formalities. And just like that Uzbekistan became the 100th country I’ve visited. It’s been quite a journey. Never was it about racking up stamps in my passport. It’s always been and will continue to be about creating paths in places others have overlooked and never settle for the same old routines. And boy did I learn some interesting life lessons.

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Vegetarian meal, Bhutan

I’ve learned that: flipping the middle finger is not an universal insult (Chad); plain bread with vinegar is delicious (Uzbekistan); eating with your hands improves your eating experience (The Gambia); the new day doesn’t start at midnight but at sunrise (Ethiopia); horse milk can make you sick (Kyrgystan), crickets are delicious (Chad), home made whiskey is not for the faint-hearted (Laos), don’t underestimate the fierce animosity among certain countries (Armenia and Azerbaijan) and having a poster of the 14th  Dalai Lama will land you in jail (Chinese occupied Tibet).

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Roasted, slightly salted crickets, Chad

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Traditional troath singer, Mongolia

I also learned that I’m black (in the USA), white (in Senegal), brown or red (in Curaçao), Brazilian, Lybian, Mexican, Indian, Iranian or Egyptian depending on what part of the world I happen to be. I got to know too much about female genital mutilation, bride kidnapping and sky burial (human corpses are placed on a mountain top to be eaten by birds).

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Beautiful Vientiane, Laos

 

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 Breaking bread, Armenia

At the end of the day however, my most important lesson is that no matter where,  people have the need to feel worthy, relevant and noticed. I’m looking forward to other lands and places, not to tick off items on a list but to fill my bucket with mind-expanding life experiences.

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Mirror needed

5B9F06D7-23AE-4566-AE94-F59B1B1030CAThe real danger we’re facing is our inability to govern ourselves effectively which makes it impossible to take advantage of our society’s huge potential. This didn’t happen with a bang; the seeds were sown deep within our institutions and psyche, years ago.

We keep voting for candidates with questionable backgrounds and zero qualifications to govern that our political parties throw at us. We prefer being lied to about mega projects and promises of ‘no more measures’, however bad our situation may be. See, politicians know that real conversations about our problems and how to tackle structural shortcomings, don’t produce votes. Populism does. When politicians who ran on a realistic agenda with no tolerance for corruption do get elected, we don’t encourage them to keep their promises but ask them to be our personal ‘fixer’. 

It’s not only politics. We can’t advance if the press keeps feeding us garbage and biased news instead of reliable information. We can’t expect the same churches that go to length to coverup child abuse by their own ranks, for moral guide. Nor does it make sense not talking about incest, the surge of personal bankruptcies, gambling, prostitution, domestic violence and mistreatment of animals. Whilst we fight discrimination by the Dutch, we discriminate others whether they are (potential) refugees or based on their origin, sexual orientation and creed. We prefer to play the victim, misuse the slavery card and not deal with our past demons and assume responsibility for our future. 

No wonder we live from crisis to crisis. No wonder we defend corrupt politicians (“Others have stolen before. Let him steal now”.), make fun of those who warn against destroying the environment and turn a blind eye to transgression. We’ve become a hardened inward-looking group that flaunts apathy for university graduates and never seem able to be happy for each other(‘s success). 

We need people who hold up a mirror to who we are. Only then is change possible. And no, Curaçao isn’t too young to expect more. We’ve been autonomous since 1951 and during this period we’ve seen countries like Korea, Singapore and Ireland rise from the ashes of adversity or sink in poverty like Venezuela. There is no magical solution but hard work, planning, capable politicians and modern structures that will allow us to produce knowledgable human capital that is globally competitive. The choice is ours to make.

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

 

A new future with the EU

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On the eve of a crucial Conference in Tahiti starting 25th February 2019 to discuss a new Overseas Association Decision (OAD), I’m reminded of what Seneca said two millennia ago: “If you don’t know to which port you’re sailing, no wind is favorable.” At stake in Tahiti is our future with the EU.

Curaçao is an Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT), “associated”, not “integrated”, with the EU. The purpose of the association is according to the Lisbon Treaty: “promote economic and social development”. The OAD (LGO besluit) is a set of rules and regulations that governs the associate status.

What are our options with the EU? We could opt out (independence) like Greenland or become an integral part of the EU via The Netherlands (UPG). These choices however require mature discussions contrary to the emotional crap about ‘bags of  cash from Brussels’ we saw before. Any “in” or “out” options need to be decided by a referendum and we don’t have a referendum law. 

My article discusses some issues related to us continuing as OCT. How have we fared so far being an OCT? Did we get  the desired development? I’ve yet to see a comprehensive data-driven report on this matter. Mind you, I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. We need to measure the impact our EU status has brought us so far and must set realistic target-based priorities for the future.

Many uncertainties remain however. (1) Will there be significant changes regarding EU’s financial support to OCTs? (2) What about Brexit and its (financial) consequences considering it’s a large netto contributor to the EU budget (around £ 10 billion). (3) EU wants OCTs to foster trade integration with their region but, will that benefit Curaçao since we don’t comply with the WTO? (4) Will the end of the Cotonou Agreement (relationship between the EU and its former independent colonies) in 2021 change the EU-OCT relationship? (5) We’ve seen that the EU is pursuing trade agreements with many parts of the world (including Canada, Mexico) which can impact our interests. Could we also participate once our WTO status is normalized?

Getting to a new EU-OCT relationship is not easy. Most importantly it mustn’t become a black box meaning only a few civil servants and Government calling the shots. It should be broadly discussed with private sector, nongovernment organizations and Parliament. Hopefully it will not take long before this realization sinks in. 

Astana, Kazakhstan

Come clear or lose relevancy: the Venezuela dossier

 

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On 13th May 1969, Governor Debrot said something remarkable at the opening of the Parliamentary year. He stated that as we matured as an autonomous country we should tread more independently internationally (within the Kingdom Charter). As we know, a few years later we instituted our own Foreign Affairs Bureau in order to use the international arena to safeguard our national interest. How have we fared?

One of the first things we did during the 70s was to turn inwards. We introduced an antiquated protection policy and concentrated on our small internal market instead of thinking global considering the world was shedding its highly protective walls. We were once observers of CARICOM only to lose this status later on. We’re part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) but have since its inception in 1994 broken its rules. Consequently we don’t have trade deals and contrary to the hype about MoUs “to soon negotiate trade treaties”, fact is that without complying with the WTO no agreements are possible. In 2015 we refused to join the world community by enacting a new Sanction Bill, prompting The Hague to impose it on us us via a Royal Decree. Over the years we’ve had our fair share of political appointees with zero experience in key international positions. Before 2015 Parliament did not have a committee on international affairs.

Somehow our politicians have never taken the international panorama seriously. Idem the Venezuela dossier which reeks of clumsiness. The Government has so far been unable to clearly state its case as well as the position of The Kingdom (including Curaçao) in this matter. In a press release (Verklaring Venezolaanse Politieke Situatie) dated 28 January 2019, the Prime Minister seems to steer away from its own official position. It’s as if he wants to convey to Miraflores and his opponents that he doesn’t (totally) support The Hague. If that were the case, he should have said something. Persisting with this ‘neither fish nor fowl’ behavior is not diplomacy, it’s foolishness. 

The Prime Minister seems to have lost control over the Venezuelan case and some nongovernment groups have smelled blood in water. Not unexpectedly they have hijacked the conversation and are cleverly advancing their pro-Maduro agenda and anti-Government rhetoric. To reach their goal they do not hesitate to lie, prey on emotions and indulge in self-victimization. Yet, I don’t blame them. I blame the Government. Sooner than later the Prime Minister needs to come clear and unequivocally defend the choices made so far, recognition of Mr. Guaidó (in my opinion The Kingdom should have waited with this) and our participation in international humanitarian aid for Venezuela. And yes, he should also accept that there are risks involved when you take a stand, especially in the case of Venezuela. He needs to assume his responsibility, the kind that I suspect Governor Debrot referred to 50 years ago. If The Prime Minister fails to do this there is a chance he will lose relevancy as Head of Government.

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Self-inflicted mistakes compromising Isla’s future

A9CD5EC3-8CA2-4D91-83C4-EA9985E32157With the Venezuelan state owned PDVSA’s contract to run Curaçao’s refinery (Isla) expiring at the end of 2019, the Multidisciplinary Project Team (MDPT) was created in November 2013 to find an operator to modernize Isla and to look for alternatives should Isla close. What happened since, is troubling. 

In mid-2016 Prime Minister Whiteman went to Caracas on what should have been a high-level summit about Isla’s future. Instead he was humiliated, left waiting for hours without being able to talk to anyone. Later, the Venezuelan Energy Minister declared that PDVSA had no money for Isla’s upgrade.

Late September 2016 it finally became clear what the MDPTs president, Mr. Wiels, had been doing on his mysterious (private)solo travels in Asia. China’s Guandong Zenhrong (GZE), a rookie with zero experience in refinery building, was chosen (we still don’t know how it was selected) and signed a MoU with Mr. Whiteman to build a state-of-the-art refining facility. Progressively a ‘GZE-mania’ came about. GZE was considered by the current Administration as a wonder that was going to make everything shiny. At least 6 state enterprises signed MoUs with GZE. We were also told that GZE would build theme parks and big hotels. It took US$ 10 million and 2 costly years to realize, despite my warnings, that these penniless wannabe refinery builders played us. 

Turns out we were also played by Mr. Wiels, who left MDPT in June 2017. An investigation uncovered grave misappropriation of public funds and the fact that Mr. Wiels was hiding official documents (on his personal computer) which he refused to release. These findings led to the dismissal of the then director of the refinery, Mr. van den Wall-Arneman, who was replaced by Mr. van Kwartel.

Back to square one. But a few months later came the announcement of a preferred bidder for Isla. We breathed a sigh of relief. Our hopes were however soon shattered when it was announced that the selection of a new operator had to wait for an investigation into corruption allegations involving individuals close to the bidding process, including the refinery director who was later fired. The bidder, Motiva, the US-based arm of Saudi Aramco withdraws.

So far we have botched this process. I know that one never gets all that he wants during negotiations. But some of these wounds are self inflicted.

  1. We’ve never been able to take the Isla discussion to a national level. Instead, we’ve been placing party line officials in key positions in order to execute the party groups interest goals. This issue doesn’t belong to a handful of people. Its a national concern. Outreach to all stakeholders and giving the community the opportunity to voice concern is key.
  2. Transparency since the get-go was not executed in practice and the Isla dossier is, even for connoisseurs, a black box. No one seems to know what’s happening with the redevelopment path of Isla. Is this path no longer followed as Mr. Whiteman tried to do in February 2016? The need for transparency and communication at every stage of the project is essential. 
  3. We have not been able to control corruption and abuses of power within our ranks. Certain actors have been given a carte blanche without any meaningful oversight. We need to develop and implement detailed approaches to prevent, control, and minimize such corruption risks.
  4. We have not been able to show a balanced approach regarding the Isla dossier. So far we have created a somewhat desperate and internally belligerent attitude. Curaçao should carefully balance its position to ensure that our negotiators are not blindsided to the point that Isla’s future will come to the detriment of our overall well being and development. This danger is real, especially as we approach the December 2019 deadline. 
  5. Looking at the current and past composition of our negotiating team, it seems that we have not considered sufficiently creating leverage, looking into other mutual beneficial activities with the negotiators at the other side of the table. I miss (advising) team members with a cross-section of skills, especially a geopolitical strategist and someone with relatable experience of the opposing team.

Are we back where we started? No. We are further away from home, especially considering the showdown between some unions and the Government last week. We need to realize that yet another start, long after the tip-off does not bode well. There is less time on the board, less resources, more fatigue and less game plans. So far we have botched this process. 

 Willemstad, Curaçao

Propaganda i intimidashon katóliko den promé elekshon general di Kòrsou

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Riba 17 mart 1949 ta 70 aña di e promé elekshon general (hende muhé i tur hende hòmber por a vota). Esaki ta e promé artíkulo pa konmemorá e echo. 

Vikario apostóliko di Kòrsou, mgr. Van der Veen Zeppenfeldt algun dia promé ku elekshon pa Staten riba 17 mart 1949 ta saka un Karta di Kuaresma atvertiendo katólikonan pa no vota riba Partido Demokrat (DP) pasombra e partido ta “kontra di e prinsípionan katóliko”, esta “christelijke orde en een betere beleving van het christendom”. Segun e iglesia, DP siendo no katóliko, tabata inkapas pa goberná kristianamente. No ta un sorpresa ku DP a protestá fuertemente kontra di elekshon riba djaluna pasombra katólikonan tabata usamisa riba djadumingu pa propagá i influensiá voto (https://alexdavidrosaria.blog/2019/01/15/pakiko-ta-vota-riba-djabierne/).

Den e mesun karta mgr. Van der Veen Zeppenfeldt ta pidi pa no vota pa Nationale Volkspartij (PNP) i ta menshoná mr. dr. Moises da Costa Gomez (Dòktor) na nòmber apesar ku PNP tabatin un ideologia kristian. Dòktor lo tabata asta peligroso den su wowonan. E rabia di iglesia katóliko riba Dòktor pa kua finalmente pastor Amado Römer na 2007 a pidi pordon, tin su historia. Na 1935 mgr. Verriet i Dòktor a lanta Partido Katóliko (CRKP). Sinembargo pa Dòktor, CRKP tabata ‘slow’ pa sostené derechi di voto universal i outonomia interno. Dòktor a kibra ku CRKP na 1948, pero no a entregá su asiento na partido. CRKP ta kibra i algun miembro ta lanta Partido Katóliko di Pueblo (KVP). Hopi ta brua CRKP i KVP den otro. Ta dos partido diferente. Otro miembronan di CRKP ta sigui Dòktor i lanta PNP. E odio di iglesia kontra Dòktor tabata asina profundo ku a ninga dera Dòktor den un santana katóliko.

Kua tabata e úniko partido ku mester a vota p’e segun iglesia katóliko? KVP. Pasombra e tabata e úniko komprometé na prinsipionan di Vatikano i iglesia. Resultado di elekshon tabata un sla formal pa iglesia. KVP a saka solamente un asiento i PNP a gana elekshon. E prinsipal defensor di iglesia katóliko, korant Amigoe, a papia di “een klap in ons gezicht”. DP, ku a sali na di dos lugá djis tras di PNP, a premirá e komienso di final di e era di dominio di iglesia den polítika.

Willemstad, Curaçao