Euthanasia: are we ready for a reasonable conversation?

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The time has come to have a healthy and reasonable conversation about euthanasia, Greek for good death.

Most readers know dear ones who suffer(ed) from a painful and incurable illness. Three years ago I saw my younger sister struggle with excruciating pain caused by gastric cancer. Her physicians told me that there was no hope for improvement. I was usually able to fight back my tears until I left her room in the hospice but, felt desperately helpless not being able to help her (a big brother is supposed to take care of his younger siblings). I don’t deny thinking about euthanasia when I saw her laying hopeless on her bed, but couldn’t bring up the courage. Somehow I didn’t want to create the impression that I wanted her gone.

Back to my first statement. Euthanasia can be active or passive. In active euthanasia a person directly and deliberately causes the patient’s death. In passive euthanasia he doesn’t directly take the patient’s life, but allows him to die. There is also indirect euthanasia which means providing treatment (usually to reduce pain) with the side effect of speeding the patient’s death. Another variation is assisted euthanasia which involves the person who is going to die to ask for help (e.g. getting drugs) to terminate his life. Finally, euthanasia can be voluntary, occurring at the request of the person who dies or non-voluntary, when the person is unable to make a meaningful choice between living and dying, and an appropriate person takes the decision on his behalf.

I agree with euthanasia when its voluntary, assisted by physicians, based on solid medical evaluation and only when consent has been explicitly expressed.

Euthanasia is a ticklish topic in Curaçao and not regulated by law. Religious opponents usually believe that the right to die belongs to God but, their views are both varied and complicated. Since no religion is based on reason, a discussion on euthanasia based on religious grounds only are by definition not reasonable. A meaningful conversation on this matter needs participation of the wider public – and not just the long-standing religious opponents and advocates. It’s also good to realize that the tide of international reform regarding euthanasia will soon reach our shores. Will we be ready?

Willemstad, Curaçao

Apesar di karta i beheit, nada tokante status Kòrsou i Statia na reunion dekolonisashon UN

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Siman pasá e Komishon di Dekolonisashon di Nashonnan Uní a reuní na Grenada riba e falta di progreso di dekolonisashon pa ku e 17 teritorionan no-independiente* riba e lista di Nashonnan Uní (UN). Den 29 aña solamente un (1) a bira independiente, mientras ku un (1) teritorio a keda agregá na e lista, pues un resultado nèto di sero.

Ta remarkabel ku na Grenada, ni Kòrsou ni Statia tabata riba agènda. Esaki mientras ku resien algun grupo ku basta bochincha a manda karta pa UN i/o mester a bishitá e organisashon aki pa denunsiá Hulanda i nos kuadro konstitushonal.

E hendenan aki mester tuma bon nota i no keda riba e kaminda robes manera mi a atvertí basá riba mi eksperiensia trahando pa UN (https://alexdavidrosaria.blog/2018/02/07/st-eustatius-barking-up-the-wrong-tree/).  Mester realisá ku Statia ku aktualmente ta bou di kuratela, su situashon ta unu netamente interno di Ulanda i no tin ke ber ku UN. Statia a firma pa bira munisipio (speshal) Hulandes. Ademas, Staia ta bou di kuratela pa motibu di maneho desastroso di su asuntunan públiko.

Esnan ku ta boga pa sali for di Reino, mester kòrda ku ni Hulanda ni UN por impedí Kòrsou bira independiente. Tampoko bo mester ta riba e lista di dekolonisashon pa bira independiente. E paisnan ku a bira independiente mas resien, South Sudan (2011) i Kosovo (2008) nunka tabata riba e lista. Pa kambia nos status, mester kombensé un mayoria di pueblo. I bo ta hasi esaki ku gobernante i gobernashon na drechi i na serio ku por pone e pais aki para stabil riba su pianan. Mi tin miedu ku un grupo ke independensia no pasombra esaki ta un ideal noble, pero pa nan (sigi) hasi i deshasí. P’esei mester bin lihé ku un lei di rèferèndum (https://alexdavidrosaria.blog/2018/11/19/referendum-yes-but-not-without-a-referendum-law/). Independensia manera ami i otronan a soña na 2005, ta mes leu ku nunka.

Willemstad, Curaçao

 

 

*American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland, French Polynesia, Gibraltar, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos, US Virgin Islands and Western Sahara.

Bende palasio di Gobernadó: mei 1949

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Promé ku Partido Demokrat (DP) a lanta na 1944, dr. Moises da Costa Gomez (Dòktor) ku su partido, Curaçaosche Rooms Katholieke Partij (CRKP), a gana e promé dos elekshonnan (1937 i 1941). Despues ku DP a surgi, e posishon konfortabel di Dòktor a kaba. DP tabata organisá enkuentronan polítiko elektrisante ku müzik i bebida lokual tabata atraé e masa. Mi tio grandi, John Martis, tabata hür ekipo di zonido i bende limonada, malta i serbes pa e Krachinan. Dòktor di otro banda tabata obligá di sigi reglanan di Iglesia Katóliko i mayoria biaha mester a tene su enkuentronan den kurá di misa, sin müzik, sin bebida stèrki.

DP tambe tabata ‘score’ ku su revista Democraat fulminando kontra di establesimentu i prinsipalmente e korant katóliko Amigoe di Curaçao ku nan tabata akusá di ‘fake news’. Na 1946 e revista a kousa konsternashon dor di pone un ‘vakatura’ pa “un Sukarno pa Kòrsou”. Sukarno a hiba Indonesia na independensia i tabata outokrátiko, nombrá presidente pa bida largu te na momentu ku un golpi di estado a bah’é. Hefe di redakshon di Democraat a keda interogá pa Kuerpo di Polis. Despues DP a nuansá: “Weest gerust. Soekarno’s komen niet af op advertenties. Soekarno’s spruiten voort door omstandigheden. Wij hopen van harte dat de omstandigheden [hier] nooit van dien aard zullen zijn dat zij een Soekarno voortbrengen.” (De West, 18/4/1946).

Despues di algun aña, Democraat a bolbe shòk nos isla ku un otro anunsio. Den su edishon di mei 1949, Democraat a saka un aviso ku ta bisa ku e palasio di Gobernadó ta na benta. Opviamente DP indirektamente ta bisa ku mester eliminá e posishon di Gobernadó i bende su palasio. Pa pone esaki den konteksto, nos mester kòrda ku for di e promé Konferensia di Mesa Rondó na 1948 e posishon di Gobernadó den nos konstelashon tabata un batata kayente ku a pone DP bandoná sala di RTC i despues bai keha serka un organisashon multilateral. Dòktor sinembargo semper a insistí pa resolvé e disputa ku Hulanda via negosashon.

Na mart 1949, Dòktor su partido nobo, Partido Nashonal di Pueblo (PNP) ta gana elekshon. Na 1954, DP ta pèrdè elekshon pero ta laga e ganadó, PNP, afó i ta forma koalishon ku e otro islanan. Riba 15 desèmber e aña ei mes, e titular di DP, Efraim Jonckheer, ta firma Statüt ku e provishonnan pa Gobernadó manera e arkitekto Dòktor a akordá.

San Diego, California (USA)

Fake news: not the fault of internet, but narrow mindedness, hypocrisy

 

 

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If you thought that fake news can be brushed off as a mere nuisance, please think again. On April 14, 2014, the terrorist organization Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria. Around the world, the crime became epitomized by the #BringBackOurGirls, yet in Nigeria, government officials called it fake. Even after Boko Haram had returned some of these girls (see photo, CNN.com), some still believed it was a hoax. At the end, this fake news delayed efforts to rescue the Chibok girls and may have even led to the tragic demise of some of them.

Fake news is dangerous and deadly. No wonder some countries are passing laws to fine those who circulate false information leading to “mass violation of public order”. Whilst this is an interesting development, too little attention has been given to the crux of the matter: why are some people so vulnerable to fake news?

A recent study in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition may shed some light. Evidence is provided that delusion-prone individuals, narrow-minded individuals, and religious fundamentalists are more likely to believe fake news. The study suggests that the inability of people to detect false information is related to a failure to be actively open-minded and trusting. Interestingly, new research has shown that people who are accustomed to being lied to by people with political or religious authority, were especially prone to believing fake news.

So what does this mean for countries, including Curaçao, looking into ways to curb fake news? As I see it, the problem is the lack of trust. This is especially tue in Curaçao where statistics, scientific data, impartial Courts and hard evidence are put aside and the loudest shouters in the media and those with tons of followers on social media are considered heroes. Instead of asking tougher questions about the information received, these fake news believers take it at face value and spread it around as long as that piece of information mirrors their narrow-minded worldview. We are living in a “message forwarding culture” that creates more harm than good.

Fake news thrive on the internet and social media, but that’s certainly not where they were born. This year, the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, must be a reminder of how, not social media, but a radio station, Radio Libre de Milles Colines, fed the deep mistrust between the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s with incessant hateful disinformation leading to the slaughter of 800,000 people.

In Curaçao fake news is a daily occurrence that destroys private lives and impedes our ability to govern the island. Curiously, policy makers are either very concerned or nonchalant about fake news depending whether they are on the side of those being hurt or helped. Laws and regulations of the internet alone will not fix this problem. Tackling the lack of trust and overcoming hypocrisy, will.

Phoenix, Arizona (USA)

Our failed monetary union

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During a Kingdom Consultation in 2006 it was decided to create a monetary union between Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CSMU). Not due to any economic arguments, but because The Netherlands didn’t trust Sint Maarten to have its own central bank. I was the only member of government to object but, instead of looking at the merits of my comments, it was suggested I’d be kicked out of the cabinet (Nobo, 1 November, 2006, p. 8). The decision to institute the CSMU defies even political logic. We should remember that Curaçao and Sint Maarten belonged to the Netherlands Antilles which in 2010 was disolved because each island wanted to pursue its own development policies.

The CSMU operates since 10 October 2010. During all this time the same Netherlands Antillean Guilder of the defunct Netherlands Antilles is in circulation even though a new currency was promised since 2008. On many occasions politicians from both islands have threatened to leave the union and or start using the U.S. Dollar. The biggest problem however is that there’re no commitments in this union. For this union -any monetary union for that matter- to be successful, macroeconomic policy coordination is indispensable. Just ask the folks of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union who have been at it since 1983. Despite the strong arguments for such coordination, policy makers take an island rather than a union perspective. Just read the Curaçao Growth Strategy. Yet, nobody seems to care.

The failure to take care of this matter further impedes us to realize our economic potential. I’m not saying that the messy CSMU is the sole culprit for our current malaise. We should however be aware that we cannot afford to postpone this issue and others such as our inability to increase export and modernize our policies. We cannot keep fooling ourselves into believing that our economic situation is due to Venezuela. We all had to see Venezuela coming.  What we should’ve done is to improve our domestic fundamentals to adjust smoothly to possible external shocks, including Venezuela. Let’s stop playing the victim and do what we need to do, no matter how hard it may be. The payoff may not be at the next election, but our grandchildren will thank us for doing the right thing.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Using democracy to destroy democracy: Curaçao is not immune

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The forced removal last week of the brutal Sudanese dictator, Omar al-Bashir, is good news for everyone who wants to see him finally tried for the Darfur genocide. Recently we’ve also seen dictators such as Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Algeria), Nursultan Nazarbaev (Kazakhstan), Ali Saleh (Yemen) go. It’s been rough for aging dictators. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that undemocratic rule is not disappearing but changing its appearance. Coups are out. The road to undemocratic rule is rarely marked by overt violations of the law. To the contrary, typically the best way to undermine democracy is to rely on actions within the law. Democratically elected officials are rewriting constitutions to do away with term limits, tinker with press freedom and gut democratic institutions. Uganda’s top court upheld a decision to scrap presidential age limits, paving the way for the 74-year-old Yoweri Museveni to seek a sixth term in office. Hungary’s ever more authoritarian prime minister, Victor Orbán, rewrote the constitution weakening the judiciary and paving the way to trample his opponents. Democratic erosion has followed a similar pattern in other countries (Poland, Venezuela, Rwanda) as well.

Curaçao is not immune to democratic backsliding. From 2010-2012, the government of Curaçao aggressively undermined the Central Bank, the Judiciary and the Intelligence Department. The same group manipulated the public who, rightfully so, is fed up with our current government system of coalition, to justify a constitution change. Thankfully we had people who saw the real intentions of the proposed new constitution: super powers for the executive, weakened democratic institutions and no checks and balances. Similarly, some groups now use the otherwise noble ambition of independence, as a cover to escape oversight by The Netherlands and create a free-for-all for wanna-be dictators.

We realize that Western-type democracy in general is ill-prepared for the fights against “short-termism”, incompetent politicians, disinformation, oppression by the majority, just to name a few. Yet, we shouldn’t give in to apathy. The time is ripe to fix what’s broken. Hopefully politically independent groups, academia and think-tanks will finally step up to the plate. If we don’t, others, inspired by what is going on in many places in the world, will get a free ride to undermine our hard-won democracy.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Ban ta franko ku nos mes

 

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E peliger mas grandi aktualmente ta nos inabilidat pa goberná nos mes i atendé nos asuntunan na drechi lokual ta hasi imposibel pa hasi bon uzo di nos potensial. E situashon aki no a bin den un ‘drumi lanta’; e simiñanan a keda plantá hopi tempu pasá den nos institushonnan i nos ser.

Nos ta keda vota pa kandidatonan kuestionabel ku sero kalifikashon pa goberná, ku partidonan polítiko ta tira den nos skochi. Nos ta preferá keda gañá ku kuentanan di ada i promesanan ku lo no tin medida ounke kon malu e situashon ta pasombra polítikonan sa ku kombersashon franko tokante nos debilidat i fayonan no ta produsí voto manera si ta e kaso ku ser populista. 

Pero no ta solamente polítika. Ta imposibel avansá ora prensa ta pusha nos ku notisia falsu i tendensioso na lugá di informashon konfiabel. Tampoko por buska guia moral di iglesianan ku ta dal tur tipo di buèlta pa tapa abuzo seksual di nan religiosonan. Nos ta sera wowo pa nos hábitonan insaludabel ku ta kondusí na malesanan króniko, adikshon na wega di plaka, prostitushon, ensèst, violensia relashonal i kontra animal. Mientras ta reklamá diskriminashon risibí, nos mes ta diskriminá otronan pa motibu di nan preferensia seksual, status ekonómiko òf orígen. Un chin chan kos nos ta hunga víktima, referí na sklabitut enbes di atendé ku e demoñonan di nos pasado i asumí responsabilidat. 

No ta un sorpesa ku nos ta biba di krisis pa krisis, defendé kos robes, premia polítikonan kriminal, kaba ku nos mes akadémikonan i despresiá tur hende rònt di nos ku ta eksitoso. Nos problema ta mas ku tur kos unu di ìndolé sosial. E no ta Den Haag, nos sistema demokrátiko, CFT òf ku nos ta un pais yòn. Kòrda ku durante e mesun periodo ku nos demokrasia ta eksistí paisnan manera Irlanda, Korea, Mauritius, Singapore a bini for djatras i progresá.

Nos mester un spil dilanti nos mes. Nos mester ta franko ku nos mes. Si nos rekonosé esaki, e proseso largu i arduo pa trese kambio por start. No tin solushon mágiko. Mester planifikashon, trabou duru, strukturanan modèrno polítikonan kapas i onesto i tambe guia moral pa asina nos produsí un kapital humano ku ta mas felis, sigur di su mes i globalmente kompetitivo. Ya nos konosé e resultado di sera wowo pa realidat, keda pegá den pasado i akusá otronan pa nos situashon.

Willemstad, Curaçao