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.