What ever happened to Guangdong Zhenrong?

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Remember Guandong Zhenrong Energy (GZE), the Chinese state-backed energy merchant wanna-bee? Yep, them. The group that was able to spellbind Curaçao administrations from 2016 to 2018 with USD billions of “investments” in our refinery, a series of MoUs with local state companies in charge of garbage processing, the port, shipbuilding and what not. And, let’s not forget the casinos and a Las Vegas-style strip GZE had promised. 

Somehow the committee in charge of the future of the Curaçao refinery (MDPT) didn’t know that GZE’s debt crisis began unfolding in late 2014 when the company started to miss interest payments to banks. As of April 2017 -about 6 months before the above-mentioned series of MoUs were signed– GZE had defaulted on USD 3 billion of bank loans. According to sources in Singapore, GZE used fabricated trade documents to obtain massive loans. No wonder GZE was kicked out of Myanmar when the Burmese authorities saw “absolutely no progress due to GZE’s severe financial problems” two years after it was supposed to start construction of a refinery near the city of Dawei, according to Myanmar Times, 7 December 2017.

Bankrupt GZE has shown however that it won’t go quietly. In September 2019 it filed a claim to Mercuria Energy Group, a global Swiss energy trader, for USD 5.66 billion for breach of contract 5 years earlier in 2014. Insiders believe that GZE is again up to its usual tricks and that this claim is a hoax. Given the opaque dealings between GZE and our authorities, I sincerely hope we won’t get dragged into international courts as well.

What’s beyond my comprehension is why some politicians and ex-MDPT members still believe that GZE is the best thing since sliced bread. According to them we should go back to this bankrupt entity and human rights violators according to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar. 

On a different note,  the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, will be making a state visist to Myanmar tomorrow to talk about Chinese investments and Sino-Burmese cooperation. Clearly, Myanmar has moved on and has left GZE behind it for good. Hopefully we can learn from them.

Willemstad, Curaçao

#myanmar #mercuria #curacao #islarefinery

De Toekomst van Curaçao, 1945

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Op 12 januari 1945, presies 75 jaar geleden werd door de heer mr. dr. Moises da Costa Gomez een toespraak gehouden met als titel: De Toekomst van Curaçao. Hier volgen de meest relevante passages van een tijdloze rede.

Toen in de wereld de groote gemeenschapsidealen groote groepen van de menschheid in beweging brachten,  bleven in de Curaçaosche samenleving in bekrompen en zelfzuchtige groepjes, de enkelingen talmen op het kleine veld van eigen belang. Gesplitst, verdeeld -in de gevangenissen van bekrompen vooroordelen- achter de koude muren van zelfzucht. Het Curaçaosche volk waarop de vloek van het verleden zo zwaar drukte.

De toekomst zal anders moeten zijn. Laten wij nu bewust aan de vernieuwing van onze samenleving voor de toekomst werken. De barrières van eigen- en groepsbelangen, de sociale barrières van rijkdom en armoede, de raciale muren, moeten worden weggevaagd.

Wij kunnen niet geheel afhankelijk blijven van de olieverwerking in één groot bedrijf. Wij zullen voor de toekomst van onze eilanden terug moeten gaan tot onze eigen middelen, terug naar onze positie, onze historische voorsprong in het Caraïbisch zeegebied heroveren en behouden. Het verkeer in het Caraïbische zeegebied heeft zich snel ontwikkeld; de onderlinge samenwerking tusschen de Britse en Amerikaanse gebieden verkleint de voorsprong die wij vroeger hadden. Terwijl we onze economie eenzijdig hebben gericht op de olieverwerking, sloot zich de Caraïbische zee boven en beneden ons. Onze isolatie in de Caraïbische zee werd strakker.

Een klein eiland als het onze kan slechts bestaan door diensten te verleenen.  Dit is onze taak, meer dan ooit voor de toekomst. Curaçao heeft een enorme achterland -Zuid Amerika- en moeten we ons daarop concentreren. De toekomstige mogelijkheden op economisch terrein voor Curaçao liggen voor een groot deel in de Caraïbische Zee. We worden verdrongen als wij ons blijven richten op de verwerking van één product en deze eenzijdige economische bloei zal blijken schijn-welvaart te zijn. De krachtigste maatregel tegen excessen en degeneratie baten niet indien de katholieke kerk niet bewust in het strijdperk treedt.

De Curaçaosche samenleving zal voorgelicht moeten worden door een krachtige pers. De toekomst van Curaçao zal voor een goed deel afhangen van een scherp financieel beleid, maar dan wel afgestemd op de verzorging van de groote directe volksbelangen, op de volksverheffing, de vernieuwing en heropbouw van de Curaçaosche gemeenschap. Niet zozeer onder druk van een liberale constitutie die onze ontwikkeling deed afhangen van het bedrag der geïnde belastingen.

Weest bereid in oprechte liefde voor uw volk en uw geboortegrond. Weest bereid in opofferingsgezindheid en onzelfzuchtigheid. Weest bereid, en staat ter beschikking om uw plaats en taak als bewust lid dezer gemeenschap te vervullen.

Willemstad, Curaçao

De auteur is tevens Voorzitter Stichting M.F. da Costa Gomez

 

Iran no ta leu di nos porta

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Introdukshon

Ku mas tenshon entre Merka i Iran mi ke enfatisá ku Iran ta hopi mas involví den nos region ku mayoria ta kere, prinsipalmente na Venezuela.

Konteksto históriko

E poder mundial mas grandi di antiguidat tabata e emperio Pérsiko dirihí for di Persia, awe Iran. Iran tin un sivilisashon di 7,000 aña.  E ta un pais poderoso, ku hopi rekurso pero ku ta balotá pa Oksidente. Iran ta Islam Shia mientras 80% di Musulman na mundu ta Sunni. E splet Sunni-Shia a bin 1,400 aña pasá ora di skohe un susesor di Profeta Muhammad. Sunninan a faboresé un susesor sigun tradishon tribal Árabe. Pa Shianan e susesor mester a sali di famia di e Profeta. E divishon Sunni-Shia a intensifiká  i t(a) sòru pa hopi konflikto. Iran ta e líder di mundu Shia. Saudi Arabia -gran rival di Iran- ta esun di Sunni. 

Presensia di Iran den nos region

Iran a dòbel su presensia diplomátiko den nos region i awor tin embahada na Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Chile, i Uruguay, huntu ku esnan anterior na Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico i Venezuela. Iran i Siria ta opservadó di ALBA, e aliansa di liber komersio fundá pa Cuba i Venezuela na 2004 ku tin komo otro miembro: Nicaragua, Grenada, Dominica, St. Vincent & Grenadines, St. Kitts & Nevis (SKN)  Antigua & Barbuda (ANB) i St. Lucia. E staf diplomatiko di Iran den paisnan ALBA ta mas grandi ku esnan di Brazil, e poder ekonómiko di Suramérika. Komersio entre nos region ku Iran a krese, pero e total no ta mas di 3% di komersio Iraní.

Presensiá Iraní no ta ekonomiko

Na 2011 gobièrnu Iraní a lanta Hispan TV, un kanal notisioso na Spañó p’e merkado Hispano. Hispan TV ta fuente di notisia di e.o. TeleSur i Venezolana de Televisión. Hispan TV a keda akusá di antisemitismo i negashon di Holokosto.

Iran ta invertí den nos region via propaganda religioso Shia via sentronan kultural, beka pa studiantenan siña dogma Shia na Iran, konstrukshon di vários moské Shia apesar ku mayoria Musulman den nos region ta Sunni.

Iran tin un gran presensia na sitionan ku (por) tin uranium (nesesario pa arma nuklear), prinsipalmente na Roraima, Venezuela. Chavismo semper a soña pa hasi Vezezuela un poder nuklear i lo por ta koperá ku Iran pa realisé.

Iranínan pa algun tempu ta usa nos region pa kumpra nashonalidat. Algun mil pasport di Venezuela, SKN, ABN i St Lucia i Dominica a bai pa Iranínan. St Lucia si a stòp di duna nashonalidat na 2018 pa problemanan ku esei a trese.

Iran a demostrá di tin hopi interes pa traha retnan kriminal i terorista den e region aki. Ku Hezbollah (apoderado di Iran) ta aktivo den droga i trorismo (destrukshon di e sentro Hudiu na Argentina, 1994) no ta un sorpesa. Poko lo ta kòrda ku Admiral Merikano James Stavidris den deklarashonnan huramentá ku dékada anterior a desmantelá un konsorsio di droga aki na Kòrsou di Hezbollah.

Iran ta mantené lasonan ku gruponan ekstremista den region manera Jamaat al Muslimeen na Trinidad. Den e kaso den Korte Federal relashoná ku intento di bula parti na aeropuerto JKF (2007) a konfirmá e ròl prominente di Iran huntu ku ekstrimistanan na Guyana i Trinidad.

Ta konosí ku Iran (Qud, Basij i otronan) ta trein servisio sekreto di Venezuela i varios grupo paramilitar den nos region manera e Collectivos na Venezuela ku ta konosí pa nan brutalidat kontra esnan ku ta oponé Nicolás Maduro.

Konklushon

No por ta un sorpresa ku Konsulado Merikano na Kòrsou a pidi su residentenan pa ta kouteloso. Nos lo hasi bon di ta por lo menos konsiente ku Iran no ta un “ver van ons bed show”. En bista di mas sanshon ekonómiko riba Iran kombiná ku e abandono total di Merka pa e region aki, lo por fèrwagt mas tera fértil pa Iran aki banda.

Willemstad, Kòrsou

#iranconflict #hezbollah #curacaonews

 

 

Referensia:

The Silk Roads, Peter Frankopan, March 2017

@ALBATCP

A Guide to ALba, Joel D. Hirst

Admiral James G. Stavridis, Posture statement efore the Senate Armed Services Committee, March 17, 2009

Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, Joseph M. Humire and Ilan Berman, March 2016

Uranium mining: just another Venezuela-Iran Connection,

http://www.theamericasreport.com

Two Islamist militants convicted over New York airport bomb plot, wwwfrance24.com, 2 August, 2010

Countering Violent Extremism in Trinidad and Tobago: An Evaluation, posted by Daniel P. Aldrich, 17 September, 2019

Curaçao gov’t databases hacked: a reality check

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Early November 2019, the Curaçao Ministry of Government, Planning and Services (BPD) was hacked. The responsible minister promised swift action which never came. Members of Parliament have remained eerily silent on this matter. Making matters worse is that sensitive personnel information has been compromised. Let’s not forget that BPD is responsible for elections, national archives and statistics.

This is probably neither the first, nor the last of such attacks here. Cyber security incidents in the Caribbean are more widespread than is actually known. Recently Bahamas and Sint Vincent & the Grenadines saw some government websites purportedly manipulated by terrorists. To understand the scale of the problems that need to be addressed one only has to read: Cyber security: Are We Ready in Latin America and the Caribbean jointly published last year by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Many agree that we are not properly equipped to deal with cyber attacks from terrorist groups or from other countries such as Iran, Russia and China, all of whom are known to maintain well trained cyber armies. Earlier I wrote about the presence of Russian operatives in our area and the new Cold War in the Caribbean. The heightened tension between Iran and the U.S. could mean more risk of cyber attacks by Iran and/or its proxies like Hezbollah which is known to be very active in neighboring Venezuela.

No nation by itself can secure its networks. The very nature of the internet is it borderlessness which begs for cooperation. Are we seeking cooperation? Do we have an overseeing coordinating body? Why have we not participated in the latest OAS/IBD regional study? How vulnerable are we regarding a possible disruption of future elections? Why has the BPD minister and Parliament remained silent so far? What does the hacking last year mean for the thousands of people whose information has been compromised? What happened with the Information Protection Policy drafted by Government in 2016? Why hasn’t it been implemented?

We need our authorities to come out of hiding and be forthcoming. Hopefully the BPD incident serves as a timely reality check.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Immigration as a strategy for growth, dynamism and progress

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Last year my article “Immigration as a strategy for growth, dynamism and progress” was published the journal Krisòf (Volume XX-4, 2019). Kristòf is for sale at local bookstores. In this blog is a summary of this article.

Without effective policy response, Curaçao will be confronted with a serious problem as its population increasingly becomes out of balance. This means that proportionally there are more economically non-contributing seniors and fewer working age adults and children to contribute now and in the future. We also need to consider that under normal circumstances it’s almost impossible to reverse depopulation once the birthrate stays under the replacement level of 2.10 births per woman (here it is 1.7).

A complicating matter is the fact that at this stage people tend to feel that the short-term effects of population decline are small and negligible. Politicians are therefore more likely to postpone policy response because of the periodic cycle of elections which makes them focus on short term, day-to-day matters only. However, the population decline puts the sustainability of our society and economy in danger.

Our population challenges are complex and multi-faceted, and have far-reaching effects. There are no simple solutions. We’ve seen that the ability of public policies to control birth rates and efforts to encourage return migration of our citizens abroad (our diaspora) are limited at best. How can we reverse this decline? Immigration appears to be the only realistic solution. Immigration not as an act of charity or desperation, but as a deliberate population strategy for growth, dynamism and progress.

We know that allowing more immigrants remains a politically sensitive issue. We need first of all to create awareness of the population changes we’re facing. We also need to take this issue seriously at the highest political ranks by creating a population unit -possibly with the support of the UN Population Fund- in the Ministry of Planning as well as a Central Planning Bureau consisting of people from government, academia and private sector that can make educated forecasts and predictions about future demographics especially when considering crucial policy-making processes. To make this possible we need more quality demographic data. The key worries here are lack of detailed migration data and generational time series. Also, there needs to be a link between demographics and immigration policies. We know for example that Hispanic immigrants tend to have higher birth rates.

When discussing demographics one should not only consider statistics if our goal is to have a population strategy in place which contributes to sustainable growth, dynamism and innovation. In the old days we’ve seen that opening our country to immigrants was credited with a dynamic economy, brain gain and vibrance. But, we also need to carefully consider our past regarding segmentation based on ethnic lines. Even though history seems to indicate that immigrants are more accepted here when they have blended in and speak our language, we need to have a conversation about how much we expect them to give up of themselves to become one of us. Can they keep their heritage, their culture, their language, their taste in music? Who has the recipe, who decides? By the way, the same could be said of our returning diaspora who undoubtedly has been influenced by outside influences. Do we want assimilation, integration or a common set of values that unite us?

Large inflow of immigrants with no strategy and policy in place can easily turn into a nightmare. Key to a successful immigration policy is balance. It makes perfect sense to take in young immigrants in phases to allow us time to expand and optimize our land use and infrastructure to overcome current strains in order to accommodate a larger population. Additionally, key decisions regarding our education, health system and reforms of our antiquated structures must be taken. Foreign

Last year my article “Immigration as a strategy for growth, dynamism and progress” was published the journal Krisòf (Volume XX-4, 2019). Kristòf is available at the bookstores of Mensing and Bruna. In this blog I share a summary of this article.

Without effective policy response, Curaçao will be confronted with a serious problem as its population increasingly becomes out of balance. This means that proportionally there are more economically non-contributing seniors and fewer working age adults and children to contribute now and in the future. We also need to consider that under normal circumstances it’s almost impossible to reverse depopulation once the birthrate stays under the replacement level of 2.10 births per woman.

A complicating matter is the fact that at this stage people tend to feel that the short-term effects of population decline are small and negligible. Politicians are therefore more likely to postpone policy response because of the periodic cycle of elections which makes them focus on short term, day-to-day matters only. However, the population decline puts the sustainability of our society and economy in danger.

Our population challenges are complex and multi-faceted, and have far-reaching effects. There are no simple solutions. We’ve seen that the ability of public policies to control birth rates and efforts to encourage return migration of our citizens abroad (our diaspora) are limited at best. How can we reverse this decline? Immigration appears to be the only realistic solution. Immigration not as an act of charity or desperation, but as a deliberate population strategy for growth, dynamism and progress.

We know that allowing more immigrants remains a politically sensitive issue. We need first of all to create awareness of the population changes we’re facing. We also need to take this issue seriously at the highest political ranks by creating a population unit -possibly with the support of the UN Population Fund- in the Ministry of Planning as well as a Central Planning Bureau consisting of people from government, academia and private sector that can make educated forecasts and predictions about future demographics especially when considering crucial policy-making processes. To make this possible we need more quality demographic data. The key worries here are lack of detailed migration data and generational time series. Also, there needs to be a link between demographics and immigration policies. We know for example that Hispanic immigrants tend to have higher birth rates than other groups.

When discussing demographics one should not only consider statistics if our goal is to have a population strategy in place which contributes to sustainable growth, dynamism and innovation. In the old days we’ve seen that opening our country to immigrants was credited with a dynamic economy, brain gain and vibrance. But, we also need to carefully consider our past regarding segmentation based on ethnic lines. Even though history seems to indicate that immigrants are more accepted here when they have blended in and speak our language, we need to have a conversation about how much we expect them to give up of themselves to become one of us. Can they keep their heritage, their culture, their language, their taste in music? Who has the recipe, who decides? By the way, the same could be said of our returning diaspora who undoubtedly has been influenced by outside influences. Do we want assimilation, integration or a common set of values that unite us?

Large inflow of immigrants with no strategy and policy in place can easily turn into a nightmare. Key to a successful immigration policy is balance. It makes perfect sense to take in young immigrants in phases to allow us time to expand and optimize our land use and infrastructure to overcome current strains in order to accommodate a larger population. Additionally, key decisions regarding our education, health system and reforms of our antiquated structures must be taken. Foreign workers need to be allowed according to local needs.

Last but certainly the most urgent is to do the right thing by ensuring that policies applied to migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in Curaçao meet our obligations under international law. And more than anything, we should fulfill our moral obligations to treat other humans with dignity and compassion.

Willemstad, Curaçao

The author is a freelancer in Asia & Pacific, former Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic and Labor Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and United Nations Implementation Officer in Africa and Central America

E artíkulo mas lesá na 2019: Iglesianan a Uni pa antagonisá i sembra odio

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Mi ta yama danki na e miles di hendenan di un total di 151 pais ku a tuma tempu pa lesa mi artíkulonan riba mi blog i publikashon an lokal i internashonal ku a referí na algun di mi artíkulonan. E intenshon ta pa mi keda skibi na un manera independiente riba diferente tema internashonal i lokal. Un dushi temporada di fiesta pa tur hende. Felis aña nobo.

Sin duda e artíkulo ku durante 2019 a keda mas lesá ku tur otro ta: “Iglesianan a Uni pa antagonisá i sembra odio”

                                                            ***/***

IGLESIANAN A UNI PA ANTAGONISÁ I SEMBRA ODIO 

Na lugá di pasifiká boso a skupi odio. Na lugá di prediká kompashon boso a skohe pa demonisá e grupo LGBTQ ku ta lucha pa trato igual komo hende. Esaki ta e mesun lucha ku e katibu a hiba, mesun lucha ku hende di koló (t)a hiba i e mesun lucha ku hende muhé (t)a hiba. No tin diferensia.

Boso ta na altura kuantu di boso sirbidónan ta LGBTQ? Boso ta na altura kuantu di boso sirbidónan tur dia di nobo ta metí den abuzu seksual di mucha bou di edat? Klaro ku boso sa pasombra boso ta dominá e arte di bira kara, bari e problema bou di tapeit òf pòst’e pa otro parokia. Ta p’esei boso no a papia ora un pastor lokal a bai prizòn pa abuzu seksual. Mesun silensio ora e postema di abuzu a baster na Chile, Merka, Costa Rica i Vatikano. Pero boso ta kla pa subi tarima den Punda i husga otro sin wak den spil promé.

Bèrdat ta pará den e buki religioso Kristian, Beibel, ku homoseksualidat ta un piká i ku esaki mester keda prohibí (Leviticus 18:22). Pero riba e mesun blachi di e Beibel tin mas prohibishon i piká severo e.o.: tatuahe na kurpa (Leviticus 19:28), bisti paña ku ta trahá di dos òf mas material (Leviticus 19:19) i kòrta bo kabei i/òf barba den un forma rondó (Leviticus 19:27). Mi punto ta ku ta masha fásil pa bo ‘cherry pick’ net e puntonan ku ta sostené bo pensamentu ku abo tin mas derechi ku otro i bisa:  “Beibel ta  bisa ku…”. Pero ta ken a dunabo e poder pa usa bo interpretashon religioso selektivo i kumbiniente pa papia na mi nòmber? 

E spektákulo ayera no ta un sorpresa. Mi no a fèrwagt otro di un grupo ku ta moralmente bankarota.

Finalmente, bo no mester ta un hende muhé pa sostené trato igual pa muhé. Bo no mester ta Hudiu pa kondená Holokosto, bo no mester ta un LGBTQ pa sostené trato igual pa hendenan ku un preferensia seksual ku nan a nase ku n’e pero ku no ta meskos ku esun di bo. Loke nos komunidat mester ta mas hende ku ta drei wak nan bisiña i bisa nan:”ken ami ta pa diskriminá bo i kita bo derechi riba igualdat a base di bo koló, sekso, orígen, religion, kredu, status ekonómiko i preferensia seksual”.

Loke e iglesianan a hasi ayera na Alameda ta tipifiká lokal ta putrí den nos komunidat: alimentá intoleransia, diskurso di odio i mentalidat di “nan kontra nos”. Ta opvio ku bo no por unifiká na mes momento ku bo ta dividí. Bo no por evangilisá na mes momentu ku bo ta antagonisá.

Willemstad, Curaçao

We need a Referendum Law before it’s too late

 

18E796AA-3EB5-4644-9BAE-86140CA9CD8FIn these testing times for Curaçao more people, many of them the until-recently staunch believers of our current status within the Kingdom of The Netherlands, are uttering: “Let Holland take over” whilst a smaller and sometimes radicalized group favors independence to get rid of any type of Dutch oversight.

I will not discuss the merits or demerits of either side. We must realize however that those who believe that a constitutional change is not possible without consulting the population i.e. a referendum, are deeply misguided. Simply put, we don’t have a legally defined referendum process and are at the mercy of politicians. What’s needed is a referendum ordinance that is transparent, not open to multiple interpretations and certainly not prone to manipulation.

We need to determine what type of referendums we want: 1. the mandatory referendum i.e. if a proposal passes, the Government or appropriate authority is compelled to implement it: 2. the optional referendum whereby the consequences of the vote may or may not be legally binding or 3. both the mandatory and optional referendums.

We need to determine how a referendum may be initiated: (1) the legislative referendum whereby Parliament refers a measure to the voters for their approval; (2) the popular referendum, a measure that appears on the ballot as a result of a voter petition (based on a minimum of valid signatures), or (3) both the legislative and the popular referendums.

Very important is also to determine: (1) when a referendum is valid, i.e. establish the minimum amount of valid votes; (2) what margins should be upheld for a proposal to pass (simple majority, 2/3 or 3/4 of the votes) and (3) who can cast his/her ballot.

Since 2010 we have seen a dangerous trend to weaken democratic institutions in our country, a rise of populism and conscious efforts to repress unbiased news and information. We cannot afford not having a referendum law that is transparent and able to withstand political manipulation and bullying. It’s very important that the referendum process be in the hands of an independent electorate authority as I proposed back in 2012. Let’s take action before it’s too late.

Willemstad, Curaçao