Curaçao’s looming crisis: a shrinking population


The data are in. Curacao’s population took another dive in 2019: from 158,659 to 156,223. This trend is the opposite of that of Bonaire, Aruba and Sint Maarten. Does a smaller population mean “more to go around” for everyone as some pretend? Absolutely not. In fact we’re facing a crisis and we aren’t paying attention. 

Our depopulation is due to decreasing births per woman which went from 2.1 (2006) to 1.7 (2018). It’s made worse by more people emigrating than immigrating which will probably continue given the dismal economic performance, increased unemployment and waning hope of a turnaround.

Depopulation diminishes economic growth. As the population gets older, consumption drops because household income is usually lower after retirement than before. A shrinking population makes economies of scale impossible which consequently affects our competitiveness. According to this trend, larger shares of GDP will be spent on public pensions and health care placing pressure on public finances. Diminishing population also increases the likelihood of inbreeding which can result in undesirable social situations and more spending on healthcare.

Equally worrisome is the fact that women outnumber men by nearly 10% while worldwide men outnumber women by 0.8%. This huge imbalance makes it difficult for women to find a life partner and more are leaving to look for one abroad.

Our demographic problems are worse than expected. The ability of public policies to control birth rates appears limited. We need to take in young immigrants in phases to allow for optimal urban designs and other aspects necessary for an orderly population increase.

Allowing more immigrants remains a sensitive issue. Yet, can we afford more economic decline and budgetary pressures? Hopefully we will seriously start doing something about this situation before the population bomb detonates.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Discrimination not a matter of black vs white: we’re all accomplices



Like many, I’m still taking in the images of the tragic death of George Floyd, an unarmed black U.S. man, in the custody of the police who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes. As a man of color I’m enraged.

But this is bigger than the color of my skin. It’s about the right to be treated equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, class, religion, belief, gender, language, sexual orientation or other status. Yet all too often we hear heartbreaking stories of people who suffer cruelty simply for belonging to a “different” group, and we do nothing about it.

Last year Christian religious leaders came together in Willemstad to denigrate LGBTQ people because they want the same rights as heterosexual couples (1). We pretty much stayed quiet and continued going to heir houses of worship. In silence we daily witness fellow citizens discriminate against people (especially women) from Dominican Republic, Colombia and Venezuela. We get enraged when another race discriminates us, yet discrimination among people of color based on the shade of blackness – the light-skin preference- is common practice in our community.

Racism and discrimination against people belonging to a “different” group is not a uniquely U.S. phenomenon. Discrimination against homosexuals is ingrained in Russia and no matter how much Europe tries to hide it, the way it treats the Roma people (Gypsies) is inhuman. Neither is it a matter of black and white or white and nonwhite. Just consider the Rohingya (Myanmar), the Tutsis (Rwanda), the black albino’s (Sub-Saharan Africa), the Burakumin (Japan), Uyghurs (China) or the Hmong (Laos). 

What to do? Certainly not keeping quiet or just airing our disgust on Facebook. We need to realize that we are not innocent bystanders. We should call out racism and discrimination not only when our group is the victim but whenever someone is not given equal treatment or opportunity based on race, ethnicity, nationality, class, religion, belief, gender, language, sexual orientation or other status. If we don’t stop this evil we are guilty, we are accomplices.


Willemstad, Curaçao



Reglamentá e-cigarette pa skapa bida



31 di mei ta Dia Internashonal Anti Tabako. Tabako ta mata 8 mion hende tur aña, inkluso 1,2 mion humadó pasivo, esta un no-humadó ku ta inhalá huma i nikotina di otro hende. Segun Nashonnan Uní un humadó òf un humadó pasivo ku covid 19 tin mas chèns pa daño na su salú kompará ku un no-humadó. Tras di e sifranan aki tin hopi sufrimentu i gastunan haltu di kuido médiko.

Mi ta kontentu ku algun aña pasá mi a introdusí un lei kontra humamentu den lugánan será ku e meta pa protehá e no-humadó. Ounke ku e lei a aliviá hopi hende, mester konstatá ku ketu bai tin sierto kamindá ku tin humamentu paden. Ta nesesario pa outoridatnan tuma akshon.

Riba Dia Internashonal Anti Tabako ta urgente pone atenshon na produktonan nobo ku ta introdusí nikotina den kurpa humano. Ta trata aki di sigaria elektróniko (vaping). Algun aña pasá no tabatin sifranan definitivo di e konsekuensianan pa salú di sigaria elektróniko i esaki no a keda inkluí den e lei ku a pasa Staten. Awe ta probá ku nikotina sea via ‘vaping’ òf sigaria konvenshonal ta adiktivo i ta kousa malesa króniko i morto. Ademas ‘vaping’ ta keda merkadiá na hóbennan komo algu ‘super cool’ i esaki lo sòru pa hinter un generashon nobo bira adikto na nikotina.

Ta neseario pa atendé ku e frontera nobo di adikshon na nikotina. Mester bin ku lei pa atvertí tur hende di e peliger di nikotina i reglamentá benta di e artíkulonan aki ya hóbennan bou di un sièrto edat no por kumpra nan. Ta bon pa menshoná ku mi a laga dos proyekto di lei na 2016 pa atendé ku esakinan. Mester saka nan for di lachi. E lucha kontra tabako i nikotina mester sigui. 

Willemstad, Kòrsou

Re-apertura despues di covid: kuantu un bida ta bal?


E gritu di sektor turístiko pa habri nos fronteranan pa kaba manera kos ku nos a gana e bataya kontra di covid 19, ta riesgoso. Tur hende ke pa bida normalisá i ekonomia drei atrobe. Di otro banda ta un hecho ku covid 19 no a desaparesé i ainda no tin kura p’e. Kualkier deskuido relatá na un re-apertura muchu tempran por kousa un brote aki ku konsekuensia fatal pa salú di hende i asta morto. Esaki kier men tambe ku tur e logronan ku nos tabatin te ainda pa evitá ku e virus ta plama riba nos isla, ta bai pèrdí i ku mester kuminsá di nobo, posiblemente na un kosto mas haltu pa salú di hende.

Paradoksalmente e mesun re-apertura ku nos ke pa krea aktividat ekonómiko, por pone nos kai atras ainda mas tantu riba e kaminda pa rekuperashon, si nos no atendé ku e aspekto di salú na un manera sensato. Un brote por nifiká bolbe sera frontera pa di dos biaha, hasiendo e kaminda pa rekuperashon inesesariamente mas largu i kostoso. 

Nos no mester lubidá ku nos poblashon su predisposishon pa keda seriamente afektá pa covid 19 ta haltu. Un kantidat grandi di nos hendenan ta sufri di kondishonnan di salú (malesa vaskular, obesidat) ku ta hasi nos èkstra vulnerabel pa e virus. Esaki den kombinashon ku e edat promedio haltu di nos poblashon. 

Laga nos analisá e asuntu di re-apertura di nos pais ku koutela. Laga nos no laga agèndanan elektoral, pero siensia guia nos pa prepará un apertura kouteloso, planeá i poulatino. Na final di dia nos mester puntra: kuantu un bida humano ta bal?

Willemstad, Kòrsou

Covid 19: weighing risks of re-opening to tourists


Curaçao has, so far dodged the worst of the covid 19. Team Gerstenbluth is doing an excellent job based on an effective science-based approach. We’re however facing a choice between a risky reopening to tourists and further economic collapse. The tradeoffs are perhaps starker considering our dependence on tourism and the fact that our tourists come mainly from places where Covid 19 is still spreading.

Yet, some decision makers are irresponsibly pushing to quickly re-open our borders to save the economy. First of all, the sorry state of our economy is only partially due to covid 19. The bigger picture here are the lack of fundamentals (inflexible labor laws, a burgeoning civil servants structure, no export network and salaries on steroids in state controlled entities). Our dependence on tourism and lack of revenue diversity remain a real weakness. 

After the cautious opening up of local businesses, our priority should be response requirements such as in-country testing and repatriation of stranded citizens. We need to be designing new economic policies that are in sync with the global reality. We need to redesign the NOW and other initiatives aimed to cushion the economic blow. It’s been proven that not much thought has gone into the institutional aspects of the aid package. There’re already signs of corruption and misallocation of funds due to weak targeting. 

Yes, we need to think about eventually opening up for visitors since we won’t be able to rapidly diversify our economy as long as we don’t take care of our weak economic structures. We must carefully weigh when to ease restrictions that would save jobs but risk the virus running amok. Imprudent opening is chilling to imagine and could cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety with our people. We’re better off not ignoring the science. 

Willemstad, Curaçao

Ami ta bòikòt establesimentu pa ekspreshon rasista


Summary: One of the owners of the popular Miles Café in Pietermaai, Curaçao called the island of Curaçao a Monkey Island. You do not have to be a genius to recognize this as a racist slur against black and brown people here. His public outburst indicates the deep entrenchment of racial prejudices and stereotypes. That is why I’m boycotting this establishment.

Un di e doñonan di Miles Café den Pietermaai a yama Kòrsou un isla di makaku. Nos ta komprondé perféktamente ku esaki no tabata simplemente un ekspreshon di frustrashon, sino unu habièrtamente rasista ku den p.e. futbòl Oropeo ta mashá na moda kontra futbolistanan koló maron òf pretu. Vokabulario na tur idioma tin un kantidat grandi di palabra pa ekspresá frustrashon, pero e persona en kuestion deliberadamente a skohe e palabra “makaku” pa espresá su sentimentu di superioridat riba e rasa predominante riba nos isla. Esaki ta repudiabel i e ta bisa hopi di e tipo di karakter di e persona konserní.

Kiko nos por hasi? Rasistanan tambe tin derechi di ekspreshon di libertat. Lokual nos komo konsumidó por hasi ta boikotiá, esta no bai e establesimentu en kuestion. Esaki ta un poder ku e tin i ku e mester por usa: no gasta bo plaka einan i informá otronan di bo desishon i hustifikashon. Tambe tin hopi manera via medionan sosial pa atendé ku e ekspreshonnan denigrante di e persona en kuestion.

Ami a yega di bai na e establesimento konserní, pero lo mi no no hasi esaki mas. Tambe lo mi informá otronan, di e atake rasista aki. E kreashon di (mas) divishon i rasismo den nos komunidat ta intolerabel. Nos mester realisá ku lokual nos hasi òf keda sin hasi, lokual nos bisa òf keda sin bisa, tin konsekuensia.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Mas ku tur kos, covid 19 ta un spil


Hopi tabata e señalnan durante e último dékadanan ku nos no tabata riba e bon kaminda. A tuma un virus 10,000 bia mas chikí ku 1 milimeter pa eksponé e bèrdat.

Covid 19 a rekordá nos ku tur kos den universo ta interkonektá i ku prinsipalmente hende mester bolbe siña trata tur organismo i nos sistema ekológiko ku rèspèt. Segun Nashonnan Uní 75% di tur malesa di infekshon nobo serka hende ta bin di animal. Esaki pasombra nos a destruí i polushoná nan habitat natural lokual a trese kontakto apnormal entre hende i animal. Ademas nos apetito pa karni eksótiko i sistema di agrikultura i krio ta empeorá e situashon.

E virus a rekordá nos ku malesa semper ta afektá esnan débil desproporshonalmente debí na mal repartishon di bienes, falta di oportunidat igual pa tur hende i predisposishon desigual pa malesanan kousá pa falta di higiena, konsumo no-balansá i falta di moveshon físiko.

E generashon di awe ku a kere ku mundu ta kuminsá i kaba ku e teknologia digital ku mi generashon a krea, ta realisá ku bida no ta konsistí di un pantaya sino prinsipalmente di kontakto interpersonal i “engagement” komunitario.

I den nos konteksto spesífiko, covid 19 ta un spil ku ta mustra ku ketu bai nos ta biba riba nos forsa, ku nos tin un aparato di ámptenar muchu grandi, ku nos no ta produktivo. Tambe e a eksponé ku e enemigu mas grandi di nos outonomia ta nos mes i no Hulanda. Ainda nos ta vota pa esnan ku ta kriminal, inkapas i korupto, djis chèk e kantidat sin presedente di hende di sektor públiko ku a pasa den man di hustisia. Dos biaha den ménos ku 10 aña nos ta bou di supervishon finansiero i awe nos banko sentral -ántes un baranka di stabilidat- ta práktikamente bou di kuratela.

Pero ketu bai sierto sindikatonan ta pegá den e era di eksihí derechi sin papia di nos debernan, fleksibilidat di labor i produktividat. Ta bisto ku enbes di tuma desishon pa nos para fuerte riba nos pianan, nos ta preferá di ta populista i primintí pueblo ku “no ta bin medida”. P’esei e lei pa trese regla den empresanan di estado no a keda publiká. P’esei nunka a traha riba kordinashon di maneho den nos union monetario, no a prekupá ku reglanan internashonal lokual tin nos sin por sera un tratado komersial. P’esei e proyekto di centrale huisvesting pa e aparato públiko, kreashon di Nieuwe Belasting Organisatie a bai den lachi. 

Nos ta mira ku hende no ta kere den e bosnan di outoridat mas i ta preferá un kultura di redu i ta  krea nan mes mundu di teoria di konspirashon enbes di konfia den siensia. Esnan ku mester ta e guia di moralidat, esta religiosonan, ta mas prekupá ku plaka, kon ta demonisá e grupo ku ta preferá e mesun sekso, i tapa barbaridatnan seksual kriminal di nan miembronan.

Komo un Gomista mi ta kere fielmente ku nos outonomia interno na 1951 tabata e promé parti di nos emansipashon polítiko i ku mester a traha pa e di dos parti. Nos, nos tur, a demostrá ku nos no a komprondé e esensia di outonomia pa kua Dòktor da Costa Gomez a lucha ku konvikshon: karga responsabilidat, traha konhuntamente ku otro nashonnan pa proveé den e nesesidatnan primordial di nos pueblo, esta seguridat, órden, bienestar ekonómiko i hustisia. Mi no sa presisamente na ki momentu, pero e prinsipionan di outonomia a kai den otro.

Covid 19 no a kousa e situashon ku nos ta aden, pero a eksponé nos debilidatnan i nos realidat. E virus sigur a kambiami. Esaki ta un paso importante i mi no tin bergwensa pa atmití esei. Ban spera Shon Corona ta kombensé hopi di nos pa kolektivamente bòltu e rumbo di nos pais i nos mundu.

Willemstad, Kòrsou

E promé biaha ku un minister a tuma retiro i regresá den mesun gabinete


Denter di algun dia un minister ku konforme lei a keda fòrsá pa tuma retiro ta programá pa bolbe komo minister den e mesun gabinete. Kontrali na lokual algun hende a skibi, e no ta e promé minister den nos pais pa hasi esaki. E promé tabata minister Jan Pauw, den representashon di Aruba den e promé gabinete di Antia Hulandes. Su motivashon pa hala atras tabata diferente ku e kaso aktual.

Riba 18 april 1951 e promé kabinete ku outoridat ministerial a keda huramentá ku mr. dr. Moises Frumensio da Costa Gomez (Dòktor) na kabes. E repartishon di Kabinete da Costa Gomez (e tempu ei konosí ku Regeringsraad) tabata lo siguiente: da Costa Gomez (NVP), Presidente di Regeringsraad i minister di Asuntunan General, Agrikultura Krio di Bestia, Peska i tambe Suministro di Awa; William Plantz (NVP) Finansa; Jan Pauw (AVP) Obranan Públiko, Willem Lampe (AVP) Hustisia; John Sprockel (KVP) Enseñansa i Desaroyo di Pueblo; Cecil Delvalle (sin partido) Ekonomia i Transporte; E. van Romondt (COP) Salubridat Públiko.

E dos tareanan di prioridat pa e gabinete tabata pa formalisá e struktura definitivo di Reino Hulandes i introdukshon di outonomia pa e teritorionan insular.

Pa medio sèptèmber minister Pauw a anunsiá su retiro ku lo a drenta na vigor riba 1 òktober 1951, apenas despues di 5 luna di a keda huramentá. Jan Pauw su motivashon tabata ku kreashon di Eilandsraad i Bestuurscollege lo a trese ku mayoria tarea di obranan públiko lo a keda desentralisá i saká for di man di Fòrti. Jan Pauw no a haña polítikamente étiko pa keda ku un kartera bashí. Ora Pauw a baha, minister John Sprockel a keda komo interino di Obranan Públiko.

Jan Pauw ta keda reinstalá komo minister den Gabinete da Costa Gomez riba 12 di yüni 1953. E no a bin bèk komo mandatario di Obranan Públiko (ku pa e tempu ei a desaparesé) sino komo minister di Tráfiko i Transporte. Ta bon pa remarká ku Gabinete da Costa Gomez tabata esun ku mas kambio di integrante den hinter historia polítiko di Antia Hulandes. Di e 7 ministernan original, solamente da Costa Gomez i Plantz a sinta hinter e durashon di 4 aña.

Willemstad, Kòrsou

Fuente: Nationaal Archief



Our Central Bank falls short, again


Sint Maarten sent a highly publicized letter dated 21 April 2020 the Central Bank (CBCS) headquarters in Curaçao calling for urgent actions in light of the economic downfall due to covid 19. After more than two weeks, the CBCS sends Sint Maarten a letter which starts with sarcastic remarks about a quote which was used in the letter of 21 April. It then continues (5 pages long) with lectures and defensive self-veneration without addressing the concerns raised by Philipsburg. Mind you, Sint Maarten and Curaçao are together in a monetary union.

During a Kingdom Consultation in 2006 it was decided to create a monetary union between Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Not due to any economic arguments, but because The Netherlands didn’t trust Sint Maarten to have its own central bank. I was the sole member of the cabinet who objected. Have you noticed that when The Hague points the finger at us for not doing enough to bring order to our financial and economic mess, it never ever talks about our dysfunctional monetary union?

In any monetary union like the Eastern Caribbean Union which has not 2 but 8 members, policy discussions are not conducted in the media as we are doing, but through established consultation platforms where macroeconomic and monetary issues are discussed, like adults. But since 2006, we have yet to establish the structures. Even worse, we seem oblivious that we are in a monetary union. Just take a look at the Groei Strategie. How can you talk about economic growth as part of a monetary union when you don’t even acknowledge its existence in policy matters?

The above-mentioned sad exchange of letters speaks volumes about our willingness to take the monetary union seriously. We either get our act together, behave like adults or go our separate ways.

Willemstad, Curaçao

What my mother should’ve taught me


Mama taught me many lessons: humility, the art of knowing when to remain silent and the importance of love and respect for all beings. The most important lesson was to never let your titles, your job or position change who you are.

I don’t want to remember our petty fights, or empty threats she and I made in frustration, or the pains I may have caused her by living so far away when she most wanted me to be near.

I want to remember the feeling of protection I got climbing into her bed after a nightmare, or her patiently taking care of my wounds after tumbling down from the bike, or covering her when she dozed off in her rocking chair in front of the television.

Mama, you taught me many things. I’m very grateful. But mama, the one thing you didn’t teach me is how to cope without you.

Willemstad, Curaçao