Bougainville: The newest country

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I was fortunate enough to be in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2017 when a deal was being hammered out regarding Bougainville’s 2019 independence referendum. Bougainville, a group of islands with a population of 250,000 and an area of 9,300 km2 belonging to PNG, had fought a bloody civil war with PNG resulting in up to 20,000 casualties.The islanders on Bougainville -ethnically distinct from PNG and geographically closer to the Solomon Islands- always felt discriminated against and without a proper say in their internal affairs.

A few days ago the result of the independence referendum was announced:  Almost 98% of people voted for independence. However,the referendum result is non-binding, with the final say resting with the Parliament of PNG. Yet, with such a majority, it’s going to be hard for PNG not to honor the result.

Bougainville is not alone. Today there are more than 100 movements in the world trying to either achieve more autonomy or independence. Scotland may be the next one. Why hasn’t globalization make separatist and independence movements around the world a thing of the past? These movements want to create separate states, not to put an end to global cooperation. They want to cooperate with others on what they deem more favorable terms. Secondly, many of these movements have been able to convince the majority of their communities that they have capable people to correctly manage the business of the peoples, once they gain independence.

This is exactly what the Curaçao independence movement lacks: trust of the people.

Congratulations to the people of Bougainville.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Distrust, fear of devaluation as our Central Bank loses its clout

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In 2002, the Central Bank had the Court of First Instance on Curaçao institute an emergency measure with respect to Girobank due to solvency issues and protection of its depositors. (BNA persbericht 02/024). This emergency measure lasted until 2004.

In 2013 Girobank was again subjected to an emergency measure for exactly the same reasons as 2002.(CBCS Press Release No. 2013-008). The former President of the Central Bank however assured everyone then that “this time it will require less than two years” for the Girobank to comply with all the applicable legal requirements. In 2016 I asked a top manager of the Central Bank (CBCS) about the on-going measure, but was brushed off. I regret not raising this question at the political level.

We now know that in spite of the promises of the CBCS, the latest emergency lasted 6 years and culminated in total disaster last week with a bank run and closing of Girobank leaving thousands of customers bewildered and uncertain about their deposits. Curaçao doesn’t have a deposit insurance scheme.

All this happened under the watch of the CBCS. There is no way around this truth. The CBCS since 2013 has been exercising all the powers of the Managing Directors and the Supervisory Directors of Girobank. Adding insult to injury, some top CBCS employees were paid fat bonuses for “exceptional work” regarding the emergency measure. These bonuses were paid for by Girobank! (Verdict case nr. CUR201902802, 14 October 2019).

Like many people, I’m not interested in former and current authorities of the Central Bank whining and passing the buck in the media. What we need is a clear way forward.

The CBCS needs to take its job as regulator seriously. This has clearly not been the case with Girobank. There’re strong indications that CBCS has also been deficient as regulator of the insurance sector. More on that when investigations of ENNIA are concluded. In fact, the CBCS has been warned before by the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce for not doing enough as regulator of financial institutions (i.e. penalties, fines and withdrawal of licenses) for non-compliance regarding money laundering.

The CBCS needs to make policy considerations regarding the coordination of macroeconomic, fiscal/financial policies regarding the monetary union between Curaçao and Sint Maarten, a priority. It’s shameful that under the watch of CBCS both Curaçao and Sint Maarten behave like a couple of happy-go-lucky bachelors, each with its own economic policy, tax code, budget management, labor policy and so on. As the years pass by, the two countries drift further apart, making this monetary union unmanageable.

We need to decide if we are going to opt for dollarization as a cure-all measure as proposed in the past by the Central Bank, or not. Note that of the handful of countries that have dollarized  because of crises, Zimbabwe and Ecuador are taking steps to reverse this.

We need to decide if we continue to use the Netherlands Antillean Guilder despite the fact that the Netherlands Antilles has ceased to exist since 2010, or start using the Caribbean Guilder.

The CBCS has promised in the past it will create a deposit insurance scheme. We need to know what happened with this promise.

And maybe most importantly, we need a CBCS with less drama, intrigues and unethical behavior by its staff. We need integrity and professionalism to tackle the important challenges we face. So far the Central Bank has hampered efforts being made to turn our country into a solid financial center. More damaging, the growing lack of trust in our financial authority could eventually lead to devaluation of our currency.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Rethinking democracy

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The Western-style democratic system has undergone very little reform since the days of trias politica, the French and American Revolutions. The purpose of government -according to liberals- is among others to have elections, multi-party systems and separation of political powers. Yet we have seen how these very values have been used to undermine democracy. Many democratic strongholds are seeing how rules are being bent, constitutions rewritten allowing authoritarianism, populism, but also disruption and corruption. Democracy is being challenged on many fronts. Specifically, by inequality (of opportunity), identity politics, disinformation (“fake news” and conspiracy theories) and election interference.

Challenging the idea that Western-style democracy is the best form of governance and well-being of the peoples is an idea whose time has come. Recent protests in France, Chile, Lebanon, Georgia, Bolivia, to mention a few, have in common: low confidence in elections, judicial system, police and national leadership.

I’ve talked before about our flawed Parliamentary Democracy where the real power centers around Members of Parliament MP. I made my case that simply having a majority in Parliament is no guarantee for building a system that empowers everyone. Especially, not given the lack of preparation, knowledge and integrity of our MPs in Curaçao. I’m a staunch proponent of a Constitutional Democracy with a Constitutional Court to limit the power of MPs.

Yet, I don’t believe that’s enough. We may have to go beyond the type of democracy that emphasizes “freedoms of”. Freedom of opinion, diffusion of information, assembly and political participation, to name a few, better known as civil liberties, which Western countries swear by. The question is whether a wide-open Western-style democracy with an unconstrained press is a necessary prerequisite for sustainable delivery of life, liberty and happiness. 

There are those who believe that democracy should be measured by the effectiveness of its government in facing issues, making policy choices, executing policy, and preventing corruption. Secondly, it should produce the results people want, including rising incomes, health, safety and ability to eat, grow, learn and realize their potential. These people prefer what we call “freedoms from”. Freedom from hunger, insecurity, poverty, corruption, inept politicians, inequality as the most important democracy metrics

These are questions that deserve a rigorous debate. I worry though that we might not go beyond democracy. Politicians who want to rock that boat are unlikely to be voted into office. Democracy cannot remain to be a nice looking cul-de-sac that leads to nowhere whilst the enemies of democracy are hard at work.

New York, USA

Nos mas ilustre emansipadó a muri 53 pasá

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Morto di Dòktor

Moises Frumensio da Costa Gomez (Dòktor) a bai laga nos riba 22 novèmber 1966 miéntras ku e tabata prepará pa bai un sita serka su dentista, 9or di mainta. Su kasá, Lucina da Costa Gome (dfm), ku a sali for di e kamber kaminda e tabata huntu ku Dòktor, a bin despues di algun ratu i hañ’e den un stul morto. E lo mester a sinti su kurpa derepente bira malu i disidí di sinta un ratu.

E notisia di su fayesementu tabata un sorpresa grandi. Algun dia promé ku e fecha aki Dòktor a regresá kas for di un estadia di 5 siman den hospital St. Elisabeth relashoná ku problemanan ku pulmón. Dòkternan a konsiderá ku Dòktor a rekuperá sufisientemente i ku e por a bai kas i resumí su tareanan. Dòktor a fayesé di problema ku kurason.

E mainta di 22 novèmber 1966 Dòktor tabatin yen di ánimo pa despues di su sita prepará un reunion ku su partido, Partido Nashonal di Pueblo, pa atendé ku un halá di problema di índole polítiko. Algun luna promé PNP a sufri un derota elektoral kontundente. Tambe Dòktor tabata den bataya ku su mes partidarionan ku tabata di opinion ku e no tabata habrí pa ideanan nobo. Anteriormente un grupo di Nashonalista a bandoná PNP i a lanta Union Reformista Antillano (URA). Banda di esaki tabatin no ménos ku tres fakshon diferente entre nan un grupo ku a forma Acción Social Progresista (ASP).

Dòktor a bai laga nos despues ku apenas un luna promé e a kumpli 59 aña. Dòktor, e emasipadó polítiko di mas grandi ku nos a konosé, a laga un fundeshi sólido pa nos sigi konstruí i perfekshoná nos demokrasia. Kisas e mihó lès ku Dòktor a laga atras ta ku outonomia ta floresé dor di prepará nos mes, bon gobernashon, sentido di responsabilidat i koperashon ku otro. Hunga víktima, kulpa tur otro hende, populismo i mal gobernashon ta kontra di bienestar general i final di kuenta ta mina nos outonomia. Pas eterno na e mas ilustre emansipadó polítiko di nos pais.

Biografia Dòktor

Moises Frumencio Bikker a nase na Ser’i Klip den Otrobanda riba 27 òktober 1907. E tabata e di tres yu di Pedro da Costa Gomez (Shon Pedro) i Braulia Bikker. Despues e famia ta keda ampliá ku 5 yu muhé i un yu hòmber. Durante di e promé añanan famia da Costa Gomez/Bikker a biba na bários adrès den Otrobanda, pa despues muda bai Penstraat. Braulia Bikker tabata ama di kas, miéntras ku Shon Pedro tabata negoshante i tambe e tabata atministrá e korant “Boletin Comercial”.

Moises a terminá 8 klasnan di skol básiko i MULO di St. Thomas College. E tabata hunga futbòl, tabata gusta spar tur tipo di piedra di koló. Esaki a pone ku semper a kere ku Moises lo a bira un hoyero. Ku 15 aña di edat e ta bai Ulanda i ta bai biba serka fraternan na Tilburg pa sigui enseñansa. Djis promé ku e bai Ulanda Moises i su rumannan ta keda rekonosé pa Shon Pedro i ta haña e fam da Costa Gomez. Despues di Tilburg e ta bai Nijmegen (1923) kaminda na Canisius College e ta keda formá bou di guia di Hesuitanan. Na Nijmegen e tabata bria komo studiante i tabata gana premionan di e mihó alumno den Ulandes, Latino i Griego. Despues di eksamennan final di Gimnasia e ta sigui su estudionan di lei na e Universidat Katóliko di Nijmegen. E ta optené su diploma di kandidato denter di un aña di tempu i despues na 1929 ta sigui e eksamen doktoral.

Komo hurista e ta traha komo supstituto griffier na Den Haag. Na Nijmegen e a traha kasi tres aña komo abogado i prokurador. Durante di e tempu aki e ta será konosí ku su promé kasa, Elisabeth (Lies) Heiling. For di e matrimonio ta nase dos yu muhé. Despues di divorsiá Lies, e ta kasa na Venezuela ku Lucina Matheeuws. a 1962. E matrimonio aki no ta produsí yu.

Riba 3 di desèmber 1935 Dòktor ta promové na Universidat di Amsterdam ku su tésis “Het wetgevend orgaan van Curaçao: Samenstelling en bevoegdheid bezien in het kader van de Nederlandsche koloniale politiek”. Inmediatamente despues e pareha da Costa Gomez ta subi barku i ta yega Kòrsou riba 31 desèmber 1935.

Apénas despues di tres siman na Kòrsou, Dòktor ta ko-funda Curaçaosche Roomsch Katholieke Partij (CRKP), Nederlands Antilliaanse Ambtenarenbond i R.K. Arbeidersbond di kua e ta bira sekretario. Komienso di febrüari 1936 da Costa Gomez ta kuminsá su karera komo sirbidó públiko den funshon di adjunct-commies na Parkèt i tambe sekretario di Komishon Hurídiko.

Da Costa Gomez na komienso di febrüari 1936 ta envolví su mes den un wèlga riba tereno di refineria i ta skohe p’e banda di e trahadónan. Esaki aparentemente ta pone ku Gobernadó van Slobbe, ku a haña ku Dòktor ta un “peliger”, ta mand’é bai traha na Sint Maarten. Despues ku e siguiente aña van Slobbe a baha, Gobernadó Wouters, ta laga da Costa Gomez regresá su isla natal. Dòktor ta keda promové komo adjunct-commies ter Griffie, despues di Hof. Na 1944 e ta bira hefe interino di Departamentu Soshal i Asuntunan Ekonómiko.

Da Costa Gomez ta drenta arena polítiko na 1938: e ta keda skohé komo miembro di Staten di Kòrsou i ta bira lider di frakshon di CRKP. Ounke ku for di 1944 a bira opvio e kiebro entre Dòktor i CRKP, ta te na 1948 e ta sali for di e partido aki i ta funda Partido Nashonal di Pueblo.

Da Costa Gomez ta bira miembro di Raad van Advies ekstraordinario di Ulanda na London. Na 1946 Dòktor ta enkabesá un delegashon ku ta bai Ulanda pa hasi un petishon pa outonomia. Di 2 aprel 1947 te 3 desèmber 1948 da Costa Gomez ta traha na Ulanda komo e promé Representante di Antia Ulandes na Den Haag (awe Minister Plenipotensiario). Na 1948, 1952 i 1954 da Costa Gomez tabata presidente di e delegashon di Antia Ulandes di e Konferensha di Mesa Rondó.

Komo mandatario Dòktor tabata e di dos presidente di College van Algemeen Bestuur (CAB). Despues di CAB ta bin Regeringsraad ku pa di promé biaha ta nombra ministernan (ku responsabilidat ministerial). Dr. da Costa Gomez ta bira e promé presidente di ministernan den Regeringsraad (pues Dòktor ta e promé Promé Minister di nos pais) i ta tuma e portafolionan di Asuntunan General, Agrikultura, Peska i Maneho di Awa. Di 1963 -1966 e ta Diputado di teritorio insular di Kòrsou enkargá ku Salubridat Públiko, Asuntunan Soshal, Agrikultura, Krio i Peska.

Mr. dr. da Costa Gomez ta muri riba 22 novèmber 1966 ku apénas 59 aña di edat. Dr. da Costa Gomez tin e siguiente distinshonnan: Officier in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau, Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw (ámbos di Ulanda), Commandeur in de Orde van San Carlos (Colombia) i Orde van Jubille Zehabi (Libanon).

Dòktor su legado ta traha pa libertat, dignidat i balor propio di e pueblo, prinsipalmente e pueblo ku ménos posibilidat. Dòktor ta e polítiko ku mas éksito den nos historia na urnanan: na 1963 ela kue 36,6% di tur voto ku a keda emití, lokual ta un rèkort ku no a keda igualá.

Seoul, Korea

The Dutch Black Pete: very disturbing

 

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Every year in mid-November Sinterklaas (a Dutch version of Santa) arrives in towns all over The Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean, including Curaçao where I was born and live, to hand out gifts to children. He’s accompanied by scores of blackface helpers who wear gold jewelry and red lipstick to exaggerate the size of their lips. These characters are named Zwarte Piet, or “Black Pete”. During parades they dance wildly, throw candy around and yes, tell children who “have behaved badly” that  they (the Petes) will put them (the children) in a large bag and take them to Spain. Most of the Petes have either a cane or a large burlap bag in their hands. From time to time the white old and wise Sinterklaas would ask the Petes to “tone down”. It’s very common to see children weep at the sight of these blackfaces. I did as a child.

Confronted with recent outrage, the Dutch (the inventors of this tradition) tend to argue that Black Pete is a Dutch thing, and that outsiders don’t understand the Dutch culture. Wrong. Black Pete is an expression of numerous classic Western prejudices against black peoples that depict inferiority and the servant to the master attitude. Those who claim it’s a Dutch thing don’t know history. Well documented are the Blackface Minstrel entertainment shows in the USA that disappeared in the 1960s. Coincidently these Minstrel shows started about the same time as the Dutch Black Petes did in the 19th century. See left photo above.

When people say, (as they often do) “but it’s our tradition,” tell them: “so is racism.” The Dutch unwillingness to accept that its tradition is plainly racism has lots to do with its fear for much larger issues: rapidly changing demographics i.e. the “browning” of The Netherlands which is fueling Dutch extreme nationalist politics.

What mostly baffles me however is why a large group in Curaçao -given our painful racial past- would want to hold on to this disturbing tradition. Often the same group who everyday complains about Dutch colonial behavior. Shouldn’t we know better than to hang on to something with racist undertones? It’s not a question whether this tradition (or elements of it) is racist but rather why we are denying the truth that it is. As a society, we need to take a hard look at ourselves.

#zwartepiet #blackface

Seoul, Korea

Pakiko ta vota riba djabièrnè?

Nos no sa ki dia e próksimo elekshon lo tuma lugá na Kòrsou, pero e lo ta riba un djabièrnè. Dikon djabièrnè?

No semper elekshon tabata riba djabièrnè. Entre 1937-1966 tabatin un total di 9 elekshon pa Staten di kua 5 riba djaluna, 2 riba djaweps i 2 riba djarason. Despues di 1969 te awe, tur elekshon pa Staten tabata riba djabièrnè ku eksepshon di 2016 ku tabata riba un djarason pa menasa di orkan Matthew. Tur elekshon pa Konseho Insular (KI) entre 1951-1962 tabata riba djaluna. Di 1963 te e último elekshon di KI, tur tabata riba djabièrnè.

Pa yega na e kontesta mester kòrda ku Kòrsou tabata dividí pa un lucha pa poder polítiko entre protestant (ku tabata dominá gobernashon kolonial) i katóliko. Pa kambia e balansa di poder, iglesia katóliko na 1936 ta lanta Partido Katóliko di Kòrsou (CRKP) i ta gana e promé dos elekshonnan pa staten i ta sòru pa un mayoria chikí di katólikonan den Staten. Apesar di esaki iglesia tabata rèk kakiña pa introdusí derechi di voto universal i outonomia, lokual ta kondusí na lantamentu di Partido Democraat i no katóliko (1944), Partido Katóliko di Pueblo (1948) i Partido Nashonal di Pueblo (1948). CRKP ta desaparesé.

Ban bèk pa djabièrnè. Iglesia katóliko ku naturalmente tabata konta Partido Democraat (DP) tabata usa e servisio di misa riba djadumingu pa “instruí” fielnan pa keda leu for di DP. E propaganda i konseho di voto di Obispado pa no vota pa partidonan no-katóliko tabata un sumpiña den wowo di DP i Curaçaose Onafhankelijk Partij (COP). Sifranan ta mustra ku di e 8 elekshonnan riba djaluna, un partido di ideologia katóliko a gana 6 biaha! Pues e konseho di voto riba djadumingu den misa tabata efektivo ora elekshon tabata djaluna pasombra no tabatin tempu pa partidonan ku Obispado no tabata gusta, hasi ‘damage control’.

DP a protestá fuertemente kontra e lokual e a mira komo maluso di poder. Ounke ku den komienso tabata difísil, poko poko e konsenshi ku religion no mester mete den asuntunan estatal, a kombensé outoridatnan pa pone elekshon riba djabièrnè. E pensamentu tabata ku kualkier propaganda polítiko di iglesia riba djadumingu pa influensiá e resultado elektoral, por a keda kontra-arestá 4 dia largu promé ku elekshon riba djabièrnè.

Seoul, Korea

E artíkulo aki aki a keda adaptá di un vershon anterior e aña aki

Referensia: Asina’ki Pueblo A Vota, Sidney F. Ritter; Staatkundige onwikkelingen der Nederlandse Antillen, Annemarie Kasteel

Kontá ku nos outonomia?

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27 òktober 2019 ta 112 aña ku Moises Bikker (e fam da Costa Gomez a bin despues) a nase den Otrobanda. Moises da Costa Gomez, Dòktor, ta sinónimo ku nos outonomia. Mi ke tira un bista riba kalidat di nos outonomia.

Segun Dòktor outonomia polítiko su meta kontinuo mester ta: hisa kalidat di bida di hende. E a konkluí korektamente na 1935 ku un maneho kolonial tei pa satisfasé interesnan di e kolonisadó i no di e kolonia. Promé ku firma Statüt Dòktor a atvertí ku e proseso di outonomia ta inkompleto. For di 1946 e a presentá  ideanan pa mas demokrasia manera un Korte Konstitushonal ku no a keda inkluí den Statüt. Aparentemente Dòktor tabata traha un revishon di konstitushonal  ora morto a sorprend’é na 1966. Nunka a haña e tekstonan. 

Literatura di i tokante Dòktor ta mustra ku p’e outonomia ta karga responsabilidat, un bon relashon den Reino i ku mundu, tambe bon gobernashon pa garantisá adelanto di kada suidadano.

Awe mi ta konstatá ku nos outonomia a keda redusí na meramente un struktura ku algun ta kere ta konstantemente bou di atake di Hulanda, Illuminati i un grupo internashonal di mitar hende mitar rèptil. Realidat ta sinembargo ku nos no a traha riba e aspekto esensial di outonomia: kalidat di e hendenan ku mester manehá nos struktura outónomo. Ta parse ku mas kriminal bo ta, mas populista bo ta, mas bo lastra hende i ménos kapas bo ta pa komprondé i analisá e entorno kompleho ku nos ta biba aden, mas voto bo ta haña. E kalidat di e hende ku ta manehá nos outonomia ta deplorabel i ku esei, nos outonomia tambe.

Awe e menasa pa nos outonomia no ta Den Haag ni Illuminati sino nos mes hendenan sin kapasidat ni integridat ku ta manehá nos asuntunan públiko. I tambe, nos pueblo ku ta vota pa nan. Un bon paso pues ta stòp di sostené hendenan ku ta preferá laga otro bin djafó i hasi lokual nos sa bon bon ku nos mes mester a hasi, pero no tin e kurashi pa hasi. Outonomia ta madures pa karga responsabilidat ounke ku e por ta amargo. E no ta un promesa bashí ku nos ta usa pa dal man riba pechu kulpa tur otro hende -ménos nos mes- pa nos problemanan.

Koror, Repúbilka di Palau