Opinion | Independistas

Onafhankelijkheid

Onafhankelijkheid

The question whether the Netherlands is still the colonial master of St. Maarten (and by extension of Curaçao and the other islands that formerly belonged to the Netherlands Antilles) is one about perception. Junior Lake, author of 6 4 9, has been a proponent of independence all his life and the powerful drive behind his reasoning is simple: a people have the right to determine its own destiny.

So it is for St. Maarten. If the country wants to become independent, it has every right to go in that direction. Successive governments in the Netherlands have maybe not always said this aloud, but they have certainly been thinking that it would be a relief to see the Caribbean islands depart from the Kingdom. Oddball politicians like Geert Wilders and before him Hero Brinkman have made their position clear in their condescending way of talking – a way of communicating a position that say more about Wilders and Brinkman than it does about the Caribbean islands. Prime Minister Mark Rutte also made clear that there are no objections against departure: all it takes is a phone call he said. Trust liberal Dutch politicians to make a complicated constitutional divorce sound so simple.

However, Rutte is right. St. Maarten has always had the right to choose its own destiny. Why then, is the political establishment shying away from independence? Maybe they find the current situation too cozy. After all, the Netherlands has been moving large amounts of money towards the islands, and the country also has access to European development funds. All that could disappear overnight if St. Maarten opted for independence.

So what? Think about it this way. You are living with your parents and they are treating you terribly. You have no life, you have no freedom to make your decisions the way you see fit. One day you have had enough and that is the moment of truth. Will you continue to suffer the abuse of your parents, or do you prefer your freedom above everything else? Leaving the house could mean sleeping in cheap motels, or even under a bridge. If the alternative is bad enough, sleeping under a bridge starts to look attractive –even though not everybody will be courageous enough to take that step.

How does this hang with St. Maarten? The economy is, relatively speaking, healthy, certainly in the Caribbean context. Still, we have a serious problem, and that is the quality of our government – our administration if you want. We have institutions, but they are weak. We need time to build them up to a level where they will function properly. Our major headaches are our lousy financial management and our deplorable tax collection abilities.

Certainly, these issues need to be addressed. Beverly Hyman recently asked Junior Lake what he thought the first thing was the new government ought to do. He mentioned education. “We are not educated, we are trained,” he said on that occasion, and we felt that he hit the nail on the head there.

However, if we want to improve our education system we’ll have to pump money into it. That money will only become available if we have a solid tax collection system combined with excellent financial management. That way, every penny the state has at its disposal will be spent to the benefit of the people. We are a long way from that situation, but that is not a reason to dismiss the independence option as a fata morgana. Once St. Maarten has its house in order, it is time for the next step.

Bron: SXMtoday
Zie ook: Dossier: Consensus Rijkswetten – en de strijd tegen de Rijkswetten

2 Reacties op “Opinion | Independistas

  1. In the end it will be the people that decides in a UN controlled referendum, about its own destiny. Hope there is no Mugabe aroud at that time.

  2. Renée van Aller

    Of course every people has the right to choose its own destiny. Most of the Caribbean islands which became independent are not doing too well, depending on their size, diversified economy and well educated population. To become an independent state, sufficient territory is needed as well as an ample, industrious and well educated population. On top of that a healthy, varied and diversified economy is required with sufficient growing potential and a vigorous external and internal demand for goods. In smaller communities corruption seems to flourish, as there exists less control. Often governmental funds are seen as belonging to the government and are used as seen fit. The continuing scandals in Curacao and Aruba and on the other islands are very painful. One wonders whether the islands can stand on their own feet and the governing bodies will not fall prey to greed and further unpleasant consequences of power. As long as the islands cannot find an enduring and adequate solution to improper government it is a hazardous undertaking to become independent. The citizens will wonder how quickly all that was offered is going up in smoke. Moreover the division of property is a costly procedure. Most key issues that are vital for national well-being – trade, finance, the rule of law, security, and the physical environment – depend at least as much on the presence of effective regional and global institutions, says Jeffrey D. Sachs in the Financieele Dagblad of September 17th 2014. Sometimes good judgement calls for education oneself first. Never accept an opinion from anybody without appropriate factual evidence. Wisdom is waiting for the right moment. Being in a hurry is calamitous.

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