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Autonomy or self-governance is not a choice- it is the most fundamental inalienable right of the peoples

knopsbonaire14052019Honorable Mr Knops,

We took note of your recent press media communications that you don't see the BES-islands, Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius in the future as autonomous self-governing islands. Reason given that they are too small. I would like to remind you that Bonaire is a nation and according to UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of December 14, 1960; - “that inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as pretext for delaying our fundamental inalienable right to self-governance”

Further on you declared that your undemocratic intervention, coup d'etat, overthrowing the legitimate democratic elected government in Sint Eustatius in February 2018, had a disciplinary effect on the Bonaire government, as your recent visit to Bonaire, the government spoke much more friendly. This is evident as the leaders of government of Bonaire, both commissioners Mr Tjin-Asjoe and Mrs Den Heijer, with their subservient vision, publicly voiced, that “we cannot eat bread with autonomy”.

Firstly we recognize and respect your right of expression so you may have an personal opinion on our current illegal state-structure. However we herewith want to bring to your attention that neither you nor your government and your Bonaire friendly local government possess no legal rights nor power to deny the peoples of Bonaire and the other BES-islands, principally Sint Eustatius right to self-determination and self-governance. Both islands in their respective referendum of 2014 and 2015 rejected this illegal imposed colonial status and both island parliaments as representation of their peoples ratified these as legal democratic decisions of the peoples.

Instead of assisting our islands in enhancing their autonomy, your government, a member of the UN Security Council, has limited the development towards more autonomy and now declares that we will never regain back our autonomy. This constitutes a grave violation of the Charter of the Kingdom based on the agreements signed with the United Nations Organization in 1954. Your government continued irresponsible and undemocratic decisions and actions have caused a setback in the governing of the islands which has led to a re-colonization that violates the Charter of the United Nations especially article 73 chapter XI and article 103 chapter XVI, and resolutions 742, 747, 945, 1514 and 1541, all which address the sacred rights of the Peoples of Bonaire and Sint Eustatius.

Our mutual colonial history, which you voiced to me personally that you don't know and don't care off, is a very dark one, with your government legalizing crimes and inhumanity, your laws to piracy, smuggling(drugs), slave-trading, making you the worlds history cruelest colonizers. We may have expected you with time to have grown out of this horrific barbaric culture, to civilize, but your recent declarations exposed your truth again, that nothing changed throughout the centuries, and you have put a suit over the plunderer of the defenseless Bonaire peoples.

Our response is by quoting Ghandi: “ that throughout history the way of truth has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible, but in the end , they always fall”.
We the peoples of Bonaire maintain our hopes high that “we shall overcome” and you shall respect, protect and comply with our inherited and acquired rights. We possess the same rights as you, to be as free and as equal and as human as yourself and all European-Dutch citizens of the Kingdom. We urge the international community to be awarw of this illegal colonial status where our peoples find themselves in.

 


Morality in Development.

Dear Editor:
In Sint Eustatius, one constantly hears that the island is “in much need of development.” Development will bring much-needed change ultimately solving the island’s many challenges. We are further told that development will “build economic resilience and create much-needed employment”. Interestingly, it seems like the only kind of development being touted is tourism, and if you are critical of the traditional touristic model of development, then you are categorized as negative, anti-development and against progress.
In his 1992 book Sint Eustatius: Treasure Island of the Caribbean, Eric O. Ayisi stated that Sint Eustatius has hooked on tourism “something it has neither the facilities nor the capabilities to handle.” In 2019, Ayisi’s statement remains valid. There is a limited food and water supply, no sewage system, roaming animals, and during many months the island is dry and dusty. In addition to this, there is limited connectivity and the price of a Winair ticket from Sint Maarten in forever increasing.
Interestingly, research illustrates that the traditional touristic model is not very beneficial to those Caribbean islands relying on it. While the Caribbean is characterized as a “tropical paradise”, for every dollar generated by tourism, about thirty cents remains on the island. Additionally, there has been an increase in literature discussing how tourism in the Caribbean is an outgrowth of the colonial model because it includes selling the single product of “tropical paradise” to North American and European markets, making it very similar to the historical mono-crop agricultural plantation economy.
And what of economic resilience and job creation? The fact is that tourism primarily brings very low paid service employment to the local population. The local population primarily become “the help” providing service with a smile. In essence, they become prisoners by, once again, a mono-economy, and the local “primitive” must do as he/she is instructed to do. Essentially the local becomes invisible, non-human and part of the natural landscape to be enjoyed by the tourist. Thus, the idea of “tropical paradise” is a demented fantasy, a social fabrication.
In Sint Eustatius, one often hears that the island does not seek to develop mass tourism, but rather, sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society, and economy. The type of sustainable tourism currently being touted for development is ecotourism and is directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, especially to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.
But “sustainable” is an elusive concept as its scope and practice often have little or nothing to do with protecting the people or the environment. According to Mimi Shelter, while the tourist industry requires an endless supply of pristine beaches, untouched coves and emerald pools, coral reefs, native wildlife, natural hiking trails, etc., many islands, such as Sint Eustatius, struggle with the energy, water and sewage demands with sewage often being returned to the same sea in which people swim.
Ayisi provides an alternative to the traditional tourist model when he states that “urban development needs to be controlled and should not be allowed to consume the fertile land that could be used for food cultivation.” Rather “the type of endeavor suitable to the island’s resources would be developing industries in farming and fisheries, and then using tourism as an ancillary to these industries.” Thus, the government should use moral suasion to attract investors who, are not only concerned with development for personal profit but concerned and interested in providing the necessary support for the primary challenges the island faces. Examples of investments include a proper integrated watershed environment, experimentation with animal husbandry and care, hydroponic farming of agricultural and fodder crops, information technology, etc. Tourists who come to the island could include people willing to assist with the development of these industries or simply those who admire the island’s approach toward development.
The antiquated type of tourism being sought in Sint Eustatius, which includes investors who are only interested in personal economic gain via exploitation, is increasingly being critiqued through a moral lens. There is already a great deal of data showing that this form of development will only deplete the island’s resources, further the economic divide between rich and poor and push the local population into perpetual poverty. If Sint Eustatius actually wants to develop, the island’s resources (land) must not be exploited and eliminated but enhanced through sustainable practices. Most importantly, local people must become the stewards of their island and these practices, not servants to tourists.

The EUX Writers Club
The pen is mightier than the sword
SRA, HJR, TEL

 

Writers meeting.

Dear Editor,
Over the years, the words good government, integrity, and transparency have moved to the forefront of consultants and internal government reports. In St. Eustatius efforts were made to “teach” the government representatives what and how they were expected to adhere to these words and their underlying principles.
The dissolution of the locally elected government in February 2018 was justified based on these words. Today in Sint Eustatius, the question remains whether, under the “new taskmasters” direct rule, are they themselves adhering to and implementing these words and their principles?
While the present direct rulers have embarked on a number of improvements island wide there remains something amiss. Under the abrogated regime there would have been a number of Island Council meetings in which the opposition would have taken the government to task as to the process of awarding contracts, the amount these projects would costs, the time period of the projects, whether the local contractors were able to secure participation in the projects, etc. Eventually, the government would usually approve the projects. If there were any time delays and cost overruns a similar show-down would have taken place. However, this process would have been open to the public, it would have been broadcasted and there would have been summaries in the local newspapers. The entire process would have ensured transparency. The Executive Council would have had to answer a question pertaining to advise and the process. Contrast this to now. The tendering of the bolstering of the teetering Fort Oranje, how did the process go? The road project, what was the delay and how much extra might that cost? The public has a right to know.
The greatest transgression to the transparency principle is surely the organizational restructuring of the civil service. The high-handed manner in which the government has thus far acted is symptomatic of the total disregard for transparency. On April 23, 2019, the government as represented by Mr. Mervyn Stegers, held a session for the civil service to inform them of the steps that will be taken in the restructuring process. However, during this meeting, the government representatives left out cardinal information about how the structure is to be developed. Scant plausible information was provided concerning what this restructuring will look like. There are a number of questions that Mr. Stegers failed to address. For example, how many people will be moved? Will there be new departments created? Are there any new job descriptions? Which positions will be eliminated?
Does not the failure of the government officials to provide this information breach the practices of good governance? Does there not need to be more transparency in the process? Compounding the problem is that the government officials are asking the civil servants to take a leap into the unknown and commit to his plan without a clue as to the major implication for their future within or out of government. How many new units will be created? How many actual positions will be eliminated due to downsizing? Does not this lack of transparency raise a question as to the integrity of the entire process?
One wonders if the government officials just assumed that the civil servants would agree with an unknown plan. It seems that they underestimated their intelligence and critical thinking capacity. During this meeting, when pushed to clarify the re-structuring process Mr. Stegers answered by stating that too much information would ensue chaos. But transparency is not the nurturer of fear. Rather a lack of transparency will ultimately increase fear and lead to chaos.
Mr. Stegers divulged that within two weeks each civil servant will be individually presented with their new role and by July 1st the new structure would be in place. In evaluating these profound issues, the effort seems more an exercise in obfuscation rather than transparency. Sandra Alvarez once stated states, “Lying by omission breeds mistrust. Once the person you have been hiding things from finds out, the likelihood of them trusting you again has gone out the window.”
Transparency is intended to breed trust. By failing to have public debates on the issues, and by curtailing the information flow, trust is ravished and transparency becomes murky in the process. The lack of transparency is not a characteristic of good governance and is surely leading to integrity issues. It is interesting that over the years, we Statians have been told that we were lacking in these three areas. Perhaps it is time the lessons were reciprocated in the opposite direction.


The EUX writers club
The pen is mightier than the sword
SRA, JHR, TEL

 

Ban scooters.

Dear people of SXM,

No time to sugar coat this issue. Time to ban scooters. Simple solution. I see no other option. The law cannot handle these suicides/murders, correct? So ban them! When scooters have proven to be more detrimental to society than handguns, its the simplest answer. Let us break this down, Dutch side police are only interested in the level of tint on your car window..call them about an important issue & unless you are a friend or family, they do not respond, or they laugh at you & will taunt you for life! Personal experience...They act on a pick & choose response...like the Fire department..they issue fire warnings YET, if you call them about a fire, i can assure you they will not respond. Again, pick & choose response only..
French side, Gibbs & Patrick...no care in the world. Heads in clouds, or maybe stuck in the sand? When a scooter kills one of their daughters, we will hear the cries. Until then...crickets...

When an official from the Dutch side or French side have been affected by 1 of these scooters, that is when we will see rapid change. Until such time, we are all at risk at being killed instantly by 1 of these irresponsible drivers. Russian roulette driving through FQ.

2 lives lost in one day on scooters. Are we to mourn the lives lost or thank the lord that the irresponsible drivers of those scooters did not kill innocent bystanders as they recklessly rode around, carefree. Should we feel sad for them? Personally, I don’t. I feel as though my family survived being murdered by them. Everyone reading this should also feel grateful to be alive, that you nor your family was hit by a selfish person on a scooter. If we cannot ban the scooters, let us shame them. Uneducated individuals acting in such a manor on a scooter with no helmet, driving at high speeds, cutting off every vehicle in sight.. that is a weapon. No better than a gun! You fell? You hit a truck? You died? Sorry for you...thankfully though, my family was spared from your stupidity! RIP

Marie

Subject: Minister Kasja Ollongren first introduction to the island of Bonaire.

To the Minister of Kingdom Relations and viceminister-president, Mrs Kajsa Ollongren,
PO Box 20018
2500 EA The Hague, the Netherlands.

Bonaire, April 9, 2019

Subject: Minister Kasja Ollongren first introduction to the island of Bonaire

Honorable Minister Ollongren,

As you landed in Bonaire and firsthand experienced a modernized version of a Dutch colony where the Bonaire peoples are governed in a status not of their choosing. An island where the Dutch government is blatantly continuing violating the Charter of the United Nations, international law and fundamental human, self-determination and democratic rights of the peoples. An unprecedented showoff of hypocrisy to pretend to the world that the Dutch stand in defense of human rights and democracy where your government does not respect the democratic voice and decision of the peoples that never choose to be annexed nor integrated and embedded under unequal rights as second class citizens in a colonial status and to be ruled by the Hague. A status that was overwhelming rejected with a No-vote of 66% in the last referendum of 2015 and the recent island council election where your government denied the people of St Eustatius democracy and could not vote, the people of Bonaire protested and boycotted this election as never before and continue showing their unhappiness towards a system a government which is against the wishes of the peoples.

As never before I write this letter with a lot of positivism and hope for our peoples of Bonaire that you as the new minister of Kingdom Relations with your first working visit and introduction to our island will understand our situation and our struggle contrary to all your predecessor ministers of Kingdom relations. All prior ministers and your accompanying state-secretary Mr Knops and us could never reached an understanding or consensus on the most simple fundamental aspect of humanity that we 'all are born equal in rights and dignity' and we Bonerians have the same right to be as free and as equal and as human as them the European Dutch.

I expect that you before coming to our island and as my previous letter to you in March 2018 kindly asked you to take note of my various previous letters to the Dutch government in which I am informing your Government that your dictatorial un-democratic course of actions infringes against your own agreed treaties and the international legislation.

Your visit fuels us with reborn hope to be freed from this illegal colonial status imposed on us on October 10, 2010. The reason we put our hope back in a Dutch minister, in your honorable, is because of the compelling facts that you are completely different than your predecessors and you would be able to understand and feel our pain and help us:

You studied and have an MA in history and have the capability to look into our common colonial history and understand this hidden dark truth where the Dutch being an insignificant fishing village became one of worlds richest nations through piracy, smuggling, and slave-trading. Your travel-partner Mr Knops publicly proclaimed to me during his first visit to Bonaire that he don't know nothing about our collective colonial past and treaties and human rights and this illegality does not seem to interest him either. However recently Mr. Knops admitted based on continues criticism of the Advisory Council of International Affairs (AIV) on violation of the Fundamental Human Rights in the Kingdom that your cabinet has decided to change course, and that Human Rights treaties will now apply not only in the European Netherlands but also in the Caribbean Netherlands. This good news increases our hopes. Our hope is now fully fixed at you as beside your capability to study and understand the history, what is more compelling, is that your father a Finnish-Swede was born in a Dutch colony, in Sumatra and lived and understood colonialism and that in the 21st century, anno 2019, that colonialism is a crime against humanity declared by the international community and United Nations. As all previous Dutch ministers and statesmen have shown no human-feelings towards us as they see us as-as not-equal and not-as-human as themselves and as colonized peoples this could be a deficiency either by mis-education of human values or could be transferred by Dutch-ancestral-DNA. Your ancestry that your are not Dutch but Finnish-Swedish could save us from the current course of systematic eradication, ethnic cleansing of the Bonerians.

Above arguments that you may possess human compassion towards us contrary to your predecessors, we appeal on your humanity not to be accomplice with this crime against humanity and be at the wrong side of history and according to above recent proclamation that your cabinet will change its course and respect our Human Rights to start immediately by respecting and restoring the first and most fundamental human rights of self-determination and right to self-governance of the Bonaire and Statian peoples.

Respectfully yours,

James Finies, president FoundationNos Kier Boneiru Bek (We Want Bonaire back)

 

 


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