Examining The Unity Between The Dutch Islands Of The Caribbean

Examining The Unity Between The Dutch Islands Of The Caribbean

Release Date

Friday, February 8, 2013


The myth goes that in the early 1950s Dutch imperialism 'gods' after their 6 day cycle creating the Netherlands Antilles should have never taken a rest on the 7th day but dedicated at least a few hours to anchoring a binding system that would guarantee some sort of nation building among the 6 countries that became 5 after Aruba jumped out in 1986 under guidance of their liberator, Betico Croes.

Constant financial drainage is something that worries the metropole government until this day after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010. The illusion that the price of decolonization would always come cheap is something the Dutch always have been trying to keep alive. But this is the karma presented to a colonizer when, by the stroke of a pen you officialize the continuation of piracy in the beginning of the 20th century by naming their six territorial possessions "Curaçao and subordinates" accentuated with purposely weak preparation under a mistrusted colonial tutelage.

The imbalance of Dutch capitalism: plundering, enslavement and local spiritual-economic oppression throws all chances to a formation of nationhood in an infinite abyss. Something the golden era of oil refinery Shell could not fix when during their heyday in the 20th century, the Dutch multi-national imported workers from Aruba, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba and St. Maarten but also from Suriname, the English and Spanish Caribbean and even Portugal. Everyone from Aruba, Bonaire and the Leeward islands conveniently embraced the identity battles that came along for the love of a new life of economic wealth, started a family here and became a Yu di K'_rsou (child of Curaçao).

The self-governance of these Dutch franchises was many times seen as a controlling mix of coloured elite and Creole-Dutch families, the old settlers that have been here for many generations and feel alienated from the Dutch newcomers.

A constant destabilizing factor during this forced constitutional matrimony was the political theatrics by the governing elite exercising their own Dutch microcosmic version of divide and rule on the people of Aruba Bonaire Curaçao, Saba, Statia and St Maarten; each island with their own agenda. Stigmatizing Curaçao, the biggest island, as the wicked stepmother that made life impossible to live due to it being the capital administrator of the Antillean federation.

Cultural anthropologist Dr. Rose Mary Allen's 'The Complexity of National Identity Construction in Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean' gives insight in sociologist Ren A. Römer's perception of 'Antilleanness' and the paradoxical space all the islanders operated within, making him conclude later on that it only was a juridical' construct and far from a community. He being a firm believer of the non-existence of an Antillean identity said: "When I talk about culture and identity, don't all of us unconsciously think about the Yu di K'_rsou or not? Do we perhaps think about the Antilles? Or only about Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao?'.

A simple street survey would tell you that 99% hardly remembers the Antillean anthem introduced in the late nineties. For some, the Dutch flag or the recent announced abdication of Queen Beatrix could wet up their eyes. Others, en masse, would not even blink, but the primordial connection with Dutchness would be the passport and side-benefits which breeds a false complex of superiority but this can't be considered a big influence.

Miss Bonaire , Hurricane Lenny in St. Maarten, Aruban Calypso king - sure thing! We all feel part of those experiences in some kind of way. Yes, we had our moments of togetherness ever since the socio-racial labor revolt of 1969 when union leaders like Wilson 'Papa' Godett originally from St. Eustatius and Willy Haize from St. Maarten played a crucial emancipatory role ushering in a new era where Afro-Antilleans gained more rights and status in a Dutch white privileged world. But the consistent neglect of using media to unite the people by sharing our common stories of life in what is called the Netherlands Antilles embittered our relationship. The careless attitude towards the islands despite family ties nurtured by the absence of media, a cohesive tool to improve our historical linkage, has been our own construct of permanent hinderance.

The politically manipulated 10-10-10 constitutional metamorphosis loosened the ties a bit further as each went their own way. Sharing a central bank keeps Curaçao and St. Maarten in many moments of suspense. Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius as brand new Dutch public hybrid municipalities are in a constitutional chaos. Threats of turning expressions of dissatisfaction into steps towards the United Nations decolonization committee are voiced, advocates for equal social rights within the Dutch kingdom according to ICSECR (International Covenant of Social Economic and Cultural Rights) are awaiting court cases against the Dutch state with favourable verdicts.

It's the beauty of resistance at our own cultural underdeveloped accustomed pace, a synergy to change the caused Dutch imperial disorder into a decolonial showdown, that could align all Dutch overseas franchises into joining forces sincerely, setting aside all the petty political beef and infighting. if they play their cards right, they can shift the scales of power in epic style.

Image Credit To World Atlas

Editor-in-Chief's Note: Jermain Ostiana is an Editorial Contributor with the MNI Alive Network

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