photo: Elisa Koek

HILVERSUM – Residents of St. Eustatius wants to do away with the status ‘special municipality of the Netherlands’. The Dutch government however refuses to react. Government leaders Clyde van Putten and Derrick Simmons think that prime minister Mark Rutte is ‘in an awkward position and does not know how to get out’.

The government of St. Eustatius sent a letter to Rutte on January 4 with a request to change the island’s status of ‘special municipality of the Netherlands’ to an autonomous status. In that letter to Rutte, the government leaders also made reference to the outcome of the 2014 referendum.

Derrick Simmons talks about the letter

This referendum showed that most Statians prefer autonomy. The Hague refused to recognize the results of that referendum and insisted on a new referendum, but this is not what the island wants.

‘The Netherlands’ power game’
For many years St. Eustatius has been fighting for an autonomous status and was the only Dutch Caribbean island to protest in 2005 against ‘becoming a special municipality of the Netherlands’.

According to Simmons’ the Netherlands ‘imprisons the island in a web of rules that constantly change. “We want development on the island, but every time we make a step forward we are blocked by the Netherlands”, said Simmons. “They use the system of telling us that they do it to protect us. But what they actually do is keep us small and powerless.”

No supervision from the UN
Without the status of ‘special municipality’ of the Netherlands, St. Eustatius wants to be listed as a ‘non-self governing territory’. “This means that the Netherlands cannot do what it wants without its actions being controlled”, explained the advisor of Simmons, Xavier Blackman.

Xavier Blackman about ‘The Netherlands’ power game’


Shameful and regrettable

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee for Kingdom Relations has called Rutte to order. St. Eustatius is demanding a response from the Prime Minister. “Shameful and regrettable that the Prime Minister has still not replied to the letter from St. Eustatius,” said Member of Parliament Tunahan Kuzu (DENK).

Government leaders of St. Eustatius will discuss its islands developments while in The Hague next week. The desire for autonomy will be tabled again.