photo: John Samson

THE HAGUE – A delegation from St. Eustatius left for the Netherlands Saturday, where they want to discuss the political impasse St. Eustatius has with The Hague. However the delegation apparently does not have an appointment with the responsible Minister. In addition it appears that not all parties are aware of the visit.

St. Eustatius and the Netherlands have been clashing now a few months on how the special municipality should be governed. A resolution is nowhere in sight, because the Netherlands and St. Eustatius are not in agreement on who should handle the negotiations.

Outgoing Minister Ronald Plasterk (Kingdom Relations) is aware of the visit, but a meeting is not in his planning. According to Plasterk’s spokesperson there was no official request for a meeting from St. Eustatius.

The question is whether a dialogue will take place with the triple party delegation. Plasterk doesn’t want to meet the consultant Xavier Blackman, because the Netherlands did not acknowledge his appointment as Director of Public Affairs and Services in St. Eustatius. Blackman has joined the Statian Island Council Members Clyde van Putten and Derrick Simmons.

Meetings with the Second Chamber
St. Eustatius sees chances now the Netherlands has a new parliament. The Statian delegates want to have discussions with Parliamentarians this week on ‘how the Dutch government frustrates the local government.’ For example: when it concerns appointing a governor, approving budgets or the island’s expenditures.

All political parties have been requested for a meeting, according to the delegation. However several parties may not be aware of this. Only VVD and 50Plus confirmed a meeting this week with the delegation from St. Eustatius. D66 prefers not to comment.

Another important point for St. Eustatius is its fight for autonomy. The government of St. Eustatius wants to do away with its special municipality status, given to the island since 2010. St. Eustatius has never voted for this status, as the other special municipalities Saba and Bonaire did. St. Eustatius wanted the Netherlands Antilles to remain as a country during the 2005 referendum. In the new advising referendum in 2014 majority of Statians voted for autonomy.

The outgoing government in the Netherlands does not want to know anything about the fight for autonomy. The delegation hopes to convince the new parliamentarians to implement a law which defines what it is to be a special municipality in the Dutch constitution.

Plasterk’s threatening consequences

The Island Council has urged its own leaders to no longer comply with Dutch laws if they are in violation of UN rules. According to St. Eustatius, the island is treated as a colony.

In reaction this is why outgoing Minister Plasterk has pushed the delegation from St. Eutatius to the side. “Within the Kingdom there is no room for the conception that laws and regulations are ignored in this manner.” The tone of the letter to St. Eustatius is peculiar.

Plasterk expressed a striking threat to local government leaders. “For the consequences of non-compliance with the laws and regulations and legally resolved decisions by the Rijksvertegenwoordiger, I hold you fully responsible.”