photo: Ronald A. Muyden

KRALENDIJK – Clyde van Putten deemed the new State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops (CDA) ‘arrogant’ and a ‘modern Napoleon’. Knops made these remarks during a pro-autonomy symposium last weekend in Bonaire. Van Putten refused to meet with the State Secretary during his first visit to St. Eustatius last week.

Clyde van Putten about the new Dutch Government and State Secretary Knops

Van Putten found that Knops ‘crossed the line’ when he announced that Saba would be financially rewarded for its good governance. “It is being said that Saba will receive more autonomy, not on the basis of more responsibilities as stated in the Charter of the United Nations, but by receiving more money. This is unacceptable!”

In the coalition agreement from the Netherlands it is stated that extra investments in the Caribbean Netherlands are made under the condition of good governance and financial accountability. According to Knops Saba has been meeting these conditions over the last years. St. Eustatius on the other hand, is under guardianship of the Netherlands and is demanding more autonomy. Tensions between the Netherlands and St. Eustatius have been ongoing for some time now.

The politician also finds it unfortunate for St. Maarten, referring to the conditions for receiving the reconstruction fund after Hurricane Irma and the instruction to dismiss the former Prime Minister William Marlin. “The Hague cannot use a hurricane crisis to solve its political problems. I have often said that the Dutch government has a moral and constitutional obligation towards the islands. It is not a favor. We did not ask to be colonized.”

Infringement of self-governance
The Statian politician emphasizes that the Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of St. Maarten, Curaçao and Aruba. “And not only from the Netherlands. St. Maarten is therefore also an equivalent partner of the Kingdom. Yet this autonomous country is being put under pressure by the Dutch cabinet; a country with its own Prime Minister directly or indirectly chosen by the population.” Van Putten calls this a ‘violation of constitutional democracy’.

After a previous pro-autonomy symposium in Curaçao in early October, Van Putten was chastised for his statements about ‘burning and killing Dutch soldiers in the streets of St. Eustatius.’ After former Minister Plasterk filed an official complaint with the Public Prosecutor office, Van Putten offered an apology. The politician does not want to comment on these statements and the aftermath.

‘Prepared to die’
“It was not easy for my government, family and especially my children and it is not easy for me,” said Van Putten. “But as I said before: I have promised to give everything. I am even prepared to die for what I believe is good for the people of St. Eustatius. As long as I have the mandate and support of the people, we will continue to fight until our people are liberated.”