photo: Esther Henry

ORANJESTAD – State secretary Raymond Knops of Kingdom Relations who will arrive in St.Eustatius (Statia) on Wednesday morning, better prepare to meet furious and upset Statia government officials.

Charles Woodley, commissioner of Finance, calls the plan to remove the Statian government “a hijack of democracy”. “Why don’t they call an election instead of intervening in Statia’s government? Ask the people if they are satisfied”, he wonders. He shakes his head and adds: “Kingdom Representative Gilbert Isabella calling our culture rotten is simply disrespectful!”This week the State Secretary submitted a bill to the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer en Eerste Kamer) to be able to intervene administratively on St. Eustatius.

Commissioner Charles Woodley

Xavier Blackman, Director of Public Affairs and Sport calls the report that accuses the Statian government of ‘favoritism, threats, lust for power, discrimination, intimidation and arbitrariness’ “completely bogus”. “The committee jotted down certain persons’ opinions, not facts”, claims Blackman. “The gross financial mismanagement, a big issue in the report, is also bogus. Every single dollar is monitored under the supervision of the Dutch government and Cft (College Financieel Toezicht). There is no proof in the report of where exactly this mismanagement came from.”

Woodley adds: “no funds were made available to implement the so much required “good governance.”

Xavier Blackman talks to reporter Esther Henry

“It seems you have one party who is allowed to change rules, laws and legislation at will and we have only to accept. There is no two-way dialogue. We have submitted several questions to various ministries asking them about certain laws that conflict with our democratic and human rights. They choose not to respond to those questions”, states Woodley.

He continues: “taxes are collected here on Statia by the Dutch government, such as ABB, import tax and other, but we have never received a clear spreadsheet or an overview of those collected taxes.”

Rechelline Leerdam, PLP faction leader, about the Dutch intervention

“With all the supervision done by them, why don’t we feel courtesy from them. Julian Woodley, the acting governor, simply refused to sign decisions taken by the majority of our executive council. The judge’s verdict in June stated the governor was in violation of the law.”

“Taking the governor to court was almost impossible, however we won. Minister Plasterk was questioned in the Tweede Kamer about this and his response was that it was a ‘little mistake and it is solved’. That ‘little mistake’ caused several drawbacks and challenges implementing good governance.”

“How can you justify taking out a government that is functioning and has been legitimately elected by the people of Statia and say you are taking this decision in the interest of Statia”, Woodley wants to know. “In the Committee of Wise Men, Forty persons on a total of seventy are Dutch nationals, some never lived on Statia. Twenty of the Wise Men, born on Statia, spoke to local companies asking for their opinion on the governance of the island: the companies said they were satisfied. “The real dictators are the Dutch. They remain the colonists they were.”

Knops invited the public of Statia to a town hall meeting on Wednesday afternoon.