THE HAGUE – ‘The Minister of Foreign Affairs is unworthy’, according to the Dutch Caribbean Consultative Body (OCaN) regarding the statements made by Minister Stef Blok (VVD) about Suriname and the multicultural society. The foundation demands excuses on behalf of the Caribbean community and a meeting with the government.

Blok said last week during a private network meeting that he does not know a country with a multi-ethnic or multicultural society, where the original population still lives and where there is a peaceful bond. Blok also called Suriname a ‘failed state’ and he stated that ‘it is probably genetically determined that we are not able to connect with people unknown to us’.

In retrospect, the minister said he had used “terminology that was too harsh” and he “regretted that he had caused offense”.

‘Apologies cannot camouflage the lack of knowledge and historical awareness of this minister’

Despite Blok’s regrets, the outrage is still great, also on Curaçao. The Curaçao Minister of Health, Suzy Camelia-Römer, for example, wonders how a minister of foreign affairs, of a kingdom consisting of four countries with a multi-cultural society, can come to such statements.

“Curaçao alone consists of a mix of ethnicities, cultures and religions that all live together in harmony,” says Camelia-Römer. “There is clearly a lack of cultural and historical knowledge by Blok and apologies cannot camouflage this, it’s better he resigns.”

‘We are stunned and wonder if he can remain as minister’

John Leerdam, the OCaN chairman, has also questioned the suitability of Blok for this position. “We are dumbfounded and wonder if he can remain as minister”, he said.

The foundation wants to have a conversation with the Dutch cabinet. “We want to know how we can move forward with each other. Everything that has been built up in the last 75 years has been destroyed by these statements”, Leerdam concludes.

Statements made by minister Stef Blok – source: Zembla (Dutch spoken)