photo: Kim Hendriksen

WILLEMSTAD – The protest of hundreds of individuals, demanding the resignation of the government of Curaçao ended in riots, looting, and a path of destruction. As a result, the government instituted a curfew till 6 AM on Thursday morning.

Additionally the chief of police Mauricio Sambo handed in his resignation because he had not provided enough protection to the government headquarters, Forti, against angry protesters. Six protesters have been arrested

The group who was led by Lon Mutueel, who stands up for the rights of young individuals on the island, is angry about the cuts announced by the government and would rather have the Netherlands intervene. He was joined by employees of the waste management company Selikor, the Isla refinery, Aqualectra, Brasami, and public servants. Several unions have made it clear that they’re not responsible for the protests.

Mutueel and other angry members of the community have been protesting for more than a week. They stopped traffic on the Juliana bridge for example. But others have seized the gatherings to protest in a less peaceful manner and they barricade the streets with burning tires.

Report by Kim Hendriksen

Teargas and destruction
At the government headquarters the police had to use teargas to dissipate the crowd. Smaller groups of protesters headed towards the city center to destroy property. A police car was set aflame and streets were blocked off with piles which were set on fire.

In the Otrobanda neighborhood stores were plundered. Business owners on the island closed their doors because of the riots and looting. Because several busses of the ABC Busbedrijf were destroyed, they cancelled the roster for the rest of the evening.

Prime minister Eugene Rhuggenaath spoke of a ‘sad day’. He said that arrangements had been made with the leaders of the protest. When they did hold up their end of the bargain, we intervened.

“The cuts that the government had to make, were dictated by the Netherlands. We have to implement these and ensure that we keep the peace on the island.”

Salary reduction
Amongst the protesters, employees of Selikor could also be found. They found out today that their salaries would be cut.  According to the management of the waste management company this was necessary because the government hasn’t paid in a long time. For this reason the company has tens of millions of guilders of debt on the books. Money has run out and management has no other option than to reduce personnel costs and scale back activities.