photo: Edsel Sambo

THE HAGUE – Parliament looks on with worry at the social unrest, the incidents of arson, and the protests on Curaçao. D66 and GroenLinks want state secretary Knops (Kingdom Relations) to provide assistance so that peace can return to the island.

Because of the economic consequences brought on by the corona pandemic, thousands of people have lost their jobs on the island. Some individuals have been without any income for four months, while they were supposed to get a benefit payment.

‘Curaçao and the Netherlands have to work together’
The protesters demand new elections and the mood on the island is grim. D66 and GroenLinks believe that there is also a role reserved for the Netherlands when it comes to helping the peace return to the island. They want a debate with state secretary Knops at the beginning of next week.

D66-MP Antje Diertens: ‘How can we get through this crisis?’ (Dutch spoke)

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The island barely has any funds in its coffers and has been receiving emergency lines of credit from the Netherlands. One of the conditions attached to the Dutch loans is that all public servants sacrifice 12,5 percent of their salaries. That this will also affect people who were already struggling, is unacceptable to D66 and GroenLinks.

“A police officer, nurse, or someone who collects garbage, those are individuals who weren’t earning that much in the first place”, according to D66-MP Antje Diertens. “That would make it worse. There has to be more flexibility. How are we going to ensure that the normal people are helped?”

 ‘Curaçao and the Netherlands responsible’
Both Curaçao and the Netherlands are responsible for ‘helping the vulnerable people first’, is the opinion of GroenLinks-MP Nevin Özütok. “When the situation is dire, you have to help each other within the Kingdom. The concerns about viability are immense.”

GroenLinks-MP Nevin Özütok on responsibilities (Dutch spoken)

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“I’m concerned that the violence will continue and boil over”, says Özütok. “We don’t want a return to what happened in the sixties.”

‘Situation also dire in the Netherlands’
CDA-MP Chris van Dam is also following the ‘difficult situation on Curaçao’ surrounding the protests and cases of arson with a keen eye. “The situation in the Netherlands is also dire when it comes to the financial and social aspects. Last Sunday we had to deploy the riot police in The Hague to quell riots.”

CDA-MP Chris van Dam speaking to John Samson (Dutch spoken)

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The conditions are appropriate according to the CDA. “We’ll take a look and do what is necessary, but we also know that Curaçao has a responsibility to put on its big boy pants. So it’s not free money.”

 ‘Go on vacation to the islands!’
CDA-MP Van Dam calls on people in the Netherlands to go on vacation to the islands to help boost the economy. “If Dutch individuals want to go on vacation, there’s just one possible destination: the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. Let’s spend or vacation money there.”