photo: Marit Severijnse

KRALENDIJK- In about two months it will be exactly ten years ago that Bonaire became a special municipality of the Netherlands. Even though the heated protests against the change have subsided, signs can still be seen on the side road, one of which reads ‘Stop Dutch Apartheid’.

The opinions on the question as to how Bonarians and the European Dutch are experiencing the situation differ:

By Marit Severijnse and Nathaly Evertsz-Ipcedencia

The Bonarian Sharon de Palm feels like the healthcare system and job opportunities on the island have improved. She however finds the fact that the island attracts more tourists and that the Dutch government ‘doesn’t understand’ the Bonarian culture a major downside.

A few meters down the road, a local laborer says that harrowing poverty exists on the island and that there isn’t enough work for the locals. The feeling that Bonarians are not treated equally is emphasized by him.

By Marit Severijnse and Nathaly Evertsz-Ipcedencia

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Two things are noticeable: there’s a division on the island and the feeling of inequality exists on both sides. The Bonarians feel like a minority on their own island and the European Dutch don’t feel accepted. Even though the individuals who were interviewed chose their words carefully, the resentment could be felt. “I was born in the Netherlands but I’ve been here since I was six. They still tell me that I have to move back to the Netherlands”, says Therese Rosier.

Protest in 2014. Archival picture: Belkis Osepa

Heated protest since 10-10-’10

The protest organization Nos Ke Boneiru Bèk (We want Bonaire back) has been protesting the status of Bonaire as a special municipality of the Netherlands for years. They want Bonaire to get an autonomous status just like Curaçao and Sint Maarten. That would mean that Bonaire would be able to choose its own government.

The solution seems simple: “You need to respect each other, no more, no less”, says business owner Marco. He’s a European Dutchman who’s been living on the island for 26 years. “You move here and you lead your life. You adapt to your new surroundings, not the other way around.”

Special municipality Bonaire

Special municipality Bonaire
On October 10th, 2010 the country of the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved. Bonaire became a special municipality of the Netherlands together with Saba and Statia. Together these three islands form the Caribbean Netherlands. They have a Lieutenant-Governor (mayor) and deputies (aldermen) and are administered according to Dutch law. This year marks the ten year anniversary of Bonaire becoming a part of the Netherlands.