‘Together we are one community’ was this time the theme of the Day of Bonaire, meant to celebrate the diversity on the island. But local politicians mention in their speeches that they are concerned about the ‘uncontrolled population growth’.

The population is growing due to migration and, by now, there are about 75 nationalities. For months there have been discussions on the radio and in newspapers about retaining the Bonairian identity. The Bonairan has become a minority on the island:  33 percent of the 24,700 citizens are of Bonairian descent.

“I feel a deep pain in my heart when I see that our nature and culture is disappearing”, says acting governor Nolly Oleana in his speech. Due to the growing population norms and values are disappearing, he finds.

Despite the festive atmosphere, this critical tone is noticeable in several speeches by council members during the solemn meeting of parliament. M-21 council member Daisy Coffie, wonders whether the growing diversity enriches or indeed threatens Bonaire.

During the elections of last March integration was one of the themes. The parties UPB and MPD want admission requirements that are stricter and more just. Those who want to apply for a residence permit must be able to speak Papiamentu.

“Less solidarity and respect”

Acting governor Oleana thinks that it is urgent to have a vision about population growth. “There are more cars, more accidents, and more victims. More people and less affordable houses, more children and a greater lack of places in schools.”

“We can continue to list all the big effects that are due to the explosive growth of our population. We are in need of controlled growth: while retaining nature, culture, rest, and safety. Where every citizen wants to contribute to a prosperous Bonaire.

Fight against climate change

The growing troubles should help people cooperate more with each other, says Soleana. The moment has come to unite our forces, knowledge, and capabilities and create a feeling of community. If we do not create a strong, human chain, there is a big chance that we will even lose the fight against climate change and control of the growth of our populace.”