PHILIPSBURG – A new group, the Caribbean Progressive Alliance,(CPA), made up of representatives from Bonaire, St. Eustatius and St. Martin, was formed at the recently concluded conference on independence organized by the Independence for St. Martin Foundation.
The conference was held under the theme: “Severing Strings” on Friday, March 31, at SoIL (Source of Inspirational Learning) with United Nations Decolonization expert Dr. Carlyle Corbin as keynote speaker.
The CPA will pursue the following objectives:
- Have the two island territories of Bonaire and St. Eustatius (re-)listed/(re-)inscribed by the United Nations as non-self-governing territories;
- Have self-governance assessment carried out for said island territories, as was done for the island territory of Curaçao;
- Allow the populations of the two island territories to exercise their right to self-determination as prescribed by United Nations resolutions 1514, 1541.
- To support and cooperate with St. Martin (South) in its quest for independence.
The founding members of the CPA are: the Nos Kier Boneiru Bek foundation led by James Finies; the Brighter Path Foundation of St. Eustatius represented by Jacintha Brice and Xiomara Balentina; the government of St. Eustatius led by leader of government Clyde van Putten and Commissioner Charles Woodley; and the Independence for St. Martin Foundation represented by its president Joseph Lake Jr.
Lake said Friday’s conference was satisfactory, while Finies called the formation of the CPA “a small step in the right direction.” He said it is expected that Aruba and Curaçao, which were unable to be physically present at the conference would also join the CPA. Rudy Croes, brother of the legendary Betico Croes of Aruba, left a video message, which was played during the conference, as he had to leave St. Martin the same day.
In his keynote address, Dr. Corbin said the Caribbean region had an “unfinished agenda” of decolonization. He said there were 17 territories that are currently listed as non-self-governing territories by the United Nations which had set 2020 as the deadline for the world to be rid of colonies.
Dr. Corbin identified three phases of the decolonization process with the second culminating with the end of the Cold War. He said unfortunately, some people assumed that the decolonization process had been completed with the end of the Cold War. He pointed out that for this reason, since the 1990s, only two territories had achieved independence – Namibia and East Timor.
Speaking about the territories under Dutch rule, Dr. Corbin said that The Netherlands retained “residual” powers in the Kingdom Charter, including the power to intervene in the affairs of the territories based on its guarantee of good governance. “But, who defines ‘good governance’,” he asked rhetorically. He said the Charter was represented as a form of “free association” to the UN, however, this was at least five years before the concept of “free association” was defined in 1960.
According to Corbin, the “democratic deficit” in the Kingdom Charter remained because the “free association” concept was never revisited after the UN defined what it entailed.
The keynote address was followed by a presentation by panelists representing Bonaire (Finies), St. Eustatius (van Putten) and St. Martin (South) (Lake Jr.) Each panelist described the realities of their respective territories. Finies enhanced his presentation with a video documentary in which ordinary Bonaireans spoke about their plight since 10-10-10. This documentary left the audience quite perplexed.
The CPA, it is expected, would assist to explain to the world what the real situation is on each of the islands participating in it.