Action speaks louder than words

1340
George Pantophlet

 

On December 19, 2022 the Dutch government apologized for slavery or their part in the slave trade. This took place in Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Eustatius, Saba St. Maarten, Suriname and the Netherlands. But what tangible actions have been taken so far? St. Maarten owes some 300 million guilders for liquidity support. This amount is to be paid in October of this year including the annual payment of 12.7 million owed from a prior debt of some 1.2 billion guilders. It has been concluded that St. Maarten is not able to pay this debt on the due date. I submitted a motion in June of 2021 requesting debt cancellation, which was unanimously accepted by the 15 members of Parliament. However, all I am hearing from the Dutch government is refinancing and restructuring.

There can be no apology without debt cancellation, and there can be no apology without reparations. We all know the pain that civil servants, government owned company employees and the private sector suffered from the conditions attached to receiving the liquidity support, the infamous 12.5%. Now I read statements alluded to State Secretary for Kingdom Relations Alexandra van Huffelen who is asking St. Maarten and Curacao to find solutions to the problems at Ennia? What am I missing here? What does the Dutch have to do with this matter? Were they approached? This is our internal problem. What I would appreciate, if a response can be given regarding debt cancellation.

What I would like them to explain to the people of St. Maarten as to why they have allocated2.5 billion euros support for Ukraine in 2023 and what are the conditions attached to such? The Dutch government’s decision to earmark funding now sends a clear message of undiminished solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who can count on predictable support for as long as it takes to take a quote from an article entitled “Netherlands earmarks 2.5 billion euros for support to Ukraine 2023.

I did not see any conditions mentioned? I did not see any repayment mentioned? What I read was undiminished solidarity with the people of Ukraine, what I saw was predictable support for as long as it takes.

But St. Maarten, and the other islands Aruba and Curacao are given loans that must be repaid? Where is the solidarity? What is the difference between us and the Ukrainians?   Discussions on reparations have not even began as yet and definitely can be seen as a long drawn out process. But Debt cancellation is a low hanging fruit and can be achieved within a short period of time, with the stroke of a pen. This debt that is hanging over the next generations is modern slavery and reeks of neocolonialism. If they are serious with the apology then let us see the action that will validate such.

Let me steal a statement from the 114th US Con ongress that was held July 12, 2016 which was made in a concurrent resolution 46,  and I quote “Expressing support for the goal of ensuring that all Holocaust victims live with dignity, comfort, and security in their remaining years and urging the Federal Republic of Germany to continue to reaffirm its commitment to comprehensively address the unique health and welfare needs of vulnerable holocaust victims, including home care and other medically prescribed needs.“

Whereas every successive chancellor has reaffirmed that acknowledgement, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, who, in 2007 reaffirmed that “only by fully accepting its  enduring responsibility for this most appalling period and for the cruelest crimes in its history, can Germany shape the future” end of quote. This resolution also includes child survivors. I inserted this for persons who always say we should forget about slavery, we should forget about the past. Tell this to the Jews. Do you think that we the people of these islands deserve better treatment from the Dutch government than we are today? Can the Dutch government emphatically state that they have nothing to do with our present situation? Finance is our major major challenge and this can be improved immediately.

Our infrastructure, schools, law enforcement, utilities and the list goes on need serious attention. With much interest I read the article entitled “Investments needed in judicial organizations, security of St. Maarten at stake, report says. My response to that is yes indeed. Show me the money. We can put beautiful plans on paper, we can have all kinds of terrific, stupendous ideas but show me the money.

The same article states and I quote; “In 2022, the Law Enforcement Council concluded, the judicial system lacked financial, personnel and material capacity and requires attention and investments end of quote”. Surprise, surprise. Apology means nothing without money. Action speaks louder than words.

MP George Pantophlet