Published On: Tue, Jan 25th, 2022

René Zwart marks first website anniversary with Kadushi-book

PHILIPSBURG — René Zwart is of course not really a former journalist, as he describes himself in Kadushi’s Prikkeljaar 2021, a collection of 45 columns he wrote for his creation dossierkoninkrijksrelaties.nl in 2021 and 36 columns from writers on the six islands of the former Netherlands Antilles. His recent interview with John Samson on Caribisch Network conforms this: “I will only stop with Caribbean journalism once I am dead.”

Zwart, founder of Antilliaans Dagblad in Curacao, returned after his retirement to the Netherlands. Spending time on a golf course was however not part of his plans. He felt – and feels – a strong bond with the Caribbean part of the Kingdom and that is one of the reasons he established dossierkoninkrijksrelaties.nl on January 24, 2021. That digital platform attracted 188,000 readers during the first year of its existence. Under the pen name Kadushi, Zwart often vents his anger over Dutch neglect for poverty on the islands, with one goal in mind: to create a better understanding in the Netherlands about what is really going on in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.

Kadushi’s Prikkeljaar 2021 is a book of 216 pages that weighs around half a kilo and features a foreword by columnist Sheila Sitalsing. There are 45 Kadushi-columns and 36 columns written by contributors from the six islands. StMaartenNews.com’s publisher Terrance Rey is one of these writers. And while these contributors are of course all different, they also have a common goal: to improve life for the people who call St. Maarten, Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Statia or Saba their home.

Sitalsing, born in Parimaribo and brought up in Curacao kicks off in her foreword with what irks her: “Parliamentarians who want to sell parts of their own Kingdom on Marktplaats: that is going too far.” She is also disturbed by the Dutch reluctance to do something about the abject poverty on the islands: “One percent of the 5 billion in corona-expenditures of which nobody can find the receipts is enough to turn the three special municipalities (Bonaire, Saba and Statia) into model societies.”

Zwart obviously covers a lot of territory in his 45 Kadushi-columns. One of them, published on June 5, 2021, deals with the law firm of Peter Choharis who was hired by the Parliament in St. Maarten to address Dutch colonization and racism with the United Nations.

“Whether he really is such an internationally respected expert in the field of international law as they claim in Philipsburg, is doubtful. Before the Choharis Law Group managed to contract St. Maarten, this boutique firm worked for several years for the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar. If that is not a serious contradictio in terminis …… There are few countries where human rights are trampled so shamelessly on behalf of shamelessly rich sheiks as in this Arab emirate. What triggers Kadushi’s curiosity is the question why St. Maarten hires a lobbyist for a country that is so excessively guilty of slavery, for instance through the construction of stadiums where the world championship soccer will be played, to indict the Netherlands for racist suppression.

Kadushi also let loose on the establishment of the Caribbean Development and Reform Organization (COHO). “Kadushi won’t let a tear if the COHO-law is quietly put out with the garbage. It is a monstrosity unworthy of the Kingdom. It is called a consensus kingdom law, but the consensus has been imposed in an unprecedented inelegant manner to emphasize that the Caribbean countries are allowed to contemplate what they want, but that the Netherlands (the Kingdom) takes the decisions.”

In his last column of 2021, Kadushi took aim at politicians in St. Maarten with a blistering comment. “The political caste in St. Maarten did its best again this year to prove that it lacks not only the competence, but also the moral compass to play country. The main talent of Prime Minister Jacobs is jij-bakken (a Dutch expression for not using arguments but personal attacks to make a point) when she is told that agreements are meant to be honored. Not in a hundred years will the island be able to establish good governance; without the Netherlands it is a helpless victim of organized crime. The speed at which politicians disappear behind bars, makes us fear that political parties will be short of candidates during the next elections.”

While this reads like an all-out attack on St. Maarten it really is more of a wake-up call, born out of anger about the way ordinary citizens fall victim to the behavior of their elected representatives.

Terrance Rey observes in one of his columns that the possibilities to dodge taxes in St. Maarten are limitless. He refers to the effect of the pandemic when the border with the French side of the island was temporarily closed. “The French social services saved one million euro on social benefits. People living on the Dutch side whom received social benefits on the French side, could not cash them in during the two-month lockdown.”

But Rey also noted an upside: social benefits received from the French side were spent on the Dutch side, where tax compliance is as low as 35 percent.

Kadushi Prikkeljaar 2021 can be downloaded for free from the dossierkoninkrijksrelaties.nl website, either as an ebook or in a pdf-format.