Published On: Thu, Oct 6th, 2022

Democracy gradually returns to Statia

ORANJESTAD — The Progressive Labor Party has appointed Glenville Schmidt and Derrick Simmons as Commissioners, marking the gradual return to democracy in Statia, after the Kingdom intervened in 2018 by sidelining the local government on February 8, 2018. The intervention was based on the conclusions of a Committee of Wise Men who wrote that Statia was ruled based on favoritism, threats, lust for power, discrimination, intimidation and arbitrariness.

But not everybody is happy with this development.

Ubuntu Connected Front (UCF), a political party founded in the Netherlands in 2017, wrote in a press release after the annoucement that “in Statia, an island with less than 4,000 inhabitants, the government has not been able to give citizens back their democratic rights for more than four years. This is colonial rule at its best.”

Ubuntu also makes references to the African diaspora that continues “living in poverty and degradation” while it is not treated equally “due to the legacy of colonialism which continues impacting our lives on a daily basis.”

UCF chairman Kenneth Cuvalay states in his press release that the Dutch government must recognize slavery as a crime against humanity and that it has to offer excuses and reparations. “Reparations are a moral and ethical demand and are not just simply about money. Reparations are also for example about repair of our communities that are in systemic underdevelopment, decay and poverty, and rewriting our history which has been distorted, and transformation of for example the educational system and return of our ancestral stolen heritage.”

In the meantime, Statia’s government considers the appointment of commissioners as a crucial step in the process of a return to democracy. King Willem-Alexander signed the required royal decree on September 29. It went into force on October 3.

Statia says that it has met all conditions: island ordinances have been adopted and entered into force, the procedures and work instructions of the Island Council have been renewed and the work processes and the system for issuing permits and exemptions has been updated.

The commissioners will form the Executive Council together with the government commissioner who will continue to perform the duties of the island governor and who will also chair meeting of the Island Council.

The government commissioner remains responsible for appointing, suspending and dismissing civil servants. He will also supervise financial management, security, public order and crisis management.