Published On: Sun, Sep 29th, 2019

The rise of anti “Dutch” rhetoric

StMaartenNews LettersDear Editor,

The last few years have seen on Sint Maarten the rise of substantial anti “Dutch” rhetoric and many will be asking why this has arisen so suddenly and strongly .

The “Dutch” that are targeted are typically not individual Dutch metropolitan people nor specific Dutch institutions as much as the Kingdom and Netherlands government as a whole.

It would appear to me that the sentiment is particularly strong in the political class and particularly amongst the younger and politically aspirant groups . It would appear that conditions placed on aid and support are what angers this group the most. It is often used as an explanation in relation to the failure in Sint Maarten of good governance and political stability .The man in the street and particularly the large part of the population that originate from economic migration in recent years are less concerned with Dutch administration impositions.

On the other side of the ocean the ex-colonial power claims the intention of the limitations on aid being for the purpose of improving this governance particularly insofar as it is caused by corruption .There are suggestions by parties on both sides of the ocean that considerable political decision making is driven by forces operating in the shadows whose interests are in conflict with good administration and integrity .

Whilst on the face of the opposing claims and intentions there ought to be some common purpose between the extremes in the discussion on the relation between the Netherlands and Kingdom partner, in the conversation that is ongoing in Sint Maarten it cannot be found presently. It appears that there are few political groups that find it strategic to support “the Dutch”.

The complex Kingdom arrangement that Sint Maarten is part of, has not changed much in recent years and there has not been any recent loss of autonomy. The major issues in the Sint Maarten society like cost of living, waste management, deficit management and infrastructure investment do not directly relate to the limitations that the Kingdom arrangements impose. What has changed is a large growth in social media use and the expression of views that were previously not facilitated. What has also changed is an increase in prosecution of financial crimes by the Dutch managed prosecution services.

The Dutch government does not meet the charges in the media where they are made so the conversation on island is one sided. But many residents of the island would be pleased to understand the phenomenon and be assured that they are hearing all the views and nuances of these issues.

Robbie Ferron