Published On: Fri, Oct 16th, 2020

The limitations of our kingdom relationship

Dear Editor,

In trying to understand the relative failure of the first decade of Country Sint Maarten, I keep getting directed to the strange lack of vision of many leading politicians regarding the relationship with the Netherlands.
They find themselves as an autonomous country with some limitations.

In almost every situation, the limitations of autonomy in some fashion become the subject of discussion rather than the authority they do enjoy.
If these limitations are so excessively burdensome, why are they not putting very substantial energy into an alternative structure? I see no evidence of real research into alternatives. It seems that besides a few dedicated “independence” visionaries, the majority seem to be raising alternative structures only when it suits their short term interests but making no efforts to replace the supports the country is enjoying.

On the other hand, if they want to continue the Kingdom relationship with its advantages and disadvantages, why are they not making more efforts to direct and grow that kingdom relationship in the best interests of country Sint Maarten? Sint Maarten has always has been the least active of the Antillean islands in selling and promoting itself in the Netherlands.

Is it possible that they see a future in having a productive relationship with the Netherlands while at the same time reneging on agreements made and expressing views about the Netherlands that are highly negative? If the goal is to remind and educate the Netherlands in respect of its regrettable history of slavery and colonialism, this may not be the ideal manner of achieving this.

Why are there major political parties that include persons adamantly against the kingdom relationship together with those relatively in favor?
Whether the Netherlands or Sint Maarten is the greater culprit in respect of the lack of success of the past ten years may be of academic interest but is not going to move Sint Maarten forward.

The distracting search for explanations based on the limitations imposed by the Dutch Kingdom government is matched by a dedicated effort to avoid taking a hard look at the economy, the short and long-term solutions, and the making of any real sacrifices or investments to create a strong future economy.

The evidence continues to grow that small territories with single-industry tourism economies that have forged their growth with high levels of immigration are more than vulnerable. They are structurally unsound. Despite spending substantial sums of money on (Dutch recommended) institutions to analyze and advise, the real decision making in parliament avoids dealing with advice on the fundamental economic challenges and the functioning of the public sector.

Robbie Ferron

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