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Published On: Wed, Jan 20th, 2021

Time for transparency

By Hilbert Haar

The Pro Soualiga Foundation does not have its own agenda, or so it claims in an email to StMaartenNews.com. I have a different impression: the foundation is pushing an agenda that aims to finalize the decolonization process and to declare the Kingdom Charter an unconstitutional document in the process. If that is not their agenda it must be somebody else’s agenda. That would not surprise me.

Maybe it is time for this obscure foundation to offer some transparency, for instance by answering the following questions. Who are its board members? Who is paying for the efforts the foundation is pursuing in court? Who decides about which actions to take and who decides about the approach to these issues? Who is taking part in meetings of this club?

Once we have those answers we know at least who we are talking with. For now, all we know is that Denicio Brison is involved with Pro Soualiga and that Brison is a legal advisor to the United People’s party (UP). Please correct me if I am wrong here. If there is a link between Brison, the UP and Pro Soualiga it is not difficult to assume that the driving force in the shadows is MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten.

I have no problem with that but like many others I’d like to know who is doing what and for what reasons. Oh, before anyone starts about it: I am Dutch. So I must be biased. Right? Fact is, I left that country 25 years ago and my commitment is more to earth and people than to countries. And I exercise my right to express my thoughts freely.

The foundation does not represent the people of St. Maarten, if only because nobody gave them a mandate for it. What bothers me most is that in its attempts to convince us that St. Maarten still has to be decolonized, the foundation’s masterminds are picking and choosing from the minutes of the deliberations in the United Nations 75 years ago. Facts that do not fit the foundation’s agenda are dismissed with meritless arguments.

For example: the undeniable fact that the Kingdom Charter was accepted by the freely elected governments of all parties (the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles and Suriname).

Ah no, the foundation argues: in 1955 those freely elected governments were overwhelmingly Dutch “and the vast majority of our currently elected officials in St. Maarten would have been banned from running for office based on their race or gender.”

History does not allow you to declare something unlawful (or unconstitutional) that was lawful and constitutional all those years ago. It’s a no-brainer. Does this mean for instance that any decision by St. Maarten’s government or parliament should also be dismissed because the majority of these people are not Dutch even though they carry a Dutch passport? It is the same argument and it is as senseless as the claim the foundation is making.

And then the foundation claims that the Kingdom Charter “constricts our government from manifesting its right to self-determination and a full measure of self-governance.”

That is a gross misunderstanding of St. Maarten’s reality. The country and its people have one hundred percent freedom to choose their own destiny.

In the June 2000 referendum almost 70 percent of the electorate voted in a referendum in favor of becoming an autonomous country within the kingdom. That’s a fact. To obtain that status, local politicians accepted financial supervision (via the Cft) and the role of the governor. Nobody forced St. Maarten to accept those conditions.

UN resolution 1514 asserts that “the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights.” At least, Pro Soualiga got that right.

But St. Maarten is not subjugated to anything. Its people freely chose for the current constitutional status with all of its pros and cons. The past ten years have shown that this autonomous country cannot stand on its own feet. It needs the support from the kingdom (read: the Netherlands) if it does not want to become another Haiti.

The choices and the options are clear. Completing the decolonization process, as the foundation wants, is not going to change anything. Everybody and his uncle know that.

So how do we get out of this pointless debate about a process that is not going to serve the people of our beautiful country?

Here is a suggestion: organize a referendum and ask the people what they want. Decolonization? Independence? Status quo? Integration with the Netherlands?

To get the answers to these questions the parliament will have to take the initiative for a referendum. I already know that parliament is not going to do that. Why? Because they know the outcome will kill all arguments in favor of decolonization and independence.

So let’s get real, stop wasting everybody’s time and get on with things that really matter.




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