Published On: Fri, Mar 19th, 2021

Mission impossible

By Hilbert Haar

If you are not confused enough yet about the whole decolonization petition and what it means for Dutch liquidity support for our cash-strapped government, here is something else to think about.

First remember: the United People’s party (UP) and its faction leader Grisha Heyliger-Marten are the driving forces behind that petition to the United Nations. And that petition asks to stop the process towards the establishment of the COHO – the Caribbean Reform and Development Entity. The establishment of the COHO however, is a hard requirement for continued liquidity support. No COHO, no money from the Netherlands.

It seems that the petitioners are also looking for a revision of St. Maarten’s constitutional status. What it is exactly that they want is unclear. UP-MP Ottley has declared in a press statement that the petition is not a call for independence. Then what is it?

Ottley seems to think that completing the (already completed) process of decolonization would give St. Maarten a stronger position when it comes to obtaining loans: better terms and fewer conditions. Unlikely: liquidity-support is interest-free; there are no better terms and St. Maarten’s poor credit rating would send the interest rate for loans on international markets through the roof.

Otherwise, St. Maarten’s options are also severely limited. From answers to questions from MP André Bosman State Secretary Knops sent to the Dutch Parliament it becomes clear that a change to a different form of self-government within the legal order of the kingdom requires “the cooperation and approval of the other kingdom countries.”

In other words, if St. Maarten wants changes, it needs the cooperation and approval from Aruba, Curacao and the Netherlands. Fat chance that this will ever happen. The only other option is independence and based on MP Ottley’s press statement that is not what the petitioners are after.

Here is the kicker. St. Maarten’s Jorien Wuite was elected as a member of the D66-faction to the Dutch parliament this week. And what does the UP do? The party congratulates Wuite (and rightly so) with her historic achievement. But that is not all. UP-MP Rolando Brison adds this tantalizing line to his congratulatory message: “This gives us great hope for the future of the kingdom.”

So now you know. The UP does not want to leave the kingdom. It wants more autonomy within the legal order of that kingdom. That requires the cooperation and approval from Curacao, Aruba and the Netherlands. Not gonna happen.

The only alternative is independence. The petitioners say that their cry for help to the United Nations is not a call for independence. In other words: they don’t want independence.

Which brings me to my point: that petition is one big fat smokescreen. It is a waste of time and energy. A mission impossible. It is asking for something that is not feasible and the petitioners already know that. It damages St. Maarten’s already fragile relationship with the Netherlands. It is a show for the home front that does not benefit anybody. Our citizens have more important issues to worry about.

UP-leader Brison did one thing right though: he congratulated Jorien Wuite with her election to the Second Chamber. Because it gives hope for the future of the kingdom.