Published On: Tue, Apr 30th, 2019

Schotte’s fundraiser gets the cold shoulder

Gerrit Schotte Youtube video

WILLEMSTAD - Maria Ruiz, the mother of former Prime Minister of Curacao Gerrit Schotte has initiated a Gofundme-campaign in an attempt to collect the money Schotte has to pay back to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the wake of his conviction for bribery and money laundering. If Schotte does not pay, he will have to spend another three years in prison on top of the three years he is currently serving.

The Gofundme-page created by Ruiz mentions a target of €1 million ($1,120,000 at the current rate of exchange), but the numbers are rather confusing. Schotte owes the justice system 1.8 million guilders (around $1,005,000) for his get out of jail card, but the page furthermore mentions attorney-fees Schotte has to pay to the tune of $550,000 and an outstanding loan of $450,000. That adds up to around $2 million.

So far, potential Gofundme-donors are giving Schotte and his family the cold shoulder. Ruiz launched the page on April 23, but on April 29, just one anonymous donor had put a measly €100 ($112) into the account.

Ruiz explains on the page in rather glorifying terms how her son got into hot water. “In 2012 began a fierce political prosecution against him but Gerrit never gave up and fought against adversity for the common good: to have a better country with equal opportunities and prosperous for all its citizens.”

Ruiz furthermore refers to “seven years of intense prosecution” and to a prison sentence “for a crime he did not commit.” (Schotte’s conviction was confirmed by the Supreme Court).

Schotte’s mother also mentions how the former prime minister received in November 2010 the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the International University of the Caribbean, an obscure institute established in Jamaica just five years earlier by the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

The university gave the distinction, according to the Gofundme-page “in honor of Schotte’s outstanding achievements in politics.” It is unclear what inspired a university based in Jamaica to honor what was then the youngest prime minister in the world from a country with which it has no apparent ties.

Honorary doctorates are usually granted for “recognizing and distinguishing an outstanding person who contributed notably to his or her field of expertise, higher education or a specific institution.” Another reason could be: “Rewarding and encouraging past or future donations.”

There is no record of Schotte making a donation to this university, but the possibility that he simply bought the doctorate is, given his criminal history, not entirely implausible.

Remarkably, Ruiz published the Gofundme-page also on a specific page of Maaseik Opoeteren, a municipality in the Belgian province of Limburg. On that page, a lady called Jennifer Leigh raised €8,360 for medical treatment - more than the €7,000 she asked for; Ruiz’ fundraising effort has reached just €100, a far cry from the €1 million she hopes to collect.

Ruiz also published data gathered through an online survey by a company called EncuestasWeb. The reliability of the data is questionable. “People was chosen randomly by ads, searching exact island proportion,” the site reports, adding under the header Cases: “500 effective to get accurate island proportions, and match age, education levels and sex based in population records.”

The company used the survey to pose questions like “Who was the best prime minister according to you?” (61 percent favored Schotte), and “Do you know which government did not increase our external debt mortgaging our island Curacao?” (48.4 percent answered this was the Schotte-government that ruled from October 2010 until its downfall in 2012).

Between 2010 and 2012 - the years Schotte was prime minister - Curacao’s budget-deficits amounted to 300 million guilders according to a report by financial supervisor Cft, so the respondents to this survey are either badly informed or the results have been bent to make Schotte look good.

Currently, the counter for Schotte’s rather unique fundraiser has stopped at €100 - 0.01 percent of the €1 million-target. Seven days into the Gofundme-initiative, there is a 99.99 percent probability that Schotte will also have to spend the additional three years in prison.

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