The parliament of Sint-Maarten has lodged a complaint with the UN Rapporteur on Racism about the Netherlands. Parliamentarians believe that the Netherlands is neo-colonial and racist in providing corona aid to the island.
In a petition, they ask the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racism, Discrimination and Xenophobia to investigate and to turn the Netherlands on account of racism and human rights violations.
St. Martin also asks the UN to look at any violations of the right to self-government. The island has been an independent country within the kingdom since 2010.
“The Netherlands sets reform requirements in exchange for corona support, and The Hague uses the pandemic and the previous destruction by hurricanes, to force the country neo-colonially to give up sovereignty,” says TCCEIT-correspondent Dick Drayer in the CCEIT Radio 1 Journal.
The island has little choice but to accept this, sees Drayer, because it has no money left. “Tourism has dried up by Corona, there is no more taxpayers money and civil servants can no longer be paid.”
That is perceived as neo-colonial. “It is similar to the discussion about vaccination. Youre free not to take a shot. But without inoculation, you may not be allowed to get on the plane anymore. How free are you in your choice?”
According to Drayer, the racist complaint is difficult to prove, “but it is clear that there is inequality in the kingdom”. “The highest law in the kingdom speaks of equal countries, Curaçao, Aruba, Saint Martin and the Netherlands. But that is not the case: the Netherlands is the richest country to give out the sheets. The sense of racism comes from these relationships.”
The initiators of the petition point out that the Netherlands does not have a clean slate with regard to racism. They mention Zwarte Piet and the payment affair, writes The Daily Herald. “Yet the same people believe they can control the justice system and the prison in Saint Martin,” says initiator Grisha Heyliger-Marten, of the United Peoples Party to the local newspaper.
Twelve of the fifteen members of the States of Saint Martin, the parliament, supported a motion of November last year, which preceded the UN complaint. “The petition is broadly supported,” says Drayer. Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs also supported it.
Among others, MEP and former President Sarah Wescot-Williams of the United Democrats is against. She fears that the petition jeopardises the financial assistance needed by Saint Martin.
Secretary of State Knops of Kingdom Relations is unpleasantly surprised by the complaint, writes the AD. He would have asked the government for clarification. “I have had to note that at this time Saint Maarten cannot bear its own autonomy. I repeat again: I do not want to take away that autonomy, but rather help them to ensure that they can fully bear it in a number of years time.”
Ronald van Raak of the SP has asked the Secretary of State to temporarily stop the financial support to Sint-Maarten. The Member of Parliament is afraid that the support will not go well if local politics do not support it.
The Netherlands wants reforms
Last December, the Netherlands and Sint-Maarten agreed on long-term development aid. In exchange for the money, a supervisory body, the Caribbean Body for Reforms and Development, must be set up. Three members appointed by the Netherlands will check whether Sint-Maarten is a sufficient reform.
If not, the Netherlands can decide to stop Corona aid, money that should help the country to get through the crisis. Correspondent Drayer: “The body actually sets the political agenda for the next six years. At Sint-Maarten, they perceive this as a depletion of autonomy.”
Especially the fact that the Netherlands wants to give the aid in parts is a lot of annoyance. This approach allows the Netherlands to stop the aid if the promises about reforms are not fulfilled.