St Maarten News


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St Maarten News MPs complain to UN of ‘neo-colonial’ Dutch stance Society March 17, 2021 Damage to Philipsburg, Sint Maarten after the hurricane. Photo: Ministry of Defence The parliament of the former Dutch colony of St Maarten is accusing the Netherlands of having a ‘neo-colonial’ and ‘racist’ attitude for attaching conditions to a coronavirus aid package and has filed an official complaint with the UN rapporteur on racism. The MPs claim the Netherlands is using the pandemic and the earlier devastation of the Caribbean island by hurricane Irma to make aid dependent on reforms, the AD reports. St Maarten, the Dutch part of which comprises around a third of the island, has been an independent country within the kingdom of the Netherlands since 2010 but the Dutch state still has a say in a number of its decisions. It recently thwarted an attempt by St Maarten to borrow money on the open capital market because it was too expensive, the paper said. The Dutch are currently planning to set up a monitoring body, whose members are to be appointed by the Dutch government, to oversee reforms such as cutbacks, labour reform, more efficient tax collections and to tackle criminal influences in the island. The St Maarten MPs said they welcomed most of the reforms but not the monitoring body which they say would mean giving up sovereignty. ‘Three deputies will be running St Maarten and we will have nothing to say,’ MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten, who is one of the complainants, told the AD. ‘It feels like slavery all over again. It’s as if someone comes into my house and orders me to pick up that towel. Do this, do that. But I am an autonomous adult.’ Junior foreign affairs minister Raymond Knops said he was ‘unpleasantly surprised’ by the complaint to the UN and has asked the St Maarten government for an explanation. Functioning ‘I have had to conclude that St Maarten at the moment is not able to function fully autonomously. I repeat: we do not want to take away the island’s autonomy but to help it assume full autonomy in the years to come. That is why we are assisting the authorities in bringing about these reforms,’ Knops told the paper. Dutch socialist MP Ronald van Raak has asked the junior minister to suspend the support to the island for the time being. He said he feared the reforms will not be carried out if the St Maarten parliament refuses to cooperate. He also wants a referendum on the independence of St Maarten. According to American law firm Choharis, which is representing the MPs, the final aim for the St Maarten politicians is to enter into a new discussion about the relationship with the Netherlands and to end the process of decolonisation. ‘The current status, as an independent country within the kingdom, simply doesn’t work,’ a representative of the firm told the paper. Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl The DutchNews.nl team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. DutchNews.nl has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible. If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal. Daily newsletter SIGN UP Search Best Of The Web ‘I act against power’: Sylvana Simons is proudly disrupting politics Anti-racist parties and progressive politics in the Netherlands Museumless: what the closure of Dutch museums means to their directors.

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