Oranjestad, Sint Eustatius, June 12th, 2018
I have taken note of the statements made by Mr. Mike Franco and published in The Daily Herald on June 1st, 2018, and would like to point out the following in response.
First of all, by initially and publicly stating that the report by Mr. Refunjol and Franssen did not contain any include any findings of corruption, Mr. Franssen and Mr. Franco acknowledged that said report was used as a false pretext and last desperate effort by the Government of the Netherlands to attempt to justify the decapitation of the democratically and legitimately elected government of Sint Eustatius in February of this year.
The fact that the report was used as a false pretext has now been further confirmed by Mr. Franco who in the article of June 1st, 2018 states that he has “encountered some things that can be classified as corruption”. This means that these alleged “things” were not encountered before the report was written.
Mr. Franco states that persons were moved for political reasons, because they “are not doing what you would like them to do”, and that this can be considered “corruption” as well. I hereby challenge Mr. Franco to provide irrefutable proof (“onweerlegbaar bewijs”) for these allegations. I also would like to remind Mr. Franco that former Kingdom Representative Isabella, when I pointed out the lack of qualifications of a process manager to be appointed by him, he simply replied with:”…maar zij geniet mijn vertrouwen…”
Furthermore, if appointing persons based on their political affiliation constitutes corruption, then I have to conclude that the Dutch Government has formalized and institutionalized this form of corruption, looking at how former politicians are appointed to high positions based on their party affiliation after they leave office honorably, or are forced to resign in disgrace as is the case on numerous occasions in both the Federal and municipal governments in the Netherlands. It is also well-known that mayors in the Netherlands are always appointed based on their affiliation with (coalition) party affiliation.
Mr. Franco states that people who had “performed a job for government” did not get paid. I would like to remind Mr. Franco that under the (unlawful) regime of preventative supervision imposed by former Minister Plasterk, Government’s creditors were not paid for months due to approval being withheld by the Ministry of BZK and/or the former Kingdom Representative. In February of last year, Commissioner Woodley put an end to the preventative supervision based on the incompatibility with the UN Charter and international law, and paid most if not all of the outstanding amounts. Never did the Dutch Government or the Cft take any (legal action) against that decision, which is itself indicative of the fact that it was the right one.
Mr. Franco claims that the “finances were not in order” but doesn’t define what “not in order” means, and doesn’t substantiate his claim either. As far as the annual accounts are concerned, they have not received approval by the auditors in decades. That is nothing new, and goes for many large municipalities in the Netherlands, as well, despite the large amount of resources available to them.
Finally, I would like to point out that all the so-called “plans”, “initiatives” and “achievements” Mr. Franco regularly presents to the media, were in preparation by the legitimate Government of Sint Eustatius since it took office in April 2015.
And while I understand how propaganda works and the need for Mr. Franco and the Dutch Government to create a positive image of progress and improvements to justify and distract the people of Sint Eustatius from the real issues at hand, those same people are not buying it. Most of them have lived here for the better part of their lives, and even if they haven’t, they are smart and wise enough to see what is really going on.
Mr. Martijn Meijberg who, until he was moved from the position in July 2017, was charged with the preventative supervision at BZK, publicly and proudly proclaimed while on a visit to Sint Eustatius:”The Dutch Government will make sure that nothing positive happens during the tenure of this Government so that the DP would be elected back into office in 2019.”
Mr. Meijberg confirmed what was already evident the moment the PLP-led Government took office in 2015. By refusing to dialogue with the incoming government, and instead immediately imposing additional supervision, forcing a worthless and unrealistic “Plan of Approach” down our throats, boycotting the island, hindering the new agreement with NuStar, imposing preventative supervision, delaying the start of the road project and continuing to ignore the results of the different reports over the years, the Dutch Government has stifled any progress the Government of Sint Eustatius was making.
All the reports written by consultants hired by the Dutch Government over the years pointing out the failings of the Dutch Government were ignored or only partially implemented when convenient. Even the report by Mr. Refunjol pointed out the Dutch failures and neglect in dealing with the islands over the years. Yet there were no consequences for the Dutch Government and its official officials, and a Government who has been in office less than three years out of the last decades was used as a scapegoat.
Despite all the efforts to sabotage and interfere, the Government of Sint Eustatius was able to make significant progress. Not only was the agreement with NuStar negotiated, but also improvements in the financial management and personnel related areas were made. Preparations for different projects like housing, an improved airport building, additional airlift, etc. were made and ready to be executed. Agriculture projects reaped their fruits and new trade channels with Trinidad were opened, besides the agreement with the CPA.
After the unlawful puppet regime headed by Mr. Franco took over, is seemed that the same Dutch laws that our government was accused of breaking went out the window. All of a sudden funding was not a problem anymore. Mr. Franco has an unlimited budget to hire numerous Dutch civil servants at extremely high additional costs, and fire dedicated hard-working locals with families.
In closing, I would like to say that Mr. Franco, who failed as President of Parliament and politician in Curacao by losing the only seat his party had, that should be deeply ashamed of himself as a Caribbean man. As President of Parliament, he placed and signed a plaque in Fort Amsterdam on July 1st, 2013, thanking national hero Tula for “fighting for the freedom of his people leading to the abolition of slavery, and inspiring the people of Curacao for continuing the fight for more and more emancipation”. I am sure that Tula is spinning in his grave seeing how Mr. Franco is now being used as a pawn by the Dutch colonizers to suppress the people of Sint Eustatius.
Clyde I. van Putten
Island Council Member and Leader of the Coalition Government of St. Eustatius