St. Eustatius

Kenneth Cuvelay feels Dr. Haviser not fit as chair for ‘Statia Heritage and Research Commission’

ORANJESTAD- Kenneth Cuvelay of the Ubuntu Connected Front feels that archeaologist dr. Jay Haviser is not fit to serve as chairperson for the Statia Heritage and Research Commission.

This is stated by Cuvelay in a letter sent to various press outlets, asking attention for the matter. “It came to my attention that a letter to the editor by archaeologist Jay B. Haviser got published in The Daily Herald of November 16. Although my name is not mentioned, Dr. Haviser accuses me of, among other things, racism. He does that in response to my letter to the editor in The Daily Herald of November 12-13, 2021 on slave ship The Leusden. In that letter, I objected strongly to the shift in narrative that the archaeological field and white stream media were making from the murder of 664 Africans to an adventurous hunt for the West India Company vessel that sank in 1738 just off the coast of Suriname”, according to Cuvelay.

Cuvelay states in his letter, among others, that calling black people racist is a common response coming from people within the white power structure. “It’s a racist act in itself. It proves that Dr. Haviser does not understand what racism is or what our arguments are about. The problem is that Dr. Haviser will not understand what racism is throughout his lifetime because he is intrinsically part of the white power structure. As are so many others” says Cuvelay.


Cuvelay also states that, according to him, it becomes worrisome when someone who doesn’t understand racism, to be chair of a commission that must investigate accusations of racism at another organization. Dr. Haviser currently functions as chairman of the Statia Heritage and Research Commission (SHRC), which has been set up by the Statia Government to investigate possible wrong-doing by the archaeological institution SECAR.

Earlier this year, SECAR started excavations at an 18th-century African burial ground without any involvement of the descendent community.

Not everyone agrees

Not all members on Statia’s Heritage and Research Commission agree to the sentiments of Cuvelay. “I think it is a bit of a childish way of these two persons reacting to one another”, said one of the other Commission members when queried by The BES-Reporter. “This is too much a ’tit-for-tat’ and not being constructive. We have a task to do and we have an advice to write for the Government and the people of Statia, and I feel that is what we need to focus on”.

The complete letter written by Cuvelay can be read here.

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