Statia, a small island in the Caribbean Sea, first claimed by many: The Dutch, the Spanish, the English. But finally became the prized possession of the Dutch state. Yes, a true colony, characterized by the mass exploitation of a group of people, all in the benefit of the Dutch!
Then came the Kingdom Charter, with promises of a brighter future. Finally, six autonomous islands in the Caribbean Sea, initially not ‘created equally’, for only after many battles fought, Statia managed to obtain its own seat within the then Netherlands Antillean Parliament.
Islands, due to the dictates of history, merged in an artificial union, that led to semi- brotherhood, threatened by continuous discord over goods. A climate of increasing distrust set the stage for the islands, except for Statia, to opt for the dissolution of the now defunct Netherlands Antilles.
But Statia, they said, could not remain an Antilles of one. Statia, they said, needed to fall in line. So, despite Statia’s protest, the island was forced to become a Dutch Municipality. Followed by the anchoring of an unwanted status within the Dutch Constitution. The return to a physical state of colonization? Or simply the manifestation of that which always was?
The anchorage within the Dutch Constitution paved the way for the dissolution of a democratically elected government, for ‘disobeying the Dutch order of things’. They used the Dutch constitution to legitimize this brutal and undemocratic act! But you see, when a country has the power to make all kinds of decrees, there is no such thing as ‘illegality’!
Statia, is now a modern type of colony, with handpicked Kingdom Commissioners whose mandate are to build roads and improve finances, while robbing a people of their democratic right to elect their own Island Commissioners.
Now there is one final act ready to be executed, during this time of the Corona Crisis: the ratification of a law within the Dutch Second Chamber that would postpone Statia’s democracy for another 3 years. Until twenty- twenty-four, they said! This final act, which no doubt, will be embraced by all members of the Second Chamber, will in their minds lead to the ‘total re-education’ of the Statian people.
One final word to my people! Where is the outrage? Where is our pride? Will we continue to allow ourselves to be blinded by Dutch generosity? Or do we believe that we are too small to make a difference? Do we believe that no one will listen to us? Others will only listen when we take ourselves seriously. Yes, I know we are all fighting for survival during this Corona Crisis. But my people, despite the current human tragedy, Dutch politicians are still pushing to ratify this undemocratic decree. So, don’t get mad at me for highlighting this reality. Yes, let us continue to show gratitude for each new day, but please, let us also fight for the restoration of our local democracy, for in the Netherlands, the Dutch politicians are doing business as ‘usual’ as they too fight for their own survival.
Xiomara Balentina, A daughter of the Statian soil.