Bury It, Anyway
After protests, Isla refinery just abandoned the material they had wanted to bury, illegally; since then it has been sitting on their terrain, exposed to rains and everything, for more than a year. Then they just started burying it anew, adding some more stuff for good measure. Isla stated no permit was neededas this was a standard procedure.
While Curaçao Dock technically is not government owned right now, Bestuurscollege did vote to hand out yet another ANG13G of our money to enable them to continue operations. Within the last few months, CDM has announced they were sitting pretty, so at first sight it seems hard to understand what's their problem (just might be Mario Evertsz). Especially as they turn out to have been underpaying foreign workers. About those from Cuba we knew already, except that, as it turns out, their to us meager wages are grabbed by the hungry Castro government, which actually pays them only 17% of what they earn, not counting their overtime. For the Colombians working here it's not quite that bad (how could it be? well, think of the BOO Filipinos) but it's below the legal minimum wages. Our own proud workers, local yokels, earn much more and, a general complaint, work much less. Yet another example of government-sanctioned slavery. It also explains why Venezuela dictator Chávez and his compatriot Errol Cova, the defenders of the Poor, admire Castro's example so much!
The maybe two years old Stichting Implementatie Privatisering [foundation for implementation of privatization] will be abolished because the new FOL-PLKP-MAN government doesn't feel like it any more. This in the very same week that the IMF stated privatization was of the essence and when it became clear that not one single government-owned company was expected to pay any dividends this or next year. These include Curaçao Airport Holding, Curoil, Curaçao Ports Authority, Selikor, Core nv, Buskabaai nv, Aqualectra and public transport Autobusbedrijf. The BC said they did not want to discuss all this with 'social partners' (boards of directors and trade unions). Their StIP director of choice, with a monthly salary of ANG17K versus 5K for the man he replaced, is yet another convicted crook.
Virtually in the same breath, Curoil director Nicolina was given a pension of ANG480K/year (which he has what the Dutch rightly call 'enjoyed' for the past three years already, next to and above his salary) plus a bonus of ANG900K for the privilege of getting rid of him - otherwise, he could have stuck around until the Year of our Lord 3069 or until his death, whichever came first. Negotiations were conducted by deputy Caldera, who managed to build up quite a name for himself in matters like this in a very short time. Busy like a beaver (no wonder he doesn't have time for other pressing matters). We hope there's something for him in it, but don't toss and turn in our beds overnight worrying about that. Somebody in StIP called all this 'perverse', but he must be prejudiced.
FOL is rumored to push this through before the new elections, so they can put their own person in; hence the high bonus, see? It's even debatable if Nicolina can stay on that long - like all his co-workers he could be fired at once when reaching the age of 60; and if he doesn't like that, he can take the case to court.
MAN said this was too hard to swallow, which threatened to lead to yet another island government crisis, breaking the record anew! Finally, even PLKP said they were against this and (don't rock the boat so hard!) FOL was forced to agree with going to court to have a judge decide; a nonsensical, unnecessary and superfluous act that just wastes our money - if admittedly less of it. A much too rare instance where our Leaders had to clean up their act because of public outrage.
Keep trying, boys!
The schooling system has been changed in 2002, but the implementing laws have not even been written in concept yet, let alone passed. This may happen in 2006. Note that the introduction of Papiamentu as teaching language, much discussed and protested against, is part of the newsystem.
Don't Laugh! Yet Another Cova the Clown Show.
Then-minister Errol Cova paid production company Cinevideo well over ANG150K in advance, for a project that was supposed to be ready in 2003, but of which only 50% has been finished. Like his other projects, it was about the economy of the Netherlands Antilles. They may have lost interest; but the country lost the capital.
Next Stage Already Started
While it looks like the department of justice still works reasonably well in Curaçao, it certainly seems the one in St. Maarten is much farther advanced in the movement towards autonomy. Ex public prosecutor there Cor Merx has been arrested for malversations. Of course, these are merelyalleged; Merx denies them. Naturally.
Unconstitutional Ways to Combat Crime
Way back when, the Dutch police had the bright idea of blocking highways at night and indiscriminately trapping all cars to check them thoroughly. This was finally judged to be unconstitutional.
Which does not stop the Antillean government from introducing a new law, where police will be allowed to holdlarge-scale razzias, where no reasonable grounds for suspicion are necessary any more to search a car or person. Sure brings back memories and is also remindful of Bush's anti terrorist measures that just curtail freedom without accomplishing anything (Ausweis! we've had to show since the sedula ID introduction, almost half a century ago). Police torture stories are already doing the rounds here, anyway. It's all supposed to stop illegal arms.
In the first week of January 2006, much to our suprise, the experts agreed with us. The Order of Lawyers [Orde van Advocaten] stated that this was contrary to the European Treaty on Human Rights and that it effectively considered the entire population as criminals. Worse, it leaves no legal ways to control the police. The order also wonders if this entire idea will be of any help at all.
2005-12-09"Those that would give up essential liberty in pursuit of a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security." - Benjamin FranklinWe Heard That One Too Often
It's a fine time-honored tradition that, when budgets get tight, the government announces a total stop on hiring new personnel. And so this one duly made its reappearance. The national budget is ANG160M way over in the red; minister de Lannooy tried to reduce this to ANG125M but alas, no such luck.
The traditional reduction in foreign travel was also announced, this time by 33 percent. But we don't count on it - see following item.
Thieves and Crooks
We knew there were plenty of those in the Eilandsraad, but now member Nelson Pierre has lodged an official complaint with the Antillean Justice department. It seems some members collected their foreign allowance without even having left the country. Pierre himself claims he received only ANG750 of 1050 appearing in the books.
Which, incidentally, raises the interesting question: How much allowance do these guys get per day? When the ministers raised theirs to €200/day the resulting public outcry forced them to reverse the decision.
A Waste of Energy
As consumers' bills keep going up, Eilandsbestuur found a way to subsidize Aqualectra by Curoil through anenergy fund, which will keep energy prices from rising until end 2006. For this, the island will have to borrow yet another ANG45M this year, one quarter over and above what they already borrowed over and above the Central Bank limit. The main trouble here is, the rich with their aircos and lawn waterers will profit more than the poor. But we'll have elections next month; and anything to avoid a good look into Aqualectra's finances. After the elections, the deluge!
Ironically, those 45M are just 1/3 of Curoil's yearly earnings (ANG123M/year, almost ANG900/inhabitant). One way to look at this is we, the islanders, borrow money from profits made over our backs and paying interest too, so our electricity rates, largely based on fuel prices paid to Curoil, can be kept stable for one year.
No Joy There
what's so surprising is that they all seem so surprised
You are graciously pardoned if you break out all over in gloating, but there was no joy for FOL fans, nor for their Great Leader, when his request for a pardon had been denied: He will have to go back to jail as soon as they have room for him. And maybe now he'll be kicked out of the island government? Don't count on it. But he will have to be locked up - no walking around free withelectronic surveillancefor him and his criminal friends.
Alas, there is no room in jail for Godett before the next elections break out in all their fury.
Not Right Now, We're Busy
There's a small problem with an island budget deficit of almost ANG100M with next year's budget; merely the portion over the 'normal' deficit where no money can't be borrowed for. While the Central Bank says ANG60M is acceptable, FOL's Renfred Rojer is trying to reduce it to ANG70M (after all, 10M over is peanuts -only285/family.) However, his colleagues can't be bothered as they're much too busy with the coming elections. The public meeting on this had to be adjourned because there was no quorum: Just like last year, with the same problem, the trick was used by the opposition (PAR and PNP) of not signing the list. The same guys were very angry when FOL pulled that trick on them last year.
FOL deputee Renfred Rojer announced that a new and lower budget would be readyearly next year. One of the ways to lower costs would be maximizing central buying by the government. Sounds promising - especially when we think of Mario Evertsz' notorious EMG!
By the way, we never get to hear afterwards about what happened with that budget. Did we keep to it? Did we go over, by how much - or, perish the thought, do better?
(The budget was accepted, with a promise that before April 2006 it would have been adapted - even if nobody has been given any idea exactly how.)
Jobs for Voters
Rignald Lak, leader of Movementu Patriůtiko KÚrsou (MPK) declared his party will not participate in the new Antillean government [Staten] elections:The time of government is too short [...] which makes it hard to help the voters to the jobs they have been promised.
New Elections! Let's Have a Party!
Willemstad's Otrabanda main street was blocked several times during the day when political parties registered for the next vote. It was like Carnaval! Drumbands, costumes and all. As it turns out, 14 parties have registered for 12 government seats.
And What About That Crook?
Vereniging Bedrijfsleven Curaçao insists both Antillean and Curaçao island governments will come out with definite statements if they find it acceptable for a convicted criminal to remain a member. As long as these are not forthcoming, our governments tacitly approve of money laundering, bribery and fraud. It's not the first time VBC has called for this, but there was no reaction at all. Note: not from the opposition, either.
Sorry, It's All Gone
The Bonaire government has no money to pay the civil servants in November and December. It's supposed to be forthcoming from the Antillean government; but it comes as no surprise, even with their windfall and all, that they already must have spent much more than the 2005 budget - which was way over in the first place. Next day, it was announced that country and island had come to an agreement, details of which were not given.
Not Very Surprising? Still..
The ministers are reducing their pensions, (and those of the civil servants, doesn't cost them). Not that there will be many more ministers. At the same time, the members of the Antillean parliament Staten have been surreptitiously moving to augmenting what they feel is coming to them. Mainly, they want to build up a full pension in 12 instead of, now, 16 years. Remember, at the same time all over the world the limits are being pulled up to a higher age. For once: United, they stand!
What's behind this must be that when the National parliament will be abolished, as they hope, in 2007, those who'll have been members for a shorter while will not get enough and no hope to catch up.
2005-11-22POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.New Record?
The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
- Ambrose Bierce
After the hospitals of St. Maarten and Curaçao had been in money problems, that of Bonaire had to shut down its operating room for the same reason. This prompted Bonaire representative Booi to cancel his support to the Antillean government. Effectively, the government has now fallen. That makes it the third time in four years (2002: PAR PNP PLKP - 2003: FOL PNP PLKP - 2004: PAR PNP PLKP). Or maybe even fifth: #4: The one-day Cova government occasioned by the 2005Venezuela crisisof 2005 - #5: Continuation of PAR PNP sans PLKP.
But who's counting? We're having new elections two months from now, so these guys will stay in the saddle for the duration.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
A strictly secret report on the future of Isla refineria was leaked to Amigoe newspaper before Bestuurscollege had even seen it. To make a long story short, it's hopeless. There is nothing left but try and renegotiate the lease deal with PdVSA. But it's hard to imagine one single reason why would PdVSA want to do that. More here.
Not only the ministers will get less in the future (but when?), the civil servants will get less as well. Fair's fair, after all. How much exactly? Now that does not seem to be so easy to say.
Our Own Street Names
It turns out that streets may only be named after Antillians who have been of special merit to the island; not after mere foreigners. Another good way to promote isolationism. No doubt Churchillweg and Rooseveltweg, not to mention Martin Luther King Boulevard, will in the future be renamed after people like Erroll Cova or Maria Liberia Peters - just like Pietermaai is now officially Kaya Godett (only, nobody calls it like that).
This ruckus started when roundabout Palu Blanku (which means white tree or, more probably, white post) was named Rafic Bahaa El Din Hariri. Snappy, that. Less than two weeks later, three of the name signs had disappeared and the remaining one had been heavily damaged. Maybe an expression of gesundes Volksempfinden, just like the notorious Crystall night?
2005-11-12The patriot is a bigot and, more often than not, a bounder and a poltroon.Nah, that's peanuts
The Smart Set - H.L. Mencken, 1923
Deputy Ingvar Asjes made it to the top of our Star List when his tourist department missed out on collecting ANG4M reserved for beach maintenance, all ready and waiting for them. Hard to understand with his grandiose Copacabana imitation plans. Maybe he was too busy fitting at his tailor's?
Elections? Spend More Money!
After first having spent a large part of the windfall on augmenting the Old Age Pension AOV with a measly ANG100/month for the poorest of the poor, now that election time is approaching all of a sudden Bestuurscollege island government, after shuffling their feet for many years, starts discussing a more reasonable level of ANG1000/month. Who will pay for this, nobody knows - there's just no money. This prompted Vereniging Bedrijfsleven Curaçao VBC [society for trade and industry] to come out with a statement that this was the worst kind of opportunistic politikeria. They can only be right, but where were they all those years when the pension was way below the poverty level? Often makes you feel downright ashamed to be represented, as entrepreneur, by a club like that.
Coping with Copacabana
Deputy Asjes has found one more way to show off his megalomania. He returned from a visit to Brazil with the fabulous idea to turn the Mari Pompun beach into a second Copacabana, famous Rio de Janeiro hang-out. This is really pathetic. The stretch available at Mari Pompun is about 400 meters long, just over twice the width of 4km long Copacabana beach. Mari Pompun thus needs a lot of work for this, as it is just a stretch of flat rocks. An ambitious public expenditure project that promises to pay off pay well.
Not that it wouldn't be extremely nice for the Maripompun people to get a free beach right in their barrio. But remember, elections are coming along soon!
Is This for Real?
Milieudienst announced the building of a reverse osmosis plant by BOO would be stopped. BOO had just announced they would build one, no permits or licenses whatsoever having been applied for, then went ahead and built it. The plant is already nearing completion. I accept bets at any odds that it will be completed anyway and on schedule, too; and that's not a gamble. (This is yet another plant than the one they built with the same fine traditional disregard for all rules and regulations at Fuikbaai.)
Now They're in Trouble? No, But We Are!
After the island government had managed to spend an unexpected surplus of ANG150M in one week only two months ago, the Central Bank lets it be known that there is not enough money available in the local market to finance the budgetted $100M 2006 deficit, plus the expected 218M country deficit. Both governments want to reduce this to 60M and 125M. Even if they should succeed, extremely hard to believe, there's still only 170M available. To borrow for covering a deficit, don't forget.
I Told You So
Finance Minister declares that the Netherlands Antilles government should be stopped from borrowing, as they just spend it anyway. National Debt this year will reach 95-97% of National Income, depends on who's talking. The government is nowrefinancing its debts- just like anybody with a bad credit rating.
more waste When you write a letter to the government, they often insist you do so on a 'sealed paper', for which you have to pay them.
An acquaintance has stacks of these, somehow, and uses them as note paper. No, I don't know how. Intriguing.
PM IJs demonstratively walked out during a speech of Dutch minister Pechtold, who insisted on a study of the financial position of the Netherlands Antilles before further discussions on future political constructions. Once again, he shows the verylack of respectthese guys are always complaining about themselves. Especially when they have not done their homework they love to hide behind that expression.
(Later that night, the study was accepted anyway.)
Protecting the guilty
Originally trying to keep this out of the public eye, the Curaçao government is planning to take over the responsibilities of those connected with the infamous DCA debacle. In case they do, that means the island, i.e. the people, will have to pay for the results of their malversations.
Aruba government party MEP comes out with a statement that it's not their fault they have hired so many government employees: It's because the private sector refuses to hire Arubianos when they can get foreign workers much cheaper.
Tourism Down - Again!
In August 2005, tourism, compared with the year before, was down with 5%. So much for the ideas of deputy Asjes that we need a new airline to replace DCA, which was not actively flying in August 2004.
Honest, for once?
Looks like Errol Cova couldn't stand missing his weekly television appearances. He's back now and you can enjoy his show Djis un bok'i palabra -Just a mouthful of words. At least something is to the point - the title.
Go to Jail - Go Directly to Jail
Don't Pass Go - Don't Collect $200. The highest court of appeals of the Hague has declared Godett guilty on all counts (accepting bribes, laundering money and forgery); he will have to go to jail. As there is a waiting list this will not be immediately. Meanwhile, Godett is asking for a pardon and is appealing with the Strassburg European Court. Both actions look not very promising (for him). He may find consolation in the fact that he's going to prison in a fine time-honored FOL-leaders tradition.
The adapted Amigoe photograph, above, is several years old. Godett is even fatter now, much fatter, after having enjoyed the good life, outside bars and inside the government, for some time now. While Godett has been complaining all that time about hiscontinued persecution, in fact he is eking it all out for as long as possible.
The coalition parties' members now cannot hide any longer behind the weak excuse that Godett's process is still pending:
They are accepting a crook, convicted on three counts, as a member of their government.
Reversing Course AgainBelieve It or Not!
In Burundi, president Nkurunziza told ministers to get rid of their Toyota Land Cruisers that, with two full tank-ups, consume as much gas as a minister earns, US$315/month (average income is $7.50). In neighboring country Rwanda, 1000 government vehicles were impounded to be auctioned off. To quote spokesman Ramadhani:Where is the problem in copying a good example of good governance?A hint for our politicians?
FOL, who had originally started the idea (even if their minister Salas hadn't got any further with it than not even a one page concept), now that minister Leeflang picked up on it was completely against the project of operating a ferry between the Antillean islands, to provide training places for Antillean sailors. The training language wasn't even in Papiamentu! (Presumably, a foreign captain should learn the language before hiring Antillean sailors.) When it turned out Holland gave away ANG15M to finance the project entirely, FOL said that could be only in the hope the project would fail, so they could blame Curaçao.
PLKP, who has been pushing the same project until last June, now that the party has been kicked out of the Antillean government also is completely against it.
Asjes Prefers Anarchy
Deputy Asjes feels licenses to operate businesses are not necessary; it's enough to have applied for them to open and the Justice department, who recently have been closing down especially illegal snacks (also for sanitary reasons) should leave them alone.
Asjes claims the red tape takes so long, new businesses go bankrupt before they can even open. He might consider doing something about the bureaucracy instead, but may be too busy with other things - like visiting taylors.
Ministers' Pensions Clipped
The Antillean Government announced that pensions of ministers will only start at the age of 60; now, it's 45. Catch is, this will only start with the next cabinet. At the same time, the salaries for ministers were raised, because they themselves thought it an injustice that some regular government workers earned more! Intolerable. The burning question if this, as well, will only start with the next government was left unanswered.
All this is so cynical, it's sick. Since the 2005 referendum, there will follow not more than one Antillean government anyway. Really shows how they hold the voting cattle in contempt, expecting to get away with a cheap trick like that. How they must despise us for having been so stupid as to go along with their recommendation for independence! Worst, they're actually right.
This actually had been decided as early as January to have implementedin less than three months. By November 7 2005, another two months later, the Staten were still discussing it.
New elections are coming along... FOL announced they will start their campaign on 11/11, which the Dutch call thefools' number; it's the date when the Carnival preparations officially open there. Another Fol folly.
Clown Show Closed
For three years, ex-minister Cova had a weekly tv-program on Economy. The program was produced by one of his party members at a total cost of ANG880K; there was not even a signed contract for the production. $500K may not sound like much as TV programs go, but this here is not CBS, you know. New minister Rosaria stopped the show and asked for an evaluation before deciding if it will be continued and in what form.
Well, let's evaluate its effects right here and now, saving the government some consultant's fees: Cova himself often came on to explainthe economy improves when we say it improves. This has been proven nonsense, as he has been saying it for many years while the economy kept going downhill. But maybe his economy went up?
(That producer is Percey Cecilia, who later was helped to a job at Cova's Dienst Ekonomische Zaken while there was no job vacant. Five other PLKP members got a job there as well, with only one vacancy.)
They keep changing their minds
In 2003 Curaçao Int. Airport was incorporated in CAP Curaçao Airport Partners, Alterra became a partner. They were committed to 30 years of development, but after two years announced wanting to sell their shares, which they seem not even to be allowed to do for five years after signing that contract. Much more on this mess.
Back to the Middle Ages
Deputy Cooper prefers having men paint white lines on the roads by hand to using a machine. Why not sell all DOW Public Works' bulldozers and excavate by hand (with teaspoons)? Now that would at least result in less damage.
The same applies to his bright idea that we should all buy a bicycle, then we won't have to worry about high gasoline prices. One thing's for sure, he doesn't ride one. Say, how about an IQ test for politicians? They're free on the web! But you're right, we might not have any left over toleadus. (By the way, we're still back there in the Pre-Industry age by in March 2006.)
Yet another golf course, this one at Santa Barbara for the planned Hyatt Hotel, needs money which the Curaçao government is prepared to loan, softly. It's only $9M. Next day, Island Government announced that they prefer the island to buy shares in it. Goodbye, guilders!
CTB Director Hepple takes his leave
After four years as head of CTB tourist office, director Hepple announces he will go and work in Trinidad ASAP. There were many problems between him and
Ddeputy Asjes, one of the top performers in our circus. Reputedly, workers at CTB go in fear of Asjes and his caprices. Hepple was replaced by Clifton Wallé (who has no experience whatsoever in the trade) and two fellow-directors as adjunct-director of CTB; several more people were hired on the same general guiding principles. Says Heppleit's impossible to run CTB as a professional organization.He will be followed up by Willy Neef, to nobody's surprise. Keep it in the family.
Hepple also mentions that the last drop was the fact that Asjes took care that all island government members got free tickets for the Tumba-Festival, a very big deal here.
They threw a big goodbye party where Asjes laid his arm around Hepple's shoulder to show how good buddies they were. Hepple kept his hands in his pockets.
There We Go
The new island government has not even started to work, except where it matters (to them): As communications company UTS has been losing money for three years now, the commissaries have to be changed. They feel. The two members of PAR and PNP must go, to be replaced by FOL people. Among those is ex-PM Mirna Godett, almost a guarantee that matters will grow worse. (Note: the job pays ANG2800/month and involves one meeting in the same period, if that.)
After ex-minister Cova had decided there ought to be a law to protect the local soft-drink and beer factories, his successor Rosario decided to redraw this. The label that, contrary to GATT agreements, would have had to be stuck on imported products of this ilk (a simple sticker was not judged good enough, that would be too easy!) will not be necessary. The locals asked the judge to repeal Rosario's measure in turn, as promises are promises. Even before the judge judged the market-protective sticker does not have to be applied, supermarket owner Gois came out with the text: "You'd almost say that it looks like this ex-minister had been bribed." You could put it even stronger than that.
In the, maybe final, deliberations to arrive at a new island government, MAN party representative Gijsbertha just plumb forgot to turn up. We hope it isn't an omen (hope is cheap).
Not convicted? Then he's Innocent!
Shon Ma Isidora, head of police at Hato Airport, was arrested on allegations that he had allowed mulas to pass through the controls, against payment. The judge granted him the benefit of the doubt as key witnesses had moved to other countries and could not testify and Isidora was acquitted. Now the political party he helped start, Forsa KÚrsou, has begun throwing its weight around, declaring it's a shame a fine upstanding citizen like Isidora has been falsely accused and dishonored. Makes one wonder about the company they keep, but the party says that it's all PAR's fault. They want to organize a protest march. We'll keep you informed on how many participants there will have been.
Nothing more has been heard about this, for some reason - but we can guess.
P.M. IJs, for once snappily, came back that it's all very well blaming PAR, especially if you want to steal their voters, but the proper way to handle this is to bring an action (as FK leader Navarro, a lawyer, surely ought to know).
On Brionplein, boarding the harbor entrance, there's a giantnationalflag. They now want to post a guard there to look to it it's not dishonored in any way. Better they should put guards on all those well-known illegal refuse dumps that disgrace the island.
2005-07-21Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It is the measles of the human race.Deep Depth of Debts
National Bank published some figures that make it clear that, as long as the debt issue has not been resolved, the future of the "Country of Curaçao" is merely a politicians' pipe dream. Curaçao alone is ANG3.9G in the red (30K per inhabitant, babes in arms included; in the next 10 years 240M/year has to be paid back on loans.
After the country government got rid of the Pink Party, the island government had to step down and FOL had a first fling at trying to get a new one together; interested parties are MAN and PLKP. MAN, who last year thought a convicted crook like Godett shouldn't be a government member and that he shouldn't even have an official job (more recently), are now all for getting their bit of power. PAR, the yellow ones, are now also reconsidering their relation with FOL.
Meanwhile, the private sector by way of Vereniging Bedrijfsleven Curaçao is complaining that for the past 5 years we've had on average one island government every 6 months and that it's about time these politicians grow up.
Cova's Party Cabinet! (For one day)
Because of Errol Cova's caprices, the IJs cabinet finally stepped down. Except for the PLKP ministers, who refused as 'they could only be discharged by the State.' Surprise: The very next day his (now ex-) colleague ministers retracted their discharge and kicked Cova out with a vote of no confidence. In his last fulmination Cova (taking Chávez as an example) told how he'd continue his struggle against poverty (probably meaning the poverty of his own party members).
+ Following that act, our local TV station Telecuraçao had somebody explain on their news how this was illegal. The talking head was ex-minister Rufus McWilliam's, admittedly as a convicted crook a real expert.
We now are in a big fat governmental mess, less than six weeks after the referendum and it doesn't help to sayI told you so.
Some newspaper was recently sued by Asjes because they showed him as Osama Bin Laden.
The judge judged this went too far. In case Cova thinks about suing us, he'd better consider this:
He is not shown as Hitler,onlyas a sympathizer with his ideas - knowingly or not.
Cova the Cat's Call on Chavez
Our honourable minister, after his Venezuelan indiscretions, was dressed down by the Ministerraad [council of ministers]; but came out and told the press that he had been put in the right and he would jolly well continue his cartoon-figure like escapades. His party may now have to be kicked out of the government, in which case maybe Asjes, actually an island deputy, will have to go as well? Once again, what can poor we do but hope for the best: One option is the Kingdom would take over as we'd have no workable government left.
Question heard in the streets: Why doesn't Cova go back to his beloved Venezuela where he was born and leave us in peace, just like he wants theEuropean Dutchto go back to Holland?
Master Plan not so Masterful
Even the politicians agree that thenewmaster plan to develop tourism is not so great. Matter of fact, it's the same tired old one that got us nowhere, in spite of the manipulation of statistics which seems the only thing our Curaçao Tourist Development Board CTDB is good at. Beg your pardon, it's CTB now - they changed the name not so long ago as tourism had been developed already. George Orwell in 1984 labeled thisnewspeak.
It's easy to follow the deputies' discontent: If no money comes in, you can't take any out, either. By the way, it finally became clear why golf courses are such a popular item to finance with community money: According to the Dutch book De Bouwbeerput, a golf course seems almost as popular with contractors as a bordello, to take politicians to and make little deals. But you have to admit our politicians are hardly, if at all, more corrupt than those in Holland. Judging from the book, that would be hard anyway.
De Bouwbeerput by Joep Dohmen & Jos Verlaan, NRC-Handelsblad/Prometheus, 2004.
But Who Did?
Asjes at it again? No, it seems it was not he who declared hotel bills and such after he'd got them paid already with his ample daily allowance. The dear Tax guys and dolls say so themselves! But, as they also state, it was not him, but some other bodies, the question burns: So who did? No reply, but one thing seems clear - we got burned again.
Asjes: our own Al Capone!
Deputy Asjes has been getting away with a lot of things, especially those he bought at our expense with his credit card - and who knows how much else. However, the Tax Man does not agree these are legitimate deductible expenses; Asjes will have to pay taxes over that income. Sure brings back memories of how only the IRS could get top gangster Al Capone in jail (for tax evasion).
On the other hand, the Man states that Asjes' underwear is not deductible as business clothing becauseit doesn't carry a company logo. So if you're a small entrepreneur who can't afford a nice logo on your cover-alls, sorry, you can't deduct it. Now if you were a bank manager with MCB hand-embroidered on your silk shirt, that would be different! How tipiko.
At the Top
First, all Curaçao politicians who went to the post-referendum conference in St. Maarten declared they would not vote for anything that was proposed in theJesurunreport. Then, once they got there, they steadfastly changed their opinions on this. After two days of deliberations, St. Eustatia refused to sign the resulting document, but the others feel the conference was a success! Now for new committees all over, another conference in May and yet another one with Holland in October... By 2007, we should all be independent (if only Holland will kindly take care of our debts).
Deficit's Healthy Growth
Now that the referendum vote has been for Status Aparte, entailing our own wee coinage, the country's monetary situation turns out to be even worse than it seemed before; quite an achievement in itself. Situation will worsen until 2008, one year after that coin should have been minted. And now, already, there's no money to pay civil servants their dues and they're taking action.
We're also being told that our foreign exchange situation is better than ever! It even exceeds the World Bank, or whatever, standards. Too bad that in the very same press release they gave out figures on the past three months, to compare. These were way below those standards.
Airport Transit Tax
Last year the government decided to charge a transit tax for passengers stopping over at Hato airport. As this would be included in ticket prices the passengerswouldn't even notice: Only too typical of the Taxman's mentality. It didn't work out that way when the tax was introduced. People had to spend their transit time waiting in line to hand over two dollars, resulting in such costly time losses for the carriers that they preferred to keep those passengers not actually changing flights, on board.
Arsjes at it, again!?
(Any resemblance between these fictitious names and existing persons is purely coincidental). After discussion of the credit card scandal had been delayed until after the referendum, asit would have made a bad impression, it was finally definitely hushed up, just like we had suspected all the time would happen. But the deputy immediately came up with another trick: He managed to spend 3000 guilders on rental costs for a chauffeur-driven car when in Holland for some tourist fair. Meanwhile, he has managed to get involved in quarrels with almost everybody—except the ruling parties.
All Parties Party
The politicians were so contented about the referendum vote, they threw a party in government time on government premises. They sang all eight verses of thenationalhymn and then treated themselves to champagne. That's promising for the future, as we have paid for it. No doubt they also praised the lord.
Still More Stench
Foundation SMOC Schoon Milieu op Curaçao [Clean Environment in Curaçao] announced it will sue by April 18 if island government does not force Isla refinery to clean up its act. According to SMOC, since 2002 Isla does not even have a valid operating license under the nuisance act and acts accordingly or even worse.
SO2 expulsion, international norm 50 microgram/m3, local norm 80, actual at least 123 or higher. Fine dust, local norm 75, was 180 in 2001 when obligatory measurements stopped. There are neither norms nor measurements for heavy metals (cause cancer), but large quantities have been measured by Dutch TNO. SMOC suspects the Werkgroep Milieuproblematiek established by government is so much hogwash, as they have not had one single meeting with parties concerned.
The Referendum, where the public voted as the politicians told them to do (status aparte) instead of the politicians executing the people's vote, had some troubles with several power failures. Utility company Aqualectra even managed to blow up one of the electronic voting machines.
Papiamentu Goes to School
Our government has decided it is an elitary things to have schools in Dutch; maybe because those pupils have it much easier in higher education in foreign countries. So all but five schools are in Papiamentu now, never mind the flood of protests. One result is that 300 (15%) of the pupils have been turned away, many weepingly, against 200 accepted at the five remaining schools in Dutch.
In 1967, there were 5395 first-class pupils. It should be much less now, so an appreciable percentage must have taken the trouble to try for a Dutch school, discounting practical problems like transport. Deputy Cova came out with the gem that 'smart pupils would make it anyway, the weaker ones had to be helped.' Sure, that's one way to avoid getting an elite. I'll spare you his cute remarks on where to get teaching material in Papiamentu, of which there isn't so much around.
In the second meeting this year, all political parties could agree on only one thing: We should become independent.
After then, they don't know. The trade unions have a similar problem; only, they could not agree at all at first.
The Referendum is a Colonial Imposure?
FOL's Baby Godett has started a campaign to delay the referendum, as it's an idea from Holland and we shouldn't hold it. Surprising, as Curaçao politicians were already publicly talking about it four years ago. The head of the referendum committee wonders why Godett doesn't spend his efforts on giving the public better information.
After a week had passed, nothing more was heard about this from Godett.
God Help Us!
The assembled churches have announced that, as long as we choose for God, nothing can go wrong with the coming referendum. Wow! that's good to hear. How do they know? Well, in the night of their former meeting, there was nothing to do for the police. That figures; most criminals are religious so they must have been there themselves, praising the Lord in unison with the politicians. (Once again, P.M. IJs couldn't make it to the meeting in time. But, judging from those beneficial results, he must have been at the first one.)
Our Wise Leaders have decided long ago that education has to be in Papiamentu. From now on, only a few schools are in Dutch. These get hundreds of applicants they have to turn away, sometimes weeping. But deputy Cova says:When we are convinced that something is an improvement we have to let go of our traditions.And:If they want schools in English, Spanish or Chinese they must open them themselves.
MAN leader Charles Cooper has given as his considered opinion that those who vote for option D in the coming referendum had better leave us to go live in Holland. If A or B wins, no doubt a lot of them will follow his advice.
That's a Relief.
The government accountants announce that Asjes' credit card manipulations are not against the rules (ready for this?) because there aren't any. We're still left guessing what the guy has been buying exactly. Judging from the rumors, with all that perfume he bought he must smell like a New Orleans... uhh... you know, one of them places.
Positive to the Death!
Only the devil knows how much money has been spent over the last ten years on the Positivo! campaign, mainly by government and our largest bank. John Kenneth Galbraith had his say on that way back when. So, here just the results:—
(% population) — 1997 — 2002 — 2004 general positive 3 60 3 negative 76 10 75 mixed feelings 26 16 economy got worse 59 73 will get worse 35 25 will get better 29 politics doing very well 11 15 11 doing very badly 38 25 36
When Deputies Vote
In an island council vote there was one more vote than there were members present. The gezaghebber had to reproach them collectively before they voted anew. What's really amazing is that this was discovered at all; only Satan knows how often it has succesfully been done before.
While minister Leeflang was just about the only politician who kept her head during most of the DCA affair, it's hard to understand how she thinks to achieve the lower phone prices she promised. As it turns out, the government sets a minimum, not maximum tariff—must be an inheritance from the colonial era. She figures giving the phone companies a discount of ANG25/year will result in lower consumer prices. As you pay 18/month for a subscription alone, it's hard to see how this could make a substantial difference.
This is about portables, but look at the regular rates: for UTS these are ANG0.00066/second for a local call, 4cents/minute, during office hours. At other times and for internet connections it's 1/3 of that, 1.32cents/min. Compare: We just got a call from Holland and the guy said he paid 1 Eurocents a minute for it, less than a local phone call here. Also, compare ASDL internet rates Aruba-Curaçao:
Wenk voor Hen in Holland: bel 0900-0128
Includes 125 hours local/int'l voice calls/month
Aruba Kbps down Kbps up Florins/ANG/month Lite 384 128 69 Comfort 640 128 99 Advanced 128 159 Curaçao Starter 128 32 125 Medium 256 64 220 Advanced 512 128 315
Dial-up connection (nominal 56Kbps) 39.50/month
all tariffs excl. phone charges
Where Does All That Money Go?
Meant is the spending of Staten, say, our parliament. PAR member Mike Willem wonders as well and has tried to find out several times, getting no replies (to nobody's surprise). He now has approached the Rekenkamer to find out. It's an only too familiar story: Unlimited phone bills and unlimited credit cards; supplies bought that are not used in the office; several people have an official car with chauffeur and also get money for their own car; overtime is virtually uncontrolled; suppliers are getting paid or not, according to undefinable whims - you can easily think up more.
But of course, yes! Most of 'em are mad at him.
While it is not clear to the layman if the coming referendum is legal or not, it's hard to blame him as the professionals don't agree either. Government workers union ABVO will approach the Ombudsman with their claim it's illegal.
A Lake of Black Money
Aqualectra suddenly turns out to have acquired all rights to the asphalt lake the Isla refinery has built up in many years of operation. FOL wants to know how and when exactly they got those rights (we were rather curious ourselves.) FOL emphasizes it was a, and we quote,criminal act of blackmail.
°Viva la Libertad!
Another instance of slavery at a government institution. This time it's Curaçao Dok Maatschappij, by far the biggest dry dock in these parts, that used Cuban workers. Their passport was held by the local Cuban equivalent of the notorious KGB commissioner, who also collected their wages: A, to our feelings, measly $12/day—which is much better though than the $16 monthly wages in Cuba. When somebody tried to do something about it the Cubans had already pulled a disappearing act. Interestingly Dok is another company DCA manager Mario Evertsz had an important function in. As is to be expected, government and DOK refuse all comment.
The Isla refinery is giving pollution problems. Schools have had to send the children home. Says an Isla representative:It's because the wind is the wrong way.
PAR leader and PM IJs declared that coalitions do not seem to work here. Duh. He thinks that from now on, the winning party should automatically run the government for the next period.
Finished laughing? Laugh While You Still Can: PAR came out with a paper on the referendum in which they said, among other striking things, that they preferred complete independence "unless the people voted different" and that the country of the Netherlands Antilles should be liquidated "provided a workable alternative could be found". Double duh.
It Saved Them Work
Once again, it happened that our megalomaniacs felt they had been treated disrespectfully and they refused to take part in the Islands conference on our future status. (Plenipotentiary minister in den Haag Comenencia, formerly with the Curaçao chamber of commerce and a much better politician than our professionals, implored them to go but to no avail.) After it was all over, Ours just took over the recommendations of the other ones (all together not even 1/3 of the vote).
Got her all right
After FOL ex-deputy Constancia, a cousin of boss Godett, had loaned the government car, which only she or a chauffeur were permitted to drive, to her brother, the guy had an accident. She herself arrived on the scene by bus and kept insisting she had been driving. Awkward, as there were at least three witnesses who'd seen different. She has now been given a conditional sentence of 4 months, but don't worry - she'll never get the chance again as she was forced to step down from her function when it all came out. Well, never? It happened before and it can happen again. Profetic, that!
Different FOL, same Folly
Erroll Cova, our smart and always up-to-date minister of economy, had an interview with a Venezuelan newspaper in which he stated that the USA anti-drug-smuggling FOL-base on Curaçao Hato airport was a disgrace and that we should improve contacts with our Latin-American neighbors instead. Upon his return Cova explained he had been speaking as a party member, not as a minister - a pity it had somehow slipped his mind to explain this to the interviewer as well. Newspaper Amigoe not-so-gently reminded him, anyway, that the FOL base had been located in Curaçao only after the Dutch government had been implored and beseeched to permit this by the Curaçao RŲmer government—of which Cova was a member.
Alas, it must be a Joke.
Some guys in Holland figured out that it was cheaper for the Dutch government to give every Antillian household, wherever they are, 36.000 Euros per year than to send out the military, customs officials and all that to combat criminality. They're probably right and they'll know better than you and I that it won't happen. Hard to understand is how everybody seemed to take them seriously.
Makes Us Wonder
Nothing much, actually nothing at all, has been heard about deputy Asjes' credit card statements. Could this be another hush-up?
Also, BWIA is still conspicuous by its absence on Curaçao Hato airport. Come on Asjes, you have quite some explaining away to do.
Cut Down to Size
The ministers have agreed to reduce their pensions to more reasonable and, to us, digestible sizes. Mainly, being a minister for 4 years won't guarantee you a 70% pension at the age of 45 anymore. No... it only starts with the next batch of ministers, what do you expect? As yet, they have not been kicked out of their parties. Small wonder: This still had not been implemented three months later - it took until September.
Race Between Tax and Spending: Spending Wins
Tax receipts are up 60% compared with 1990. Meanwhile, the national debt has grown even more and is now fast approaching the mortally fatal 100% mark, where the government has to use every guilder received to pay off debts.
However, the Central Bank declares that foreign exchange level is at anall-time highand that all talk of devaluation is nonsense.
While the time left before our Referendum rolls around is mercilessly ticking away, preparations are preciously scarce. Hardly any information has been forthcoming, much in contrast with 1993. Recommendations of the Referendum Committee are not followed. Politicians are pressing for status aparte for Curaçao without making clear that they interpret status aparte as a step on the road to complete independence.
You're excused for thinking all this may in the end make the referendum unvalid. Please excuse me for being afraid it will still be used by our politicians and who will stop them? And, looking back on what happened after 1993, what difference would it make, anyway? Nobody can or will keep them from doing as they wish. It's no joke, mon.