Politics: Manipulation Masked as Democracy
Positive: being wrong at the top of your voice
let us hope soThey say that the side with the best sense of humor always wins the argument.
the situation around the future status
of the Netherlands Antilles
(after the so-called Referendum)
When you've got a captive market - use it!
(Our Special Correspondent, Leo Hornak)
I'm Not Worried
Understandably, people ask me sometimes if I'm not afraid of getting sued by some trigger-happy politician. I'm not.
My standard reply is that they are much too busy with more important things; making money, wheeling and dealing—you name it. Frankly, I wonder if they have even noticed these pages exist.
Then, most of this is based on direct quotes of their own statements. When it is based on other peoples', as published, they should have sued those persons. Even these guys, I guess, are just smart enough to leave me alone: When they'd sue me, they'd only get publicly ridiculed in front of a judge.
But I do concede I can forget about any well-paid government sinecure. And that I'll get worried quick if they'll get their own judges.
We, the PeopleAruba: Getting out of hand
of us and our dear leaders.
Against all advise except their own, Aruba MEP party voted to introduce purchase tax, which on introduction was such a big hit in Curaçao that what then still rested of the economy took about ten years to recover. There were what amounted to riots in the staten parliament, with the police obligingly removing the chairman from his seat at the behest of ruling MEP. Public and opposition then left the meeting as well by way of protest.
A request for an audience at the governor by the, for once, united opposition was declined and he signed the bill without more ado. Then he complained there were 'far too many' civil servants.
RED's Rudy Lampe then sent a letter to Dutch minister Nicolaï, pointing out several irregularities; and even requesting one PG [public prosecutor] for all six islands while he was at it.
PM Oduber's reaction was to write a letter to the Amigoe-editor, protesting that everything went just fine and it was all former governments' fault, anyway. It ran on and on for 1.5 A-4 pages without a single paragraph break, so I haven't [give me a break!] read it—no doubt there are many others who did not take the trouble.
Where to find Money?
Marchena, one of the 300-vote democrats who, in a mad rush of power, refused to accept the slotverklaring, naturally is looking for sources of money. Now, he wants to charge purchase tax on international banking transactions. He does not seem to realize that it's hard to make foreigners pay taxes here, so this can only result in yet heavier taxes for us (and would he care, anyway? A mere rhetorical question.)
Yes, it does get boring, doesn't it? The BOO plant is at it again, causing millions of dollars in damage and enormous volumes of black smoke. Mitsubishi even sent a team of engineers to check what's wrong (all the time, we may add), but that's just another smoke-screen: Even we all know that it's caused by using a heavier grade of fuel that what the plant has been designed for.
Here We Go Again
For more details on the strife between airlines InselAir and DAE, please check here.
What's disgusting about this is that InselAir is continually talking about being 'our national airline' and referring to DAE as a Bonaire airline and seems to have the whole present island government on its side. Only to be expected; there's money im them thar airlines - for politicians, that is... Please check our pages on the disgraceful history of WIB-ALM-DCA and CAL and ask yourself who could possibly want a repeat performance of that money-wasting spectacle except those in power.
While you're at it, it doesn't hurt (well, it does, actually) to check out the prices we have to pay here for air transport, compared with other countries.
Electronic Voting - on Paper!
FOL was having suspicions about the electronic voting machines after their last defeat, naturally they wanted to avoid this in the future - but not by changing their act. The way Capella, a FOL deputy in our great island government, does want to achieve this easily gets a prize for ridiculous stupidity:1. The Voter votes on an electronic machine by pressing a button.You also have to know that this is sure to cost a lot of money, of which our government always figures there's an unlimited supply.
2. The machine prints out his vote.
3. The Voter deposits the print-out in an urchin.
The management accepts no responsibility for
your interpretation of who's meant
Look Who's Back
Welcome back in island government, you old crooks! Son of Salas has been replaced by his father, ex-minister of traffic and famous phone user. Another Old Reliable returning to the well-paying fold is Constancia, who barely finished grammar school. Like her uncle Godett a convicted criminal she had to leave the same bestuurscollege in 2004. But we are even less choosy now.
A new gang member is Strick, arrested at the same occasion as ex-minister Komproe, but later released because of insufficient evidence. He's responsible for finance, tax and goverment accounting; a very handy combination.
Car License Plates
Shortly, we will have to pay up for the new year's license plates, wondering how they will have grown more expensive once again. There are ways...
In contrast, St. Maarten has now managed to save ANG.5M on their plates. 'Quality is a bit less' but who cares? The price per set goes down from 25 tot 15. A good occasion to remember that, while we suckers have to show a keuringskaart [test certificate] and proof of insurance when we pay those car taxes, 400 to 840 cars drive around uninsured. Not to mention those who don't bother with a driving license. No wonder traffic accidents go up with 10% every year.
And the car tax, supposed to be used for road building, will be used for rooi-cleaning and x-mas glitters (and who can guess what else?)
Another New Government!
I [un]happily join the club remarking this is the 5th island government in 4 years and the 3rd one this year. Wonder if it will even last for the less than 4 months to go before the new elections; if one of them quits, they are left with a 10 to 21 minority. FOL's Adriaens once again firmly announced that Holland was obliged to re-negotiate the slotverklaring that had already been accorded and signed.
Deputy Cooper announced, after the government is barely able to pay salaries, that he took ANG50K from road building fund wegenfonds to put up x-mas decorationsfrom east to west. That's the same fund he earlier planned to use to clean the rooien. How about fixing some roads with it, for a change? Note the workless will only get their welfare after x-mas.
The good news is, Cova, Lak and Schotte are OUT.
Get the Priorities Right
MAN, FOL and splinters say they have an island government ready, with a Minute Minority. Well, almost, still plenty more quarreling and in-fighting to do. But they know what's important: Not the re-negotiations with Holland (they're not getting any anyway), no - the conditions in jail have to be looked into first. Maybe they figure they run a real risk of being in there soon?
Anyway, that renegotiations bit is all over (is what they themselves say) as they can't agree on anything. Many people, right after the 2005 referendum, predicted exactly this would happen. Pierrot is now even discussing going back to the old coalition. Make up your 'minds'!
Meanwhile, MAN's Cooper seems to be working hard to lose his very last shred of respect. A good time to remember that on at least one occasion he was called paiaso [clown] by people in the streets as shown on television.
Desperate Aruba Action
Chamber of Commerce (KvK), Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association (Ahata), Aruba Trade and Industry Association (ATA), San Nicolas Business Association (Snba), Shop Owners' Society Mambo and Aruba Financial Center Association (Afca) have written a letter to the Dutch queen and the kingdom government to complain about ondeugdelijk bestuur [unsound government] as regards financial matters. According to the Statuut this constitutes a legitimate reason for an algemene maatregel van rijksbestuur where the kingdom takes over the (Aruba)government.
Just to show us where it's at, Antillean and Aruban finances have been screened this year by kingdom teams and theAruba situation seems somewhat less serious than the Antillean.
Le Mot Juste
When there was a vote on the 2007 country budget, MAN member Francisca thought it muchachada [childish] to vote against a budget that two weeks ago was prepared by one of his own party members, just because he was in the opposition now. His two co-members Dwigno Puriel and Eunice Eisden did not agree with him, voting against.
By the way, in the brouhaha on the new island government, no party wants Finance. Maybe they're all smarter than they gave us occasion to figure.
Clowns Feel Insulted
The entire MAN fraction left (a national habit) the Antillean staten government meeting as they felt insulted by minister Leeflang, who accused Cooper the Clown not of lies, but of racism because of his remarks onrealcurazoleños: the others better leave the island.
In the discussions on the national budget, MAN Puriel turned things on their head by stating that his party had been kicked out of the coalition in anun-democraticway. Meanwhile, just like we, Bonaire's Booi and St. Maarten's Duncan bewilderedly try to understand what those fools here think they are trying to accomplish.
More money down the drain: It seems Korpodeko will lend the government ANG20M for payment of salaries. Korpodeko was set up to stimulate the economy by financing new small enterprises. Last time we heard from them was in 2004 when, without having seen any accounting, they financed DCA with 11.5M, so the company could go on flying when it really was as good as bankrupt. Who was that scoffer that saidnew small enterprises, huh?It's not enough, anyway, which didn't stop Schotte from taking credit.
Ruling from Jail
New island government negotiations between PAR and FOL have been broken off because PAR, after all, insisted not only that the slotverklaring should be accepted as-is, but also that jailed crook Godett would take his leave as a member of both governments; which he refused. Very smart of PAR to think he'd even consider.
There's now talk of a new coalition with an even smaller majority (11 out of 21) than the old one had. The new government (if it ever arrives) will mainly work on thepolitical wishes of the Curaçao people, a solution of the financial problems and eradication of poverty. Good luck, you clowns... dream on.
FOL, MAN, NPA and new 2-reps strong MSL splinter from Cova's gang announced there will be a new government by 15:00 on December 14.
On December 15 Godett went into the hospital's intensive care unit with heart problems. He's also reported to have kidney problems. His complaints about prison food seem to be pretty legitimate.
Dressing Code: First Things First
The opposition was complaining that it was 'undemocratic' to try to rush through a 500-page report on the country's new budget. FOL's Adriaensz showed what was really important by delaying proceedingsfor a long timebecause he felt minister Duncan was not suitably suited. What with one thing and another, the meeting was adjourned at 21:30 without discussions on the budget having even started yet.
Turning the Tables
Pierrot is loudly accusing the banks and others of 'blackmail' for refusing to come out with yet another fiansa, to pay salaries. It would be needed before December 16th, the same day our Greatest Politician Godett has promised a new coalition. We'll see. Anyway, Pierrot feels it'snot permissible for the banks to pressure the governmentand if worst comes to worst, they will bypass them entirely and pay out those salaries cash in the Rif stadion. He doesn't tell what he'll use for money, just that they will mortgage something (in 1 week, at the same banks.)
Less unexpected is the announcement that the 2007 budget will, after all, not be ready before the year opens. The country budget for next year is 139M guilders in the red, which would have been 32.4 in the black if only that blasted slotverklaring had been agreed on. Now, the country has a 'financing need' of over a Whopping 336M guilders (almost 10K per family, that's 36 guilders a day).
On the Loose
The island buzzed with redu-rumors that Godett had been allowed a week-end visit to PM de Jongh-Elhage--for a barbecue. No doubt to discuss informally the slotverklaring, now that he's directing new coalition efforts from jail. Not so, said the warden, it was a two-hour visit to his own home, which wasnot unusual. He said.
Godett will be in prison until March 2007, unless he gets time off for good behavior. There are speculations it may be this month.
The officially announced date of his release is March 12. Gives him 5 weeks to prepare for the next elections; that is, if they'll not have been held sooner.
Short Language Lesson
The Dutch are not aware of this, but in Papiamento the word forborrowingandlending,fia, doesn't necessarily mean that you will get, or give, it back. When a guy asks youfiami e kos un ratohe meanshand that thing over to me.
So nobody here ever seriously intended to pay all that borrowed money back. Got it now?
Gelt Dekker's proposal to subsidize flights, so tourists would spend more money in his hotel, made me curious a bit. I once again re-figured flight prices to Curaçao. As is only to be expected, they become 1.75 times as high as soon as you leave the USA. Actually, that's not near as bad as shipping via UPS or FedEX - those guys charge 3 times the price, while the Post is champ with a whopping 4.5 times higher price.
By the way, the trip CUR-AMS by MartinAir works out at the same rate you'd expect to pay inside the USA, but KLM is twice as expensive.
Another Referendum! Our National Sport
Everybody (I talk to) is sick and tired of the island government voting down the slotverklaring the very same parties had signed already.
69% of people want a new referendum now, but that wouldn't be really decisive: 39% are for accepting that Final Accord, 31% against and 30% don't know. Less than 20% of those polled by Sentro di 'Doktor' have even read it, though. There's more funny things to show how most people have no idea what they're talking about: Pierrot's PNA has been the fastest growing party since September and is all against that slotverklaring - but has the same percentage of voters agreeing with it as PAR! Go figure. A signature action collected 5000 votes the first week-end, but is still open.
check this out:
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Meanwhile, PAR is negotiating with FOL to become partners in the new island government—yes, really. It's no joke, mon. What with that crook in jail holding a seat in island and in country government. PNP has refused to negotiate for a new island government. There's some good news: Cova's PLKP is out of the game, for now.
No Money—It's Not Funny
As has been pretty obvious for some time, both island and country are in severe problems. Island needs 40M before January 1; country 57M before February. Island cannot pay workers' salaries and banks have already declared they would loan no more if the slotverklaring was not accorded; while creditors have announced that, in that case, they will stop deliveries to the government. Now creditors, drugstores and Pension Fund APNA will not be paid, so there'll be money for salaries. (The government workers trade union confidently expects salaries will be paid.) Air traffic controllers had to go on strike to get what was promised long ago. The Union of Medical Specialists warns that health care will deteriorate severely.
But FOL feels all these are just stories and wants to find out how the situation really is (by all means, do so, FOoLs; better late than never); while Cooper complains that what he calls a democratic decision is not accepted.
It is the usual mess, financially. While both governments are doing their utmost (we know what that means) to get this year's budget passed before the year itself has passed, it turns out that the Riffort group has gotten a guarantee for 100M, double that agreed on and is now pressing for yet more.
As usual in these circs, it's hard to find out what the general feelings really are: Pro or Contra the slotverklaring? Surely there are many actions, starting with the unsuccessful HEADLIGHTS ON action. On Saturday 9 December a demonstration is planned on Willemstad's Brionplein (09:00-12:00) where everybody FOR the slotverklaring will dress in white.
Outclude me, sorry folks—don't like any mob. Vox populi, vox dei? Errol Cova's motto!
check this out:
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Methinks they are also confusing the issue by asking us to drive around with a Curaçao flag. Not a very clear sign, that.
Liars and More Liars
Raymond Begina was quoted by Charles Cooper as one of the advisors who gave him reason to vote against the Final Agreement. Begina came out publicly he thought thisa great pityas his advise had been to agree with it. From CooperNo Commenthas been forthcoming, no surprise there.
Cooper finally reacted one week later; he even apologized. Here, no bunch of blue balloons (his party MAN's color) that customarily are let up whenever a project of his is finished. A good thing too, as we suckers pay for that nonsense; who else?
Now, Let's Not Be Hasty
Before that slotaccoord was voted down, those political parties who craved for independence were clamoring for a referendum to letthe peoplehave their say. Now it's the other way round. But that was only to be expected. Meanwhile, more e-mail campaigns and other actions have started, insisting on a referendum before half February 2007.
New (regular) island government elections are planned on April 20.
A Coalition Led from Jail
Before this year is over, a new island coalition will be formed under the inspired leadership of that model of integrity, Godett, from his cell in jail. Got that crookedness straight? No matter how, it won't be what you'd call 'easy'.
Pierrot, Schotte and Cooper feel it's easy to find money to replace the Dutch 5G offer, aspeople will be beating down our doors to buyall this:
—We sell Isla for 2G (a crummy, wasted and neglected refinery that needs an 1.5G investment to get it up to date)
—We sell UTS (who made a 54M loss last year)
—We sell Aqualectra (of whom that same Pierrot was threatening dear measures to get an audit not a month ago; nobody, not even themselves, can even guess if they make a profit or a loss)
—Need I go on? I can, you know — they did — but I won't. Except to mention that they forgot about CDM or CPA, so there are many more possibilities to ensure us all a rich future. Too bad the island won't have any assets left by then.
You may want to know, what about that Isla pollution? Easy! we take part of those 2G and invest it in 'some' environment measures. See how simple everything becomes if you don't bother to think?
Pierrot came with the marvelous idea to hold an international press conference to complain about the way Holland refuses us our independence. But not in Willemstad—nooooh! In Caracas. (Two months ago, he was going on about having one in Bogotá, Colombia.)
Forsa Korsou gave us yet another proof of their steadfastness and their solid contact with the voters by declaring this chicanery a 'Victory for Democracy'.
So That's Democracy!
The guilty parties downvoting the slotverklaring fondly keep repeating that this was so democratic. Well, this made us a bit paranoid so we did some figuring. Of the 13 votes against, 3 came from guys who had a Grand Total of 940 votes: Lak, Marchena and Prince. Without even asking how many they and their cronies would get now. Watchdog organization Kousa Komun figured the eilandsraad vote against represented 14,200 voters of the total of 110,000.
Criminally stupid shortsighted stubbornness
In a long eilandsraad session first much time was wasted with mindless discussions on the supposedly desired attention of convicted crook Godett, then we were wasted when the politicians rejected the slotverklaring with 13 to 7 votes. Howls of frustration and impotent rage can be heard all over—only the mob may be satisfied (which emphatically includes those who voted us back to the middle ages and into bankruptcy.)
check this out:
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Read more about this shameless performance here.One result is more e-mails are doing the rounds. One (read it here) asks us to cast our vote on website s Slotverklaring.com (long gone). Results: TOTAL 12192; FOR (against government decision) 9953 (82%); AGAINST (agree with government refusal) 2239 (18%). That's a lot of votes, but if you wanna bet that those guys are willing to listen, you're as much of a loser as all of us are.Meanwhile, the government fractions of PAR and PNP have taken their leave, no doubt much to the chagrin of the rest, as all the shute falling from heaven now comes on their heads. Would be the 5th bestuurscollege in less than four years. Keep tuned.
Some fool has ripped off theHeadlightse-mail (how typico) and gave it a 180 degrees twist, maybe to confuse the issue. I won't bore you with it, just list his e-mail address so he'll get lots of spam. Serves him right. No headlights were lit anyway.
One result may be that the Curaçao government is put out of operation by a so-called Algemene Maatregel van Rijkbestuur [say, emergency Kingdom measure] while the other islands are helped first—with Curaçao autonomy being delayed until those leaders who are so much thirsting for it have made up their minds.
SMS and e-mails are circulating to ask those who do not need any more politicians' quibbles
but rather feel that Final Agreement should be signed as-is and get it over with
to drive with their headlights on until November 28
Maybe those eilandsraad members can take the hint, even when people in the streets seem convinced the final agreement
will be torpedoed by some of the very guys who signed it. In two rides to town I saw a total of six sets of lights burning.
Sentro di 'Doktor' is polling public feelings on the agreement—a pity results will only be in after that fatal final meeting.
The document, not so easy to get (Humane Care Foundation's Norbert George helped us out) almost exclusively deals with Justice and Finance. You are forced to conclude that those who are so much against it want to get a cosy little department of justice run and controlled by themselves and also to go on borrowing and spending the money as freely as they wish.
download Slotverklaring here (PDF file)
We Don't Need All That, At All
While Humane Care Foundation is now collecting signatures on schools under the Isla refinery smoke for a formal complaint against Milieudienst and island government Bestuurscollege with the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Committee for Rights of the Child, Groningen, Holland professor Henk Moll is claiming our own energy use can be entirely covered by wind and solar energy. May be good to know, but right now the last of our worries.
Why didn't they think of that before?
Only just now we have been told that the country does, indeed, need appreciably more this year than the 63M guilders quoted before — it'sat least78M. Pity the banks are not ready to loan more than 13M, notwithstanding the 7.35% interest the government is prepared to pay. That's not even enough to cover the difference between those two amounts. By the way, 28M, well over one third of the total is needed to pay off an old loan.
The minister now proposesto delay some expenditures or to scratch them completely.What a marvelous idea! And so simple! Regardless, after the disastrous slotaccoord vote they passed the 63M-short budget, not the more realistic one. The 2007 budget was delayed, awaiting a new island government: gezaghebber called it, surprisingly,the most important island law.It is estimated 81M short for the whole year. Super-realistic when you consider that's just about what we are short for this month.
Proverb:As Solid as a Politician
After the Antillean delegation, complete with MAN representatives, had signed the final agreement in the Hague, it took MAN almost three weeks to figure out they want torenegotiate. What's more, MAN feels PAR should show 'adultness' and therefore must agree with them.
Cooper says the agreement deviates too much from the starting-point 'at least equal to Aruba': A starting-point that was never mentioned until after we had voted, when the political parties wished tointerpretthe results that way.
Other interesting happenings: Helmin Wiels, leader of Pueblo Soberano (of which Papiamentu promoting author Frank Martinus is a strongly supporting member) gave out a public warning on national television thatblood will flow, should the final agreement be ratified. Quite illegal incitement, which brought quick results when PAR member Castillo was struck repeatedly by one of Wiels' supporters, in what just stopped short of turning into a mob-riot. All that's Democracy, folks! Nobody can say, later, they haven't had fair warning - just like with Hitler.
The the Hague agreement will now be discussed in the government on November 28, but coalition parties will try to agree before then. Some feel another referendum can wait until the final RTC has resulted in an accord, others, like watchdog organisation Kousa Komun want yet another one now, before the RTC.
Budget: Boring to Death
For a change, deputy Ruggenaath is hoping to have a new island year budget ready before 2007 has actually started—if just barely. That's even before this year's budget will be ready! Fancy that. And it's only over ANG80M in the red. Extrapolating from earlier years, that means (at least) 320M.
One interesting item on next year's national budget is that travel expenditure of Economy and Labor minister Burney El Hage (UP Bonaire) has gone up more than five times, from ANG23,000 to 118,200—over half the period.
It's chronic: When you tell our politicians their ideas don't hold water, they take refuge in feeling offended or even violated [geschoffeerd], as they can't come up with counter arguments. This time, it was Kooijman of Vereniging Bedrijfsleven Curaçao [trade and industry association] who used the English wordcherry-pickingwhile figuring out that the proposed higher AOW old age pension has many consequences they never thought of, which with no further measures will have a strong negative influence on the economy.
But, as an entrepreneur, I'm often embarrassed to belong to the same social category that makes up VBC. Curaçao workers' conditions are often just plain awful. AOW, even when raised, will still be disgracefully low. It was raised with 18% to ANG654/month, with a premium raise of 3%.
If you wonder how that can be in combination with a steadily graying population, so do I — maybe Kooijman did have a point?
Lucky Luke, the Joss Jamon Gang
No Longer Party to Errol's Party
After PLKP's last election flop, the party announced they would look for another chairman than Errol Cova. For some reason. But, at least within his own party, Errol seems to be a better politician than we could possibly ever imagine — he was elected president again. Reason for Marchena to leave the party, but not his padded deputy seat, just like Lak. Prince followed his example one day later (he had to think it over - takes time, naturally) leaving Cova as sole PLKP deputy.
Marchena and Prince built quite a little name as directors of DCA/CAL when it made its final dive. Here's an idea: Form a party with Lak, who got just about as many votes: 315, with Marchena 242 and Prince 383. There are five, count-em, one-man fractions in our island government now: These three, Pierrot—who, in a rush of Power which must have gone to his head, is already threatening to leave the coalition and gang up with them—and the sorry remains of PLKP.
It can't be emphasized often enough: Never forget that Cova originally was a PAR member.
The Voice of Justice
Many politicians have been complaining about the proposed minister of justice, who will supervise all justice dept. actions for all members of the new kingdom. Some are furious, declaring this was actually illegal and even referring to it as koi kens [crazy nonsense - sparing you the forest of accents]. Being no legal expert, I could not possibly comment, except on the fact that they felt offended - a regular habit of those guys.
But now a real expert, Luis de Lannoy (court president of Aruba and the Antilles) came out with the statement that he didn't understand all the commotion, as this was exactly what said court itself had advised, in February 2005.
Once again, so much for our politicians and their know-it-allexperts
A few days later, Central Bank director Tromp came out with more or less the same views on the financial matters, his field of expertise.
Surprise - or not?
Now that more-or-less serious negotiations are finally starting with PdVSA on the future of Isla refinery (with PdVSA as a 49% Isla shareholder), it should not come as a surprise that Venezuela, after all, does not want Shell or some other third party involved. Should be a cosy little deal between two brother countries (big brother and baby brother.) Where Venezuela wants to find the money to renew Isla is anybody's guess as well; their own report said they did not have it.
Then, really, whatever gave Isla-director Jiménez the idea that Chavez' Venezuela would ever want Shell as a partner here? They will not be steamrolled.
Anyway, as Norbert George points out, according to the same study, the proposed 1G investment will merely reduce the yearly number of deaths caused by Isla from 18 to 11.
The government didn't let its chance for a last debenture loan pass by - this time to pay out salaries. FOL's Adriaensz may know what he's talking about when he wonders if the money Holland is prepared to pay really covers our enormous debts: there may be many more hidden.
It is not without strong feelings of gloating that we wonder what the Aruba politicians' reactions will be. (Many of ours don't like it one bit - so what else is new?) So far, Aruba has had precious little comment; might have to do with those 50M they want to borrow from Deutsche Bank.
He Asked For It
Rignald Lak presently holds himself incommunicado in the Bahamas, a cheap trick to avoid taking on responsibility in eilandsraad on the results of the den Haag negotiations on our precious autonomy. He's not the only one, with 9 members of FOL and PLKP not signing the register - yet another time where insufficient members signed the register (even though they were present) to avoid a quorum.
This is a good time to remember how Lak's very first act as a deputy was proposing a deal where island 'dignitaries' would be driven around in Mercedes cars. He said they would be just as cheap, or expensive, as Volkswagens. Yesterday we received a brochure from Uralco with offers for Mercedes, Audi and Volkswagen - among many others. As it turns out, a Mercedes E-350 comes at 3765/month versus a Volkswagen Bora at 1533. I really hope this is the last time I have to
spendwaste any time on this ***-holeguy.
By the way, an Audi is 2989 - so much for our god-given PM who stated it was much cheaper.
Hepa! Watch It!
Now that slave-time is over, DOK/CDM is in serious trouble as it seems they can't afford paying real wages. Not to worry, though - Chavez' Venezuela is eager to take over from Castro's Cuba. Again, not to worry - this has nothing to do with PdVSA. Oh no, it's just that Venezuela is planning to build large oil tankers and the facility would come in handy. But we may rest assured: This has nothing to do with PdVSA! Pierrot says so himself, so it must be true.
Note that Venezuela is (after Haïti) the most corrupt nation of the Americas. Haïti leads the world list, Venezuela is #25, Indonesia 33, Suriname 73 and Holland 154 of 163.
New Curaçao Constitution
Hitzig Bazur, described as 'a citizen', has opened a web site (in Papiamentu and Dutch) with a proposal for a new Curaçao constitution. At first sight (but it's gone now), this makes a more serious and much less amateurish impression than a former proposal by other parties.
Compulsive, bragging, and clumsy.
Ministerdeputy of tourism Schotte's lying seems to have gone from habitual to compulsive. He now claims that it isthanks to his interventionat the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association conference that next season 211 cruiseships will bring 315,766 passengers here. From the very same Amigoe article, however, it's obvious that, as the cruise industry plans for years in advance, Schotte can't possibly have had anything to do with this growth (credit really must go to ex-director Hepple.) Nor does Schotte care to give proper credit to his at least six co-visitors to the same conference.
Hepa! hold it!
The new workers agreement CAO for Isla refinery has been signed. Unanimously. Workers will get better provisions - even theiralternative medicinecosts, for whatever that's worth, will be paid. (Too bad if you're not a worker.)
Reason to watch it, Isla president Jiménez said all this was because Venezuela and Curaçao were 'brother countries' and 'PdVSA wants Isla workers to be proud to work for the Venezuelan state oil company'. Hold it right there! Even though Pierrot and some others may be all for that, still others are not: As for now, Isla is not in Chavez' (or Castro's) clutches - yet. And a good thing, too.
The Venezuela top energy official said in a video released oil workers not voting for Chavez in the next elections would be fired - statements Chavez himself later backed despite intense criticism. In 2003, PdVSA summarily dismissed 20,000 workers whoviewed the company as a business concern. Logically, that vision committed them to criteria of competitiveness, efficiency, productivity and meritocracy, values that inevitably clashed with the collectivist, 'supportive,' and 'socialist' view that the government has of PDVSA.(Venezuela News and Views).
Deputies Rhuggenaath PAR, Jackson PAR (education), Cooper MAN, van der Gen PNP (public health) and the gezaghebber have signed a document which means a death sentence for 180 people living downwind of Isla refinery, as it entails continuing pollution for ten years, thus causing (according to island government's own research) at least eighteen premature deaths a year, with even higher risks for children at schools in the same environment.
This in the same week when inhabitants were bugged by an enormous amount of black smoke, which Isla refinery claimed was produced by the BOO power plant, while BOO claimed most of it came from Isla.
24 inhabitants of the downwind barrios, two foundations and a business enterprise meanwhile took legal action against Isla, BOO, government-owned company Refineria di Kòrsou and country and island governments. This now means a total of three cases. To emphasize the need for such action, on November 6 there was yet another enormous smoke production accompanied by impressive flares, lasting for more than 12 hours - as only to be expected, pooh-poohed by Isla.
As you can check for yourself, one of them (van der Gen?) remarksonder protest.
Godett, sitting in jail, has complaints about his health. The prison kitchen refuses to follow his dieticians' recipes (for paté de foie gras? caviar? champagne? nightingale tongues pie?) and he has to eke out a living by eating corn flakes and such junk food bought in the jail cafetaria. Meanwhile, Amigoe newspaper reports he has visited the prison doctor nine times, but refused to do so eight times. He was then taken to his own doctor, hands and feet manacledas if I were a criminal(which he is, of course.)
That doctor, too, found Godett's health just fine.
Phew! Let's Celebrate
Notwithstanding all those stalwart politicians' remarks, virtually all of Holland's conditions for that oh so highly desired autonomy were accepted. By July 1, we will beindependent!
Hopefully, I'll then be able to close down this show and get some real work done again.
Aruba Goes to Court
Holland will not agree with yet another $50M loan by Aruba (from Deutsche Bank), which of course doesn't agree with Aruba. PM Oduber takes the case the court and will, just to show 'em, not be present at the the Hague deliberations on the future relations in the kingdom. That will be a big help!
(Finally, Holland agreed anyway.)
More and more politicians, who seem not to follow the polls, are fearlessly protesting against the 'selling out' of our country by other politicians, who are labeled 'opportunists' and 'traitors'. After all, they say, the People have chosen for complete autonomy on April 8 - didn't the Eilandsraad
translateuh... warpuh... define the referendum outcome as such on April 15? We label these guys 'incompetentent' and 'twisters': Partido Independensha, Movementu Sakadó and Glen Camelia of Forsa Korsou. The last one is even suggesting Curaçao should be put back on the agenda of the 'UN Decolonization Committee'. No way, Camelia.
Curaçao Airport claims a loss of about US$8000 per day because the airport tax still has not been raised. That shows them up as impudent liars, as it would mean a total of (much) over 3 million passengers per year, while they themselves claim 1.2 million (which is a lie in itself).
Cuba-Curaçao Slavery Plot
Many of our politicians are always inciting the people to protest against Dutch neo-colonialism. The Dutch made so much money dealing in slaves, they should recompensate the poor blacks (the Dutch really made all their money in the East Indies, dealing in opium.) It's rather sick to notice, once again, that this is just opportunism: In 2001, three Cubans escaped from Curaçao and, in Miami, are now suing Curaçao Dok Maatschappij CDM for the conditions under which 50 to 100 at a time were forced to work; or still are, who knows...Sparing you overly dramatic quotes from their lawyer, who sounds like he's defending Uncle Tom himself (the stark facts are bad enough):This and the BOO Filipino slaves are two slavery scandals definitely involving the independent Curaçao government. One can't be blamed for wondering how many more there are.
They had to work for 112 hours a week (that's 16 hours/day for 7 days/week) against a salary of US$12/day, which they got in Cuban pesos - worse than worthless on Curaçao, even if one pesois supposed to equal US$1. They live in sheds on the CDM terrain. One of the prisoners wastoldin a Cuban ministry of transport meeting that he had to go to Curaçao; refusing meant jail and problems for his family (You haf relatives liffing in Chermany?). The most gruesome detail may be that, in free hours, they were forced to watch videotapes of Fidel Castroextolling the virtues of the Revolution.But that's torture!
It seems a senior CDM company manager is one of Castro's nephews and is thus able tocommandeer forced Cuban labor.
CDM, technically privatized since 2001, denies all the allegations and feels the USA have no jurisdiction in this matter. They would prefer the case to serve in Curaçao; I dare say. Even then, they might be in for a nasty surprise. Anyway, lawyer Thornton, acting on behalf of the former Cubans, holds thatthe federal court in Miami has jurisdiction in the case under international law banning forced labor and because Curacao Drydock provides services to U.S.-based companies and has an office in South Florida.
The day after AP published this, the Antillean council of ministers decided to stop using Cuban workers. (They didn't say as of when.) And they started getting serious about that 'privatization' in a hurry - for them.
Still one day later, a visum stop for Cubans coming to work at CDM was announced. Much to the chagrin of Pierrot, who let it be known (from Cuba) that this was an irresponsible and 'emotional' decision which would endanger negotiations: We shouldn't start creating unnecessary problems (his words). Mendes de Gouveia announced that the governmentwill go do its homework.
About time, too: A week later, it turned out the visum stop had been forced by the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs. It is not clear if CDM can afford to hire real workers to replace the Cuban slaves.
Aruba is the champ with more government workers than the Netherlands Antilles (5 islands) together. Some now feel there are 1500 too many; getting rid of those will reduce the total to 4500 - as many as the N.A. Methinks they could fire some more, even.
Where does it all go?
Curaçao island's debt this year has grown with ANG95M to a grand total of 2.5G. Before this year ends, the island needs 63M more. This sum is actually larger, but with the usual transparency our politicians love to talk about, they do not say how much larger. It does include the 'disappeared' money that was reserved for one of the many golf courses; but outstanding debts to APNA pension fund and to the road building fund are not included. It's a pretty safe guess, knowing their bookkeeping, that this year (in which most politicians have been fighting Holland's conditions for a debt take-over) they have allowed that debt to grow with another ANG200M (well over 5000/household). How much the country has gone farther into the red is anybody's guess.
Thought you'd like to know there's no money to pay students' stipendia for the rest of this year. No need to worry, though, the government does have money to pay its workers. For now.
For Some Reason
Just assuming you'd be interested, the Netherlands Antilles now have the international prefix (or postfix) NT. Used to be NA until the bulldozer-like advance of the TripleDoubleU, when it suddenly became AN (as almost-just-as-obscure Namibia was there first). Reasons behind this reasoning are hard to come by - I, for one, would as soon go back to the NWI (Netherlands West Indies) of my youth, which many Arubians have started re-using long since.
One More Referendum? We're Getting Used to It.
At the same time the politicians were bickering and wrangling and once again the coalition threatens to break apart, over half of people polled were in favor of a new referendum. Only, that's for opposite reasons why the politicians start insisting on one: Those polled feel the politicians are doing a very bad job and many now agree with us that the last referendum was of no use in the first place.
Status Aparte would now get 44.7% (was 'the winner' with 68), but becoming part of Holland like Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius grew from 23.3 to 35%. Which voting result can only mean a referendum deadlock.
Quite against the conditions on which we thought we voted, the opposition now openly states:We oppose one police corps, one public ministry, one central bank and supervision by Holland.Tough, kids - only 3.5% agreed with you on that.
And What's in It for Us?
Jacob Gelt Dekker feels, as we all do, that airline tickets to (and don't forget 'from') Curaçao should be cheaper: If the island gave every passenger-ticket a subsidy the hotels could become more expensive. With a ticket subsidy of $200 and a hotel price of $180 (versus now $100) the tourists would spend $600 more on the island and we all would make a profit of $400. As always in that sort of figuring, the man conveniently forgets that the $400 extra those tourists spend (if they do) is not pure profit.
But of course, Gelt Dekker is a hotel owner himself, which may color his reasoning just a bit. Result would be that we pay, via taxes, tourists to enable them to spend more money at his hotel. Apart from the fact that many potential tourists would get scared off by New York level hotel prices.
One Week Left
Minister Duncan feels the need torestart the political process for independence- there's a very important meeting with Dutch minister Nikolaï next week and, as yet, none of our Leaders seems to have come to any agreement as to what and how should our future be arranged; just like we predicted time and time again. Remember: This after scores of ongoing accusations that it's Holland dragging its feet to boycott our precious autonomy.
One day before start of the Nicolaï negotiations, Pierrot and Lak thought it smart to break up the island coalition once again.
Schotte, Asje's Worthy Successor
CTB director Wallé, successor of Hepple (and not coincidentally cousin of Asjes), instantly took his leave after 14 months because of a flaming row with deputy 'Son of Salas' Schotte, successor of Asjes. Wallé refused to go into explanation beyond stating CTB iseen rotzooi[one big mess] for which he doesn't want to be held responsible. Meanwhile, rumors circulate freely on Schotte's use of his credit card (sure brings back memories - advice of SOAB on use of the card has not been followed up) while he's trying to hire personnel in Miami againstexorbitant salaries.
Sub-director de Lannoy had already taken his leave, which Schotte blamed on dissatisfaction with Wallé's management. But it looks more like de Lannoy agrees with Wallé, as he, too, referred to the bombòshi [mess] at CTB.Nobody is indispensable,commented Schotte; that goes for him, too. Another rumor is he wants to hire his buddy Ramon Chong to replace Wallé His recent trip to Dubai seems to have cost CTB ANG80K; don't know if this includes expenses for his buddies Chong and Hakim.
Doing Nigeria Several Ones Better
Since the 1960 independence, the Nigerian political leaders have stolen or wasted $380G (BBC, 20 October 2006.) Ours have built up a national debt of $2.8G since 1954, only say one hundredth - but Nigeria has about 1000 more inhabitants.
You say 'our' national debt isn't all stolen money? That's what you say. For all we know, even more may have been stolen.
Now that Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius will shortly become a part of Holland and can't wait to get rid of the Curaçao politicians, some Dutch representatives wonder if it wouldn't be a good idea to repeat the referendum for St. Maarten: Maybe the people there have wised up, meanwhile and will now vote for option D. And the same for Curaçao! Funny, as FOL wants the same thing, but hopes the results will be the other way around. You have to know I'm all for it - keep feeling the last one was invalid.
Time passes slowly for Godett in jail - he now asks BC when he will get a reply to his letter of September 14 (other people wait twice as long; after all, this is Curaçao.) Godett wants the onderstand welfarers to get 50 guilders extra per month, starting before December 19; they now got 280.
Incredibly (except when you figure who's been in charge) the number of these has grown from 4000 to almost 7000 in two years - one added every business hour. Even back then, there was no checking at all on at least half the recipients.
Some Can Read!?
At least, looks like it - FOL's Adriaensz is already clamoring for yet another referendum to distort the last one, where they forgot to claim for our own wee Central Bank and police corps. He must have picked up our hint. Almost glad our remarks do have some results, after all. Forsa Korsou shows its true color by totally agreeing with FOL - after all, as any painter knows, orange goes very well with purple.
Adriaensz also feels that we should not hasten the political process towards autonomy too much. A surprise - we thought they were in a hurry!
can't show this too often
Aruba does not want any more financial help from Holland starting in 2009, which probably means from then on there will not be enough money for education, old age welfare and youth care. This because the Aruba government resents Holland's insisting on controls. Understandable, when you know that the goverment share of the GNP there now is over 75% and will be a whopping 80% after the sales tax has been introduced, another world record?
Meanwhile, that Dutch insistence is far from ideal in itself. The controls are inadequate and result in money being bandied away in downright illegal procedures.
How About It?
After Humphrey Davelaar had been waiting 8 weeks for a reply to his letter on Caracasbaai to bestuurscollege, who are supposed to answer in half that time, he has now asked questions in the question period: When will BC end the illegal admittance fee? Who exactly permitted this, how much has been earned since it started in 2000 and has sales tax been paid? Good questions, all - now for the answers.
I hope I'm not superstitious, but it's a bad omen: On Friday 13 October, there's a meeting of the committee for Political Structure, in which a joint viewpoint will be formulated. As they say:Without an accord, there's no reason for the technical committee to go to Holland- which committee will leave on that same day. (The meeting ends at 13:00 and flight check-in at 15:20.)
Even Curoil Did Not Want Asjes
We are sure Asjes dressed up in one of his super-fancy suits (which we paid for) when applying for a job as manager at Curoil, but he didn't get it anyway. Wonder what he'll try next.
What's the use, anyway.
FOL starts protesting again that the elections must have been rigged. This time it's the electronic voting system that gets the blame (it was introduced when they were playing Boss.)
Anyway, the politicians gave, on a scale of 0-10, the politicians a maximum grade of 6.3 (de Jongh-Elhage) and a minimum of 3.5 (Lak). No average was given, but those figures we do get average out at 5.1. Which technically 'would do'.
But I have to tell you, with voters like that, it's hard to blame the politicians.
That Explains It!
I have complained here several times that we never got to see the results of past years' budgets; as it turns out, the respective departments haven often not even bothered to make them up! Only years later 'adapted' budgets used to be made up ('made up' as in 'imagined'?) Thus spoke Donald Bakhuis; alas, only after he left as head of SOAB (government accounting service). Such fearlessly intrepid courage, to speak up now when he can't get fired from his job anymore! His department had just checked the 2001 island budget - it got a negative rating, accounting-wise (and other wises as well, I can fairly guess.) And we still don't know.
2001 had a shortage of 31M on the 'normal service' and a whopping 341M on the 'capital service' - that's 2.54 and 20.1 times the planned amounts. Rhuggenaath emphasized that there was no evidence of fraudulent acts. Rather fastidious; what word would he use? Indication? Confirmation? Attestation? Corroboration? We suggest, at the very least, criminal negligence. Rhuggenaath also promised 2002-2005 would be finished pronto and 2006 even before before June 2007. Hard to take him seriously, when the 2006 budget itself won't be ready before January 2007.
In a Hurry
The islands of St. Eustatius, Bonaire and Saba have expressed their wish to become a part of Holland and quit the Netherlands Antilles not in July, but in January 2007. Wise guys.
Godett in jail keeps asking for time-outto do his jobas a staten parliament member. He has asked the jail director to state the reasons why he may not (on Tuesday, expecting a reply on the following Friday.) This, however, is the responsiblity of the minister of Justice. Godett also complains that, when the electricity fails, the heat in prison is unbearable. You don't have to sit in jail to get confronted with that problem, though. We won't bore you with his other choice subjects (also, as it turns out, based on entirely wrong presumptions.)
We knew it all the time
Rekenkamer accounting has (finally, but much too soon to give Godett credit for it) looked at official travels from June 2002 to October 2003. There were a total of 150, total cost ANG731K. (For the record: That's more per instance than what I spent on a 5-week visit to Japan this year, including flights.) In a peanut shell: it's a mess, a complete jungle. There is not one single case where the necessity has been established, not the simplest form of regulation and no supervision at all. Deputies nor officials have ever bothered to write a report. When a deputy takes an official along, both travel first class.
By the way, all those guys making those trips know perfectly well what's going on: It's the very first thing they promise to cut whenever economizing is called for - then business is continued as usual.
While the politicians started out being so satisfied with the last referendum, once again it looks like now they want more. Many want to be totally independent from Holland; still others want to hook up with Venezuela instead. Those voters are a real nuisance, not wanting to vote for what their leaders want them to vote for.
So why not have a new referendum again and again and again, until only those paid for it go and vote? Just a hint.
The government is making a lot of money on gambling, also via the internet. The USA now wants to apply the brakes on that one. Optimistically, those in charge here feel the gamblers will find their way around the new USA laws; besides, the EEC is all for it. Then, our government gambles on the Asian market. Stay positive!
The Same Old Song - with Refrain
Pierre feels that Holland has done nothing to improve the situation here - they haven't paid us a cent (at least, not enough.) He wants to hold an international press conference in Bogotá, Colombia and tell the Whole Wide World (yawn) how badly we are treated. At any rate, it's not Caracas or Havana de Cuba - yet. Pierrot says Bestuurscollege is actively worsening the situationto force Dutch supervision- well, you can hardly blame him for getting that impression.
Pierre also wants to fire two of his own party member commissaries of Aqualectra, and threatens to take over as president-commissary himself; against the arrangement with Mirant and the consortium of banks, but little does Pierre care. Really makes you wonder if he's back on an old habit.
Two weeks later, Pierrot confirmed his membership of the Chavez-Castro Club by publicly declaring that USA president Bush wasan international terrorist. Even FOL was shocked (and blamed PAR for it - for some reason that must have looked valid to them.)
First check this, then read on here: Holland proposes to take over Antillean debts to the point where the new governments only have to spend 5% of their income on interest; that would mean Holland takes over about 85% of the total debt.
But our spoiled Curaçao and St. Maarten politicians feel, no, demand that Holland should take over the full 100% of debts -
so they can start borrowing anew right away!
Tric or Treat
The chairperson of the Aruba Staten [parliament] closed the meeting on next year's budget before the opposition got a chance to speak. The opposition says it's the PM in cahoots with that chairperson. Who was wrong and who was right here is hard to figure, but it does look like a tric to the Arubians and a treat for the PM's MEP party.
More Mafia? You Bet!
As if the casinos and lotteries are not bad enough, Schotte wants to open a race track. This was an enormous success, for some people, a couple of years ago, when PNP deputy Tilly Pikerie illegally permitted them to do as they liked. After the protected landscape had been ruined, mainly because builders used the location as an illegal quarry for diabase, the place was abandoned leaving a sad wreck behind. Schotte figures where money once was made, money can be made again. The gambling law only needs the words 'horse races' added and we're in business. Even internet gamblers will be accepted! Hold on - did everybody conveniently forget about that last time? Anyway, Schotte claims (talk is cheap) we will make $1.9M a year in foreign currencies and create 400 new jobs, what with 1000 hotel stables and 650 horse rooms - oops. Foreign tourists are certain to arrive in droves to gamble their money away, as we have 1 (one) top jockey here! Scholte doesn't mention the enormous flop the Aruba race track was - except for some people. O yeah, don't forget that old standby, the golf course! One more will be added here - we've lost count. The $90M to be invested mainly comes from Venezuela.
Deficit Disappointment - Damn that Dreaded Date
After all those promises and desperate attempts, business is as usual: The planned deficit for 2007 is ANG81M. Including the 75M windfall from Holland, it would be 1000 guilders per every single inhabitant. So much for Rhuggenaath and his efforts to reduce it to Zilch/Nada in 2008. Nobody seems to have given much thought yet about what will happen with the Curaçao budget when the Antillean budget dissolves - hey, that's also next year!
By the way, I must have missed the final results over this year somehow. And does anybody know as yet about the real results over last year? Not the politicians, that's for sure - little do they care.
A newspaper item panicked government workers by stating 400 of 'em would have to be fired this year. Rhuggenaath may well say that's a complete concoction, but what about those double functions? Easy: just keep 'em on double.
(Not only) Aruba Airport
'Aruba is one of the last countries in the world with no compulsory education or anti-corruption laws,' says the lone RED's Rudy Lampe. The kingdom of the Netherlands has signed the international anti-corruption treaty, but it can't be ratified as long as Aruban laws are not in place. Wonders Lampe: Why would this take so long? We can think of reasons, good ones, too; so does he.
The very next day, it was claimed that Aruba will have these laws in July 2007. A Dutch expert is coming over to make concept laws. Holland pays, great. But that expert needs a year, so if he starts today these laws can never be in place before October 2007 - if that.
The government is renting buildings from government members. Many government members retire with much more money than they could have earned legally during their stint. There are no regulations on political party financing, whistle-blowing or registration of ministers' possesssions. Lampe specifically mentions Calmaquip, a Miami company charged with corruption and fraud in connection with Trinidad's Piarco airport, which also renovated Aruba Beatrix airport for a cost 'extremely much higher' than originally budgetted ($84M). At least one Aruba individual faces charges in the USA because of the Trinidad scandal.
Get Rid of StIP
After the goverment set up StIP a few years ago to privatize government-owned enterprises, the politicians must be very sorry now about this rash act. So, they got rid of one director without bothering to give any reasons. We predict a nice and expensive law suit in the near future - no fair guessing who'll pay for it. (Amplification to end the suspense: He did.) But we don't have to guess for the reason: he and two others of the seven directors advocated Casperson as new Aqualectra director instead of BC's choice De Castro. With the two added Isla refinery guys in the StIP committee, Cooper andone man showLak have lobbied their way that much closer to a nice cosy majority doing exactly what they (and Chavez - don't forget Chavez) want.
More Money for Tourism - ASAP - AMAP
Deputy (not minister, as he likes to claim) of tourism Schotte wants more money for marketing tourism 'to stabilize the positive results we enjoy now.' What positive results would that be? Hard to find out. Schotte doesn't even say how much: As Soon As Possible, As Much As Possible, I guess. There isn't very much, anyway; and what there was has gone, nobody knows where.
Another Crisis! (Yawn)
With (maybe) 10 months to go before the next Round Table Conference on our future, the island government has fallen apart. PAR feels Pierrot has insulted our, their, PM, by calling her a 'manipulator' and a 'demagogue'. Aren't all politicians that? She 'advances the interests of special groups' (well, duh) and also 'plays mother Theresa'. Now, PAR calls Pierrot a schizophrene for good measure and all parties are looking for partners to change to, again. This is the fourth bestuurscollege in three years.
After a few days, though, the politicians decided to discuss their little problems among each other, as they should have done in the first place - that's what we pay them for - and glued the splinters together: No new bestuurscollege.
For those who feel there are far too many government workers, this helps explain it. A newspaper published there are 1813 functions that exist double, in island and in country government. It was denied, of course: That number was far too high. Too bad they leave us guessing what the right number is.
Pierrot & Colleagues & Banana Oil Business
After Chavez made himself a laughing stock in the UN by calling Bush 'the devil', our own Pierre turned himself into an outright Pierrot by asking out loud why Aqualectra's new director Casperson fooled around with technical matters when he was just an economist. Pierrot the politician, of course, is neither, which makes it that much easier for him to be an expert in both fields. But Casperson was not stating something technical at all.
Meanwhile, SMOC foundation and more people with them, bewilderedly wonder why Pierrot and consorts refuse to call in Holland's help for dealing with PdVSA, a company that's shown nothing but contempt for our problems in the past 20 years. We hate to say it, but do have to wonder if there's money changing hands once again. Not even our clowns could be that dumb. Could they? You really think so? Can't blame you...
Nobody seems to have taken note of the fact that, since the July 17 Amuay refinery fire (naturally, claimed to have been caused by US sabotage) Venezuela has severe contractual delivery problems and that Isla refinery is of correspondingly greater importance.
Worthy foreign representatives: A Liar and a Criminal
These guys certainly make rapid use of opening opportunities. That makes them opportunists. Now that Chavez is such good friends with the Arab world, Gerrit Schotte, deputy of tourism, has paid a visit to Dubai, where he called himselfminister of tourism. He was accompanied by Ramon Chong, another convicted criminal who's still in government. Wonder where he got his passport - a diplomatic one, maybe? They were accompanied by Nasser Hakim, as a private entrepreneur naturally above all suspicion.
Measure for Measure
Now, Atacho starts complaining that Antillians and Arubians living here are not allowed to vote for the European parliament. Don't they have the Dutch nationality? Discrimination! Atacho seems to have forgotten that Antillians and Arubians living in Holland were not allowed, by our politicians, to vote in the referendum; which may have been of some help in the outcome: Not to join the EU.
Time to Think
In jail, Godett seems to have time to think. That can be dangerous: Now he comes up with the brilliant idea to ask Bill Gates to give us money. Gates, he says, is sure to agree as he has been here a couple of times with his yacht already.
Actually, ole Bill never was anywhere near Curaçao - that was Gates' partner Allen's yacht, which departed full speed for the maybe less muddy waters of Bonaire when his mother and sister had come pick him up at Hato airport and their Lexus was towed away. Not before Mirna Godett had tried to crash the yacht's gate (wasn't she Prime Minister?) - I'm told a highly entertaining act. Leave it to our clowns. She sent them a bouquet with a Hallmark card and had us pay for that.
Godett also wants a summary of all official travels undertaken by this cabinet in the time it has been in function. Good idea, that! and please include the Mirna Godett cabinet. Or go even further back.
Godett once again wants a day of release out of jail, this time for the opening of Staten [cabinet]. He says, very virtuously, that he wants to work for the salary he receives as a member of that august body. But maybe even more importantly, he wants to be in the group photo that, on that occasion, will be taken of all members.
After he didn't get 'time out', the entire FOL fraction decided as one person that the photo was not that important: All two of them wouldn't come.
That will show us!
Makes You Wonder
The island government has rented out a terrain of 103,000m2 at the basement bargain price of 60cents/m2, for forty years. Even if it's only Cova who says so, for such a prime harbor location other people pay almost 10 times as much. Wow, that rent is only three times what I pay now in property tax - let alone forty years from now. Finally, only CPS Curaçao Port Services has the right to run the type of MCS Exploitatie Maatschappij's business there. The agreement was signed by the gezaghebber, long after she had been included in the Gallery of Shame already.
Another 2150m2 terrain situated in the industrial harbor zone was leased for the sum of ANG322.50/year - only 3/4 of what I pay in property tax.
Positive Politicians - take care!
Now it's DAE's fault that our wonderful, well-managed national pride DCA went bankrupt! At least, so say the very same politicians who took good care no guilty party could get blamed for that disgraceful disaster. Gerrit Schotte, tourist deputy, also loves InselAir, confirming once again he's a worthy successor of Salas and Asjes. But all this makes us worry just a little bit.
Gallery of Shame
Former PM Don Martina will not start an action against newspaper Ultimo Noticia for putting him in their front-page Galeria di Berguensa. Martina says he lacks the money (but can't he borrow it from his son Steve?)
A few years ago gezaghebber Lisa Richards-Dindial was honored in the same way. She preferred to take no action, as well. Hmm. Somehow, we all feel that to get in such a gallery, with all the competition going on, is a real distinction. Martina reputedly is sueing Ultimo Noticia anyway — he was labeledMAN's Godfatherby them.
Budget: Boost or Bust
While the present planned island budget for next year has a 200M guilders deficit, deputy Rhuggenaath wants to reduce this to 30M; after all, the mere bagatel of ANG800 per household. One way to halve the deficit was by shrinking expenditures with 15%. Who's that saidAbout time, too?For 2008, he wants the deficit reduced to nothing at all. (The only government I know of that ever accomplished that feat is the USA - before taxes were introduced.) It might help, maybe, some, if for once the budget was ready before January 1. The 2006 budget is finally planned to be passed in the third week of this month; just before the last quarter year. Compare with the hefty fines you get for being just one day late with your tax declaration. (By the way, the 3rd Tuesday of September traditionally is when the Dutch government publishes the next year's budget.)
The Antillean government announced one week later that next year's budget would have a positive balance of ANG32.4M. After having digested the agreeable surprise that they know now already, we turn to the rest of the news: This would only count if there wasn't any interest to pay. Matter of fact, the totalfinancing need[financieringsbehoefte] is 336.4M. This is what the government really needs to balance the budget. So what price thatpositive balancethey tried to fool us with?
One of the ways Rhuggenaathshrunk the expenditureswas by cutting the subsidy for Carmabi and who knows who else by 70% - that's right, seventy. Please download a letter of protest to the BestuursCollege here or here.
Next year's budget, by now reduced to not a 30M but a 49M deficit - only thanks to the 75M jackpot coming from Holland) - will be discussed in bestuurscollege on September 27, before this year's budget is approved.
New dogs, old bones, old tricks
After last year permission was refused to DAE for flights Curaçao-St. Maarten in combination with SLM because of 'lack of experience', permission for exactly the same thing is granted to InselAir, who have been flying for one day.
MAN transport minister Gijsbertha announced InselAir will beour new national carrier. InselAir is managed by ex-ALM/DCA topman Heerenveen, so the stage seems all set for a new performance of the well-rehearsed drama we all know by heart, which was such a flop the first time. And who knows? the coalition might start tottering on its clay feet once again. Especially since the judge stopping InselAir-SLM coop used the ugly words 'improper governance'; not that Gijsbertha will take the hint.
Better beware: PdVSA gets social
While, typically, Errol Cova is trying to grab all the credit for getting PdVSA vice-president Granado over here for negotiations, it looks more like Venezuela has finally reacted to several growingly urgent invitations, now that Chavez is back from his world-wide spending spree. It just possibly might have something to with Humanitarian SMOC having won their court action against Isla refinery. Just a suspicion, maybe. But it does seem weird that now, all of a sudden PdVSA acts like they deeply care for us and that our interests are the same.
Granado declared that PdVSA is working on new social models. Hopefully they're more modern than those of Marx and Lenin, a century old, or those of Castro - 'only' half that age. Says GranadoThis opens interesting perspectives for the island.Save us from such perspectives, complete with Hezbollah terrorists freely operating in Venezuela now. This is actually getting scary.
When some time ago, some politicians went over to Venezuela to ask for a discount on oil, this was promised, as it was to other Caribbean countries. (None of them ever got any.) Now, Granado says:We do not give friends special prices so we won't be accused of dumping.That politicians' memories are notoriously short is no excuse for their not knowing that Venezuela right now does sell oil to China and Cuba at reduced prices. (Members of PetroCaribe get a 25 year credit against an interest of 1%. Small wonder inflation in Venezuela is >10%.) Ask any accountant and she will figure it out for you: At a 2% yearly inflation, you make money by buying oil; and our government is selling bonds at 7.5% interest. (But Pierre feels that by taking the more economic solution you merely saddle future generations with more debts. Very smart thinking, Pierrot.)
A laughable performance by gullible Top Artists: PM Emily de Jongh-Elhage, DBB [foreign relations director] Dito Mendes de Gouveia, deputies Pierre and Rhuggenaath, Errol Cova as honorary delegate. Meanwhile, SMOC went to court again.
When Isla and PdVSA were unsatisfied with the amount of attention the newspapers gave to this brouhaha, they took out large ads themselves. Less than two weeks later, Isla made overwhelmingly clear that this was no more than a cheap P.R. stunt by advertising in Venezuelan newspapers for contractors to do maintenance work, not giving Curaçao contractors the opportunity to tender (as Isla is obliged to by the lease contract.) Maintenance this year turns out to be only half (56M guilders) of what was budgetted (116M). Next thing, PdVSA announced interest in taking over Aqualectra and Curoil. Talk about imperialism: Twenty to thirty years ago Holland got rid of OGEM utilities and Shell oil here and is now still accused ofneo-colonialism.
Even their very symbol they have to steal from a Jew.
Ajó Golf Links?
Last year island government deposited 36M guilders in a bank account. 28M of that was for the golf links that are claimed to bring so many tourists that we'll all get fat. With the average tourist spending ~$250, we'd need 80,000 avid golfers just to break even - if we were stupid enough to believe that their expenditure is a 100% profit.
Make a long story short and you know the ending anyway: Most of that money has somehow disappeared. Don't laugh, it's not funny!
Aruba Took the Hint
It seems that in Aruba, more cancer occurs in San Nicolas (close by the refinery), even though most of the pollution blows away from the island. RED's Lampe has asked some awkward questions about this (the first time in almost a century.) He wants to know what further problems there are, what's being done about it and who's going to pay up. The enfant terrible also puts questions on the recent beach pollution by oil spills at the refinery and why hasn't anything been done yet?
Just maybe, just a mere suggestion, this Lampe character has been reading reports by those Curaçao firebrands like SMOC? Once again, welcome back to the club!
Aruba Is the Champ
There are now over 6,000 government workers in Aruba. With a total population of 100,000 and 30,000 workers in the private sector, this means there's 1 government worker per 5 private workers. Even the Netherlands Antilles have less than 4,500 government workers per 250,000 inhabitants, with Curaçao at the top (1 for every 9 voters).
Please grow up, MAN!
MAN's MacaayMAN feels that Holland, long after ending slavery, now wants to stop further emancipation - by the original means of demanding future constitutional warranties for the Antillean people. MANCaay, with this cheap emotional appeal, here shows himself to be the politician he is. No self-respecting businessman in the world would come out with the obvious piece of nonsense thatCuraçao's debt problem is separate from its political future.Even a politician ought to be able to understand that with all that debt, there is no future. It is thanks to him and his colleagues that we are landed with that debt and left with very little choice.
Same Here, in Aruba
Ruling Aruba party MEP complains opposition party AVP is just nagging on about what goes wrong, whilethey ought to be content with what goes right. (Right, that's what the opposition is for.) True, tourism development, the mainstay of the economy, goes slowly (that's Super Orwellian Newspeak for Negative Growth which, as if you hadn't noticed, is a eufemism for regression) but apart from that all things go just fine. As P.G. Wodehouse would have said:Name three.
Still, United, we stand: RED's proposal to fine Staten [parliament] members with 1% of their salary for every time they skip a meeting got one lonely vote (RED's).
The harbor workers' union, a legacy of Godett's Papa, is protesting. As cement bags are now half the size they used to be, the fee they get for unloading them will be halved, which pays them the same per total weight. But they want the same money per bag - as if they still carried them ashore on their backs, like in the good old times.
Murder in the Vicarage
Now that it's a vicar of a catholic parish who's been killed in a robbery, the community is much more indignant than the case seems to warrant. Dignitaries come out with gems likeStandards among criminals are going down the drain: You don't touch children, old people and clergymen.Where have they been all these years? And how is this worse than killing a poor illegal immigrant worker from Haïti? At least, finally maybe some action will be taken to stop the deluge of crime. But our rulers obviously have no idea how, or should have done so long ago - if only to guarantee a continued filling of their own pockets.
Even the coalition meeting on language problems in education has been postponed. But it looks only too obvious that the failure of education is one of the many problems contributing to the ongoing hausse in crime.
Baya Beach at Caracas Bay
Bummed Baya Beach
It reads like pure anarchy - but this concerns government bureaucracies running amok. Maybe the item really belongs on the Tourism page, but it's such a mix-up - who cares?
We throw our minds, not the politicians' (they all too often act like evolutionary throwbacks anyway) back to 2000. Grand Cypress group wants to develop the Caracas bay area for tourism and discussions with Domeinbeheer [crown property control] are in a 'far advanced stage'. But on 2 May, Curaçao Port Authority CPA signs an agreement to lease Baya Beach there to quite another group with the fine-sounding name Ecoresort. CPA only requests formalisation on 14 July; meanwhile, the project had celebrated a grand opening a month before already, with deputy Ramon Chong conspicuous among those present. (Chong's narrow escape of joining other political leaders in the clink for alleged corruption had nothing to do with this affair.) Even the modest rent (very modest: Many people pay more property tax!) of ANG200/month Domeinbeheer suggests is not charged for a cooperative agreement; while, long before then, in February, Domeinbeheer thought only a rental agreement was legal in the first place. CPA feels they control the peninsula; Domeinbeheer thinks they do. As a result, the leaser just goes ahead with whatever tickles his fancy: Illegal horse stables, illegal dams, illegal beach improvement (with potential coral reef damage), illegal road building and illegal diabase quarrying. To top it all off, on May 25 exploiter Freek Born refuses admittance to Domeinbeheer and CTB and charges island inhabitants money to visit the location.
Bestuurscollege advises Chong not to agree with CPA's request to develop the peninsula. But for obscure reasons, the island government still just allows the exploiters to go ahead; with permits for a Koffiehuis (which means you can sell liquor) and a restaurant, there are many complaints about sound nuisance and sales of liquor to minors.
Meanwhile, deputy Cooper has asked for legal advise and professes an attitude ofwait and see. How like him and his departments.
It took over 2 months and questions by Davelaar for Cooper to react that he'd like to 'kick everybody off Baya Beach' andshortlywill - except for the Koffiehuis which is licensed, but has no BC permit. (Don't ask me how that can be.) Cooper did wonder how Davelaar asked him questions now, while keeping his mouth shut when Davelaar's party members PM Maria-Liberia Peters and Chong, with Godett, were enthusiastically propagating the whole Baya mess.
Mercedes Si - Audi No!
When Rignald Lak as a FOL deputy proposed to lease Mercedes cars for island government dignitaries, a rare storm of protest of almost everybody (except FOL) stopped these plans. Now that the Antillean ministers need new cars, that same party protests against the choice of Audis. While the Audi price of ANG100K won't get you a Mercedes, for once we can feel along with FOL: With 22 ministers, that's 2.2M good guilders gone. But PM Emily de Jongh-Elhage told the press she had asked for a lenghtening of the present lease-contract, instead. Meanwhile, Bonaire island went all the way and stopped leasing: Deputies and such could declare their kilometers, 'stop press'.
By the Way
Did Milieudienst really stop that BOO osmosis plant
they were building at Schottegat east, without any permit or license?
(just an awkward question we never got to hear the answer to)
to explainWhy stick around with those politicians?
- well, this is the view from my toilet seat
Gangs of Aruba Ruffians
Things go on like this, we will have to start an Aruba section, or maybe we won't have to? We'll see; as those old-have-beens Beatles sangCome Together!Anyway, power-holding party (for the moment) MEP threatens that if opposition party AVP starts acting up, they will call uptheir militants to restore democracy and the constitutional state.Don't laugh - they're serious! even if they don't understand what they say. They also point a blaming finger to Atia trade and industry association, Chamber of Commerce and 'a part of Ahata' Hotel and Tourist Association. Not your usual firebrand of revolutionaries at all.
Comment from Aruba:Aruba follows the road that took Curaçao to the precipice.Whatever could have given them that idea?
The same all over: Five persons dressed up with masks and camouflage clothing assaulted an Aruban Chinese restaurant. So don't ask me - I would have dressed up as a lumpia! Those crooks are even dumber than the median cop, hard as that may seem.
Those Jobs Are for Ours
MAN party members got mad at their minister Gijsbertha because he had proposed a non-party member as director for the postal service. But Gijsbertha feels the capacities of a candidate are more important than his party membership (one can't help wondering how he ever became a minister with that sort of attitude.) Deputy MAN chairman van de Meent says this should not have become public, asthis way you don't know whom to trust any more.At least, we now know one Man mAN we can put a reasonable trust in - or do we?
Interestingly, van de Meent is deputy chairman because present MAN chairman de Geus will become director of communications company UTS and MAN has to choose a new chairman - until that one gets a fancy government job in his turn. All this is so customary, it's downright endemic.
It did seem too good to be true
On exactly 15 May, with almost half of the year gone by, the island budget was ready. It looked even better than it needed to be! Only, now it turns out the island really is 65 Million short for the rest of the year. Figure it how you want to, that's over 12M/month or over 20M/month; put it another way, over Five Hundred per family per month. Alas, it did not take us by surprise.
PAR deputy Rhuggenaath swears they willtrynot to use the 28M reserved for yet another golf course to fill the gaping hole. We, however, hope they will, because then the project just might come to a grinding halt and those 28M for sure won't by a long way be the last of what we collectively will have to spend on that pipe dream. Note too, how, unnoticed by most of us, the amount needed for that golf course has grown with 75% from ANG 16M to 28M.
Be all that as it may be, the Central Bank announced one day later that the budget shrink of both island and country (from a total shortage of 310M to one of 160M) was not sufficient anyway.
It is hard to say if the sum of ANG75M that unexpectedly comes from Holland (August) is good or bad news. It is a relief, but will only help to harden these guys in their ways. The money is from the Belasting Regeling Koninkrijk [Kingdom Tax Regulation] with 56M going to Curaçao and 11M to the Antilles. It's not enough anyway.
It certainly looks like the island will, just like in the late 1990s, run into problems fulfilling its obligations - like paying their workers' salaries. One way out is a proposed 25% lottery tax. Illegal lotteries were legalized in the 1980s by MAN, as a stopgap measure; it was impossible to control them. With that new tax there's a proposal to start care for gambling addicts. Not funny, just dumb and crass.
Doesn't know his place
Godett has asked permission for time out of jail to join the opening of Staten [parliament] in person. He wants to present his opinion on some subjects. No doubt his considered opinion; plenty of time for that. Permission was refused.
Godett also asked for a letter of his to be forwarded to Parlatino Latin-American cabinet, in which he lodges a complaint for his treatment as a political prisoner and asks for cooperation in his request to join Staten meetings. This was refused as well, as he has been convicted for fraud, corruption and swindle, not for political reasons. He goes on like that, he won't even get time off for good behavior.
It was not the first time a column by Jacob Gelt Dekker, owner of Kurá Hulanda caused a wave of resentment. This time he made lots of people so angry (it even caused a new web forum), they want to kick him off the island. As this is not lawful and thus [still] impossible, many, reputedly most, political parties have announced they want to boycot him and to declare him persona non grata. I don't know how they want to achieve that or if it means anything in legal terms, or even if they know themselves. But that's their problem.
Theyare mainly Cooper of MAN and Faroe Metry (PNP), who want torefuse him admittanceto the island. Cooper says he will do this, but will respect the judge's opinion - so he wastes his expensive time, paid by us, to fool around with measures he knows will turn out to be illegal, just to get back at Gelt Dekker. I do not like Gelt Dekker and what he says, but with VoltaireI'll defend to the death his right to say it.Even if he calls all this fascist while I prefer the word authoritarian, one gets his point. One more well-deserved star for Cooper and Metry.
Not everybody agrees with the politicians' totalitarian reaction, nor does it agree with everybody. No matter how, Geld Lekker, with his usual tact, seems to have managed to touch all those overreacting where it really hurts. One almost feels sorry for him. While Cooper now seems to want even stronger measures, Gelt Dekker wants to start an action against Cooper for insulting him. In that respect at least, he's almost one of us - seems to love acting in what my first chemistry teacher calledthe best drama we have:the court of justice.
To my immense joy, Gelt Dekker was thrown out of court while Cooper could not start his action either. Let's hope this childishness ends here.
This 2003 Orwellian Unlaw, supposed to have been repealed before March, is still on the books. Makes one wonder once again what's the good of changes in government, or, come right down to it, of this sort of government.
The computer at state-owned TV-station TeleCuraçao has erased all archived program materials (they are being recovered now.) It turns out the command can only be given at a terminal in a room that can only be accessed with a pass-card. But the door was held open with a piece of wood, so anybody could have entered. Deputy Pierre is yellingSabotage!but we're not so sure.
In shrill contrast with Isla refinery's announcement of giving away ANG 1 million for 'social projects', as a hollow and cheap PR gesture almost an insult, another one by Willy Maal comes across as much more generous.
As the owner of a large part of the island, the government has to pay him 40 million guilders recompensation after Maal had gone to court. Maal then offered the 2000 island government [Bestuurscollege] a deal, in which: In compliance with the judge's verdict, his terrain could be developed; the government would pay him only $22M in recompensation; Maal would retract his ongoing suit for over 200M guilders in damages. As part of this solution, Maal would found two entities for people living there and invest $1M in each of those: One for social and economic welfare; the other for archaeological, historical and agricultural research, restoration and development.
The story would not have found its way here if government had taken Maal up on his offer. But they prefer to do nothing, keep up their stubborn fight for a lost cause and pay more money (our money) in the process.
2006-07-21I'll have to admit, it's getting better
For a welcome change, something more Positivo! Discussions are going on to raise the Old Age benefits with 200 guilders to 774/month, 1.4 times as much. Even with the inevitable higher premium, compared with Holland that's really not so bad. There, the average person get 6.02 times what was paid; here, its 5.99 now and will be 6.19 then. Because females grow older, they'll get 7.8, men 5.83 - Fem Libbers never mention this.
This looks like a good deal, but as inflation nor interest are discounted here, it's really not so good at all. The surplus goes to the government, what else is new? But you have to conclude those guys get even more cream 'off the top' in Holland.
The Curaçao Chamber of Commerce figures the premium will have to grow with 33% up to 98% and will shortly propose another approach. Everybody is now talking about a pension raise of 100 guilders/month, anyay.
That's the Limit
Godett, in jail for over 8 (eight) months as from July 17 (celebrated in Venezuela by the July 17 Amuay refinery fire?) did not give up his membership seats in island and country governments. He will participate from his cell. We now not only have at least one convicted crook in government, but even an actual jailbird, in residence. Of course, he can't vote, but that's not important as long as he gets his double salary and pension build-up.
Godett may be sorry about this decision, as he won't be there to vote when (finally, by October? with him still behind bars) the proposal for a a law will be introduced to prevent convicted crooks to be parliament members.
Small wonder VBC [entrepreneur club] asks Godett to work on the structural poverty here: He's an expert, even if he needs the money to pay off his lawyers. While he's sitting comfy and cozy in jail he makes out like he's a martyr. Referring to himself as ourgreatest politician, he went on to compare himself in one fell swoop with (are you ready for this?) Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela, Chavez and Martin Luther King. Why not Gandhi, Hitler and Hussein as well? Guess he forgot about those.
He became mad, because the bridge across the harbor would be towed away on the day he planned to arrive at the court buildings accompanied by an orange-shirted mob, which can't get there by ferry. Not only megalomania, but paranoia as well: This had to be planned, on purpose! But the mob was not that large (remember the last elections) the bridge was finally opened, to accomodate hismobof 40 (forty) after the obligatory 'Holy' Mass read by some Roman representative. Godett's last act of freedom was to send a letter to Amigoe's editor - in Dutch. (A few years ago he refused to address a visiting Dutch delegation in their language.) On the other hand, FOL wants a new law to prevent people leaving the party to take their seats along, but that would not apply to those going to jail.
For you, non-Latinist, it means Always Higher! It's re. the next salary raise of the members of Eilandsraad [island council], which will be pulled up with 25% from 8 to 10 thousand guilders/month. That's more than the Staten [parliament] members get (10,900). Deputies will get 12,500.
Oh, did you ask for a reason? What temerity! Well, the other islands have done so and why not follow their good example? Besides,this is not a raise, it's an adjustment.Glad MAN told us or we easily might have misunderstood. The only problem now is when this will start; they all feel right now, except PAR, who must be out of their skulls.
The trade union of government personnel ABVO also lodged a strong protest against the intended salary raise, pointing out that there is not even a reference to this in the Island budget. Finally even the politicians (who hadn't taken the trouble to ask for juridical and financial advise) saw that it wasnot opportuneat this time and let it go.
After a long struggle between several applicants, to nobody's surprise the exploitation of the infamousasphalt lake, a Shell legacy, was awarded to Hapo BV. Other applicants say this outfit has no experience in that sort of work at all, but who cares? Hapo, part of Poost Trade in the 'Transportation Equipment and Supplies' business, was represented by Aqualectra director Steven Martina (Son of Don, worthy predecessing party leader of Charles Cooper) who's now become an insurance company director. (Same racket.)
A Good Excuse
Deputy Charles Cooper needs more money, so he thought it a good idea to raise car taxes with ANG35 next year. He says this is needed to clean the rooien [arroyos, gullies], without making clear what that has to do with road maintenance; he doesn't even trouble to mention how much it will cost. Reputedly, Cooper has said that if this doesn't go through, he will just take the money out of onderstand and P.P. [public health insurance]. Leaves us to wonder why these rooien need cleaning all of a sudden; hasn't this been budgeted for already? But maybe that money has been spent on those new sodium lamps.
Cooper's Traffic Safety
You will find lots of these mini roundabouts all over the island; great obstacles to traffic flow.
This one, with a palm tree smack in the middle of a crossing, was so dangerous they had to put up extra warnings.
A possible explanation is that, when you keep a work below 10,000 guilders,
it can go through without those awkward interventions for budgetary reasons.
So the trick is to find that sort of work. Also please take note: most posts are crooked.
In all honesty, this project was started before Cooper got his present function -
by ex PM Maria Liberia.
Accounting for It All
ARNA Algemene Rekenkamer [general accounting] finally had a report on 2001-2004 ready in May 2005, to which Bestuurscollege was supposed to reply on March 14, but on their request this was postponed to April 30. As they still had not reacted by then, Rekenkamer holds they agree with the report's conclusions. These are not always good.
Requests for new onderstand unemployment benefits are illegally submitted by deputies. There is hardly any check on extension of onderstand, supposedly called for every 3 months; half of 4000 recipients have never been checked. The department head not only handles checking requests for new recipients, but also the decisions. (By the way, these get a maximum of ANG280/month - US$126). Obligatory yearly controls by SOAB accounting bureau are skipped routinely.
BC lost a Dutch subsidy of 621K Euro because a project just was not ready in time.
Weird is that the press published that the report was ready only on 11 May 2006, but this is hard to reconcile with the dates BC was supposed to react. Anyway, BC now did react in less than a week, promising a 'large-scale revision'.
Make Money, Not Peace
Nelson Pierre showed that Curaçao really is a Dutch island with fine Dutch traditions, by pointing out that we have always profited from war; we should not lose our neutrality and must try to profit from what he calls thepre-war situationin the region. We should not prefer countries and ideologies over other ones, but hold the island's interest above all, by offering service to everybody.
If we didn't know yet what an opportunist Pierre is, we know it now. Hint for Pierre: Too bad we don't have an arms factory... but we can always sell them! Such a pity we couldn't deliver oil to Hitler's army - we would have made even more money! Isn'toffering service to everybodyas good a definition ofprostitutionas any?
Then, Pierre's knowledge of history is not any better than his powers of reasoning. In the two instances he mentions when Curaçao made so much money, the Venezuelan Bolívar revolution and World War II, Curaçao was solidly, inextricably, allied with one side.
Aruba Re-Joins the Gang
Until now, we have left the clowns of Aruba out of our circus. But as their politicians have repeatedly declared they would join 'ours' in our struggle for autonomy, welcome to the club.Aside: I once was present at a shooting session by a Dutch TV-crew of a bunch of Arubian ministers and such. Well do I remember how the producer at one point turned to me and exclaimedThe funny thing is, this 'help' may backfire for those politicians and result in them having to give up their precious independence. More details here. The clownesque aspect is, Aruba PM Oduber has signed a protocol in 1993 to which Dutch minister Pechtold wants to hold Aruba, while Oduber and his cronies now feel that this protocol does not count anymore and that its agreements are invalid. How typical. Another case ofBut they're gangsters!I could only admit they certainly looked the part.Only marks on paper.But the Arubian people may think differently, having had their fill of independence, thank you ever so much.
'One Happy Island' - a Few Facts on Aruba
Not that it matters what the Aruba people think, either: National debt is almost half the GNP. So, naturally, government wanted to raise import duties on so-calledluxury items. Among these are soap and toilet paper, but not gold and jewelry. SER (Social-Economic Council) recently explained how this debt had grown because subsequent government had disdained following advice from the Central Banks of Holland and Aruba and of SER itself. SER was of the opinion that taxes could not be raised before government had done more to lower costs. Import duties were raised anyway, without even a hint of efforts to lower government expenditures. A public furor broke out, even resulting in a (rare) demonstration.
A few weeks later, Aruba wanted their Central Bank to transfer its reserves to the government. At first this was denied, but when in July 2006 Bank director Henriquez announced his refusal, of course it became public knowledge.There even are complaints aboutBut PM Oduber still insists Aruba can solve its own problems without outside (read: Dutch) help. Dream on; who knows? maybe it even lasts for your time...any number of roaming armed clans and war lords and para-military organizations which, disdaining lawful order, intimidate and manhandle the peaceable population [...]; gangs of ruffians set up by political war lords.Other items sound more familiar to us on Curaçao:The EEC, the container cartel, the importers, the harbor mafia and the tolerant and abetting government are the ones that steal the people's food out of their mouths. [...] With 65% of the people earning the minimum wage of 1350 guilders, a parliament member or minister collects 60,000/month on pensions starting at 45 years of age.
Letter to the editor, Erwin Siem, Amigoe 21 June 2006
Smart as Siem seems to be, when he insists tax collection should become more efficient rather than raising taxes, he does not seem to realize it amounts to the same thing. If more tax comes in, there's no need to raise them - but we pay more anyway.
Take Your Time
The new Bestuurscollege - well, it has been installed since February 28, so it's not that new - is working on a government program. They hoped it would be ready by today, when there (finally) is a meeting on the budget.
(Two weeks later, we had heard nothing on this as yet.)
Agreement? Just Marks on Paper.
When there was a vote on the instruction language in schools, MAN decided to vote with an opposition motion against the government coalition, even though MAN had signed the coalition agreement that clearly agreed with the coalition proposal (as minister Leeflang pointed out, if you can read at all). MAN reasoned they were quite free to do so. Almost seems they set out to show how unreliable they are, as if we needed any more proofs. (The motion lost, anyway, and less than a week later MAN let it be known that they agreed with PAR, anyway.) Former board member of MAN Joost Pronk felt obliged to write a letter to Amigoe editor pointing out that these MAN guys just hated Dutch. They denied, even while the coalition (such as it was in the first place) kept coming apart at the seams.
End of August, FOL confirmed that MAN was looking at renewed ties between the parties.
They Jump Overboard
Amigoe Eugene Veeris
By the way, what's with the orange shirts?
A number of FOL members have left the sinking ship and started their own party Partido Adelanto Kòrsou - evidently not realizing and, to be sure, caring still less that the acronym PAK stands forgrabin Dutch. Godett commented he was not surprised, but disappointed:Many of them had no job. I helped them to one. This is the thanks I get. But now that there's no honey to be gotten here for a while, they all leave.Maybe this will teach him that you cannot trust people that can be bought? Does confirm how his blatantly shameless set-up works.
For some reason, and newspaper editors and other people are starting to wonder, it is now almost July and there still has been found no place in the calaboose to accomodate Godett. Maybe, like Nelson Monte, he could have a room in a hospital? But what we mean is a mental hospital. It was finally announced that Godett would start his jail term on July 17; not 14 which he had preferred (le quatorze Juillet), so he will be free in time for the May 2007 election campaign. But nobody needs to worry - he will not give up his membership
Still in June, a worried Godett proposed a change of the electoral system, where leaving party members would have to give up their government seats.
The Broken EarDrat - Missed!
Somebody took a couple of pot shots at Venezuelan consul Lorenzo Angiolillo when he came home at night earlier this week. Angiolillo, who only seems to have one rent-a-cop for security, is now claiming that he may have been attacked because of his criticizingthe strong CIA influence in Curaçao. (Angiolillo won everybody's confidence last year by being photographed while having a relaxed beer in a bar with Errol Cova, right after failing to appear at a meeting with PM IJsbecause he was ill. The meeting was called for because he had definitely overstepped the boundaries of how a consul is supposed to behave. These habits grow on you.)
Angiolillo recently announced everybody could get free eye operations in Venezuela if they needed them, but found no takers.
Talk about good neighbors: The Venezuelan consulate is right next to that of the USA (which has very good security, thank you.) Funny how the USA wanted to close down this so-called CIA facility a couple of years ago, but changed its mind after a delegation from Curaçao had paid a visit to Washington and begged to keep it open. If I remember correctly, Cova then was a member there.
Two more weeks later, it became clear that the police had not been able to find any marks where of those alleged shots had hit, anywhere. Strong rumors are now going the rounds that Agiolillo just imagined it all; you're quite free to interpret that as you wish, just as we have done.
Les Grandes Manoeuvres
Angiolillo's remarks were inspired by the Dutch and three or four friendly countries' military using the Caribbean as a giant playground for a week or three, using Curaçao as a base. (Venezuela plays along as well, as an observer.) We were pestered day and night by jet fighters and helicopters coming by at much too low heights at top speed and noise levels (not in the morning, they don't seem to get up before 11:00). A Leopard 2 tank has been landed and is driving around on the North coast - a conservation area. Our rules never apply to these important what they themselves call WarGames. And how much all this costs is anybody's guess (the army will never tell you, that's for sure!Top Secret), but at least that's one thing we are not paying for. A further consolation we always have is that The Enemy is sure to be just as clumsily adept.
They put up a cell-phone relay station next to our home, then went away and just left this expensive piece of equipment sitting there without more protection than some canvas wrapped around the truck. One of our neighbors is pestered day and night by its generator roaring away across the street. It ruined our television reception - not that there's much to look at. At least, the military red warning light on top, for aircraft approaching Hato airport, is on. Those on two competitors' similar antennas flanking it are out of service. (Insane, anyway: how about a little cooperation and spending less consumers' money by sharing those posts?) The Digicell phone service complained about interference by a navy ship. Near Seru Pretu a metal peg driven into the ground hit a cable, which resulted in two radio stations and two internet providers shutting down.
Mayor Dickerdack, our minister of economy and our deputy of public works
it's obvious how they could economize
MAN Public Works (DOW) deputy Charles Cooper might do well to check with his doctor on his obesity, like so many of our Leaders - a professional risk - natural result of the Good Life. Leaving that remark for the ad hominem attack it is, Cooper proudly let it be known that all Curaçao street lights would be replaced with sodium lamps, thus complying withInternational Standards. If you don't live in Curaçao, please take a quick peek out of your window and check if your street lighting is orange colored, sodium, or not. Safely bet you it's not, unless you live on a highway: You're way below international standards (according to Cooper, at least.)
Looked like those guys from DOW started out the very next day, going all the way, too: Not only the armatures (very often burned out anyway) are changed - no, they're ripping out lantern posts and all. Cooper can hardly blame me for being reminded of former PM Maria Liberia and her solar street lights. Suppose, just for the sake of argument, he gets $10 per street light somehow, hardly more than USA Westinghouse charges monthly for the upkeep of 1 (one) post. A smart politician should be able to negotiate a much better deal; but even this would pay off to the tune of half a million guilders. Yeah, peanuts.
Here We Go Again...
The upshot of the Constansia affair is that there have been four, or maybe five, Bestuurscolleges in three years, which is rather much. (We ought to try and get in the Guinness Book of Records, maybe; this government lasted for merely 100 days.) Even some politicians are now clamoring for a Dutch intervention. Lak, who caused all the trouble, is incommunicado; that is, except for FOL and PLKP it seems. They smell their chance and are all ready for seats in a new government - including Lak.
Godett has generously announced not to take his own seat, so the new coalition will still have a majority when he has to go to the calaboose; and as is to be expected, Cova is blasting away at full volume again.
Meanwhile, an e-mail campaign has been started by Els Langenfeld for letters to Dutch PM Balkenende, to prompt him for Holland finally to face up to its contractual liabilities and do something about it. Here's the document Els advises us to despatch it via this link, as Balkellende's e-mail seems to be Out of Order.
Another interesting titbid is that Lak still seems to be scheming with PAR, which causes them to loose their last shred of credibility, if - for the sake of argument - any. On the other hand, FOL member Sedney Ignacio seems to contemplate leaving the gang. It's a big mess, right. But that's nothing new.
And then, the following week, Lak turned over a new leaf, or he turned over like a leaf and the old coalition is back in business. Only, Constansia will not get that job - he's replaced by two members of Pierre's party. If you can point at one single party that you would lend your confidence after all this, you're much more trustingly credulous than we are.
In August 2006, the judge found that Constansia does not deserve his promisedgolden handshake.
Newspaper Amigoe announced that the Bestuurscollege had everybody's confidence again; well, almost everybody's, maybe - certainly not mine. And some Dutchman wrote all of us back that our government was up and running again, so there's nothing to worry about: The island is still governable.
For the Record
In April 2006, for the first time since 2001, a meager 1% of our site's total visitors was from the Netherlands Antilles. One is tempted to sayYou asked for itto the others, but that is not of any help to us, or them.
This guy (no relation) was fired from UTS because of the rather negative results this tele-communications company had been showing. Deputy Rignald Lak then proposed to give him a well-paying job as a Curoil commissary, which didn't agree with Nelson Pierre (LNPA).
It seems there's a silentarrangementbetween the political parties (couldn't be a gentleman's agreement) that they won't challenge candidates for this type of function nominated by another party. Lak nor Pierre will recede from their positions, they say. Sounds promising, because that would result in the coalition losing its one-vote majority.
Lak wondered out loud why Mario Evertsz could go scot-free while Constansia must be punished. The answer seems obvious.
Pierre made good on his promise and for a moment it looked like as from May 20, 2006 Curaçao would have had no island government - with only thirteen months left until independence in July 2007; but Lak preferred to stick to his soft seat. Don't blame everybody for getting all confused: As it turned out later Lak had voted with the opposition against his own coalition and Curaçao was left without a working government.
Budget Breaks Down
With all that talk and furious preparations for our glorious independence, it turns out that the country's budget for this year will be not 120, nor 160, but almost ANG 200 million over the limit! Last year, our national debt grew with 20% to 85% of the GNP.
Only one of the many ways to explain this is that salaries for government workers have gone up - again; and don't forget those for the ministers.
When there was a 25 May Staten reunion on this little problem, only 5 (five) of the 22 members bothered to show up; government coalition parties PAR and PNP declared the reunion wasillegal.
Finally, on June 12, finance minister de Lannooy announced that her own earlier statements and also those of PM de Jongh-Elhage, were exaggerated: There actually was no problem at all balancing the budget! It's now a mere ANG110M in the red; one saving is not paying interest to Holland on debts, which by now is customary, if not a tradition. We can only hope for the best and keep our fingers crossed - no doubt following our Great Leaders' example (if they happen to care to think about it - you can always hope for the best: Hope is cheap.)
Some other nasty, suspicious, you're tempted to say 'paranoid' minds express the same doubts. Might it, could it possibly be that those in charge figure Après nous le déluge - Next year Holland will take care of those debts anyway, so why worry? You Bet!
By the way, the IMF/World Bank recently discovered their policy of halving debts for some countries had not worked: 8 of 18 countries were as heavily in debt again after five years. This just maybe possibly might influence Hollands attitude on how to deal with our debts.
Cova Certainly Got Around
Away from All This I'm having a short reprieve from all this craziness; won't be able to feed you any more items until May or so. But, even if I'm not a psychic, it's very safe to predict that the 2006 budget will not be ready on April 1.
I gladly run the risk that this will be up here all that time, proving me wrong, if it will be ready. In fact, I hope so against all I know. April Fool!
PAR deputy Rhuggenaath promised on May 12 that he would have a new budget ready, reduced with 110M, next Monday (May 15 - only 6 weeks late). Even then, it will not have been accepted yet.
The new budget proposal came in! Only 6 weeks (plus 3 months) late! It's even lower than it needed to be!
One of the ways this has been achieved, they will sell off ANG30M of their assets. Don't even ask how realistic the rest of the proposal is.
(Ex) economy minister Rosaria has ordered tax investigations for several projects started by his predecessor, Errol Cova. These concern a rice packing industry, LGO research project Awa Pura, his own television program and a planned promotional film Florin Kòrá; and the Curaçao Lagoon project. You have to admit Cova certainly has been busy in the short time he has been a minister.
Night in Jail
- just a suggestion
unbarred original © Amigoe
Yes, It Is a Bit Rich
More people had taken exception to the fact that in the new cabinet of 22 ministers, there were 5 staatssecretarissen [parliamentary undersecretaries]. Rumor even has it that those guys have to pay part of their salary (average 1.3M/year, 80% of a minister's) back to their parties! But when PLKP and FOL started protesting, it turned out that a year ago that same PLKP was all against reducing their number. Still, a protest is due - now as well as last year. (Wonder about their pensions? So do we.)
Have you ever met a cabinet minister? I know dozens, and not one of them that wouldn't be grossly overpaid at fifteen shillings a week.
P.G. Wodehouse, Joy in the Morning
Wising Up? Two Bits Late!
Deputy Renfred Rooijer escaped from fulfilling his promise to balance the budget by the last elections; he lost, even with his announced tax discount for those who had failed to pay in time. Now he seems to have left his FOL party.
But he does have a point when fingering MAN's Cooper for wasting the taxpayers' money with his choice of road building projects. Just one example: He spent ANG30M to cover some selected roadways with clinkers, leaving the potholes all over the rest in their prime glory. The man's hobbies actually tend to endanger traffic.
A Bit Late
PLKP feels that the party should be separated from the Cova family. A good idea—too bad it only comes after they lost the elections time and time again. I hope, and fully expect, the idea comes much too late; let them drop out of the game as they richly deserve to.
They also feel Asjes did the party more harm than good. Now he's finally kicked out, they face up to that fact? We knew it all the time!
More or Less
Many Papiamentu-language schools have to teach their pupils Dutch in a hurry, which they should have been doing already. Butan unknown number(four out of five, anyway, so you can go figure) of them did not.
It's not only the language; the same goes for math. For all practical purposes, those schools missed out on 3 Rs out of 3. (The last election results must have surprised many teachers.)
He Tells Them So
When the Staten started deliberating on a law to force a judge to give a minimum jail term of 15 years for any hold-up with a gun, not only the order of barristers was against it, but so was the court. Said chief justice Luis de Lannoy (no relation - he seemed rather angry) that this ispure window dressing(the law seems to be inspired by the public outcry to a recent murder). Punishments now regularly are 10-12 years already, and as the prison is over full criminals don't spend half that time in jail anyway.
In the Bonaire preliminary RTC meeting after the referendum, one of the items agreed upon was that government (legislative nor executive) is not licensed to order a judge how to rule.
StIP has to go, because two years after they started it, the very same parties (now are back in the island government) don't seem to like it any more. Which means we're stuck with those government-owned utilities until pigs get wings. By the way, why not de-privatize Selikor again?
They Had Other Priorities
Both MAN Cooper and FK Navarro did not present their credentials in time after the elections; this had something to do with the coinciding carnival festivities. Now they feel for them an exception to what the law prescribes should be made. An ominous start.
Like Father, Like Son?
Not being ready to believe that without proof, I do have doubts about ex-FOL Lak-pushed tourism deputy Schotte,Son of Salas(a notorious FOL rep.) Schotte, who never finished high school (he was in business already, so why bother?) offers the passengers of cruise ship Sea Princess a free party when the ship visits Curaçao as the last port on a bi-weekly cruise. It seems the captain really liked the idea; small wonder. But he still has to consider the idea.
Nobody's telling, of course, how much this is going to cost (and how many of our politicians will be regular guests.) But over 2000 passengers at a 70% occupancy rate 5 times a year would mean 7350 guests. Costs, say, ANG25/each? (A bargain). Almost 200,000/year. And we don't even have a budget yet... Sure, after such a heavy trip, nobody would begrudge those cruise passengers a jolly good farewell party. But why should we pay for it?
(Looks like we, er, Lak, found an ideal replacement for Asjes.)
Those Wonderful Cruises... Twenty-four people disappeared from cruise ships between 2003 and 2005 and 178 passengers reported being sexually assaulted. 12 were deemed suicides, 1 an accidental fall overboard and the rest deemed "missing for unknown reasons." Almost half of the 178 reported sexual assaults were allegedly committed by other passengers. Lynsey O'Brien, a 15 year-old girl, was served at least 10 alcoholic drinks at a cruise ship bar and fell overboard while leaning over a balcony to vomit. Janet Kelly, a 49-year-old married woman, said she was drugged by a bartender and raped.
With over 31 million people taking cruises in the three years under review, only four robberies were reported, the council said. However Ohio Democrat Rep. Dennis Kucinich said he suspected the figures understated the true situation and that not all crimes were being reported.
(Reuters, Wed Mar 8, 2006 9:46 AM ET164)
Maybe, but seeing all those crummy cars on the road does make one wonder if the rumor is true, that you can still buy a test certificate for ANG50 at the government test facility. (Without a certificate, you can't get license plates.) I do notice the same guys are still working there; reputedly a FOL hot-bed.
Don't Hold Your Bated Breath - You'll Turn Blue
In December 2005, when a budget was accepted with an ANG100M deficit, this was done with FOL's Renfred Rojer's promise that it would beadaptedbefore April 2006. That's three weeks from now.
Yearly Farce - or Tragedy?
Again, the four kindergarten schools who still are in Dutch, not Papiamentu, have more than 200% to 300% too many kids applying. Parents go so far as to have their children baptized in a hurry, so the catholic school will accept those.
It Wasn't Me!
Faroe Metry didn't like it when newspaper Amigoe published a follow-up on their earlier story on the pensions for Staten members. He couldn't wait to write the editor a letter stating that the proposal for this law had not been his; he hadmerelydrafted it; and the responsibility for the article's assertions was the newspaper's. Right, Metry; and the responsibility for the proposal is yours.
Turns out it's even worse than Amigoe wrote before. The members can now build up a pension that's higher than their salaries! No wonder they tried to keep the deliberations secret.
It's a Dark Knight
Errol Cova has been knighted! With his co-party member Winnie Poulo; both now are Ridder [knight] of Oranje-Nassau. No comment: None needed, either - we all knew all about knighthoods long since. (And a lot about Oranje-Nassau, come to think of it.) Talk about Knight Hood Lums. Lump it, you and me.
Constancia Still Around
She may have lost her FOL deputy job when she was caught lying in court, but that did not mean a thing to her party boss (and uncle) Godett, of course. Her party's deputies, aided and abetted by those of the other parties in power, then created another job for her, paying over ANG4000/month. Meanwhile she had set up the Social Fund to lend money to the deserving poor who can't get loans from the banks; total yearly budget at least ANG6.5M (US$3.6). This fund is now under investigation; with director Magali La Croes getting anastronomicalsalary that remains unnamed, there is talk of ahydrocephalic constructionwhere the administration costs more than the poor will ever get.
Hint: Why not have a good look at the AOW structure as well, where you definitely get to suspect there are many more officials working for the ontvanger than seems necessary? Maybe then we can raise the pensions a bit.
Ontslagwet Comes and Goes
After we had gotten rid of this what George Orwell might have called anUnlaw(that forbid an employer to fire a worker) it was re-introduced by Errol Cova. It has taken until now before it has been kicked out once again... well, not even exactly that. Not by a long way in fact! Those guys are much busier than we could possibly imagine; thinking and acting must be hard time-consuming work for them.
While Dutch minister Verdonk may go off the tracks with her toelatingsregeling [admission rules] for Antillians, the official Antillean reaction to this is a bit ridiculous. The Dutch always have had much more trouble when they wanted to come and live here than the other way around. There's even talk now of making this even harder; but that's not revenge - whatever made you think that?
Even while Verdonk's measures may be illegal the Dutch parliament has accepted them - and then Verdonk retracted; at least until the coming RTC.
Trade Union does not agree - that figures
The SSK trade union's central thinks it nonsense that the island government should go because of the country government's election results. This may surprise you, but not so much when you learn that the guy has the same name as the PLKP leader and the deputy of education (and there is strong a physical resemblance as well; also not coincidental.)
A Man of Substance, All at Once
Rignald Lak, who got 315 votes for merely appearing on the FOL list (some claim it's a mere 152), then made himself immortal, after a fashion, by proposing the Mercedes lease deal for island government members and finally left the party, now is a key figure in the new bestuurscollege. (He did not take the trouble to participate in the elections.) .
Good Riddance, Too
Ivar Asjes, who sued a newspaper after being compared with
HosannaOsama bin Laden and won (the newspaper appealed), thought it a good idea to have the government pay his ANG20K lawyer's fees; but his party Boss Cova did not agree. Don't ask us why. Asjes, complaininga crusade has been startedagainst him, then took his leave as tourism deputy—not before we were ready for it.
What a Mess—But in Style!
While the Netherlands Antilles government will be constituted of PAR, PNP and MAN plus some smallies, that same MAN is also still in the island government and also still has not announced they will cease working there with FOL and PLKP. Any halfway decent government would have resigned, even if this one falls a long way short of that so-called ideal. But even they must see it is unavoidable and naturally they have hitched up their sauve qui peut efforts another notch, starting to give themselves more jobs: The Dienst Economische Zaken is now chock-full with PLKP party membersworkingthere. Who knows what else is going on; and don't forget FOL, either.
While an investigation has been started into those new jobs, it looks like this has not been illegal and there's nothing that can be done about it. So why waste money on that investigation? Yet another smoke screen?
The investigation seems to be very thorough indeed: By June 2006 we had not heard anything about it.
When FOL hired new drivers for their deputies, the ones already working there could not be fired and just had to hang around doing nothing; now, presumably, it's the other way 'round again.
Dutch political party Leefbaar Rotterdam [=fit to live in] came out with a proposal to use forced abortions on unmarried Antillean mothers living there, when these got pregnant for the fourth time. While admittedly this is a problem, it sure brings back memories of Hitler's Nazis, who, while they were occupied with killing jews, made a start with sterilizing gypsies. No doubt planning to go on later with outright killing them, too, while proceeding with whoever else tickled their nasty fancies:Degenerateartists? Homosexuals? you name it...
Even the Dutch do not seem to have learned enough from WWII.
More Money Gone
Because the island government sabotaged the Foundation for Privatization, it was not such a big hit. So they did not pay former director Betrian his bonus and he went to court. The judge judged he was entitled to the money, amounting 2 months of salary per year worked. Hefty bonus? Wait until you hear how much the salary was: ANG18K/month (US$10K); only 10% less than that of an Aqualectra director.
License Plates, Revisited
The license platesystemwent through a new evolution: Now, we got (well, not entirely free) a red shield to cover up the four-color Curaçao heraldry with. Only, the instructions in Papiamentu told you to put those over the plate in front (for some no doubt good reason); those who prefer to read Dutch naturally assumed it had to go on the spot in back, where the 9004/5 shields had to go, as the instruction was omitted in their version.
Ouch! Never thought of that!
Memories of all politicians being much shorter even than their Period of Power, the guys were forbidden to take along cameras, cellular phones, pencils—in short, any recording devices when they were shown the salaries of directors of publicly owned companies like Aqualectra. Who could have figured some of them still had old-fashioned working memories and later, would blab to Amigoe newspaper? Well, at least one did and now we know those salaries are factors higher than those of our government reps: Nicolina (Curoil) ANG29K/US$16.1K/month; Steven (son of ex MAN-leader) Martina of Aqualectra 24/13.3 - the other four directors are fobbed off with merely 20/11, just like the one of UTS telecommunications; the guy who 'leads' Curaçao Ports CPA gets only 16/8.9. Maybe he'll get a raise shortly, as CPA has finally managed to get into the red figures—nobody understands why and how.
In a March 3 letter to Amigoe newspaper, Betto Thomas reveals a Staatssecretaris gets only 20% less than the minister he works for and does almost nothing.
While I, long ago, vowed never again to vote for a party that, after it won, could be expected to hold avictory pageant(any number of cars drive all over the island, hopefully with at least some of the drivers not completely drunk, honking and tooting madly to celebrate like the nitwits they are), FOL applied for a permit long since.
PAR is holding one; MAN, in their rush of Victory, postponed theirs planned for the same date. So now you know three of the parties that will not get my future votes. Not bloody much left, is there? (National and Democrat parties lost out long ago, since the days of my misspent youth.)
Godett the Kid
Lucky Luke - The Escort
As we now know, they lost. So much for Godett's announcements that he was going to force governor Goedgedrag to make him PM instantly—apparently the guy still has no idea there are laws—which he planned to extend to 2018, setting up a dynasty until 3000 (another 1000 Year Reich yet, but in style). Almost as good is the news that Errol Bakoba's PLKP is completely out of it. Too bad most of the others are still the same tired old clowns, supplemented with a new batch - more of the same. And remember, those orange and pink guys are still Boss in the island government, together with the blue ones!
That FOL does not accept the unexpected outcome and is muttering darkly about computers and viruses is only natural. We still feel the Referendum vote is illegal, so that makes us more or less even.
If you think this vote will give us a good government, think again. It will be constituted of PAR, PNP and MAN. And dig this quote by PAR leader De Jongh-Elhage:...The Almighty has given PAR this leader and under His leadership she will serve the people.Very promising. Who was it said 'megalomaniac religious lunacy' there?
Don't Pay Tax - You'll Get a Discount Later
After having been told for years that the back lag in tax collection is dwindling thanks to the Hard Work of the Tax Persons, we are now informed that, if you have not paid as yet for the years until 2003, you'll get a discount of QUOTE only UNQUOTE 70% - you don't have to pay the rest either as long as you pay future debts in time. We have to thank FOL's Renfred Rojer for that, but he lost the elections anyway.
Too bad if you paid already: Following the rules makes you a sucker.
It was much later, much too late? when the legality of this got to be doubted. What does looks like a certainty is that the Tax Persons themselves must have been involved in this evil scheme. The funniest part is, the taxpayers have shown hardly any interest. No doubt they figure they'll escape anyway and they may have a good point there.
The Eye of the Hurricane
no surprise: they can't read
This item may not really belong here, but it is another product of the political show. It's rather quiet on the political front here with elections coming up end of the month. Of the political parties, we found websites for FOL (with a photo of Rignald Lak; last news item dated November 2005), MAN (with a portrait of ex-leader Don Martina), Forsa Korsou (with picture galleries of some celebration), C-93 and Ban Vota (the only one which gave reasonable info). Niun Paso Atras was the champ, listing Ban Vota's Norbert George's e-mail address and including him plus Herman Wiels, also in other party now, on their list of candidates (their last update was in 2003). By the way, Godett.com has been revitalized for the occasion [but now definitely defunct].
Somebody threw his money away on a political poll, done by IMD. Their sooth-sayers say 63% will vote, 21% won't and the rest don't know yet; PAR will get 19%, FOL 17, Forsa Korsou 15, MAN 13, LNPA 9, PNP 9, PLKP 4 and (surprise!) DP 3.5. Reminds you of the yearly psychic predictions in the tabloids.
Wish they'd given us that
When the Dutch government sponsored research into AN poverty problems, the Antillean government spent ANG2.6M on the investigation; it all went to the government and private consultants. As a Dutch minister remarked, that's 13 guilders per Antillean. (The AN government denied this, but later, the Dutch began claiming the money back.)
That explains it?
Smart FOL Leader
After that, it did not look quite so weird but even smart (after a fashion) that FOL would want to set up a committeeto establish objective criteria with which the Curaçao public government must comply: There's jobs in them thar committees.
Boycott by the Boys of the Bands orHear! Hear!
The musicians do not wish to embellish the political parties' parties. They don't say it's a boycott, just a coincidence as they have other carnival gigs. But they do have complaints: They may not play as loudly as they desire; parties with a permit are closed down by the police when the music is too loud; more and more party centers are closed down because of neighborhood complaints; and they have to payhigh taxeson their CD-sales.
Just a few comments: The level they wish to play at equals, when you're standing across the harbor, the close-up sound level of an old DC-8 (120 dB); those parties and party centers often are in the open air in residential neighborhoods, where in New York the accepted level is 35dB; and we all have to pay those same taxes (except PdVSA).
Many jailbirds return to prison after their first stretch. More jailbirds are religious than the decent people outside bars. But the Curaçao pastors decided to give them a helping hand by baptizing some of them in Bon Futuro prison, so they have an even better chance of doing another stretch later in life. Statistically speaking.
It's getting harder and harder to answer the question what good prison does. What's the use? Discounting the pious arguments that criminals will be reformed there, it's only the primitive revenge that seems to count. It doesn't do anybody any real good, that's for sure.
Apart from that, look at these 2005 USA facts: Upon revision of 29 of random rape cases, now based on DNA tests, 6 (over 20%) cases turned out not to have been guilty. Together, these had spent 90 years in jail. In another investigation, the same percentage had confessedtheir crimesbut were innocent.
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