In the House of Representatives, the unrest about St. Maarten, the Caribbean island, is sinking further and further into political chaos. The CDA wants the government to intervene as quickly as possible.
More than a week ago, the government of St Maarten fell for the ninth time in ten years. Prime Minister Leona Marlin-Romeo lost the majority in parliament after the resignation of two representatives of the United Democrats ruling party. The prime minister has launched new elections scheduled for November 25. In the meantime a majority of the parliament has submitted a motion of no confidence and sent the Marlin-Romeo home.
State Secretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) was on the island last week due to a previously planned working visit and landed ‘in the middle of the crisis’. He shares the concerns in the Lower House. St Maarten is still recovering from hurricane Irma , two years ago. The Netherlands has pledged 550 million euros in emergency aid. It is therefore of great importance to Knops that the island has a stable and reliable government, so that the money is spent in a responsible manner.
The new generation is tired of corruption, but is offside
But the CDA has no confidence whatsoever that that stable government will actually come after 25 November. The problem is, says MP Chris van Dam, “that these mid-term elections are coming too quickly.” “New parties cannot participate because they cannot register with the Electoral Council in time.”
Van Dam fears that power will automatically return to the old guard, such as former Prime Minister William Marlin. Knops collided hard with him at the end of 2017 because of a fight over the Dutch emergency aid on the island. Eventually Marlin stepped up as prime minister, under pressure from ‘The Hague’.
Van Dam: “There is a new generation on the island who is sick of corruption and abuse. But this generation will be sidelined in the upcoming elections. This goes wrong, while the interests are great. Not only is reconstruction now in danger, the island urgently needs to tackle money laundering. Otherwise, St. Maarten could, for example, end up on the black list of the United States and tourists would no longer be able to pin. “
550 million euros in aid money can be distributed
The possibilities of the Dutch cabinet are limited. St Maarten is an autonomous country within the kingdom; intervention from The Hague is only possible with a very high exception. The Council of Ministers of the Kingdom (the cabinet supplemented with representatives from Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten) can take action if law enforcement or ‘good governance’ are at stake somewhere in the kingdom.
According to the CDA MP, the latter is now the case. “It cannot be the case that the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom are sitting together. The situation on St Maarten has been completely derailed in ten years. Now 550 million in aid money can be distributed, which is dangerous. People are busy collecting their share. Pure corruption. “
In the Chamber, VVD and SP have been arguing for some time to put the Caribbean islands further at a distance, a kind of Commonwealth construction, so that the obligations back and forth expire. The CDA does not feel like it, says Van Dam. “I consider the kingdom a family, we have the same king. You sometimes argue with each other, but when it comes down to it, you help the other. We want to do that now. But then there must be a decent government. “