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The Catalyst Project

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Fifty Year Statuut - Introduction

Dr. Nilda Arduin, 2004

(The following is the first in a series of five articles related to the fiftieth anniversary of the kingdom Charter)

"FOL-led cabinet falls"; "The lt.-Governor as "Supervisor"; "Friction between UPB, referendum committee" (Bonaire); "Solidarity Fund still a problem"; "Confusion in government affects boarding homes"; "Brewery to wait until May on protection plan"; "Lio :"The Antilles is in a depression""; "Pre-arrival integration moves one step closer"; "Emergency situation at juvenile institutions"; "Twelve parties interested in privatization Winair"; "SMMC offers to help Concordia hospital"; "Venezuela considers granting St. Kitts preferential oil deal"; "The imminence of intra-Caribbean trade"(Ruben Silie, Secretary General ACS.

What do these headlines really tell us? To me they confirm that it is high time to take stock. Just like each one of us should evaluate and take stock of where we are at any given time in our personal life, the nation -the Netherlands Antilles- needs to evaluate the stage of its development and structurally work towards the next stage.

With increased discussions worldwide about globalization, it is important that we, as a people, consciously take stock to define where we stand in it all? Fifty Years "Statuut" calls for thorough evaluation of who we are and where we are going as a people. A vote for a separate status for Sint Maarten within the Royal kingdom on June 23rd, 2000 is obviously not enough to determine where we are heading.

What is our reality today, and what does separate status mean for the members of the SHATA, the Bankers association, the Insurance brokers association, the Jamaican, Dominican, Guyanese and Indian merchants association, government and the members of the various communities in Middle Region, Dutch Quarter, as well as those in the Low Lands, just to name a few. What does it mean in our relation with the Northern half of the island and other regional affairs?

We cannot make decisions regarding our future, by deliberately neglecting to determine our present situation based on thorough analyses of how we reached to the societies that we have in the Antilles today. The socio-economic boundaries of our country did not change with the abolition of slavery in 1863. And just like the Declaration of Independence of the USA in 1776 by no means reflected independence for the enslaved Africans in that nation, the kingdom Charter of 1954 by no means heralded a new political order for the masses of the people that made up "Curacao and its dependencies", as the Netherlands Antilles were called back then.

How could it be, if general suffrage in the Netherlands Antilles was obtained merely six years before the Charter in 1948? What were the motives for creating this new order, and who were the people involved in negotiating the kingdom Charter, which is younger than many of us who are in authority and in leading positions today? Are our young leaders sufficiently informed on these matters? It behooves us as a nation to look back to determine who we are today, if we are to decide with vision on a sustainable future for us all. What is our heritage socially, economically, psychologically, anthropologically, culturally, language and education-wise, and the list goes on. What is our identity today? Do we envision strengthening our image as a multiracial and/or multicultural Caribbean society, or do we hold on to, and steadily build on our European heritage and traditions?

With globalization knocking at our door, it behooves us to get our house in order before we can no longer distinguish between the guests and the host, leaving a legacy of great(er) confusion for the generations to come. It is therefore with great anticipation and sincere appreciation, that I applaud the initiative of council woman Drs. Gracita Arrindell, together with the youth to organize a forum of past Prime Ministers of the Netherlands Antilles to share their experience in office with the people in the West Indies. I encourage the directorate of our schools for secondary education to promote the attendance of the students to this event well, or even see to it that transportation is sponsored and arranged to secure the youth's attendance in large numbers.