- Posted November 9, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
- Police officer attacks a protestor
- Bonaire's constitutional structure, the self-determination referendum and the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories of the United Nations.
- CALL FOR REFERENDUM IN BONAIRE
- William Anthony, on being the guest of Minister Edwin Abath, talks about music and the Shoco.
- Preserving Bonaire's traditions, folklore and culture.
We are living in a world of anxiety, never knowing what tomorrow has to offer. But one thing for sure is that people are concerned about their future. Some have shown their discontent by protesting on TV or radio programs, even by writing letters to certain institutions. Mr. James Finies (48) a sportsman and an entrepreneur at Bonaire Sunshine Homes, started questioning our constitutional system.
It all started back between 2000-2002, when our exgovernor of the Antilles, Mr. Alejandro Saleh, was invited by the Economic Platform to explain our identity of having a direct bond with Holland. It was a fundraising dinner at Plaza. Managers from different sectors were invited to contribute that night. James Finies explains that because his manager couldn’t be at the meeting he was asked to attend. The theme was “Boneiru Nobo” (the new Bonaire). James and two others had their own opinions about the content of this lecture. According to James,
“The new constitution wouldn’t work properly for Bonaire because every nation seeks unity, so why must we dissolve everything between the Dutch Antilles Islands and give Bonaire and all the other islands in the Kingdom a new status? We just need to change the balance of power in the Dutch Antilles itself because unity makes you stronger and we can achieve more than being separate.”
Nobody else reacted about the presentation that night. Well, after that James continued with his regular life as a sportsman and didn’t mix politics with his career. Before the 2004 referendum there was another lecture in Rincon which was called “Bou di Ramada” (Under the Shelter). Everyone could give his or her opinion that day too. In the referendum of 1993, 90% voted to stay in the Antilles and to try again. We again faced another referendum where James went on the BonFM radio station to explain that:
• Bonaire is not ready, nor even free to give its own opinion
• If we can’t do business or negotiate with our sister island in the Kingdom, how can we do business with a far away country like Holland?
• The questions made for the referendum were not completely clear. There was a big gap between being in the Kingdom and being independent.
• The referendum was most likely a political choice. The referendum campaign had to be more informative concerning the following:
– All voters including our future voters (youngsters and students) need to be involved.
– The referendum committee had to be more truthful and clear about the content.
– Selecting people for voting must include more than just the residency status.
After all these debates the referendum questions were clearer and James stood at a distance watching the outcome. The referendum was done and the result was known. It was clear that everyone voted for direct bonds with Holland and the negotiations with Holland began. The aftermath was the 10-10-10 celebrations for a new political situation for the BES Islands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba). At that time Finies wrote a letter to the Island government, the Lt. Governor, the governor, Holland and the International Court of Justice that Holland is stepping on our rights. In December 2010 a referendum was held: YES or NO, for a status that was not chosen by the people. It was not a legalized status according to the constitution of the United Nations. It’s the political parties that had negotiated for the people so we had to say if we agreed with what had been done. In March 2011 James again wrote a letter to different parties in the Kingdom including the Queen. In March 2012 Finies decided to join with other groups and together they created the name, “Nos Ke Boneiru Bek”(We Want Bonaire Back). Letters were written again to radio and TV. To change the direction, Holland must help these countries to aspire to self-government, starting with:
• A military base
• Letting us keep our nationality
• Helping our own people to rule their own country
• A nation building campaign
We do not have a minister in Holland who decides what is good for us, not just a public identity in the Dutch Kingdom where our commissioners don’t have to much to say. We want our government back as being autonomous in the Kingdom, while Holland helps us, step by step, in the growing process. The solution is a referendum to clearly choose a self determination status before the evaluation time. We need leaders to lead this island. James Finies and some others stand for not being integrated into Holland as a municipality, being in the Kingdom as an autonomous country with no independence. In this way we recognize how anxious people are about their future. Are you having these same anxieties for yourself and your family? Think what you can do now to help your island.
Story by: Siomara Albertus
Source: Bonaire Reporter
Note: According the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations in the letter dated November, 1st, 2012 to the President and members of the Island Council:
“I would like to emphasize that this Bill does not prejudge the assessment of the political structure of Caribbean Netherlands. It remains possible after the evaluation to choose another end model States.”
The Second Room has adopted the Bill on October, 23th, 2012. The next step is treatment of the Bill in the Senate. The Bill then will be taken again in treatment, the so-called second reading. This will occur by a newly elected Second Chamber; subject to mid-term elections this will be in 2017.