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CC | News overview: what happened in 2021?

2021 started with strict corona measures, including the curfew from 9 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. Former Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath announced in December that the measures will be in force until January 11.

January

Bad corona start

2021 started with strict corona measures, including the curfew from 9 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. Former Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath announced in December that the measures will be in force until January 11. On January 5, the outgoing Dutch Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge wrote to the Lower House in a letter that the vaccination process on the Caribbean islands will start in February.

Reward for golden tip cocaine robbery

The Public Prosecution Service offered a reward of 20,000 guilders for the tip that leads to the arrest of the suspects of the cocaine robbery from the Rio Canario police station in 2018. The Public Prosecution Service wrote in a statement that the criminal investigation department needs the help of the population for the search for the perpetrators. Unknown persons managed to force through two large metal doors and take 600 kilos of seized drugs with them.

Relaxation of corona measures

The corona measures seemed to be bearing fruit, the decrease in the number of infections continued. Prime Minister Ruggenaath and epidemiologist Izzy Gerstenbluth announced relaxations during the press conference on January 11th. The curfew was in effect from 11 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. and restaurants were allowed to serve alcohol again.

More expensive bus tickets

After two days of campaigning, the UGTK/CADMU union, the ABC Bus company and the government reached an agreement. On January 12, it was finally decided that bus tickets will soon become 30 cents more expensive, and that the government would give the company more subsidy. The drivers agreed to agreements and resumed work.

Banking license for APC

After an extensive preparation process, APC Bank has received a commercial banking license from the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS). With this license, APC Bank could focus on the preparations for the launch of the bank in Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

February

First traffic casualties

Two road deaths occurred in quick succession on the first weekend of February. They were the first fatal traffic victims in Curaçao in 2021. The first accident occurred on the F.D. Rooseveltweg in the night from Friday to Saturday. The driver of a passenger car lost control and flipped over. The second fatality occurred early in the morning, around half past five on Moontjeweg. A woman was hit by a car. She died on the spot.

Record number of votes in election primaries

Nearly 20,000 people voted in February in the so-called election primaries. Parties that were not represented in parliament, but that did want to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, had to get at least 789 votes in support. A total of eight parties obtained the required number of votes. The PNP (of Rutmilda Larmonie-Cecilia), KEM (of Michelangelo ‘Low’ Martines) and Trabou pa Kòrsou (of Rennox Calmes) received the most votes. Other parties that received more than the required 789 votes were: Un Kambio pa Kòrsou, KUMUN, Movementu Kousa Promé, Democrat and Vishon.

Agenda implementation of the National Package

The agenda that Curaçao had drawn up together with the Netherlands for the implementation of the National Package was being implemented. The so-called National Package contained an implementation agenda that included various measures. Rhuggenaath announced in a video message that he and Undersecretary Raymond Knops had ratified the implementation agenda of the priority projects.

British variant in Curaçao

The British variant of the corona virus had also been discovered on Curaçao. The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) announced that one infection with the new variant had been registered on the island. After it was recently announced that the British variant had been registered in Aruba, Curaçao sent many tests to the RIVM for research. Between the tests that were done in the period from 17 to 26 January, one infection with the British variant was found. This was the first case for Curaçao.

Medical staff received first vaccination

The medical staff of the Curaçao Medical Center (CMC) received the first vaccination against the corona virus since February 24. The first 300 of the 882 vaccines destined for CMC had been delivered. In the initial phase, the hospital-administered COVID-19 vaccines was only available to CMC physicians and staff at greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. As more vaccinations became available, the CMC also provided vaccinations to all its team members according to the guidelines of the health ministry.

March

Register vaccination online

Curaçao residents could register online for a vaccination against Covid-19. Until then it was only possible to make an appointment by phone. People could complete their registration for vaccination with the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine via the bakuna.cw website.

Pontoon bridge closed

The pontoon bridge closed for a month. The Emma Bridge, the connection between Punda and Otrobanda, was partially removed from March 22 due to repairs. Curacao Ports Authority (CPA) indicated that the main beam of the Koningin Emmabrug, on the side of Punda, needed to be replaced.

Almier Godett dies after family quarrel

Almier Godett was shot dead on the morning of March 7 in a family dispute that may have gotten out of hand. Godett was number four on the list of political party Trabou pa Korsou. Godett, a cousin of Anthony Godett, tried to calm a quarrel between family members, after which he himself became a victim. The fatal shots were fired at a house in Juan Domingo. On March 11, the police arrested two suspects. It was the second arrest in this case, a suspect was also arrested a week earlier.

Doubling the number of corona infections

The corona infections were going in the wrong direction in March. In a short time, the number of active cases doubled. Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath announced new measures. The curfew was in effect from 9 p.m. Catering establishments had to close at 8 p.m. and alcohol could only be served to people sitting at a table.

MFK wins elections

Political party Movementu Futuro Korsou (MFK) convincingly won the Curaçao parliamentary elections. With no fewer than nine seats, the party became the largest on the island. Gilmar Pisas received 23,559 votes. Before the election, Pisas bet on a big win, no one could have imagined that it would be so convincing. Since the start of the new country Curaçao, no party has won so many seats. The then coalition party PAR received 11,778 votes, almost 7,000 less than in the previous elections in 2017.

Curacao in lockdown

From March 24, Curaçao went into lockdown again. The corona infections continued to rise and Rhuggenaath said more measures needed to be taken. The starting point of the lockdown was that everyone should stay at home. The curfew remained in effect from 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. The so-called license plate of the day, ‘plachi di dia’, was back in force. No one was allowed on the street on Sundays and shops and restaurants had to close their doors. Vital places including the hospital, police and fire brigade remained open.

April

Holidaymakers back to the Netherlands, extra healthcare staff and vaccines to Curacao

The Dutch government called on all Dutch residents in Curaçao to leave. According to the government, the situation was so bad that staying on the island was irresponsible. “Regular care had already been scaled down. The care in Curaçao had to be relieved to be able to handle the new flow of patients,” said the Representation of the Netherlands in a message. During the Easter weekend, a total of twenty Dutch doctors and nurses came to Curaçao to support the Curaçao Medical Center (CMC) with 30,000 extra vaccines that had been flown in from the Netherlands.

Formators announced

Attorney Chester Peterson was nominated by the MFK party as a formateur by Governor Lucille George-Wout. Former minister and international lawyer Rutsel Martha was also nominated later as a formateur. The screening of the two lawyers then started. Since Martha officially lived in England, his screening was done through Interpol and would therefore take more time. Once his screening was complete, he was nominated and joined Peterson. The lawyers were also informers at the same time.

Antigen test mandatory for travelers

Anyone who entered Curaçao from a high-risk area from April 20 had to have an antigen test done after three days on the island. The appointment for this had to be made at least two days before departure. The requirement applied to all travelers and was therefore an addition to the mandatory PRC test that had to be taken within 72 hours before departure to Curaçao.

Schools opened again and CMC picked up regular care

All students of primary and secondary schools on Curaçao were allowed to go back to school from Wednesday 28 April. The before and after school care would also open again. The plachi di dia remained in force for the time being, but an exception was made for bringing and picking up students to and from school.

The Curacao Medical Center (CMC) started again with part of the regular care. The number of covid patients had then fallen below 50, so that space and staff were available again for planned care.

May

Agreement on second implementation agenda National Package

The Curaçao government announced in May that Curaçao and the Netherlands had reached an agreement on the concrete content and goals of the second Implementation Agenda. “This is another important step towards the implementation of necessary reforms, aimed at strengthening the rule of law in Curaçao and improving, among other things, financial and socio-economic management, that in the tax field and that of care and education,” the government said in a statement.

Curaçao out of lockdown

After being locked for weeks, Curaçao was going out of lockdown. “The figures of recent weeks are so positive that further relaxation is justified,” said outgoing Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath. The lockdown had been in effect since March 24 and was lifted on May 11, earlier than expected as it was previously announced that the lockdown would apply until May 17.

New Members of Parliament sworn in

The new Members of Parliament were sworn in on 11 May in the Governor’s Palace. Governor Lucille George-Wout took the oath of 21 new MPs. Afterwards, the new MPs presented themselves to the press outside on the steps of the Palace and the square of the Fòrti government center. Former Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath did not claim his seat in parliament.

Almost 80,000 shots

On May 17, the counter stood at 79,801 corona shots. About 2,300 people who had already signed up were still waiting to be vaccinated. Previously, mobile vaccination teams went into the neighborhoods for information campaigns. The larger injection locations were no longer all necessary. The center in Sambil closed the following day.

June

CMC in need of money

2021 was not an easy year for the Curaçao Medical Center (CMC). The hospital was still being kept alive with an advance from the government and due to the cessation of rent payments for the building. The hospital’s lawyer was quoted as saying that the covid pandemic is the main reason the hospital was still open. “During a pandemic, CMC tried to prevent the closure of the only general hospital in Curaçao with all possible means,” says the lawyer, but “the plasters and bandages are literally and figuratively gone”.

Eduard Braam withdraws, Ramon Chong not nominated as minister

Eduard Braam withdraws as candidate minister. The social unrest surrounding his possible ministerial position was not worth it to Braam to persevere in his candidacy. In June Braam was discredited because of his conviction for a sexual offence. Braam had a secret meeting 20 years ago with an ex-patient who was a minor. He was convicted, but was not sentenced. In addition, Ramon Chong was not nominated as minister. Chong himself still saw himself as a good candidate for the ministry in the new Pisas cabinet, but according to the law he did not pass the screening and so formateur Chester Peterson could not nominate him.

Liquidity support in tranches

Because Curaçao did not yet meet the conditions for the next tranche of liquidity support, it would be granted support in partial tranches. It concerns a total of 168 million guilders. Curaçao, like Aruba and Sint Maarten, had been receiving liquidity support since the beginning of 2020 to absorb the consequences of the covid pandemic. But subject to the implementation of the National Packages with reforms and supervision thereof. The liquidity need was assessed quarterly, as is the progress of the implementation of the country packages.

Positive results exam results

In June, the exam results of the VSBO, HAVO and VWO students in Curaçao were announced. This year was a difficult school year due to the corona measures, yet the results had been more positive than in previous years; especially at VSBO. The testing and examination were adjusted this year because the government did not want the exam candidates to become the victims of the covid crisis. For example, there were fewer central exams for VSBO, an extra resit and the exclusion of 1 non-core subject in HAVO/VWO and adjustment of the standard if necessary.

July

New taxi service on Curaçao

The Curaçao taxi organization Thirty Steps Association (TSA) started with the new reservation platform 24-7 Taxi Curaçao on 1 July. Convenience is paramount: customers can discuss a taxi at a predetermined rate via app, website or by calling 9-247. The taxi association entered into a partnership with Securitas Antias.

Churandy Martina carried the Dutch flag

Churandy Martina was one of the bearers of the Dutch flag on Friday 23 July during the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Skateboard star Keet Oldenbeuving was the second athlete to carry the flag. For the first time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed each country to have the flag carried by two athletes at the opening ceremony. The IOC wanted to promote gender equality with this.

PCR test mandatory for travelers again

Curaçao placed the Netherlands on the list of high-risk areas on 19 July. This meant that all travelers must have a PCR test taken at least 72 hours before their flight to Curaçao. This also applied to people who had already been vaccinated twice and also to residents of Curaçao. Curaçao experienced a rapid increase in the number of positive corona tests. On July 7, there were still 20 active infections, that number increased to 185 in just a few days. In the Netherlands, the infection figures had also risen at an unprecedented speed the week before. In both countries it mainly concerned infections among young people.

August

Re-tightening measures

From Friday, August 13, there was again a curfew from 00:00 to 04:30. No more than 100 people were allowed to gather at activities and meetings. High risk activities were not allowed. Catering establishments were also not allowed to receive more than a hundred guests.

Social Education Program more accessible for women

The Social Training Trajectory (SVT) in Curaçao entered a new phase. An agreement in which the SVT further professionalised was signed on 19 August by the government of Pisas and Defense at the Parera naval base. With the new covenant, the Ministry and Defense jointly made more human and financial resources available. In addition, the SVT was also accessible to women.

Jerry Semper stops

Doctor Jerry Semper resigned from his position as head of the vaccination program on August 31, the medical professional said. The GP was appointed as medical coordinator in March 2021 in collaboration with epidemiologist Iralice Jansen. It was remarkable that Semper had been less visible as a coordinator in the months before, he admits. “It is up to the government who they choose to deliver which message.”

Semper hoped that even more people would be vaccinated against the corona virus. He indicated that it was difficult to convince a significant percentage of the population.

Bonevacia breaks record

Curaçao athlete Liemarvin Bonevacia again improved his own Dutch record in the 400 meters in Bern, Switzerland. The sprinter improved his record during the 2015 Olympics from 44.62 seconds by fourteen hundredths of a second to 44.48. “I didn’t expect it, I started calmly for the first two hundred meters and then gave everything,” said a happily surprised Bonevacia.

Curaçao Miss Teen Universe

Curaçao’s Rigene Isenia was proclaimed Miss Teen Universe on August 30. In Nicaragua, she won the international election against 27 other girls. Miss Teen Universe was the latest edition of the Miss Universe pageant. The participants from Mexico and Brazil finished in second and third place. “It is an honor for me to have this title,” Rigene wrote on her Instagram. “I hope my message has inspired and will continue to inspire many girls.”

September

Demolition stalls Awasá

At Awasá, next to Brionplein in Otrobanda, the demolition of the market stalls started on 7 July. The government previously concluded that the rusted stalls were no longer safe. The stalls were poorly maintained, causing the iron tables to fall apart. The safety inspection therefore determined that no more commercial activities could take place at the stalls. The sellers moved to Sha Caprileskade, Molenplein, Wilhelminapark and another location on Brionplein for the next two weeks. When the demolition was completed, the sellers could return to their usual spot.

Police check Marnix college

In September, the now infamous police check on Marnix College Cas Cora took place. During the check, a lot is said to have gone wrong, including verbal attacks towards several students. Acting Chief of Police, Raymond Ellis, said that no new information was available at that time. The investigation is still ongoing. Meanwhile, the six officers, five men and a woman, remain under mandatory leave.

Antigen testing not for private use

Antigen testing is no longer allowed for private use. The tests were no longer available at pharmacies. This was because the Health Inspectorate had ordered them to be removed from the shelves.

Gay marriage in Curaçao

The law that a marriage can only take place in Curaçao between a man and a woman is contrary to the principle of equal treatment, which is apparent from the ruling of the judge on 13 September. The rule is laid down in the Civil Code. It is also contrary to the prohibition of discrimination in the Constitution of Curaçao. Until there is no alternative, such as registered partnership, same-sex marriage may not be refused, the judge said.

The Human Rights Caribbean foundation filed the case. The judge ordered Parliament and the Curaçao government to take appropriate measures to eliminate the unlawful discrimination.

Cijntje new Minister of Economic Development

Ruisandro Cijntje was sworn in as Minister of Economic Development on 22 September. He took the oath to Governor Lucille George-Wout. Cijntje was chosen by members of the PNP as a candidate to lead the Ministry of Economic Development. During the party elections he took on Idelgar Sosa. A screening was preceded by the Security Service. They could find no objections to his ministry. Ramon Chong previously failed the screening, which prevented him from becoming a minister.

Elective care discontinued

The Curaçao Medical Center (CMC) stopped all unnecessary medical treatments for SVB (Social Insurance Bank) patients. This was because there was no more budget. The money that the SVB had available did not cover all costs. The CMC was short of more than fifty million guilders.

Non-urgent care, or elective care, for SVB patients will resume in January 2022. The SVB will then have a new annual budget. The CMC is looking for a solution together with the government.

October

New President of the Court of Justice

The recruitment process for the succession of Eunice Saleh as President of the Court took place. On September 23, the majority of the Court of Justice voted in favor of the appointment of Mauritsz de Kort. Saleh announced at the beginning of this year that she did not want to be considered for an extension of her term. Saleh’s term of office as president of the court ends on January 1.

Curacao Health App

Effective October 19, only vaccinated people will have access to high-risk activities such as parties and sporting events. The QR code of the Curaçao Health App website serves as an admission ticket. Visitors aged twelve or older are only allowed to enter high-risk events with a valid QR code. In low-risk activities, only 100 people are allowed to gather and the vaccination certificate is not required.

Resumption of elective care

The Curaçao Medical Center (CMC) resumed elective care for SVB patients. This decision was taken after the Minister of Health, Environment and Nature (GMN) Dorothy Pietersz-Janga instructed the Social Insurance Bank (SVB) to provide the CMC with an advance.

The SVB announced in a letter that it will transfer 4.1 million guilders as an advance so that elective care could be guaranteed. The CMC emphasized that the advance was not enough to cover the costs until the end of the year.

November

Corc throws in the towel in the RdK ring

Curacao Oil Refinery Complex (CORC BV) has informed the new management of the Curaçao Refinery (RdK) that it will withdraw completely as a candidate for the acquisition of the refinery. The RdK previously announced that it no longer wanted to continue exclusively with CORC. The reason for the discontinuation is that, according to RdK, CORC did not meet the requirements. That is why the management, together with the government, decided to clear the way for other parties. CORC director Manoel ‘Lito’ De Silva De Freitas would have said that this is a reason for CORC to withdraw completely.

Boy Dap passed away

Popular composer, singer, and musician Anselmus Boy Dap passed away on November 2 at the age of 88. Dap was part of various music groups from the 1970s. He achieved many successes at the Tumba festival. He has won the festival ten times, more than anyone else. Tumba is traditional music that is played on Curaçao during Carnival. The musician is considered the ‘Tata di Tumba’, the father of the Tumba.

Fuss Pietersz-Janga

Minister Dorothy Pietersz-Janga of Health, Environment and Nature (GMN) caused a lot of commotion after she ordered the liquidators of the Bureau for Health Insurance (BZV) to stop the investigation into two former board members. Several legal proceedings had been launched against former executives Alli Abdalah and Milton Yarzagaray in connection with claiming government funds that had been misappropriated. Henry Jourdain and his office were also included in the investigation.

By letter Pietersz-Janga requested that the claim cases be ‘fully and unconditionally withdrawn’. In addition, she wanted the foundation to distance itrself from all judgments won against Adbalah, Yarzagaray and Jourdain. However, there was no motion of no confidence against the minister.

December

booster shot

Since December, residents of Curaçao could receive a booster shot against Covid-19. The SDK stadium was opened as a second vaccination location. The government wanted as many people as possible to get the booster shot in a short period of time. Previously, people could only go for a vaccination on three days a week.

Arrests for drug robbery

The police arrested a third suspect for involvement in the drug robbery from the Rio Canario police station. Earlier this month, two arrests were made in the case. The 38-year-old man who was arrested is suspected of having sold the stolen drugs and of being involved in the actual execution of the theft. The arrest follows two previous arrests on December 15 and 16. The previously arrested suspects have since been brought before the examining magistrate and remain detained in the SDKK.

No signature under COHO administrative agreement

Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten have still not signed the COHO administrative agreement. The ministers plenipotentiary have been given the message to their governments that there would be no negotiations anymore. “We’ve been talking about it for a year and a half. We have made agreements and they must be fulfilled,” said Knops after the Kingdom Council of Ministers. As long as the COHO is not signed, the three islands do not have to count on new liquidity support. No payment will be made until the next Council of Ministers on 21 January. The current liquidity support will expire on April 1, 2022.

Omicron in Curacao

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus was officially established on Curaçao. Epidemiologist Izzy Gerstenbluth announced this. The arrival of the Omicron variant came as no surprise. “Samples have been sent to Aruba and it was officially determined that the variant is on our island,” says Gerstenbluth. Samples were also sent to the Netherlands for further investigation. “But the evidence is obvious.”

The number of infections on Curaçao increased significantly recently. On Wednesday, December 31, 615 positive tests were reported, a record number.

Bron: Curacao Chronicle

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