“My name, my reputation, and determination to do more for St. Maarten are constantly covered in fog, a fog not of my doing. The fog is created by the Dutch Government as the premise for their ongoing call for an Overseers Chamber. The Dutch have pumped a lot of money into an investigation team, or as I call them, the Gestapo of St. Maarten.” Thus Mr. Heyliger in a radio interview.
The anchor added, that the victimization of St. Maarten by the Dutch is extended to Mr. Heyliger personally. Successively, the politician called on black anger against former Dutch colonists and slave traders.
But Mr. Heyliger himself is a descendant of such Dutch colonists and slave traders. The founder of the Heyliger family in the West Indies was Guilliam Heyliger (1650-1734), who married Anna Ryckwaert in 1670. Mathieu Ryckwaert, her grandfather, was amongst the first settlers on St. Eustatius and Saba in 1636. Guilliam Heyliger and Mathieu Ryckwaert came from Zeeland or Flanders.
In one of the military expeditions, 1664-1668, during the Dutch British wars, Major-General Sir Thomas Morgan, a mercenary fighting on behalf of the British, forcefully evicted these original Dutch settlers from St. Eustatius and Saba to St. Maarten, where they continue to play an important role in today’s politics, 350 years later. These founding fathers of the islands and their offspring still stand straight and strong, ready to make their contribution.
Heyliger’s remarks and referral to the Dutch Gestapo are deeply shocking and out of place, but no different from those by politician Van Putten’s on St. Eustatius, or Helmien Wiels on Curacao. Van Putten called on the population of St. Eustatius to ‘kill Dutch relief troops, and burn their bodies in the streets of Statia.’ The troops were stopping on the island after the recent hurricane with urgently needed food and medical supplies. Helmien Wiels pledged to send the Dutch on Curacao, “back in body bags.”
In spite of billions of Euros spent by The Hague on the West Indies islands, plus a constant stream of advisors, technicians and other experts, populist politicians love to rekindle smoldering hate against a perceived enemy.
Ironically, most of the islanders are descendants of Creoles, half-African, half-Portuguese, and once the key-role players in the despicable Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Little or nothing of the 17th-century commercial activities was left on the islands. St. Eustatius and Saba were ruined by the worst-ever hurricane, the storm of 1780, and whatever was left, was plundered, and picked clean to the bone, by the British in 1781. Especially the Jews of St. Eustatius and Saba were the victims, more than anyone else. Curacao, Bonaire, and Aruba lost their asiento in 1713 and the WIC its monopoly in 1733; very little economic activity remained. Historically, there is little to substantiate the Dutch colonial-slave traders’ terror. Most of the islanders of today are the descendants of those who were deeply involved in what was happing, and not as victims, only.
The hate against the Dutch of today is mostly from perceived realities, not historical ones, and eagerly fed by populist-nationalist politicians. I deeply respect brave people and families who are ready to create their own realities and are not waiting for a handout.
Unfortunately, the autonomy of St. Maarten and Curacao of 2010, has not become a success. The islands’ economies shriveled up with annual contractions, crime grew out of control, and corruption ran wild.
Nevertheless, I encourage all those who want to become independent to call for a UN-controlled referendum, according to the UN-de-colonialization statues, and vote yourself out of the Dutch Kingdom. It may take a while, but sooner or later, you will get the hang of it, run your economy and make yourself a nice, little, independent country.
After all, Holland will not have a say in the matter, so dear and brave politicians, what are you waiting for?
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle