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Column JGD | The ongoing struggle against the patrimonial bureaucracy of Curacao

HomeMediaColumn JGD | The ongoing struggle against the patrimonial bureaucracy of Curacao

By Jacob Gelt Dekker, opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

 Jacob Gelt Dekker, opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle | The ongoing struggle against the patrimonial bureaucracy of Curacao
Jacob Gelt Dekker, opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle | The ongoing struggle against the patrimonial bureaucracy of Curacao

While the intellectual elite of Curacao eagerly attend courses in “Good Governance,” politicians continue a long tradition of ‘friends and family‘ that feed the ranks of a predominantly patrimonial bureaucracy.

During the pre-10-10-10 rule of Mrs. Emily de Jong-Elhage, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles, an investigation about hiring practices of civil servants became public. The survey showed that more than 800 ‘friends and family’ were hired outside the normal procedures, during her four-year term. Gerrit Schotte, her successor and the first Prime Minister of Curacao, also favored loyalty of ‘friends and family’ over competence, and Curacao’s independent institutions were quickly transformed into, what appeared as, family-owned companies.

The present Prime Minister, Ivar Asjes, apparently continues the hiring tradition and supposedly, also he fills the ranks with ‘friends and family.’ The plenipotentiary minister of Curacao to the Netherlands, Mrs. MarvelyneWiels, the sister of an assassinated prominent politician who was also hired for loyalty rather than competence, became the classical exemplar of patronage when she tried to replace most of her The Hague-office staff with ‘friends and family.’

The signal sent to the world of foreign investors is loud and clear, Curacao does not have a modern, but rather a patrimonial bureaucracy of ‘friends and family.’ Thus, the island’s institutions depend on patronage. Equality and equal opportunity, level playing field, and transparency are not part of the Curacao administrative equation.

Lack of economic-growth, and investment have long loomed over the island. It is very obvious that foreign investors got the signals of politicians, loud and clear. Instead of fixing the problem and establishing accountability and transparency, PM Schotte introduced clientelism, just one more step beyond patronage. Dubious investors shortly courted the island’s opportunities, larded with custom-made bait.

Protesting officials, local and international, pleaded, over and over, for transparency and democracy of government, but to no avail. The newly formed parliament, supposed to be a body of accountability, is itself mostly filled with patronage dependencies.

Once, Curacao enjoyed the oversight of The Kingdom of The Netherlands based in The Hague, no matter how feeble. Since the autonomy of 10-10-10 that no longer is an option. The institutions of the island are supposed to be sovereign, have self-rule and be self-cleansing.

As long as institutions are not independent and solidly in place, the island’s economy will continue to ail, and eager intellectual elite will inevitably seek rents for their skills elsewhere.

Bron: CuracaoChronicle

2 reacties

  1. Na jaren te hebben geïnvesteerd in Curacao, vindt Gelt Dekker het eindelijk tijd om eens wat terug te doen voor het eiland. Namelijk investeerders waarschuwen voor de grijpgrage handen van de families die het eiland bestieren en te benadrukken dat Nederland hier geen invloed meet op kan hebben. Niet slecht voor een persona non grata.

  2. Patronage has been common sense since times immemorial. Charity begins at home, the proverb says. Plato complained bitterly about it already. Jaweh smashed whole populations because they only saw their own profit and lived by it. It pays, so it is ineradicable. We have to live with the good and bad in ourselves and others. It is more intricate, as we all interpret good and bad differently. If everyone in his/her place tries to dilute evil it will help. We have seen wonderful changes due to that. But seduction in all forms tries to overtake us. Are we able to withstand IT? Our professional truth finder TP says the following. “An error is worse than a sin, the reason being that a sin often is a matter of opinion or viewpoint, or even of timing. But an error is a fact and it cries out for correction.” Renée van Aller&John de Vries

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