Open letter: Dutch help or recolonisation of the former Netherlands Antilles?


Mr Knops, State Secretary of Kingdom Relations
Mrs Van Ark, State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment

September 17, 2018

Subject: Dutch help or recolonization of the former Netherlands Antilles?

Dear Mr Knops and Mrs Van Ark,

We took notice of several expressions, declarations and publications that came out of the last meetings held in Bonaire and The Hague and that greatly alarmed us.

On September 6, Mr Knops visited Bonaire in remembrance of the discovery of our island on the same day in 1499 and behaved in a comparable way as his ancestors have done over the centuries since the colonization of our islands: he came to (over)see if the subservient local politicians and government comply with the instructions of the colonial master. The great news that the master, Mr Knops, was satisfied was celebrated extensively by him and the submissive subordinated Bonerian government, humiliating the Bonerian people on their day. The irony of the celebrations’ theme, “From Generation to Generation” was not lost on the people who from generation to generation have suffered under colonial rule. Mr. Knops, true to the colonial tradition, made some promises to our beggar-politicians which could help them win the upcoming elections, and he shone, even scintillated, as the example of the next generation of Dutch colonizers.

Back in The Hague last week, after the show in Bonaire, it was business as usual for Mr Knops, this time assisted by Mrs Van Ark. Without shame or regret it was maintained by both, that although all reports show that about half of the population is living way below the poverty line, that there is no need for alleviation, no need for swift action to establish a minimum to guarantee a humane existence. In line with the colonial tradition they both blatantly blamed the islanders for the poverty. It became clear the policies are not to eradicate poverty but to create, promote, and maintain poverty. Poverty is the business model; the aim is to keep and make our people poor by laws and policies as to collect international funds you need poverty. Mr Knops’ statements are very clear: he cannot do magic or manipulate the dot on the horizon because it is impossible to keep our people in poverty and eradicate poverty at the same time.

The hypocrisy of Mr Knops reached its summit when he said that the actions in Bonaire, St Maarten, and St Eustatius should not be understood as recolonization but as aid, help, assistance to the islands. What help, Mr Knops, is the illegal removal of the elected government in St Eustatius and replacing it with appointees from The Hague; what assistance is it to topple the elected government in St Maarten and force it to accept measures against its interest using the post-Irma chaos; what aid are the few dollars spent whereas measures to alleviate poverty are refused?

To conclude, Mr Knops admitted to me in our encounter last January on Bonaire during his inaugural visit as State Secretary, that he does not know and does not want to know our common history and colonial past, and that he is only looking forward in the future. Now I understand that by his actions, that he is right: he is innocent, from his perspective as he is acting in accordance with his laws. Because colonialism and racism are part and parcel of the Dutch mind, he is innocent, as were his predecessors, as were our ancestors which by his constitution and laws were de-humanized, declared non-human, and were legally traded as cattle and herring. Because he said he does not know the history, I would like to remind him, that through these inhumane, criminal actions, the Dutch rose from being an insignificant fishing village to one of the world’s richest nations; through the blood, sweat, and tears of our enslaved ancestors. The VOC / WIC are listed as biggest company ever in the world’s history, about ten times bigger than Microsoft and Apple, and they were not selling software. We understand by now why he does not want to know his history. It is because it would confront him with his criminal origins and would expose his actions of today as crimes against humanity no matter that he has legalized them as a constitutional act, a method not very different from the way the Nazi’s legalized their actions against those whom they regarded as belonging to an inferior race.

I hope that this letter is the dot on the horizon that will grow into the rising sun that will brighten the future and shed light on the past as darkness is not eradicated by darkness but by light. The Netherlands is signatory to the United Nations Charter and as such cannot continue to ignore their violations of the different resolutions to end colonial rule. Mr Knops and Mrs Van Ark, you are in the position to make that change on behalf of The Netherlands.


James Finies



  1. Dear Mr. Finies,
    You forget to mention that Bonaire, Saba and St.Eustatius are not independent countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Contrary to Aruba, Curaçao and St.Maarten. The way governance of the island has been arranged, the result of a referendum, might not be the best possible arrangement for the islanders. Basically Bonaire is governed from The Hague just like other counties within the Netherlands.
    Within this structure I can unserstand your frustrations, because the island does not have 100% equal status as any other county within the Netherlands. I do not think the post 10-10-2010 status is of any positive value for the islands. And this fact I consider to be the result of deceit of the voters and general public by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.
    Some of the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles have demonstrated to be unable to govern themselves in a responsible way. This is the biggest problem. This problem has to be tackled on-site, in the islands themselves. Let the current generation of politicians earn respect and trust from the current generations of (new) islanders by providing good governance. Be fair. Be honest. Do not deceive. Stop nepotism.
    Earn respect, and then stand straight and demand respect from The Hague. But you can hardly scream neo-colonialism across the Atlantic when you have (had) the opportunity to take things into your own hands…(10-10-2010).
    Do not misunderstand me, however. I am totally pro self-governance within the islands themselves. But I have also continuously been deceived and disappointed by the politicians. And this last fact is the biggest problem. Not the old colonial sailing multinationals of years past.

  2. James Finies, if a referendum were held tomorrow asking the people of Bonaire if they wish to obtain full sovereignty, self determination, and independence from the Netherlands, only you and a handful of other ingrates would vote yes.

    Be grateful for the blessing of not having been abandoned by the motherland like the former British colonies who are far worse off then they would otherwise be for having swallowed the Kool Aid called independence.


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