Brighter Path: referendum about Statia’s future status

POSTED: 02/11/13 2:11 PM

STATIA – Brighter Path Foundation in collaboration with Statia Roots Foundation and Statia Awareness and Development Movement have joined forces to petition the Island Government to organize a constitutional referendum before the evaluation of the island’s public entity-status in 2015. To force a referendum, the petition needs 1,000 signatures. Yesterday the counter stood at 29. Among the supporters are Jopie Abraham from Bonaire (“The right of selfdetermination is fundamental for the people.”) and attorney Jason Rogers (“It is imperative that my people are allowed to exercise their right to self-determination and determine their own political future.”)

In the early nineties, there were discussions within the Netherlands Antilles about the constitutional future of the country. Referendums were held on all five islands. The people of Statia opted to remain in the Netherlands Antilles. However, discussions among the islands once again took place, as the intended restructuring of the Netherlands Antilles did not take place. St. Maarten was the first to have its referendum in June of 2000, which sparked the other islands to have their referendum in 2005.

The people of Statia once again chose to stay in the Netherlands Antilles. Hence, their vote in the 2005 referendum was a confirmation of their vote during the first referendum of the early nineties. Because Statia was the only island that opted to remain within the Netherlands Antilles – a choice viewed by many as impossible – it was decided that Statia would have direct constitutional ties with the Netherlands, just like Saba and Bonaire. The people of Statia were not given the opportunity to freely decide if they were in favor of direct constitutional ties with the Netherlands.

In order to substantiate the need for a constitutional referendum, at least 1.5 % of the local population was recently interviewed about the status change. According to the preliminary results two percent of those surveyed indicated that they would opt for the current status of public entity; five percent indicated that they would opt for full integration, while 29  percent would opt for the status of a country within the Dutch Kingdom. Eight percent would opt for independence; 28 percent indicated that they do not have enough information to make a conscious choice and 11 percent would opt for another status, which was not defined in the survey.

“In light of these results, we have decided to petition the government to organize a constitutional referendum. Various constitutional experts have indicated that, due to the planned anchoring of the public entity-status in the Dutch constitution, the possibility exists that during the evaluation of the island’s status in 2015, there might be but two constitutional options to choose from. One would be to keep the public entity-status and the second would be full integration with the Netherlands. We therefore believe that the time for action is now” Xiomara Balentina, president of Brighter Path Foundation said.

It should be acknowledged that integration with full political rights, independence, and free association are the three legitimate alternatives which constitute the internationally recognized options of political equality under the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV). As such, the aforementioned options should be among the choices for the people of Statia to vote upon during a constitutional referendum, Balentina said.

“We consider it the duty of our government to provide the necessary information to its people prior to the constitutional referendum, so that the population is aware of the ramifications of the status options contained in Resolution 1541, and so that the population would be able to make an informed choice between the various status options.”

The online petition is accessible at www.change.org/organizations/the_statian_community. It can also be accessed via the “How do you know you are a Statian” Facebook page, or sign the petition at Lyn’s Dream Bakery and Peso’s supermarket.

 

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