Financial supervision law triggers riots in Aruba

POSTED: 09/1/15 1:12 PM


Aruba Caft protestProtesters used bullhorns to incite the crowd in front of the parliament building. Photo Caribisch Netwerk / Ariën Rasmijn

ORANJESTAD – Police arrested several people and protesters set a large traffic sign on fire on the boulevard in front of the parliament building after the parliament voted on Thursday 13-8 in favor of the legislation that puts a board Aruban financial supervision (CAft) – akin to the Cft for St. Maarten and Curacao – in place. Within the parliament, but even more so outside, the atmosphere was very agitated, Ariën Rasmijn reports on Caribisch Netwerk.

Before the meeting in parliament began there was already a crowd in front of the public entrance of the parliament building. Supporters of governing party AVP and opposition party MEP showed up in droves. At a certain moment people start pushing and shoving and someone began to spray the crowd with a pepper spray. One protester had to be taken to hospital for treatment because if it.

Once the meeting began the atmosphere remained agitated. Speeches by parliamentarians were interrupted by a lot of shouting from the audience. Police officers stood guard in the meeting hall and in the bleachers, but parliament president Marisol Lopez-Tromp did not want to vacate the premises.

Outside, agitation levels were rising. Several unions called through media linked to the opposition to come to the meeting. Their demand to the parliament’s president was to suspend the meeting and to talk to them. It fell on deaf ears. Late in the afternoon, the situation reached boiling point near the main entrance to the parliament building. Someone kicked in the door and a police officer sustained injuries before union leaders managed to calm everybody down.

Tensions in the meeting hall also increased, as the situation outside became more forbidding. During the debate the opposition faction of the MEP accused the cabinet of handing over Aruba’s financial autonomy to the Netherlands with the establishment of the CAft. The legislation supposedly also will introduce countless fiscal measures that especially affect citizens while the government hardly has to give up anything according to the MEP.

The PDR faction also opposed the law, in line with the motion of no confidence party leader Andin Bikker tabled during the budget debate in May. The AVP-faction on the other hand, was of the opinion that the CAft would provide the necessary control and accountability, while Prime Minister Mike Eman called the CAft a temporary measure until the budget will be balanced in a couple of years.

This is different from the kingdom law financial supervision that would bring permanent supervision. According to Eman, his government has prevented the implementation of permanent supervision. To emphasize this, the CAft has been renamed via an amendment into Board Aruban Temporary Financial Supervision. The 13-strong majority faction approved the legislation.

The MEP-faction said that it will fight the law internationally. According to party leader Evelyn Wever-Croes, parliament president Lopez-Tromp admitted an armed gang of thugs to the building that have threatened her and other faction members at Lopez-Tromp’s orders. The latter denies this and says that Top FM – a radio station connected to the MEP – has called on supporters to wait for her at her home.

After the debate the situation outside got completely out of control. Windows and doors were smashed and a large traffic sign was set on fire in the middle of the boulevard in front of the parliament building.

By 8.30 p.m. police managed to restore order. Officers arrested several protesters.

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