Monday protest-march against Dutch interference – Citizens for True Democracy turn on Bosman, Van Raak

POSTED: 10/7/14 2:12 AM


The Citizens for True Democracy. From left: Etienne Meyers, Elton Jones and Edwin Gumbs, for the occasion dressed in tee shirts with a bloody message. Photo Today / Hilbert Haar

St. Maarten – Etienne “Toochie” Meyers, Elton Jones and Edwin Gumbs are the driving forces behind Citizens for True Democracy – an activist movement that organizes on Monday a protests march against what is perceived as unacceptable interference in St. Maarten’s democratic process.

The Wifol building was yesterday morning the stage for the inaugural press conference of Meyers, Jones and Gumbs. Before the start of this event, several young ladies were busy pumping up black balloons and sticking pamphlets to the wall of the building with the text, “True democracy under attack; remember our forefathers blood is on your hands; We didn’t vote for Bosman and Van Raak; Leave our leaders (al)one; enough with your racist(t) insults.”

While the text may not be perfect, the message is crystal clear. In the meantime, Toochie Meyers was busy with reddish finger paint and white tee shirts, dipping his hands in the paint and making imprints on the shirts. “That represents the blood of our forefathers,” he said, though that explanation was not really necessary.

Ever since PricewaterhouseCoopers published its integrity report, and ever since the Second Chamber in The Hague took issue with it, the Citizens for True Democracy must have been gritting their teeth in anger and frustration. Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk has decided to send a Supervisor Integrity to the island, and reinforcements for the prosecutor’s office to investigate white-collar crime. What hurts the most however was the call by Socialist Party parliamentarian Ronald van Raak for an investigation into United People’s party leader Theo Heyliger, not to mention Van Raak’s suggestion to take all “flawed politicians” out of the equation and replace them.

“What has been said about our people in the Netherlands is unacceptable,” Elton Jones said during the press conference. “People will have to react. We have initiated a peaceful demonstration for this Monday and we have contacted the United Nations, as well as independent states in the Caribbean.”

Jones criticized the Dutch attitude towards “what they call an autonomous country” and added that it cannot be that the Dutch choose who will govern St. Maarten. “We are a democracy and a new government has been elected. They cannot continue to impose these things on us. We want to send a clear message, and that is that the days of colonialism are over.”

Toochie Meyers noted that the situation is getting out of hand and that St. Maarten’s democracy is under attack. He criticized parliamentarians Van Raak and Bosman, the two Dutch MPs that came down the hardest on St. Maarten last week and reminded them of “the blood spilled by our forefathers.”

Meyers said that he has a special message for Van Raak and Bosman: “We do not want to go towards May 1969.”

Ed Gumbs explained that he has lived 42 years in the Netherlands and that many on the island consider him a Dutchman. “It is unbelievable that two Members of Parliament – Van Raak and Bosman – get a majority to impose something on St. Maarten because they do not like the flavor of a political leader. However, we are together in the Kingdom, bound by a charter.”

Gumbs wondered what would happen if the Parliament in St. Maarten demanded an investigation into Van Raak. “Do you think that would be carried out?”

Meyers is particularly miffed about the insults St. Maarten has to endure from Dutch politicians. “I have a problem when they call us a banana republic. It is very, very wrong to call us thieves and corrupt without a judgment from the judge. They have to stop insulting us. Enough is enough.”

“They have no respect for the other parts of the Kingdom,” Jones observed. “The Dutch dictate.”

To which Gumbs added, “You cannot interfere in our democratic process. As soon as Theo Heyliger was elected they started saying things like mafia, and this and that. Then I said, this is enough.”

Asked whether Citizens for True Democracy is a political movement. Meyers denied this. The association with Heyliger’s United People’s party is however obvious.

Meyers referred to a recent article in the Dutch opinion magazine Vrij Nederland that lists all the corruption scandals in Dutch politics from 1983 until 2013.

Gumbs put it differently: “Everything is political. What do you think this is – a Bible study?”

The protest march on Monday, October 13, begins at 1 p.m. at the Wifol building and leads to the government building.

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