Opinion: Self-imposed curse

POSTED: 10/5/15 1:44 PM

Cabalistic oracles and haruspicy are needed to decipher the 10-10-10/10-10-15 episode on the island of Curacao, Jacob Gelt Dekker writes in his column on curacochronicle.com. “In 2010, political fortune-tellers peeped into futurity before the magic date of 10-10-10 and reported glimmerings of golden ages, but none of the dramatic improvements of welfare and wellbeing foreshadowed were realized. The sovereign people of the island, who would create a paradise on earth with their newly gained autonomy, wrenched after bitter battles from their colonial overlord, are worse off today than before.

So, the fortune-tellers were off. The reality is what it is. People did not change overnight, or over five years. Corruption still rules, inadequate and incompetent government and administration prevail, and crime wave after crime wave are terrorizing the islanders. Foreign investors fled, or stayed away altogether; after many experienced that their money was not safe on the island. Only real growth was realized in the narco and money laundering industries.

Many shortcomings could be remedied easily and without delay, if one wished. But since the shadow economy benefits from inadequacies, loopholes, and corruption, it is not likely to happen soon. So what can forecasters of today tell us about the next five years and beyond?

The People: Mass migration formed the present population. A dramatic increase in short and long-term migration has taken place and continues to do so, facilitated the availability of many low fare flights. Roughly half of Curacao’s population lives abroad. On the island, a substantial part of the population (20-30%, or more) is foreign, legal or illegal, and in spite of immigration laws and enforcing authorities, their numbers are increasing steadily. Macroeconomic developments in the region, like the economic disintegration of Venezuela, and global conflicts will continue to put pressure on the changing dynamics of the island population.

The Economy: The limiting factors for economic growth are well known and often brought forward. An underperforming labor pool, outdated labor laws, a poorly educated workforce and low productivity pose major objectives. Investments, foreign and local, are absent, due to lack of profitable opportunities, entrepreneurship and legal incentives. A straightjacket of laws and regulations cripple most local initiative. Lack of available venture capital, short-term financing, and investment incentives paralyze the market. Disproportionate governmental oversight by indolent civil servants scares off most entrepreneurs. Procrastination by government bankrupts existing initiatives, and scares away new youthful dynamism. A deep mistrust by politicians of the business community, make adequate government impossible. Instead of working together, they fight each other day and night.

The mindset: Racial hate, discrimination, extremism, political and religious ideology are no basis for a healthy, prosperous and tolerant society. Helmin Wiels, the most prominent and now deceased political leader of the 10-10-10/ 10-10-15 eras, propagated ethnic cleansing, Bolivarian socialism, and colonial hate. His legacy still rules and it may take another five years before Curacao will be able to shed the shadow of self-imposed curse.”


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