Opinion: Slippery road (Things are not looking up in Curacao)

POSTED: 08/12/13 12:17 PM

Things are not looking up in Curacao. That is putting it mildly, actually. Chester Peterson, who was the attorney of the late Helmin Wiels and who also has Robbie dos Santos in his colorful portfolio, launched a vicious attack on the country’s Prime Minister Ivar Asjes in the dispute over the text message-based lottery system. Asjes wants to ban the sms2win-system Robbie’s Lottery offers in cooperation with telecom provider UTS and Dos Santos obviously wants to stay in the game, so to speak.

Peterson accused Asjes of lying – strong stuff to use against the prime minister of ay country, but this seems to be the way they do things in Curacao. Style has never been much of an issue in the perpetual mudslinging contest in Willemstad.

Does Peterson have a point? We seriously wonder about that. Dos Santos has apparently withdrawn from the lottery-business in Curacao, or so Peterson claims. The reins have been handed over to Stephanie Jansen, who just happens to be Dos Santos’ daughter.

The next claim is that sms2win is a product offered by Smartplay in St. Maarten (a dos Santos company –ed.) and that this company sells tickets to the Wega di Number Kòrsou. In St. Maarten apparently nobody gives a rat’s behind about what Smartplay or Robbie’s Lottery or anybody in particular does in the lottery-business because so far nobody has wasted a single breath of air on the issue. That could change any minute, once Finance Minister Hassink gets the idea that the text message-based lottery is used as an instrument for tax evasion.

We are not there yet and it remains to be seen if we ever get to that point. Lottery-businesses pretty much have had a free hand in St. Maarten until now.

Peterson had more arrows on his bow. In a sentence so convoluted that we had to read it several times, the attorney claims a couple of things. First of all there is the claim that Asjes and his cronies (Peterson’s words) smeared the late Pueblo Soberano leader Helmin Wiels. And according to Peterson Asjes et al did this while they were already aware of plans to assassinate Wiels. The next claim is that Asjes and his supporters tricked Wiels into a war against Dos Santos and into making allegations that had no substance.

Right before his assassination on May 5, Wiels had submitted written question to the parliament in Willemstad about the text message-based lottery. He involved a company called Radcomm in St. Maarten as some dark entity in his web of accusations against Robbie’s Lottery and UTS. But Radcomm simply turns out to be the company that holds the telecom license UTS uses to operate in St. Maarten.

And now, Peterson argues, Asjes is using the unfounded allegations of the late Wiels in his campaign against Dos Santos.

It is obviously too late to ask Wiels any questions about this unsavory theory. A pity because Wiels may have had many reputations but there was also this: most observers, including politicians in the Netherlands, were convinced that Wiels was a clean politician who abhorred corruption.

That Peterson is now using Wiels’ legacy to promote his own agenda is sad. It shows that democracy and public debate in Curacao still have a long way to go on the slippery road towards maturity.


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