Sabans protest Dutch government’s treatment

POSTED: 10/17/11 11:39 AM

THE BOTTOM – Four faction leaders in the Dutch Second Chamber have called for Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner to play a greater role in Saba. The island, which has just under 2, 000 residents, became a public entity of the Netherlands in October, 2010 but residents told the faction leaders on Saturday that the relationship with the Netherlands is fragmented one year after the island – along with St. Eustatius and Bonaire – took on their new status.

The government in Saba and the people are all concerned about increased bureaucracy around healthcare delivery and the increased cost of living brought on by inflation of nearly seven percent per quarter and new taxes. Both of these factors have led to a “substantial loss of purchasing power.”
In order to communicate their frustration roughly 40 protesters met the faction leaders at the airport in a historic first demonstration. Roughly 200 Sabans then joined in a meeting with the faction leaders. Both events allowed the islanders to stress that they feel like second class citizens. Clear examples of the high cost of living is the fact that a loaf of bread now costs $5 in Saba, the fact that some pensioners only collect $566 per month and have no money to buy parecetemol or gifts for their grand children. There were also complaints that people are being sent to Colombia and Guadeloupe for medical treatment and are confronted with a language barrier because the specialists only speak Spanish or French.
The Sabans also believe that Kingdom Representative Wilbert Stolte is too distant and does not visit Saba often enough

Labor leader Job Cohen called the current treatment of Sabans by the Dutch departments absurd and said some ministers were too distant from the local population. He’s also slammed the fact that local officials have been “trying in vain” to get the Ministry of Health’s attention for a year.
D66 leader and former Minister of Kingdom Relations Alexander Pechtold said the situation in Saba is a “shame” and VVD leader Stephanus Blok called the situation “alarming.”

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