Stanley Betrian leads interim-cabinet in Curacao Schotte gives up the fight

POSTED: 10/1/12 12:50 PM

WILLEMSTAD – Former Lt. Governor Stanley Betrian became the Prime Minister of Curacao after he was sworn in on Saturday by Acting Governor Adèle van der Pluijm-Vrede, but ousted government leader Gerrit Schotte initially barricaded himself with now former Finance Minister George Jamaloodin in the government center Fort Amsterdam and refused to leave office. It took until last evening before Schotte came outside and handed over the keys of the government building to the authorities.

Schotte has called Betrian’s appointment a coup d’état and announced on Saturday that he would remain in Fort Amsterdam until the elections on October 19. Last night he had a change of heart.

The new prime minister has the support of Kingdom Relations Minister Liesbeth Spies and members of the Dutch parliament. Betrian has said that Schotte should stay in his office if he wants to because he is able to do his job anywhere. Betrian was appointed as the interim prime minister and also as the justice minister of general affairs. The other members of the interim-cabinet are Dr J.M.N. Jardim – Minister of Finance and Minister of Economic Development, Mr S. Bodok – Minister of Health, Environment and Nature and Minister of Social Development, Labor and Welfare and Mr. Ing. C.G. Smits – Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports and Minister of Administration, Planning and Services.

Supporters of Schotte gathered at the government building on Saturday, but on Sunday a live stream on the internet showed that just a few people remained. NRC Handelsblad reported based on information from press agency Novum that there were also protesters at the party headquarters of several political parties.

At around 1.30 p.m. yesterday the governor’s adjutant reported that Schotte is still in a meeting with a part of his fired team of ministers, but that there are no longer protesters at Fort Amsterdam.

On Saturday evening Schotte appeared on Venezuelan TV where he repeated his position that he is the victim of a coup d’état that is possibly supported by the Netherlands.

“There is no space in our democracy for an interim-government that takes office without my permission. The governor, one of the last colonial characters on this island, had used powers he does not possess. I also think that the secret hand of the Netherlands is behind this. This is a coup d’état,” Schotte said in the broadcast.

Governor Frits Goedgedrag was flown abroad for medical treatment after he experienced heart problems that day. His adjutant confirmed that Schotte and some of his ministers were in a meeting on Sunday, but at that time it remained unclear how long they would be allowed to stay there. “They are no longer in function,” the adjutant said, adding that no measures had been taken yet to remove Schotte and his team from the building.

“We hope that we will get peace and quiet now, that people will calm down and that all parties will respect the new cabinet,” a spokesman for Emily de Jongh-Elhage’s PAR said.

The unions in Curacao issued a statement that they support the interim-cabinet and the Curacao Business Association VBC also expressed its support for Betrian. Schotte’s political power therefore seems to be waning.

Betrian said yesterday morning that he has started in his new job. “Schotte may barricade himself in Fort Amsterdam but I am going to work and I am able to do my job everywhere. That does not depend on the study.” By the evening however, that office became available to the new prime minister.

The group of twelve that has a majority in the outgoing parliament got its way with the establishment of the interim cabinet.
Kingdom Relations Minister Spies said in a brief statement yesterday that the appointment of the interim government fits within a democratic legal order and that the interim cabinet has an important task ahead of it. “The Netherlands, Aruba and St. Maarten express the hope that this interim-cabinet together with the parliament will make the necessary efforts to guarantee that the period until the elections and the election itself will take place in the appropriate manner.”

The Dutch parliament has been following the latest developments in Curacao with increasing amazement and concern. Socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak said that countries in the region have to express their support for the interim-government. “The Netherlands is unable to take responsibility for the island any longer, also because Schotte is a front man for the mafia,” Van Raak said. “That the outgoing prime minister refuses to leave office is a factual coup d’état.”

Van Raak expressed concerns about Dutch tourists that are currently on the island. “I am not concerned about the Dutch people who live there. The islanders are very friendly and hospitable. But tourists do not really know the local situation very well and that could maybe come across the wrong way.”

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