Today’s Opinion: Lessons in democracy

POSTED: 04/12/11 12:16 PM

While there is some talk about the banana republicism of St. Maarten, there is plenty of that in Curacao as well. At the center of controversy is, as usual, the party of Helmin Wiels, Pueblo Soberano, and his minister of education Rene Rosalia in particular.

Mind you, Rosalia is not a Minister anymore, but that makes this story even more intriguing. Rosalia left on March 11. But in a letter dated March 14, three days after his departure, he told the principal of the Peter Stuyvesant College that his school would be called something entirely different come August 1. The new name is Kolegio profèsor dòkter Alejandro ‘Jandie’ Paula (KAP).

That the new name is, um, rather lengthy, if not cumbersome to remember or to write correctly is not the issue here – though we think that a name that counts 48 characters and supersedes the trusted old name by a whopping 118.18 percent does not exactly qualify for the label improvement.

No, this story is more about how this name came about. There is an action group that wants to undo the damage, because, it says, the process to arrive at the new name was undemocratic.

We’ve looked at the story and we have to admit: these guys have a point.

Rosalia promised students at the school that the name change would be subject to a process that offered everyone the opportunity to make a suggestion. It included a committee that would invite people to submit a name, and a jury that would have a say over these suggestions. There was also a deadline: March 14 for the submission of names, March 18 for the announcement of the decision.

In the meantime, student who were polled about the initiative voted 75 percent in favor of keeping the existing name,

Of the 31 name suggestions Rosalia’s committee received, 22 (close to 71 percent) read: Peter Stuyvesant College.

And then there was the letter from the minister who was no longer a minister, because he had left office three days earlier.

That little fact alone ought to inspire the school to simply keep its name and to ignore the letter from the non-minister.

This is a lesson in democracy that gives no brownie-points to the departed minister. On the contrary. We smell a dictatorial tendency and for such an attitude there is of course no place in a constitutional democracy. Of course, if Curacao opted to become the Caribbean’s first official banana republic, things could be different.

 

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