Bijleveld not pleased with course Board of Governors Bonaire

KRALENDIJK — "Kralendijk is on fire" independent Island Council-member Anthony Nicolaas said after the anything but lenient conversation between State Secretary Ank Bijleveld-Schouten (Kingdom Relations, CDA), the Board of Governors, and the Island Council Monday afternoon..



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It should have mainly been an acquaintance conversation between the State Secretary and the new Board of Governors, but the relations immediately became an issue when the State Secretary indicated that she was not pleased with the plans of the Board of Governors for ‘free association’ with the Netherlands, and the Board of Governors for their part was not pleased with Bijleveld’s attitude.
The State Secretary still departs from a future of Bonaire within the Dutch government, as agreed upon in the closing statement, "and that is not free association", Bijleveld said yesterday afternoon. If it was up to me, the BES-laws will go through. Regarding the referendum on Bonaire, she remarked, "Your referendum could have consequences for Saba and St. Eustatius. Bonaire has signed to become a public body of the Netherlands based on article 134 of the Constitutional Law. You cannot simply change this."

According to Nicolaas and ADB-party leader Jopie Abraham, Bijleveld threatened to discontinue the debt-reconstruction and call back all quartermasters to the Netherlands if Bonaire does not agree with the statute amendment for public body of the Netherlands.

Nicolaas is disappointed with the State Secretary’s reaction, but had actually expected such, knowing the Netherlands and Bijleveld. "The Netherlands want to impose its view and viewpoint. Bonaire must become a so-called part of the Netherlands but with fewer rights."

Abraham had expected more suppleness from Bijleveld; for that matter, the Board of Governors’ viewpoint corresponds with the advices of the Council of State on more autonomy for the BES-Islands than currently planned. "Bijleveld disregards those advices. No decision is taken on the advice of the Council on ‘guaranteed autonomy’. What is happening now, says Abraham, "is annexation, purchasing the entire island". According to him, the referendum does not have to have any negative consequences for Saba and St. Eustatius at all: "All agreements between the two islands and the Netherlands could go through. Bonaire only has to be removed from the texts of the law. The Ministry of Justice has asked for our opinion on the scheduled statute amendment and we indicated in a letter that we did not agree with this, and suggested the free association as alternative. The Netherlands now want us to withdraw that letter, but it is still our opinion."

BES-commissioner Henk Kamp had requested the Board of Governors for the advice of the referendum committee, which will be revealed one of these days on the presentation of the question of the referendum to submit such to the Netherlands for approval. Abraham finds it ‘ridiculous,’ that "the former mother country is not allowed to interfere with the referendum in a former colony, according to the United Nations."

Free Association
Free Association is a constitution in which two sovereign countries have a cooperation. In the case of Bonaire, the Netherlands would execute certain land tasks as Bonaire lacks the capacity for these, for example regarding Justice. Puerto Rico has a similar constitution with the United States. The Board of Governors had announced on September 6th (Dia di Boneiru) that they would labor for free association.