Chairman James Finies of Foundation Nos Ker Boneiru Bek (NKBB), or “We want Bonaire Back” in English, visited St. Eustatius and Saba from Thursday through Sunday in a bid for solidarity and support among the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands.
NKBB submitted a request with the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization to include the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands on the list of non-self-governing territories. The request was submitted to the UN during the International Week of Solidarity with the peoples of non-self-governing territories from June 13 to17.
The Foundation seeks more autonomy from the Netherlands, as it feels that Bonaire is overwhelmed by an increased influx of Dutch residents and civil servants.
Finies’ visit to Statia was hosted by Brighter Path Foundation, which also seeks more autonomy for the “Historical Gem.”
On Statia, Finies met with several government officials, including Commissioner Derrick Simmons, Island Secretary Louis van Ameijden, independent Island Councilman Reuben Merkman and Charles Woodley. He also spoke on the local radio station.
During his visit to Saba, the NKBB Chairman had meetings with Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Commissioner Rolando Wilson, Island Councilman for Saba Labour Party (SLP) Ishmael Levenston, and with Chairman of Saba Business Association Wolfgang Tooten.
Finies rounded off his visit to the Windward Islands on Anguilla. He also made appearances on radio stations in Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin.
“We met people from all the islands in search for solidarity and their support. People are surprised when they hear about what happened on Bonaire since it obtained its status as special entity of the Netherlands on October 10, 2010. Since then we have witnessed a large influx of Dutch people. The new status has had a bad outcome for our islands, such as the closure of the Medical School on Bonaire, similar to the one on Statia,” Finies said.
“We feel overwhelmed and overpowered by the Dutch on our small islands. We feel that we cannot exert our democratic and fundamental human rights, because we have become a minority on our own island and have no voice in The Hague,” the activist explained, adding that NKBB is not fighting for independence.
“We need more attention for our island and our people,” Finies said in stating that his organization has hired a specialist with the UN in pursuit of efforts to include Bonaire, Saba and Statia on the list of non-self governing territories.