30 November 2012

Analysis of Puerto Rico's 'plebiscite farce'

Comité de Puerto Rico en la ONU

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Analysis of results of the plebiscite farce and elections in Puerto Rico held on November 6, 2012, by the leadership of the National Hostos Movement for the Independence of Puerto Rico (MINH). 

A. The Plebiscite Farce

1. The Committee for Puerto Rico at the United Nations and the MINH from early on denounced the plebiscite farce as a non-binding move by the annexationist leadership. We also recognized that the plebiscite would have results of relative important. 

2. It is important that, because of its colonial nature, a majority of the electorate rejected the Free Associated State status of Puerto Rico. It is totally untrue that annexation to the United States won the support of more than 60% of the voters. Statistical manipulations by the annexationists attempt to hide that they obtained less that 45% of the votes and that the total vote for a Sovereign Free Associated State (24.3%), independence (4.0%), ballots left blank and ballots with protest expressions, add up to 55% of the votes cast. 

3. Annexation to the United States continues to be a minority option for Puerto Ricans and we can anticipate that the United States will do nothing regarding any aspect of this plebiscite farce. Sectors in Washington and the press in the U.S. capitol, including the Huffington Post, negate that annexation won the majority vote. 

4. We will continue to reclaim our inalienable right to self-determination and indepen-dence in conformity with international law, specifically resolution 1514(XV), and we will continue to advocate for a Constitutional Status Assembly as an instrument for the decolonization process of the Puerto Rican people. Our case is under consideration by the United Nations Decolonization Committee which has adopted 31 resolutions reiterating this right in conformity with resolution 1514(XV). 

Breakdown of the “plebiscite” data with 94.74% of the electoral units counted: 

Statehood: 802,179- 44.6% Sovereign Free Assoc State: 436,997- 24.3% 

Independence 72,551- 4.0% Blank ballots: 468,478- 26.1% 

Protest expressions: 17,602 -1% 

Sum total of votes: 1,797,807 

Sovereign Free Assoc State, Independence, blank and protested ballots total = 55.4% 

Sovereign Free Associated State and blank ballots = 50.4% 

B. The General Elections 

1. Defeat of the annexationist New Progressive Party (NPP) in the gubernatorial, legislative and municipal races, including the capitol, reflects rejection by our people of the arrogance and abuses with which Governor Luis Fortuño’s government acted during the last four years. The Puerto Rican people rejected undesirable candidates and bad ideas and actions with a negative impact on them. 

2. We welcome the triumph of Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto in the San Juan (capitol) mayoralty race. This represents another defeat of the annexation party its authoritarian government and was a triumph resulting from an alliance in favor of dignity and decency, and development in San Juan. The convergence of numerous civil society groups, and others including the MINH, in favor of Yulín, will be a model for the rest of the country. Progressive sectors triumphed once again, as happened in the August referendum regarding limitation of the right to bail. 

3. The elections reflected an important effort by emerging political parties, all of them progressive, which was effective in delivering their message to the Puerto Rican people; but this effort was affected by the will to rid Puerto Rico of the Luis Fortuño and New Progressive Party government. The election of Pro Independence Party (PIP) representative María de Lourdes Santiago to the Puerto Rican Senate is a good development. 

4. A candidate from MINH’s national leadership, José Rivera Santana, to the Puerto Rican House of Representatives on the slate of the Pro Sovereign Union Movement, had a good impact with its message of transparency, depth, and commitment. His message went beyond the independence advocates and beyond the number of votes he garnered as he was projected as a national leader in Puerto Rico. 

5. The significant number of votes from pro-independence advocates for governor-elect Alejandro García Padilla of the Popular Democratic Party was decisive in his victory. This reflects the high number of independence advocates which goes beyond the Pro Independence Party and the emerging political parties. 

6. A profound electoral reform is urgent. This reform, among other things, should guarantee the elimination of electoral fraud against minority parties, and also modernize the electoral process, to ensure clean, free and fair elections. Modalities of electronic voting compatible with Puerto Rico’s system should be considered. 

7. We will be watchful of the appointments made by governor-elect García Padilla to ensure that appointees are honest and competent and have broad support. We will recognize positive efforts by the new government but will also continue to defend the interests of our people and will denounce any initiative against their interest. 

We will continue to work for the unity of the pro independence forces in the face of pseudo plebiscites and future elections.

29 November 2012

Opposition to U.S. Bases (in Okinawa) Reaches Turning Point


By Suvendrini Kakuchi

The bulk of the U.S.’ 47,000 troops in Japan are based in Okinawa. Credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery/CC-BY-2.0
The bulk of the U.S.’ 47,000 troops in Japan are based in Okinawa.
Credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery/CC-BY-2.0

TOKYO, Nov 25 2012 (IPS) - Okinawa, the largest of a group of 60 sub-tropical islands forming Japan’s southernmost prefecture, has an equable climate and preferential treatment for United States servicemen under the Mutual Cooperation Security Treaty between the U.S. and Japan.

According to Chobin Zukeran, a member of the House of Representatives from Okinawa, the archipelago is the perfect U.S. base because it fans out into the Pacific Ocean towards Taiwan, making it a vital bulwark for U.S. military strategists concerned with containing China.

Here is where the bulk of the U.S.’ 47,000 troops in Japan are based.

But Okinawans, who number roughly 1.4 million, have long opposed U.S. military presence on their homeland, which experienced the only bloody ground battle between Japan and the invading U.S. military at the end of World War II in 1945.

Since the return of the islands to Japan in 1972, over 90 percent of Okinawans – concerned about their personal safety and noise and environmental pollution – have supported the demand for a complete removal of the bases, which occupy 18 percent of their land.

Photo by C.G. Corbin for OTR
Now, a string of recent incidents involving military personnel has pushed opposition to the bases into outright protest and threatens to foil the U.S.’ plans to beef up its military in the Asia-Pacific region.

On Nov. 7, Christopher Browning and Skyler Dozierwalker were charged with raping and injuring a local woman on Oct. 16, in a case that sparked widespread protest across Okinawa.

“Okinawa’s struggle against the U.S. military bases is reaching a turning point. We are prepared to take our demands all the way to Washington to end the deadlock,” Zukeran said at a press meeting in Tokyo earlier this month.

Frustration with impunity for U.S. troops on the island is nothing new. In 1995, the gang rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by three U.S. servicemen resulted in a U.S.-Japan agreement to reduce U.S. military presence on the Okinawan chain of islands, but this did little to appease the local population.

“The rapes and a skewed sense of justice when these crimes involve U.S. servicemen is the worst form of violence against women,” said Ryuichi Hattori, a member of the Social Democratic Party that has traditionally led political demands to have the bases removed from Okinawa.

Statistics compiled by the police indicate no fewer than 6,000 cases of crime – including violence and rape – since 1972.

Catherine Fisher, an Australian national who was raped in 2002 by a sailor stationed on a ship on the U.S. naval base of Yokosuka, 64 miles south of Tokyo, was among the first women to speak publicly about the latest crime.

Photo by C.G. Corbin for OTR 
Fisher took her own case to the U.S. in September in pursuit of her attacker who had been honourably discharged by the U.S. military, although he was found guilty by the Tokyo district court in 2004 and ordered to pay damages.

“I was determined to receive justice and challenge a system that is totally unfair. Perpetrators, when they are U.S. soldiers, have legal protection and this must be changed,” she told IPS.

Fisher is currently touring Japan to gather support for her demand that perpetrators of crimes remain in Japan to face trial. She is also trying to set up a 24-hour rape crisis centre that can deal specifically with crimes committed by U.S. military servicemen.

Yet another wave of protest is growing over regular crimes committed by U.S. marines who frequent the bustling bars of Okinawa and participate in its vibrant nightlife.

Masayo Hirata, a former counselor for women seeking advice on their problems with U.S. troops – including offspring abandoned by fathers returning to the U.S. – says romantic liaisons with locals are common.

“Marrying or having relationships with American servicemen has become common these days among younger generation females who meet them in bars,” she said.

These interactions are a big part of the problem, according to protest groups, which include academics, lawyers and local politicians.

Sexual exploitation of local women has also sparked protests in other Asia-Pacific countries hosting U.S. forces, such as in the Philippines, which has a ship repair and recreational facility.

Public protests compelled the Philippine Senate to vote against the renewal of the lease on Clark Base in Angeles City in 1991 – a decision that many Okinawans found encouraging.

South Korea, officially at war with North Korea, hosts 37,000 marines located around the country, but the brutal killing in 1992 of a local woman working in an entertainment area close to the bases triggered demands for an end to the arrangement.

A 2010 survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun and Ryukyu Shimpo newspapers found that 71 percent of the Okinawans polled felt that the presence of U.S. troops was not necessary and 41 percent wanted the bases removed.

Campaigns have also focused on environmental degradation caused by the construction of military bases.

Human sit-ins against the construction of a heliport off the northeast coastline of Henoko, a quiet village, were forcibly disbanded. Locals, along with environmentalists on the mainland, claimed the heliport construction endangered coral and the native dugong population.

Okinawans say their daily lives are consumed with gnawing fear of accidents from U.S. fighter airplanes that also create deafening noise as they fly into U.S. bases located in densely crowded areas.

Animosity has recently been aggravated by the deployment on the island of Osprey aircraft, with locals voicing concerns over the poor safety record of the plane, which is capable of taking off and landing vertically.

Photo by C.G. Corbin for OTR
Prof. Tsuneo Namihara, sociologist at the Okinawa University, explained to IPS that the recent territorial clashes between Japan and China over the Senkaku islands, claimed by both countries, have made it more difficult to get rid of U.S. bases.

“As a result, I fear the anti-base movement will veer away from the traditional pacifism (associated) with the local protests. The younger generation is getting impatient with the heavy hand of the Japanese government that is ignoring the wishes of the local population,” he warned.

28 November 2012

Guam Power Authority Seeks Switch To Liquefied Natural Gas

Abandoning oil could save $1.3 billion over 30 years

By Steve Limtiaco
Pacific Daily News

HAGÅTÑA, Guam  Guam "absolutely" needs to convert all of its oil-burning power plants to liquefied natural gas, according to Guam Power Authority General Manager Joaquin Flores, who said the power agency will ask the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, then the Public Utilities Commission, to approve the change.

The Consolidated Commission, which sets policy for the power and water agencies, is scheduled to meet this afternoon at the power agency's conference room in Harmon.

"This is a game changer -- bigger than solar or wind," Flores said of the plan to make all of the power agency's baseload generators run on liquefied natural gas.

The baseload generators, which provide most of Guam's power, currently burn fuel oil, either to boil water for steam turbines, or through internal combustion.

Switching to liquefied natural gas instead of burning fuel oil would save power customers about $1.3 billion over the next 30 years, Flores said, and create jobs related to the infrastructure for the new fuel.

"It's a slam-dunk decision," Flores said.

The power agency for years had been considering the switch to natural gas, but Flores said new federal emissions standards -- which would require the power agency to spend about $400 million on cleaner smokestacks, made natural gas the obvious choice. The first new emissions requirements take effect in 2015, he said, and additional requirements take effect in 2017.

It would cost less to convert the power plants to natural gas, Flores said -- $250 million to $300 million -- as opposed to $400 million to fix smokestacks for generators that continue to burn oil. He said the island's smaller "fast-track" generators would continue to run on diesel, even if the larger power plants are converted to natural gas.

Natural gas is less expensive than fuel oil -- about 15 percent cheaper -- and there are more places to buy it, Flores said. Singapore currently is the only source of fuel oil for Guam's power plants.

If the power agency decides to spend $400 million to build cleaner smokestacks instead of converting to natural gas, it effectively would be committing to the continued use of fuel oil for decades, Flores said.

The fuel savings from natural gas would be about $45 million a year, he said -- cash that could be used to pay off any loans or bonds to make the conversion to natural gas.

"Once we commit to this, this will create jobs. It's cheaper than oil over the long term," Flores said.

Guam Power Authority residential customers pay an average of $226 per month for electricity -- more than twice the national average, according to the power agency's audited financial statement for Fiscal 2011.

About 70 percent of that amount, or $158, is for the fuel oil that is burned, the "fuel surcharge."

The switch to liquefied natural gas would require a policy shift, beginning with today's CCU meeting, Flores said.

Switching to natural gas won't be easy, Flores said. It would require new infrastructure to handle the volatile fuel and additional training for those who handle it and work at the power plants. It also might require additional land, Flores said, noting the Port Authority of Guam owns vacant property across the street from the Cabras power plant. 

                    GPA to close old generators

Variety file photo
THE Guam Power Authority plans to dispose of its Dededo diesel and Marbo combustion turbine plant generators by selling the equipment to the highest bidder. The decision to retire some of the older power generating units is consistent with the recommendations of GPA’s 2012 Integrated Resource Plan, GPA General Manager Joaquin Flores said.

GPA recently completed its 2012 IRP, which is a 30-year energy roadmap for the entire island.

According to GPA studies, the four 2.4-megawatt high-speed Dededo diesel units and the 15.6-megawatt generator at the Marbo combustion turbine plant are no longer needed for the efficient and proper operation of the system.

The Marbo Combustion Turbine is an asset that was transferred to GPA by the United States Air Force and has not made any significant contribution to the islandwide power system.

The Dededo units, on the other hand, are the highest-cost unit in GPA’s generation portfolio. According to GPA’s 2012 IRP, these medium-speed reciprocating units burn ultra low sulfur diesel. They have been recommended for retirement in 2012.

Another reason cited for the closure of the older power plants was the recently issued U.S. Environmental and Protection Agency regulations requiring additional investments to bring existing plants into compliance.

In an interview with the Variety, Flores said it will cost approximately $400 million to bring existing GPA plants into compliance with EPA regulations.

For generators such as the Dededo units, GPA estimates an environmental compliance capital expenditure cost of approximately $2.2 million with additional operating costs of $300,000 a year.

The most prudent course of action, according to Flores, is for GPA to dispose of the Dededo Diesel and Marbo combustion turbine plant units by selling the equipment to the highest bidder.

In compliance with GPA’s bond indenture agreement, net proceeds from the sale will be deposited to GPA’s Revenue Fund.
Rate rollback

Meanwhile, the Consolidated Commission on Utilities has authorized GPA to file a petition with the Public Utilities Commission to roll back the rate hike approved last May 2012.

According to a resolution presented at the last CCU meeting, the savings from GPA’s bond issuance exceeded the $9.1 million rate increase last May, allowing GPA to roll back the entire rate increase.

According to GPA, it has explored a variety of options for implementing the rate rollback and is considering “employing a negative surcharge” for the period when the new rates will take effect.

If PUC approves the petition, power consumers are expected to have a decrease in their rates by December.

27 November 2012

Dormant decolonization process requires "Special Mechanisms" to implement international mandate - U.N. Council of Presidents

The Council of Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly (CPGA) called for the use of special mechanisms, including the appointment of an Independent Expert or Special Rapporteur, to accelerate the pace of decolonization for the sixteen remaining non self-governing territories worldwide. The recommendation was contained in the Final Communique of the 2012 Session of the CPGA which convened in New York on 7th and 8th November 2012.
(excerpts below).
United Nations flag

The concern for the lack of movement in the   decolonization process at the present period of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism was discussed by the presidents in the context of the implementation of U.N. mandates. 

Council Chairman Julian Hunte, who was a  former Chair of the U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization when he served as permanent representative of St. Lucia to the U.N., briefed the other presidents on the difficulties associated with carrying out the decolonisation mandate.  

"This is of special interest," the Council Chairman explained,  "because it is one of those issues which has remained on the U.N. agenda without resolution, and which has effectively resulted in a stalemate." 

He observed that "this could not be in the interest of the people of the territories themselves." 

The Chairman of the Council of Presidents went on to   note that his experience as twice chair of the Decolonisation Committee made it "increasingly clear that the U.N. system is in need of innovative means to address the self-determination process of the remaining 16 non self-governing territories, as well as the several sovereignty disputes among them."

During his chairmanship of the Decolonization Committee, the Plan of Implementation (POI) was produced and subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly in 2006 at the mid-point of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism.

 The POI was published as a document of the U.N. General Assembly and served to outline the actions to be undertaken by the UN system which had been called for in United Nations in decolonization resolutions. The aim was to develop a programme to implement the General Assembly directives.

The POI contained a number of conclusions and observations. Among these were the recognition that the "Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism  (had) passed its mid-point without sufficient realization of its plan of action (and this) only serves to underscore the urgency of accelerating the implementation phase."

The POI was designed "to generate some positive movement, where dormancy had often been the norm" and had been prepared "following extensive consultations with member States and senior officials of the U.N. Secretariat."

The POI had also raised the human rights dimension of the issue in noting that "the accelerated implementation of the self-determination and decolonization mandates of the United Nations is in furtherance of the promotion of democratic governance and the universal realization of  human rights." 

In this connection, reference was made in the POI to the major human rights conventions, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - all of which contain commitments to promote the right to self-determination among peoples.

In assessing the difficulties in implementing the United Nations unfinished agenda of contemporary decolonisation, the Council of Presidents included the following recommendations in its Final Communique: 

"Recognizes the historic role of the General Assembly in the self-determination process of dependent territories, and that the successful decolonization of over eighty territories since World War II was in large measure as a result of the political, material and other support provided by the United Nations;

Further recognises that sixteen dependencies remain on the United Nations list on non self-governing territories under Chapter XI of the Charter, but only two have successfully decolonized since the 1990s resulting in the process being effectively stalled; and concerned that the countries which administer the majority of the remaining territories have withdrawn their cooperation from the Special Committee on Decolonization resulting in little progress being made in the implementation of the United Nation decolonization mandate contained in the Charter, General Assembly resolutions and human rights instruments;

Endorses the use of innovative means to give effect to the United Nations decolonization process including the use of special mechanisms such as an Independent Expert/Special Rapporteur, expert groups or other relevant modalities to examine the political situation in each of the remaining territories, and to advise the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General of suitable means to implement the decolonization mandate in these territories."

26 November 2012

University of Guam President Dr. Robert Underwood Named by White House to National Board of Education Sciences

The White House EmblemThe White House
Office of the Press Secretary

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts:
Robert A. Underwood – Member, Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Sciences

Dr. Robert A. Underwood currently serves as the President and Professor Emeritus at the University of Guam, a position he has held since 2008. In addition, Dr. Underwood currently serves as a Member on the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Sciences, a position he has held since 2011. 

From 2004 to 2007, he served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund. From 1993 to 2003, Dr. Underwood served five terms as Guam’s Congressional Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Dr. Underwood was the Founding Member of the Guam Humanities Council, where he served from 1990 to 1993. Dr. Underwood received a B.A. and an M.A. from California State University, Los Angeles, and an Ed.D. in Policy, Planning, and Administration from the University of Southern California.

25 November 2012

International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) condemns Gaza aggression

 November 18, 2012

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), with consultative status at ECOSOC and thousands of affiliated lawyers and organizations around the world, condemns in the strongest possible terms the current aggression by Israel against the people of the Gaza Strip. 

Together with a number of Palestinian NGO’s our affiliate the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has released the following statement::
“Since Wednesday evening, 14 November 2012, Israeli Occupation Forces have continued their offensive on the Gaza Strip, codenamed "Operation Pillar of Defence" through aerial, marine and ground bombardment throughout the Gaza Strip, using missiles and artilleries. This is occurring amidst increasing Israeli threats to expand the offensive with a ground invasion; large numbers of Israeli troops have been deployed at the borders of the Gaza Strip, and it is reported that 75,000 reservists have been called up. 

Contrary to claims by the Israeli government that Israeli forces do not target civilians, the outcome of this offensive so far has indicated that it is primarily civilians who pay the price. 27 civilians have been killed, including 10 children and 5 women, and 520 others, including 140 children and 48 women, have been wounded. Israeli forces have attacked civilian facilities, including houses, mosques, churches and schools, and governmental buildings of a completely civil nature, such as the buildings of the Council of Ministers and the Civil Department of the Ministry of Interior. 

Over the past 48 hours, Israeli forces have intensified the bombardments in a serious escalation, targeting civilian lives and property. This morning, Israeli forces directly bombarded media offices in Gaza City, seriously wounding a number of journalists. 

There has been no safe place in the Gaza Strip, which essentially does not have any shelter where civilians can have protection from day and night bombardments. Approximately 1.7 million people have come under Israeli forces fire, and their lives are in danger. Many people have been killed or wounded while inside their houses, as a result of the bombarding of residential areas and their vicinities, with bombs weighing up to one ton dropped by F-16 fighter jets.     

During this offensive, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is dramatically deteriorating, especially with the closure of all border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel and the denial of entry of basic goods and materials into the Gaza Strip, including medical consignments, food and fuel. This violations the obligations of Israel as an occupying power under the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which requires Israel to facilitate the passage of medical and foods consignments to the civilian population in the occupied territory in all circumstances.” 

IADL calls upon the International Community to take all steps to end this aggression. IADL urges the Security Council order an end the current aggression and demand that Israel respect the UN Charter and International Law. Consistent with our prior statements, a US veto against actions to prevent the Security Council to act to end the aggression would be an illegal use of the veto. IADL also requests that the international community make clear that it will hold Israel accountable for its crimes. IADL calls on the international community to help negotiate a cease fire and take steps to move toward peace. 

IADL also joins its affiliate Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in demanding the following actions. 

1. IADL requests the urgent convening of a Special Session of the Human Rights Council, and calls upon all parties to fulfil their binding legal obligations under international humanitarian law. 

2. IADL calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to convene and act to protect civilians in light of the seriousness of the ongoing escalation. 

3. IADL reminds the international community of the last assault on the Gaza Strip, in which civilians bore the brunt of political inaction during a large scale military offensive. We should not wait for the same atrocities to be committed again.

See also: War Crimes In Gaza And The Zionist Fifth 
Column In America James Petras

22 November 2012

Commemoration of slavery is a must in former Dutch colonies


Nelly Rosa

WILLEMSTAD — Commemorating the abolition of the slavery 150 years ago in the former Dutch colonies is the only right step, said Professor Stephen Small during a lecture at the UNA (University of the Netherlands Antilles).  

Photo by C.G. Corbin for OTR

“Commemorations are important. They remind us of the human misery. Slavery was a crime 
and immoral. The human dignity was taken away from those who were made a slave. This had its effect on the next generations. Commemorations are a part of the healing process and a step close to nation-building.”

On July 1st 2013 it will be 150 years ago that the slavery on Curaçao was abolished. According to the British-Jamaican sociologist, commemorations instigate the healing of wounds caused by the slavery. “Many people need healing. Some experience shame or anger because their ancestors were salves. They refuse to discuss slavery. Then there are people who feel ashamed or guilty because their ancestors were slave owners. We often hear them say ‘why don’t we let bygones be bygones”, said Small. Frustration and anger are expressions of pain, according to the professor. 

Furthermore, commemoration is an instrument for nation-building. It also leads to drawing up an action plan. According to Small, academics should join forces to work on a history that also includes the ‘black votes and viewpoints’. To achieve this one must set priorities, formulate targets and draw up an action plan. 

According to Small, the slavery past and the consequences of the slavery have several facets. The inheritance of the slavery can be seen all over the island: people being proud of the Papiamentu language, the synagogue in Punda and the relation with the Netherlands. The island has economic and political ties with the ‘mother country’. The education is grafted onto the Dutch system and the migration between both countries is centuries-old. Furthermore, certain principles are deeply rooted in this society, such as the use of race as an important organizational principle on the island. 

“Curaçao did not exist before the slavery”, said Small. “There were no depots where slave had to stay before being transported from the island. Without slavery there would be no Christianity on Curaçao. Without slavery there would be no dark community or no Dutch or Papiamentu would be spoken. There would be no ‘Parke Lucha pa Libertat’. These are all inheritances of the slavery. Questions like ‘What happened”, ‘Which historic events are we to commemorate? need to be answered first. 

Photo by C.G. Corbin for OTR 


As foreigner, Small can only recommend suggestions on arranging the commemoration on Curaçao in 2013. One could for example hold exhibitions in which local artists give their vision on past, present and future, or develop educative material for the commemoration year or for following years. Prayer services could also be organized. During these services those present could think about the affliction brought about, but this moment could also open the way to deliverance. However, above all music and theater must play a role during the commemoration. “I learn the most about the slavery by listening to Afro-American music”, said Small. 

The Dutch historiography on the slavery contains whole and half falsehoods, according to him, for example that the Dutch hadn’t made that much profit with the slave trade. According to Small, the historiographers depart from a wrong viewpoint: profit. The slave trade should actually be viewed as an economic activity. “Whether it yielded a profit or not, is not the issue”, said Small. The number of slaves who had worked on the Dutch plantations is also speculative. The Netherlands supposedly only deployed 5 percent of the total number of people made slaves. He queries the version that the Netherlands hadn’t had that many slaves. “It’s all a game and a trick.” A quick calculation shows that 550,000 slaves had been in Dutch hands. However, on top of that, approximately 15 to 20 percent of the slaves had never survived the journey, which makes the number of slaves under Dutch ownership almost 800,000. When you include the Africans who were killed in the forts you come up with 1 million salves. These million people also had families that consisted of five to fifteen members. One can then cautiously conclude that 15 million people (Africans) were effected by the Dutch.” 

Mild slavery

The English books which he studied categorized the slavery on Curaçao as mild. “They don’t attach any analytical value to mild slavery. A definition is not given, just like the proof. I therefore reject this proposition completely. We should take positions against issues that we don’t feel comfortable with”, said Small. The professor began writing his provisional findings this week. He has worked out the two-day presentation, which he gave at NAAM. He encourages others to do the same. “We need research. Much discussion is based on rumors, myths and incorrect information. We must produce knowledge. Which new information on the slave period is important for Curaçao? The island must start somewhere, but it needn’t re-invent the wheel.”

20 November 2012

Statia Political Leader concerned 'mental colonialism will kick in"

Zaandam wants black history in school curriculum

Statia News

ST. EUSTATIUS–Leader of the United People’s Coalition (UPC) Reginald Zaandam tried to convince the Island Council on Thursday to include black history in the curriculum of public schools. According to Zaandam, education is an important tool in decolonization. “Colonialism can only be imprinted through indoctrination in the mind of the colonized. 

In doing so, the colonizer had to emphasize that their history and culture is without any doubt superior. In that process the colonizer did not mince words to emphasize the inferiority of the history and culture of our ancestors in comparison with that of the colonizer. 

The colonizers make use of every means at their disposal to erase the history and culture of the colonized and also prevented their offspring to become knowledgeable of that.” Zaandam said that, even after the abolishment of slavery, colonizers made sure that in the curricula of the education system in the overseas territories the African origin and culture was never mentioned.

“Since the majority of teachers were white the need to enlighten young blacks about their ancestors was not there,” he said. “The African continent was being portrayed as backward with savages killing each other, whereas on the other hand, Piet Hein was portrayed as one of the Dutch heroes. 

Years later, I found out he was just a simple pirate.” Zaandam stated that in secondary education teachers had “the audacity to impress on us that we should feel lucky that our forefathers were taken out of Africa and enslaved.”

Zaandam called upon his colleagues in the Island Council to ensure that the younger generation be exposed to the rich African history and culture, which according to the UPC-leader is full of role models. Zaandam also pointed out that many believe that independence would release the people of the shackles of colonialism. “But that is far from the truth. As long as we as a people neglect to take charge of the educational system and the media, the system of neo-colonialism will still be anchored in the community,” said. 

“What can be very disturbing, since education is in Dutch hands, is the fact that if we as the people’s representatives dare to sit idle and fail to take charge to expose the younger generation to this valuable and rich history and culture, mental colonialism will kick in.” Zaandam emphasized that the younger generation must be made to understand that their perception of African history is essential for their frame of reference in their life’s journey. “It helps them understand how the status quo came to be and also helps determine their perception of life now.”