30 September 2016

United Kingdom uses its unilateral colonial power to force Turks & Caicos to pay British prosecution costs in the dependent territory

"The territory's Cabinet had denied an earlier British "request" on August 3 for additional legal aid funds to continue to finance the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT). As in the earlier case, the current decision of the democratically elected territorial government to deny said request was summarily overturned by the British Governor under his 'reserved powers' which constitute absolute authority in the 'overseas territory.' Colonialism has certainly not ended in the 21st Century, but continues in earnest, and has only taken on new dimensions." -  a Caribbean academic. 

Turks and Caicos Weekly News

FCO approves additional $3 Million for SIPT legal aid -Despite Cabinets denial


THE FOREIGN and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has vetoed Cabinet’s decision to deny an additional $3 million dollars for legal aid in the (British) Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) trials.

This was confirmed by the (British) Governor`s Office which revealed that the Governor referred Cabinet’s decision to the FCO in accordance with provisions in the Constitution.

The office told the Weekly News that: "The Minister for the Overseas Territories, Baroness Anelay, wrote to the Governor on 13 September instructing him under Section 3(4) of the TCI Chief Financial Officer Ordinance 2012 to direct the CFO to make the necessary arrangements for the budget allocation primarily for legal aid for the defendants in the trial as requested by the Chief Justice to be made available.”

According to the Governor`s Office the Minister’s decision was taken to ensure that the defence in the trial has access to the appropriate resources to which it is legally entitled so as not to compromise the compilation and presentation of its case.

"The Minister believes that this is essential for the continued good governance of TCI and the proper administration of justice.”

Cabinet on August 3 denied yet another request for additional legal aid funds made by the judiciary for the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) corruption trials.

According to media reports, noticeable changes have been made to the structure of the security detail for attorneys prosecuting the trial: all of the foreign security staff has been replaced by local officers.

This is a stark change, as since the start of the trial this year there have been several (more than five) specially recruited UK security personnel acting as bodyguards for the members of the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT).

The Commissioner of Police also confirmed this change, but would not say why the change was made.

In the 2016/2017 budget $5.2 million was allocated to the SIPT under the police budget. $2.6million of that sum went to security for the prosecution team, and the remaining for housing and salaries, the Minister of Finance had told this publication.

An additional $4million has already been allotted in the current budget for legal aid costs.

In August last year, Governor Peter Beckingham had approved the initial $2.2M in a separate supplementary appropriation budget for security detail for the SIPT.

The SIPT and civil recovery process records indicate that the price tag has amounted to some $36 million to date, half of which was paid by the UK government.

Already nine months into the trial and prosecutors are already of the view that the trial could last way into 2017.

This realization has evoked widespread concern about the cost of the SIPT trials and its impact on the public`s purse.

Earlier this year, Minister of Finance Washington Misick categorically stated that the cost of the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) trial of former Premier Michael Misick and other corruption accused should be footed by the UK government.

He said: "My view is that those costs should be borne by Her Majesty’s UK Government.”

Misick said that the funds being spent on the trial could be used to further develop the country.

"We have a lot of things that we could be spending that money on, but at the end of the day, it says justice must not only be done it must be seen to be done, and sometimes the wheel of justice turns very slowly.

"My opinion and the opinion of the government and, I believe the majority of the people of the Turks and Caicos, is that if whatever purported wrong was done, it was done while we had a British Governor here and they were sleep-walking.

"If they can indeed prove that there’s been wrongdoing, they should pay for it.

"That is unfortunate and unfair to the people of the Turks and Caicos who have to foot that bill.”

This is not the first time a request was rejected for the SIPT trial; in August 2015 Premier Rufus Ewing rejected a request for $4.3million to provide security for Special Prosecutor Helen Garlick and her team.

The Premier's move was vetoed by the Governor who later approved the money from Government funds.

According to the 2016/2017 budget statements, the SIPT judicial cost was laid at some $5 million under revised statement for 2015 and 2016, while $4 million is slated for 2016/2017.

The Myrtle Rigby Health centre renovation for the SIPT trial was funded to tune of $1 million through a UK grant.

Since 2009, when they were accused of widespread corruption in the Sir Robin Auld report, Michael Misick and others have awaited their time before the judge.

Former Premier Michael Misick and several others are accused of defrauding the Government of millions of dollars.

Former Premier Misick, who is named as the main defendant in the trial, has since the beginning of the proceedings against him stated that he is being persecuted by the British government.

The SIPT trials began on December 18, 2015, after an in-depth four-year investigation into widespread Government corruption.

The hearings were expected to last six months, but the trial has seen many delays since it began.

And according to lead Prosecutor Queen’s Counsel, Andrew Mitchell it is very difficult to say when the corruption trial will end.

Mitchell recently disclosed that they have planned and timetabled the Crown’s case until June 2017.

29 September 2016

Okinawa appeals high court ruling supporting U.S. base transfer plan


The Okinawa prefectural government on Friday appealed a recent high-court ruling that backed the central government’s move to transfer a key U.S. air base within the southern island prefecture under a plan strongly opposed by local residents.
“The ruling that excessively takes the side of the central government…will leave a serious problem to the future,” Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga said in a statement, referring to the first judicial judgment in the intensifying dispute with Tokyo over a plan to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a crowded residential area in Ginowan to the less-populated Henoko coastal area of Nago.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, meanwhile, made her first visit to Okinawa since assuming that post in early August and expressed regret to local municipalities over a U.S. military aircraft crash off Okinawa a day before, which she said had stirred “great concerns” among the citizens there.
The crash of the U.S. Marines AV-8 Harrier jet was the latest in a series of accidents involving U.S. military aircraft in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan.
Harrier jets, which are capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing, have been involved in 18 accidents since Okinawa reverted to Japanese rule in 1972, including crashes into the nearby sea in 1994 and 1995.
The U.S. Marine Corps announced Friday the temporary grounding of all Harrier jets in Okinawa.
“It is common practice for units to execute operational pauses following a significant mishap,” the Marines said in a statement, adding that all the jets will be “inspected to ensure they meet operational readiness standards”.
The statement did not say how long those planes will be grounded. The Okinawa prefectural government has called for a suspension in the operations of the same jets until the cause of the accident is known.
In the latest incident, the Harrier jet, after taking off from U.S. Kadena Airbase in Okinawa, crashed around 1:55 p.m. Thursday about 150 kilometers east of Cape Hedo at the north end of Okinawa. The pilot was picked up by a U.S. Air Force rescue aircraft.
Before heading to Okinawa, Inada told reporters Friday that the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau has urged U.S. forces in Japan to prevent such accidents.
“I want to call on the U.S. side to handle the operation of airplanes with the utmost consideration for citizens and our country. I would also like to call for thorough safety management,” she said.
During her two-day visit, Inada is scheduled to hold talks with Onaga on Saturday to seek support for the Futenma relocation plan, which is based on an agreement between Japan and the United States in 1996.
The central government has maintained that the plan is “the only solution” for removing the dangers posed by the Futenma base, located in a densely populated area, without undermining the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. alliance. But Onaga and many Okinawans want the base to be relocated outside the prefecture.
The dispute has become a legal fight after Onaga revoked last October his predecessor’s approval for the carrying out of landfill work needed to move the Futenma base.
In a lawsuit filed by the central government, the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court said in its ruling on Sept. 16 that the transfer plan is the only way to address safety and noise problems at the base and that the act of revocation was “illegal.”
After the Okinawa prefectural government appealed the ruling, Isao Takeshita, a lawyer representing the prefecture, told reporters, “The lower court ruling goes against the spirit of local autonomy.”
“We expect the top court to go through our arguments carefully and face the matter squarely in reaching a judgment,” he said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference in Tokyo that the government will “take necessary actions” once procedures at the top court begin, while vowing to “act sincerely” over the issue.
Tokyo and Okinawa both agreed earlier to abide by a final ruling on the case, which could be issued within the current fiscal year ending March.
If Okinawa loses the lawsuit, the governor is expected to retract his revocation, paving the way for the central government to resume work to relocate the Futenma base. But Onaga may continue to explore other ways to block progress.

28 September 2016

Netherlands proposal to limit residency for Antilleans in the "European part of the Kingdom" discussed in Dutch Parliament

Curious timing on eve of elections in Curacao and Sint Maarten

THE HAGUE - The plenary handling of the initiative law proposal of Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party to regulate the residency of persons from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten in the Netherlands will continue on Wednesday after a delay of some 2½ years.

During the previous handling on March 12, 2014, the members of the Second Chamber used the opportunity to pose questions to Bosman and to voice their criticism or support. Bosman will answer the long list of questions and address the concerns on Wednesday.

“For me, personally, it will be a special debate,” said Bosman, who will be defending and explaining his first individual initiative law proposal. He said it concerned an “important” law proposal that related to the Dutch Kingdom and the subject of the movement of persons. “I am hoping for a nice discussion,” he told The Daily Herald on Monday.

Bosman, who will be seated in the Government section together with State Secretary of Security and Justice Klaas Dijkhoff, said he expected the issue of racism and second-class citizens to come up on Wednesday.

Criticism that his law proposal has racist elements and degraded persons from the islands with a Dutch passport to second-class citizens has not deterred Bosman or moved him to make significant changes to the law text.

He said he was still convinced that there was nothing racist or wrong about his law proposal because the islands have similar legislation, the LTU (“Landsverordening Toelating en Uitzetting”) to restrict the residency of persons from the Netherlands. He emphasised that his law proposal came very close to the LTU legislation in the Dutch Caribbean.

“People are shouting racism, but the LTU does the same thing to persons from the Netherlands who want to move to Aruba, Curaçao or St. Maarten. People from the Netherlands are also second class citizens because they cannot freely live and work on the islands,” he said.

Under what has been commonly named the “Bosman law,” persons from the Dutch Caribbean countries who want to take up residency in the Netherlands would need to show that they can sustain themselves, that they have a diploma or come to study. A person with a criminal record who presents a serious risk to public safety will not be admitted.

Stack of questions

Bosman will have to answer a stack of questions regarding the intention and scope of the law proposal, its implications for the already strained relations in the Kingdom, its relation to European Union (EU) legislation, and the criticism of the expert committee Meijers, that were posed in March 2014.

According to the Meijers Committee, the law proposal is in violation of international responsibilities to which the Netherlands is tied, based on five treaties and two EU guidelines. Various MPs, including Gert-Jan Segers of the Christian Union (CU) and Sharon Gesthuizen of the Socialist Party (SP), referred to the committee’s critical judgment during the first debate on March 12, 2014.

MPs Gesthuizen, Segers, Linda Voortman of the green left party GroenLinks and Gerard Schouw of the Democratic Party D66 also reminded Bosman at that time that Dutch Caribbean people were Dutch citizens with a Dutch passport and citizens of the EU, with the right of unlimited residency in the Netherlands.

“This initiative infringes on the rights of Dutch Caribbean persons to reside in the Netherlands,” said Voortman.

“From a legal point of view, the law proposal is untenable. It violates international treaties and EU law and makes a distinction based on ethnicity, while its effectiveness will be very minimal,” said Schouw about what he called a “trashcan law proposal.”

Segers: “The law proposal will create a wedge between us and the islands, between one Dutch citizen and the other. Dutch citizenship will be hollowed out. We will take away one of the most essential civil rights.”

Fundamental reasons

This Wednesday the big question will be, again, whether the Labour Party PvdA will support Bosman’s law proposal. MP Roelof van Laar (PvdA) stated on March 12, 2014, that his party distanced itself from the differentiation based on place of birth for “fundamental reasons.”

Van Laar made clear during that debate that the PvdA could only give its support if the law proposal was adapted to target specific groups: Dutch Caribbean persons without a diploma or with a criminal record. “Those persons can be subjected to the conditions of the law, but not all residents of the islands. You cannot subject every Dutch Caribbean person to this law if you only want to keep out underprivileged or criminal persons,” he said.


Bosman has not adapted his law proposal to accommodate the coalition partner PvdA. In the second amendment (“nota van wijziging”) dated May 16, 2016, he stated that opting for an alternative application range that focused on the place of residency or to have his law proposal only apply to persons of the three countries without a diploma or with a criminal record “would not result in a better law proposal.”

In the second amendment, children of Dutch citizens born in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba were exempted from the law proposal. The term of refusal of residency in the Netherlands after a person has been sent back to the islands in the interest of protecting public order has been set at five years.

The amendment also stated that the person who has been refused residency must leave the Netherlands immediately. Authorities would not use the law in a proactive manner, but in a reactive way. Persons will not be arrested without a reason. However, authorities will look at the consequences for a person’s residency permit when this person is arrested in connection with a crime, or applies for social welfare.

Young delinquents

With this law proposal, Bosman wants to contribute to reducing the problems with young delinquents of Dutch Caribbean descent. “What are you doing here if you are not here to work or to study, and if you can’t sustain yourself?” he asked. None of the parties in the Second Chamber denied the problems with high-risk Dutch Caribbean youngsters in the Netherlands.

Bosman stands by his original conviction that his law proposal is “highly useful” in deterring problematic youngsters from coming to the Netherlands.

The Consultative Council for persons of Dutch Caribbean descent Ocan has protested vehemently against the “Bosman” law, which the foundation finds discriminatory and a “clear sign” that their people are not welcome in the Netherlands. A number of Ocan representatives and persons of the Dutch Caribbean community were present during the first handling.

The original law proposal dates back to July 3, 2012. Additional legal advice, research, consultation, the answering of the long list of questions and concerns of the Parliament, the heavy workload and the overloaded agenda of the Second Chamber have resulted in a considerable delay in the handling of the law proposal.

Bosman said he hoped the first and second term could be concluded on Wednesday, so the law proposal could be put on the agenda for voting next week Tuesday. So far it remains unsure whether it will muster majority support. If approved, the law proposal will be sent to the First Chamber for handling.

UK overseas territories could be affected by EU tax crackdown

Jersey, British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands among possible targets for economic sanctions after being included on low corporation tax scorecard

A view of the Cayman Islands. The EU is planning to publish a definitive list of tax havens. Photograph: David Doubilet/National Geographic/Getty Images


Eight British overseas territories and crown dependencies, including Jersey, the British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands, could face EU economic sanctions after Brussels identified them as having low or no corporation tax.

Experts have published a scorecard showing red flag warnings set against a list of the 81 countries that may attract companies or individuals seeking to avoid or evade European taxes. 

The scorecard will be discussed among member states before a shortlist of countries is selected for further screening and whittled down to a definitive EU list of tax and secrecy havens, to be published at the end of next year. 

In the meantime, discussions are under way as to sanctions that the EU could impose on countries included in the final list. Options being discussed include the introduction of additional taxes, known as “withholding taxes”, or the removal of tax deductions.


27 September 2016


Address by His Excellency, Dr. B. Whiteman

Prime Minister of Curaçao
Celebration of the 67th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China
Atrium Hall, Renaissance Curacao Resort and Casino
20 September 2016

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, bon nochi, good evening, wǎnshànghǎo (wangshanhou).

On behalf of the Government of Curaçao, I want to congratulate you all on the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China: a country whose strength lies in its ancient culture, and an impressive economic growth and prosperity, as a result of the hard work of its peoples, both at home and abroad.
Thinking of China, reminds me of the wise expression of Confucius, a famous Chinese teacher, politician and philosopher who expressed the following: “it does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” As we would say in spanish: sin prisa, pero sin pausa.

The reason that I decided to mention this expression, is because in September 2015, the world watched while world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals; a set of goals that unites all United Nation member-states, with the willpower for progress and leaving no one behind.

As the expression says, uniting for progress, no matter how slow, despite the obstacles that stand in the way, is the essence of Curaçao and China’s relationship. This willpower for progress, lays the foundation of our common futures and the prosperity of both the Curaçao and Chinese peoples.
The Sustainable Development Goals are critical success factors in securing a good future for Curaçao. The presentation of the National Development Plan, based on specific Sustainable Development Goals, highlights the way we will progress, and how our relationship with countries around the world will be formed.

In my speech last year, I spoke of the current relationship between Curacao and China, and how an island like Curaçao can still learn a lot from China’s development. From building sustainable cities like Shanghai and Suzhou (Soo-Chow), to sustainable investment and sustainable economic growth. The success of the People’s Republic of China is a lesson for us all.

As a leader in sustainable energy, China has much to offer Curaçao, especially as our partnership continues to grow. It is estimated that by 2020, over 15 percent of China’s energy capacity will come from non-fossil fuel sources, indicating again how China is a leader in the renewable energy industry.
The most wind energy capacity in the world is in China.

The most solar energy capacity in the world is in China.
The most hydropower capacity in the world is in China.

As of 2016, nearly 31% of Curaçao’s energy will come from renewable sources, a clear leader in the Caribbean region. That is something we should all be proud of.
In addition to renewable energy sources, Curaçao, China and other countries are still currently dependent on fossil fuels – an industry that has, in both situations, had a negative effect on the environment. Like Confucius said, it is not about how quickly we progress, but the mere fact that we continue to do so. The same is relevant when we speak of the fossil fuel industry.
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is another reason why I want to congratulate you all, and that is with the celebration of the Mid-Autmn Festival. Simbolically the bright moon and its light brings you and your family’s happiness and prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it brings happiness and prosperity also to Curacao, because precisely the date of it’s celebration is the 16th of September, which is exactly the day on which the Government of Curacao signed the MOU with the State Owned Company of China, Guangdon Zhenrong Energy Company ltd.

There couldn’t be a better date to sign this Memorandum of Understanding.

While a shift to renewable sources is a step in the right direction, other steps need to be taken to make our current fossil fuel industries more sustainable. It is for this reason that the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Curaçao and the Chinese company Guangdong Zhenrong Energy Co. Limited is so important.

Agreements like these play a pivotal role in building a sustainable future.

One where our children will be able to grow up in a Curaçao that is cleaner, economically stable, and constantly growing.
Thus where there is a balance between People, Planet and Profit.

That’s why, we look at this Memorandum of Understanding as a vital part of the Country that we want to be, building on the strengths of our current economic pillars, and broadening horizons to explore new possibilities.

Let the Sustainable Development Goals continue to shape the way we build our relationship, and work together, particularly when it comes to building the future based not only on reducing our dependency on sources of non-renewable energy, but also on utilizing the strengths of our economy to make way for future generations.

Let’s use the resources that we have to stimulate policies for growth and prosperity, and let’s start working together through making sure we leave no one, and no country behind, no matter how small.

The love that people in Curaçao have for their Country is similar to the national pride that you all have for China. I know that for many of you, Curaçao has been a home for a very long time. No matter how long you have considered this island your home, I am convinced that the love and pride that you have for China, is also something that you share for our Dushi Korsou.

There is still so much Curaçao can learn from China, and still so much that we can build together. All this begins with building a sustainable relationship, built on trust, respect, and progress for all. The Sustainable Development Goals, the Chinese population in Curaçao, the Chinese Consulate General on the island, and this initial Memorandum of Understanding that paves the way for further investment, are some of the aspects that keep on uniting our two countries.

As we celebrate approximately two and a half years of the Consul General of China’s presence in Curaçao, I look forward to strengthening the ties between our two nations, looking towards a future of more solar panels especially for schools, wind mills, and hydropower. This is only the beginning of what can be a strong relationship and Curaçao’s potential to be a hub for exporting Chinese energy products to the whole region.


Danki, thank you, xièxie (sheeshee) and again, let us celebrate the success of the People’s Republic of China, and the strong ties that your country has with Curaçao.

26 September 2016

The United Nations and the Decolonisation of West Papua

The Diplomat

The UN no longer considers West Papua to be “colonized,” leaving activists hard pressed to find solutions.

By Prianka Srinivasan

NEW YORK — A decade ago, Herman Wainggai caused a diplomatic furor between Indonesia and Australia when he boarded a homemade canoe and crossed the Arafura Sea to the northern tip of Australia. Escaping his home in the Indonesian-controlled territory of West Papua, Wainggai feared that his campaign for West Papuan independence would soon cost him his life. In March 2006, Australia recognized Wainggai as a refugee and granted him protection. Indonesia responded by temporarily recalling its Australian ambassador.

With reports of renewed intimidation by Indonesian authorities in West Papua, Wainggai will once again embark on a controversial journey to seek justice for his people. This time, his destination is New York’s UN headquarters to lobby at its 71st General Assembly. “We want to remind the UN they can’t let West Papua be colonized for so long,” said Wainggai in a telephone interview.

But Wainggai’s task will not be easy. The UN has slumbered in its decolonization efforts, with only one state, Timor-Leste, achieving independence in the past 20 years. Added to that, West Papua is currently unrecognized by the world body as a colonized “non-self-governing territory”—it lost this designation over four decades ago, when West Papua was integrated by Indonesia through controversial means.


Puerto Rico's final status determination sorely required

El Nuevo Dia

"The decision on status is an inherent part of any practical decisions on Puerto Rico's economic future."

Like never before since 1952, the political leadership in Puerto Rico and the US government (Congress as well as the White House) are coping with the unavoidable need to work together and in all earnestness, in order to design and enforce a mechanism to ensure the final determination of political relations between the Island and the United States.

The lengthy discussion about our nation's political status began during the days of the Spanish imperial reign over the Island, and escalated under the plenary powers of the US Congress over our Caribbean territory. Nowadays, at the exact moment we're celebrating the 64th anniversary of the Puerto Rican Constitution, this debate is at a point where it won't bear political and partisan games—which have hindered the solution of this hundred-year-old dilemma—any longer.

On the contrary, current circumstances require, or rather demand, an understanding on behalf of Puerto Rican and United States political leaders to bring to an end what the most recent decisions and actions at the federal level (judicial, executive and congressional) have defined as a clearly colonial situation.

Those representing all ideologies are responsible for requiring and guiding a serious debate on the process to decolonize Puerto Rico, especially with the cooperation from those supporting the commonwealth, many of whom acknowledge the clear frailty of the status quo. The ultimate decision on the Island's political status quo should be made by Puerto Ricans through their votes. However, the federal government is also responsible for establishing the base—via non-territorial, non-colonial and permanent options—on which the Puerto Rican people may express their will, entirely of their own volition, to emerge from this colonial trap.

The most recent incidents with judicial authorities, the White House and Congress should be seen as warning signs telling Puerto Ricans that the time has come for the most important choice.

The first incident involves Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who on January—within the framework of congressional proposals looking for a legislation to help Puerto Rico out of its severe fiscal crisis—stated that the current territorial status did not provide the Island the adequate tools to arise from this situation and rebuild its economic development. This was a hard knock on the conscience of our local political elite—a knock that should have reached political leaders and executives in Washington—regarding the importance of dealing with the political status.

After this admonishment from the high-ranking federal officer (who spoke on behalf of the White House) came a historic decision from the US Supreme Court in June: a ruling which set a precedent to the effects that Puerto Rico's sovereignty resides in Washington, and that the Island's ultimate source of authority is the US Congress. In June, the US Supreme Court also ruled that Puerto Rico's territorial government does not have the authority to approve, as the Governor and local Legislature had, a local bankruptcy code for its public corporations. With this decision by the Supreme Court, the Island was left in a judicial limbo, since it cannot resort to the US Bankruptcy Code, but neither does it have the authority to approve a bankruptcy code created by its own Legislative Assembly.

These decisions, political in nature, are added to the affront upon our dignity that is the continuity of a colonial state as a system of government in this day and age. In short, the Island's structural problem is based on the political, judicial and economic relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. It's time for a definitive solution, to make way for the Island's economic development and the respect of our people.

24 September 2016

Chileans Demand British Museum Return Four-Ton Easter Island Statue

View of Moais Ahu Tongariki. Photo Gregory Boissy/AFP/Getty Images.

A campaign to return one of the famous Easter Island statues to its native Chile has been launched by a group of Chilean filmmakers, who believe that it should be returned by the UK.

Hoa Haka Nana’ia or Hidden or Stolen Friend is currently on view at the British Museum as one of its main attractions. The moai, believed by the Rapa Nui culture to be inhabited by spirits or mana that protected local tribes, was made in the 13th century. It stands at around eight feet tall and weighs around four tons.

The makers of a new documentary on the statues, called Te Kuhane o the Tupuna: El espíritu de los ancestros, claim that returning the moai to Easter Island could go some way to improve things there.

“One way to recover the mana to restore wellbeing to the island is to bring the spirit of the Moai Hoa Kaka Nana’ia back to its native land,” the new film says, according to AFP.

Photo: courtesy the Easter Island Statue Project.

The producer of the film, Paula Rossetti, told AFP that she has a petition of over 500 signatures asking the Chilean government to demand the return of the statue and other valuable artifacts to its shores, but admits: “It will be difficult to get them back.”

Countries from around the world are asking Britain to return items found, collected, or looted by British explorers that now sit in the some of the countries most famous institutions. The most famous example is that of the infamous Elgin marbles, which the Greek government has been campaigning to have returned for many years to no avail.

Related: Greece Puts International Pressure on British Museum to Return Parthenon Sculptures

Hoa Haka Nana’ia is one of an estimated 4,000 artifacts taken from Easter Island that are currently in collections around the world.

There are an estimated 887 of the largest moai on Easter Island, most of which were carved from volcanic rock between the years 1100 and 1680.

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23 September 2016

Curacao inks deal with China firm to run Isla refinery

By Sailu Urribarri  
The government of Curacao has signed a preliminary agreement with China's Guangdong Zhenrong Energy to operate the aging Isla refinery and invest some $10 billion in upgrading the facility, according to an agreement made public on Monday.
Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA [PDVSA.UL] has for decades operated the refinery, which opened in 1918, under a lease agreement. But the cash-poor PDVSA has been reluctant to invest some $1.5 billion that Curacao authorities requested several years back to modernize the 335,000-barrels-per-day facility.
"Unfortunately, all the government's efforts to reach a new contract with Venezuela did not yield positive results," Curacao Prime Minister Bernard Whiteman said in a video posted on the government's website on Monday. "Curacao could not wait any longer; we had to look at other alternatives."
He added that Guangdong Zhenrong would "finance, modernize and operate the refinery, the storage terminal and dock."
Guangdong Zhenrong, a state-controlled commodities trader, will also assist in modernizing the water and electricity plants as well as aid in the construction of a new gas terminal, he said.
The memorandum of understanding between the two parties lays out a two-month timeframe for negotiations with the possibility for a two-month extension.
PDVSA and Guangdong Zhenrong did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Located just 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of Venezuela, the Isla refinery is a strategic facility for PDVSA to store and ship Venezuelan oil destined for the Asian market. China in the last decade has become one of the top buyers of Venezuelan crude and fuel through an oil-for-loans financing agreement.
Unlike many facilities in Venezuela, terminals at Isla and neighboring Bullenbaai can receive large tankers, such as Very Large Crude Carriers that can transport up to 2 million barrels of oil to China.
The current lease agreement with PDVSA stipulates that if neither party ends the agreement two years before its expiration, it is automatically renewed for another 10 years. The current lease expires on Dec. 31, 2019.
Residents of Curacao, an autonomous country within the kingdom of the Netherlands, have for years complained that Isla's emissions cause health problems and insist the facility needs investment to reduce its environmental impact.
Guangdong Zhenrong is 44.3 percent owned by Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, one of China's top four state petroleum traders.

22 September 2016

El rol del MNOAL en los avances por la descolonización de Puerto Rico ante la ONU

Delegación del MINH a XVII Cumbre MNOAL.
José Santos Valderrama, Wilma E. Reverón Collazo (centro) y Olga Sanabria.

Wilma E. Reverón Collazo
Copresidenta del MINH

Desde la aprobación de la Resolución 1514 (XV) el 1ro. de diciembre de 1960 pasaron doce (12) años para que el caso de Puerto Rico fuera atendido por el Comité Especial de Descolonización. Juan Mari Brás, entonces líder del Movimiento Pro Independencia (MPI), explica que la aprobación de la Resolución 1514 (XV) fue celebrada con gran euforia por el movimiento independentista porque pensaban que garantizaría la apertura del caso de Puerto Rico. Pero no fue así. 

Fueron múltiples los esfuerzos realizados por varias delegaciones, año tras año, que comparecían a reclamar que nuestro caso fuera incluido en la agenda del Comité Especial de Descolonización. ¨Tuvimos que acudir a múltiples foros auxiliares en busca de apoyo a nuestro reclamo. Así, el de las cumbres de los Países No Alineados en Belgrado (1961) al que asistió Gabriel Vicente Maura luego de ser arrestado en el aeropuerto; El Cairo (1964) al que fue una delegación compuesta por Maura, Norman Pietri y la Dra. Ana Livia Cordero, quien a la sazón vivía en Ghana y por sus múltiples contactos africanos fue la principal consideración para que se aceptara por primera vez una delegación puertorriqueña como ¨invitada¨.i 

Mari Brás, considera la aprobación de la Resolución 1514 (XV) con el logro de la inserción de la frase ¨y cualquier otro territorio que no haya alcanzado su independencia¨, como el primero de cinco triunfos en las gestiones internacionales ante la ONU. ¨El segundo gran triunfo fue el apoyo recibido del Movimiento de los Países No Alineados, a partir de la cumbre celebrada en El Cairo en 1964. Esto produjo la primera mención de Puerto Rico, en 1965, en el seno del Comité Especial de Descolonización, cuando el gobierno cubano solicitó la inclusión de nuestro caso en la agenda de dicho comité, basándose en el pedido de la Cumbre de El Cairo y, subsiguientemente, la convocatoria a un plebiscito en Puerto Rico, que dicho sea de paso, cambió aquí el curso de la política interna. Como consecuencia de la maniobra plebiscitaria de Estados Unidos, el Comité de Descolonización de la ONU inició su primer debate en torno al caso de Puerto Rico en ese mismo año de 1967.¨ ii

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Bonaire Foundation head on mission to Sint Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten


Autonomy activist visits Statia, Saba

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.

21 September 2016

British 'colonial conservation' project restricts fishing in large areas of the waters off its Pacific, South Atlantic dependencies


British control of far flung islands of Pitcairn, St. Helena, now being used as "conservation" areas bans commercial fishing; Similar restrictions in Asension and Tristan da Cunha to be put in place  in coming years. 

UK to ban fishing from a million square kilometres of ocean

The UK is to ban commercial fishing from a million square kilometres of ocean around British overseas territories, the government said on Thursday.

In total, the government is creating marine protected areas around four islands in the Pacific and Atlantic, including the designation this week of one of the world’s biggest around the Pitcairn Islands.

A 840,000 sq km (320,000 sq mile) area around Pitcairn, where the mutineers of the Bounty settled, becomes a no-take zone for any fishing from this week. St Helena, around 445,000 sq km of the south Atlantic ocean and home to whale sharks and humpbacks, is now also designated as a protected area.

The foreign office said it would designate two further marine protection zones, one each around two south Altantic islands – Ascension by 2019 and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.

Sir Alan Duncan, minister of state for Europe and the Americas, said: “Protecting 4m sq km of ocean is a fantastic achievement, converting our historic legacy into modern environmental success.”

Commercial fishing will be banned in all of Pitcairn’s zone – excepting ‘sustainable’ local fishing – and half of the 445,390 sq km Ascension protected area. Fishing will be allowed in the other areas, but activities such as oil drilling will be prohibited.

Conservationists welcomed the new protections. “By protecting the vast array of marine life within these rich waters, the United Kingdom has solidified its position as a leader in ocean conservation,” said Joshua S Reichert, of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which is working with the UK on technology to monitor the Pitcairn area.

Jonathan Hall, the RSPB’s head of UK Overseas Territories, said: “This is simply enormous and shows world-leading vision.”

The UK announcement, at the Our Oceans summit in Washington, came as the White House said the US would ban fishing in a 5,000 sq km area in the Altantic, known as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine national monument. That followed Barack Obama’s expansion last month of the Papahānaumokuākea monument off Hawaii.

In his speech at the Washington conference, Duncan quipped: “this was going to have been my big moment, because until last week the Pitcairn MPA would have been the largest in the world. But President Obama sort of rather blew that out of the water by announcing an even bigger MPA in Hawaii – trust the Yanks to indulge in a bit of one-upmanship over us poor Brits.

“But we’re happy as our loss is the world’s gain and we congratulate the United States.”

This week, scientists warned that humanity is driving an unprecedented extinction of the largest marine creatures that could affect ocean ecology for millions of years. Experts said the large range required for such creatures meant large-scale marine protected areas would be a key part of addressing the problem.