More about Last Friday

On Friday we witnessed a well-documented and broadcast presentation of Aruba’s political party lists, at the Censo, where leaders delivered their lists of candidates, according to a pre-arranged schedule.

It went very well and in total 12 parties announced their eagerness to enter the race.

In the coming week, locals are asked to physically endorse ONE of the new parties, those who have not participated in government previously, by showing up at one of three designated locations, with a picture ID to validate Accion 21, Transform PPA, Pueblo Prome, UPP, CURPA, RAIZ, MAS, and/or HTC.

They would each require a minimum of 587 signatures, to be eligible to run.

Let’s see who will make it. It is difficult to motivate people to get out of their homes, and make it to Censo Boulevard or MFA Noord or San Nicolaas, though ample time is allowed, from early morning to 8:30pm

The veteran parties, RED, MEP, POR and AVP, need no endorsement as their participation in the upcoming June election is guaranteed.

The new political parties will be lobbying hard for potential voters to come out and ink their support which isn’t binding at election. You may endorse Transform PPA to run, and vote for MAS, it’s up to you.

What can I say about Friday?

Accion 21 came in first, with leader Miguel Mansur who gained great confidence and ease in front of the cameras since his first press conference.  The list includes 14 candidates, the youngest, #14, is a university student, age 20, Leonardo Figaro, who became an overnight household name in Aruba when he aired a political video igniting wide interest and public discussion.

PPA was next, now dubbed Transform PPA, one of Aruba’s oldest parties recently taken over by businesswoman turned pastor Lisette Malmberg. I imagine the PPA name takeover involved a financial transaction and thus the party had asked candidates to show their ‘skin in the game,’ by shelling out Awg 3,500, each. Most parties require their members to sell BBQ tickets and fundraise, but this has never been done so openly. One of the Transform PPA members interviewed by a news organization froze in front of the camera, embarrassingly unable to state what he stood for. Dumbfounded, he stuttered a few words, admitting confusion. He must have paid his dues, but never studied the material.

Incidentally this morning I noticed that Transform PPA announced it will be preparing members for public interviews, which is a logical move, they should at least be able to answer basic questions. Party leader Malmberg is super eloquent, she gave a fantastic 12 minute run-down of all her candidates introducing each individually, singing their praises.

This is the time to mention RAIZ. That party has been running its members through public speaking drills at monthly Toastmaster International meetings, acquiring proficiency over the last four years.

RAIZ had announced its intention to file its list digitally, but decided in addition to also show up personally for fear the digital presentation, a novel concept, will prove inadequate. This double dipping earned RAIZ very positive PR and a spot in the limelight.

Pueblo Prome’s list of 12, one more added hastily at the bottom, by hand, was handed in by leader Michael Williams.

After handing in his list of 13 candidates, with Interim Minister of Education Rudy Lampe as #13, parliamentarian Ricardo Croes, RED, proceeded to rudely spew grievances at the press. Forever a victim he climbed on a cross, and stayed there, lamenting how he was mistreated by the press, and betrayed by his coalition partners. He was at his worst barking at respectable journalist Dilma Arends, to whom he owes a personal apology, not just a general declaration about his fragile, THC-infused disposition.

The UPP list of 13 candidates was introduced uneventfully by new leader Seraida Pembreton.

MEP, one of Aruba’s largest parties, had 29 candidates on its lists, old and new, they are veterans at this, under the leadership of premier Evelyn Wever Croes.

CURPA, with 8 candidates, promised to place the focus on the family unit.

MAS, recently taken over by the dynamic Marisol Lopez Tromp, the ousted Minister of Infrastructure, presented a list of 7 candidates. I really liked the video they floated, with each of the seven outlining their strengths and talking about their vision for Aruba. They were all eloquent, and sounded very capable, in their own language.

POR, led by Parliamentarian Allan Howell, a suspect in a criminal investigation, still managed to recruit 16 candidates. POR was the only party to hand in a handwritten list.

HTC, the equivalent of a Citizen’s Protest Movement, young, inexperienced, came in with 6 candidates. But we should not underestimate their pain, and feeling of being disenfranchised, their video interview was the most watched, 16.6K on 24ora, while their party leader was unable to correctly recite the names and positions of his 5 colleagues.

AVP, Aruba’s largest and most disappointing party, with a full list of 29, has surprisingly many new, excellent candidates, but I cannot warm up to them because party seniors who came for lunch and did not pay the bill, are still at the top. Chief offender, Mike Eman, still #1, rattled off his party’s accomplishments in government and neglected to report all projects remained UNPAID, and we are burdened by the bills he left behind for the next 20 years.

I will take a trip today to the MFA Noord to endorse a friend, new to the political arena. You should too.

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May 10, 2021
Rona Coster