Is there a threat to Status Aparte?

Yesterday was Betico Croes Day, commemorating the legacy of statesperson Betico Croes, on his birthday. It was an official national holiday.

The late Gilberto Francois “Betico” Croes (January 25, 1938 – November 25, 1986), was a charismatic political activist and former schoolteacher. He helped Aruba obtain its “Status Aparte” (separate status) within the Dutch Kingdom, which eventually took place in 1986.

From then on, Aruba became an autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

I asked my friends if they see Status Aparte threatened in any way.

This is what I found out. Betico Croes spent his life in the service of his country, and he opened the path for real development and growth for Aruba, and Arubans. By seceding from the federation of islands, he made it possible for Aruba to grow and enjoy the fruits of its own labor, without sharing it with other islands.

Status Aparte was great for Aruba during the first 15 years, at least. Coalition governments managed the country well and our income grew, poverty dropped, we became the poster child of Caribbean sustainable development.

Then when the electorate gave all power to just a single party, things shifted and from about 2001, our national debt increased, debt exceeded growth, and in general our educational system, the infrastructure, our health care, law enforcement and social benefits, suffered great cut backs, or freezes, with the growing size and cost of our public system.

Our current MinPres made it clear at the onset of her term in office, she was not going to dismiss anyone — government jobs are protected.

Which is a real threat to Status Aparte.

In the past, islanders compared themselves to Curacao and Bonaire and we outshone these two islands by much.

But these days, if we compare ourselves to the BES island, our shine dims.

Minimum salary in Bonaire is much more than in Aruba. Parents receive child subsidies, schools serve breakfasts and lunches, no kid goes hungry, if you earn less than subsistence level, you will be compensated. The penal institution, medical care, social benefits, roads, things are looking up for Bonaire, and it isn’t really fully integrated, yet. Once it is, Aruba will be jealous. We earn less and pay more taxes, our social benefits are not as good as the neighbor’s.

The leader of the opposition keeps talking about raising pensions, but we cannot, we have no funds.

People will be asking themselves, is the Bonaire model better than what we have in Aruba??

Even St Martin, especially the French side, is doing much better, as far as benefits and pension age.

We must get our act together, transition 1,500 public sector employees into the private sector. The private sector will have to raise salaries, but that is all good, we will alleviate the country’s financial burden and satisfy the needs of hospitality in one fell swoop.


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January 26, 2024
Rona Coster