The Morning After

So we all watched the show on TV last night. A confident, honey-tongued MinPres, in her best school-teacher outfit, hair and makeup, urging her people to demonstrate confidence and faith, in view of life-changing decisions she just made.

What she said:

The Dutch, in an unexpected move, wanted us to stretch the 204M florin we were about to get for the next tranche, over 5 months, which was CONTRARY to what was first agreed, where we were getting 240M for three months of expenses, to cover July, Aug & Sept.

So despite signing the aid-agreement, with draconian conditions and 2 kingdom laws, we would have encountered liquidity challenges before the end of the year, and would have had to turn to the international money-market, anyway.

She also explained that the Dutch dictated some take-it-or-leave-it deadlines for change and reform — which we are all pro, she added — but simply couldn’t comply with the timetable, thus Aruba was FORCED to look for other sources of money.

She has a sense of humor, no doubt, and she enjoyed her own performance. We didn’t cry she said, looking straight into the camera, we didn’t go on a hunger strike, we just faced our obligations. I detected a smirk there, as she jabbed at the former MinPres, quite pleased with herself.

Then she reiterated her commitment to GOA’s salaries and expenses, private sector salary subsidy, support of small and medium businesses, FASE, and health care expenses.

At least 50% of the country has a problem with GOA’s short-term-fix approach.

Especially the private sector, the sector that generates all the income to sustain the public sector.

The Dutch are asking for more severe conditions because GOA hasn’t budged. We’ve had six months of status quo without a single improvement, or any structural lowering of expenses, and the private sector has a problem with that lack of discipline.

Social media was buzzing, and the MinPres stayed up all night — a la Trump — answering posts of disillusioned, pained and stressed out private-sector members of our community, she demanded trust, insisted on faith, and berated her subjects on their anger. She ordered them to get in line, or get out of the way.

She repeated this message this morning in a cheerful post inviting all those in agreement to stand behind her and all those who want to ‘destroy’ us, to stay out of the way.

And that is this island’s downfall.

This intolerance of a different way of thinking, if you do not conform, you don’t belong, and if you do not shut up and bow to authority, you are a traitor.

I have supported MinPres as the driver of our bus, it is her job to get us out of trouble, yet surrounded by a bunch of incompetent operators I know her job must be impossibly hard.

I feared all along that the dark Nel-Xio-Roc spirit will take over, and it did. I am surprised, that I am surprised by it.

Tribalism, and division, are powerful weapons. The threat of being ousted, and the fear of being excommunicated is strong, it keeps people in line.

But

As long as Aruba fosters tribalism, and division among its people who are by nature undisciplined, the crisis will only deepen.

One of my friends tried to comfort me: If Aruba buys time, two months, by taking out another loan, like they do each year, and get a reprieve to further negotiate, then going to your good friends at Credit Suisse who have been helpful partners, is not such a bad idea.

But we’re undisciplined, and unstructured, I said, the money will be gone and then what? Back to square one?  

 

 

 

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September 11, 2020
Rona Coster