MONDAY, 11 FEBRUARY 2013
ST. EUSTATIUS–Brighter Path Foundation, Statia Roots Foundation and St. Eustatius Awareness and Development Movement have joined forces to petition the Island Government of St. Eustatius to organize a constitutional referendum before the evaluation of the island’s public-entity status in 2015.
In the early 1990s, there were discussions within the former Netherlands Antilles regarding the constitutional future of the country. Referendums were then held on all five islands of the former Netherlands Antilles. The people of St. Eustatius opted to remain in the Netherlands Antilles.
However, discussions among the islands flared up once again, as the intended restructuring of the Netherlands Antilles did not take place. St. Maarten was the first to have its referendum in June 2000, which sparked the other islands to also have their referendum in 2005.
Voters in Statia again chose to maintain in The Netherlands Antilles. However, due to the fact that Statia was the only island that opted to remain within the Netherlands Antilles -a choice viewed by many as impossible- it was decided that Statia also would have direct constitutional ties with The Netherlands, as Saba and Bonaire had opted for.
The people of Statia did not have the opportunity to freely decide if they were in favour of direct constitutional ties with the Netherlands, the petitioners for a referendum stated in a press release.
To substantiate the need for a constitutional referendum, at least 1.5 per cent of the local population was recently interviewed regarding the status change. According to the preliminary results, two per cent of those surveyed indicated they would opt for the current status of public entity. Five per cent of those surveyed indicated that they would opt for full integration, while 29 per cent of those surveyed would opt for a country within the Dutch Kingdom. Eight per cent of those surveyed would opt for independence; 28 per cent of those surveyed indicated that they do not have enough information to make a conscious choice and 11 per cent of those surveyed would opt for another status, which was not defined in the survey, it was stated.
“In light of the abovementioned results, we have decided to petition the local government of St. Eustatius to organize a constitutional referendum. In addition to this, various constitutional experts have indicated that, due to the planned anchoring of the public-entity status within the Dutch constitution, the possibility exists that during the evaluation of the island’s public-entity status in 2015, there might be but two constitutional options to choose from, namely to maintain the current status or become fully integrated within The Netherlands. We therefore believe that the time for action is now,” stated Brighter Path Foundation President Xiomara Balentina.
Integration with full political rights, independence and free association are the three legitimate alternatives which constitute the internationally-recognized options of political equality under the United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV). These options should be among the choices for the people of Statia to vote upon during a constitutional referendum, the proponents of a referendum stated.
Statians who want to support the call for a referendum can sign an online petition to be found at www.change.org/organizations/the_statian_community. The online petition can also be accessed via the How do you know you are a Statian Facebook page. The petition can also be signed at Lyn’s Dream bakery and Peso’s Supermarket.