State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen (left) says goodbye to Saba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson at the end of her short visit to Saba on July 1, Emancipation Day. (Lincoln Charles/public entity Saba photo)
THE HAGUE--Caretaker State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitisation Alexandra van Huffelen expressed her regret over the fall of the Dutch government, but assured that she intended to continue her effort for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to bridge our substantive differences this week. And that is incredibly disappointing, not least for the residents of the Caribbean islands and the digital challenges that I work on daily with all colleagues,” she stated in response to Friday’s news that the Dutch government had fallen.
“Elections will be held later this year. We continue the work until there is a new cabinet. I will continue to work unabatedly in the interest of the people of the Dutch Caribbean,” she said.
Van Huffelen said on her LinkedIn page that she looked back with satisfaction on what had been achieved for the Dutch Caribbean part during her tenure in the past 1.5 years. “But the work is not done yet. I want to continue making progress on many issues. Because the residents of the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom and the challenges of including everyone in the digital world and making it reliable and safe don’t have time to wait,” Van Huffelen added.
Member of the European Parliament Samira Raphaela of the Democratic Party D66, who was in The Hague Friday evening for a lecture, said the intention had been to solve the issue of asylum seekers and allow their families to come to the Netherlands, which caused the government to fall. “This is not good for a country. But my party kept standing for our values, namely an ethical and humane treatment for people who flee,” said Raphaela.
“The falling of government does not help anyone in the Kingdom. The problems that we have to solve together will now be postponed,” said member of the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament Joba van den Berg of the Christian Democratic Party CDA.
“Our party leader Sigrid Kaag was clear and said that there is no benefit to be had from stagnation. I would like to add to that: especially not for the Caribbean islands,” said Member of the Second Chamber Jorien Wuite of the D66 party.
The Second Chamber will return from summer recess for a debate about the fall of the government with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte today, Monday. After that, Parliament will have to determine which subjects the caretaker government can still take decisions on and which subjects will be declared controversial, in which case, the caretaker government may not take decisions on those.
Important subjects for the Kingdom include the refinancing of the liquidity support loans of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, the (financial) support for renewable energy for the Dutch Caribbean countries as part of climate mitigation and the attention for the slavery past and the Commemoration Year Dutch Slavery Past, which started on July 1 this year.
Aruba Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes stated in a press release over the weekend that upon learning that the Dutch government had collapsed, she got in touch with her colleague Rutte and wished him and the Netherlands much strength.
Wever-Croes was also in touch with State Secretary Van Huffelen, who in turn assured the prime minister that she would continue to work with Aruba and the other islands. Wever-Croes said that the issue of refugees was a challenge that was well-known to Aruba with the large influx of Venezuelan migrants who have fled the Maduro regime.
Wever-Croes emphasised that despite the political developments in the Netherlands, nothing would change for Aruba in the coming period. Two weeks ago, the Aruba government met with State Secretary Van Huffelen in Oranjestad to discuss the refinancing of the COVID-19 pandemic loans.