U.S. Prolonging Dutch Neo-Colonialism in the Caribbean*
By Wayne Madsen
It has been the policy of the Barack Obama administration to oppose the granting of independence by European colonial powers to any more territories in the Caribbean. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told the leaders and people of six Dutch territories in the Caribbean in July 2013 that the Netherlands was prepared to grant independence to the islands but that the United States was adamantly against the idea.
Rutte was on a visit to each of the islands when he said that he would personally arrange for the islands to become independent but that the United States insisted on continued Dutch control because of two main factors:
1) that the United States preferred the status quo of having its NATO ally, the Netherlands, stationing more Dutch troops in its Caribbean territories than anywhere else abroad; and
2) the United States wanted the islands to maintain their colonial status to prevent them from falling under «mafia» control.
Under the present neo-colonial arrangements, Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten are considered «countries» in association with the Kingdom of the Netherlands while Saba, Saint Eustatius, and Bonaire are considered overseas «municipalities» of the Netherlands. The status for all the islands, except for Aruba, was arrived at after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles territory in 2010.
The Barack Obama administration has been extremely hostile to having new nations appear on the international scene during its tenure. Only one, South Sudan, a long-time pet project of Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice, became independent in 2011. Montenegro and East Timor, along with the largely unrecognized Kosovo, became independent during the George W. Bush administration.
But how far have the Obama administration and the freewheeling Central Intelligence Agency gone in order to prevent any newly-independent nations in the Caribbean? Some suggest that under its thuggish director, John O. Brennan, the CIA engaged in political assassination to help drive home its point.
October 2012 elections in Curacao resulted in a parliamentary majority for political parties that favoured total independence for the island. A coalition of the pro-independence «Pueblo Soberano» and «Movementu Futuro Kùrsou» (MFK) gained the most seats in the Estates of Curacao and they continued in their coalition government with the Social Democrats. In August of that year, the MFK Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte was dismissed by the Dutch-appointed governor, Frits Goedgedrag. The governor refused to allow Schotte to carry on as caretaker prime minister after the defection of two parliamentarians from his ruling coalition.
Curacao was plunged into a constitutional crisis with many pro-independence leaders suspecting not only interference from neo-colonialist Dutch political leaders and the Dutch intelligence services but also from the CIA and Obama administration, which were known to be hostile to any independence moves by the authorities in Willemstad, the Curacao capital. At first, Schotte refused to step down as prime minister, calling Goedgedrag’s actions a coup d’etat. After a few days of holding out in the prime minister’s office in Willemstad, Schotte left to campaign for the October election. Stanley Betrian, a former vice president of the Bank of the Netherlands Antilles and royal-appointed Lieutenant Governor of Curacao under the Netherlands Antilles colonial contrivance, became interim prime minister. Continued Dutch colonial rule was in safe hands for the time being.
Students of CIA-inspired constitutional coups may recall what occurred in Australia in 1975. That year, the Australian Governor General, Sir John Kerr, who was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, dismissed the Labor government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. It was later learned that Kerr had enjoyed a long association with the CIA as one of its most loyal Australian assets. A fierce critic of U.S. and Israeli policies, Whitlam made the CIA and the U.S. National Security Agency uncomfortable when he began asking too many questions about U.S. electronic intelligence-gathering bases near Alice Springs and at other locations. One of the young right-wing activists who rallied student support for Kerr’s actions in deposing Whitlam was Tony Abbott, the current Australian Prime Minister of Australia who threatened to physically assault Russian President Vladimir Putin by «shirtfronting» him at the G20 conference in Brisbane.
What occurred in Curacao in August 2013 was a microcosm of what occurred in Australia in 1975. The same CIA playbook was used in both cases but in Curacao the rules of the game had a bloodier outcome.
After the October 2012 elections in Curacao, many conservative politicians in the Netherlands urged Curacao to be set free because of what they perceived was rampant corruption on the island and alleged mafia connections of former Prime Minister Schotte. It now appears that these charges were red herrings created by the CIA’s obedient media in the Netherlands to give the impression that Curacao and the other Dutch Caribbean islands were ungovernable as independent entities because of a nebulous «mafia» waiting to take over upon independence. Considering the successful independence enjoyed for decades by the former British territories of Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts-Nevis, Dominica, and others, the arguments used against independence for the Dutch Caribbean isles were inane and without foundation.
The head of party with the largest vote count in the October 2012 election was Helmin Wiels of «Pueblo Soberano.» The second largest was Schotte’s MFK, which remained in the coalition government headed by Wiels’s party. At the end of October 2012, Wiels announced that a referendum on independence would be held. He also said that upon passage of the referendum, he would begin negotiations with the Netherlands that would allow for dual nationality and visa free travel between the island and the Netherlands. The Socialist and right-wing Freedom Party in the Netherlands, never seeing eye-to-eye on many matters, supported independence for Curacao. These developments set off alarm bells at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia and at the Pentagon.
On December 31, 2012, another banker, Daniel Hodge of the Party for a Restructured Antilles (PAR) and director of the Curacao Postal Savings Bank, became Prime Minister. Meanwhile, Wiels of the «Pueblo Soberano» continued to call for independence.
On May 5, 2013, in broad daylight, five bullets tore into Wiels while he was sipping a beer on the Marie Pompoen public beach. The attackers who assassinated Wiels sped off in a car and were never caught. The
The following month, Schotte, Wiels’s old coalition partner, said that it was Wiels’s desire for independence of Curacao that led to his assassination. Schotte vehemently denied he had foreknowledge of the plans to assassinate Wiels, stating that his MFK party wholeheartedly supported Wiels’s goal of independence. The only «investigation» conducted in earnest by Curacao prosecutors and police was of Curacao government insiders who began leaking details of the investigation of Wiels’s murder to the media. Schotte’s concerns about Wiels’s assassination by opponents of independence were silenced after he and his girlfriend were arrested by Curacao police on May 20, 2014 on charges of money laundering and forgery. The elimination of the two major proponents of independence for Curacao from the scene may be lauded by the CIA as another highly-classified «success story» but for the peoples of the Caribbean the tale has dire consequences.
Dutch Prime Minister Rutte was correct when he stated that the United States will not permit any more nations in the Caribbean to become independent and that not only includes Curacao but the other Dutch-controlled islands, as well as the British-run Cayman Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Bermuda and the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe.
The use of law enforcement to silence proponents of independence has been used in the British-controlled Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) to deter pro-independence politicians. Britain successfully had Brazilian authorities arrest former TCI Premier Michael Misick, a proponent of independence who fled the TCI for Brazil after being charged with corruption in the TCI. Misick was not only charged with fraud and money laundering but also raping an American resident of Puerto Rico. Misick denied all the charges and, while in exile in Brazil, wrote of Britain’s re-imposition of colonial rule on the TCI by an appointed governor. Misick’s legal problems began after he began to push for TCI independence from Britain. Not only has Britain tightened the colonial screws on TCI, with a wink and a nod from Washington, but a Canadian Tory MP named Peter Goldring has paid two visits to TCI to convince TCI’s British puppet Premier, Rufus Ewing, to begin negotiations on TCI being annexed by Stephen Harper’s Canada.
As for Wiels’s killers, CIA assassins are rarely caught and brought to justice. The actual assassins of two Presidents of Palau – Haruo Relemik gunned down in 1985 and his successor, Lazarus Salli, shot in his home in 1988 – have never been caught. Both presidents advocated their islands remaining nuclear free after independence from the United States, a policy that was at variance with the CIA and Pentagon.
From Canberra in 1975 to Palau in 1985 and 1988 and Curacao in 2012 and 2013, the CIA playbook remains in force with assassinations, constitutional coups, and frame ups common practices.