Deteriorating relations between the islanders and the Dutch government have led to a “volatile situation” on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire, Radio Netherlands Worldwide said on Monday
It said Cedric Soleana of the campaign group Concerned Bonairians over the weekend warned Gov. Lydia Emerencia that “riots could break out at any moment.”
“Mr. Soleana warned of rioting comparable to the massive May 1969 riots in Curaçao, which broke out in protest against the then Dutch rulers,” said Radio Netherlands Worldwide in a statement.
Bonaire was one of five islands that formed the Netherlands Antilles until the major political reforms implemented in October 2010.
In a referendum held on each of the islands, the people of Curaçao and St Maarten voted to become autonomous nations within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; while Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius chose to become special Dutch municipalities. Aruba, the sixth Dutch Caribbean island, was the first to become autonomous in 1986.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide said Bonairians have been complaining about rising prices for a long time.
“And there is widespread dissatisfaction with the island’s status as ‘special public body’,” it said.
“At the time of the referendum, people expected the island to become a municipality like any other in the Netherlands, including Dutch social security,” it added.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide said the campaign group is demanding a new referendum, presenting a petition to Queen Beatrix during her visit to the island last year.
“More than a year ago, the US dollar was introduced on the island and taxes were increased. As a result, a large proportion of the islanders can no longer make ends meet,” Radio Netherlands Worldwide said.
“The growing number of Dutch citizens moving to the island has sparked serious tensions between the two population groups,” it added.
Soleana said Bonairians are “tired of talking and tired of all the promises.
“You can take it as a threat, but after today we’re done talking,” Radio Netherlands Worldwide quoted Seleana as saying.
“We’ll go to jail if we have to, in the name of justice and of the people,” he added.