Reasons Arubans like me will never return to Aruba

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Why do we Aruban’s tend to stand in the way of progress? For the small country that Aruba is, it has been presented with many opportunities for progress. Thankfully some of these have been taken advantage of, and as a result the people of Aruba enjoy a relatively high standard of living.

But every so often Aruba and its leaders tend to hesitate and not pull through in terms of progressive policies. Its green energy policy which has been stagnant and with the opening of the new refinery will now even take a step back. Its sister island Curaçao is marching ahead in this field to take the title of greenest Caribbean country. Also in terms of LGBTIQ rights, which have not even been given the opportunity to get started, is set to be stopped in its tracks.

Time and time again the open minded, liberal Aruban at home and abroad has to stand and look on as our country takes yet another wrong turn. As one who lives abroad myself, I often feel guilt for not contributing to the cause. How can we progress when there is brain drain? When the country’s talent leaves never to come back.

This is why I was so happy when in the last years the Aruban member of parliament Desirée de Sousa-Croes took up the fight to advance LGBT rights in Aruba. She is trying to pass a bill in the Aruban parliament which will finally legalize registered partnerships in Aruba. But to hear the Aruban prime minister stating his party’s essentially anti LGBTIQ stand in this matter and not show support for his own party member, is yet another disappointment. It makes me question if this government is still the right one to lead our country.

I do not want to get ahead of the facts, since the Aruban parliament still has to vote on this issue. But the recent events do show that the ruling party does not fight for the minorities or the environment. Like the old natural bridge, which collapsed in 2005 the year that I left and has always been a symbol for me that Aruba will never be the same again. The decisions that are taken (or not taken) these days remind me of the reasons I decided not to go back.

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Author: joelillidge

Joël Illidge is a blogger on health and culture topics with a focus on the sexual health of ethnic minorities in the Netherlands, particularly the Dutch Caribbean LGBTIQ community. He has an educational background in Health Sciences (B.Sc.) and Physiotherapy (B.Health.), and is currently embarking on a Masters in Medical Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. He is based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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