Reasons Arubans like me will never return to Aruba



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.


Film: Sombra di Koló ****

Held at the Bijlmer park theater in Amsterdam last Thursday, the documentary film Sombra di Koló (Shadow of Color) was aired together with a post film discussion on the topic of race relations in Curaçao.

The film focuses on five areas in Curaçao that range from working class to upper class. The film argues that the areas also range more or less from black to white. Whites living in gated communities around a bay. The poor in an urban project outside of the capital. And the more mixed race or lighter skinned blacks live in the middle class communities.

The discussion that followed dealt with the topics of personal experiences of discrimination and the need for decolonisation of the minds of people of color and whites alike. Using the right terms to address certain topics in discourse such as the dutch word wit (white) instead of blanc (a more posh way of saying white). And the role of whites in acknowledging that the era of colonization may be over, but it has had a lasting effect on the culture, and the people who have inherited what has come out of this time.

As a person of color myself, I could relate to a lot of the personal experiences shared that night and I hope that one day such a film could be made of race relations in Aruba which is very similar if not more polarized in some ways than its sister island Curaçao.