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Dissenting Voices: Carnival, Democracy, and the Pursuit of Profit

Dissenting Voices: Carnival, Democracy, and the Pursuit of Profit

 

February 14, 2024

 

Today marks the pinnacle of our Carnival celebration as the evening parade dazzles the capital's streets. Carnival, in its vibrant colors, lights, and joyful revelry, serves as a mirror reflecting the essence of our society. In the coming days, I plan to delve into the lessons we can collect from Carnival, much like the insights we gather from a census. However, today, I feel compelled to share my dissenting thoughts prompted by a recent radio interview with the head of the organization tasked with overseeing Carnival―now in his second year.

At the interview's conclusion, the vision articulated by the Carnival head was unequivocal: Carnival should transform into an export-oriented, self-sustaining, and profit-generating industry. The proposal resonated with many, including the interviewer, but I dare to dissent.

What I see emerging is a collective pursuit of profit, where individuals prioritize financial gain above all else. Gone are the communal bonds that once defined Carnival, replaced by a relentless pursuit of monetary success and personal pleasure. Carnival, originally a democratic celebration for all, now caters primarily to the privileged, leaving the underclass marginalized.

Over the years, participation in Carnival has become a luxury affordable only to the elite, even watching the festivities from prime spots demanding exorbitant fees. We seem to have forgotten that the essence of Carnival lies in our people―their culture and spirit, which draws tourists seeking an authentic experience.

In the backdrop of economic disparity, with Curaçao ranking as the poorest country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and a significant portion of the population (one-third) living below the poverty line, the commodification of Carnival reflects a broader societal trend. Once a vibrant community, our island has transformed into a profit-driven business, rendering life unaffordable for many forcing them to leave.

We urgently need a paradigm shift that prioritizes people, society, and nature over profit. The current neoliberal philosophy, prevalent in our society, threatens to erode our cultural heritage and displace our people. We must embrace sustainable development, striving for sustainability and regeneration―restoring both nature and society to their new glory.

As we revel in the colors and sounds of Carnival, let us also reflect on the values it embodies―inclusivity, unity, and joy. Let our dissenting voices ring out, advocating for a Carnival that truly represents our community and a society where people and the planet come before profit.

 

Miguel Goede

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