January 29, 2024
In Curaçao, a paradox looms large. Many in Curaçao choose not to express dissent, and those who do often fail to meet the requirements for meaningful contributions to the dialogue. This silence is accompanied by loud voices, often ignorant of the issues at hand. A critical factor jeopardizing democracy and dissent in Curaçao is exclusion, inequality, and poverty. Poverty negatively correlates with health and hampers access to education and information—essential prerequisites for fruitful discourse. It’s a topic that triggers aggression.
On July 23, 2023, I revealed in an article that one-third of Curaçao’s population lives below the poverty line, based on data predating the refinery shutdown and the pandemic (Goede, 2023). Consequently, the actual percentage of households below the poverty line is likely higher. Compounding the issue, Curaçao stands as the poorest country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, boasting a Gini coefficient of 0.42, measured in 2011. Add to that there are over 10.000 undocumented people on the island and the census 2023 is still unfinished. The Social Economic Council of Curaçao cited the figures from my article in advising the government, emphasizing that increasing the legal minimum wage is merely a tiny step toward addressing poverty (31% Armoede op Curacao, 2024).
However, skepticism abounds, with many calls disputing the substantiation of the figures. Claims circulate that people are unwilling to work, that foreigners face no challenges securing jobs, and more.
This controversy came back to me after reading an article in a Dutch newspaper saying that poverty is ignored by many in the Netherlands who choose not to acknowledge or deny the existence of poverty (We willen de armoede in Nederland niet alleen niet zien, we ontkennen zelfs dat het bestaat, 2024).
It’s important to note that the situation in Curaçao is not entirely typical. Nevertheless, caution must be exercised when making comparisons, considering that, at last check, 6% of households in the Netherlands lived below the poverty line. The crux of the matter is that individuals grappling with survival cannot effectively engage in dissent. For democracy to flourish, poverty must be minimized. Society needs to foster inclusivity, and income disparities must be reduced.
In conclusion, the paradox in Curaçao reflects a global struggle, emphasizing the need for a concerted effort to dismantle barriers that stifle dissent. Acknowledging the struggles of the unheard is the first step towards fostering a more equitable and democratic Curaçao.
31% Armoede op Curacao. (2024, januari 4). Retrieved from antilliaansdagblad.com: https://antilliaansdagblad.com/nieuws-menu/28851-31-armoede-op-curacao
Goede, M. (2023, juli 23). Eindelijk aandacht voor armoede op Curacao. Retrieved from www.linkedin.com: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/eindelijk-aandacht-voor-armoede-op-cura%C3%A7ao-miguel-goede/
We willen de armoede in Nederland niet alleen niet zien, we ontkennen zelfs dat het bestaat. (2024, januari 27). Retrieved from www.volkskrant.nl: https://www.volkskrant.nl/columns-opinie/we-willen-de-armoede-in-nederland-niet-alleen-niet-zien-we-ontkennen-zelfs-dat-het-bestaat~bd700755/?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=LinkedIn#Echobox=1706369266