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The Struggle for Community Involvement in Development Projects

The Struggle for Community Involvement in Development Projects

 

March 2, 2024

 

We have yet to recover from the announcement on December 31, 2023, that Carcaasbaai will be turned into a concrete block. In the meantime, the building permit for the construction of the concrete box in Penstraat has been modified, or there are appearances of photos, models, and other impressions of what will be built with our pension premiums at the economic entrance of the harbor, the face of the island. The General Pension Fund of Curaçao purchased the building during a third auction in September 2020 for 6.3 million guilders. Prior to the sale, it was estimated that the building would likely need to be demolished as it was deemed beyond repair. However, the pension fund commissioned a redevelopment plan from the 'Heritage Plaza Consortium' led by former VNO-NCW chairman Hans de Boer (deceased), envisioning a cultural center with art and cultural tourism that would fit within Willemstad's world heritage site.


In December 2021, the pension fund announced that the tower would indeed be demolished. In its place, Waterfort Plaza, an apartment complex with hospitality facilities and a cultural center, was proposed. However, there are numerous issues with this plan, one of which is the lack of community involvement. The population is not being consulted, which contradicts the promise made to preserve the island's world heritage. It reflects the absence of a clear vision for the island, a failure that is becoming increasingly evident.


Curaçao remains trapped in neoliberal thinking, evident in projects that prioritize profit over people and the environment. Local residents are finding it increasingly difficult to afford living on the island, leading to forced migration. These projects fail to create the jobs needed by the population, resulting in the inevitable influx of immigrants. Looking at Aruba, Bonaire, and Sint Maarten provides a clear indication of how this scenario will unfold. The island has been sold, including its inhabitants.

And this is only scratching the surface; issues such as Ennia, Giro Bank, and others remain unaddressed. It is imperative that we, as a community, demand transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in decision-making processes. Our voices must be heard, and our concerns addressed, for true democracy to thrive. We must strive for a future where development benefits all members of society, not just a select few.


Miguel Goede

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