The parliament of the Dutch Caribbean territory St Maarten has referred the administering power, The Netherlands, to the United Nations on allegations of neocolonialism.
MPs in St Maarten object to conditions attached to a COVID-19 aid package. It includes a monitoring body appointed by the Dutch government to oversee reforms ranging from more efficient tax collections to public sector cutbacks and tackling criminality.
The petition, signed by 12 of the 15 MPs in St Maarten’s parliament says while they accept the package and some of the conditions, a monitoring body to oversee those critical areas of local government functions is unacceptable.
They claim the Dutch government is using the pandemic and a previous wrangle over aid from the devastating Hurricane Irma of 2017 to tighten its grip on the territory.
St Maarten along with Curacao and Aruba voted for a new ‘kingdom partner’ status with the Dutch government in 2010 which gives them more individual autonomy but leaves oversight of good governance, defence and the judiciary in the hands of the Dutch government.
The Dutch Junior Foreign Affairs Minister, Raymond Knops, was reported by Dutch News.nl as saying that he was “unpleasantly surprised” by the complaint to the UN and has asked the St Maarten government for an explanation.
“I have had to conclude that St Maarten at the moment is not able to function fully autonomously," he said.
"We do not want to take away the island’s autonomy but to help it assume full autonomy in the years to come."