Curaçao is committed to assisting St. Maarten in the reconstruction phase. Curaçao provided concrete support after Hurricane Irma and will be available to do so again, said Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath on Thursday, while visiting the Netherlands.
Curaçao might not have the financial power to assist St. Maarten like the Netherlands, but it is most willing to make its expertise and manpower available to help rebuild St. Maarten, Rhuggenaath said. “We have done this before,” he told The Daily Herald, referring to the assistance that was also provided after Hurricane Luis in 1995.
Speaking of the assistance provided by Curaçao with police personnel, Red Cross and other relief workers, and the many donations by the Curaçao people after Hurricane Irma, Rhuggenaath said it was beautiful to see civil society in Curaçao gather to support its sister island. “We came together as a Kingdom. We need to keep building on that.”
The reconstruction after the hurricane provides new opportunities for a closer cooperation between the countries in the Kingdom and to build in a more sustainable manner – “building back better. It would be great if we could do this together. Support each other, also to achieve sustainable development,” he said.
Everyone should be involved in this: governments, organisations and not forgetting the young people, said Rhuggenaath. “The other countries can also learn from this. Today it is St. Maarten, but tomorrow it can be another country. We must support and assist each other in the Kingdom.”
During the reception in the Prime Minister’s honour at Society De Witte in The Hague Thursday evening, Rhuggenaath also expressed the wishes of his Government for close ties with the other countries of the Kingdom. “We are committed to fortifying the relations as one Kingdom. We all share the same aim: to provide prosperity for our people,” he said.
Rhuggenaath also conveyed this message in the meetings that he had with Members of the Dutch Government this week. “We are looking forward to working together with the Rutte III Cabinet. We want to give new impulse to the cooperation with all four countries,” he said in his speech at the well-attended reception.
He spoke of the big challenges that Curaçao was facing: a stagnating economy, an increased sense of insecurity among the people, unemployment and poverty. “Curaçao is a young democracy. That brings with it a certain dynamic, but also great challenges. The challenges are complex and persistent, but together we can deal with these challenges, relying on the strong characteristics of Curaçao being a highly diverse and creative society.”
Social progress for everyone is the motto of the new Curaçao Government that has assumed the herculean task of eradicating poverty and improving this for the most vulnerable in society, while stimulating economic development. The Curaçao Government has set up a comprehensive urgency programme to combat poverty which should result in better living conditions for all residents.
“As a Government, we constantly ask ourselves, is this the best decision for the vulnerable people in our community? We can only be successful if everyone can participate, if there is progress for everyone,” said Rhuggenaath.