Demonstration on Bonaire against inequality with the Netherlands 18:02 abroad Local media speak of the largest demonstration in the history of Bonaire.

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Local media call it the largest demonstration ever in Bonaire’s history.
NOS News
  • Dick Drager

    Correspondent Curaçao

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Bonaire yesterday to protest against the hesitation of the Dutch government to set a social minimum. Local media speak of the largest demonstration in the history of Bonaire.

Citizens, trade unions, church, politicians and consumer organizations on the island marched through the capital Kralendijk to express their displeasure. Bonaire, but also Saba and St. Eustatius have been Dutch municipalities since 2010 and therefore fall under the ministries in The Hague and the duty of care.

In practice, the islands do not have the same social facilities as in the Netherlands. For example, no social minimum has been set, no unemployment benefit and there are no disability provisions.

850 euros per month

One of the speakers at the demonstration was Elsie Martinus (49). She is a single mother with two children. Her eldest son is autistic, her youngest son Kyon has a rare sweat gland disorder, which means that his skin cannot be exposed to direct sunlight.

She herself has a disease of her bone marrow, which causes her to produce too few red blood cells. Elsie is on welfare, as social assistance is called on Bonaire. She has to live on about 850 euros a month.

Because there are hardly any facilities on the island, Elsie has to be creative. “Kyon is not allowed to play outside during the day, a shelter at my house would offer a solution, but I cannot afford that. An application to the municipality has been rejected.”

Elsie and her son

Because Kyon needs a lot of skin care, he can’t share the small showers and changing room with his class after school swimming. “That stops the whole class,” says Elsie. “The separate facility for children with a disability has been closed for months. That’s why I dry it off in the sandy parking lot.”

‘Poverty has never been so great’

An estimated four out of ten Bonaireans have an official income that is below the subsistence level. That is why 3000 households cannot make ends meet in a decent way. What bothers many people on the island is that they were told in 2010 that the facilities would be raised to Dutch level, but that did not happen.

In recent years, the House of Representatives in particular has been pushing for things to be corrected. But the confidence in that is, thirteen years later, completely gone, as the demonstration showed. “We have been waiting for so long, one commitment after another, but poverty has never been so great on Bonaire,” says Elsie.

  • Consumers’ Association Bonaire starts a lawsuit against the Dutch State for poverty
  • The elderly in the Caribbean Netherlands skip meals due to poverty
  • Residents of Caribbean municipalities struggle with expensive groceries
  • Abroad

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