Downtown Paramaribo closed after a day full of disturbances

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Protesters during Friday’s protest at Independence Square
NOS News

In the center of Paramaribo it is quiet on the street after yesterday’s riots. Last night there was a curfew, for today the police have called on residents to stay at home as much as possible.

“The city center is completely closed off with fences, so no cars can enter,” says Lena van Dijk of the NOS Jeugdjournaal from Paramaribo. “I only see some lost tourists.” She too cannot go everywhere, but heard from passers-by that police and soldiers can be seen everywhere.

As a result of the riots yesterday, according to the Miami Herald, 83 looters have been arrested. The organizer of the demonstration that preceded the riots was also allegedly ordered to be arrested.

Parliament building

Yesterday a demonstration got out of hand against the economic policies of the Santokhi government, inflation and corruption. Demonstrators entered the parliament building and caused destruction. Shops were also looted. Several news sites report that a fire was started at national radio station SRS last night, but that two security guards managed to extinguish the fire.

President Santokhi and other politicians have expressed their disapproval. In a joint press release, the business community regrets that shops have been looted and destroyed.

Suriname Parliament stormed: ‘More protests not excluded’

Yesterday’s messages and images also elicited reactions from the listeners of the multicultural radio station Radio Mart in Amsterdam. This afternoon, a striking number of callers showed understanding for the demonstrators. “Those people are hungry,” said one woman. “Those people don’t have food! There were a lot of old people, people with walking difficulties. And tear gas was used. I just think it’s terrible.”

“Suriname is a dictatorship and it’s only getting worse,” said one man. “Now the internet is blocked, where are we going? Are we China, are we an African dictatorship? This cannot be done.”

Another woman said that many Surinamese voted for President Santokhi in 2020 because they had no alternative. “They wanted to get rid of the Bouterse government, that’s why they voted for Santokhi and Santokhi is not doing any better.”

Parliament buildings were also stormed in Brazil and the US, but you cannot compare that with the events in Suriname, says a caller. “What happens in America is that people are against a democratic decision, in Suriname people are against corruption.”

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