Arubans - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Aruba is divided along class, ethnic, and geographical lines, which in part overlap. Although the gap between rich and poor is significant, class lines are loosely defined. Anthropological research has devoted much attention to ethnic relations. Ethnic boundaries are not as rigid as in typical Caribbean plural societies such as those of Suriname or Trinidad but can be seen between (descendants of) traditional Arubans and Afro-Arubans. Trade groups, such as the Chinese and the Portuguese from Madeira, and the traditional elite hold their own position. Recent migration has created new boundaries between newcomers and older ethnic groups. Ethnic and geographical divisions can be seen in labor specialization, patterns of marriage and settlement, choice of language, and political affiliations.

Political Organization. Aruba has been an autonomous part of the Dutch kingdom since 1986. The gouvernor is the local representative of the Dutch monarch and the head of the Aruban government. The kingdom's Council of Ministers consists of the complete Dutch cabinet and two ministers plenipotentiary, one representing Aruba and the other the Netherlands Antilles. It is in charge of joint foreign policy, defense, and justice and the safeguarding of fundamental rights and freedoms. Political autonomy in internal affairs is almost complete. Although it was decided in 1983 that Aruba would become independent and leave the Dutch kingdom in 1996, this is now being changed and Aruba will maintain its autonomous status within the kingdom. Execution of this resolution, however, is contingent on restructuring of the governmental apparatus, enhancing the quality of administration, and reducing public expenditures.

Aruba is a parliamentary democracy with a multiparty system. Elections are held every four years. Since achieving the Status Aparte, government has been dependent on coalitions between one of the two bigger parties and the smaller ones. The biggest parties are the Christian-democratic Arubaanse Volkspartij (People's party of Aruba) and the social-democratic Movimento Electoral di Pueblo (People's Electoral Movement). Democracy functions with a certain degree of patronage and nationalistic rhetoric. Political parties carefully select candidates from different regional and ethnic backgrounds.

National festive days are the Day of the National Anthem and the Flag on 18 March and Queen's Day on 30 April. The first stresses Aruba's political autonomy, the second the partnership with the Dutch kingdom. Aruba's former political leader François Gilberto "Betico" Croes (1938-1986) is commemorated on his birthday, 25 January. Croes is the personification of Aruba's struggle for separation from the Netherlands Antilles. He was seriously injured in a car crash, a few hours before the proclamation of the Status Aparte, on New Year's Eve 1985. He died in November 1986.

Social Control. The small scale of the society allows gossip to be an effective means of social control. Newspapers, of which Aruba has four in Papiamento, two in Dutch, and three in English, also function as such. Legal forms of social control are provided by the juridical system. Aruba has its own legislative powers but shares a Common Court of Justice with the Netherlands Antilles. The Supreme Court is situated in the Netherlands.

Conflict. Most public conflicts on the island arise from political and ethnic differences. Some labor conflict occurs but has virtually never led to serious threats to peace in the workplace or to economic stability. Massive migration and a shortage of adequate housing cause much social tension and resentment. The rise in criminality is often ascribed to the growing number of immigrants. Informants state that the kin group is the most important locus of social interaction but also the biggest source of social conflict.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: