Curaçao - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. It is often said that, in the Caribbean, there is a weak sense of community cohesion and that local communities are loosely organized. Indeed, the same can be asserted of Curaçao. Nowadays, although Curaçao is a highly urbanized and individualized society, informal networks play an important role in the daily lives of men and women.

Political Organization. Constitutional structure is complex. There are three levels of government, namely, the Kingdom (the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba), the Land (the Netherlands Antilles-of-five), and that of each island. The Kingdom administers foreign affairs and defense; the government is appointed by, and represents, the Dutch Crown. Aruba now has its own governor. The governments of the Antilles and Aruba appoint ministers who represent them in The Hague. These ministers enjoy a special and powerful position and, when called upon, partake in discussions in the Kingdom cabinet.

Theoretically, the Land governs judicial, postal, and monetary matters, whereas the islands take care of education and economic development; however, the tasks of the Land and the islands are not specifically outlined, and duplication often occurs. The population is represented in the Staten (parliament of the Land) and the eilandsraden (insular councils). Both legislative bodies are elected by universal vote for a four-year term.

Political parties are organized island by island; Antilleans have a wide range from which to choose. This diversity prevents any one party from gaining an absolute majority. Consequently, coalitions are necessary in order to form a government. These coalitions are often forged on a shaky basis: machine politics and the so-called patronage system lead to instability. Therefore, a coalition seldom manages to serve a full four-year term, a condition that is not conducive to efficient government.

Conflict. Serious riots took place on Curaçao on 30 May 1969. According to an investigatory commission, the direct cause of the riots was a labor dispute between the company Wescar (Caribbean Rail) and the Curaçao Workers' Federation (CFW). The commission determined that the riots were not part of a larger plan to overthrow the government of the Antilles, nor was the conflict primarily along racial lines. Antilleans raised strong opposition to the fact that Dutch marines were brought in to restore law and order.

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