Equality in Exchange for BES Seabed

International news sometimes suggests solutions to local problems. The news that Australia has increased its share of the seabed by 2.5 million sq km, may serve as an example. The UN agreed to an extension of Australia’s share. Its continental shelf will be extended by five times the size of France, giving it rights to explore new areas for oil and gas. Australia had worked for 15 years on the claim. The claim was made under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Now there is good reason for seeking such an extension, of course. Australia hopes to find oil and/or other minerals. Under the same UN Convention the BES-islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) have the legal right to establish an ‘Exclusive Economic Zone’ (‘EEZ’) covering their surrounding sea-beds, the combined size of which is not much smaller than Holland’s share of the North Sea continental shelf. We do not know if any minerals or oil can be extracted from this chunk of seabed, but there is potential here.

Potential bonanza

The Australian Minister said he could not put a figure on the potential oil and gas reserves contained in the areas. “The truth of the matter is that they have been hardly explored”, he said. “This is potentially a bonanza. We have got unknown capacity up there”. Exactly the same might be said for the BES-islands. We do not know what is out there, but this is potentially a bonanza.

Now, the BES-islands (or at least Bonaire) have decided by referendum to become a part of Holland (option: integration). Saba and Statia have put their signature to an agreement promising that they will accept the integration-option. The 4 parties to the agreement (Holland, Bonaire, Saba and Statia) are now negotiating the details and implementation of their basic agreement, known as the ‘Final Declaration’.

No final agreement yet

But the deal has not been completed yet. There are far-reaching partial agreements, on which the parties cannot easily renege. However, there are still a number of open questions. One of them is the matter of equality within the new structure for the BES-citizens, i.e. recognition of equal basic human rights and opportunities on an equal footing with citizens living in Holland. This is a logical consequence of the agreements reached, which consequence Holland up to now is unwilling to accept. This is a point of principle, a breaking point if necessary.

So before Holland, like Australia, announces triumphantly that its territory has been expanded by a sizable chunk of the Caribbean Sea, we must reach agreement on all outstanding open questions, especially the mater of equality. We recommend as a fair exchange that the BES-islands make it crystal clear that the potential bonanza hidden in the seabed surrounding the BES-islands can be Holland’s only, if Holland accepts to extend the principle of equality to the BES-islands. If Holland is unwilling to do so, the Caribbean seabed will remain ours.

Wrong thinking

Having stated the above, we are the first to point out that the thinking behind the proposed exchange is in essence wrong. For if the BES-islands become part of Holland, then logically the relevant chunk of the Caribbean seabed will also be Holland’s. Or, more precisely, it will be ours as well, because if we are a part of Holland, what is Holland’s is ours too. It’s like a marriage.

In other words, we, i.e. the BES-islands, are willing to correct our thinking, but only if Holland is willing to do so as well. It takes two to tango. As long as Holland refuses to recognize the equality of BES-citizens within the context of an extended Holland (including the BES-islands), how can Holland expect the BES-islands to correct its thinking on these matters?

ARCO insists

There can be no deal with Holland, unless Holland treats us fairly. The modern form of apartheid Holland intends to introduce in the BES-islands by refusing the BES-citizens equal rights, is a mistake of a magnitude which can only be understood within the context of rising fascism in the world in general and in Holland in particular. That Holland wavers, we can forgive. But we cannot allow Holland to make this mistake, prejudicing the BES-islands for years to come.

If it has to be up to us (i.e. the BES-islands) to change Holland’s mind on this one, so be it. But its mind needs to be changed. And preferably before reaching the final agreements on the new status. Because in the end recognition of the equality principle is inevitable anyway. But why do we have to fight for this yet again? It shouldn’t even be an issue.

Rising socialism in Latin America

The selected video does not concur with ARCO’s views. What we see in Latin America and probably later in the Caribbean as well, is the renewed rise of an ideology that has failed, both economically and socially. The repression that comes with a system opposed to freedom can only result in socialist style totalitarianism. We reject that outright.

But we do understand why socialism is on the rise again. It is because the ‘free West’ has lost its opportunity to come up with something substantially better for the impoverished masses in Latin America and elsewhere than ‘neo-liberalism’ (by the way, a misleading label for near ‘laissez-faire capitalism’). Whatever its label, it was no help to the impoverished masses at all! In these circumstances it is only to be expected that socialism will rise again, despite the fact that it will repress and impoverish the poor even more. So the warning voiced by the video’s narrator is relevant.

The West has itself to blame, if the warning is not heeded. As Holland will only have itself to blame if inequality (a form of apartheid) is re-introduced in the BES-islands. Holland should avoid this mistake. As Latin America should avoid reverting to a failed system.

Third way of Realism and Justice

It should be pointed out that unless the world comes up with a better answer than both socialism and capitalism, we may expect new bloody and violent socialist revolutions and counter-revolutions to come back to the continent. In endless cycles, we may add, unless we open our eyes and hearts to justice and realism.

In this article we can do no more than refer to a few websites where this new system has been set out in detail. Please take the time to study these sites. It is worth your time. There is no point in eloquently stating the problem, unless you can offer a solution. Louis Kelso spelled out a feasible solution. So read these sites! www.cesj.org and www.binaryeconomics.net and www.kelsoinstitute.org