Nieuws over Suriname

zaterdag 07 januari 2006 12:00

Tweede deel is in het Engels

In 1954 kreeg Suriname door het Koninkrijksstatuut al een voorproefje van de zelfstandigheid: het land kreeg toen de status van autonoom rijksdeel. Men mocht voortaan de binnenlandse zaken zelf regelen. Dit smaakte naar meer, zodat er vanaf 1958 pogingen werden gedaan om de zelfstandigheid uit te breiden. In het statuut was opgenomen dat Suriname zich kon afscheiden van Nederland.

Na de verkiezingen van 1973 begon de creoolse regering Arron te onderhandelen over onafhankelijkheid. Zodra de regering aan de macht was, beloofde deze om de zaak in 1975 te hebben voltooid. Voor velen kwam dit als een verrassing, omdat in het verkiezingsprogramma geen letter over de onafhankelijkheid had gestaan. De hindoestanen, die 17 van de 39 parlementszetels hadden, waren fel gekant tegen dit verlangen om zich los te maken van Nederland. Men vond het veel te snel, het land zou zich nog niet genoeg hebben kunnen ontwikklen tot volwaardige natie. Maar naar de oppositie werd niet geluisterd. Op 25 november 1975 verkreeg Suriname volledige onafhankelijkheid. Jan Pronk, destijds minister voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking in de regering-Den Uyl, speelde een belangrijke rol bij de onderhandeling.

Den Uyl
Het Nederlandse kabinet voerde Suriname onder leiding van premier Den Uyl naar de onafhankelijkheid. Den Uyl was erg tevreden over de manier waarop dat was gedaan. Later werd de onafhankelijkheid echter vaak gezien als opgedrongen, tegen de wil van het volk. In Nederland was men blij met de soevereiniteit, onder andere omdat er een onrustig sfeertje hing in Suriname en het wingewest niet meer zo winstgevend was.

Rond de onafhankelijkheid zijn veel Surinaamse migranten naar Nederland gekomen. De overheid maakte het hen makkelijk zich in Nederland te vestigen, zodat de onafhankelijkheid voor sommige groepen acceptabel werd. Dit gold vooral voor veel hindoestanen die tegen de onafhankelijkheid op dat moment waren. Tienduizenden vertrokken dan ook naar Nederland vlak voor de onafhankelijkheid. Na 1975 vond migratie van Surinamers alleen nog plaats om humanitaire redenen en in het kader van gezinshereniging, gezinsvorming en relatievorming.

Bij de onafhankelijkheid heeft Suriname ontwikkelingshulp van 3,5 miljard gulden toegezegd gekregen. Dit geld moest worden besteed aan verschillende projecten, onder toezicht van een Commissie Ontwikkelingssamenwerking Nederland-Suriname (CONS). Hier rezen echter steeds conflicten tussen de drie Nederlandse en de drie Surinaamse afgevaardigden, maar uiteindelijk kreeg de Surinaamse delegatie toch telkens de zin. De Decembermoorden van 1982 leidden tot een onmiddellijke stop op de ontwikkelingshulp. Pas vanaf 1991 kwam de geldstroom weer op gang. Tegen het einde van 1997 ging de geldkraan vanuit Nederland weer dicht omdat de relaties verslechterden.

Little-Known Suriname
Marks 30 Years of Independence

South America’s newest, smallest and least-known country celebrates its 30th anniversary of independence this month.
Suriname—known as Dutch Guiana until 1975— has fewer than 500,000 inhabitants, making it one of the emptiest countries in the world. Considering its small population, Suriname boasts an amazing variety of cultures and religions: Hindu temples, Anglican churches, Chinese pagodas, Jewish synagogues and Javanese mosques can all be found in the country’s capital city, Paramaribo.
“In more than one sense, we are a unique country,” said the country’s ambassador in Washington, Henry Illes. “We have the largest nature reserve in the world, and Suriname has the world’s highest percentage of tropical rainforest as part of its total area. And if you listen very carefully, as you travel throughout Suriname you will hear more than 20 languages spoken, including Dutch, Chinese, Hindi, Javanese, Arabic, Portuguese, German, French, and dialects spoken by the Maroon tribes and the Amerindians.”
Like many Surinamese, Illes studied in the Netherlands, becoming a specialist in geodesic mapping. He returned in 1973 and got a job with the Ministry of Natural Resources. Following a military coup in 1980, Illes became minister of labor and public housing, later leaving that job to become the managing director of a foundation doing development work in western Suriname.
He entered the Foreign Service in 1994 and served as Suriname’s ambassador to Guyana for three years (1994-97) before being appointed to his current post by President Roland Venetiaan.
Although culturally part of the Caribbean, geographically Suriname belongs to South America. Located on the northern edge of South America, Suriname’s neighbors are English-speaking Guyana to the west, French Guiana—an overseas department of France—to the east, and Portuguese-speaking Brazil to the south.
Like Guyana, under-populated Suriname is highly dependent on exports of price-sensitive commodities such as bauxite, sugar, rice, timber, gold and diamonds. Unlike Guyana, the former Dutch colony is still recovering from the effects of a disastrous civil war that raged in the late 1980s and early 1990s following independence in 1975.
Some people say independence was a mistake and that Suriname should have remained a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as did the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba.
But Illes doesn’t agree. “When you reach the age of maturity, you should be able and willing to leave your parents’ house and take responsibility on your own shoulders,” he said. “Some people had no confidence in the future. They had the option of getting Dutch citizenship or living in Suriname. Up until 1975, we were Dutch, so a lot of them chose Holland because of the Dutch social system that takes care of you from cradle to grave. That’s what attracted them.”
Even so, per-capita income, once among the highest in South America, is now under $3,000, and most of the tens of thousands of Surinamese who fled to Holland after independence have yet to return. Drug trafficking is a serious problem and so is petty crime, which Illes blames on Brazilian garimpeiros, or independent gold-miners.
Nevertheless, the ambassador doesn’t look at Suriname’s immediate neighbors with envy. “Kourou [launching site for the European Space Agency] is one spot in French Guiana where you have a little piece of France, but in the countryside, I don’t think development is that remarkable,” he said. “I think Suriname has a broader economic base than French Guiana. The same thing applies to Guyana. What is keeping their heads above water is bauxite, sugar and rice.”
Those are the main exports of Suriname as well, but Illes said that “in Suriname, we get a higher price for our bauxite exports because we produce alumina and aluminum using hydroelectric power. In Guyana, they export their raw material because they don’t have the energy, whereas we transform the raw materials into value-added products.”
He added that “the economy of Suriname is doing better now because up until 1975, it was dependent solely on mining. After independence, we tried to broaden the economic base.”
Despite the country’s problems, the country recently won global praise for establishing a 4-million-acre nature reserve—nearly 10 percent of Suriname’s landmass—to safeguard the largely uninhabited virgin forest against uncontrolled development by Asian logging firms.
The country’s profile was also lifted in 1995 when Suriname became the first non-English-speaking nation to be admitted into the Caribbean Community (Caricom). It got a further boost earlier this year when Surinamese diplomat Albert Ramdin was inaugurated as assistant secretary-general of the Organization of American States (see July 2005 issue of The Washington Diplomat). That marked the first time any Surinamese has held such an important office at the OAS.
Suriname’s economy is propped up by remittances from an estimated 250,000 Surinamese expatriates in Holland, another 50,000 in Guyana and 20,000 in the United States, mainly Miami. Two years ago, the country eliminated its deteriorating currency, the Surinamese guilder, knocking off three zeroes and replacing it with the Surinamese dollar, currently worth 2.75 to the U.S. dollar.
Although foreign investment is limited mainly to timber and mining, the retail and service sectors are gradually opening up. About seven years ago, fast-food giant McDonald’s inaugurated its first restaurant in Paramaribo, the capital; since then, McDonald’s has been joined by KFC and Pizza Hut.
U.S. companies are particularly interested in Suriname’s oil potential. The offshore Guyana Shield, said Illes, is believed to hold at least as much natural gas as Trinidad and Tobago, and 17 times as much petroleum.
Two years ago, said Illes, he and some fellow diplomats were invited on a fact-finding trip to Iowa, where big agribusiness companies lectured them about the benefits of free trade.
“But what I learned from this trip is that the U.S. agriculture sector is subsidized, even oversubsidized,” he said. “Look at what happened in Mexico. A few years after entering NAFTA [North America Free Trade Agreement], unemployment in Mexico’s agricultural sector, especially for women, increased tremendously. What about the other poor countries? How will we be able to compete?”
The ambassador added: “In my opinion, trade is a two-way street, and I haven’t heard anything that tells me this agreement is balanced. If we don’t negotiate these things well, it might be the same for us.”

Bron: The Washington Diplomat

Bewerkt door: Josha Sietsma


« Terug

Reacties op 'Nieuws over Suriname'

Geen berichten gevonden

Log in om te kunnen reageren op nieuwsberichten.

Archief > 2006