Amigoe: ‘Discussion Isla surrounded by fear’

THE HAGUE — The discussion on the future of the Isla-refinery is surrounded by fear for incomprehension with the employees, for new balances of power and for a society without the oil refinery. However, everyone knows that the refinery doesn’t have a future, according to the shared conclusion during the first meeting of the Vereniging Antilliaans Netwerk (VAN) this year.

By our correspondent

Otti Thomas

Although the subject of the discussion evening at the Nutshuis was sustainable economic development of Curaçao and Aruba, in practice it was mainly about the Isla-refinery. The possible signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as basis for negotiations with PdVSA on the future makes the subject even more current.

Guest speaker Dr. Jan Rotmans, associated with the Erasmus University as transition expert, stated that the eventual departure of the refinery is unavoidable considering the global transition to an entire new economy and society. With concrete examples on the application of solar cells, he illustrated that that new economy is already irreversibly in the making. “The answer to the question if the Isla should be modernized, is no! It is not the future”, he said. Rotmans gave similar presentations on Curaçao late last year at the invitation of Green Town, which wants to realize employment for 17,000 people with an alternative use of the Isla-premises. “As regards contents, nobody can object to Green Town. The opposition is about power and interests”, he said.

“The government is afraid to explain the closing down of the Isla to the population”, Sven Rusticus of Green Town said. “However, Curaçao could be 100 percent sustainable within five years.”

This statement from both Rusticus and Rotmans led to criticism from the audience that a change could never be realized so fast and it must be an initiative of the own population. “You’re asking people to fall into an abyss, but it should be a gradual process”, someone from the audience said. Also panel member Wensley Francisco from the documentary ‘Stikken in the Paradijs’ (Suffocating in Paradise) protested. “I’m opposed to more hotels where tourists are served. Curaçao actually needs a new industry.” Furthermore, Curaçao and the Netherlands are to assume their responsibility for the pollution, Francisco said. However, Rusticus and Rotmans indicated they’re not departing from five years, on the contrary, they hope for the involvement of the residents of Curaçao. “We want to run it down properly and for example arrange retraining of the current 900 employees. A welder at the refinery can be retrained to become a joiner of sailing yachts.” Besides modern communication means like Facebook, also the residents for example of Marchena are called on to convince their neighbors that the refinery does not have a future.

With his explanation on the Aruban project Green’S’Cool, fourth panel member Geert Kooistra proved that change is indeed possible, although he commented that the Valero-refinery meant less for Aruba than the Isla does for Curaçao. “Aruba succeeded because it simply started and because we invested in making sustainability attractive financially”, he said. “It’s the art to span a bridge between the new generation with a wish on what the world should be like and the old generation with the knowledge on why the world is as it is.”

Source: Amigoe (February 24, 2014)

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