Curaçao Chronicle: ‘Open Letter SMOC To Dutch Minister Plasterk’

WILLEMSTAD – The local environmental organization SMOC has recently sent a letter to the Minister of Kingdom Affairs, Ronald Plasterk on the situation with the oil refinery. The SMOC has been working now for years to try to find a solution to the pollution problem that has been doing a lot of harm to the people of Curaçao, especially those who live in the shadows of the refinery.

“Firstly, we wish you, once again, welcome to the beautiful Curaçao. The country known for sun, sea, beach, coral, beautiful people and… the refinery (Isla). We have it from the media that your visit to Curacao this time is in the sign of respecting children and your concerns about this. This issue touches on the objectives of the SMOC Foundation and we ask your attention for the following.

The black emissions, discharges and history of Isla are well known to you, the effects also. But now we highlighted in particular the many children who, coughing and spluttering, have to live and go to school under those black clouds. You know that it is contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 25) and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (Art. 24 and 29). It is therefore no wonder that a few years back the unlawful conduct of the Isla was determined by the Curacao court, this in reference to human rights treaties.

UNICEF recently published a research on the state of affairs with regards to children in Curacao. The impact of the Isla is totally ignored by the UNICEF researchers to the amazement of the SMOC. In the report, there is not one word devoted to this situation. That is strange, because a survey of the Public Health Service from 2007 points out that residents prefer to move away from the shadow of the Isla due to the refinery itself. Unfortunately. The financial means of many of these residents do not allow this. It is precisely for this reason that the residents are socio-economically caught in the smoke of the Isla and students try to develop themselves in the stench of it.

The Isla problem is, according to SMOC, a Kingdom affairs. It is therefore on your plate, especially since the Curaçao government has not been doing anything to solve this problem for about this for thirty years. The Curaçao government is now saying they will pay attention to the future of the Isla. We welcome this, but it takes nothing away from our findings that there is no attention to the current dire situation. Even a functioning enforcement system does not exist after all these years, which is contrary to what you have informed the Dutch Lower House. We ask you to pay attention to these flagrant violations of human and thus children’s rights during your stay in Curacao.”

The letter was written by Drs. Peter van Leeuwen (Chairman SMOC) in Curacao and Drs. Arjan Linthorst (Board SMOC) in the Netherlands

Source: Curaçao Chronicle (November 17, 2014)

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