The significance for the people of Bonaire on the highly anticipated Dutch King Willem Apology for Slavery

June 29, 2023  -With the possible apology by King William on July 1, 2023, the commemoration of 160 years abolition of slavery in the Dutch Kingdom, that same day there will be a public event organized by the government of Bonaire in cahoots with Holland’s government which will be televised in a grand ceremony on Bonaire. One, wonders what the people are thinking on Bonaire of this latest development. What would motivate the Prime minster Rutte then, and now the Dutch King, to apologize as recently the beginning of 2022 they been constantly denying any accusation about the Dutch role in Slavery or anything to do with the slavery past, as they referring to it that it was not them, by saying that they were not part of it ?

Well, it could be a few things:

1-            A smoke screen to hide the fact that Bonaire is still a colony as at the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on October 10, 2010, our island Bonaire was imbedded in Dutch Constitution without equal rights. Our autonomy that we had since the 1954 was erased and reversed, and Bonaire returned to colonial-era-direct-rule from The Hague. All of Bonaire’s decisions and tax money is controlled by the Dutch Parliament.

2-            To control the narrative and stop the James Finies Human rights group of Bonaire gaining ground on the International and United Nations awareness campaign by a pilgrimage of over 460 days on the road lobbying and creating awareness of the situation of violations of Human rights on Bonaire.

3-            Our people are caught off guard and accept the illegal status because they remain unaware of their own enslaved history, and the history of their ancestors for the last 80 years as it was never taught in schools.

The Bonaire people’s emancipation process was stopped, and we could not understand what really happened to us as we never were told, taught, educated, or informed of our colonial slavery past and our people have no knowledge of or a defense against this new Dutch contemporary institutionalized recolonization and the more atrocious systemic depopulation and native genocide that directly emerged by abuse of powers by the Dutch government.

A few years ago my 75-year-old mom went with me and listened to my sermon called “lest we forget –July 1, 1863, is the most important day of our history” at the church in Rincon. As we were driving home, she commented that she heard, as old as she was, for the first time that July 1, 1863 was the abolition of slavery. It was a hard time as James Finies started writing and doing actions to raise awareness of our slavery past and the island leadership and elite publicly started attacking James Finies for being negative, we should not talk about the past, victim-syndrome, and other abuses.

James Finies was denounced in 2014 as troublemaker, controversial, outcast, even called a racist by some of the leaders of Bonaire as he set out to show the renowned movie, “Tula: the Rebellion” an account of the unequal fight for justice in 1795 on the island of Curacao, a Dutch colony. We showed this first film/documented slave-history of our islands that premiered on Curacao. There were no theaters on Bonaire and the film producers and agents backed off from showing this film on Bonaire. James Finies then decided to show it in all neighborhoods to the people of Bonaire. He got mayor support from Mr. Albert Sillie with equipment and expertise to show the movie.

In November 2014, James Finies with a determined group of Bonerians and conscious of their rights rose again and walked the emancipation journey, for freedom and equality on the commemoration day of the only documented slave uprising in Bonaire of November 10, 1834. We organized a freedom protest walk “The Spirit of Martis Di Katalina Janga Is Alive” in honor of Martis di Katalina Janga, leader of the slave-rebellion of 1834. Our freedom walk started at the saltpans/salt-plantations in the southern part of our island and we walked day and night non-stop through all the neighborhoods of Bonaire to Rincon, the first settlement on Bonaire, and then returned to Kralendijk. At the governor’s and government office we started a 222-day, 24/7 protest, not leaving till a referendum was granted to the people of Bonaire.

Statements by a noticeable historian, political activist, and media commentator who since then and up to today refuses to recognize and respect the actions and efforts of our organization and addresses our organization by the name of “Group of Martis di Katalina Janga”.

Another political leader wrote a press article to try to discredit our actions by describing our months of protest as if we “are calling on spirits of Martis di Katalina Janga from the past as obi, or some kind of voodoo.”

The significance of an apology from the Dutch King Willem for the Bonaire people would be next to nothing and could be considered as “crocodile tears”. A smokescreen framed up for the international community with the intention to blur and hide the reality of the Bonaire people that were denied their history and would not understand for what or why an apology as the people of Bonaire never enjoyed equality and remained up to present day subordinated and colonized by same Dutch King Willem and his government.

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