November 19, 2018

The United Nations Day, in Curaçao

The United Nations Day was celebrated in Curaçao on 24 October 2018, for the occasion Mr. Karel Frielink, Dean of the Consular Corps of Curaçao addressed the very special guests among them the Governor of Curaçao, Mrs. Lucille George-Wout, the vicePrime Minister of Curaçao and Minister of Health, Environment and Nature, Mrs. Suzy Camelia-Römer, thePresident of Parliament, Mr. William Millerson, the Minister of Social Development, Mr. Hensley Koeiman, the Commander of the Armed Forces on Curaçao, Brigadier General De Vin, the representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Curaçao, Mr. Raynel Martis, the Secretary General of the National Commission to UNESCO, Mrs. Marva Browne, the Chairwoman of the Uniting for Children Foundation, Mrs. Anne-Marie Pietersz-Powell and the Chairman of the Child First Foundation, Mr. Chris Peterson.

During his speech, he noted: In the past months we welcomed new colleagues who became members of the Consular Corps of Curaçao: Mrs. Julie Tidey (Honorary Consul of the United Kingdom), Mrs. Ruthsella Jansen(Honorary Consul of Canada), Mrs. Bettina Kibbelaar (Honorary Consul of Switzerland) and Mrs. Waleska Schumacher (Honorary Consul of Brazil).

We also welcomed Dr. Erwin Arkenbout, the recently appointed Representative of the Netherlands in Curaçao, who could not attend today’s event. Luckily, the Dutch Representative Office is represented by the deputy Representative Mrs. Hildegard Nefs.

Unfortunately, on the 18th of July 2018, Dr. José Carlos De Sousa Correia, the Honorary Consul of Portugal for the island of Curaçao, passed away. He was a valuable colleague in the corps since 2005 and a dear friend to many.

On the 18th of August 2018, Mr. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General & Nobel Laureate passed away at the age of 80.During his life, he offered a bit of advice to all of us. I will give you a couple of quotes from him over the years.

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”

“When economic conditions are difficult, people tend to be less generous and protect themselves; the question of solidarity doesn’t mean much to them at that time.”

And one final quote: “More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations.”

Let us remember Mr. Kofi Annan by being excellent to each other and to the world, and to honor him with our own deeds of service to others.

May his words inspire you to take action and to bring some light in the dark life of our fellow human beings.

Karel Frielink, Dion Gumbs.

Ladies and Gentlemen! I am delighted to announce this is our fourth consecutive edition of our Speech Contest. We ask students from many of the schools in Curaçao to submit speeches based on one of two topics; this year’s topics:

  • How should Curaçao address the effects of climate change with regards to its economy?
  • How would you improve the quality of education on Curaçao in order to ensure the most adapted workforce of tomorrow?

We received 42 speeches from various schools: Kolegio Alejandro Paula (KAP), Radulphus College, Maria Immaculata Lyceum (MIL), Albert Schweitzer, Vespucci and the International School of Curaçao. The speeches were then carefully read by the Board of the Consular Corps.

After much deliberation, we named the three finalists who will soon read their speeches out loud: Aron Kibbelaar (Vespucci), Rianthe Angela (MIL) and Gudr Al Ayouby (ISC). The President of Parliament, Mr. William Millerson, has agreed to chair today’s jury. The jury will judge the three presentations, based on content, writing skill, and presentation, and will announce the winner, who will receive our grand prize: a check for the amount ofNAf1,000.The prize is generously sponsored by the Child First Foundation, represented here today by its Chairman Mr. Chris Peterson. Thank you for such a great gift.

What do you and I, and all other people in the Caribbean region have in common? That we all probably, just like all other people on earth, are descended from a people that lived in Africa in a far past. Thus considered, we are all brothers and sisters. One big family, one big community, but not as closely and not as strongly connected as many of us would like it to be.

In the course of history, differences have increased. Differences, for example, in appearance, in color, in language, in religion, in culture, in education, in prosperity etc. And with these differences, contradictions arose: between rich and poor, religious and non-religious, developed and underdeveloped, and, at an especially sad moment in history, also between slave and master, and between black and white. It is especially these contradictions that have left deep scars throughout history. The consequences are still visible today.

At various moments in history attempts have been made to protect people against the arbitrariness of others. And time and again there have been people and movements that tried to uphold the intrinsic value and dignity of each individual as a basic principle. After the horrors of World War II, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unanimously.

Unfortunately, even today earth is for too many a bad place to live. I’m not sure how to best address all the issues, but we have to start somewhere. If we start here, in Curaçao, I believe we need a shared vision and shared goals.

There are thousands in Curacao who are poorly housed, who have hardly any income or none at all. They have no money to give their children food to eat at school. They might be addicted to drugs. We are reading in the paper about burglaries, robberies, organized crime and corruption reaching deep into society. And don’t forget the youth unemployment of about 35%.

We encourage the development of plans and ideas to tackle these and other problems. Where do we want Curacao to be in 10, 25, and 50 years? What is our future vision? We all need to be thinking about this and coming up with proposals.

The interests of the population should be at the forefront. We have to start thinking ‘large’. All forces must be pooled. And we need an integral approach: the economy, social circumstances, the environment, culture and so on, are more associated with each other than is sometimes imagined.

We ought to start doing something soon. After all, we have enormous prosperity in Curacao as well as grinding poverty. There are dangers in the latter: increasing instability, a dysfunctional society and increasing political and social contrasts, but there are great opportunities in the former. Each day could be a defining moment in history. But we have to act, act together, and act soon!

I conclude with a quote from chapter 24 of the book by Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching.[1] The quote is about 2400 years old:

“Those who are on tiptoes cannot stand
Those who straddle cannot walk
Those who flaunt themselves are not clear
Those who presume themselves are not distinguished
Those who praise themselves have no merit
Those who boast about themselves do not last”

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[1]     http://www.taoism.net, Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths in 2006.

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Photography by the Parlamento di Kòrsou

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