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Rudy Richardson of MEP: Development or primitivism?

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Seventeen years, I’ve consciously taken an active role in improving my direct environment of San Nicolas. The journey was arduous, and it was not undertaken for pleasure. There were times I wish to give up and move on, but my nature and conviction of a more progressive area wouldn’t allow me to do so.

At first-hand, ‘the possible environmental and health impact of re-opening the oil refinery planned for San Nicolas and to see and document the existing natural and cultural heritage of the area. The MEP party believes in this economic pillar and I believe this is only a start to the Redevelopment of San Nicolas.
An ambitious ‘Master Plan’ conceived by the MEP political party led by Mrs. Evelyn Wever Croes had envisaged the expansion of IMSAN to a complete Hospital, a plan left to be executed in 2009 by the MEP party.

San Nicolas has a lot of potential that’s untapped. There had been some efforts from the previous AVP government the last 8 years led by Mr. Eman. A few minor projects like a Carnival Village with no business plan up to present day incomplete. The biggest structural plan was a “Cultural & Heritage Capital of Aruba” a initiative led by the ex Minister of Tourism Mr. Otmar Oduber in the failed administration of Mr. Eman that lost 4 seats in the last Parliamentarian election on September 22, 2017.
As I write this article the AVP government has lost their majority in Parliament and now has 9 seats. A coalition government of MEP/POR/RED: Mrs. Wever Croes leads the MEP, Mr. Oduber the POR party and Mr. Croes the RED party respectively with a majority of 12 seats in the Aruban parliament which has a total of 21 seats that govern a population of 120.000 citizens.

There has been no concrete programs to create a GDP per capita growth in an economic depressed fragile area of the island.
The institutional negligence was compounded by a sociological one. San Nicolas was also home to a big West Indian Caribbean, Asian and European immigrants that came to Aruba after the first World War. A very rich human capital has existed ever since as North, Central and South Americans immigrated also under the Dutch rule territory. The social/cultural and economic arrangements and lifestyles of San Nicolas had not been investigated seriously after the struggle for political independence from a double colonial structure that was achieved by the late Betico Croes that led the MEP party to this new political structure in 1986.

The Master plan presented in the Government program MEP/POR/RED is a well balanced plan to uplift the Southeast of Aruba once and for all.There needs to be an assessment done on pending projects that would possibly if not already part of the new Master plan. In my view, the model of economic growth that San Nicolas wants is to be an alternative city to the already overdeveloped Western side of Aruba. At the present San Nicolas has increased inequalities; concentrated power in the hands of a few; ignored valuable traditional cultures and knowledge systems; destroyed the spiritual part in us; broken integrative social relationships and isolated individuals from each other and from Nature’, an example is no beach front access in urban San Nicolas.

The Master plan is quite extensive from industrial to medical, from tourism to educational and athletic professional opportunities. A sharp spotlight on the environmental and social consequences of supervised economic growth is essential to particularly showcased the plight of suppress-people, this is a new opportunity for the so called “Pariba di brug” natives could enjoy the fruits of the projects for which these sacrifices had been made.

The MEP led by Evelyn Wever Croes has focused very closely on active participation of San Nicolas and in putting the human being central again in Aruban politics. While I greatly admired the charisma and courage of the late Betico Croes, it’s time now to move forward with a more progressive plan after MEP was led for the last 25 years by Mr. Nelson Oduber that governed the tiny autonomous country four times successfully.
It is now more than three decades since Aruba became an autonomous country in the Dutch Kingdom.
The Master plan will restore the glory days of San Nicolas which was neglected far too long. Yet its struggles made a considerable impact on popular consciousness. The goal and outcome a growing middle class. Pariba di brug previously, ignored by public or private sector will take in the ‘national interest’.

Because of movements such as the MEP party, there is now a nation-wide hope on providing to those who felt disenfranchised by the system. All this was enabled, in turn, by the nucleus of the MEP party and the public in general.
Although our political organization had already done important work in San Nicolas and the surrounding areas, this new era would take us into a more fair and inclusive democracy. Ever since, ‘childhood’ I’ve been a loner, often misunderstood, and always an original voice in the development debate in Aruba—and beyond.


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