Chasing the Evils of Dutch White Gentrification Out of Curaçao



From 1634 to 2010, Curaçao was part of the Netherlands Antilles together with Saba, Statia, St. Martin, Bonaire, and Aruba, before gaining a theoretical political autonomy. The situation described by Jermain Ostiana regarding the influences by Dutch financial and governmental interests suggest, on the contrary, a neo-colonial situation other Caribbean countries may recognize all too well.

Ostiana Funambulist 1
Mural commissioned by the Kaya Kaya organizers, entrepreneurs, and professionals of the Black middle class. The building is at the corner of the viaduct, one of the main arteries of Otrobanda, close from the Rif area. The mega-cruisehip terminal is at a five- minutes walking distance making it a top tier location to gentrify. Photo by Jermain Ostiana (September 2022).

The boutique hotel in Pietermaai used to be a church

next to Little Holland street.

It feels weird to walk there during day time

where Dutch journalists and business people eat their cheese croissants,

plotting how to manufacture makamba mythologies to keep pillaging this island.

A place where they say Black people are dumb, lazy, a worthless piece of rock.

But for nothing in the universe would they abandon it.

When crack hit Curaçao in the 1980s, it struck with a similar destructive force as it did for all other Black communities in the Diaspora. The epidemic created a new generation of people that were violated by socioeconomic apartheid. If you come from an impoverished environment, you’ll see households torn apart with no or low incomes. The economy is going downwards and life is looking grim. Instead of taking down a neo-colonial government that primarily follows orders and the logic of banks, insurance companies, pension funds, big businesses, foreign investors, and the Dutch government—these powerful figures and institutions that dictate how impoverished and under-resourced people should live for Caribbean capitalism to be alive—you seek, among many other things, smokable, freebase cocaine gateways to self-healing. Drug-addicted people called crack “bazooka” because of the explosive high. In that quest of trying to escape and cope with the designed colonial chaos of life, many of the freebasing heads flocked to the city to make a quick income and get their fix. This was seen as a disturbance to downtown economies in Punda and Otrobanda that form the city of Willemstad, Curaçao. 

In the mid to late 1990s, formal plans for drug prevention, education and caregivers requesting to support drug-addicted people were denied by Dutch government officials. Their reply was: “This is not our problem.” This was echoed by prominent business men like Lio Capriles, CEO of the Maduro and Curiel Bank (MCB). He, along with other business associates, would pay tickets to send drug-addicted people to Holland to get rid of them. Nevertheless, the self-created, saint-like imagery of a banker for the people was in contrast with his role as the president of a foundation that received Dutch government funds, but deliberately hindered the structural investment it promised to eradicate poverty and urban decay.