Trouble in paradise

People are like people. Demonstrations are reported in the German press, and people take to the streets here too.

The day before yesterday there were several dozen police cars in the parking lot opposite the parliament building. Hundreds of people marched past the parliament, made several laps around the marina or hotel area and finally gathered for a rally. I didn't notice anymore, I drove the rental car across the island and didn't see a single policeman. Otherwise you always see some.

According to what I have learned here, officials, parliamentarians and ministers are to be reduced. Aruba wants money from the Netherlands to deal with the aftermath of Corona. The Netherlands only want to give the money if public sector salaries are cut by 15%. Local ministers don't make very little with 10,000 US$ a month. Of course, this does not suit those affected.

Traffic jam in Oranjestad

When I came back from the supermarket yesterday, an unusually long line of cars rolled through the narrow streets of the city center. That struck me as strange, otherwise there is hardly a vehicle on this road. You could theoretically picnic on the road. I turned around the parliament building and saw the cause: the police were back at work and blocked the main street.

Demo in front of the parliament building

A considerable crowd has gathered in front of the parliament building. Of course, I wanted to know what these people were demonstrating for and what, and I addressed a participant.

Minister faces the demonstrators

I probably saw all of Aruba's teachers yesterday. The protesters were teachers who should go back to work soon. I wanted to know if it was also about salary cuts. More on that later, because just when I started the conversation, the minister responsible stepped in front of the crowd.

Bla bla bla

The demands were handed over to the minister personally and a dialogue ensued. The spokesman for the teachers challenged the minister, each ministerial response was answered by a loud “BLA BLA BLA BLA BLA” from the crowd. Nobody has complied with the Corona safety distance, which is also prescribed here, but this did not bother anyone. There are now only three active Covid-19 cases in Aruba.

rally

Then the teachers cleared the main street again and gathered around the corner for a rally. I stayed in conversation with the teacher a little longer. Otherwise I wouldn't have understood anything at all, because my papiamentu is not particularly good yet. But it gets better.

The teachers were not on the street primarily because of the wage cuts, but because of the working conditions. Apparently the school buildings are in dire condition. The woman did not want to believe that this is also the case in Germany. That is Germany. In addition, while they would earn well as teachers, they would also use the money to support the private sector. There is certainly something to it, because the private sector is primarily dependent on tourism.

Private sector - car wash

Yes, the private sector is suffering. In any case, the teachers packed their demands charmingly, because the main thing was about the schools and not about the money. Of course they don't want the salary cuts either.

Today is Ascension Day - a holiday here too. On public holidays everyone goes to the beach and not to the demo. However, I am curious which group will march in front of Parliament tomorrow.

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