Archive for category Curacao

Curaçao and the Shell heritage

In 1985, Royal Dutch Shell sold its refinery in the port of Curaçao to the former government of the island. For the symbolic amount of one guilder. The refinery was outdated and no longer met the current environmental standards. The legacy for Curaçao is a very outdated facility and a huge asphalt lake. The Dutch government, then a co-owner of Shell, puts pressure on the government of Curaçao to either dismantle the refinery or a clear plan for the future.

Curacao’s history dates back to about 3000 BC. Rock paintings and artifacts show that the island was already inhabited. The Spaniard Alonso de Ojeda was the first Western discoverer who set foot on Curaçao in 1499. The original inhabitants, the Caquetio, were expelled and the island transformed into a major agricultural and livestock project. Large numbers of sheep, cows, horses and pigs shipped from Spain and its colonies to the Caribbean island.

In 1634 the Spaniard surrendered after being defeated by the Dutch. The West India Company saw a perfect base for the supply of slaves from Africa. Several attempts by the Spaniards to retake the island ended to nothing. In 1791 the island was officially a Dutch colony. Since 2010 Curaçao is an autonomous state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Since the eighties a few corrupt politicians agreed to acquire the refinery, Since then the island is doomed to his downfall. With the approval of the Netherlands, Shell could dump its garbage for just one guilder. This saved the company probably millions of dollars in remediation costs. These costs now fully reside with the island government. The Netherlands puts pressure on Curaçao to come up with concrete plans for the near future without a financial aid fund to support the island. Every day of delay affects the entire ecological and economic system of Curaçao.

As long as there are no clear guidelines for the refinery it can have major implications for the future of the population. A magnificent example of Dutch shear politics.

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