WILLEMSTAD – Members of the Curaçao riot police “wiped” the Fort Square on Curaçao on Wednesday afternoon by firing tear gas at a group of protesters gathered in front of Fort Amsterdam, where the government is based. The police had previously been deployed to prevent demonstrators from entering the office of the Prime Minister.
The protesters demand that Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath and his government resign. They called for Rhuggenaath to come out. However, the prime minister did not show up, according to sources, he left the building even before the protesters arrived. The protesters were driven by the police a long distance from Fort Amsterdam in the center of Willemstad. In addition, bottles and stones were thrown and shop windows and waste containers were destroyed. The situation remains tense.
The protest started this morning with a march of several hundred garbage collectors who are angry because 12.5 percent will be cut on their fringe benefits. This cut for civil servants and employees of the government companies is part of the conditions that the Netherlands has set for loans that have been given to absorb the consequences of the corona crisis.
Earlier on this morning, the largest union in Curaçao, ABVO, which represents civil servants, held a meeting during working hours to discuss this. At that meeting, employees of government companies and ministries voted in large majority against the cutback.
It is very restless in the city center. For example, several trash bins and a police car were set on fire.
The government announced that it will hold a press conference at 6pm.
[Photo – Curacao Chronicle]