Aruba Past and Present: From the Time of the Indians until Today

By Johan Hartog; J. A. Verleun | Go to book overview

TENTH CHAPTER
ARUBA AND THE STRUGGLE FOR AUTONOMY

AS YET THE ARUBANS HAD NOT GIVEN PROOF OF POLITICAL interests other than those centering in the chequered political existence of Venezuela. Oddly enough active suffrage had arrived here earlier than on Curaçao; the members of the Colonial Council there were appointed, whereas the members of our District Council were elected.

However, nobody seemed to be fully conscious of this distinction; no candidates were run; it was only necessary to hand in voting-papers issued to the electors. The lieutenant-governors in their Journals leave little doubt as to the extreme disinterest of the majority of the population in these proceedings. The number of electors varied between 250 and 1,000 in the course of the years, but not even a quarter, sometimes less than a tenth part of the voters, put in an appearance.

The Local Councillors, i.e. the two members assisting the lieutenant-governor, who presided over this council in his official capacity, were elected in accordance with a very restricted census and capacity suffrage introduced in 1869. In the absence of data from which a list could be composed of those meeting the norms established by law, the District Council in office were wont each year to draw up from memory a list of those they considered capable of choosing wisely. This list subsequently was laid ready for the public to inspect; anyone feeling so inclined was allowed to make objections. Sometimes it was tried to enliven the electoral contest by altering the time-limit between the issue of the voting-papers and the day they were to be handed in, but it was no use. There was only some animation noticeable when a personal matter could be fought over on the backs of the "candidates"--for these, though no candidates were nominated in the proper sense of the term, someimes did exist in actuality. Also, as De Gaay Fortman states, when local interest seemed to be served by the election of a certain person, it was found possible sometimes to fire a not wholly insignificant part of the population with electoral ardour.

This state of affairs continued until the period covered by this chapter, that of the establishment of the oil-industries here. It will be evident that, since Curaçao was the nodus of the administration, the present discussion

-410-

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