Helmin Wiels

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Helmin Wiels
Leader of Pueblo Soberano in the Estates of Curaçao
In office
10 October 2010 – 5 May 2013
Personal details
Born Helmin Magno Wiels
(1958-12-09)9 December 1958[1]
Westpunt, Curaçao.
Died 5 May 2013(2013-05-05) (aged 54)
Marie Pompoen Beach, Curaçao.[2]
Political party Pueblo Soberano
Spouse(s) Divorced
Children 2

Helmin Magno Wiels (9 December 1958 – 5 May 2013) was a leftist politician,[3] anti-corruption activist and social worker from Curaçao. He served as a chairman of Pueblo Soberano (the largest political party in the Estates after the October 2012 election)[4] and was a vocal campaigner for Curaçao's independence from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.[2]

Wiels was assassinated on 5 May 2013 following earlier written threats on his life. Elvis Kuwas, a hitman for the "No Limit Soldiers" drugs gang that had planned the assassination, was found guilty of three counts of murder (including that of Wiels) and was sentenced to life imprisonment in August 2014.[5]

Biography[edit]

Wiels was born on 9 December 1958 into a lower-middle-class family[6] from Westpunt. He became a social worker and radio maker[6] before joining Niun paso atras (Papiamento for "No step backwards") and constituting Aliansa Sivil (Civil Alliance).[1] In 2005, he founded Pueblo Soberano (Sovereign People),[7] a leftist political party that won the popular vote in the October 2012 elections.[4]

Associated Press news reports characterized Wiels’ outspoken rhetorical style as charismatic but sometimes divisive.[8] He was a proponent of Curaçao’s independence, a promoter of stronger ties with its South American neighbors, and wanted to stop U.S. Air Force surveillance planes from using Willemstad's Airport as a base while participating in multinational counter-drug missions in the Caribbean.[3][8] He also asserted that, if Curaçao ever achieves its full independence, it must declare Papiamento, English and Spanish as its official languages because "Dutch is a dead language, the same as Greek or Latin".[9]

Assassination[edit]

According to Nelson Navarro, Minister of Justice at the time of Wiels' assassination, the party leader had received several death threats and the government was assisting him with security personnel[8] but on 5 May 2013, Wiels had sent the bodyguard home and went to Marie Pompoen Beach, located on the eastern side of the island. Around 5 pm, while he was drinking a beer and socializing at the pier, two men approached him and shot him five times before fleeing the scene in a gold-colored car. His body fell face down and lay in the sand until the paramedics arrived and pronounced him dead.[8][10][11]

In the days that followed his assassination, the local authorities pursued several lines of inquiry. One of them, suggested by Donald Balentina –Wiels' successor as leader of Pueblo Soberano– was a political vendetta, as Wiels constantly made anti-corruption speeches and had recently denounced the sale of Robbie’s Lottery numbers through UTS, a public telecommunications company with no license to do so (in the process, making them available to minors and allegedly concentrating the profits at an offshore bank in Sint Maarten).[8][12] Other politicians, such as Ronald Plasterk, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands, were hesitant to blame Wiels' murder on the recent scandal, claiming that “it could also be because of the way he took on corruption, or the drugs world or something else rotten.”[8]

Two brothers were arrested after a threatening movie surfaced on YouTube following the murder, stating that "Wiels was the first victim and more blood would be shed", but both were released after two weeks.[13][14] Eventually, the police arrested Elvis Kuwas alias "Monster", a gunman for the "No Limit Soldiers" drug gang of the Koraalspecht district, which had planned the execution and paid him 23,000 to carry it out.[15] On late August 2014, Kuwas was sentenced to life imprisonment, and the ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in July 2016.[15][16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Wiels grote winnaar" [Wiels big winner] (PDF). Antilliaans Dagblad (in Dutch). 20 October 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Curacao politician Helmin Wiels shot dead". BBC News. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Romero, Simon (11 July 2010). "Curaçao Faces Friction With Chávez Over U.S. Planes". New York Times. p. A9. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 'When you are small, you have to be wise, and when the big ones are in a quarrel, small countries have to stay out of that,' said Helmin Wiels, 51, the leader of Pueblo Soberano, a leftist party here that wants to expel the American surveillance planes. 
  4. ^ a b "Pueblo Soberano biggest party after elections 2012". Curaçao Chronicle. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Nieuwe verdachte moord Helmin Wiels aangehouden in Nederland" [New suspect in murder of Helmin Wiels arrested in The Netherlands] (in Dutch). NOS. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Linden Lewis, ed. (2013). Caribbean Sovereignty, Development and Democracy in an Age of Globalization. United Kingdom: Routledge. p. 264. ISBN 9781136274329. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Leoni Leidel-Schenk (12 October 2012). "Partijen aan het woord: Pueblo Soberano" (in Dutch). Retrieved 20 October 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Karen Attiah; David McFadden; Toby Sterling (6 May 2013). "Ally of slain Curacao politician suspects ‘political motive’ in attack by 2 assailants". Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  9. ^ Romero, Simon (5 July 2010). "A Language Thrives in Its Caribbean Home". New York Times. p. A7. Retrieved 7 May 2013. Helmin Wiels, 51, leader of the leftist party Pueblo Soberano, which favors a complete break from the Netherlands, said that if Curaçao were to achieve full independence, its official language should be Papiamentu, along with English and Spanish. As for Dutch, he said: 'No way. Dutch is a dead language the same as Greek or Latin.' 
  10. ^ "Politicus Wiels (Curaçao) vermoord" [Politician Wiels (Curaçao) murdered]. NOS (in Dutch). 5 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Leader of the biggest party assassinated". Curaçao Chronicle. 5 May 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Wiels: ‘UTS involved with illegal sales of lottery’". Curaçao Chronicle. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "Lawyer For Arrested Curaçao Brothers In Wiels’ Case Warns OM For ‘Tunnel Vision’". Curaçao Chronicle. 15 May 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Trouble in paradise". Economist. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2017. 
  15. ^ a b "Life sentence for murder Helmin Wiels stands in Court of Cassation". Curaçao Chronicle. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  16. ^ "Hoge Raad oordeelt over moord Helmin Wiels". De Telegraaf (in Dutch). 5 April 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2017.