History of Curaçao

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Main article: Curaçao

The island of Curaçao was first settled by the Arawaks, an Amerindian people native to the area. They are believed to have inhabited the island for many hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans.

European colonization[edit]

European presence began around the year 1500, when groups were sent out to extensively map the borders of South America and the surrounding islands. Spanish interest quickly waned, however, as they discovered that there was no gold on the island and farming was difficult because of a lack of fresh water.[citation needed]

The royal government-backed Dutch West India Company expedition of Johannes van Walbeeck with the task of taking Curazao from the Spanish rule. On 4 May 1634, he departed from Holland with four ships, carrying 180 sailors and 250 soldiers, led by the French Huguenot mercenary Pierre Le Grand who had previously served the Dutch in Brazil. The small fleet arrived at Curaçao on July 6, but through adverse currents and winds could not enter the bay. On July 29, after being joined by a fifth ship and approaching from the north west, the fleet could enter the bay and captured the island from Spain with little resistance and without loss of life on either site. Van Walbeeck wrote in his diary, as transcribed by Johannes de Laet before it was lost, that the 32 Spanish and under 500 remaining (or reintroduced) local inhabitants just withdrew to the West end of the island after poisoning their wells and burning their villages. On August 21 the Spanish commander, Lope Lopez de Morla, signed the surrender. The Dutch deported the Spaniards and most West Indians to the Venezuelan port of Coro, keeping about seventy-five of the latter as laborers. Thus, Van Walbeeck became the first director/governor of the Netherlands Antilles.[citation needed]

The first task was to build a fortification at the natural harbor, renamed "Schottegat" by the Dutch, which pentagonal structure ("Fort Amsterdam") was finished in 1635, following standard Dutch military engineering practice. During his three years as governor, the beginnings of the town of Willemstad were built next to the fort. Plantations were erected, and farmers began growing corn and peanuts in addition to native fruits. The saltwater ponds that prevented irrigation would soon prove themselves invaluable, as the economy of the island shifted to salt mining and international export. But saline ponds were not the only advantageous geographical features to be found here. The deep water and natural barriers surrounding the island’s ports made them popular with Caribbean traders. The capital city of Willemstad became particularly well-known, visited by merchant ships of many nations.[citation needed]

The Sephardic Jews who arrived from the Netherlands and then-Dutch Brazil since the 17th century have had a significant influence on the culture and economy of the island. Curaçao is home to the oldest active Jewish congregation in the Americas, dating to 1651. The Jewish Community of Curaçao also played a key role in supporting early Jewish congregations in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. The years before and after World War II also saw an influx of Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, many of whom were Romanian Jews.

For much of the 17th and 18th centuries, the primary business of the island was the slave trade. Slaves arrived often from Africa and were bought and sold on the docks in Willemstad before continuing on to their ultimate destination. The slaves that remained on the island were responsible for working the plantations established earlier. This influx of inexpensive manpower made the labor-intensive agricultural sector far more profitable and between the Netherlands and China the trading done on the docks and the work being done in the fields, the economic profile of Curaçao began to climb, this time built on the backs of the slaves. When the institution was abolished in 1863, the island’s economy was severely crippled.[citation needed]

In 1795, there was a slave revolt, which was eventually struck down by the Dutch.

In June 8, 1929, the Venezuelan revolutionaries Gustavo Machado y Rafael Simón Urbina captured the Waterfort and several other strategic buildings in Willemstad along with the governor and the military commander of the island. Machado and Urbina negotiated a ship and a small arsenal with which they invaded Venezuela to fight the dictator Juan Vicente Gómez

The defeat of the Dutch in the Napoleonic Wars caused Curaçao to be conquered by the British Empire from 1800 to 1803, and again from 1807 to 1816,[1] after which it was handed back to the Dutch due to the Treaty of Paris.

When oil was discovered in 1920, a new chapter began in the history of Curaçao. Suddenly wealthy, the country experienced a large number of people immigrating from South America and other countries in the Caribbean. This added new life to the cultural composition of the island, an aspect which has only enhanced the local tourism industry.[citation needed]

In 1929, a troop of Venezuelan rebels seized the Waterfort in Willemstad.[2][3]


[clarification needed] Frits Goedgedrag was the first governor of Curaçao. He submitted his resignation to Queen Beatrix on 24 October 2012, to become effective one month later.[4]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
King King Willem-Alexander 30 April 2013
Governor Lucille George-Wout 4 November 2013

Fourth cabinet[edit]

A fourth cabinet was sworn in on 7 June 2013, and was characterized as a "political" cabinet, set to complete the full term of parliament.[5]

Third Cabinet[edit]

The third cabinet was termed a "Task cabinet" and coalition of PAIS, PS, PNP and independent member Glenn Sulvaran. It was planned to be in office for 3 to 6 months and resigned on 27 March 2013 continuing in a demissionary capacity until a new cabinet is formed.[6] Hodge previously was director of the Postspaarbank Curaçao.[7] The composition of the cabinet is:

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
Prime Minister Ivar Asjes PS 31 December 2012
Minister of Economic Development Ivan Martina PAIS 31 December 2012
Minister of Finance Jose Jardim 31 December 2012
Minister of Health, Environment, and Nature Denzil Whiteman PS 31 December 2012
Minister of Administration, Planning and Service Etienne van de Horst PAIS 31 December 2012
Minister of Justice Nelson Navarro PAIS 31 December 2012
Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports Rubina Bitorina PS 31 December 2012
Minister of Traffic, Transport and Regional Planning Earl Winston Balborda PNP 31 December 2012

Interim Cabinet[edit]

On 29 September an interim cabinet was appointed consisting of 4 ministers. The cabinet will continued in a demissionary capacity from 19 October upon the elections until a new cabinet took over on 31 December 2012.[8]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
Prime Minister, General Affairs, Justice Stanley Betrian 29 September 2012
Finance, Economic development Jose Jardim 29 September 2012
Health, Environment and Nature, Social development, work Stanley Bodok 29 September 2012
Education, Science, Culture and Sports, Planning and service C. G. Smit 29 September 2012
Traffic, Transportation and Planning Dominique Adriaens[9] 17 October 2012

First cabinet[edit]

The first Cabinet of Curaçao, installed on 10 October 2010[10] lost its majority in the Parliament of Curaçao in 2012, after 2 members of the parliament left their party. The cabinet stayed as a demissionary cabinet and called elections for 19 October 2012. As a result of a request by the majority of the Parliament of Curaçao, the Governor appointed an interim-cabinet on 29 September 2012. This move was termed a coup by Schotte, who did not accept the decision.

This cabinet included five members of the Movement for the Future of Curaçao, including Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte, Minister of Economic Affairs Abdul Nasser El Hakim, and Minister Plenipotentiary of Curaçao Sheldry Osepa; three members of the Sovereign People's Party, and two members of the Partido MAN.


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