New US Consulate General: hopefully more than a new building

Construction of a new U.S. Consulate General in Curaçao was just announced. An estimated USD 245 Million investment employing a few hundred workers is planned over the course of the project which will thankfully improve upon the historic Roosevelt House.

I’m not going to talk about brick and mortar however but will focus on what I hope will be a new chapter of U.S. engagement here.

Clearly, current U.S. policies in the Caribbean Basin are still reminiscent of an era long gone when the rivalry of the Cold War- geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and their allies- reigned supreme. I think that for too long, the U.S. hasn’t sought partnership, but often resorted to dictating its own terms. We’re taken for granted; the U.S. focuses predominantly on the Caribbean when natural disasters hit.

Today we’re waking up to 21st-century challenges and threats, and there’s no shortage. The bad guys are more sophisticated and ruthless. The reality is that ISIS fighters have come from the Caribbean, including the Dutch islands. Hezbollah has tentacles all over the Americas. The manmade crisis in Venezuela has caused an unprecedented migration crisis. China has increased its presence through wallet diplomacy, and Russia is rekindling old friendships in Grenada, Nicaragua, and Cuba. And, of course, there’re the drug cartels, human trafficking, and cybercrime. Honestly, we can’t take on these challenges alone.

The primary test remains, however, to look beyond only security matters.

That brings me to another reason why it’s time for more robust cooperation and engagement in an era where the temptation to accept (promises of) easy money (remember Guangdong Zhenrong Energy and its local subordinates) is considerable.

I believe the U.S. and Curaçao can and should do much more together in these areas.

  1. Climate change is perhaps our greatest challenge. We need U.S. leadership and assistance. This is a life-or-death emergency.
  2. Pandemics: COVID has clarified that we require a regionally coordinated response to bolster the response to future health challenges and public health emergencies.
  3. Corresponding banks: we’ve seen the restrictions by international banks making it almost impossible for our banks to operate. There needs to be a solution with U.S. cooperation.
  4. Commerce: The Cold War-era Caribbean Basin Initiative must make way for progressively full-fledged free trade relations, including a double tax treaty.
  5. World Trade Organization (WTO): vigorously completing our tariff negotiations with the U.S. Trade Representative is vital to normalizing our WTO status. Agreement with the U.S. for (tailor-made) technical cooperation and training regarding WTO rules-based trade will enhance our export capacity.

U.S. disengagement has empowered China, Russia, and Iran in this area. We need genuine engagement from Washington based on mutual respect and shared values. Hopefully, this project is much more than a new state-of-the-art building. Hopefully, it will symbolize the start of a new relationship between the U.S. and Curaçao.

Willemstad, Curaçao


Author: alexdavidrosaria

Alex Rosaria is from Curaçao. He has a MBA from University of Iowa. He was Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and United Nations Development Programme Officer in Africa and Central America. He is an independent consultant active in Asia and the Pacific.

5 thoughts on “New US Consulate General: hopefully more than a new building”

  1. Alex,
    I fully welcome a big US investment into our island. But let us also push for big Chinese, Indian, EU and other investments. Let us not close our eyes for the fact that most of the issues you mention above, from trade war to lack of correspondent banks are caused by US attempts to increase their hegemony over the region as well as the world at large. A multi polar world in which various powers keep each other in check provides a better future than one that continues to be US dominated.


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