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Paradise thrown: Tear gas, political protest disrupt tourist haven

November 14, 2007 | 10:02 am

Protests by Dutch citizens demanding autonomy for the Caribbean island of Curacao have taken a surprising turn toward violence, with riot police dispelling demonstrators with tear gas and reportedly beating instigators.

The rallies that began over the weekend and culminated with an angry confrontation Monday are aimed at pressuring the Dutch government to deliver the autonomous status within the kingdom that islanders voted for two years ago.

The largest of the Dutch Antilles, Curacao voted in April 2005 for status aparte, which would make the self-governing island independent of the other four Dutch Antilles but in a loose confederation with other Dutch entities. Nearly 3,000 people have been demonstrating peacefully in Willemstad in a bid to pressure the island government to break off so-far fruitless negotiations with the Dutch government. The protesters became angry, however, when local authorities deployed riot police, who lobbed tear gas grenades and beat some women and elderly, including the wife of the island’s main opposition politician.

Netherlands and the Dutch Antilles have yet to approve the status change.

Posted by Carol J. Williams in Miami