GREAT BAY - “We often say that the youth are the future. Well, the future is now.” This statement by Dennisio Duzong, 27, of the Independence for St. Martin Foundation (ISMF) sums up one of the main reasons the foundation is requesting Parliament to convene a new constitutional referendum.
Making the case for ISMF in its presentation before the Central Committee of Parliament on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, Duzong received high praise from members of parliament one of whom said the future is in good hands.
“Unless we are willing to take full responsibility for ourselves and the choices we make, we have no control over our lives. We have been given all the power to create our experiences through our choices, but if we believe that outside forces are responsible for our choices, we give away all the power we have,” Duzong said.
He continued: “Today we are here to ask that the people of St. Martin be given a chance to make their own decision on their future. This is an inalienable right, a God-given right, which cannot be taken or given away, or transferred to another person.”
“Also, it is a fundamental aspect of every democratic process to consult the people,” Duzong said.
According to him, “A referendum gives the clearest and truest reflection of the will of the people and seeing as the subject is so sensitive, we need to consult the people about this matter. If we are talking about being as democratic as possible then this is the most democratic option.”
Reiterating what president of the foundation, Jose H. Lake Jr. had said in his introduction, and with the screen showing photographs of him at four years old and 10 years old, Duzong stressed that “it has been 17 years since the last referendum. From the restructuring of the Netherlands Antilles to the establishment of our current status, there have been two referenda. There was only six years between the first two.”
“This means there was a specific generation that got to decide twice on the course of our future, whereas in the lapse of almost two decades there is a generation that has not had a chance to voice its opinions on the future they envision for their homeland,” Duzong said.
He pointed out that “based on the 2011 census, this means that approximately 30 percent of my generation were not able to participate in the last referendum, or get a chance to place our fingerprint in the future of our country.”
Asked by USP leader, MP Frans Richardson how many of that 30% he believed were in favor of independence, Duzong replied: “That is precisely why we are here, to ask for a referendum so we can find out.”
“Will this Parliament now deny my generation the right to help determine the future?” he asked in conclusion.
Responding to a question by NA MP Rodolphe Samuel about facts and figures, Duzong said the only figure that was relevant to him was that of the more than 25% of the youth between the ages of 15 and 24 who were unemployed.
With regard to comments by DP MP Perry Geerlings who said he did not consider the fact that the last constitutional referendum was held 17 years ago a strong enough argument to request a new referendum, Duzong replied: “17 years ago, I was a child. My parents made the choices for me. Today, I have a child of my own. I want to be able to do the same for him.”