Another noteworthy example to discuss here is the case where people from Venezuala are seeking asylum in Curacao, an autonomous island state in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Approximately eight years ago in 2010 the Dutch Antilles was dismanteld and Curacao became an autonomous state within the kingdom. Within this recent constellation the Hague retains responsibility for defense affairs, including the monitoring of all borders in the kingdom and for foreign affairs.
Over the past two years, the Dutch State has come under critique about the handling and treatment of refugees and the asylum policy by the Kingdom. Curaçao has indicated on several occasions that they are not capable of obviating the issue without assistance from the Kingdom. Representatives of Interior and Kingdom Relations, and Foreign Affairs replied that the Dutch state should not have any involvement in the handling of refugees: it was argued to be a national affair and not a kingdom matter.
Although asylum is a human right as declared in article 14 of the Human Rights Declaration of the UN[i], the reality is that few are granted this right. It is a common, but threathening reality that for many turns violent as it subjects them to the most vulnerable elements of xenophobia.[ii]
How come the fundamental grounds for what came about as the notion of popular sovereignty - our common understanding of democracy – seems to always contradict the reality of democracy in the reality of the contemporary moment?[iii] The truth is that the contradiction is not one of the contemporary moment, but something always already present in the complexity of the relation. To understand what is going on within the contradiction it is essential to understand that the contradiction is exactly what we need to be able to acknowledge instead of understand.[iv]
Asylum is a right. No human being is illegal.
(This post was also featured in the newsletter of the Caribbean studies Association, november 2018 issue.)
[iii] Kauanui, J. K. (2017). SOVEREIGNTY: An Introduction. Cultural Anthropology, 32(3), 323-329.
[iv] Derrida, J. (2012). Specters of Marx: The state of the debt, the work of mourning and the new international. Routledge.