Alfonso Boekhoudt, appointed Aruba’s new governor!

This column is going to be of little interest to my Aruban readers, but will entertain English speakers and expats.

I already wrote about the subject of the island’s next governor here:

Last Friday, it was announced that our GevMin, the minister representing Aruba in the Netherlands was appointed the island’s next governor, and on Tuesday, King Willem-Alexander made it official, by signing a decree that Alfonso Boekhoudt  is his new representative here.

This is a good time to mention that the island appreciates its current governor, Fredis Refunjol, in office since 2004. Originally a teacher, he is a man-of-the-people who loves fishing and baseball, but never shies from a difficult decision; he is measured and cool-headed, warm and spontaneous at the same time, and he is liked on both sides of the ocean, in the Netherlands and in Aruba.

As he is about to retire at age 66, our government submitted a list of three names, three appropriate candidates to replace him, hoping that one of them would be pick by the kingdom as successor.

Among the names our current MinFin and a former MinHealth, which were turned down by the Netherlands perhaps because of their age, or because of their political affiliations.

In the case of our current MinFin, an accomplished professional, it was his age, as the kingdom decided he would be too senior to serve twelve more year in an official capacity!

So, while the candidates provided by the island were solid, educated individuals, the kingdom said Nee.

Ticked off, Aruba then dragged its feet and no other candidates were forthcoming, which prompted the monarch to decide for himself, and he picked the closest Aruban in his circle the GevMin, or as we refer to him, Minister Plenipotenciario di Aruba.

Boekhoudt arrived in the Netherlands when popular Minister Plenipotenciario Edwin Abath returned home in 2013. He was director of the Aruba Port Authority for many years before that, and also chaired the Red Cross operations here.

A great guy and a dedicated family man — he has nine children – who according to everyone’s sources asked the MinPres for a favor. He wanted to go to the Netherlands where medical treatment was readily available because one of his children was seriously ill.

His wish was granted by the Min Pres, and in the last three years, Alfonso apparently ingratiated himself across the board to become the king’s favorite for the island’s governor position.

And this is where all sources agree: Aruba’s MinPres got offended. In fact, terribly pissed. He cancelled all public appearances, including the one at the opening of the refinery, last week, and has not been heard/seen since then. He is outraged that the King decided on his own and that Alfonso did not play hard to get, and never consulted his benefactor before saying “I do.”

I imagine, the king decided on his own because Rafunjol was retiring imminently, and candidates from Aruba were scarce. Alfonso decided to say yes, because that was an opportunity of a lifetime and a dream job!

And that’s all we know.

Whatever happens, we all hope the MinPres doesn’t undertake another hunger strike under the tree at Fort Zoutman to protest what he perceives as signs of disrespect. If you recall he already did that in protest of financial scrutiny imposed on the island by the Kingdom, he went on a 6 day “hunger strike,” drinking Ensure, in July 2014.

FYI: Aruba’s governor enjoys two-fold duties, representing and guarding the general interests of the Kingdom and serving as the head of the Aruban Government, accountable to the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Governor does not have political responsibilities and is not part of the local cabinet. He plays however, a very important role during the formation of the cabinet. Appointed by the monarch for a period of six years, this period can be prolonged for one more term of six years. The governor is supported by his secretariat the cabinet of the governor, and is advised by the Council of Advice (Raad van Advies), consisting of at least 5 members, appointed by the governor, advising him on the drafts of state ordinances, state decrees, kingdom acts and general administrative orders.