The State of Aruba’s Economy

Go Lean Commentary

The Caribbean is comprised of 4 different language groups. We hear mostly of the English, French and Spanish speaking islands, but the Dutch speaking islands are far from inconsequential. They are integral to the Caribbean landscape and integral to the plan for regional confederation, consolidation and elevation.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean addresses the needs of all the Caribbean, including the Dutch territories. In the book, the islands are referred to as the formal name of the Netherlands Antilles (Page 16). This consists of two island groups; the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, located just off the Venezuelan coast. Plus also the SSS islands of Sint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius, located in the Leeward Islands southeast of the Virgin Islands near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles. The Dutch colonized these islands in the 17th century, (at one point, Anguilla, Tobago, the British Virgin Islands, and St. Croix of the US Virgin Islands had also been Dutch), and united them in the new constituent state of the Netherlands Antilles in December 1954.

s Economy - Photo 2The largest of the Dutch Caribbean is Aruba.

Aruba called for secession from the Netherlands Antilles from as early as the 1930s, becoming a separate state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1986. After many other organizational developments, by 2010, Aruba is dispositioned as one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands (European homeland), Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

What is the status of Aruba today?

How has it fared as an autonomous state?

The Go Lean book posits that Aruba is in crisis; (along with the rest of the Caribbean). This is also the assessment by the International Monetary Fund, as related in this news article:

By: By the Caribbean Journal staff
Aruba’s economy is “recovering gradually” from a “severe double-dip recession,” according to the International Monetary Fund, which recently concluded its 2015 Article IV Mission to the Dutch Caribbean island.

The recession was [exacerbated] by a pair of factors: the global financial crisis and the shutdown of the oil refinery in Aruba.

“These shocks have substantially increased public debt—over 80 percent of GDP in 2014—and eroded fiscal space,” the IMF said in a statement. “To address these fiscal challenges, the authorities have undertaken major entitlement reforms and are aiming to reach a small fiscal surplus in 2018.”

Without similar measures, however, the IMF warned that the pace of fiscal consolidation in the island could slow and public debt would continue to rise in the medium term.

s Economy - Photo 1Growth in Aruba is projected to rise by about 2.5 percent in 2015, which would put the island in favorable territory with the rest of the region, though.

The closure of the refinery, however, puts even more pressure on the island’s tourism sector, the IMF said.

That could compound the island’s risk, though, given its large dependence on tourists from the US and from Venezuela, with the latter’s economic crisis adding to the risk.

But the IMF said that Aruba had maintained its competitiveness in tourism, with its share of the Caribbean’s tourism market share continuing to grow.

“In addition, the authorities’ marketing efforts, access to new US hubs, and additional airlift capacity from South America have improved resilience,” the IMF said. “Increasing labor market flexibility and reducing the costs of doing business would not only further improve Aruba’s competitiveness, but would also help its adjustment to external shocks and facilitate diversification.”
Caribbean Journal Regional News Site – Posted February 16, 2015 –

The Caribbean country of Aruba needs to focus on growing its economy and creating jobs. The Go Lean book asserts that this effort is too big a task for just one Caribbean member-state alone, that Aruba needs to convene, confederate and collaborate with the other regional member-states. As such, the Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The Go Lean book (Page 3) makes this simple assertion regarding the state of Aruba and all the Caribbean economy: the region is in crisis. There is something wrong in these island and coastal states, that  despite the greatest address in the world, instead of the world “beating a path” to these doors, the people of the Caribbean have “beat down their doors” to get out. Aruba fails to keep its young people at home. In fact, the anecdotal experience (one story after another) is that young people abandon this island as soon as they finish high school; many never to return again, except for occasional visits. (Aruban natives – plus all Netherland Antilles states – have Dutch citizenship, sharing the same Dutch passport as the Kingdom of the Netherlands).

A mission of the Go Lean roadmap is to minimize the “push-and-pull” factors that contribute to this alarmingly high rate of societal abandonment – one report reflects a 70% brain drain rate for the overall Caribbean. The book stresses (early at Page 13 & 14) the need to be on-guard for these “push-and-pull” factors in these pronouncements in the Declaration of Interdependence:

xix.      Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores. This repatriation should be effected with the appropriate guards so as not to imperil the lives and securities of the repatriated citizens or the communities they inhabit. The right of repatriation is to be extended to any natural born citizens despite any previous naturalization to foreign sovereignties.

xxi.      Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxv.      Whereas the legacy of international democracies had been imperiled due to a global financial crisis, the structure of the Federation must allow for financial stability and assurance of the Federation’s institutions. To mandate the economic vibrancy of the region, monetary and fiscal controls and policies must be incorporated as proactive and reactive measures. These measures must address threats against the financial integrity of the Federation and of the member-states.

xxvi.      Whereas the Caribbean region must have new jobs to empower the engines of the economy and create the income sources for prosperity, and encourage the next generation to forge their dreams right at home, the Federation must therefore foster the development of new industries, like that of ship-building, automobile manufacturing, prefabricated housing, frozen foods, pipelines, call centers, and the prison industrial complex. In addition, the Federation must invigorate the enterprises related to existing industries like tourism… – impacting the region with more jobs.

This commentary previously related details of the “push-and-pull” factors for Caribbean emigration to North America and Europe, and the region’s own job-creation efforts. Here is a sample of earlier blogs: State of the Caribbean Union National Sacrifice: The Missing Ingredient – Caribbean people not willing to die or live in sacrifice to their homeland Forecast for higher unemployment in Caribbean in 2015 Obama’s immigration tweaks leave Big Tech wanting more American “Pull” Factors – STEM Jobs Are Filling Slowly British public sector workers strike over ‘poverty pay’ Book Review: ‘Prosper Where You Are Planted’ Caribbean loses more than 70 percent of tertiary educated to brain drain Remittances to Caribbean Increased By 3 Percent in 2013 Traditional 4-year College Degree are Terrible Investments for the Caribbean Region Having Less Babies (Population) is Bad for the Economy

The Go Lean book and these accompanying blogs posit that the economic failures in the Caribbean in general and Aruba in particular is the direct result of the lack of diversity in industrial development. The region depends too heavily on tourism. Aruba though, made some diversification attempts with oil refinery installations; according to Wikipedia:

With its location near Venezuela, the island became an attractive spot for oil refineries. The Lago Oil and Transport Company, owned by Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon), opened in 1929 near the transshipping port of San Nicolaas. Following in their footsteps, the Eagle Oil Refinery opened soon after. Over the next few decades, the oil industry took over as Aruba’s primary economic force.

During World War II, considerable expansion was done to the Lago Refinery, becoming one of the largest refineries in the world – only bested by Royal Dutch Shell Isla refinery on nearby Curaçao – and a major producer of petroleum products for the Allied war efforts.

The Eagle Oil Refinery shut down and was dismantled in the late 1950s. But the Lago refinery kept going until 1985, when the demand for oil fell and Exxon closed it. In 1991, the Coastal Corporation bought it, scaled down operations, and reopened it. Coastal Corporation later sold the refinery to Valero Energy Corporation in 2004. Its reopening didn’t raise Aruba’s oil industry to its previous heights although it did revive that sector and continued to be a key contributor to the country’s economy until 2009 when it was closed.

Aruba is now applying a strategy to “double-down” on tourism; see Appendix-VIDEO below. The Go Lean roadmap asserts that this strategy is flawed; that while prudence dictates that the Caribbean nations expand and optimize their tourism products, the Caribbean must also look for other opportunities for economic expansion. The requisite investment of the resources (time, talent, treasuries) for this goal may be too big for any one Caribbean member-state like Aruba. Rather, shifting the responsibility to a region-wide, professionally-managed, deputized technocracy will result in greater production and greater accountability. The roadmap will facilitate economic growth and job creation.

This is the charge of the Go Lean…Caribbean roadmap, to do the heavy-lifting, to implement the organization dynamics to impact Caribbean society here and now with economic growth and jobs. The following are the community ethos, strategies, tactics and operational advocacies to effectuate this goal:

Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influences Choices & Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – The Consequences of Choice Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Minority Equalization Page 24
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Make the Caribbean the Best Address   on Planet Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Repatriate Diaspora Page 46
Strategy – Mission – Dissuade Human Flight/“Brain Drain” Page 46
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Union versus Member-States Page 71
Implementation – Assemble CariCom, Dutch, French, Cuba and US   Territories Page 95
Implementation – Enact Territorial Compacts for PR & the Virgin Islands Page 96
Implementation – Foreign Policy Initiatives at Start-up Page 102
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Ways to Better Manage Debt Page 114
Implementation – Reasons to Repatriate Page 118
Implementation – Ways to Benefit from Globalization Page 119
Implementation – Ways to Promote Independence Page 120
Planning – 10 Big Ideas for the Caribbean Page 127
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean Better Page 131
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Enhance Tourism Page 190
Advocacy – Ways to Market Southern California – New Markets Page 194
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Extractions Page 195
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Diaspora Page 217
Advocacy – Ways to Impact DutchTerritories Page 246

This Go Lean book accepts that the current State of Aruba’s Economy does not have to be a permanent disposition. The roadmap presents a plan for greater energy independence, energy security and energy generation in the region – there will be the need to capitalize on Aruba’s core-competence with oil refineries. So under the Go Lean roadmap, Aruba’s economy will do better; the same as all of the Caribbean will do better. This roadmap is a 5-year plan to effect change, to make our homeland a better place to live, work and play.

As for the Dutch Caribbean territories, even though they are no longer considered colonies, but rather constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, they are effectively just welfare states dependent on Amsterdam; and a feeder for low-cost labor in Holland. They are inconsequential within the Dutch sphere of influence. There are parasites not protégés!

We must do better!

Now is the time for Aruba, the Dutch Caribbean and all of the Caribbean, the people and institutions, to lean-in to this Go Lean … Caribbean roadmap. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – VIDEO: Aruba – One Happy Island –

Published on Mar 28, 2012 – Our white-sand beaches, cooling trade winds and warm, friendly people are just a few reasons why so many people return to Aruba year after year. Discover everything that makes this One Happy Island…


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