May 16, 2009 / 12:23 PM / 10 years ago

Curacao chooses more autonomy from Dutch rule

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao, May 16 (Reuters) - Curacao residents voted in favor of more autonomy from the Netherlands and a restructuring of the Caribbean island’s foreign debt, but also gave their former colonial rulers sway over economic decisions.

Official results late on Friday showed 52 percent voted to be given more say in their home affairs along with an offer by the Netherlands government to forgive about $2.7 billion debt, but on the condition of increased Dutch control over the economy.

“It offers security, welfare and a reply to the people, who want Curacao to be an autonomous country,” said Curacao’s Prime Minister Emily de Jong Elhage.

Opponents say the strings attached to the debt restructuring actually give the Dutch more power over the island in the Netherlands Antilles known as a tax haven and host to a large Venezuelan-run oil refinery.

“Our terrible negotiators are offering that Holland can intervene in our justice and finances,” said opposition leader Charles Cooper. “This is unacceptable.” (Reporting by Irasi Jimenez; editing by Todd Eastham)

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