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Suriname’s President Shrugs Off Murder Sentence in Re-election Bid

If President Desi Bouterse can hang on to immunity, past crimes could become just another chapter in his four-decade battle to stay in power.

Suriname’s president looked straight at the judge as she read his sentence for crimes committed during the 1982 political purge that cemented his grip on the small South American nation.

“You have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for committing murder,” she said that day this past January, according to witnesses.

The spectacle, virtually unheard-of for a sitting president, stunned the audience.

For the president, Desi Bouterse, his conviction before a military court in Suriname was just the latest chapter in a four-decade battle to maintain power. Appealing the ruling and avoiding prison through presidential immunity, he is instead running for re-election.

Monday’s vote will be one of the biggest tests of his career. Amid an economic crisis and a pandemic, Surinamese will decide whether Mr. Bouterse, 74, will spend his twilight years ruling the country or serving time.

“He’s a survivor, above all else,” said Hans Ramsoedh, a Netherlands-based Surinamese historian. “He has no beliefs, no ideological vision, apart from desire to remain in power.”

During his career, Mr. Bouterse has been a colonial careerist, a feared military dictator, a magnate and, recently, a populist.

He has staged two military coups, terrorized his opponents and forged the country’s first multiethnic political coalition. He has deceived the middle class but empowered Suriname’s poor.

Mr. Bouterse did not respond to repeated requests to be interviewed for this article. With his support sliding, his party has skipped all public debates and has instructed supporters to avoid the news media before the vote.

The 14 opposition parties contesting the general elections hope that crumbling living standards and corruption scandals will prevent Mr. Bouterse from retaining a majority in Parliament and force him to resign. But even they acknowledge that support for the charismatic president remains high among the poor and that his criminal convictions give him ample reason to hold power at all cost.

“My hope is that people will vote for change, because we deserve much better than this,” said Maisha Neus, 33, a businesswoman and opposition candidate for Parliament. “My outlook is more gloomy.”

Mr. Bouterse has built his recent popularity by adapting the populist and nationalist stances of allies in nearby Venezuela to Suriname’s diverse society, made up of descendants of enslaved Africans, Indian and Indonesian indentured laborers, Chinese merchants and Indigenous people.

He has promoted his humble origins and mixed race to set himself apart from Suriname’s traditional politicians, who tend to represent single ethnic groups. Over the years, his National Democratic Party has grown from a military clique into the country’s first major multiethnic political movement, breaking down the voting patterns that have divided Suriname since independence from the Netherlands.

“He knows the Surinamese society very well, and that’s the key to understanding his success,” said Peter Meel, an expert on Suriname’s history at Leiden University in the Netherlands. “He relates very easily to people from many different backgrounds. You can have a drink with him, get close to him.”

Similar to Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s late strongman and Mr. Bouterse’s personal friend, Mr. Bouterse has showered supporters with cheap houses and food with little regard for the state’s coffers and captivated them with folksy speeches, singing and dancing. His spending has left the country practically bankrupt, forcing the government to raid banking reserves to import food ahead of the elections.

Mr. Bouterse often attributes the country’s struggles to “white men in shorts,” his moniker for foreign powers like the Netherlands, which governed Suriname for 300 years.

Mr. Bouterse was born into a poor family in Suriname’s sugar belt. A restless, ambitious youth, he dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Dutch Army, serving, among other places, at a NATO base in Germany during the Cold War, according to Nina Jurna, a Brazil-based Dutch author who wrote a book about Mr. Bouterse.

As Suriname was nearing independence in 1975, the Dutch invited Mr. Bouterse and a few dozen other Surinamese officers to return home and build the new national army.

Dissatisfied with the new country’s economic stagnation, Mr. Bouterse took power in a military coup in 1980 with the tacit support of Dutch officers stationed locally, according to Dirk Kruijt, a Suriname expert at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The exact role played by the Netherlands in Mr. Bouterse’s rise to power remains unclear. Despite calls for disclosure, the Dutch government has kept the official files related to the coup secret.

After taking power, Mr. Bouterse ruled Suriname through terror. Fearing a counter-coup, in 1982 Mr. Bouterse ordered his soldiers to round up, torture and execute 15 dissident officers, union leaders, journalists and businessmen.

The killings, known as the “December Murders,” crushed the core of Suriname’s nascent elite, traumatizing the small, peaceful country and altering its course.

“It was a war against Surinamese people,” said Amanda Sheombar, who was 12 when her cousin, an army sergeant, was killed in the massacre. “We lived in fear. Everyone assumed they could be next targets.”

Mr. Bouterse would later accept “political responsibility” for the killings, but never personal responsibility. He has said, without offering evidence, that the executions prevented larger bloodshed by decapitating a coup plot.

The Dutch reacted to the killings by suspending a generous aid package. It was the beginning of Suriname’s economic decline, punctuated by regular currency crises, defaults, strikes and devaluations.

To compensate for the loss, Mr. Bouterse played the Americans and Soviets for financial support and even hosted a Libyan Embassy, a rarity under Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator. Dutch prosecutors claim he also turned for revenue to Colombian cartels, earning him a drug-trafficking conviction in absentia in the Netherlands.

When asked once during the Cold War if he was left wing or right wing, Mr. Bouterse replied he was merely a military man, taught to march with “left foot, right foot.”

When Suriname transitioned to democracy in 1987, Mr. Bouterse ditched his military uniform for three-piece pinstriped suits and pocket kerchiefs — but he kept control of the army.

As he accumulated wealth, entering lucrative ventures in mining and real estate, he remained the real power behind the scenes, once even forcing Suriname’s entire government to resign with a telephone call.

He also began reinventing himself as a democrat and an alternative to Suriname’s colonial-era governing parties. Feared at first, his party steadily built support over the 1990s.

By the time he won an electoral victory in 2010, Mr. Bouterse, a Scotch-sipping power broker, had transformed into a cheerful man of the people, donning polo shirts and sipping beer with supporters in the poor quarters of Paramaribo, the capital. He was re-elected in 2015.

Under Mr. Bouterse’s elected governments, his past excesses were gradually forgotten. The massacre was never taught in Suriname’s schools, and a new generation born after the dictatorship had no interest in hearing about long-ago crimes, said Henri Behr, a Surinamese business consultant whose brother was killed in the December Murders.

But now justice may finally catch up with Mr. Bouterse, Mr. Behr said.

Mr. Bouterse’s court appearance in January, the first since the case began in 2007, was a cathartic moment for victims’ families.

“I was expecting to see a strongman,” said Mr. Behr, who was in the courtroom. “What I saw was great fear.”


First of All, What Are the Guianas?

Collectively known as “The Guianas,” these three places are located in northeastern South America:

  1. Suriname – A country that gained independence in 1975 from The Netherlands Dutch is still spoken here.
  2. Guyana – This nation gained independence in 1970 from Britain and their official language is English.
  3. French Guiana – This is the only place on mainland South America that is still owned by a foreign land. The language of this territory of France is (you guessed it!) French.

Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana exist on the South American continent and share the Amazon rainforest with many other countries.This massive jungle extends into nine countries—Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.

The confusion remains: if they are on the South American continent, then why aren’t people from Suriname, Guyana, or French Guiana considered Latin American or Hispanic like their neighbors? Let’s look at the differences between these two terms.


Economy

French Guiana has a developing market economy, patterned on that of metropolitan France and sustained by aid and technical assistance from France. A rocket-launching base at Kourou, used by the European Space Agency, is of great importance to the economy, accounting for about one-fourth of the country’s annual gross domestic product (GDP). Services, manufacturing, and construction are the largest sectors of the economy. The gross national income (GNI) per capita is among the highest in South America.

Agriculture produces only a small part of GDP. Subsistence farming predominates and centres on the growing of cassava, rice, bananas, and cabbages. Most small farms are worked and owned by families, but there are some large estates engaged in growing cash crops, largely for export to metropolitan France.

The heavily forested land includes valuable commercial species. Some forestland is reserved by the state, but most is open to exploitation. Most of the timber cut is used for industrial purposes, and of that about two-fifths is exported. Pastures support mainly cattle, pigs, and poultry. Meat and milk production is limited, and large quantities of both must be imported. Shrimps account for a large portion of the annual fish catch.

Mineral exploitation is of negligible importance, and French Guiana must import fossil fuels and metallic minerals. Gold and clays are the only minerals extracted.

Manufacturing industries are concentrated on cement, rum, and finished wood products. Most capital and consumer goods must be imported. Electricity is generated entirely from thermal plants using imported fossil fuels.

Most of the labour force is employed in services and industry, with a small fraction in agriculture. Wages and benefits are legislated at the same rates as those that prevail in France. Unemployment and inflation rates are high.

Although about two-fifths of the country’s roads are paved, the road system is underdeveloped in the interior. Dégrad des Cannes, Larivot, Saint-Laurent du Moroni, and Kourou are principal ports. Some of the country’s waterways are navigable by small oceangoing craft, but most are navigable only by shallow-draft vessels. There is an international airport at Cayenne.

The balance of trade is chronically unfavourable, with the value of exports far outweighed by that of imports. Machinery, food and agricultural products, and refined petroleum dominate imports, whereas motor vehicles and their parts, gold, electrical machinery and electronics, fish, and shrimps are the leading exports. Major trading partners are France, the other countries of the European Union, and the French Antilles (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, and Saint Martin).


Isi kandungan

Wilayah Suriname mula dikenali sejak abad ke-15, iaitu ketika bangsa-bangsa imperialis Eropah berlumba menguasai Guyana, suatu dataran luas yang terletak di antara Lautan Atlantik, Sungai Amazon, Rio Negro, Sungai Cassiquiare dan Sungai Orinoco. Semula dataran ini oleh para ahli kartografi diberi nama Guyana Karibania (Guyana yang bererti dataran luas yang dialiri oleh banyak sungai dan Karibania dari kata Caribs iaitu nama orang asli yang pertama kali mendiami dataran tersebut).

Dalam suatu cerita fiktif "El Dorado", Guyana digambarkan sebagai suatu kawasan yang kaya dengan kandungan emas. Para ahli sejarah menganggarkan bahawa cerita fiktif tersebut merupakan salah satu faktor yang mendorong orang-orang Eropah untuk bersaing menguasai Guyana. Pada tahun 1449 pelaut Sepanyol, Alonzo de Ojeda dan Juan de la Cosa belayar menyusuri pantai timur laut Amerika Selatan, yang ketika itu mereka sebut Wild Coast, dan mendarat di kawasan Guyana. Vincent Juan Pinzon kemudian menguasai Guyana atas nama Raja Sepanyol. Selama abad ke-16 dan ke-17, Guyana dikuasai silih berganti oleh Sepanyol, Belanda, Inggeris, Perancis dan Portugal.

Pada tahun 1530 Belanda mendirikan pusat perdagangan pertama di dataran tersebut. Pada tahun 1593 raja Sepanyol mengambil alih dan menguasai Guyana hingga tahun 1595, iaitu ketika para bangsawan Inggeris datang dan mula mengusai daerah-daerah pantai. Sementara itu, Belanda mula mengembangkan perniagaannya secara berperingkat di kawasan pedalaman. Daerah Guyana sepenuhnya jatuh ke tangan Inggeris sejak tahun 1630 hingga tahun 1639.

Pada tahun yang sama Belanda berjaya menguasai kembali sebahagian besar Guyana sedangkan Perancis menguasai daerah-daerah di samping sungai Surinam. Akibat dari persaingan tersebut, wilayah Guyana saat ini terbahagi kepada lima bahagian iaitu Guyana Espanola (sebahagian daripada Venezuela sekarang) inglesa (Guyana sekarang) Holandesa (Suriname) Francesa (Cayenne) dan Portuguesa (sebahagian daripada wilayah Brazil). Surinam terletak di bahagian tengah dari wilayah Guyana yang telah terbagi-bagi tersebut, terbentang antara dua darjah hingga enam darjat Lintang Utara, dan antara 54 darjat hingga 58 darjat Bujur Barat dengan luas wilayah lebih kurang 163.265 kilometer persegi. Batas bahagian timur wilayah Surinam adalah Sungai Marowijne yang memisahkan Surinam dengan Cayenne, di bahagian selatan terdapat deretan pergunungan Acarai dan Toemoe hoemak yang memisahkan Suriname dengan wilayah Brazil. Di bahagian barat bersempadan dengan wilayah Guyana yang ditandai oleh aliran Sungai Corantijne, sementara di bahagian utara dibatasi oleh garis pantai Lautan Atlantik.

Pada tahun 1651 Suriname diserang oleh Inggeris dan sejak saat itu, menjadi wilayah kekuasaan Inggeris hingga menandatangani perjanjian perdamaian Breda tahun 1667. Berdasarkan perjanjian itu, Surinam menjadi wilayah kekuasaan Belanda. Namun Inggeris kembali memasuki Suriname pada tahun 1781 hingga 1783 dan Suriname kemudian dijadikan kawasan naungan Inggeris dari tahun 1799 hingga 1802. Melalui perjanjian Amiens, 27 Mac 1802, Surinam, Barbice, Demerara dan Essquibo berada di bawah kuasa Belanda, namun setahun kemudian Inggeris kembali merebut wilayah-wilayah itu dan sejak tahun 1804 Suriname menjadi tanah jajahan Inggeris dengan sebutan the British interregnum.

Selama Suriname berada di bawah kuasa Inggeris, situasi ekonomi Surinam mengalami kemunduran. Penyebab utama adalah larangan perdagangan budak, sementara kebun - kebun masih sangat memerlukan tenaga buruh untuk dikendalikan. Selanjutnya melalui perjanjian London pada tarikh 13 Ogos 1814 dan diratifikasi dalam perjanjian Vienna, Suriname dikembalikan lagi kepada pihak Belanda. Pemerintahan Suriname dipimpin langsung oleh seorang gabenor dengan didampingi oleh sebuah dewan polis yang bertugas sebagai penasihat Gabenor.

Dengan dihapusnya perhambaan pada tarikh 1 Julai 1863, kehidupan ekonomi semakin tidak menentu. Pada tahun 1870, pemerintah Belanda menandatangani perjanjian dengan Inggeris untuk mendatangkan pendatang asing ke Suriname. Perjanjian ini dilaksanakan secara rasmi pada tahun 1873 sampai 1917, di mana rombongan pendatang Hindustan pertama India didatangkan. Kedatangan rombongan seterusnya adalah para pendatang dari Jawa pada tahun 1890 - 1939.

Seiring dengan ditempatkannya para pendatang di sektor perladangan, Suriname mengalami kemajuan pula dalam beberapa bidang lain. [Telekomunikasi]], pembuatan jalan raya dan pembukaan laluan hubungan laut secara langsung antara Suriname dan Belanda merupakan contoh.

Pecahnya Perang Dunia Pertama tidak mempengaruhi situasi ekonomi - politik Suriname. Pada tarikh 15 Disember 1954, pemerintah Belanda bersama beberapa wakil dari Surinam menandatangani sebuah memorandum yang isi kandungannya rencana pengakhiran penjajahan. Dalam sebuah Persidangan Meja Bulat pada tahun 1961, wakil-wakil Suriname yang dipimpin oleh Perdana Menteri pengel menuntut dibentuknya sebuah kerajaan sendiri. Tuntutan itu semakin menjadi selepas didirikannya beberapa parti politik yang ditubuhkan pada dekad itu, semakin hebat menyampaikan tuntutan agar Suriname diberikan kebebasan penuh secepat mungkin.

Tuntutan ini ditanggapi secara serius dengan diadakannya sebuah persidangan di Belanda pada tahun 1970. Persidangan ini diadakan untuk membincangkan persiapan pelepasan Suriname sekaligus menyusun kabinet yang terdiri daripada wakil-wakil parti. Suriname selanjutnya menjadi negara merdeka sejak tarikh 25 November 1975. Walaupun demikian, ekonomi negara yang baru merdeka ini tetap sangat bergantung pada bantuan pembangunan Belanda.

Pada tarikh 25 Februari 1980, lima tahun selepas kemerdekaannya, Suriname diguncang oleh rampasan kuasa yang dilancarkan pihak tentera. Peristiwa rampasan kuasa ini telah mengakibatkan jatuhnya Kerajaan Demokrasi Parlementer pertama sejak kemerdekaan Suriname. Setelah Rejim Tentera Berkuasa, maka timbul gerakan-gerakan kontra-revolusi yag bertujuan untuk mengembalikan demokrasi di Suriname dengan rampasan kuasa. tetapi beberapa usaha rampasan kuasa itu gagal untuk menggulingkan rejim tentera Bouterse. rampasan kuasa tersebut antara: Kudeta oleh Sersan Fred Ormskerk pada 30 Mac 1980, rampasan kuasa oleh Sersan Wilfred Hawker pada 15 March 1981. dan terakhir oleh Leftenan Surendre Rambocus dan Sarjan Djiewansingh Sheombar yang dibantu kumpulan saaayap kanan, kaum Buruh, dan ahli politik Hindustani & Jawa, tetapi rampasan kuasa ini pun gagal. Sebagai reaksi terhadap pemberontakan tersebut, pada tarikh 8 Disember 1982 pihak tentera melakukan penembakan terhadap 15 tokoh pembangkang demonstran.Peristiwa ini telah mengakibatkan dihentikannya bantuan pembangunan Belanda kepada Suriname, yang memberi kesan semakin buruk keadaan ekonomi Suriname. Namun hal ini tidak membuat usaha menggulingkan rejim tentera berhenti, justeru ini mencetuskan muncul perlawanan yang lain dan kali datang dari Ethnicity Bushnegro dan Amerindian di Pedalaman Suriname. mereka tampil sebagai penentang utama kuasa tentera. Sekitar 35.000 penduduk Bushnegro dan 6500 Amerindian telah menjadi pelaku utama pemberontakan terhadap penguasa tentera.

Kelompok-kelompok militan dari kedua-dua golongan itu adalah kumpulan Mandela (Bushnegro) di bawah pimpinan bekas anggota tentera Ronny Bruswijk dan kumpulan Tukayana Amazones (Amerindian) di bawah pimpinan Alex Jubitana dan Thomas Sabajo.

Puncak dari konflik bersenjata tersebut berlaku pada tahun 1986, iaitu ketika Pihak Tentera terpaksa berhadapan dengan pemberontak Bushnegro yang telah bersatu dan menamakan dirinya Jungle Commando.dan satu platun Tentera yang gagl menangkap Ronnie Brunswijk kemudian melakukan pembunuhan terhadap 35 orang Bushnegro di Desa Moiwana (Moiwana massacre) Sementara itu, dalam tahun yang sama kumpulan Amerindian juga meningkatkan aksi pemberontakannya. Kemelut ini telah mengakibatkan kira-kira 7000 orang Bushnegro melarikan diri ke Cayenne (Guyana Perancis) dan meminta suaka politik kepada kerajaan tempatan.

Kerajaan tentera diakhiri dengan penyelenggaraan Pemilihan Agung pada bulan November 1987, yang telah mengembalikan kuasa kerajaan kepada golongan awam. Namun demikian, kerajaan hasil pilihan raya ini tidak berjalan lama. Pada bulan Disember 1990, pihak tentera kembali melancarkan rampasan kuasa tidak berdarah yang dikenali dengan sebutan Kudeta Telefon. Akibatnya kerajaan yang demokratik kembali lumpuh. Pihak tentera dan membentuk Kerajaan Sementara yang salah satu tugasnya adalah menyediakan Pemilihan Umum yang demokratik.

Pada bulan Mei 1991, Kerajaan Sementara telah berjaya menyelesaikan tugasnya, iaitu dengan diselenggarakannya Pemilihan Umum, namun hasilnya tidak sesuai dengan harapan tentera, kerana kemenangan berada di tangan golongan awam.

Pada bulan September tahun yang sama, telah terbentuk kerajaan yang baru, dan Drs. R.R. Venetiaan terpilih sebagai Presiden dan dengan demikian, maka berakhirlah kuasa tentera.

Langkah terpenting yang akan diusahakan oleh Kerajaan Venetiaan adalah meneruskan usaha-usaha ke arah keamanan yang telah dirintis oleh kerajaan awam sebelumnya. Hal ini tentunya merupakan tugas berat bagi kerajaan yang baru terbentuk tersebut, terutama kerana keadaan ekonomi dan kewangan Suriname yang sangat memprihatinkan, sebagai akibat dari kemelut politik yang berpanjangan. Dalam melaksanakan usaha perdamaian tersebut, Presiden RR Venetiaan telah membentuk suatu Suruhanjaya Khas yang bekerja sama dengan lembaga-lembaga dan organisasi-organisasi yang berkaitan.

Dalam pilihan raya bulan Mei 1996 koalisi penguasa New Front (NF) dan Presiden Venetiaan mengalami kekalahan dan pemerintahannya digantikan oleh calon dari pembangkang Drs. Jules Wijdenbosch Nationale Demokratische Partij (NDP) dan Radakishun Vooruitstrevende Hervorming Partij (VHP), yang terpilih menjadi Presiden dan Naib Presiden.

Kemudian pada pilihan raya yang diadakan pada tarikh 25 Mei 2000, kuasa berjaya diraih semula oleh gabungan pemerintah New Front yang terdiri daripada parpol Nationale Partij Surinam (NPS), VHP, Pertjajah Luhur dan Surinaamse Partij van de arbeid (SPA). Kemenangan New Front ini membawa kembali RR Venetiaan (NPS) ke tampuk kerusi presiden dan memimpin Surinam untuk masa 5 tahun (tahun 2000 - 2005). Sebagai Naib Presiden telah terpilih Jules Rattankoemar Ajodhia dari parti VHP.


Reformed Seminary, College, Free Sermons, Scholarly Resources, and Overseas Missions Opportunities

Reformation Christian Ministries (RCM) was started in 1979 with the establishment of a church and Christian day school by its founder and director, Rev. Geoffrey Donnan (with the able assistance of his wife, Nancy, and their two children Kimarie and Jason). God must surely be praised for the tremendous outreach of Christian Liberty Academy and the First Presbyterian Church associated with it.

A Brief History

The Beginning of the Church and School.

At the end of the first year, the church was growing and the Donnans were forced to resign from International Missions due to their doctrinal position becoming theologically reformed. Their home church supported them in this decision after consulting with the mission agency. So, the Donnans now began working directly under their sending church which was the Church of Christian Liberty, located at that time in Prospect Heights, Illinois. They were the church behind the establishment of the Christian Liberty Academy school system, in which the Donnans were participants.


1980 school party, old school building.

Stichting: Caribbean Christian Ministries

By early 1980, the Stichting (the Dutch word for "foundation," equivalent to a North American non-profit corporation) and the church and school officially operated under the Stichting: Caribbean Christian Ministries.

On February 25, 1980, Suriname experienced "revolution" as a result of a military coup whereby the small, but well armed military ousted the civil government supported by the police and established a military dictatorship under Commander Desi Bouterse. In an unrelated event during that same year, the Evangelical Lutheran Church fellowship building burned to the ground, so the meeting of the church was moved to the small school facility in Uitvlugt. Thus began the school and church use of the property that continues to this day and has expanded to include several additional lots purchased across the adjacent sidestreet, Loorweg.

The Donnans Prepare to Leave.

Both the church and school grew, though the school grew considerably quicker. In 1986, the Donnans made a decision to return to the U.S. for the sake of the on-going education of their children (their oldest daughter had just graduated from CLA), but with the intention of returning frequently. An administration had been set up that they believed would be able to carry on without their immediate presence.


Mr. Mitchell Persaud

The Church and School from 1986 to 1994.

On the church side of things, several missionaries came and went from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to handle the church side of things. One such missionary family was Rev. & Mrs. Ralph English (formerly a missionary to Korea for many years). His wife, Joan, became quite involved in the school and assisted Mr. Persaud in the administration. During this time, a young man (also from Guyana but living in Suriname) Asgar Mohamed Hamid began attending the school as a student. He was spotted by Mr. Persaud as a sharp young man who showed promise both as a teacher and possible administrator. He also had interest in theological studies and had served as a preaching assistant in the local Baptist church.


Asgar Mohamed Hamid

Another missionary family, Rev. & Mrs. Karl Hubenthal, came to Suriname some time later to work mostly among the Dutch speakers and to take over a church established by the Gereformeerde Kerk (Vrijgemaakt) at the Esther Stichting (a home for cured, but disabled lepers). Through the next few years, Mr. Hamid graduated from the school and married one of the other students from the school (Nirmala Singh). He also was being groomed as an assistant to Mr. Persaud and Mr. Donnan. Eventually, Mr. Persaud was given an opportunity to study at Greenville Theological Seminary, Greenville, South Carolina in the U.S.

It was at this time that Mr. Hamid was moved up to replace Mr. Persaud (who also later married a student from the school, Shabeeda Hossein). Rev. Persaud now resides in Toronto, Ontario and is a missionary to the Chinese immigrants to that city with the United Reformed Churches of North America. He also continues to work with Rev. Donnan on the Good News Bible Study program.

The Poettcker Family

In 1994, the services of Rev. & Mrs. Rudy Poettcker were secured by RCM to work as an educator and missionary at CLA. Some years after his arrival, Rev. & Mrs. English returned to the United States leaving only the Hubenthal family. Mr. Asgar Hamid had now become a member and later elder of First Presbyterian Church, also working at the school. Consequently, Rev. Poettcker was asked to serve on the session of the church along with Rev. Hubenthal and Mr. Hamid. Eventually, Rev. Hubenthal resigned as pastor to spend full time on church-planting work amongst the Amerindians. Rev. Poettcker was then called as pastor to the church and was succeeded in 2002 by Rev. Asgar Hamid who had completed sufficient theological studies at RCM's seminary for the task.

The March 2003 Fire

In March of 2003, a terrible fire burned down the main building of the school and church, and also the residence above them where the Poettckers and a local teacher from the school lived. This was the same residence that the Donnan family moved into and expanded considerably which had become the meeting place of the church and the main office, later classrooms and chapel for the school. The rebuilding effort is recounted in a lengthy picture report and was completed in 2005.

The School and Church Successfully Continue After the Poettcker's Move to the U.S.

Rev. Poettcker was promoted to Headmaster of CLA in 2004 succeeding the founder, Rev. Donnan. Rev. Hamid had already assumed the responsibility of Administrator for the school. In 2006, the Poettckers moved to the United States so that Rev. Poettcker could assume his responsibility as Dean of Studies for the college and seminary programs of RCM. Rev. Poettcker remains the headmaster of the school and the Suriname field director for RCM. He commutes back and forth between Florida and Suriname on average four times a years. He also administrates the Bachelor of Education degree program with a number of Suriname-based students from RCM's college program.

The Church and School Today

While there remains a very close link between RCM and the school in Suriname, it seems now that aside from the regular need for qualified teachers from outside of Suriname, both the church and school are able to continue completely from their own financial resources and largely from their own personnel.

First Presbyterian Church began in 1978 and continues to this day with a local pastor and deacon. It's membership averages about 60 and its attendance slightly more.

Christian Liberty Academy of Paramaribo began in 1979 and today is the largest English-language school in Suriname.

Reformation International Theological Seminary and Reformation International College are both operating in Suriname since 1996.

Suriname Fire and Rebuilding Report

In March 2003, a fire broke out in Suriname that nearly killed RCM's missionary family (the Poettckers) and destroyed the school office, church building and school chapel. It took two years to rebuild. This is the pictoral story of this momentous project that literally changed the face of the school in Suriname.


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  • One photo for photo instructions click here
  • One money order with exact amount
  • A separate money Order of $ 16 for the return mail
  • An itinerary from an airline

Business applicants need a letter of invitation from the business in Suriname acting as the referent and one document proofing where the applicants business is based and the branch the business operates in.

Minors ( 0-17) must provide an affidavit ( certified) of no objection from the parents of the child if the child is traveling with someone other than the parents.

Note: Business and Tourist applicants with a passport other than an USA passport or a country on the visa agreement list of Suriname, need to submit their form first and wait 2-3 weeks before submitting their documentation and money-order.
For a list of countries Suriname has a Visa Waiver Agreement with click here

HOW TO APPLY FOR A VISA?

    • Step one: Complete and submit online visa form
      You will receive an email from our visa department if we received your application.
    • Step two: buy money-order with exact amount of $16 for the return mail
    • Step three: check if passport is valid.( 6 months)
    • Step four: mail all requirements to the Consulate.

    Note: at this stage, do not call the Consulate General. Provide us with a valid email address (mandatory) and you will receive an email with information about your completed form, arrival of your documents and when your visa has been mailed.

    Drop Off: applicants can also visit the Consulate for a visa. You can fill out your online application at our office and provide us with your money-order , photo and valid passport. Business applicants and minors need also to submit the required documentation.

    HOW DO YOU PAY FOR A VISA?

    We accept: money – orders or cashiers checks in exact amount.
    We do not accept: personal checks , unwritten money- orders, money- orders not in the name of the applicant and cash.
    Note: There are no refunds once your application and money order is submitted.

    HOW TO FILL OUT THE MONEY ORDER OR CASHIERS CHECK.

    The full name of the applicant must be written in readable neat and clear letters.
    The Consular Service you are paying for.
    The address of the applicant
    For examples click here

    SPECIAL CATEGORY VISA: PERMIT FOR TEMPORARY STAY ( M.K.V.)

    Foreigners who have the intention to stay in Suriname longer than 3 months can apply for a visa for temporary stay the so called M.K.V
    During the process to obtain the M.K.V. visa applicant can not travel to Suriname on a regular tourist visa or a tourist card.
    If traveled by business or tourist visa to Suriname one cannot apply for the permit for temporary stay.
    Applications can be submitted at the Consulate or send by mail.

    REQUIREMENTS: PERMIT FOR TEMPORARY STAY.

          • Complete and submit online MKV form .
                  • Two recent passport photos of good quality and contrast/ per person.
                  • Copy of all written pages in the passport (Stamps, Visas, etc..).
                  • An original copy of birth certificate with apostil legalization
                  • An original certificate of good conduct with (apostil/ Legalization).
                  • Evidence of exportable benefits and or incomes, bank accounts, pensions, etc.
                  • In case of Internship : copy of training agreement, the original be submitted in Suriname
                  • In case of Volunteer : a confirmation letter or contract from organization
                  • In case of Business : a copy of the employment agreement, employer statement (original should be submitted in Suriname).
                  • Money order or Cashiers check.
                  • Proof of Residence (if applicable)
                  • Proof of Marital Status :
                  • If married/ divorced/single/ widow
                  • Copy of marriage license/divorce certificate/ proof of widowhood (with apostil legalization)
                  • If cohabitating (partner relationship) proof of cohabitation in the country of origin, e.g: Cooperation Agreement, proof of enrollment.
                  • Authorization by parents and a copy of the marriage certificate:
                    –If the minor child is traveling alone
                    –If the minor child is traveling with one parent who jointly exercises parental authority (with Apostil legalization)
                  • In case of Guardianship/ Adoptive Child: a copy of the judicial decision (with apostil/Legalization)
                  • If the applicant does not have sufficient financial resources for their stay in Suriname, a copy of the original Guarantor Statement must be submitted in Suriname.
                  • Proof of medical coverage: a letter from your insurance company stating that you are covered, for the stay period.
                  • A recent Certificate of Health

                  Other Details:
                  The passport should not be less than six months valid upon arrival in Suriname. The person who has submitted an application, does not qualify for a tourist card, tourist or business visa during the period in which his/her application is pending.

                  Passports are very important documents. It is given by a country to their nationals to travel abroad. Since Suriname is part of the Caricom, the Central Civil Authority (C.B.B.) in Paramaribo issues Caricom Passports. Since the costs to make a passport are very high it is mandatory to treat it with the highest concern and keep it always in a safe place. If on vacation keep it at all times with you or put it away in a safe.

                  Do not: leave it in the car in parking lots , in the lobby of the hotel, do not wash it in the washing machine, don’t give it to your children to play with, do not leave it on the seat of a taxi or bus. Don’t use nail polish near it. An extra fee will be charged in case of stolen or damaged passports. An extra fee will be charged if you do not submit the passport in time for renewal.

                  You can submit your passport for renewal 6-8 months prior to the expiration date.

                  WHAT KIND OF PASSPORTS CAN YOU APPLY FOR?

                  • Renewal of Passport: expired, lost or damaged.
                  • Emergency Passport
                  • Business passport

                  PASSPORTS REQUIREMENTS

                  All applicants must have:

                  • An application form. Click to download ( Online version coming soon)
                  • Two (2) Photo’s . For photo instructions click here
                  • A copy of the old passport from cover to cover, the old passport must also be submitted.
                  • Birth certificate ( if born in Suriname).
                  • Copy of green card if not in possession please submit a letter that notifies of non- possession.
                  • A money- order in exact amount
                  • A separate money Order of $ 16 for the return mail

                  OTHER PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS

                  If married a certified marriage license. Note: if you are married and want your maiden name (and not the name of your husband) appear in the passport you should submit a written request along with your application.

                  • If divorced a certified certificate of divorce
                  • If one is deceased a certified deceased certificate
                  • If adopted, certified adoption documentation
                  • Lost or stolen passport : a certified police report with signature of police officer
                  • Damaged passport : a certified letter with explanation how the passport got damaged.
                  • Surinamese by naturalization a copy of legal government publication ( so called STAATSBLAD).
                  • A copy of Family Book ( so called FAMILIE BOEKJE)
                  • Minors (0-17) must submit their own application form. If they can’t write the parents should sign.
                  • Surinamese who are married or divorced in the USA have to supply a certified copy with Apostille stams of their marriage or divorce certificate
                  • If you were not born in Suriname, please send us a certified copy with Apostille stam of your birth certificate.
                  • Please sign in the middle off the square.

                  HOW CAN I APPLY FOR A PASSPORT?

                  • STEP ONE: read the information careful. Download the form and fill it out complete.
                  • STEP TWO: carefully gather all documentation .
                  • STEP THREE: buy a money order with exact amount, get photo’s ( see photo requirements ), buy prepaid envelope.
                  • STEP FOUR: mail your documentation to the Consulate.
                    E-mail address: [email protected]

                  HOW DO YOU PAY FOR A PASSPORT?

                  • We do accept : money – orders or cashiers checks in exact amount
                  • We do not accept: personal checks, unwritten money- orders, money- orders not in the name of the applicant and cash.

                  Note: There are no refunds once your application and money order is submitted.

                  If you were born, married, divorced, or have made any other legal change in your status in Suriname, please provide a regular copy of the change.
                  If you were born, married, divorced, or have made any other legal change in your status in any other country except Suriname, please provide a certified copy of the certificate with Apostille stamp.

                  HOW TO FILL OUT THE MONEY ORDER OR CASHIERS CHECK.

                  • The full name of the applicant must be written in readable neat and clear letters.
                  • The Consular Service you are paying for.
                  • The address of the applicant
                  • For examples click here.

                  WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR AN EMERGENCY PASSPORT?

                  By law an emergency passport is only issued in the following cases

                  • Terminal illness of a close family member such as a father, mother , child, sister or brother. A certified physician should submit a paper stating the status of the patient. It is necessary to have a telephone number of the physician so we can verify the case.
                  • Death of a close family member as mentioned above. Proper documentation : Death Certificate issued by the Central Civil Authority (CBB) must be submitted
                  • When someone is expedited out of the USA. In case of Lost or stolen passport.


                  Bi-directional links are not new

                  The idea of the bi-directional link goes all the way back to 1945, when

                  Vannevar outlined this hypothetical gadget in an essay in The Atlantic called

                  This essay turned out to be a foundational document for the ideologies that directly led to both the internet and the Web. Yes, those are two entirely seperate pieces of technology. Vannevar was one of the key movers and shakers rallying folks to help build the original internet infrastructure. He coralled folks at MIT, the US Department of Defence, the National Science Foundation and various research labs like the Standford Lincoln Lab, Bell Labs, the RAND corporation, and Xerox PARC to get involved. Walter Isaacson,

                  Suffice to say, the guy was driven by a belief that enabling people to connect information and share knowledge would expand the scope of human understanding. The Memex was one idea of how that might manifest in material form.

                  Vannevar even created a small informative diagram of this desk-bound vision. Marketing chops 101.

                  Vannevar's evocative description of the Memex is especially impressive given that digital computers had only come into existence 5 years earlier. Most were still the domain of large military operations like Bletchley Park, and seen as inconveniently large calculators.

                  Implementing a wildly interactive computational personal knowledge base wasn't much of an option.

                  So the idea went into hiberation, and didn't resurface until the idea of personal computing began blooming in the sixties and seventies.

                  Nelson planned to implement these hypertextual dreams in his perpetually-imminent Project Xanadu. If you have some time, this is quite the internet history

                  The Xanadu project was a hypertext system that imagined that every sentence, block, and page would be part of a vast bi-directionally linked network.

                  A design mockup of how Project Xanadu might visually connect pieces of text across multiple documents

                  Youɽ be able to trace information back to its origin the way current web links do. But youɽ also be able to see who had referenced, remixed, and expanded off that original. The full

                  Suffice to say, Xanadu didn't pan out.

                  Instead we got the less fancy, but far more real and useable World Wide Web that currently does not support bi-directionals on an infrastructre level.

                  While Sir Tim Berner's Lee

                  If every site that linked to yours was visible on your page, and you had no control over who could and couldn't link to you, it is not hard to imagine the Trollish implications.

                  Figuring out how we might filter, moderate, and set permissions around link visibility turned into

                  It became clear implementing the Web with simpler mono-directional links was the right thing to do, given that its creators wanted universal adoption. Lots of people are still mad about it. Let's not venture too far down that historical wormhole.

                  The TLDR is technology is hard.


                  Farewell, Cassandra

                  We here at HistoryLink are greatly saddened by the death of our dear friend Cassandra Tate, who we have had the pleasure of working with for more than 20 years. We are truly going to miss her joy, her sparkling wit, her passion for researching and writing history, and -- most of all -- the kind and peaceful friendship she shared with us all.

                  Cassandra was born in Idaho but grew up in Seattle, where she developed an interest in journalism. After spending a year at UW, she headed out on her own and worked as a reporter for various newspapers in Idaho and Nevada, where she met her husband, Glenn Drosendahl. After receiving a year-long Nieman Fellowship at Harvard, she returned to Seattle with Glenn and their daughter, Linnea, and worked at several local newspapers before returning to UW to get a Ph.D. at age 50. She turned her doctoral dissertation into her first book, Cigarette Wars: Triumph of "The Little White Slaver," published by Oxford University Press in 1999.

                  In 1998 Cassandra became one of the first members of our writing team, and she wrote several essays in preparation for our launch. Over the years since, she wrote 217 essays for HistoryLink on such topics as gold rushes, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Washington State University, abortion reform, and thumbnail histories of Seattle's Columbia City, West Seattle, and West Seattle Junction neighborhoods.

                  Cassandra also wrote many excellent and meticulously researched biographical articles. Some of the many people she wrote about include Wanapum spiritual leader Smohalla, geologist J Harlan Bretz, philanthropist Patsy Collins, environmentalists Joan Crooks and Hazel Wolf, activist Jim Ellis and his brother John Ellis, artists Michael Spafford and Elizabeth Sandvig, musician Ray Charles, actresses Frances Farmer and Peg Phillips, theater directors Glenn Hughes and Burton and Florence James, author Ivan Doig, astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, doctors Lester Sauvage and A. Frans Koome, Watergate co-conspirator John Ehrlichman, Seattle mayors Robert Moran and Gordon Clinton, King County Executive Ron Sims, state senator Bob Grieve, Congresswoman Catherine May, and Governor Dan Evans and his wife, Nancy.

                  One of our favorite stories Cassandra wrote was about the Three Kichis, Japanese castaways who ran aground on the northernmost tip of the Olympic Peninsula in 1834. Other favorites include her tour of Ice Age floods, her analysis of busing in the Seattle School district, her history of cigarette prohibition in Washington, her four-part history of the Seattle YMCA, her look back at Seattle's Lusty Lady 'panoram,' and her own personal account of seeing Elvis at Sicks' Stadium when she was 12 year old.

                  And finally, one topic that greatly interested Cassandra was the story of Protestant missionaries Narcissa and Marcus Whitman, who were attacked and killed by Cayuse Indians in 1834. After years of deep research, she turned this story into an acclaimed book, "Unsettled Ground: The Whitman Massacre and its Shifting Legacy in the American West." The book was published as Cassandra was nine months into her struggle with fallopian-tube cancer, but she still promoted it through virtual book readings and discussions. We are so grateful that she lived to tell this story, and to enjoy the book's stellar reviews.

                  News Then, History Now

                  Rails Across the Nation

                  On June 17, 1884, the first Northern Pacific train running between Tacoma and Seattle raised Seattle's hopes of a reliable transcontinental rail link, but the line proved to be a bust. The city turned its sights to James J. Hill, and after granting him a waterfront right-of-way and other concessions, the first Great Northern passenger train left Seattle for St. Paul, Minnesota on June 18, 1893.

                  Freedom Celebration

                  On June 19, 1890, African Americans from Tacoma and Seattle, many of them former slaves, gathered in Kent to celebrate the area's first Juneteenth. June 19, 1865, was the date news of Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Texas slaves.

                  A Daughter's Admiration

                  In 1909 Sonora Smart Dodd sat in a Spokane church listening to a sermon about motherhood. Having been raised with five younger brothers by her widowed father, Dodd felt that fatherhood also deserved a "place in the sun," and she took it upon herself to advocate a special day for dads. After receiving an enthusiastic endorsement from the Spokane Ministerial Alliance and the YMCA, the first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane on June 19, 1910. The concept spread, and by the 1920s Father's Day was commonly observed throughout the country.

                  Poet's Soiree

                  On June 17, 1931, Ella Higginson became Washington state's first poet laureate in a ceremony hosted by the Washington State Federation of Women's Clubs. Two decades earlier, Higginson served as campaign manager for Frances Axtell, who was one of the first two women elected to serve in the Washington State Legislature.

                  Into the Fray

                  On June 20, 1942, a Japanese submarine sank the freighter Fort Camosun near Cape Flattery, but with no loss of life. The next day, the same submarine attacked Fort Stevens at the mouth of the Columbia River, making it the only military installation in the continental United States to be shelled during the war.

                  Opening Day

                  June 23 marks the opening day of three major civic institutions in Seattle: Volunteer Park's Seattle Art Museum in 1933 the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in 1988 and the Experience Music Project -- now MoPOP -- in 2000.


                  Soldiers of Misfortune

                  In the 18th Century, the sugar plantations in the Caribbean were a source of almost untold riches. Although some dissenting voices in Europe were critical of the brutal methods used to exploit black slaves, the triangular trade that developed around them proved astoundingly profitable. Cheap European manufactured goods were first exchanged for slaves in West Africa, who were then traded for sugar or rum in the West Indies, which could be subsequently sold in Europe for a fortune. With these enormous profits the sugar barons were not only able to increase their own wealth, but were also able to influence policy in their favor. The only flaw in this almost perfect business was that the slaves had a tendency to escape from their bonds any chance they could, and since the number of the slaves far surpassed that of their white captors there was always the simmering threat of a bloody rebellion.

                  A very special source of annoyance for plantation owners were the so-called "Maroons," runaway slaves who had managed to escape into the jungle or the mountains, where they formed mini communities. These small bands of Africans living in freedom threatened the security and stable existence of the planters, who, while contending with repeated raids by the Maroons on isolated plantations, also feared that the Maroons would set an example for the other slaves. Although they didn't want open war with the powerful whites, the Maroons needed weapons, tools, food and especially women, to survive in the jungle all of these things could only be obtained from the plantations.

                  Although these skirmishes against runaway slaves were a more or less permanent fixture of all planter colonies, they nonetheless failed to bring about a decisive victory against the Maroons. Usually only minor interventions by the police were called for, but now and then major rebellions flared up, as in 1761 in Berbice, which struck the whole colony and could only be suppressed by a large number of troops brought over from Europe. The situation was particularly dangerous in the Dutch colony of Suriname, where there were 25 slaves for every white man. In the plantation districts this number climbed up to 65, compared with the average ratio on the West Indian islands, which was 10:1. The planters called in the military at every opportunity, but doing so was expensive, and the Government sent fresh troops only if the number of runaway slaves or the severity of the raids exceeded a certain limit, at which point they destroyed a few villages and fields in the jungle and with luck even killed some Maroons.

                  In order to have his own police force under his command, the governor finally ordered the formation of the "Neeger Vrijcorps" which originally consisted of 116 slaves, who had been bought especially for that purpose and had been promised their freedom. These "Rangers" were paid relatively well and proved themselves to be brave and reliable in the fight against the Maroons. To further stimulate their motivation they received additional bounties, such as 25 guilders for every hand of a rebel.

                  The hunt for runaway slaves and the suppression of smaller revolts make for trivial and sordid stories. Great armies were not moved for such inconsequentialities and these events are normally relegated to footnotes by miltary historians. Nevertheless, these fights settled the fate of many mercenaries. In the most remote corners of the world, on the widely scattered Indonesian islands, in the tiny forts on the African Slave Coast, in the Indian jungles or in the mangrove swamps of Guiana, small groups of soldiers struggled in the wilderness and perished there anonymously. Usually warfare in the 18th Century is associated with glorious battles like Malplaquet, Fontenoy and Rossbach however, the Dutch sent 655,200 men to Asia in that century alone, of which only 252,500 returned. The rest had been consumed in good part by small wars and illnesses.

                  Conditions in the Suriname colony deteriorated further. Many planters had moved to Holland with their millions and left their plantations in the care of overseers, whose activity was linked inextricably with profit rate. In many areas monocultures had exhausted the soil, while at the same time the price of sugar dropped. All this led to even more brutal exploitation of the slaves, and in turn provoked new waves of runaways and a reinforcement of the Maroons. Under their charismatic leaders Baron and Boni the Maroons made increasingly bold raids to provide themselves with the necessary goods and women. When the colonists became fearful of yet another new massacre and pled with increasing urgency for help, the Dutch West India Company sent 800 soldiers from Holland under the command of the Swiss colonel Louis Henry Fourgeoud, who had already distinguished himself during the revolt in Berbice. These mercenaries were mostly German, Swiss, English and Scots, and their story was related by the Scottish officer Captain John Gabriel Stedman (Narrative of a five years' expedition against the revolted negroes of Surinam).

                  Soon after their arrival in early 1773 the soldiers set off in small groups into the jungle. Numerous rivers, mangrove swamps and flood plains impeded their progress. They fought their way through the undergrowth, waded through swamps and swam across rivers. Torrential downpours alternated with unrelenting rain. When it was not raining, the hot jungle steamed moisture. Everything was wet, food and leather gear moldered. Feet became swollen and inflamed in wet boots small scratches turned into festering wounds. Dirty water and rotten food led to dysentery and typhus, which were soon boosted by tropical diseases like malaria and yellow fever. After just a few months, the corps had dwindled to three quarters of its original strength. The surviving mercenaries had yet to confront any of the Maroons instead ring-worms, leeches, mosquitoes, sand fleas, lice and vermin of all kinds had to be contended with first, as well as crocodiles, pumas, vampire bats, anacondas, scorpions and poisonous spiders. Only a group of 30 men under a lieutenant Lepper encountered Maroons. Crossing a swamp they fell into an ambush with their powder wet and up to their shoulders in water, most were shot down in the swamp and the rest killed on the shore.

                  After this experience they tried ships. Stedman set off in July in two armed barges with 65 men including some of the Rangers. In a settlement with the homely name of "Devil's Harwar" they met a survivor of Lepper's troop, whom the Maroons had left behind for dead, and who now detailed the fate of his comrades. With Devil's Harwar as a base they rowed on through endless mangrove swamps and incessant rain. Often they had to sleep in the overcrowded barges because there was no dry place to be found. On the small mud islands the sleeping men were easy pickings for crocodiles. All went hungry, were covered in insect bites, and were more or less seriously ill. When the expedition was cancelled after two months without any enemy contact at all, Stedman had a total of 20 men left. But even these were in a deplorable state, exhausted, demoralized, their uniforms in rags. Stedman noted, "A band of such scarecrows as could have disgraced the garden or fields of any farmer in England. Among them was a Society captain named Larcher, who declared to me he never combed, washed, shaved, or shifted, or even took off his boots, till all was rotted from his body."

                  Fourgeoud allowed his exhausted troops to rest in Paramaribo, then drove them back into the jungle. This time they discovered several abandoned villages and rice fields and burned them down. They also found the remains of Lieutenant Lepper and his men: seven skulls on poles. Far off from any supply routes, food became scarce. The officers clamped down on the men with extreme brutality to maintain order. During a riot they beat up a mercenary with such savagery that he died shortly afterwards from his injuries. Some couldn't bear the exertion, for them fever was a relief, and without inner resistance they laid down and died. Others hanged themselves in despair.

                  This pattern was repeated over the years. If the hospitals in Paramaribo and Fort Amsterdam declared that enough soldiers were fit for duty new expeditions were sent into the jungle, from where, mere months later, only miserable parts returned. If they were lucky they destroyed a few villages and their crops, but real fighting virtually never happened. One group under a captain Meyland was ambushed in a swamp and nearly annihilated. At the beginning of 1775, 400 fresh mercenaries arrived from Holland as reinforcements and Fourgeoud dismissed some of the most invalid. But despite the replacements he had only 180 operational men under his command when he departed in July on a new expedition. Reinforced by 100 Rangers they succeeded in capturing Boni's main base Gado Saby, the only presentable success of the entire war. On the way to Gado Saby they had to cross yet again countless rivers and marshes. On one shore they came upon the rotting remains of Meyland and his men.

                  At Gado Saby they ran into a fierce firefight with the Maroons, but losses were quite low as the Maroons, lacking lead, shot with pebbles and buttons, which caused only minor flesh wounds. Finally, the Maroons withdrew into the surrounding jungle. At night they fired on the intruders and shouted insults at them. It's interesting how they commented on the situation of the European mercenaries. "They told us that we were to be pitied more than they that we were white slaves, hired to be shot and starved for fourpence a day that they scorned to waste much more of their powder upon such scarecrows." While the Maroons demonstrated some pity for the mercenaries, they promised unambiguously to exterminate the planters and Rangers. Maroons and Rangers called each other traitors and persecuted each other with implacable hatred. To demonstrate their contempt, the Rangers played "bowls with those very heads they had just chopped off from their enemies", or smoked the noses and ears of dead Maroons to use them as trophies.

                  After the fall of Gado Saby the Maroons disappeared without trace in the jungle. The soldiers searched through mud and marshes without firing a shot. Sometimes they had to wade for hours through deep water, where some were even caught by crocodiles. If they couldn't find a muddy hill to spend the night, they had to hang their hammocks in the trees. Without fire, the mosquitoes were an even more intolerable plague than the vampire bats. Food and supply were constantly scarce, and in the rare trading posts the mercenaries were forced to spend the last of their money buying food at exorbitant prices. When somebody died of exhaustion and fever the others felt neither pity nor sorrow, but only asked: "Has he left any brandy, rum or tobacco?" Nevertheless the Maroons were hit hard by the destruction of their villages and fields. They suffered severely from lack of food and had to retreat further and further inland. But for every scorched field some mercenaries had to pay with their lives, until finally only a tattered band of fever-ridden, miserable wretches returned to Fort Amsterdam.

                  During recovery periods in the garrisons almost all soldiers lived with slave women, indeed Stedman and some officers even married slaves. Many had far more sympathy for slaves than for the arrogant Dutch planters. In the cities they bore constant witness to the brutal penalties which were often imposed for minor trespasses. Even though they were white themselves, in the eyes of the planters they rated only a little above the slaves. During their expeditions in the jungle they had learned to appreciate the loyalty and bravery of their black brothers in arms, without whom no one would have returned alive. Stedman's book is full of compassion for the cruelly exploited and oppressed slaves. However they were not revolutionaries but mercenaries, and they took their pay from the Dutch and hoped to somehow survive their period of service. Moreover, the rank and file were far too busy with their own miserable conditions. They hated their officers and the planters, who forced them into the jungle over and over again.

                  In the summer of 1776 the end of their misery seemed to be within sight. It was said that the Maroons were practically starving and were on the verge of capitulation. New Ranger companies were formed, and the mercenaries were looking forward to going back home. At one point, transport ships even harboured in Paramaribo and the troops boarded. Everyone was glad to have escaped that hell alive. But then the order came to go back once again into the jungle. The news caused turmoil among the soldiers and had they had a determined leader they probably would have attacked their officers and mutinied. But the officers brought the dangerous situation quickly under control. A triple cheer on the King of Holland was ordered, and when the soldiers stayed silent the officers pounced on them, beating them with swords and pistols. Finally, after several gallons of gin had been promised, some soldiers joined the cheers of the officers. When order seemed to be restored the troops disembarked. In the end, some 160 seriously ill were transported back to Holland, while the rest marched dejectedly back into the jungle. There they no longer undertook raids, but listlessly dragged themselves from one camp to another. Even the officers were too exhausted to push the men any harder. When at last news came that the Maroons had fled to French Guyana the war was regarded as over.

                  Fourgeoud's campaign was celebrated as a major victory with 21 villages and more than 200 fields destroyed. But the price was immense. When the troops were finally embarked in April 1777, only about 100 of the 1,200 men who had been sent to Suriname over the course of those four years remained. Of these 100, however, there were only 20 who could have been considered more or less healthy. Stedman was the only officer who had arrived from Europe with the first division, and the old warhorse Fourgeoud died exhausted and burned out shortly after his arrival in Holland. As a replacement 350 new soldiers arrived from Holland, many of whom were already suffering from scurvy and other diseases.

                  Stedman's report leaves no doubt that the black Rangers were far superior to the European mercenaries, not only as combatants but also in terms of their motivation and reliability. This raises the question of why these inefficient Europeans were transported with great difficulty to South America. The answer is as banal as it is cruel: "Free" Europeans were by far much cheaper than black slaves. A healthy slave in Suriname cost at least 500 - 1,000 Fl, while a mercenary could be had for a mere 10 - 30 Fl. This unsentimental conclusion furthermore explains why sailors on the infamous slave ships were often treated worse than the precious "human merchandise". Studies estimate a death rate of 17.9% among the crew versus 12.3% among the slaves.


                  Watch the video: Suriname 1920 (August 2022).