Curaçao closes Willemstad center after looting and fires

WILLEMSTAD - Several people were arrested on Wednesday for their role in looting and arson in the city center of Willemstad. This happened after the riot police evacuated Fort Amsterdam, where there was a manifestation, with the use of tear gas.

The Punda and Otrobanda districts were closed on Wednesday afternoon until at least Friday morning. For the rest of the island, a curfew applied on Wednesday evening from 8.30 to 6.00 Thursday morning.

A march of Selikor employees got out of hand on Wednesday when the protesters on Fort Square demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath. There they climbed on cars, threw bottles, and forced an entrance gate. Eventually, the riot police drove out the protesters, after which fires were started in the city center, including a police car was set on fire. Many vandalism and shops were also looted.

Justice Minister Quincy Girigorie emphasized the right to manifestation but condemned the disturbance of order. The chief of police, Mauricio Sambo, resigned on Wednesday. According to Minister Girigorie, the crowd should never have reached Fort Square.

Rhuggenaath said at a news conference on Wednesday that he had invited a small group of protesters for a meeting, but that this invitation was declined. The protesters demanded that he come out, which Rhuggenaath did not. Then the protesters were expelled by the police. Rhuggenaath condemned the actions, but still says he wants to meet with the leaders of the demonstration.