Aruba Governor Refunjol promoted to Commander

THE HAGUE–Aruba Governor Fredis Refunjol was promoted to Commander in the Order of Oranje Nassau for his exceptional contribution to the Dutch Kingdom during his farewell reception in The Hague on Thursday.

Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk announced the promotion during his speech and subsequently presented the decoration to Refunjol by fastening the medal around his neck.

The speakers at the well-attended reception in one of the great halls on the Binnenhof expressed much praise for the manner in which Refunjol has executed his task as Governor for almost 13 years, sometimes under difficult circumstances.

Dutch Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert spoke of the Governor’s commitment, solidarity and strength. “You have always been connected with the people. You always took the opinion and feelings of others seriously, also when the sentiments ran high,” she said.

Hennis-Plasschaert said Refunjol also displayed the quality of being persistent, but with the necessary respect. One such example were his efforts to keep the marine barracks in Aruba open. “You always said that defence was a matter of the entire Kingdom. You showed honest involvement towards the defence personnel working in Aruba. You made them feel at home.”

Aruba’s new Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague Juan David Yrausquin commended Refunjol for his modesty, a quality which he said was seldom rewarded in politics. “A modest, sincere and integer person with an immense sense of duty.”

Yrausquin applauded Refunjol for his assistance and support when the Aruba Government had to take painful decisions during the cost-cutting operation to get the country’s finances in order. “You have contributed to the dignity of Aruba and the power of the Kingdom.”

Minister Plasterk said Refunjol had dedicated his career to Aruba and the Kingdom, first as a teacher, then as a Member of Parliament and Minister of Education, and finally as Governor. “You always propagated the democratic game rules. You were not afraid to go against the flow when it concerned issues such as good governance,” he said.

“You kept your back straight in your efforts to promote integrity and unity. Sometimes these two clashed, but you still managed. Your relentless efforts for Aruba and the Kingdom have not gone unnoticed,” said Plasterk, who then announced Refunjol’s promotion to Commander in the Order of Oranje Nassau, a promotion which doesn’t happen very often, he said.

The last speaker was Refunjol. Looking back at his political career which he started in 1985, he said that being a politician was “completely different” than being a Governor. “I have given content to my task in good faith. It wasn’t always easy.”

Refunjol expressed the hope that the relation between Aruba and the Netherlands would continue to grow with the necessary mutual respect and understanding, and an open, honest dialogue. He said it was his “fervent wish” that everyone would also support his successor, Alfonso Boekhoudt who will start on January 1, 2017. “I have a feeling that Boekhoudt will be a good fourth Governor of Aruba.”

Towards the end of his speech, Refunjol became emotional when he expressed immense gratitude to his wife Clarette Refunjol-Lopez and his children for their unwavering support. These emotions were shared by many at the reception, for they appreciated Refunjol as a person and for the work he has done. Refunjol is now going on a well-deserved pension after 43 years of public service.

Source: The Daily Herald