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Initially it was Spanish territory, but the French and English also assumed control of the island at various points in history. Pirates and privateers used the island as a safe refuge to restock their supply of fresh water and supplies(Hartog, 55).
It wasn’t until 1984 that the Dutch finally took control of the island. This was following the end of the 80-year war between the Spanish and Dutch. There was a brief point in the history of the island when the English were in control (1805-1816), but this was short lived and the Dutch returned to the island in 1816(Hartog, 61).
In 1824, a major boom in the Aruban economy occurred when gold was discovered on the island. This was extensively mined and became a large export until the mines depleted.
Finally in 1916, after less than a century of mining, the Dutch halted the search for gold as it was becoming unprofitable(Hartog, 82).
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a traditional, constitutional monarchy. Aruba’s system of Government is based upon Western democratic principles. Although Aruba has separate status, it still has the comfort of ties with Holland economically, culturally, politically and most importantly in aspects of defense. If there were ever an attack on the island of Aruba, it would be deemed an attack on Holland. Aruba was a part of the Netherland Antilles, which consisted of six islands including St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, Bonaire and Curacao. However, on January 1st, 1986 it became a separate entity with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. (www.visitaruba.com)
The benefits of becoming a separate entity include being able to write their own constitution and governing their people. The Aruban government is also allowed to handle issues such as customs, immigration, aviation, communications and other internal issues. They no longer needed the Central Government of the Netherland Antilles to manage its autonomous affairs. However the Queen is still responsible for foreign affairs, citizenship and defense. (www.visitaruba.com)
The structure of the Aruban government is similar to many in the western democratic countries.
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The Council of Ministers is similar to the Cabinet in the United States government.
They are controlled by the Prime Minister and help form the executive body of the Aruban government. The legal system of Aruba follows two main courts: the Common Court of Justice of Aruba and the Supreme Court of Justice in the Netherlands. (www.aruba.com)
Like in many democracies Aruba has several political parties. Today there are seven political parties on the island: A.V.P (Arubaanse Volks Partij), M.E.P. (Movimiento Electoral di Pueblo), O.L.A (Organisacion Liberal Arubano), P.P.A. (Partido Patriotico Arubano), C.L.A. (Conscientisacion pa Liberacion di Aruba), A.D.N (Accion Democratico Nacional), PARA (Partido pa un Aruba Restructura Awor) and M.A.S. (Movimiento Aruba Solidario). The political party that claims the biggest success in the history of the Island is the M.E.P. A young politician named Mr. Gilberto Francois Croes was the one who started the party. They are responsible for independence. He became known as the “liberator” of the Aruba cause. (www.visitaruba.com) Every year on January 25, the island celebrates his birthday, as a national holiday for Aruba.
The current leadership on the island is as follows. Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard of the Netherlands has been the chief of state since April 30th, 1980. She has been represented in Aruba by Governor General Olindo Koolman since January 1st, 1992. The head of the government is Prime Minister Jan (Henry) H. Eman with his Deputy Prime Minister Glenbert F. Croes. They have both been in office since July 29th, 1994. (www.photius.com)
The politics of Aruba became distinctly different on January 1st, 1986. This is because of the liberal, democratic values that the Dutch crown used to govern it. Because of its success as a major tourist island with hundreds of millions of revenue a year the island was able to become its own entity and govern itself, while simultaneously receiving help from its mother nation of Holland.