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Protest by Aruba’s leader stretches to 3rd day

July 13, 2014

ORANJESTAD, Aruba (AP) — Aruba’s leader vowed Sunday to continue a hunger strike until a disputed budget proposal is signed into law by the governor of the Dutch Caribbean island’s governor.

Prime Minister Mike Eman marked the third day of his protest sitting inside a white tent outfitted with an air mattress, chairs and an ice cooler stocked with vitamin water. He was accompanied by his wife, and the couple posed for photographers by an old Dutch military fort across the street from his offices.

Eman began the strike Friday to protest what he described as meddling by the Dutch government. In a statement, he said Aruba was being “kidnapped, raped and humiliated by the Netherlands.”

The Dutch government has asked Aruba Gov. Fredis Refunjol to hold off on signing the 2014 budget into law pending an independent commission’s analysis of the proposal and the overall health of Aruba’s finances.

Currently, Aruba faces a major fiscal deficit and its national debt represents 75 percent of its GDP.

Eman and other lawmakers say they consider the review an attack on the island’s autonomy.

“We’ve passed the point of no return,” Eman said Sunday from his tent.

The former Dutch territory obtained autonomy in 1986 but remains part of the Netherlands’ kingdom. Aruba manages its own finances, although the Dutch government is responsible for making sure the economy is soundly managed.

An ambulance and medical team is on standby at the protest site at Fort Zoutman, an old Dutch military installation.

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