Dutch colonialism has traditionally focused on the East Indies, rather than the West Indies. Thus when Queen Wilhelmina, while in exile in London, declared in 1942 that the colonies should become autonomous with the words ‘relying on one's own strength, with the will to support each other,’ she was thinking of the East and not so much about Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. Yet as it turned out, all constitutional plans, culminating into the Statuut or Charter of the Kingdom of 1954, even though conceived and drafted with the East in mind, was ultimately only applied to the West. The Netherlands East Indies, occupied by Japan during World War II, opted for independence after the War. The Hague did not accept this step and waged both hot and cold wars to fight against Indonesia's independence. This, for the Netherlands traumatic, experience left its traces in Dutch policy regarding its Caribbean territories.
Rosemarijn Hoefte is Head of the Department of Caribbean Studies of the KITLV/Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology in Leiden. She serves as the managing editor of the New West Indian Guide. She is a historian (PhD University of Florida, 1987) specialising in nineteenth- and twentieth-century history of the Caribbean. She is the author of several books and articles on Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba. Recently Hoefte and Peter Meel coedited Twentieth-Century Suriname: Continuities and Discontinuities in a New World Society (Kingston 2001).