Dutch troops were been sent into the Caribbean island of Curacao to assist local police in keeping unrest in check, broadcaster NOS reported on Saturday. The move follows days of violent protests against Covid-19 layoffs which saw demonstrators looting stores and storming the government palace on the island.
The addition of Dutch troops to the island is expected to allow local authorities ease the 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m curfew it has held in place in recent days. A reporter for the broadcaster said that there were dozens of fires set leading into the early morning hours of Saturday, and that the authorities seemed to have a difficult time preventing them from happening.
Unrest on the island was ignited on Wednesday after the local government announced that a number of garbage collectors on the island would be laid off. Protests ensued, which quickly turned into riots that culminated in the storming of the government center Fort Amsterdam on the island’s capital city, Willemstad. In addition, large numbers of storefronts in Willemstad were looted, with fires being reported across the island.
A total of 48 people were arrested on Wednesday alone, many of whom were young people suspected of theft and vandalism. According to the local authorities, a number of gangs also took advantage of the chaos in order run roughshod.
There was concern that the presence of the Dutch military might make matters worse with the imagery reminiscent of the island’s history as a Dutch colony.