News of: Wednesday, August 15 2012,

Kwakoe Festival saved by President Bouterse of Suriname

The Kwakoe Festival in Amsterdam South-East has been offered money from Mr Desi Bouterse, the President of Suriname.
The organization of the festival has not yet confirmed accepting the money.

The Kwakoe Festival is a yearly outdoor festival in Amsterdam South-East, mainly for the Amsterdammers with a Surinamese background. It consists of lots of drinking and eating, and a soccer tournament.

Suriname used to be a Dutch colony in South America (just north of Brazil), which gained independance in 1975. Under Dutch ownership, the Dutch imported slaves from Africa to work on the plantations in Suriname, until the abolition of slavery in 1863.

Just before the independance began in 1975, many inhabitants decided to move to the Netherlands, and many ended up living in Amsterdam South-East. This neighbourhood has had a distinct black/African/Surinamese flavour ever since, also because of the immigration by other people from Africa and the Caribbean.

This year's Kwakoe Festival has been hit by financial misfortune/mismanagement, and the providers of the party tents wanted to pull out its tents. This would mean the untimely end of the 2012 edition of Kwakoe.

President Bouterse of Surinamme has now offered E 50,000.- to support the festival.
This offer has raised some eyebrows: Bouterse has been convicted (by a Dutch court) to an 11 years' prison sentence for drug trafficking. An international arrest warrant has been issued against him.
Also, he is the main suspect in the 1982 December Murders, a massacre of 15 opponents of his military regime.
Bouterse is commonly assoicated with violence, drug trade, and human rights violations.

So far, there have been no reactions by Dutch politicians of by the Dutch government.

Update August 16:
The organizing committee says it has received E 50,000,-, but not from Bouterse, but from the Verenigd Bedrijfsleven (a group of companies). Bouterse now also contends he has not directly funded the festival, but allowed the festival to use the government's name.
Dutch politicians have reacted negatively on the gift.