When a political affiliation begins to contradict personal principles, ideas, and beliefs, a change is inevitable. This is the story of the young politician Gerlien Croes (36), who announced her decision to stand as an independent force in the parliament, breaking her 6-year affiliation with the AVP party (Aruba People's Party). Gerlien Croes, who studied at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands and specialized in European law, international law and globalization, is the female politician who achieved the most votes in her first outing with AVP during the 2017 election with 982 votes. For the second election, she was the only woman out of only two candidates who went ahead in votes in the party with 1919 votes. Many saw the young politician as the potential future leader to take the reins of the green party, which has been suffering a number of blows for several consecutive elections. With accusations of disloyalty directed at her simply for defending her beliefs, this growing discord, coupled with a lack of transparency in the party, led to her departure from AVP. Among this discord was, among other things, the absolution of responsibility of a former MEP (Movement of the People) politician (Eddy Briessen), not disclosed to her by her own colleagues, until during a public parliamentary meeting, which led to her irreparable rupture with the party. A difficult decision, no doubt, but she believes it was the right decision.
The truth behind the curtain is answered in the following article representing the personal growth, resilience, and the search for integrity in public service of this young politician.

What was the main reason behind your decision to leave AVP?
The way of thinking and working of the AVP party was no longer in line with my thoughts, principles, and ideas. I could no longer recognize myself in their way of managing the organization, the decisions that were being made, and the lack of change in the way they conducted politics. At some point, we grew apart from each other, instead of growing together. It would have been different if they appreciated and embraced the differences, instead of fighting against them.

In the case of Eddy Briessen, what was unacceptable for you?
The lack of transparency from a colleague Mr. de Meza and from the party, and the fact that my own party (now ex-party) had exonerated a former politician/minister of the MEP party of all his responsibilities without telling this before a public parliamentary meeting took place where documents revealed irreparable facts. Because of the decisions of these two parties, today the people have to pay for all the consequences that total 2 million guilders. You sat next to a political colleague accused of several crimes and who now has a punishable sentence but is still sitting on the same chair representing the people.

You said that everyone knows what they are doing. If the roles were reversed and it was you in exactly the same situation, would you continue to sit in the parliamentary seat or would you withdraw?
I would have taken a temporary distance while the legal process continues. Although such decisions are easy to say and perhaps difficult to make, in the end I believe this would be the best option.

Can you describe the moment when you realized you had to separate from your AVP party?
It was a moment and days that you live with some anxiety, because you don't know what the result of your decision will be, but at the same time I felt that I was ready to continue the fight and face any consequence that this decision comes with. At some point, the courage for the fight surpassed any other feeling I might have had. It is precisely at this moment, the decision felt like the natural one according to everything I stand for as a person and politician.

Why did you take (almost 3 weeks) to announce your decision to leave the AVP party?
Such a big decision in life and for my career and strong bonds between the organization, family and supporters required giving necessary time to talk, analyze in a responsible way what the best decision is. I felt it was appropriate to give and take the time and value the process that I considered necessary to reach a conclusion and not based on any external pressure.

There are AVP supporters who argue that when you are in a party, you must be a 'team player' at all times. What do you think?
Sure, especially in politics, but not when your principles as a person would have to be put aside or negotiated. You have to remember that you cannot put your standards and values aside or make sacrifices, much less for something that is not correct. You should never lose yourself or forget who you are and what you stand for!

Do you believe that the support you received when you were a member of AVP is still with you or were they rather supporters of the party?

I believe it's a mix.

Do you feel you were let down or disappointed by the leader of AVP?

Yes, I was disappointed, among other things, by the way they accepted and approved the way other members and people affiliated with the party could treat me for having a difference of opinion and standing for what, in my conviction, is correct. Incidents that occurred in their presence and during meetings that the leader themselves organized are moments and anecdotes that you can hardly put aside. As they are permitted attacks that go directly to who I am, what I stand for myself and in accordance with my vision that I have on humanity and every human being in this country.

You were offered the leadership of the AVP party. In what way and why did you not accept this?

The topic was brought up in the past, and after the latest incidents, a conversation was held offering an indefinite transitional phase for a possible change. This felt like a reaction and "promise" after my disappointment. This was not the form, the moment, and much less the main point of discussion.

"Political suicide is to lose your credibility and negotiate your principles. Whatever the result in the future, the tranquility you can always live with is that you made a correct and integral decision"
Gerlien Croes

Can you share your best and worst moments from your experience as a parliamentarian/politician so far?

I live my best moments every time I defend and advocate for my people. The worst experiences are having to endure low, unfounded and personal attacks from politicians who do not know how to engage in high-level politics, especially from our current Ministers and Prime Minister.

Now that you are independent in parliament, how do you anticipate your role will change?

Nothing will change, on the contrary, even more will I continue to fight for my people and country. I undertake with a clean conscience the work that the people have chosen me to perform. This is more than a duty, it's my passion.

Esaki mas cu un deber ta mi pasion. Bo ta kere cu tin fDo you believe there is a future for you as an independent politician or do you see yourself founding a new party or joining another? Which option is most interesting to you?

I have not yet defined this for myself, I ask the people to give me the time and opportunity to analyze the necessary and dialogue to make the best decision.


Many people think that attacks are part of politics. How do you see it?

Personal, unfounded, low-level attacks with the goal of defaming political opponents must come to an end. This form of politics has created too much division in our country and we have the responsibility and moral duty to show people that Aruba can be different and certainly much better in the area of politics. At the end of the day, every citizen of this country deserves that we can grow and develop as a country and as human beings. Growth and development certainly cannot exist by breaking each other.

Being a public figure means that personal aspects of your life can become the center of attention/discussion. How did you handle when they used the legal problems of your children's father against you in political speeches/attacks?

These attacks have never influenced my determination to continue giving my best in my political career. Moreover, it is extremely worrying how the Prime Minister of Aruba politicizes any incident and individual with the goal of trying to gain political sympathy.

What changes do you anticipate in the political landscape of Aruba in the coming years?

A community that is more open to supporting a policy of content and letting go of voting habits and politics of division. A community that firmly believes that our country is ours to build and carry. A community that believes that there is no limit to our personal development and that will pursue being critical, assertive with the information they receive but also has the necessary empathy to generate support and to create a new and united community with the goal of having and leaving behind a better Aruba for our present and future generations.

Do you believe that smaller political parties still have a chance against the traditional large parties like AVP and MEP, which have dominated Aruban politics for so long?

I am convinced that Aruba has room and need for a different politics than the politics that the big parties have been leading. Each of us has a voice, opinions, ideas and goals that serve as a foundation to get our country ahead. I firmly believe that the ultimate goal must be to make our country great by strengthening its human capital. The tradition of voting has the tendency to create the impression that everything must be accepted, even decisions that can be destructive and against the development of our country. In reflecting on what is acceptable and unacceptable to us as a country, I see the opportunity for us as human beings to determine our course and the course of our country.

You've said you've faced direct attacks many times, including from the Prime Minister. How have these challenges shaped you as a politician?

These attacks were not part of my political formation, these low-level attacks rather reminded me of why I entered politics, purely to never be part of such a shameful level of politics. They are certainly moments in which I have kept myself in my essence with composure, in the end, no attack can change my principles and my essence, without my permission.

As a woman in politics, how does it feel when you are attacked by other women in the same field?

It's an immense disappointment and sadness to clearly see the female figures who should inspire other feminine beings and be an example of empowerment, are doing just the opposite. We are all women with virtues and talents fighting for the cause of our country. There is no need to lower others to create a platform for thoughts and ideas to exist. If this is the vehicle used to lead politics, it's difficult to convince the critical human being that you stand for the growth of the human being and all that makes up our country Aruba.

What is the message you would send to your female colleagues, even those in the opposition, regarding the role of women in politics?

Only insecurity can create fear and the thought that we have to compete with others in all forms and moments. On the contrary, we must recognize and respect each one, as a woman, for her virtue, talent, and knowledge and empower others so that one day we can be supporting each other and achieve equal gender representation in a world so dominated by the male being (men).

As a young mother, how do you balance your political career with family life? Are your children aware of your work and what you do?

It's very heavy, but the support I have from my family is my blessing. My children are aware but they miss me continuously, many times they ask me if I will always have so many meetings and work long hours, or even at night. When they are with me socially or even when we go shopping, they understand better now that mommy talks a lot and with many people because mommy is a politician. The sacrifice is great and I wholeheartedly hope that one day I can leave behind a better Aruba for them and that they can better understand the reason for this sacrifice.


One of the most beautiful roles you can perform in the voice of your country and its community, even sacrificing your own life and family. My thinking has not changed, but my determination for a change has become much larger after experiencing politics.

What is the most 'raw' reality of politics that you didn't imagine and now you know?
As has been said, politics is cruel. Especially for politicians who want to bring change, as they have to live fighting against the constant way in which they try to kill their ideals, principles, and character.