Arron, Henck A. E. (1936–2000)

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Arron, Henck A. E. (1936–2000)

The leading politician and the first prime minister of the Republic of Suriname at its independence on November 25, 1975, Henck Arron (April 25, 1936–December 4, 2000) was born in Paramaribo, the country's capital, and studied in the Netherlands, then the colonial motherland. He was employed in the Netherlands and afterwards in the banking sector of Suriname. In 1961 he became a member of the directorate of the National Creole Party (NPD), representing the Afro-Surinamese population. In 1963 Arron became a member of parliament. During the elections of 1973 he was the leader of a Creole-Javanese party coalition that won twenty-two of the thirty-nine parliamentary seats.

Assuming the prime ministership he announced, against the wishes of the Hindustani part of the population, the independence of Suriname "before the end of 1975." The Dutch social democratic government, convinced that the Netherlands would be better off without its colony, reacted enthusiastically. Thereupon, a rather bizarre negotiation was initiated between the two governments about the amount of development aid Suriname would receive, a kind of "Golden Handshake" from the Dutch to benefit the new republic. Arron, well aware that he could squeeze more concessions by delaying independence, succeeded in raising the amount of money from an initial offer 700 million to 3.5 billion guilders (€1.6 billion; US$ 2.25 billion) an aid reservoir that even by 2007 was not completely spent. Arron was ousted from power in 1980 by a sergeants' coup led by Dési Bouterse. After the reestablishment of democracy in 1987, Arron refused the country's presidency, being appointed instead as vice president (1988–1990). After a second coup in 1990, he left politics. His colleague, Ronald Venetiaan, became president in 1991; Venetiaan was re-elected for second and third terms in 2000 and 2005. In 2000 Arron died of cardiac arrest while in the Netherlands.

See alsoBouterse, Desi; Suriname and the Dutch in the Caribbean.


Hoogbergen, Wim, and Dirk Kruijt. De oorlog der ser-geanten. Surinaamse militairen in de politiek, 1980–1992 [The Sergeant's War: The Surinamese Military in National Politics]. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 2005.

Sedney, Jules. De toekomst van ons verleden. Democratie, etniciteit en politieke machtsvorming in Suriname [The Future of Our Past: Democracy, Ethnicity and Political Power Formation in Suriname]. Paramaribo: VACO, 1997.

                                               Dirk Kruijt