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USM, CIVI sign MOU to offer Cyber Security Training with the Mer Group

POND ISLAND - The University of St. Martin (USM) will be the hub of a series of Cyber Security Trainings courtesy of a strategic partnership between the University, the Caribbean Israel Ventures Inc. (CIVI) and the facilitators of the course the Mer Group from Isreal.

The Mer Group is one of the world’s leading and groundbreaking cyber security and intelligence companies. It continues to innovate technology and develop training that has become a world standard in cyber security. It has become a publicly traded company since 1992 and is headquartered in Israel. It has 1,200 employees and has 24 global offices.

CIVI is an affiliate of the Caribbean Israel Leadership Coalition (CILC) which has a mission to facilitate closer ties and collaboration between the state of Israel and the Caribbean economically, diplomatically and culturally.

The mission of CIVI is to utilize Israel’s technology and investment to strengthen Caribbean nations while increasing bilateral trades between both nations. CIVI’s Economic Liaison for St. Maarten and the Caribbean is Greg Arrindell. He was instrumental in brokering a deal between the university and The Mer Group.

USM and CIVI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last week that will see The Mer Group, through the efforts of CIVI, facilitate the courses at USM. CIVI and USM will recruit students for the course with a maximum of 30 students for each cohort. There will be multiple cohorts throughout the year, as the courses will run for four days each time.

Students, upon successful completion of the course, will receive an internationally recognized diploma and certification in cyber security, having being trained by one of the world’s most recognized names in cyber security—The Mer Group. The certificates will also have a certified seal from USM, which provides regional and international mileage for the university. The course is open to participants from St. Maarten and the entire Caribbean, considering the vulnerability of the region to cyber-attacks.

At a short ceremony yesterday at USM, officials from USM, CIVI and The Mer Group were present, where they spoke of the significance of this partnership and the course to St. Maarten and the wider Caribbean. Segev Hostik, Director General at The Mer Group regional office in Mexico, highlighted the importance of cyber security to law enforcement, the financial sector and other pertinent infrastructure of St. Maarten and other countries. “The two most attacked sectors in the world are financial institutions and telecom companies (for the last three years). The attacks (vary); from attacking critical infrastructure and government. In the government (hackers) want to get databases and to sell it on the dark net, he explained.

“In banking, hackers are looking to steal money…in the telecoms companies hackers are looking for the databases—numbers, credit card numbers to sell on the dark net.” He said the Cyber Security Training will help the students to identify these risks and how to mitigate them.

Uri Bar Yosef, General Manager of MER Global, applauded the partnership with USM through CIVI, and has high anticipation of the outcome of the working relationship. “We feel very honored to come and join with you, sign this contract and be able to come from the other side of the world down here to try and collaborate and share with you what we have learnt over the years with good and very experienced people from Israel,” Yosef said.  “We are very excited to be here.”

Meanwhile USM President Valerie Gitterson-Pantophlet thanked Greg Arrindell, economic Liaison for St. Maarten and the Caribbean for CIVI, for his relentlessness in seeing this partnership come to fruition. “For the University of St. Martin, this is a project, we would never (achieve) if It were not for Mr. Greg Arrindell, with the passion behind of (the project),” Mrs. Gitterson-Pantophlet said.

Mr. Arrindell highlighted the importance of this partnership not only for cyber security, but also the greater benefit of St. Maarten. “There are 800,000 jobs available in the cyber world. If we take each member (of a St. Maarten family), and put them into classes, they would not be able to supply the demand that is out there.

And the demand is growing,” Mr. Arrindell said. “You are now sitting in an opportunity where your child, your uncle, you aunt, your nephew, can be part of this enrollment at the university and would be able to start, once graduated, to lobby for jobs that pay minimum $US50,000 to start,” he added.

Also present at Monday’s ceremony were Orlando Wilson, a St. Maarten representative of CIVI, Robert Judd from the Management of Finance section of USM and Clifford Illis, associate of Greg Arrindell were also at the ceremony.

Despite increased improvement in technology in the Caribbean and Latin America, these regions remain highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Four out of every five countries in the region do not have a cyber-security strategy or plan for protecting critical infrastructures. Two out of three do not count on command centers and cyber security controls.

The capability and competence of law enforcement, security agencies, and the private sector information technology professionals for defending against cyber-attacks is very low and needs to be developed. According to the report, cybercrime worldwide cost US$575 billion a year which represents 5.5% of the global GDP and in Latin America and the Caribbean. Details on the start of the cyber security training will follow soon.


Mr. Boombastic Shaggy to Headline the 38th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Concerts

SIMPSON BAY - The 38th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will take place from March 1-4, 2018 and promises a “Legendary Night” to close off the final evening. Organizers are proud to announce the return of Mr. Boombastic – International recording superstar: Shaggy – who will be the headline act for the evening of March 4th at Port de Plaisance. Shaggy is a Multi Grammy Award winning artist from Jamaica, and is the only certified diamond-selling Dancehall Reggae Artist.

Since exploding on the music scene, Shaggy's several gold and multi-platinum selling albums have won him a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Reggae Album, 5 Grammy nominations, and topped an impressive chart list that included the Top 40 Rhythmic charts, Hot 100, Billboard 200, among others. Shaggy’s illustrious career has seen the international superstar perform alongside some of the biggest names in all genres of music, notably he recently collaborated with his longtime friend and producer Costi, as Shaggy joined Afro Pop artist Mohombi and Australian singer Faydee on the recently released vibrant and catchy single, "I Need Your Love.”

John Leone of International Liquor & Tobacco Trading Ltd. states “We are extremely excited to bring Shaggy back to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. Shaggy has been a great supporter of the island and has offered to perform for a highly reduced fee this year to support fundraising efforts for hurricane relief. We are extremely excited about having him back on stage again for this truly unique edition of the Regatta. It’s time for some Serious Fun!”

Entrance to the performance on Sunday night will have a $ 25 admission fee for the general public, with at least $ 5 of each ticket going to the Charity fund. Tickets will soon be available for purchase at multiple locations on the island and online, with some great deals and discounts to be followed. Tickets can already be reserved at the Regatta Office, by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. More information about performers for the remaining evenings will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Concert Venue will also have a VIP area and a Sailors Lounge. VIP tickets for the Sunday night concert will be sold at $ 100 a ticket. A Sailors Lounge will be opened for all nights of the event, with sailors being able to buy a $ 75 Entertainment Package that allows them access to the Concert Venue and the Sailors Lounge.

With the purchase of both a VIP ticket and a Sailors Entertainment Package you support the Island, with $ 10 of each ticket going towards the Fundraising Partners of the Event. Limited tickets are available, so it’s advised to secure your tickets soon.

To keep up to date with the Regatta news and for more information on the bands, make sure to like the Regatta Facebook page and check the website regularly. There are less than 40 days to go until the first horn sounds so stay tuned for more news in the coming weeks.

For VIP tickets, ticketing and information about the show please contact the Regatta Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Morales: Recovery of Sint Maarten more than restoring buildings & infrastructure

PHILIPSBURG – “After every hurricane, there is a tendency to focus on the reconstruction of the damaged place, by restoring buildings and the infrastructure.  It seems a logical way of thinking directly after a devastation,” Political Candidate Loekie Morales stated in a press statement on Sunday.

“Yet, we need to make use of the opportunity given, to rebuild much better, with the right materials and methods, taking ‘the principles of sustainability’ into account. We must come up with smart solutions.

“Reconstruction should not be limited to the material part only. We need to use a multi angle approach to come up with innovative, human friendly solutions. When building, we need to consider the Environment and a responsible energy consumption (meaning green energy).

“The people of St. Maarten has suffered unexpectedly from a horrific monster. When we bring solutions on the table, the social & human aspects should be central. That’s why I believe in looking at the human (social) aspects first”, Loekie Morales stated.

“Empowering of the woman and the youth with the right skills and programs, should be widely embraced and executed. ‘Teach me how to fish and I and my next generations will survive, because I pass the knowledge to them’, should be stimulated as the way of thinking and proactive attitude’”, Morales says.

“Be thankful that we have life and make use of the opportunity Irma has given us, to correct what went wrong in the past. Stimulate the consumption of clean/green energy with the right incentives. Give our youth and women the right (entrepreneurial) skills.

“Plant the seed of a holistic thinker in them, so they can create their own jobs and be independent in life and work not only on Sint Maarten, but where they establish themselves.  Utopia? No, Just have the courage to take the challenge and start transforming your world into a sustainable one, for the sake of our planet; for the sake of ourselves and those ones yet to come,” Morales concludes.


Father and son experience home invasion by armed robbers

MIDDLE REGION - On Sunday January 21st   at approximately 02.45 p.m. the Emergency Dispatch received a call of an armed robbery which had just taken place at a home on Ellis drive in Middle Region whereby one of the victims had suffered an injury to the head.

Immediately police patrols, Special Unit Robbery and paramedics were sent to the scene to investigate what had taken place. On the scene the investigating officers spoke to one of the victims who stated that shortly before he and his son were at home when two unknown men with their faces covered stormed into the house with a handgun and threatened to use the weapon.

The other suspect then tied both father and son up and at the same time struck the father with the butt of the gun in his head. The suspects then went on to steal two flat screen televisions and fled the scene with 2017 silver colored Hyundai Tucson belonging to the victim.

The area was completely searched however neither the suspect nor the vehicle were located. The injured victim was treated by paramedics on the scene. The Special Unit Robbery is investigating this case. (Sint Maarten Police Force)



PHILIPSBURG – The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten and the Lions Club of Sint Maarten proudly accepted large donations from the Jump Up Casino on Saturday evening at L’Isola Restaurant in Pelican Key totaling $46,694.  The donation was shared equally between the two Clubs.

Students from The Gulliver Schools of Miami, Florida, who were on island to assist with various beach clean-up efforts, presented the donations to both clubs.  According to Antione Akl of the Jump Up and Hollywood Casinos, “We thought it was very fitting to have students visiting our island in service to the community to present the donations to the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten and the Lions Club of Sint Maarten.  The funds raised were collected during the holiday season after a progressive Bingo tournament”.

John Caputo, President of the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten, thanked the students and the Jump Up Casino for their support of Rotary.  Mr. Caputo continued, “The Rotary Club of Sint Maarten is pleased to accept this large donation.  These funds will be used to help us re-equip the Sister Marie Lawrence School after all the supplies, computers, smart boards, etc. were lost after the passing of Hurricane Irma.

In addition, a portion of the funds were used to brighten the recent holiday season for youngsters who may not have had a visit from Santa Claus.  We are grateful for this significant donation and we look forward continuing our efforts to focus on the children of Sint Maarten”.

Lion Alison Busby, President of Sint Maarten Lions Club, thanked the students for their great school work project and also the staff and management of Jump Up Casino and also to the citizens of Sint Maarten that participated at the bingo events of Jump Up casino during the month of December.  A big thank you to Mr. Antoine Akl for thinking of and being a corporate sponsor of Lions Club of Sint Maarten. 

Mr. Busby went onto say, “The LION Club international has 5 areas in which we are active, including Sight, Youth, Hunger, Education, and most recently, Diabetes.  This donation will be used for the children’s projects of which one is ‘Eyes for a Brighter Future’ project. 

This was planned for October 2017, but due to the passing of Hurricane Irma, the project was postponed for a later date this year. This project entails the testing of about 4000 plus elementary school students by the VOSH organization and where eyeglasses are needed the student will receive a pair of glasses free of charge”.

For more information about the Rotary Club of St. Maarten or joining Rotary, please contact the Rotary Club of St. Maarten Press Officer at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website 

For more information about the Lions Club of St. Maarten, please contact the Lions Club of Sint Maarten at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the Sint Maarten Lions Club Facebook page

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Elektra and Cleaver CEO of Winair talk about recovery of Winair post Hurricane Irma

PHILIPSBURG - Radio host Elektra was pleased to have Winair’s President & CEO Mr. Michael Cleaver in an interview in her new morning program Elektra Groovin on Oasis 96.3 started on January 8th 2018.

The Groove Theory is the interview segment of Elektra’s show where her guests talk about various topics and serious issues. It’s about real talk in the “Groove Theory” Elektra says. Mr. Cleaver and Helena de Bekker, Marketing & Media Manager, accepted my invitation to the program to review and share progress of Winair post Irma.

Candid and open discussion took place with regards to the the preparations and preventative measures implemented by Winair before the passing of Hurricane Irma. The direct aftermath dealing with the devastation of the Winair buildings at SXM airport, Mr. Cleaver explained in detail about the efforts, diligence and helpful staff during the mass clean up, for which he commended his team.

Elektra posed questions regarding the aircraft safety and security, Mr. Cleaver explained that certain requirements and regulations must be maintained no matter what the circumstances are, to ensure the safety of all passengers. The hangar was severely damaged after the storm all aircraft were serviced and operated out of St. Kitts.

Winair helped with the evacuation of persons post Irma via relief flights and also brought in essential relief supplies for the community. Communication with their customers was also a very interesting element during the interview with Elektra. It was very important to get reconnected to the customers, Mr. Cleaver pointed out, both locally and internationally, so the search for new office spaces was a priority.

Winair found a very suitable space and are now currently located on the Pondfill in Philipsburg. At this location Winair customers have easy access to Winair sales and reservations agents that will assist them to fulfill their travel needs.

Winair will permanently maintain this sales office in Philipsburg to better serve its customers. When asked what the outlook for the 2018 and developments for Winair in the near future, Mr. Cleaver was happy to say that Winair now serves Haiti with a new Airbus 320 with 150 seats (138 economy and 12 first class seats).

“It is important to serve this market, as it is often overlooked” stated Mr. Cleaver. Winair is continually searching for new markets, however the priority remains restoring full service to the region. Elektra was enlightened by the interview when Mr. Cleaver pointed out to the radio listeners that it is essential for everybody to work together to help the island. Winair plays a very important role as a hub connection for passengers traveling via St. Maarten with connecting flights to islands throughout the region.

“Continuous talks are being held with different stakeholders and progress is being made” he said. Elektra was happy to have Mr. Cleaver and Helena de Bekker as guests on her show and thanked them very much for doing the live interview and connecting with the community through radio.

Mr. Cleaver thanked all board members, staff, stakeholders, Telem, GEBE and SXM Airport for the outstanding help to assist Winair in resumption serving the community once again. Tune in to Elektra Groovin Weekdays 7am to 10am for more interesting guests and interviews and let the Groove get in! 


NV GEBE Managing Board informs Minister Giterson about current state of affairs at utility company

PHILIPSBURG - The Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), Miklos Giterson, accompanied by his cabinet members, conducted an initial visit to NV GEBE yesterday.

Minister Giterson met Wednesday with the members of the Managing Board of the utility company, Kenrick Chittick, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Veronica Jansen-Webster, Chief Operations Officer and Iris Arrindell, Chief Financial Officer.

The Managing Board presented Minister Giterson with the financial challenges the company now faces due to the loss of revenue directly related to the damage Hurricane Irma has caused to the economy of the island.

CEO, Kenrick Chittick explained that the large consumers which generate the largest revenue for the company have been damaged beyond a quick repair while the expenses related to the restoration of the damage to the company’s electricity and water infrastructure are excessive.

During the presentation, Chittick also outlined the pending matters that have to be finalized by the company. Chittick stated that a follow up meeting will be organized with the Minister and his cabinet.

The Managing Board also did not lose the opportunity to inform the Minister of the selfless manner in which the employees of NV GEBE carried out their duties to assist in the restoration of electricity and water to the community directly after the hurricane ravaged circumstances, despite having suffered personal losses themselves.

Chittick informs the media that although the busy schedule of Minister Giterson, presently, does not allow for a tour of the utility company’s facilities, the Managing Board looks forward to escorting the Minister and his cabinet members, on a tour of the Production Plant, Philipsburg Substation, and the Water Quality Control Department and having more in depth discussions regarding the processes and functioning of the company.



SIMPSON BAY - JetBlue marked the 10th anniversary of service to St. Maarten with local festivities that included its customers, crewmembers and business partners at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM).

The airline celebrated the special milestone as it reiterated its commitment to serve the market and help in its tourism recovery after Hurricane Irma. JetBlue initially launched service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to St. Maarten on Jan. 17, 2008.

“Since hurricane Irma struck, the JetBlue team, including our crewmembers in St. Maarten, have worked hard alongside our partners to restore service. We’re grateful to our crewmembers, business partners and the community for their support throughout the years and since the hurricane,” said Giselle Cortes, director of international airports and commercial for JetBlue.

“We would also like to acknowledge our partners at the Ministry of Tourism and Economic Affairs, and at the Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company, for quickly focusing on the market’s recovery and ensuring continuity at the airport. We look forward to the ongoing effort to help spark a bright tourism resurgence for St. Maarten.”

“As Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunications, I would like to congratulate and thank JetBlue for their continuous service to St. Maarten. JetBlue’s continuous growth to the region is a great contributing factor to our economy, especially with Princess Juliana International Airport being one of the main hubs in the Caribbean,” said the Honorable Cornelius De Weever.

“Thanks for solidifying your commitment to our destination over the past 10 years, and we look forward to your continued commitment in bringing and taking passengers to our lovely shores.”

Ravi Daryanani, CFO and acting CEO of Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company, PJIAE NV said, “Time really does fly! It’s now 10 years since JetBlue began its service to the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM. For us, it has been a decade of trusted partnership and mutual cooperation.

“On behalf of the entire PJIAE Family, I wish to hereby extend hearty congratulations to the management and staff of JetBlue, perhaps the fastest-expanding carrier in the Caribbean. May you continue to soar from strength to strength in the next 10 years and beyond.”

Michel Hyman, COO of Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company, PJIAE NV said, “A relationship is not measured only by the length of time it has existed, but more importantly by the quality of the bonds that tie the partners together. It is clear that, in the last 10 years, SXM has gained not only the excellent service provided by JetBlue to this destination, but also the confidence that this is a mutually beneficial relationship.

“There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that JetBlue is here to stay. The carrier has demonstrated through thick and thin, its commitment to SXM, and by extension our hub partners as well. On this occasion of its 10th anniversary of service to our airport, I would like to congratulate the Management and staff of JetBlue and wish them many more decades of flying to our Friendly Island.”


Over 100 Volunteers Show up for Simpson Bay Lagoon Clean-Up Event. Approx. Three Tons of Trash Removed

SIMPSON BAY - Last Sunday the Simpson Bay Lagoon clean up event organized by the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation and Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) received a massive turn out with more than one hundred volunteers coming together to make a difference for the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

The collaborated event was initiated through the ‘A Bit at a Time’ initiative of Mason Chadwick; with volunteers already showing great on-going effort in cleaning up the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

‘We removed wood, fiberglass, zinc, boat parts, garbage, plastics and various other objects from the entire coastline from Dinghy Dock Bar up to the Causeway Bridge. Approximately three tons of hurricane debris, trash and garbage have been removed making a huge difference for the Simpson Bay Lagoon environment, read a joint Nature Foundation and EPIC statement.’

Many local and international organizations joined the event including the St. Maarten Coast Guard, staff from Aquatic Solutions, the St. Maarten Youth Brigade, Gulliver Middle School from Miami, volunteers from EPIC and the Nature Foundation and many more, were all working very hard and made it a great success.

A special thanks goes to Island Water World for donation gloves, reusable bags and t-shirts, and 4 Oceans for donating, gloves, pick up sticks, reusable garbage bags and t-shirts. Mr. Toontje Buncamper of the VROMI Ministry and his team also assisted with the removal of the garbage.

The organizations are asking the public to stay tuned for subsequent clean-up events organized by EPIC and the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation. The community is also urged to join the continuous clean-up events organized by Mason Chadwick. Information of ‘A Bit at a Time’ clean-ups can be found on Mason Chadwick’s Facebook or requested via his Facebook messenger.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Volunteers in front of collected garbage pile.



American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine Resumes Classes following Temporary Relocation after Hurricane Irma

CUPECOY – Four months after Hurricane Irma caused American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) to evacuate students and faculty from Sint Maarten, AUC has resumed classes on its Sint Maarten campus. The medical school has begun a phased return to Sint Maarten after holding its September 2017 semester on the campus of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston, United Kingdom.

“The last four months have required a tremendous amount of teamwork, support, and resilience from our students, faculty, and colleagues as well as from UCLan, which welcomed AUC and provided immense support,” said Heidi Chumley, MD, Executive Dean of AUC. “Now we are excited to be back in our campus home, engaging with our community partners in Sint Maarten, and looking forward to playing our part in advancing the country’s continued recovery.”

The category 5 hurricane, which swept over Sint Maarten on September 6, 2017, had a major impact on the island, where AUC’s students complete their first two years of medical school. After evacuating more than 700 students, faculty, family members, and staff to the U.S., AUC and its parent organization, Adtalem Global Education, commenced planning to find a temporary site in which to continue classes. Faculty and students mobilized to the UK quickly in September and completed the semester in the first week of January.

Now, as Sint Maarten continues to recover and rebuild, AUC is pleased to return for the January 2018 semester. While first, second, and third semester students will be based in Sint Maarten, fourth and fifth semester students will continue their studies in the UK, taught by AUC faculty. These students will benefit from clinical learning opportunities at our affiliated hospital sites in the UK.

Throughout the semester, AUC students and colleagues will mobilize to help the country rebuild. In February, the medical school will host Community Action Day, a day dedicated to volunteer work throughout the island. Students will also continue their work on public health, health education, and other programs to benefit the people of Sint Maarten.

Double Rainbow over AUC on First Day of Classes

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