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Nature Foundation Calls on all Local Businesses for their Support

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Nature Foundation St. Maarten is in need of help from local businesses, tour operators, hotels and trade organizations in order to expose their donation page. 

Currently, the organization could use extra support and awareness from the tourists, tour operators and businesses on the island. The Foundation encounters challenges to receive structural funding in order to improve environmental support and awareness on the island. 

As such the Foundation is trying to increase the exposure of their donation page; sintmaarten.reefsupport.org

“The assistance of businesses will be highly appreciated in helping us build more awareness and promote Nature Foundation based on the activities we do to preserve the environment of the island. 

“This can be done by incorporating the donation page link to local websites to create environmental exposure for tourists, visitors and businesses” stated Marketing Intern Latisha Richardson.   

Through the use of the reef support website, Nature Foundation St. Maarten welcomes and depends on the financial support of tourists, businesses and locals alike. Income generated through donations or the sale of the Nature Fee tags goes directly towards the management and maintenance of the marine protected area and projects such as reducing single-use plastics. 

This opportunity will be beneficial for our beautiful island as our main focus is to preserve and enhance nature while in the process strengthening the economic and educational value and potential of our natural resources.

“We would like to invite all St Maarten businesses for a meeting in order to discuss possible exposure and support of our donation page, in order to preserve and enhances the natural environment of St. Maarten for generations to come. We are looking forward to your response and cooperation” continued Richardson. 

The Nature Foundation can be contacted by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., in case you are interested in exposing the donation page or if you have any more questions.

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Philipsburg detention cells near completion. Meet International Standards

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – For years the quality of the Sint Maarten prison cells has been up for discussion. One of the locations that was heavily criticized are the Philipsburg Police Station cells. One of the sources that pointed out the shortcomings of the facility is the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). They came out with a reportin which they made several recommendations, the Cabinet of the Ministry of Justice said on Thursday.

Today we are happy to report that over 70% of the recommendations have been followed and concluded with success. The cells have all been deep cleaned and painted. All floors have been renovated and the lights have been replaced and adjusted to meet international standards. The airing space has also been cleaned and painted. All the work was done by detainees who, under strict supervision, came in daily from the Point Blanche House of Detention. 

Minster of Justice Cornelius De Weever thanked the project team and all those who assisted. A lot has been accomplished within a short time period despite our financial challenges, the Minister reportedly said in the Cabinet Thursday statement. “This type of work is very time consuming, and we are aiming to do all repairs in such a manner that we meet Human Rights standards as well,” said Minister De Weever.

The facility contains nine cells. It also includes space to air and a meeting room where the detainees can meet with their representation.

corridor after

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Government gets feedback from construction sector during meet and greet event

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of VSA Emil Lee shared feedback from the construction sector meet & greet event that was hosted by the Ministry of VSA on March 19. 

The event catered to companies that are active in the local construction sector. Government aimed to get feedback on the current state of affairs in the construction sector. Several topics were presented and discussed, including: the demand for local skilled labor, availability of construction work, Government permit processes and the tender processes of the recovery projects funded by the World Bank. Speakers included Minister of VSA - Emil Lee, Mr. Andrew Budike - Head Inspector of Labor and Mr. Claret Connor - Head of National Recovery Plan Bureau.

“Rebuilding without having local workers and companies involved is not what I consider a true recovery. A recovery process needs to be inclusive to rebuild our economy as well as our physical structures in our economy.” – Minister Emil Lee, VSA

Minister Lee was proud to announce that about 90% of the recent graduates of the construction training program that is facilitated by NIPA and MIC-IT, have already transitioned into the labor market, many with full-time employment. The graduates were participants of the Ministry of VSA’s Emergency Income Training and Support program that offers unemployed and underemployed residents free skills training for construction and hospitality sectors, a stipend as income and medical insurance. 

The successful transition into the workforce is another milestone of the Ministry’s program, which is funded by the World Bank. Representatives of the NIPA and MIC-IT were present at the session and able to take the feedback provided on the requirements of construction companies for skilled workers. This feedback will be considered for further implementation in the training programs.

The event was well attended, and participants were very engaged, establishing a good dialogue on the topics addressed. Minister Lee reported that there were mixed reactions as to the prognoses of future work in the local construction sector. Attendees expressed that with current contracts nearing completion, the possibility to obtain contracts for new jobs is uncertain, as the projected ‘big’ projects have not yet started. 

On the financial side, limited funding was brought up as a challenge. For individuals or companies that have the situation where insurance monies or personal savings has been depleted before a job is complete, this of course poses a big a challenge to complete jobs. This same financial issue was identified as an obstacle for new construction jobs to commence.

As it relates to Government services, attendees provided feedback that the waiting time for building permit requests to be approved by the Ministry of VROMI posed a risk to their operations, for some delaying the execution of jobs. The process and procedure to obtain working permits from the department of Labor was also criticized to be “too cumbersome and too difficult”. 

To which Minister Lee responded that the Ministry could do better in explaining the process and the requirements for work permits. While pointing out that the requirements are defined in the legislation and there is the obligation to follow the law. The current general processing time of work permit requests that are submitted correctly is 2-4 weeks’ time. 

Minister Lee said that he sees that the majority of work permit requests that are properly submitted are being approved in a timely fashion, the processing of the work permit requests should not be an obstacle. Companies who encounter difficulties with the work permit request procedures are encouraged to come in to the Ministry for clarifications and assistance.

All participants echoed the desire to the National Recovery Bureau that the projects need to be accessible. There were complaints that tender documents are 80 pages long, ‘a daunting book’ that hampers participation. 

In the presentation given by the National Recovery Bureau, it was indicated that there will be training opportunities organized about the tender application process for projects funded by the World Bank. Minister Lee was happy to see this being included in the plans as it stimulates local participation.

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The Hunt for Theo and the Stifling of Sint Maarten’s Growth

SINT MAARTEN (GUANA BAY) - “People of St. Maarten, we are living through an extraordinary time in our island’s history. The political hysteria that erupted in Holland several years ago demanding investigations into alleged corruption in St. Maarten triggered powerful prosecutorial forces armed with vast resources at their disposal. 

“That should alarm any decent-minded person. The political uproar that followed by sending prosecutors and special detectives with lightning speed to our islands was no coincidence. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the obvious,” Grisha Heyliger Marten, the husband of political leader Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger said in a press statement on Tuesday. 

“Our country’s economic development has paid a price for this hysteria. We have limped along for the last 10 years without any serious growth as a nation. Many opportunities have been lost and all the progress this island has made in becoming one of those with the highest per capita income in the Caribbean is in danger. We are like a rudderless ship drifting at the mercy of the currents. 

“Theo Heyliger has been systematically denied leadership of this country for years. Political instability constantly kept him from achieving the greater good for the country. Yet the people consistently gave him the mandate to lead them since 2010, because they know he gets things done and is always ahead in his thinking. In 2014, he was the first to campaign on a new hospital for St. Maarten. Had he been allowed to lead, we would have had a new state-of-the-art hospital by now. 

“In 2016, Theo underscored the need to solve the dump crisis once and for all. In the elections of 2018, after the devastation of Irma, he was once again by far the largest vote-getter because the people knew he could get St. Maarten back up and running faster and better. He was kept out again because of a bogus complaint made and retracted over six years ago. 

“The secret and non-transparent process called “screening” blocked him as St. Maarten’s duly elected citizen from doing his job for his country, making a mockery of our elections and the free expression of the people. Yet even under tremendous pressure from relentless Dutch investigators after Hurricane Irma, Theo pushed ahead and looked to fix the crisis in our prison system. But they would not stop. 

“The cost to St. Maarten’s economy and social development because of Dutch obsession with Theo has been too high. Dutch politicians have weaponized the word “integrity.” They turned their prosecutors into hammers. And when you come armed with a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail to you. One such nail who got hit by the “integrity” hammer was former Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto. 

“He was falsely accused and eventually found innocent of any wrongdoing, but not before being scandalized in the press and hung to dry. Yet his innocence, along with that of others, was followed by utter silence in Holland. But still the hammer moves on, looking for its next nail. That is not the type of society any decent and fair-minded person should want to live in. 

“Only those who condone the abuse of state power can say with a straight face that it is perfectly acceptable to investigate and then prosecute a man six years after a complaint was filed and then retracted. 

“Six years is about the time it takes for most students to become a medical doctor. A prosecution after such a length of time is simply unreasonable. To systematically keep Theo out of government based on a retracted complaint is absurd, yet that’s all it took. But the prosecutors refused to honor the retraction. Obviously something else is motivating it.   

“Theo’s arrest by heavily armed special investigators was absolutely unnecessary and a disgraceful abuse of state power designed to intimidate the people. His subsequent abduction and swift transport to another jurisdiction was even more outrageous. That is not good governance by any stretch of the imagination. It is the old colonialism disguised in new form. When local democracy is pushed aside for an agenda set by strangers who reside thousands of miles away, it is nothing more than the old colonialism hiding behind new language.

“Imagine that the only Member of Parliament in St. Maarten to elect himself was stripped of his seat due to a legal technicality exploited by prosecutors and magistrates. The fact is that Theo has not yet been tried in a court of law based on evidence, and yet he is stripped of the right to speak in parliament where he was placed by the people of St. Maarten. That is not what the spirit of the law was meant for. It is a sad day in our history, and an even sadder day for democracy itself.

“There has been almost no economic growth and development for us as a people since the hunt for Theo began. Ask yourselves, has all this time and money spent persecuting him been worth it?,” Grisha Heyliger Marten queries.

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Prime Minister Romeo Marlin expresses sympathy after shooting attack in Utrecht

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin has expressed her sympathy to the Government & people of the Netherlands on behalf of Sint Maarten on the shooting attack that killed three persons in Utrecht. 

Five other persons were injured during the shooting incident, Gokmen Tanis, a 37-year-old Turkish man, was detained several hours after the attack.

Sint Maarten pledges its resolute support and offers prayers to the Netherlands, its residents and Sint Maarteners living throughout the Netherlands.

Prime Minister Romeo Marlin empathizes with the families that have lost their loved ones and wishes them much strength during this period of bereavement. 

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A Mother’s Pain - Theo’s Mother Breaks Her Silence. Bring him Home!

SINT MAARTEN (GUANA BAY) – “The detention of my son has certainly brought me a lot of sadness, frustration and anger,” Lillian Agnes Wathey said on Sunday. 

“I still feel as if Theo was kidnapped. On that night, without formal notice two masked police officers abducted him from his cell; took him to a car that rushed him to a flight for Bonaire. They were in such a rush that they “forgot” his Gout medication. 

“In Bonaire they’ve been interrogating him, sometimes for up to 8 hours with only a break for lunch. So, imagine this, my son is in pain because of Gout and he is getting slammed for hours by Dutch interrogators. 

“These are the facts, as I just got back from seeing Theo in Bonaire. When I asked Theo ‘how the Dutch treating him’ he said “boy Mommy they bad...they bad.....they question for hours and hours...they even ask questions about Pa (his Grandfather).....just like how you see it in the movies, that’s how they question you ...rough, not letting up and attacking.” 

“After hours of pressuring my son they ask him to sign the interrogation statement in Dutch. They made him sign when he tired and in pain from Gout. He even catches them writing a statement he did not make. 

“This is another manipulative tactic; Dutch is not his first language. The question they tried to trick him with had to do with his Grandfather (my Father). Theo told them ‘how they kill his grandfather and they’re still not satisfied’. They persecuted my father, my brother and now my son. 

“As a mother everyone can relate to my pain. My son was ripped away without notice to his family or lawyer. He is in pain and away from his familiar surroundings. God forbid something had happened to my son on the way to Bonaire and I would never see him again. 

“After hearing how they interrogate Theo and the tactics of moving him to Bonaire and “forgetting” his medication, you have to believe it is all part of their plan. Even as I write this, I was just informed that Theo now has a fever and his Gout has flared up again. 

“Thank you, Stuart, Frankie, Luc, Rolando, Sarah and Christopher. For showing courage by taking a stand for my son. You are true St. Maarteners. The fact that Rolando and Christopher put aside political differences to make a stand gives me hope. 

“We now have a court verdict to bring Theo to Pointe Blanche, so just like the order to send Theo Bonaire came from our St. Maarten Government, now lets’ see how long it will take to bring him back. I want my son returned to St. Maarten!” 

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Prime Minister Romeo Marlin joins SXM Doet at Oranje School

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Saturday March 16th, Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin joined a group of Civil Servants and hundreds of other volunteers throughout Sint Maarten at the annual SXM Doet community event. “On behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten and the Council of Ministers I commend the organizers of SXM Doet for their efforts to make meaningful change annually on the island,” said Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin.

This year Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin and a group of Civil Servants volunteered their time at the Oranje School by planting a number of fruit trees, vegetables and flowers to enhance the overall learning environment at the primary school in Philipsburg. 

Prime Minister Romeo Marlin expressed, “I want to give a special thanks to all Civil Servants that took time off from their Saturday morning routines to join this effort to spruce up not only the Oranje School but all the other schools and locations throughout the island. I truly believe that every little contribution helps with the overall improvement of Sint Maarten.”

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Spelling Bee Wish List Items Presented to 16 Schools

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Twenty-nine students from sixteen local primary schools and two schools from Anguilla participated in the 2018 Scotiabank and Rotary-Rotaract Spelling Bee, Rotary Club-Mid Isle announced in a press statement on Friday. 

“The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle invited two persons from each school that participated in the Spelling Bee to their meeting on Tuesday March 12th at Wasabi Charlie to receive their wish list items. Each school that participated was asked to submit a wish list of three items that their prospective school needed. 

“Joining Mid Isle at their meeting were representatives from The Seventh Day Adventist School, Asha Stevens Hillside Christian School, The Ruby Labega, Oranje Primary School, Dr. M. Luther King Jr School, M.G. De Weever School, Sister Regina School, The St Dominic Primary School, St. Joseph School, MAC John A. Gumbs Campus School and MAC Maillard Campus. Unfortunately, the Leonald Conner school and the schools from Anguilla were unable to attend.  Their items will be presented at a later date.

“Items on the wish list included Smart TV’s, Letter cutter, heavy duty stapler, laminating machine, arts and craft materials, speaker, printer/scanner/copier, playground equipment, copy paper, bulletin boards, toner, picnic tables, art easels, an outdoor water cooler, projectors, radio, standing fans, tablets, digital camera and air fryer. 

“Chairlady of the 2018 Scotiabank and Rotary-Rotaract Spelling Bee Grace Linger said that it was a pleasure hosting the Spelling Bee last year and that she is looking forward to the Spelling Bee in October this year. She also informed the schools, that she will not be the chair for this year but that she will fully support the new chair, who will take over. 

“After the presentation New Generations Director Jon Hart was introduced as the Chairman for the 2019 Spelling Bee. He informed the gathering that the 2019 spelling bee will be held on October 20th, 27th and November 3rd, 2019 and once again due to popular demand: the tutorials will be held prior to the spelling Bee. 

“The objective of this Spelling Bee was to improve literacy and enhance the students’ educational experience.  Once again with Scotiabank’s commitment, Mid Isle was able to bring off another successful Spelling Bee. 

“President Denise Antrobus said it takes a team to pull off an event like this and went on to thank Scotiabank the main sponsor, all Mid Isle Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors, all sponsors, donors, participants, teachers, family, friends and supporters without whom this Spelling Bee would not have been as successful as it was.  We look forward to your support for the 2019 Spelling Bee.”

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle meets Tuesday at 7pm at Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebook page Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle. 

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Sunwing returns to St. Maarten

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) —The water cannons from the fire trucks at the Princess Juliana International Airport showered Sunwing’s aircraft as it taxied off the runway during its first return flight to St. Maarten post-Irma on Thursday at 12:40 pm. 

On the tarmac awaiting the arrival of 189 passengers and crew were Tourism Minister the Honourable Stuart Johnson, Interim Director of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau STB May-Ling Chun and staff members of the STB along with local Sunwing ground handlers who greeted the passengers as they disembarked.  

Sunwing’s return was eagerly anticipated as before hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017,  the airline was a major contributor to visitor arrivals bringing thousands of passengers to the island from Canada. “With the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and the Sonesta Ocean Pointe Resorts as well as Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, Oyster Bay Beach Resort and many other resorts reopened, the returning of a major airline is a welcome addition. It further strengthens our position that we are open for business as several other airlines that have already returned or started new routes to St. Maarten," said Johnson.

The first passenger to disembark the Sunwing aircraft was greeted by Minister Johnson and STB Interim Director Chun. Johnson told the female passenger how pleased he was to welcome her and the other visitors to St. Maarten. He gave her a bag of "goodies" from the STB as a token of St. Maarten's appreciation for their visit.  

Johnson said, "Our tourism product will evolve as it grows and our goal is to make it more sustainable. It will take some time, but the intention is to continue working to bring airlifts back to pre-Irma numbers and attract even more airlines. One of the ways to show the strength of our destination is by highlighting each milestone as it gives the outer world a real and in-depth understanding of our commitment to the destination's revitalisation and shows our progress. This is also an important step as we continue to work with potential investors who want to do business in St. Maarten."   

Sunwing returned with its first weekly flight and will resume its famed Toronto and Montreal weekly service flying the Boeing 737 800 aircraft with a capacity of 189 seats each. 

According to Sunwing’s online publications, the company's business model includes offering low-cost airlifts with scheduled flights from Toronto and Montreal in Canada and the United States to many destinations within the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America.  

Sunwing Returns 2 ins1

Sunwing showered by water cannons from the Airport’s Fire Trucks on return to St. Maarten. 

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Scotiabank receives first hard-copy 2019 Carnival Schedule of Events

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Management and staff of Scotiabank was the first to receive the official hard-copy versions of the 2019 Carnival Schedule of events on Thursday.

Scotiabank has been the sponsor of the schedules, otherwise called the Carnival calendar of events, for almost two decades.

President of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) Alston Lourens and Board Members of the SCDF Edwardo Radjouki presented the schedules at the Simpson Bay branch of the bank.

Scotia also sponsors the uniforms shirts of the SCDF and its members and was extra proud to do so this year as the shirts carry the 50th Anniversary logo.

The SCDF presented one of the shirts to Country Head of Scotiabank St. Maarten Garfield White as a token of the foundation's appreciation. The schedules will be distributed island wide.

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