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National Security Service Sint Maarten Host Critical Infrastructure Protection Conference

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Recently the National Security Service (VDSM) on behalf of the government of Sint Maarten held the first ever Critical Infrastructure Protection Conference on the island.  The conference highlighted the importance of protecting critical infrastructure (CIP).  By stimulating cooperation and communication between the various stakeholders, the conference has made a contribution in achieving an effective level of critical infrastructure protection in the future.

The conference featured both international and local speakers. Colonel (Ret'd) George Robinsonfrom Trinidad & Tobago with over 27 years in the Military and experienced in developing practical security solutions spoke on the topic of critical facility protection.

Ronald Jackson who assumed the post of Executive Director CDEMA in April 2013 spoke about CIP and the structure of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Other experienced speakers with competencies concerning National Security and CIP, made presentations including the Director of the National Security Service  Aruba, J.T. Nicolaas; Department Head at the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands, I. Westerman; Director International Affairs Ministry of National Security of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago  Antoinette Lucas-Andrews; Programme Manager Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, Shevaun M. Culmer, and special Agent Brian LeBlanc from the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.

The two days conference also featured speakers from the local front: Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor the honorable V. H Cornelius de Weever, Drs. M. Arnold Head of the Department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and Paul Martens representing the Sint Maarten Disaster Management Organization. Mark Mingo CEO of the St.Maarten Harbor Group of companies and R. Mercera, Department Head Department of Environment, Health, Safety and Security at GEBE both addressed local critical protection measures.

As one attendee to the invited only conference said “It was a good basis for the first time. There was a nice structure of local and international speakers”.

Since its inception in 2010, the National Security Service has been working on the promotion of measures to protect critical infrastructure in the county. The ambition of the National Security Service in relation to the protection of critical infrastructure of Sint Maarten is threefold:

  • To advise and support the various stakeholders in their efforts to avoid large –scale failures or disruptions
  • To advise and support government and the private sector in their efforts to strengthen the necessary preparation for the consequences of failure or disruption
  • To contribute to (repressive) measures that can be taken to prevent or minimize damage from failure or disruption as much as possible.

For further information concerning the conference see also the conference website


Venezuela lifts suspension of air traffic connections with Sint Maarten and other Kingdom countries

VENEZUELA-SINT MAARTEN – The Government of the Republic of Venezuela has lifted its suspension of air connections to Sint Maarten as well as the other Kingdom countries including the BES Islands (Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius). 

The suspension if it was to remain in place would have left hundreds of Venezuelan passengers/tourists who are visiting any one of the islands stranded until further notice.  This brings great relief to those in Sint Maarten and in the other countries of the Kingdom that they will be able to fly back to their home country. 

Travellers are expected to cut their vacations and family visits short not knowing what will happen next.  Rather than being stuck and running out of financial resources, airlines could see an influx of people wanting to travel back to Venezuela within the next few days.

The suspension of air service also included cargo, mail, and special transport.  The suspension was issued on Friday, July 25, 2014 by the Venezuelan Government and was in place for several hours before being lifted.

The suspension of air services according to diplomatic sources has to do with the arrests and detention of a Venezuelan diplomat in Aruba at the request of United States law enforcement authorities.  It has been alleged that the Venezuelan diplomat Hugo Carvajal, a former Head of Venezuelan Military Intelligence, is wanted by U.S. authorities on drug-trafficking charges.

A Judge in Aruba on Friday, July 25 ruled that Carvajal should remain detained by Aruban authorities until an extradition request has been processed.

The Venezuelan Government says that Carvajal has diplomatic immunity and therefore could not be arrested, but the Aruba Judge has stated that he does not enjoy any diplomatic privileges.   Carvajal according to Venezuelan authorities was to be sworn in as a consular representative to Aruba.

This case will be closely watched to see what Venezuela’s next move will be.

Tourism officials in Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire are left uneasy not knowing what the impact will be on tourism.  Venezuelans traveling for holiday may be hesitant to still make the trip not knowing if they will get stuck on one of the islands should Venezuela institute a travel ban.


Minister of Education & Culture Patricia Lourens-Philip Signs Condolence Book

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip signed the condolence register at the Government Administration Building on Thursday.  

The condolence register was opened by the Government of Sint Maarten in connection with the crash of Malaysian Flight MH-17 in Ukraine which carried 298 passengers of which 193 were Dutch citizens.   

The Prime Minister Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams also signed the register on Thursday.


UPDATE: Detention of Former Minister of Finance Extended by Eight Days

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao – UPDATE – The Judge on Friday has extended the detention of former Minister of Finance G. Jamaloodin (46) by eight days.  Jamaloodin is the second Minister to have been questioned by investigators with respect to the murder of parliamentarian Helmin Wiels.  Former Minister Carlos Monk was questioned recently.  

The Public Prosecution Service according to reports stated that there is the possibility of more arrests being made in the on-going investigation into the political assassination.

ARCHIVE Friday, July 25, 2014 PM - The Curacao Public Prosecution Service confirmed on Thursday that the former Minister of Finance G. Jamaloodin (46) was arrested early Thursday morning in an apartment near Seru Lora.  The former Minister will be detained for two days before going before the Judge where investigators are expected to request that the detention be prolonged in the interests of the investigation.

Jamaloodin according to reports served as a Minister from 2010-2012.  Today he operates a security company.

A number of properties were searched by investigators on Thursday and several items seized as part of the investigation.  Properties in Steerijk, Steenen Koraal, Salina and a hotel were also searched.

According to media reports, the murder weapon that was found in Waaigaat in June is said to belong to a Curacao security company.

MP Wiels was murdered on May 5, 2013 at a beach.  He was the leader of the largest political party on Curacao, the Pueblo Soberano.

In the initial court proceeding involving the case, it was revealed that half a million guilders was paid to have the MP murdered. 

ARCHIVE Thursday, July 24, 2014 AM - Former Curacao Minister of Finance George Jamaloodin has been arrested in connection with the assassination of Member of the Curacao Parliament (MP) Helmin Wiels.  MP Wiels was murdered in May 2013 near a beach on the island of Curacao.

According to information coming out of Curacao, the former Minister is considered a suspect in the murder case of the Curacao MP.  Investigators have searched the home of the Minister and seized undisclosed items.

Former Minister Jamaloodin is a member of the MFK party led by former Prime Minister of Curacao Gerrit Schotte.  The MFK is currently in the opposition in the Parliament of Curacao.


Government of St. Maarten Opens Condolence Register and Organizes Memorial Church Service for Malaysian Flight MH-17 Victims

PHILIPSBURG, Sint marten - The Government of St. Maarten has opened a Condolence Register & a Facebook page where the people of St. Maarten can leave expressions of sympathy for the relatives and friends of the victims of the crash of Malaysian Airways Flight MH 17.

Additionally, a Memorial Church Service will be held this Thursday, July 24th at 12:00 PM at the Anglican Church in Philipsburg, where the service will be conducted by Reverend Terrence Rawlins. 

There will be 2 locations for the Condolence Register, The Government Administration Building in Philipsburg and the Public Service Center in Simpson Bay. The Condolence Register will remain open daily from 8:00 am in the morning until 5:00 pm, up until Friday July 25th.  For persons who are tech savvy, the Facebook Page can be found by searching St. Maarten Condolence Page for the Victims of Flight MH17.

The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams on behalf of the people and Government of St. Maarten expressed her condolences to the Dutch Government and people on the loss of life of the numerous Dutch Citizens who were on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families, who have been affected by this horrible tragedy,” commented Prime Minister Wescot-Williams. "In fact the entire Dutch Kingdom is affected by a tragedy of this magnitude. And while all lives are precious, that so many innocent children have perished in such a horrific way is beyond words."

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was allegedly shot down near the Ukraine - Russia border, killing all 298 passengers on board.

In the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has declared Wednesday, July 23, 2014 a Day of National Mourning in remembrance of the victims of the plane crash of flight MH17. This will be observed in the presence of relatives of the victims. Attending the memorial will be H.M.  King Willem-Alexander and H.M Queen Máxima, Prime Minister Rutte and Deputy Prime Minister Asscher, as well as representatives of countries that  suffered casualties, along with other dignitaries.

The Government of St. Maarten wishes to extend its sympathies to all countries who have been struck by this tragedy; to all those who have lost a family member, a friend, an acquaintance or colleague and to the HIV / AIDS organizations and activists on the loss of the former president of the international Aids society and his other peers.


WEATHER WATCH: TD #2 Downgraded to Tropical Wave

SINT MAARTEN – UPDATED - Tropical Depression (TD) #2 has been downgraded to a Tropical Wave.  It will pass through the Lesser Antilles Wednesday night.  Wind speeds are near 35 miles per hour according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). This system is expected to continue to weaken.

The NHC says that strong gusty winds are possible across portions of the Windward and Leeward Islands tonight.

ARCHIVE: On Monday, July 21 Tropical Depression #2 formed in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean over 1200 miles East of the Lesser Antilles island chain.  The system according to the National Hurricane Center may past to the South of the islands in the Northern part of the Lesser Antilles as a depression on Thursday evening. 

The formation on the depression is a stark reminder of the approaching active part of the season, and that the islands of the Eastern Caribbean can expect to see more weather systems of this nature.  No better time for residents to check their hurricane season check list. 



DP Presents Community Donations to Three Outstanding Organizations as Part of Party 60th Anniversary Celebrations

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - This past Monday the DP, as part of its celebrations, made donations to three foundations that have strengthened the community of the country: the Key to Freedom Foundation that focuses on combatting drug abuse, the Arts Saves Lives that introduces especially children to arts and culture and the Generation new Status Drum Band, which introduces children to rhythm through drumming.

“When we say that we celebrate sixty years we need to look back at persons like the elderly with gratitude for what they have done for this country and it is on the shoulders of our elderly and the founders of the Democratic Party the late Dr. Claude Wathey and the Late Clem Labega for building the country and allowing us to continue that.

“As we wondered and deliberated on what we will do during the year 2014 when we deliberated how we celebrate a political milestone of sixty years, we came up with the idea to honor those that are giving back to the community selflessly and whole heartedly. Given the fact that the party has always believed in the Young People of this country we felt it necessary to recognize the work that is being done by several persons in our community as far as the youth of this country is concerned.

“After some deliberations we have decided to do exactly that: making presentations to just a few of the organizations that have been doing wonderful work with and for our young people. The biggest thing that we can give our young people is encouragement and setting the right example so that they can continue where we have left off.

“At some point our work as officials will be done and hopefully because of the contribution of others in the community we can feel confident of those persons who will be coming in after us and taking up important positions in leading our country, Country St. Maarten.

“The Democratic Party Leader explained the decision to present checks to the Art Saves Lives Foundation for their work in using art to bring young people to their full artistic and creative potential, the Generation New Status Drum Band for introducing young people to rhythm and movement and the Key to Freedom Foundation for helping those within the community overcome substance abuse.

“These organizations really show that with just a few dedicated individuals a positive change and impact can be made in the community. The Democratic Party wishes you much look and hopes that you will continue to move forward with your dreams and goals,” commented Wescot-Williams.

The DP will also be attending the annual wreath laying ceremony commemorating the birthday of the Founder of the Democratic Party the late Dr. Claude Wathey followed by visits to the St. Maarten’s Home and the Sister Basilia Center.

The public is encouraged to attend all of these events and celebrate 60 years of Democratic Party leadership. (Contributed by the DP Party)

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