Soualiga News Today

Soualiga News Today (3998)


SINT MAARTEN (SAUNDERS) - World NGO (Non-Government Organizations) Day is Feb 27th and the international community will be celebrating and honoring NGO’s across the entire globe. Here in St. Maarten we also plan on doing something a little special for the heart-wearing-on-sleeve, charitable, liberal, freehearted organizations and individuals on the island.

On February 22nd the NPOwer project, funded by the Dutch Disaster Fund (Nationaal Rampenfonds) of the 4C Foundation will host the first ever of its kind NPO (non for-profit organization) workshop conference the island will experience. “It Takes (more than) Two to Tango” NPO conference will take place at the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA), which was generously donated as the venue by the institution. The St. Maarten Training Foundation will cater for the lunch for participants.

Outgoing President of the NPOwer Foundation, Jose Verschueren-Sommers, in reflecting about the intention for the project she and her board had set in motion two years ago that lead to this moment stated, “there is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Verschueren-Sommers envisioned a platform where all of St. Maarten’s NGO’s and NPO’s could be better supported in the very important work they do in taking care of the community’s vulnerable. Together with  recently appointed project coordinator Cassandra Richardson and Alston Lourens, the St. Maarten community was combed and the brightest, most experienced and innovative minds were invited to be facilitators and requested that they impart knowledge and best practices to attendees in order to run their respective foundations with an enlightened perspective.

NPOwer and many others in our community agree that for too long the persons that have a hand in taking care of our elderly, our disadvantaged youth and children, our ill, the economically challenged, our fragile natural environment and the animals that are neglected, and passionate about growing and securing our very own food to help nourish our minds and bodies have been existing because of their passion and want to do good. The goal of the conference and many conferences to come is to further fortify their passion for the respective social causes.” By building knowledge and know-how, NPOwer also assists foundations in running their organizations effectively, having a positive impact on the community at large.

The event kicks off on Saturday, February, 22nd, at 8AM. Attendees can expect to choose topics ranging from marketing your foundation to managing your foundation’s finances, proper board governance, using social media to reach your audience, building and retaining your volunteer pool, corporate/social responsibility and others. Foundations are encouraged to register soon as space is limited. Foundations should register first with if they have not already done so to take advantage of attending for free. Non members of NPOwer and private persons pay a small fee of USD 50 to take part. The online registration form can be found at 

NPOwer is Foresee (4C) Foundation's latest project which aims to bring Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) together to share expertise, grow capacity, assist with funding, fundraising, marketing, governance, and other innovative strategies.


Heyliger-Marten: "Big Supermarkets should be customer friendly, not just profit-driven

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The road to recovery for St. Maarten is long, but many solutions are within reach according to MP Elect Grisha Heyliger-Marten. In keeping with the need to improve our citizens standard of living Heyliger-Marten said on Sunday that "big businesses, especially supermarkets such as Carrefour, Cost U Less and PRIME, can generate increased economic activity for themselves while enhancing their service to customers, especially senior citizens and physically challenged."

"Think about the elderly man with a disability that lives in St. Peters, or the elderly lady in Dutch Quarter, Sucker Garden or Middle Region who has to do most things for themselves. What would it cost these Supermarkets versus the mutual benefit of offering the added value service to our senior citizens?" questioned MP Elect Heyliger-Marten.

She says there should be an island-wide effort led by big businesses, especially the supermarkets, and health service providers, to create incentives for Senior Citizens, thereby making their lives easier. "Having a Seniors Wednesday discount or creating a Senior Citizens Shopping Card are simple things that can be done to help ease the burden of our Senior Citizens and this will increase revenue generation for the businesses," said Heyliger-Marten.

"Today we see fruits and vegetables being sold at reasonable prices by local foundations, while we lament the constant increase in the cost of goods at the larger supermarkets," said Heyliger-Marten.

More must be done by the operators of these larger Supermarkets who have been around "forever" under one name or another, yet in 2020 they still do not have a Senior Citizens Program.

"Economic challenges or not, I refuse to believe there is no benefit to Carrefour and others providing a shuttle service for the Senior Citizens of St. Maarten who patronize their establishments. Having stores with motorized carts will be a cost but also has a benefit for our Seniors and the physically challenged the establishments that implement their use. These are things that will go a long way to showing appreciation to the people of St. Maarten for their years of support.

Today many businesses around the world have recognized the limitations of the Senior Citizens in their countries and have resorted to offering home delivery service to maintain their customer base. Additional incentives and benefits for Senior Citizens also include special discounts for essential items they use routinely.

With this customer-friendly approach businesses have seen marked improvements in their sales while other companies who refuse to keep up with the changing times have been looked at as elitist companies who would rather not have Senior Citizens walk through their isles.


Port Working Closely with FCCA and Cruise Partners Regarding New Coronavirus

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The cruise industry is closely monitoring an outbreak in China of a new Coronavirus. A novel coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.

Port St. Maarten is working closely with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and its cruise partners with respect to protocols being put in place with respect to the safety of cruise passengers and crew.

“Sint Maarten’s constant proactivity and communication with FCCA and our Member Lines have again assured that the destination is well-prepared to handle a potential outbreak, as unlikely as it may be with the cruise industry actively monitoring the situation through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) and having both pre-boarding measures and onboard protocols for handling infectious disease, many of which go above and beyond those required by CDC and WHO,” President of the FCCA Michele Paige said on Sunday.

The cruise industry through the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) regulatory arm, are in continuous discussions with the CDC and the WHO with respect to what recommendations and advice the aforementioned would give to the global travel industry.

The WHO has already indicated based on current information about the virus, that there are no global travel restrictions on travel and trade.

Destination St. Maarten is a very important cruise destination having welcomed over 1.6 million cruise passengers (1,631,537) and 565 cruise ship calls in 2019.

“The safety of the local population, cruise passengers and crew are of paramount importance, and therefore the port will continue to work with the FCCA and all cruise partners to ensure that various protocols as recommended by the cruise industry are implemented, as well as with Emergency Support Function (ESF-10), the St. Maarten Shipping & Maritime Inspectorate, and Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour (Ministry VSA) where an existing working relationship for health pre-clearance protocols is already in place for visiting cruise ships,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Sunday.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

The FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organisation composed of 19 Member Lines operating over 100 vessels in Floridian, the Caribbean and Latin American waters.

Created in 1972, the FCCA provides a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security, and other cruise industry issue and builds bilateral relationships with destinations' private and public sectors.

By fostering an understanding of the cruise industry and its operating practices, the FCCA works with governments, ports and private sector representatives to maximize cruise passenger, crew and cruise line spending, as well as enhance the destination experience and increase the amount of cruise passengers returning as stay-over visitors.


Minister Christopher Wever attends Marine Conservation session

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Wednesday, January 22nd the Minister of VROMI, Christopher Wever attended an informative session on Marine Conservation organized by the St. Martin division of Sea Shepherd Global at La Samana Hotel, according to a press statement from the cabinet of the minister.

“In attendance were representatives of Sea Shepherd, the Collectivite de St. Martin, The Nature Foundation, Officers of the Brigade Nautique Marine Park and Dive Safaris.

“The main objective of the session was to bring about awareness in regards to the destruction of the environment and the effects this has on marine life.

“Representatives of the Nature Foundation emphasized that it is an illegal act to hinder turtles from nesting or to disturb their nests. Turtles are confronted with many impediments to their well-being, such as water pollution due to sewage water runoff, pollution and garbage. They become victims of poaching, traps, debris that end up in the water, particularly in the Simpson Bay lagoon, and accidents caused from boat engines.

“The representative of the Nature Foundation explained that turtles sometimes get confused and distracted by onshore lights, which hinders them from nesting. The same goes for young turtles making their way to the sea.

“The attendees agreed that a speed limit must be introduced and controlled for boats in the Simpson Bay lagoon and close to seashores to alleviate injuries caused to turtles swimming in the area. Other challenges in curtailing harm to sea turtles were pointed out and discussed in an effort to eradicate harm to or death of turtles.

“Minister Wever expounded on his ministry’s commitment to alleviate sewage water from running into the Simpson Bay lagoon and beaches. The proposed sewage plant in Cole Bay, when operational, will help to lessen the sewage water runoff in that area.

“The recently launched “Be part of the solution, reduce your pollution” campaign is another clear indication of the ministry’s efforts to keep the island clean and to reduce pollution through recycling. The minister pledged his commitment to the endeavors to protect the sea turtles and other marine life.”


SMMC staff embark on fitness journey

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - Management and Staff of St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) recently embarked on a collective fitness journey by way of SMMC On the Move, SMMC’s new employee health and fitness initiative.

The program, an initiative by Medical Director Dr. Felix Holiday, sees SMMC employees partaking in physical activities twice a week such as running and aerobics led by Emergency Room Nurse and fitness instructor Stacy V. SMMC On the Move is part of a larger employee development plan, Fit for the Future, which focuses on the personal, physical, and professional development of all SMMC employees as they gear up for the transition to St. Maarten General Hospital (SMGH).

“As the only hospital on St. Maarten, we have to set a precedent as it pertains to health. It has been proven that regular exercise (and proper diet) reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure, ailments that we see too often in the Caribbean and here on St. Maarten. Exercise also decreases the risk of depression and improves blood flow and memory. As we begin our transition to SMGH, we want to provide all staff with the opportunity to develop themselves personally, physically, and professionally, making them Fit for the Future and fit for vital roles in the new hospital as we focus on providing quality care, close to home” said Dr. Holiday.


Security in Hospitality and Tourism Seminar set for Jan.28

SINT MAARTEN (LITTLE BAY) - Dr. Aaron J. Westrick, Director of Research, Executive Consultant, Professor and Law Enforcement Officer with 37 years of applicable experience in security, policing and armor systems marketing, research and applications will be conducting the “Security in Hospitality and Tourism Seminar” that will take place on January 28th 2020 at the Divi Resort at 1 p.m.

This seminar on security will covering issues of Risk, Threats, Crime, Terrorism, Infectious Diseases and Access and Exits controls is hosted by the SXM Hospitality Educational Institute and it is designed to bring together the island’s key stakeholders specializing in safety and security and its purpose is to share new approaches on how to deal with terrorism, bomb threats, infectious diseases and environmental calamities.

The outcome of the discussions will give content to suggestions for a general working document of new approaches to meet the challenges of impending threats to the safety and security of St. Maarten’s population, its guests and visitors in 2020 and beyond.

Dr. Westrick has taught many university classes and seminars regarding security crisis management, force issues, and body armor applications. He has published numerous articles regarding crisis management, force action violence, and ballistics/body armor applications.

Dr. Westrick’s book regarding Investigation Use of Force Second Edition was published in 2018. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science and Criminal Justice from Michigan State University, Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Sociology (Studying Police Shootings on Body Armor) from Wayne State University. Dr. Westrick has served as the Director of the Institute for Public Safety and Homeland Security Technologies at Lake Superior State University where he is presently an Associate Professor.

His professional memberships include the International Association of Chiefs of Police, International Association of Law Enforcement Trainers, and American Association of Industrial Security International.

Dr. Westrick is a recognized court expert in a number of areas including “use of force”, policy, and ballistics/ armor. The United States Department of Justice recognizes him as a body armor expert. Early in his law enforcement career Dr. Westrick became a Survivor when his body armor stopped a .357 magnum bullet over his heart, fired by a paroled robber.

The seminar will commence promptly at 1pm at the Divi Resort in Philipsburg.

All interested in attending the seminar are urged to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for reservations.


Prime Minister Jacobs meets with EOC Stakeholders about Tsunami Evac Plans

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Last week, in a meeting held with Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, National Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson and all stakeholders (ESF Emergency Support Functions) of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) met to discuss the current state of affairs to address several concerns in regards to disaster management plans and tsunami evacuation plans.

Prime Minister Jacobs was able to receive several updates on the status of the disaster management plans already in place from the various stakeholders.

“The Department of Communication (DCOMM), a department within the Ministry of General Affairs has already established a relationship with the community councils, public education and has plans to produce content in order to educate the community concerning Tsunami evacuations,” said Prime Minister Jacobs.

It was decided that the EOC will meet every month in order to strengthen the disaster strategy collectively. All ESF stakeholders will continue working on their tsunami evacuation plans and in the interim, research will also be carried out to better equip Government with the expertise needed on tsunamis. The EOC will be meeting again in the coming weeks to receive updates on these developments concluded Prime Minister Jacobs.

Prime Minister Jacobs also encourages the community of St. Maarten to download Government’s “Disaster Prep Sint Maarten” app, which is available on the Google Play Store. She said that “the Disaster App has been designed to provide pertinent information on disaster preparedness, give regular updates and alerts on emergencies that are taking place on the island.”





Haitian Man arrested with false French travel documents

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - On Saturday afternoon January 18th around 05.30 P.M the personnel of immigration at the airport noticed that the man with the initials P.A tried to enter Sint Maarten on an falsified French Document (Cart-de Sejour), the police said in a statement on Monday.

The man who is a Haitian national arrived on Sint Maarten with one of the local carriers out of Haiti.

After closer inspection of the document by the personnel of the immigration department it was concluded that the document was most likely falsified.

The suspect was handed over to the personnel of Alpha Team, who verified that the document that the suspect had in his possession was falsified.

The suspect was arrested shortly after by the personnel of the Alpha Team. The falsified document was also confiscated for further investigation.

P.A was brought to the police station in Philipsburg where he is being held for questioning. This investigation is ongoing. (KPSM)


MP-Elect Heyliger-Marten: ‘SZV must improve its service to Senior Citizens’

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) — Member of Parliament elect for the United People's Party (UPP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten has issued a call for the Social & Health Insurance institution SZV to address the technical issue negatively affecting the printing of Social Insurance Cards and increase the life of the cards from two (2) to five (5) years for Senior Citizens.

Heyliger-Marten believes one key area of improving the social wellbeing of our society is by adapting global best practices when caring for our Senior Citizens. With the economic challenges individuals face daily, Heyliger-Marten says there is also a clear argument for raising the pension premium.

Many of our older citizens struggle with illnesses that make mobilising themselves a painful task at best. "St. Maarten should be at the stage were providing transportation for our seniors who need support for medical treatment is standard. It should also not be only at banks that our seniors do not have long waits in lines to receive essential services on the island."

"Our Social and Health Insurance institution must adapt best practices to serve our older adults better and help them meet the challenges that come with ageing. Verification of prescriptions and refilling medicine should be a service the SZV provides directly to the homes of our Senior Citizens," said Heyliger-Marten on Sunday.

Part of her campaign leading up to the recently held snap elections of January 9th was improving the lives of Senior Citizens who she says are receiving a “raw deal” after they spent most of their lives helping to build St. Maarten. Her message resonated well with the population resulting in her obtaining the highest number of votes for the UPP Party, a significant achievement for a new political candidate, previously only accomplished by her husband former Member of Parliament Theodore Heyliger.

Referencing Mahatma Gandhi, Heyliger-Marten said as a lawyer, social activist and leader "Gandhi educated people on the importance of care for seniors. He told his people that the greatness of a country could be judged by how it treats the weakest of its citizens. "For me, that means we must be better at taking care of the poor, young children, persons with mental and physical disabilities and the Senior Citizens of our country," said Heyliger-Marten.

During her campaign, Heyliger-Marten drew reference to the low Pension premium paid to Senior Citizens, which she noted fell below St. Maarten's Minimum Wage. She said it is also significantly less than is being paid to seniors elsewhere within the Netherlands Kingdom.

"I challenge the SZV to invest in an Island Wide campaign of respect for Senior Citizens. They have built St. Maarten, and we must stop saying no to them and come up with solutions to better their lives. It is high time that we review the SZV's policy on how it treats our Seniors," said Heyliger-Marten.

Heyliger-Marten believes that the outcome of such a review "must include ensuring SZV provides tools and resources to our Seniors to help them maintain their independence."

She said, "We cannot make our Senior Citizens feel helpless when they have to leave their homes for a Doctor's visit. If they must leave their home for specialised care, we must go to their homes to pick them up and return them to their homes after they have received the necessary medical care.”

The goal of the SZV should be to help our citizens maintain a healthy lifestyle in an atmosphere of comfort. Heyliger-Marten is also concerned about the transition from being medically covered as an employee to being a Pensioner. She said, "We must make the transition from medical coverage as an employee to becoming a pensioner as smooth as possible so that our citizens do not have to worry about what comes next for them."

She is insisting that the SZV Initiates more discussions with the Seniors and their Caregivers to find ways to improve the level of service it provides and help soon to be Pensioners plan their future. The outcome should include incorporating services in their pension plan that are geared towards prevention.

As an incoming Member of Parliament, I recognize the task of an MP and as such I will admonish the SZV to work with the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour VSA and their boards to review the legislation and policies that negatively affects their patient. “Let me make it clear from the onset that patient care is something that I intend to keep a keen eye on as a legislator,” said Heyliger- Marten.


Governor Holiday concludes consultations and appoints Jacobs as Formateur

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) - The Governor of Sint Maarten, His Excellency drs. E.B. Holiday, following the outcome of the January 9, 2020 elections held consultations from January 10 through 14, 2020 to gather information to decide on the process for the formation of a new government.

The Governor, considering the ongoing discussion regarding compliance with the standards set forth by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), also convened a meeting with the political leaders and the bankers association to underscore the importance and urgency of handling this matter for Sint Maarten irrespective of which parties form the new government.

The Governor also received the governing accord signed by the National Alliance (NA) and the United People’s Party (UP) representing a majority in Parliament from the leader of the NA during the consultations.  A common tread in the consultations is that political stability is a necessary condition for the further development of Sint Maarten.  

Considering the results of the January 9, 2020 elections, the information received during the consultations, the Governor requested the leader of the NA, Ms. Silveria Jacobs, to accept an assignment as formateur.  

In that capacity the Governor requested Ms. Jacobs to form a new government which has the support of a broad majority in Parliament to foster political stability, that consists of ministers who are committed to the development and execution of a  governing program aimed at the promotion of the wellbeing of Sint Maarten, its people, its economy, its infrastructure and its security.

Considering the challenges facing the country, the Governor requested the formateur to form a new government which will give priority to:

  1. concluding the legislation regarding the combating of money laundering and financing of terrorism, including the penal procedure code;
  2. the development of initiatives aimed at the sustainable social economic recovery of Sint Maarten including the execution of the agreements made with The Netherlands and the World Bank regarding amongst others the rehabilitation of the airport and the construction of the new hospital;  
  3. realizing sustainable government finances, including the completion of the 2020 budget;
  4. the safety and security of Sint Maarten by investing in the strengthening of the law and order services, amongst which the police force and the prison;
  5. the improvement of our environment with an emphasis on realizing sustainable waste management solutions; and
  6. the amending of the electoral laws by bringing the Ordinance Registration and Finances of Political Parties and the Election Ordinance in accordance with the Constitution.

The Governor further emphasized the importance of the strict observance of the regulatory requirements including the screening criteria, applicable to the appointment for candidate-ministers.

The formateur took the commission into consideration and will inform the Governor regularly during the formation process. The Governor requested Ms. Jacobs to present him the final report of the formation process by February 23, 2020.

Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio