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DCNA: The Kingdom must unite us, not divide us

SINT MAARTEN/ARUBA - Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) chairman, Hellen van der Wal, has expressed her concerns about cooperation in the field of nature management and climate change within the Kingdom. In her view, inequality, such as the recent approach towards the effects of climate change, jeopardizes this cooperation.

“By designating Bonaire as a showcase for 'island states', the other Dutch Caribbean islands are disadvantaged, since all islands have to deal with the same problems. Such preferential treatment is remarkable given that climate change affects the entire region. Collaboration is crucial, especially in the field of nature and nature management.”

On 31 January last month – on the birthday of DCNA patroness HRH Princess Beatrix – Dr. van der Wal asked the Royal Family and State Secretary Van Huffelen to promote the message that the Kingdom does not divide us but connects us. 

On January 31st, after an intensive hike, the Royal Family visited Hofi Shoco in the Aruban Arikok National Park, where, among other things, a meeting took place with the chairman of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA). During this meeting, DCNA requested extra attention and collaborative efforts between the islands and the Netherlands when it comes to nature management and dealing with the consequences of climate change. 

“We have similar challenges on the islands: not only the effects of climate change, but also, for example, the decrease in biodiversity, waste processing and sewage treatment and our overdependence on tourism. All threaten the well-being of the inhabitants of these beautiful islands and the state of nature. They all require a joint approach and nature-based solutions.” 

The alliance, a network of nature organizations, has been demonstrating for many years that cooperation is possible. Passion for nature, and above all, common interests and goals are at the heart of this. That is why the DCNA already offered a Climate Change Action Plan in the Netherlands at the beginning of last year.

“In this plan, we state that climate adaptation is the main priority and then we quickly talk about nature management. In addition to the call to action, we strongly insist on the need for a joint approach. This will not only benefit the involvement on the islands, but it will also give better results and ensure that knowledge and experience are better shared. Undoubtedly due to the fanfare of an international NGO, the Dutch cabinet has chosen to turn Bonaire into a 'showcase'. At the request of this island, a climate table will now be set up there. The Netherlands should ensure that the other (island) countries are also involved. In March of this year, a large Caribbean climate conference will take place in Aruba. We applaud this, but why shouldn't a joint climate table still be on the agenda?” says Van der Wal. 

“Nature knows no boundaries nor are the consequences and effects of climate change. However, the Kingdom sometimes imposes limits due to the constitutional structure and certain policy choices. The distinction between CAS countries and BES islands is disastrous for a joint approach of shared interests. If only some of the six islands get majority of the resources and opportunities, working with all six becomes difficult. After all, why would an island cooperate with others if you can arrange everything themselves? It is ironic that the Kingdom, which is supposed to connect, divides in this way.  Showcasing one or a few islands sends the wrong message. That also affects the sense of community and undermines the interests of the other (island) countries.” 

HRH Princess Amalia was presented with a copy of the DCNA Climate Change Action Plan upon departure: “This is about our future, and you are part of our future,” said the DCNA President, who invited the Royal Family to support the efforts of the DCNA for a joint approach and for cooperation and solidarity between all six Dutch Caribbean islands and the European Netherlands. 

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SCDF, Omni partner to put steel pan back on the road

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) has welcomed Omni on board as a new corporate partner of Carnival. The company will specifically contribute towards putting steel pan back on the road in the Carnival parades.

President of the SCDF Edwardo Radjouki said the partnership shows that any company that forms part of the community can and should find their place to support the country’s largest cultural event. “In turn, Omni understands the importance of the art form of steel pan playing and have chosen a very important part of Carnival to assist. We are thankful to have Omni on board with Carnival. There will be more news coming from this partnership soon,” Radjouki said.

He added that discussion started early with Isidore “The Mighty Dow” York about what it would take to put his steel orchestra on the road for the parades. “We found a partner in Omni to assist and we are working hard to put that important part of our culture back on full display again,” Radjouki said.

According to the Senior Branch Manager at Omni Michanou Arrundell: “The entire team of Omni is very excited to be in the position to be able to support SCDF this year in putting together the biggest cultural event of the year.

“Omni has partnered up with many organizations over the years in different forms taking care of our economy and today we team up with another valuable partner in our community. A melting pot of different cultures and nationalities of its own, Omni looks forward to seeing SCDF bringing together cultures, nationalities, tastes, music, and ambiance all in a celebration of life. As we continue to refresh and reinvent our commitment to our island, it is truly an honor to be able to contribute to an event that brings such fun and happiness to our community and its visitors. You can count on Omni to bring the cool to the heat of carnival. Time to bacchanal!” she concluded.

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Two suspects apprehended after second cross-border car chase

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - For the second time in the past weeks personnel of the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) assisted the French police with a pursuit that started from Marigot to the Dutch side.

On the early morning of Saturday, February 04, 2023 around 4:30 a.m., Central Dispatch received a report from the French police that they were engaged in a pursuit that went

across Causeway towards Maho.

Several police patrols were sent to Maho to assist the French police. Upon arrival in Mullet Bay they encountered the French Police with a Blue Grand I-10.

It appeared that the French were trying to stop a blue Hyundai Grand I-10 as it was entering Marigot.

Upon seeing the police, the driver of the blue I-10 decided to change direction and hereafter drove back towards the Bellveau border.

French police initiated a pursuit that ended in the Mullet-Bay area as the driver of the Grand I-10 struck a large stone along the side of the road. Both the male driver and the female passenger were arrested and during a control of the car two firearms were recovered.

Suspects should take note that the working relationship between the French side Police and Sint Maarten police forces is very strong and they are working together to protect the overall safety of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin.

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Minister Lambriex and SHTA discuss collaboration on projects pertaining to destination beautification

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In a two-hour introduction session, new Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (TEATT) Minister Leo Lambriex and his cabinet met with eight board representatives of the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA). The Minister laid out his immediate plans for improving the look and feel of the visitor experience and action points for his tenure and took note of the priorities of the private sector.

Minister Lambriex shared his goal, to focus on existing qualities of the tourism dependent destination and fixing what is easy to improve without major capital investments. The Minister made clear that in the competitive tourism market, it is of great importance that attention is paid to upkeep and beauty of the tourism product.

“St. Maarten needs to make sure eye for detail is maintained to offer a great holiday experience to its many visitors. An attractive product is what makes people come back; an unattractive product makes people choose another destination for their next holiday”. The Minister, having operated tour companies himself, cited from his own experience how central the level of cleanliness and order is to visitors. Recently, the Minister launched improvement ideas for the Philipsburg area.  

The association agreeing wholeheartedly with his convictions pertaining to beautification, the Minister discussed how the Ministry and SHTA could collaborate on projects pertaining to destination beautification. The SHTA added that the currently often congested traffic situation, with only 84% of the 2016 room count having returned to the market, is an additional variable influencing the image of the destination.

Within the same context of choosing improvement over expansion of the tourism product, SHTA shared various economic indicators with the Minister, showing effort is still needed to bring the destination back to the 2016 situation.

Occupancy for December 2022 was 2% under that of December 2021. Though January yielded better results, the association has concerns about the traditionally low summer occupancy given the unexpectedly low December occupancy. The private sector sees more government investment in destination marketing as an essential for economic growth. Though SHTA supports diversification, reality has it that the economy is over 80% dependent on tourism. At the same time, available funds to promote the destination per hotel room are not even 40% that of French side St. Martin, Aruba or Curacao. SHTA estimates that every dollar invested in marketing returns fivefold to government coffers via, amongst others, room tax, timeshare tax and turnover tax, making destination marketing a priority for all.

SHTA repeated its well-known plea for swift implementation of a St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA), modeled after the very successful institute on Aruba and a project of which various of Minister Lambriex’s predecessors were in support of. The Aruban Tourism Authority does not just contribute year-round to high occupancy rates and hence income for private sector and government, but also to beautification projects. Knowing the island well due to visits to relatives on Aruba, Minister Lambriex also cited other best practices of this island that could be applied on St. Maarten.

Other topics discussed were increased government income via collection of AirBnB fees and the need for a dedicated team to implement this action, Expedia Campaigns, the worrisome state of the (real) Gross Domestic Product or GDP, private sector representation in the Socio-Economic Council (SER), implementation of the ED Card program, private sector taxation, geographical information about St. Maarten visitors and upcoming SHTA plans.

The Minister, the cabinet and the SHTA jointly stated their intent to explore increasing cooperation over the upcoming months.

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ONE SXM: Open Letter to King Willem Alexander

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Your Majesty: We, members of the One St. Martin Association (aka One SXM), feel duty bound to address you, respectfully, on the matter of your pending visit to our homeland, part of which is still colonized by your kingdom.

We write you as St. Martiners, as Caribbean people, who do not see themselves as subjects of any other humans.

We note with deep regret that from your position of power and privilege, you have chosen to parade these islands during the month of Black History celebrations, showing off the people to your daughter and heiress to your throne and patronizing their culture. More dehumanizing is the expectation that our people should bow to you and your family, as a way to give legitimacy to an anachronistic and fading political system.

As the head of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, you hide behind political unaccountability, refusing to apologize for your family’s involvement in Slavery and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Furthermore, the kingdom you head has refused at every opportunity to denounce racism and xenophobia at several United Nations fora.

The people of St. Martin did not choose to be a part of the kingdom, and we do not embrace you as the king of our people. We expect that you can relate to this position since your country fought an 80-year war to gain its independence from Spain as your people refused to be subjugated by the Spanish.

We believe that the only way for St. Martin to become a true “equal partner” with your kingdom is for our island to become an independent, sovereign state. We reiterate that we are not subjects of any monarch, and we definitely do not want our children to bow before anyone’s children.

As a first step in repairing the relationship between the Kingdom of the Netherlands as the colonizer and St. Martin people as the colonized, we demand that you issue a sincere apology for the Dutch Kingdom’s involvement in Slavery, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and continuing colonialism. This month of Black History Celebrations and your presence on our island present the opportune time to do this.

May we avail ourselves of this opportunity to reiterate to Your Majesty the assurances of our highest consideration.

ONE SXM LOGO EXP FLAG

 

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Willemstad World Heritage Commemorative Coin

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - The Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten is issuing a 5-guilder silver commemorative coin honoring the city of Willemstad and marking its 25th anniversary as a World Heritage site.

The historic area of Willemstad has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997, reason enough to honor Curaçao's capital with a commemorative coin in 2023. Willemstad is one of a select few World Heritage Cities that have been awarded this special status because of their universal cultural and historical value.

Willemstad is characterized by its historic neighborhoods, cultural diversity, unique urban architecture and over 700 multicolored monuments. The city is also unique as a historic Caribbean seaport. The commemorative coin will be produced by the Royal Dutch Mint. Its design parallels that of the Dutch commemorative coin for which His Majesty King Willem-Alexander made the first strike here in Curaçao today.

As the coin will celebrate Curaçao's important UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a public call was made to designers/artists in Curaçao to design both the euro and NAf. coins. The winning design is by Curaçaoan artist Cleo Maxime de Brabander.

The obverse shows King Willem-Alexander with the Queen Juliana Bridge in Willemstad in the background. Four stars at the top of the obverse side symbolize the four countries that comprise the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Curaçao, Aruba, Sint Maarten and the Netherlands.

The reverse features a cityscape showing the four neighborhoods that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Punda, Otrobanda, Scharloo, and Pietermaai. The design features key monuments, including the Handelskade, the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel synagogue in Punda, Fort Amsterdam, and the Emanu-él temple, which marks the border of the Pietermaai neighborhood.

The coin is minted in the highest quality Silver Proof and comes in a presentation case, with a Certificate of Authenticity. The mintage is limited to 500 pieces. The Willemstad coin will also be legal tender in Curaçao and Sint Maarten, with a nominal value of 5 guilders.

This will be one of the last commemorative coins to be issued in our current currency, the Netherlands Antilles guilder. Sales will begin later this year.

Announcements will be made on CBCS social media channels and on our website: https://www.centralbank.cw/functions/banknotes-coins.

CBCS 5 gulden Willemstad 6 silver

 

 

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RESEMBID Programme and Projects Lauded as Impressive by EU

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - High level officials from the Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity (RESEMBID) Programme’s lead donor agency, the European Union (EU), visited St. Maarten on the 18th and 19th of January to meet the RESEMBID team, visit ongoing projects and gain a keen sense of the work being implemented specifically in Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St. Barthelemy, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten.

Primary visiting delegate, Ambassador Rene Van Nes, Head of Delegation, EUD was accompanied by Layla El Khadraoui, EU Commission Programme and Policy Manager who both benefitted from detailed and informative presentations delivered by RESEMBID’s Fabian McKinnon, Programme Director; Edward Turvill, Programme Manager for Resilience and Nyssa Pierre, Manager, Communications and Visibility.

The immensely interactive and intensive sessions provided deep insight into RESEMBID’s operations; project portfolio; and deep dives into the areas of resilience, communications and visibility. McKinnon further explained how RESEMBID is translating €26M into 48 projects for 500,000 people in 12 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs).

Additionally, he spoke in detail on the implementation support strategy which focuses on six key elements of assistance to the OCTs; the RESEMBID Portfolio by focus area; the value created by each of the projects being implemented and regional collaboration in each of the OCTs.

Delving into the Resilience portfolio, Turvill spoke to emerging regional themes across the portfolio and OCTs. He focused specifically on Comprehensive Disaster Management, Early Warning Systems, Resilience in Education and Nature-Based Solutions which are cross-cutting in the Marine Biodiversity and Sustainable Energy areas of focus as well.

To the enthusiastic interest from Ambassador Van Nes, Turvill further expounded on the main outcomes and milestones to be achieved by each focus area, how these outcomes are in line with the National Development Strategy of the OCTs and the effect these results will have on the people of the OCTs.

Moreover, RESEMBID’s Communications and Visibility Manager further elaborated on the numerous outreach efforts being executed to ensure maximum visibility for the projects across the OCTs. She highlighted past milestones which have been very successful and announced the RESEMBID Roar which will kick off 2023 and see focused and intentional collaboration with the EU plus a sharp increase in media engagement, storytelling, speaking opportunities for the team at key regional and global events, social media and web site updates.

Ambassador Van Nes applauded the team for their efforts thus far and said he is looking forward to all that is planned for this year and beyond. He asked many probing questions and made valuable and salient suggestions which will certainly redound to the benefit of the programme.

Meanwhile, The RESEMBID team will warmly welcome Jeremie Pellet, Director-General of Expertise France in February to provide an overview of the programme, its projects and their impact on the OCTs.

RESEMBID FIRST PIX Picture9

 

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Royal Family to visit SMMC and NIPA on Monday

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Preparations are in full swing for the visit of the Royal Family His Majesty King Willem Alexander, Her Majesty Queen Maxima and Her Royal Highness Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange, next week Monday and Tuesday, February 6 & 7.

Sint Maarten’s heritage and hospitality during the two-day visit will be on full display where they will get a taste of culture, nature, and resiliency. Residents are invited to come out and welcome the Royal Family as they are on their way to visit various venues.

This will be Her Royal Highness Princess Amalia’s first visit to Sint Maarten, during which time she will be introduced to the country and its residents.

Upon arrival at the Princess Juliana International Airport on Monday morning February 6, the Royal Family will be received by His Excellency Governor of Sint Maarten Ajamu Baly and the Honorable Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, followed by a tour at both the operational and reconstruction areas of the Airport.

The delegation will then visit the following institutions in Cay Hill, the Fire & Ambulance Department, where there will be an exhibition and re-enactment of the first responders during a disaster.

This will then be followed by a tour at the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).

The Royal Family will be given a presentation about sustainability within health care and will learn more about the key role in the region that SMMC plays and about the health care relationship that it provides to patients from St. Eustatius and Saba.

The King, Queen and Princess will speak to dialysis patients and will be updated on the ongoing expansion of the hospital.

After completing the visit at SMMC, the Royal Family and other dignitaries will walk over to the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) where they will receive a brief introduction about NIPA.

Subsequently the Royal Family will have a conversation with the Governor and members of the Council of Ministers while having a lunch prepared and served by the students of NIPA.

These activities will conclude the morning of day one of the visit to Sint Maarten. While on Sint Maarten, the Royal Family and the State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitalisation, Alexandra van Huffelen will be accompanied by His Excellency, the Governor of Sint Maarten, Ajamu Baly, who is host of the visit.

2020 prinses van oranje 02 1

Her Royal Highness Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange

 

 

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Chantale Groeneveldt and Anton Hoogenboezem presented with Vocational Service Award

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - January is recognized as Vocational Service Month according to Rotary International. Last week the Rotary Club of Sint Maarten-Mid Isle presented two community minded persons with a Vocational Service Award, Chantale Groeneveldt and Anton Hoogenboezem.

Chantale recognized at a young age her passion for assisting others. She spent sixteen years as a healthcare professional both on St. Maarten and in the Netherlands, and from her interactions with patients, she realized that their difficulties stemmed from social challenges. During her time in the Netherlands, Chantale had the opportunity to assist in homeless shelters, where she gained a deeper understanding of how a single wrong decision could result in the loss of everything and becoming displaced.

She returned to St. Maarten, and worked in the private sector, before joining the government in 2010, working in numerous cabinets, where she had a bird's-eye view of the community. After the hurricanes of 2017, Chantale worked for six months as the recovery shelter's manager.

She is currently the department head of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs and Women's Desk. Chantale is now engaging in a crisis and disaster management trainers' training.

Anton is a member of RISC Takers and coaches the Under 11 football players in the organization. He is very instrumental when it comes to organizing activities, preparing the youth for tournaments on both the French and Dutch sides of the island, and is an important contact person between the kids’ parents and coaches.

The Mid Isle Rotary Club witnessed firsthand the passion both recipients have in what they are doing. Mrs. Groeneveldt helped the Rotary Club with a list of persons in need, to receive Food Hampers during the Christmas Season, and she was personally there to help distribute these. Mr. Hoogenboezem wanted to share his award with all the coaches and children, as he recognizes that all of them are deserving of this award.

Congratulations go out to Mrs. Chantale Groeneveldt and Mr. Anton Hoogenboezem for this well-deserved award.

Picture5 Chantale

Chantale Groeneveldt (L)

Picture6 Hoogenboezem

Anton Hoogenboezem (L)

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No sign of criminal act or wrongdoing detected in passing of Laville

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Friday, January 27, 2023, the Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP) announced to the public that a gentleman in holding that was experiencing medical challenges was being examined by medical professionals.

Mr. Josea Ossie Laville’s engagement with Law Enforcement began when police officers were notified about a man wielding a machete in the Philipsburg area. They were then dispatched to the scene at 2:40 PM on Thursday, January 26. The officers observed that Mr. Laville appeared to be intoxicated and was in the possession of a machete. He was then arrested for illegal weapon possession.

After being taken to the Philipsburg police station, Mr. Laville was processed by the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office and handed over to IBP as it was established that he was residing on Sint Maarten illegally and without proper residence.

Subsequently, the formal procedural preparations were started by IBP which would have finally led to his deportation to his birth country Dominica. While detained, Mr. Laville indicated that he was feeling “a bit dizzy” to the immigration officer. The officer asked him if he would like to see a doctor to which Mr. Laville replied “No.” The officer went on to ask Mr. Laville if he had any medical problems or needed to take any medication to which he replied, “No, I just need to eat, I am very hungry.” He was given food and water, after which he asked for more, a request that was granted. Sometime after, a guard passed by his cell and observed him lying in a strange position on the bed in his holding cell. At that point, medical professionals were called in to assess the situation.  

After an investigation of the scene and establishing that the proper procedures were followed, Chief Prosecutor Hieke Buist informed the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson on Saturday, January 28, that the investigation concluded with no signs of criminal act or wrongdoings as the cause of death. The body of Mr. Laville has since been released to his next of kin as the case has now been closed.

IBP assures the public that all persons they encounter are treated with respect, dignity, and proper care, which includes being fed three times daily. This is a very unexpected and unfortunate turn of events.

Minister Richardson, IBP, KPSM, and the Prosecutor’s Office all express their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Laville and wish them peace and strength during this difficult time.

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