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Crown and Island Princess Cruise Ships in Port for Fuel Bunkering

PORT ST. MAARTEN – On Tuesday morning, two cruise ships came in for fuel bunkering, namely Crown Princess and Island Princess of Princess Cruises.  Port St. Maarten continues to cater to the cruise industry during the global COVID-19 pandemic by providing essential services such as fuel and food provisioning. 

Also, in port on Tuesday are Star Pride, Wind Star and Wind Surf of Windstar Cruise Line, which came into port over the weekend.  The aforementioned are in port to shift crew members as well as food and consumer product supplies between the three vessels.

Port St. Maarten Management continues to maintain a constructive working relationship with cruise partners and stakeholders during this unprecedented time and continues to assist the cruise industry with essential services when requested. 

All cruise vessels have to adhere to stringent public health measures as well as to the rules and regulations related to the national State of Emergency.  Port St. Maarten has a “Sterile Port Protocol” in place since mid-March with respect to COVID-19 ensuring safety and security. No crew disembarkation or embarkation is allowed.

Crown Princess and Island Princess vessels belong to Princess Cruises.  The line is a global cruise and tour company taking more than one million passengers each year to more than 300 worldwide destinations on six continents. The company was founded in 1965 and is headquartered in California, USA.  Its parent company is Carnival Corporation & plc.

Princess Cruises has extended a temporary pause of global operations through June 30 due to the global COVID-19 outbreak.  The cruise line initially announced a voluntary pause for 60-days impacting voyages that departed from March 12.

Princess Cruises operates a fleet of 17 modern ships, with one on order that travels to destinations around the globe including Alaska, Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera, Europe, South America, Australia/New Zealand, South Pacific, Hawaii, Tahiti/French Polynesia, Asia, Africa, India, Canada/New England and world cruises.

The Crown Princess made its inaugural cruise in June 2006 and was christened by Martha Stewart.  The vessel was refurbished in April 2018. Island Princess made its inaugural cruise in July 2003 and was christened by Jamie Sale and David Pelletier (Olympic Gold Medalists) and was refurbished in December 2017. 

Windstar Cruise Line Vessels in Port

Windstar Cruise Line three vessels docked at the cruise pier (right). (Port St. Maarten Photo)

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TelEm Group launching 9111 Emergency credit plan for prepaid customers

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - TelEm Group is launching a new 9111 Emergency Bundle plan to assist prepaid subscribers in times of emergency.

From 6:00 pm, today (Friday, April 24, 2020) all TelCell pre-paid subscribers will be able to tap into a reserved Bundle of Minutes and Data to make an SOS or other Emergency call to any TelCell mobile or TelEm landline number.

The Emergency Bundle is ONLY available for a one-time use and once activated, The Emergency Bundle will remain available to the user for 15 days after which the bundle will expire.

TelEm Group says activation of the Emergency Bundle is automatically available when a subscriber’s balance reaches $1 or less, at which point the subscriber will have the option to send a text message “Emergency” to 9111 to activate the Emergency Bundle that TelCell has reserved for them.

TelEm Group CEO, Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, says the new Emergency Bundle plan is another measure taken by the company to assist customers and the general public as St. Maarten battles against the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

“I would strongly urge our pre-paid subscribers to use this Emergency Bundle credit for what it is meant for, an emergency call, and not use it just because it’s there,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

He said TelEm Group is doing all it can, under very challenging circumstances, for the community, noting that containment of the spread of the Coronavirus on the island will only be successful with the combined effort of everyone.

During the lockdown the CEO has been voicing public awareness messages from TelEm Group urging people to Stay Home, and Keep Safe, for which he has been receiving some very positive comments from the online and social media community.

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NPOWER REQUESTS NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS TO FILL OUT COVID-19 ASSESSMENT SURVEY

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - St. Maarten Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) are asked to fill out a survey administered by NPOwer, a program under Foresee Foundation. The survey, although initiated by NPOwer, received input from various stakeholders of the community, leading to a questionnaire that is extensive and comprehensive.

Director of Foresee Foundation, Jose Sommers expressed, “We need to assess the current state-of-affairs of our non-profit organizations and attain insight and understanding about the effects that COVID-19 may have on the functioning of operations. With the data survey we can ascertain how prospective changes in civic society may influence St. Maarten society, and we can share the results with the St. Maarten Non-Profit Sector, Government, funders and other national and international stakeholders.”

Cassandra Richardson, NPOwer Project Coordinator further explains that several NPOs and volunteers usually “step-up and take care of the community in times of crisis”. Ms. Richardson expressed further, “we experienced this during hurricane Irma and many hurricanes before and it will be no different with this crisis.”

The survey is not to only capture the reality of how NPO’s are operating in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, we also hope to show trends of how the St. Maarten society on a whole is reacting as a result of this crisis.

As mentioned above, NPOs will be able to already access the survey as they received an email concerning this initiative. The survey can also be accessed through the NPOwer website at https://www.npowersxm.com/ or by opening the link https://bit.ly/NPOwer-survey.

All non-profit organizations are asked to fill out the survey this week. For more information organizations can contact NPOwer by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling

581 5050.

For those organizations who have not yet joined the NPOwer online database with already over 85 organizations, they are invited to do so and make themselves visible to St. Maarten and abroad.

“Helping NPOwer to build its data base helps with administering research, provide vital information to NPO’s and helps to get your own organization’s information to other NPO’s as well”, according to Ms. Richardson

NPOwer is a project of the Foresee (4C) Foundation and mandated to support in capacity building and connect the St. Maarten NPO community, the statement from the NPOwer Team, Cassandra Richardson and Jose Sommers said on Sunday.

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VNP Head at Port to Welcome the Karel Doorman

SINT MAARTEN (POINT BLANCHE) - Head of the Office of Dutch Representation in Sint Maarten (VNP), Chris Johnson, on Friday was at Port St. Maarten to welcome the ZM Karel Doorman.

Royal Netherlands Navy Ship Karel Doorman arrived on St Maarten as part of the military assistance to the Dutch Caribbean, the VNP said in a press statement on Friday.

On hand to welcome the ship were representatives of locally stationed marines, the Marechaussee, as well as the Dutch Representation Office VNP.

The VNP statement further says: The ship and crew can support the islands in border surveillance, food security, and help maintain public order if necessary. There are also medical facilities and personnel on the ship, amongst other services to aid in the corona-crisis.

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Dutch Navy’s Largest Vessel HNLMS Karel Doorman Arrives at Port St. Maarten on Friday

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The Royal Netherlands Navy’s biggest ship, the HNLMS Karel Doorman A-833, a Joint Support Ship (JSS), arrived on Friday at Port St. Maarten after its trans-Atlantic crossing from Den Helder on April 13 in the Netherlands.

The vessel was deployed by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence to support the civilian authorities in the fight against the coronavirus disease COVID-19 when and where this is required. The ship has been deployed for an initial three-month period according to the Ministry of Defence.

The HNLMS Karel Doorman brought in disaster relief supplies along with a number of vehicles for the emergency phase of post Hurricane Irma/Maria in 2017.

The HNLMS Karel Doorman consignment in 2017 was the single largest shipment of relief goods Post-Hurricane Irma comprising of goods with a total weight of over one million kilos and valued at an estimated one million Euros.

The Karel Doorman with a length of 204.7 meters, is a multi-functional logistical support vessel for amphibious operations that can be deployed to supply units at sea, for strategic sea transport, and for logistical support from the sea, with the ship acting as a seaborne base for implementing and supporting land operations.

The HNLMS Karel Doorman has 2,000 lane meters for transport of material such as tracked and wheeled vehicles or containers; has an elevator and crane for up to 40 tons; a roll on/roll off facility for vehicles, and a steel beach stern construction for accommodating cargo transfer via landing craft.

The vessel features a below-deck transport holding area, medical facilities (20 treatment areas, two surgery rooms), loading/unloading equipment, a helicopter deck with two landing pads for different types of helicopters; displacement of 27,800 long tons; beam of 30.4 meters; draught of 7.8 meters; speed of 18 knots; range of 9,800 nautical miles; 150 crew and 150 non-enlisted persons.

The Karel Doorman was built at Damen’s Shipyard in Romania, but was fitted out in Vlissingen, the Netherlands. The vessel costs US$480 million to build and was built between 2011-2014, and commissioned in April 2015.

The Royal Netherlands Navy deploys the vessel both at home and abroad for crisis management operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The Royal Netherlands Navy is the oldest of the four Services of the Netherlands Armed Forces.

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Louis L. Duzanson, author, election expert, dies at 71 by Lasana M. Sekou

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY – Obituary) - The author Louis L. Duzanson passed away in St. Martin on April 16, 2020. He was 71.

He leaves his beloved wife Oretha and many family members. He also leaves several friends and colleagues throughout the island and abroad.

Louis L. Duzanson was born on November 16, 1948, in San Nicolas, Aruba. His early schooling was completed at St. Joseph School in St. Martin, his family’s homeland. From 1966 to 1971, he studied public administration at Bestuurschool Overijsel and document management at Studiekring Overheidsdocumentatie in the Netherlands.

Between 1975 and 1991, Mr. Duzanson headed the legal affairs and archives departments for the “island territory of St. Maarten,” which was part of the Territory of the Netherlands Antilles. During that time he also “Functioned” as island secretary and acting island secretary.

In 1994, the career civil servant chaired the working group that investigated the commission to evaluate Dutch “higher supervision” on the territory’s government. By the late 1990s, Mr. Duzanson was head of the Facilitation (general affairs) department.

Mr. Duzanson was an advisor to government on electoral matters from 1979, and invariably well after the territory’s adjusted autonomy in 2010. Politicians, scholars, and the media often consulted this leading election expert on bureaucracy, archival searches, and government history.

Between February 2010 and February 2014, Mr. Duzanson chaired the Corporate Governance Council (CGC) in Great Bay. At the end of the first term of the five-member CGC in 2013, he said that, “Shining the spotlight on where good governance is lacking is not a popular act, but an eminently important one” for political maturity. (bearingpointcaribbean.com)

In 2000, House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) published An Introduction to Government – Island territory of St. Maarten by Louis Duzanson. The book was launched before an audience of over 100 guests at Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

According to HNP, the book was “The first a-b-c reader written in English in St. Martin about the workings of the legislature, executive, and supervisory branches of the government of the island territory of St. Maarten.” (houseofnehesipublish.com)

In The Daily Herald of March 1, 2000, Mr. Duzanson said that, “There’s a need for English written text on St. Maarten Government.” He had “received positive feedback from the community about the book” and “hoped it will be adopted by the local schools.”

In 2003, An Introduction to Government was reprinted.

The author was “one of the most knowledgeable St. Martiners on the question of ‘What is good governance?’,” said Shujah Reiph. In 2000, Reiph had obtained a rare interview for “Consciously Lyrics” with Mr. Duzanson discussing good governance. The program will air on SOS Radio 95.9 FM, Saturday, April 25, 2020, at 12 noon.

Mr. Duzanson was known island-wide for his thorough knowledge of government history and public administration relative to the Southern part of St. Martin. Mr. Duzanson was also “loved and highly respected by all who had the privilege to work and be trained by him for decades. He was particularly skilled in document registration and archiving,” said drs. Gracita Arrindell, a former president of parliament.

“His work went far beyond the correct and timely processing of documents” or “traversing the corridors of the government … . He was generous in sharing his knowledge of past administration events. He explained the how, when and why a particular important decision was made and by whom. In this position of trust, Mr. Duzanson never compromised his integrity,” said drs. Arrindell last Monday in soualiganewsday.com.

Media people would probably agree that when any one of their members got hold of Mr. Duzanson he would graciously answer questions, especially about the bureaucracy and electoral system. But he was extremely self-effacing and elusive when it came to an in-depth interview about his life and career achievements.

In what might have been the closest to an early full-length interview with Mr. Duzanson, he was called “St. Martin’s ultimate civil servant” and “a man of integrity” in the St. Martin Newsday of February 13, 1998. His “initial desire … to become a French school teacher” was mentioned in the article.

Louis L. Duzanson also wrote articles on the election process that appeared in NewsdayThe St. Maarten GuardianThe Chronicle, and The Civil Server.

The hobbies of Lions Club member included baseball, and, as he once told his publisher, “reading up on legal issues and history.”

Farewell, Mr. Duzanson.

IntroGov

An Introduction to Government – Island territory of St. Maarten by Louis Duzanson (HNP, 2000).

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The EU and Latin America and the Caribbean: joining efforts against the Coronavirus

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN (COMMENTARY - by Josep Borrell Fontelles) - A few years ago, the European Union placed the concept of resilience at the center of its Global and Security Strategy. In a more complex, contested and interconnected world, it was assumed that security and well-being were going to face new geopolitical challenges as well as the transnational risks derived from globalization. This required strengthening the capacity of each country to fit in and overcome an external shock. This is an objective of our international cooperation, but it also challenges an EU that knows that it is vulnerable to these risks.

Today, the coronavirus is a critical test of resilience for societies, economies, and governance around the world. In the face of a global pandemic, there is no room for exclusively national responses or an interested use of cooperation or economic power for geopolitical purposes. To be sure, there are different capacities and responsibilities to start with, but without mutual support or joint global actions, the impact of the disease can be even more devastating for everyone.

The European Union and its citizens are going through very hard times. But we are aware that to overcome the pandemic we must cooperate with all our partners, working side by side. And we know this because we have been doing it for decades throughout the world, facing other shared challenges, and in particular in Latin America and the Caribbean. And that is why, despite our own difficulties, the European Union has decided to immediately reorient the technical and financial cooperation programs with Latin America and the Caribbean to respond to this pandemic, with a total of 918 million Euros, as part of the global response in support of the efforts of partner countries to tackle COVID-19. Thus, 9 million Euros will be allocated to finance the work of the Pan American Health Organization [PAHO] and the International Federation of the Red Cross in Venezuela and neighbouring countries.

In the Caribbean, the EU is supporting the CARPHA Public Health Agency with 9 million Euros, and specifically in Jamaica, the EU has financed 29 ventilators for intensive care units. Both Guyana and Suriname will benefit from the CARPHA and PAHO interventions. Furthermore, the European Investment Bank has already announced that it will mobilize up to 5.2 billion Euros to respond to urgent financing needs in more than 100 countries worldwide.

For the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), the European Union via its Delegation in Guyana which has responsibility for Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Saint-Barthélemy, St Eustatius and St Maarten last week announced a  highly important and sizeable 10 M Euro special facility to support the OCTs as they face the enormous resilience challenges that the COVID-19 crisis has further precipitated. The RESEMBID (Resilience, Sustainable Energy, and Marine Biodiversity Programme) COVID-19 resilience response facility is endowed with a 10 MEuro technical assistance mechanism that has been purpose-designed to provide a ready, highly flexible response. The facility is an immediate response to help the OCTs as it has been incorporated into the existing EU-funded programme for Caribbean OCTs which has been in operation from its base on St Maarten.

Beyond these resources, where our strategic partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean can be most effective, is promoting together a robust coordinated and multilateral response. Our regions have known how to respond to the health crisis, applying drastic but necessary measures such as social distancing or confinement. But the health crisis knows no borders, regions or countries. The challenge has only just begun. The coronavirus is causing a global economic crisis, which will increase inequalities and more severely affect the most vulnerable. Europe and Latin America can do much more if we act together, advancing a multilateral agenda in the G20, the UN and the multilateral financial institutions so that there is more fiscal space to avoid health collapse, economic collapse and a serious social crisis.

The IMF and the World Bank have already announced lines of financing and debt relief for the poorest countries, but the middle-income countries burdened by high indebtedness should not be forgotten.

The coronavirus is an unprecedented challenge to the global economy. An effective response will need to mobilize international collective action. The EU and Latin America and the Caribbean - an association of 60 countries - must join forces again. It is in times of acute crisis when the ties between friendly countries are tested. And this crisis has once again reminded us that our resilience also depends on international cooperation. We will only come out of this crisis together.

Author:

By Josep Borrell Fontelles, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission.

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CBCS response to media reports regarding foreign exchange reserves

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - The Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) has recommended the governments of Curaçao and Sint Maarten to invoke article 36 of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in order to obtain aid from the Netherlands for financing the national budgets, safeguarding employment, and - if needed - financing the balance of payments.

The foreign exchange reserves are managed by the CBCS, who must ensure a sufficient supply of foreign exchange for the unhampered execution of foreign transactions. By doing so, the confidence in the fixed peg of the NAf to the US dollar can be maintained.

Thus, contrary to what certain media are proposing, foreign exchange reserves cannot serve to finance the support programs. Furthermore, the support programs of the countries Curaçao and Sint Maarten are aimed at maintaining a certain level of spending to meet the minimum needs of affected citizens and companies, which - through imports - causes pressure on the foreign exchange reserves.

However, by receiving funding from abroad, in particular the Netherlands, for financing of the support programs, a compensating foreign exchange inflow is ensured. Prior to the closing of the borders, the import coverage was 3.8 months, which is a comfortable level.

After having received the first instalment of the liquidity support from the Netherlands, the import coverage even exceeded temporarily 4 months of imports. “CBCS is committed to safeguarding the stability of the peg of the NAf to the US dollar and will use all necessary instruments to that purpose, as was successfully done in the past”, according to the acting CBCS-president, Mr. Jose Jardim.

CBCS will thus continue its efforts to finance the economy, without failing its primary monetary task. The measure implemented by the CBCS on March 20, whereby foreign exchange licenses are no longer granted for capital transactions that result in an immediate drop in foreign exchange reserves, remains in effect until further notice.

Depending on the further developments, additional measures may be announced. “CBCS will also assist the countries in drafting a plan for financial-economic recovery geared at enhancing the competitiveness of the monetary union as well as strengthening the sustainability of the public finances of both countries”, said Mr. Jardim.

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Curacao looking at reopening schools after April 27

CURACAO – Curacao schools may reopen in the week of April 27. The Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath, who is acting minister of education, indicated that schools will reopen step by step based on consultations with the various school boards.

Preparations for schools to reopen are underway Rhuggenaath disclosed. Schools have been closed since March 17. Additional information will be disclosed about the reopening of schools and how that will unfold in the coming days.

Epidemiologist Dr. Izzy Gertsenbluth says he expects more infections to become known to health authorities once a phased easement in COVID-19 measures have been implemented.

He added during one of his recent briefings that the medical facilities on the island are now in the position to handle additional infections. The country has 14 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases with one still inconclusive but is being treated as a positive case. This person is in isolation.

286 persons have been tested so far; 11 have recovered; 12 are in travel-related quarantine.

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Statia introduces protocol on admission for entry

SINT EUSTATIUS - The Public Entity of St. Eustatius, in close collaboration and consultation with the Health Insurance Office (ZVK) and its own Public Health Department (GGD), has introduced a protocol outlining the procedure and rules, under which persons can be granted permission to enter the island.

This protocol is in effect for the period of the current Emergency Ordinance that ends on April 30th. “The situation continues to change daily, and St. Eustatius is taking all the necessary precautions to contain this virus in light of the relatively small scale and limited medical capacity on the island”.

The general principles of this protocol take into account the 4th Emergency Ordinance that is in effect until April 30th. Exemptions are possible however each situation will be handled on a case per case basis by Government Commissioner. Only persons with a valid residency permit, who are registered in the Civil Registry (Census Office) of St. Eustatius and are holders of a valid ID card will be allowed entry. Persons identified as “suspect” COVID patients will not be granted permission to enter St. Eustatius.

Permission and non-permission for specific groups of persons are clearly identified in the protocol. Permission will be granted for essential workers and returning patients and accompany on strict guidelines. Entry for essential workers will be granted by Government Commissioner, on a case per case basis. This can imply requirements for the travel route to minimize the chance of infection.

The advice of the Public Health Department is required before permission is granted for the return of ZVK patients and accompany to St. Eustatius. Patients who will require hospital treatment upon their return and patients who will be a burden on the available medical capacity while being in quarantine, will not be granted permission to return. Patients who will not be a burden on the available medical capacity while being in quarantine will be allowed to return. The accompany will also be allowed to return with the patient and will also be placed in quarantine.

Persons who fall in other categories will not be granted entry. On a case by case basis the Government Commissioner can make an exemption based on humanitarian reasons. “The protocol where outlines that, during the current situation, the maximum of number of persons in quarantine and or isolation on St. Eustatius at the same time should not exceed 15. All incoming persons will be placed in quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. It is possible to shorten the quarantine period provided there is adequate proof of quarantine prior arrival in St. Eustatius”, says Government Commissioner, Marnix van Rij.

The Public Entity of St. Eustatius is further sharpening travel and quarantine conditions for persons allowed to enter St. Eustatius. The number of passengers in the aircraft must allow social distancing during the flight. All passengers most put on a mask before boarding the aircraft.

All persons onboard the aircraft (pilot and passengers) must wear a mask. Charter airlines must supply their pilots with masks. Once the aircraft has landed at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Airport of St. Eustatius, arriving passengers are required to follow the orders of the Public Health Department.

The Public Health Department will transport these persons to the quarantine location. Masks (FFp1 quality) may not be removed until after the person has arrived at their quarantine location assigned by the Public Health Department. “Stakeholders have agreed to these extra precautionary measures, taken in an attempt to ensure there is no new import of the COVID virus to St. Eustatius.

A Hospitainer will arrive here next week. We will then make all the necessary arrangements to have this set up and operational within the soonest time possible. Until then no exceptions can be made”, Marnix van Rij. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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