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DP ROLLS OUT ITS PLANS FOR THE COMING SIX MONTHS. FIRST UP IS A FAMILY FUN DAY

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With its interim board in place and this board’s first meeting held on February 3rd, the Democratic Party (DP) over the weekend outlined the activities for the coming months, the party said in a press release on Sunday.

DP leader Sarah Wescot stated that the 11-member board has divided the tasks among themselves, electing Mr. A. Roberto Richardson as its president.

The first meeting was an introductory meeting, the party leader further explained, but the board also discussed the outline of the party’s upcoming events.

The first event is on Saturday, February 25th, when the Party will be having its first Family Fun Day in a very long time, at the traditional location of Kimsha beach.

DP leader, MP Wescot-Williams explained that while this beach is quite crowded nowadays, the party has teamed up with one of the local restauranteurs, where food and drinks will be on sale.

“The exciting part of this event are the games and the prizes that can be won, such as weekend getaways, electronics, and cash prizes for young and old.

The prize announcements will take place at specific times during the day, so the public is encouraged to follow the party online for more information and times.”

“Following the February family fun day, our sight is set on March, during which month in our view, the focus needs to be on Women; celebrating our achievements, acknowledging our challenges, and issuing a call to action. Our women’s day event is scheduled for March 19th and with a dynamic visiting speaker, women have an exciting event to look forward to.”

“Furthermore, it is the party’s intention to launch its sustainable economic plan during the month of June in a very innovative and interactive manner. This is an important milestone in the party’s program of events as we believe that prosperity for all only comes when we work together and acknowledge how all sectors play a role in securing a sustainable future.”

Some of these events will be to raise funds, but especially with the roll-out of the sustainable economic plan, we want to make it clear that no economic plan or vision, if not collectively endorsed has a chance of success. Endorsed not only by a party or selected individuals, but rather by the community at large. “People need to see themselves in this plan.”

This plan will also serve as a beacon of hope for the business community and regenerate an entrepreneurial spirit from the smallest entrepreneurs to the larger corporations. Currently, the business sector feels lost and the disconnect is evident, commented the DP leader.

“So, while we bring back that spirit of family and community, we cannot lose from sight the larger economic picture that will spur jobs and new economic opportunities.

In concluding, let me again remind the public of the February 25th family fun day at Kimsha beach, starting at 10 am, which   will be one to remember, so I encourage the entire population to join us “under the lighthouse” banner, DP leader Wescot-Williams concluded.

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Rally Ho! CMC V Cruising Rally to Anguilla Highlights Busy Day 2

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - It’s a tale of two separate events, with different vibes and energy, happening concurrently in this fifth edition of the Caribbean Multihull Challenge. In our parallel universes, on one hand, CMC V is what it’s always been: A showcase of competitive racing prowess from a wide variety of slick catamarans and trimarans. This year, CMC V has also introduced and welcomed a whole new fleet of cruising sailors in a dedicated rally where the whole idea is fine sailing, great parties and making new friends.

And the latter was definitely on display today when the dozen yachts representing the CMC Multihull Rally field set sail from Anse Marcel on St. Maartin’s French side for a windy crossing of the Anguilla Channel and on to an anchorage on Anguilla’s Road Bay, where live music and libations awaited at the aptly named Lit Lounge.

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It’s no secret to anyone who has attended any of the world’s best sailboat shows in the last decade that multihulls are easily the fastest growing segment of the sailing sector of the marine industry. For the CMC Rally, a wide range of brands and models are on the water, led by a half-dozen Balance Catamarans, the sleek daggerboard-equipped performance cats produced in South Africa, which has become one of the leading producers of cruising catamarans. France, of course, is the other main player, and the CMC is well represented with French boats from Lagoon, Outremer, Nautitech and Neel Trimarans. Like the sailors themselves, and the three separate island nations they’ll visit over the course of the event, the CMC Rally is an international affair.

Prior to the Rally start, Phil Berman, the force behind Balance cats, talked about what drew so many of his boats to the CMC Rally. “We’re trying to build a community with our Balance family, and this was just the perfect venue to bring our owners together,” he said. “We’ve all become friends and just enjoy hanging out. I’d say three-quarters of our owners never race, but everyone loves to sail and the Caribbean is all about great sailing. We had six boats and could’ve had more, but we have two couples sailing who have boats being built who are sailing with current owners. We did a group photo today of all out boats under sail which was like herding cats, but it made for some great pictures.”

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Race Competitor CMC V: Fujin. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.

Then it was off to Anse Marcel. “The Marina, and the Blue Sail Hôtel and Restaurant welcomed us with open arms,” said CMC director of marketing Steve Burzon. “All the rally boats in the gorgeous Anse Marcel anchorage added to the beauty there. There was a wonderful party Friday night with great music and lots of Amstel Bright beer. All restaurants were open to serve our 60 guests. All clearances in and out of the three countries making up the rally itinerary have been easy thanks to the St. Maarten Yacht Club’s social committee volunteers and the yacht club office.”

Once underway again, there were photo ops galore this morning as well, as CMC’s Burzon set a departure line off Anse Marcel and the fleet set sail across a very sporty, whitecap-flecked, wave-tossed Anguilla Channel. Sailing a deep broad reach just as the sun popped through the cloudy skies, the Balance 482, Catalyst, was the first boat to conduct a perfect spinnaker set and performed what was probably the most impressive departure. Two more Balance 482’s, Rodeless and Zephyr, soon followed suit, and before long the horizon was dotted with colorful sails. Nearly every boat hoisted a reefed main with the exception of the Balance 442 Umoya, which went without a mainsail but instead flew a unique Parasailor winged spinnaker, which was a remarkable sight unto itself. Before too long, the fleet vanished to the west, on to its next collective adventure.

Along with the sailing, the Rally entries are completing an estimated time schedule and a Rally Bingo Card for additional prizes. The latter includes 24 challenges, including Group Picture, Song Sung w/Whole Crew, Sailing Backwards and many others. With the completed challenges making their way back to race headquarters at the St. Maarten Yacht Club, it’s clear that many crews are having a fine time filling out their cards.

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Rally Participant CMC V: Little Wing. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.

Meanwhile, back along the south shore of St. Maarten, the racers got back into action. And there was plenty of it across all four racing divisions. And once again, at the forefront of it all, Greg Slyngstad’s 53-foot Fujin was taking names and kicking butts.

In the second act of what has become the CMC’s Triple Crown of offshore races, Fujin dominated CSA 1 in the Caribbean 60 Mile Multihull Sprint sponsored by FKG Rigging, a circumnavigation of St. Barth’s, in the blistering elapsed time of 4h, 15m, 20s.

The CSA 2 class has become a match-race duel between a pair of superbly sailed trimarans, the classic Newick-designed Tryst, skippered by Arthur Banting, and what is easily the most improved competitor from last year’s regatta, Marcos Sirata’s Corsair 37, Honey Badger. In today’s wildest finish, Honey Badger was leading on elapsed time in the 27-mile around-the-island race but cut the last mark and made for the finish line. The crew soon realized its mistake and turned around to honor the last mark, but in the mean-time Tryst went ahead and crossed the line first, and also saved their time on corrected time to win the class.

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Race Competitor CMC V: Honey Badger. Photo Credit Laurens Morel / Salty Colours.

Also today, CSA 3 and the Diam 24 one-design class had repeat winners from day one in their respective classes, with Georges Coutu’s Leopard 50, La Novia, and Pierre Altier’s Cry Baby once again topping their competition.

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Meda discovers “disgrace” at Marigot Hill

SINT MAARTEN (MARIGOT HILL) - Democratic Party (DP) Candidate Armand Meda's campaign support team visited Marigot Hill Border last week and saw what Armand Meda described as a "disgrace" not only to the Kingdom, but even more to the people of St. Maarten. He was commenting on the torn Dutch flag and the completely ripped off from the pole St. Maarten's flag. 

"It was surprising, shocking and plain out disrespectful. It's a slap in the face to all those who are patriots of this land we call home. It's an insult to those who respect and love this island. While clearly yet again St. Maarten's Government has failed to maintain the flags that represent St. Maarten, and our Kingdom partner, clearly the French side authorities did their job, unfortunately the same cannot be said for the NA-led Government," Meda said.

In the photo the flags of the European Union and France were intact while the St. Maarten flag was ripped from the pole and caught up in barbwires, and the Dutch flag were completely torn in half. Meda continued by stating "The buck stops with the Minister of General Affairs which is our Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs. I seriously wonder how long these flags were in this dilapidated state. When last the flags were maintained or changed? How many times Dutch Side authorities goes up the hill to check on the flags? Do these flags remain flying after sundown? Is the Prime Minister aware that flags that remains flying at night should at all times be illuminated with light?"

"This is the height of incompetence by the office of the Prime Minister, and there should be no excuse in the book for this one. The Prime Minister needs to apologize to The Netherlands and the People of St. Maarten," Armand Meda concluded.

Hopefully these flags are fixed by the time this reach the newspaper.

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Minister Ottley: Cay Bay Basketball court is “lit” again

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – On Thursday February 2nd, the Honorable Minister of Public Health Social Development and Labor, Omar Ottley accompanied by Community Development Family and Humanitarian Affairs Department (CDFHA) gathered at the Cay Bay Basketball court to celebrate the lighting of the court.

“The court has been without lights since the passing of hurricane Irma, we waited five and a half years to shine bright again, and we are thankful,” said Cay Bay community members.

Minister Ottley stated, “It was such a pleasure to witness the youths immediately playing basketball when the lights came on.”

After the St. Peters basketball court received lights; members of the Cay Bay community reached out to CDFHA to request the same assistance for lighting the Cay Bay basketball court.

With no hesitation Minister Ottley met with the head of CDFHA, Mrs. Chantale George - Groeneveldt and planned how they can assist with the lighting of the Cay Bay basketball court also.

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SCDF Road to Carnival runs through Da BiG BaD XP's Backyard Jam

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Carnival development Foundation (SCDF) on Thursday said it is excited an looking forward to being part of the second edition of Da BiG BaD XP's " Backyard Jam Session".

President of the SCDF Edwardo Radjouki said Da Backyard Jam Session is exactly the kind of event that the Carnival foundation should start to support in order to bring the festival back to its roots.

"You can't get more 'roots' than a cultural backyard jam session in the district of Middle Region. It is a unique Road to Carnival (RTC) event that is grass-roots and a gesture by the XP Band to give back," Radjouki explained.

Da Backyard Jam Session is the brainchild of the members of the band who simply wanted to give back to their village of Middle Region and whomever else wish to just have a good time and enjoy great music.

It is scheduled to be held on Saturday, April 1, in the backyard of the York family, childhood home of band members DwayneE and . The band approached SCDF late in 2022 with the idea of turning the session into one of its RTC's.

The event will also feature a raffle of a Carnival Season Pass courtesy of the SCDF and giveaways courtesy of the TelEM Group of Companies who are the sponsors of SCDF's RTC events.

Radjouki said the band is taking time out to give back to fans and supporters and that should be commended. “We should also recognize their family for opening their property so the community can enjoy culture in a cultural setting,” he said.

“We had about 500 + persons and close to a ton of barbecue coupled with energetic performances and cold beverages to wash it all down simply because we Love Our People.” exclaimed.

"What's more cultural than music, food and reminiscing in a back yard? Backyards are mini Carnival Villages as was evident in the 2022 edition. We are looking forward to a fun Backyard Jam," Radjouki said.

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WITU calls the letter of PM unacceptable

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) is calling on the Council of Ministers under the guidance of the Honorable Prime Minister (PM) Silveria Jacobs to reconsider its letter dated, January 27, 2023, titled, “the Temporary National Ordinance Covid-19 cuts in employment conditions for public servants.”

The letter sent to all Public Servants outlines the lifting of the cost-cutting measures that affected the Country due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The letter addressed vacation days, Vacation Pay, Salary increments, Indexing, and overtime.

“This letter sent to all Public Servants is unacceptable especially since no dialogue with unions has been sought,” remarked Stuart Johnson President of the WITU.  

In the opinion of the WITU, there is a number of issues mentioned within the letter that must be still discussed and addressed.

“You simply cannot pretend that the salary increments, indexing, and the outstanding vacation allowance owed to Civil Servants will just vanish,” Johnson said.

He added, “I have called on my colleague unions collectively and through the Windward Islands Chamber of Labor Unions (WICLU) to meet urgently to address this letter sent to Public Servants.”

WITU has had several general membership meetings with its membership, which has been expecting to see a number of concerns being addressed properly by the Government. 

“This letter speaks volumes and it’s a tipping point to the WITU membership which considers it unacceptable in these challenging times,” Johnson concluded. 

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Minister Ottley visits the recipients of the CDFHA home repair project

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Honorable Minister Omar Ottley conducted a follow up walkthrough of the residences of the home repair project recipients. The home repair project targeted seniors, the disabled, single parents, and unemployed individuals whose homes were damaged by the 2017 hurricanes and lacked the financial means to repair them.

In the first cohort of the home repair project, a total of twelve homes were fixed. The purpose of the walkthrough was to personally observe how the repairs were performed and to obtain feedback from the recipients.

“It was an honor to get this project off the ground and assist the most vulnerable. Seeing the satisfaction on the faces of the homeowners made this project worth it. We look forward to starting the second phase of the project during the first quarter of this year,” said Minister Ottley.

The beneficiaries were pleased and expressed their gratitude to Minister Ottley for repairs to their homes. This is one of the numerous ongoing projects that Ministry VSA has implemented to guarantee that the needs of the vulnerable groups in our community are met.

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FYI FOUNDATION HOSTS FIRST EVER BASKETBALL ON STILTS DISPLAY GAMES

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - This past weekend history was made in the sports arena on St. Martin with the introduction of a fusion game basketball on stilts at the L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium.

The game was created by the Funtopia youth initiative foundation as a part of the stilt walking training to help the students with their agility on stilts. The game distracts the children’s mind when learning to walk they no longer think about failing or balancing their focus shifts to maneuvering their body on the stilts to catch the ball and make a score with their teammates.

Without knowing the students are running, jumping, and squatting using full body motion on the stilts.

The game was initially developed in 2014 when training our first set of walkers when we started the stilt training program in 2021 with UNESCO, we saw the need to explore the game rules more in order to have 2 teams play full court.

The main rule of the game is to score points by tossing the ball to team mates using most of the rules of net ball. Because of the distance from the floor only cross bouncing is allowed and over and under hand tossing. Says foundation president Lucinda Audain.

Over the weekend we had several schools that have been a part of our stilt training program participate in the friendly display games as an opening for the basketball with characters and senior basketball tournament hosted by St. Martin First foundation and Dream chasers.

The kids played 2 quarters for 10 minutes on court to showcase their skills and introduce the sport to the audience with hopes to spark interest in more children to join the program.

On Thursday 27 January students from Martin Luther King School played Oranje school students. Score 1 – 5. Top scorer was Elianna Morris from Oranje School. On Friday 28 January students from MAC Primary Rev. John A. Gumbs Campus played students from Sister Marie Laurens and

Martin Luther King School. Score 4-4 top score Abigale Smith from Sister Marie Laurens school. On Saturday 28 students from Hillside Christian school Asha Stevens played students from Hillside Christian school Helmich Snijders. Score 14 – 12 top scorers Nessiah and Nahjah Munoz.

An additional highlight of the weekend was the colorful display of stilt walkers long the Walter Nisbeth Road for the mini cultural parade which was the longest walk for most of the junior walkers accompanied by Generation New Status drum band and DJ Vybz.

This was a delightful round off to the introduction to moko Jumbie culture project. This project was supported by the following institutions the Government of the Netherlands under the Sint Maarten Trust fund, implemented by Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR), administered by VNGI, and overseen by The World Bank.

The foundation would like to thank the community for coming out to support the initiative and the parents for allowing the students to participate. Persons interested in learning stilts walking can contact the foundation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

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Foundations working together for the betterment of the St. Peters Basketball Court

SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - Funtopia Youth Initiative Foundation has been in collaboration with the St. Peters Community Center. As a contribution for supporting the foundation’s program, “Introducing Moko Jumbie Culture in St. Martin”, the foundation has donated garbage bins and cleaning material to the St. Peters Community Center.

The Basketball court was used as a central point for their afterschool program for students ages 7 to 12 during the new school.

Beautiful green garbage has been secured around the court and playground area with the message, “Do your part by keeping the basketball court clean and safe for the children of the community to play.”

This project is supported by the following institutions the Government of the Netherlands

under the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, implemented by Resources for Community Resilience (R4CR), administered by VNGI, and overseen by The World Bank.

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Sarah proposes a stronger and binding declaration by candidates in electoral reform

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams continues her push for electoral reform, proposes a stronger and binding declaration by candidates, agreeing to run on a particular party’s slate, the MP said in a press statement on Wednesday evening.

Last year as parliament announced its trajectory for electoral reform, primarily via adjustments to several laws, and had prepared to outsource the work of drafting these laws, the government announced its own electoral reform trajectory, that included a survey amongst the population.

I was not overly impressed by the route taken by the government of St. Maarten, as it appeared a tad bit late and overly propagandistic, commented MP Wescot.

“There are several issues that require no rocket science to establish that changes and or reforms are a necessary part of any electoral reform. These are, amongst others, the dissolution article in the Constitution of St. Maarten and the no-confidence article, suspension of MPs etc.”.

On the level of the political and electoral ordinances, there are also changes that could contribute to a more modern way of voting and better embedding of the party-political system, MP Wescot remarked.

“In the past weeks, the government has hinted at a snap parliamentary election, only to quickly nuance that position with “legal advice is needed”. In my view, it is quite clear, the only way a snap election can be called is on the basis on taking a decision to dissolve parliament.”

I have the distinct impression that the government has taken the onus away from the legality of the dissolution, which by the way should always come first, and is now looking at preferred election timing.

This thought pattern is inherently wrong, according to MP Wescot, as she queries, “No campaign during Christmas time, no campaign during summer, none during the hurricane season, none during carnival etc. etc., where will it stop?”

Based on this flawed reasoning by the government of St. Maarten, I have asked the Prime Minister to provide answers to the following questions:

  • Please provide an update with regard to Government’s electoral reform trajectory. In August last year you announced to Parliament the intention to hold a symposium and town hall meetings on this topic. Did these take place? If not, why not? What were the results?
  • What is Government’s position on dissolving Parliament and calling a Parliamentary Election in 2023? Has this been discussed by the Council of Ministers?
  • Are you aware of the evolution of this constitutional instrument (dissolution of the legislature) in the Netherlands, which served as the basis for the inclusion in the Constitution of St. Maarten?
  • What are your thoughts on consulting Parliament on any intention to apply Article 59 of the Constitution?
  • Can you provide me with Government’s view on the essentials of Article 59 of the Constitution, and specifically the historic legal rationale behind this article.
  • If it is Government’s intention to dissolve Parliament prematurely and call election, are there any electoral reform items Government intends to introduce before any election is called? If so, what are these items?

And recalling 2 distinct and in my opinion achievable proposals from MPs Heyliger-Marten and Gumbs, I asked:

  • Has Government taken a final position on the proposals from 2 Members of Parliament to limit potential electoral fraud?

In proposing some further election reform measures, I suggested that the council of ministers considers strengthening the party-political system by

  • i) every political party having to prove sufficient support for its candidates’ list (sort of a pre-election) and,
  • ii) giving more content to the individual candidate’s declaration of agreement with the list on which he/she appears (Article 25, Election Ordinance), e.g., by adding a covenant that the candidate is aware and in agreement with the main views, direction and principles of the party and thereto concurs to participate as a candidate for party X or Y.

And finally, I wanted to know.

  • What the Government has done concretely towards strengthening the stability of Government, that the Government committed itself to from the get-go.
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