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Book week 2021 - Monday, October 25 through Saturday, October 30 at PJL Library

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Philipsburg Jubilee Library (PJL) invites the entire public to join us as we once again celebrate another exciting Book Week with its theme 'Read Anywhere, Any Time, Any Place'!, PJL said in a statement on Thursday.

One of the most interesting aspects of books is that you can read them at any time and any place, whether it is a physical book or an electronic one.  The Philipsburg Jubilee Library (PJL) starts 2021 book week with a book launch ceremony scheduled for Monday, October 25, 2021.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, students were invited to express their experiences in terms of a short story, a drawing, or a poet. With the assistance of corporate sponsors, your library produced a beautiful booklet that will be launched in the presence of his Excellency the Governor and the Honorable Minister of Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport.

The ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. in the parking lot of the former library building. Of course, some of the students will present their own experiences, and steel pan and drum band music will further lighten up the event.

It is an understatement, that reading is important in life. That’s why during the book week some extra attention will be given to what fun it is to read a book. Toddlers from different daycare centers are invited to come to the library with their teddy bears and together listen to a story “The Teddy Bear’. Primary school students are invited to draw a picture, depicting the book week theme.

There will be a grace period for the “Ooops, forgot to bring my books back”, until Saturday, October 30, 2021. And of course, special books will be displayed in each of the three locations.

The big bang will take place at a closing ceremony in collaboration with FLOW on Friday, October 29, 2021. The PJL Belvedere Satellite will be officially opened for the general public. The party starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. at our new Belvedere Satellite and includes a bouncing castle, a funny Disney character, our famous puppet show, and of course storytelling. Schools but also the general public, are invited to visit during the day.

In the meantime, become a member, and visit your library at one of our three locations. Opening hours are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Walter Nisbeth Road #3 in Philipsburg. Also, Monday to Friday from 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Cay Hill Satellite (on the premises of the Hillside Christian School) and the Belvedere Satellite (on the premises of the Belvedere Community Center).

Looking forward to your support and continued partnership in promoting reading as an essential aspect of human development.

Any questions? Call us at +1 721 542 2970, go to our website stmaartenlibrary.org, or follow us at Facebook stmaarten.pjlibrary or Twitter SXMlibrary.

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Lions Club celebrates Seniors Appreciation Month

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Sint Maarten Lions Club continued its celebration of Seniors Appreciation month last Friday, October 15, 2021, with 55 zealous and joyful senior citizens of the Home Away from Home Foundation.

The seniors were treated to a one-hour Health Awareness Talk by Mrs. Maria Chemont and an Exercise Session led by the Movement Specialist therapist, Adeo Admiraal of the White and Yellow Cross. At the end of the Sessions, after working up a good appetite for lunch, the seniors enjoyed a healthy, delicious meal and refreshments served by the members of the Lions Club.

Mrs. Maria Chemont is a retired Ambulance Assistant, former President of the WIEMS Foundation and an excellent counsellor and motivational speaker. The topic of discussion for the Health Talk was “Caring for Our Seniors During the COVID 19 Pandemic.” The speaker reiterated the importance of self-care to the seniors and gave practical tips together with multiple scenarios of how to stay safe, healthy and protected from COVID 19.

The Movement Therapist Adeo Admiraal has been working at the White and Yellow Cross for the last 2 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Kinetics Therapy from Utrecht, The Netherlands. The 45-minute movement Session with the seniors covered the basic moves needed to assist with general circulation. The movement patterns were easy to follow and seniors were able to complete each exercise whether they had the ability to sit on a chair or stand. The participants were all smiling and singing during the Kinetics Therapy Session as their exercises were accompanied by their favorite songs.

Several members of the Home Away from Home Foundation remarked that our seniors on the island sometimes feel isolated and commended this initiative to bridge the gap between isolated seniors and the community. Many others expressed their gratitude for the kind gesture and commented on the tasty meal servings. Others were thankful for the entertaining and informative Sessions and indicated their interest in doing this again in the near future.

President of the Sint Maarten Lions Club, Lion Linette Gibs stated: “The Sint Maarten Lions Club joins with other Lions Clubs around the world this month in participating in a “Hunger Awareness Service Challenge” issued by our International President, Lion Douglas Alexander. What better way to show our appreciation to our seniors than to spend some quality time with them and just have fun together. We are honored to be serving our seniors today and see their happy, smiling faces.”

Members of the Lions Club Organizing Committees of the Event added: “This was a great and joyful Event. Everyone had a fantastic time!”.  

The Sint Maarten Lions Club is committed to serving and meeting the needs of our community on the island. By uniting in Service, we uplift our community and our world.

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Rotary Sunset Launches Little Free Library At MLK

SINT MAARTEN (DUTCH QUARTER) - The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset launched its fifth Little Free Library on the island at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School in the presence of the school’s Adjunct School Manager, Tr. Minerva Marlin-Cooper, teachers and students as well as members of Rotary Sunset. The momentous launch took place on October 14th, 2021.

The concept of the Little Free Library was initially introduced in 2009 by Rotarian Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin and the idea quickly spread throughout thousands of communities in the United States, with the goal of creating awareness on the importance of literacy. The Little Free Library is certainly not a new one for the island of St. Martin, as Rotary Sunset initially introduced the first little free library in December 2018 with its initial launch on the Marigot Waterfront.

In addition, Rotary Sunset now has free little libraries located at the Raoul Illidge Sports Complex, Simpson Bay Community Center and at the University of St. Martin. The objective of the little free library is mainly to advocate the importance of reading and to promote literacy, a key area of focus for Rotary clubs worldwide.

“We received an outpouring of support and encouragement from members of the community with the installation of our first little library on the French side and we decided that there was a need to construct additional little libraries which will be installed at various locations around the island.

Today, we are extremely grateful for the support of the Management and staff of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School and for the generous donation of Rotarian Lionel Lawrence, who built and installed this little free library,” President Anatol stated.

Rotarian Lionel Lawrence in a brief statement expressed his gratitude and pride to Rotary Sunset and to MLK for permitting him the opportunity to give back to his community by not only contributing financially to this initiative but also trusting him to construct and install it, as well.

“My mother always told me that if you can’t read and write a dog is better off than you. Therefore, when this project arose, I personally endorsed it as I saw the importance to advocate and stimulate reading and literacy, amongst our youth, especially of Dutch Quarter and MLK. I always had an infinity to reading and by extension, writing, and when I heard that the club wanted to install a free little library in Dutch Quarter, I leaped at the opportunity and ensured that this project was executed and completed, with the very best in mind. Placing this free little library at this location, here in Dutch Quarter and MLK is personal for me, as I am not only a resident of Dutch Quarter, but I was born and raised right here in this district. Additionally, I am also a proud alumnus of MLK, so this gives me more than enough reasons, why we are here today. I encourage all those who will be utilizing the free little library to take good care of it, read as much as you can and treat it like a personal bookshelf in your home,” Rotarian Lawrence added.

MLK’s Adjunct School Manger, Tr. Minerva Marlin-Cooper, thanked the club for their efforts in the community and for considering MLK to house one of its little free libraries with MLK also being the first school on the island to have a free little library. Tr Marlin-Cooper along with MLK students, Rotary Sunset’s President Anatol, sponsor Rotarian Lionel Lawrence and his son, Aijden Lawrence, symbolically cut the ribbon to officially declare the free little library open to the public.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to encourage the general public to pass by the little library, take a book and leave a book. Members of the community are urged to donate books they are no longer using to either of the club’s little libraries. The club would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Rotarian Lionel Lawrence for his generous donation and to Jacques Annicette for his support and assistance towards this initiative.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset meets every second and fourth Monday of the month at Carl N Sons Unique Inn and Conference Facilities in Colebay at 7:30pm. Due to Covid19, the club currently meets via Zoom. The club can be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the official Facebook page at facebook.com/rotarysxmsunset.

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PFP pleased that historic Motion of Disapproval passes

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Party for Progress (PFP) Members of Parliament (MPs) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson are pleased that their Motion of Disapproval against Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert Doran received a substantial majority in the Public Meeting of Parliament on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.

The motion - the first of its kind in St. Maarten’s history as an autonomous country - had a total of ten (10) votes in favor and two (2) votes against. Stemming from Minister Doran’s questionable handling of the Vineyard Heights long-lease land controversy, the Sint Maarten Parliament has sent a strong message that it will not continue to tolerate the previous ad-hoc and obscure manner of granting government long-lease land.

MP Peterson, who presented the motion in the October 13, 2021, continuation of the Public Meeting, said it was PFP’s goal to present a viable alternative to the infamous Motion of No Confidence, which has been overused and abused in the country’s political landscape.

“A motion of disapproval, if you put it in private sector terms, can be considered like a warning letter,” Peterson explained. “Usually, the go-to motion in these cases is a ‘motion of no confidence’, which sends the Minister home. In fact, the rumor mill had been running wild with gossip that the Minister of VROMI was indeed facing a motion of no confidence. However, a Motion of Disapproval is a different path, one step below a motion of no confidence. It ultimately holds the Minister accountable while still maintaining the stability of Government.”

The motion calls on Minister Doran to create, implement and publish a long-lease land policy by December 1, 2021. This policy should utilize existing VROMI guidelines and require the government to follow up with applicants.

The motion also instructs Minister Doran to cease from issuing any long-lease land parcels in the Over the Bank area until the policy is in place, and resolve the current controversy by completely following the advice given by Landsadvocaat Gibson and Associates. Previously, Minister Doran had only partially followed the advice.

According to the motion, the Minister of VROMI will now publish a public notice, which will allow the previous 50 applicants to approach the VROMI Ministry and indicate whether they still want to pursue their land requests. Landsadvocaat Gibson and Associates had advised this measure, but Minister Doran had not done so.

“While the PFP faction strongly disapproves of the Minister’s handling of Vineyard Heights, we believe it does not benefit the country to immediately send the Minister home and put vital government services and departments in limbo. Instead, we opted for this avenue, which warns additional reprimands if good governance lapses are not fixed,” said MP Gumbs.

“I have been calling for an objective and transparent procedure in issuing government long-lease land, not only in Parliament, but from when I was a civil servant in the Organisation of Domain Affairs. I am happy to see that my calls have finally been heard, now in this form by my fellow MPs,” said MP Peterson. “In the preceding Public Meetings on the topic, Minister Doran has stated that he wants to be part of the change in government, to do things the right way. However, his lackluster responses to my questions, to those of my fellow MPs, and those of the Ombudsman has left me with little confidence that he would follow up his stated intentions with concrete and focused actions. This is why we presented the motion, and I urge the Minister to comply with its resolutions.”

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USP to restructure party operations in preparation for electoral cycle

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With an eye on the future and living up to its founding principles, the United St. Maarten (US) party is in the process of restructuring its board, party platform and representation in preparations for the upcoming electoral cycle, the US party said on Wednesday in a media statement.

The board of the US said that it is vital for any political organization to re-examine and plan for the future, especially in changing times. “Political parties are the major players in the democratic transitions. However, some have been unable to change their practices and/or adapt to ever changing realities, and have sometimes disappeared. As a party of the people, in which the people of St. Maarten have shown confidence multiple times, it behooves us to restructure where necessary,” the board said.

It added that changing times and international realities, along with the direct challenges presented in the aftermath of hurricane Irma and the ongoing pandemic, has not gone unnoticed by the USP. As such, the party said focused leadership, dedication to proper governance and an emphasis on ensuring that the people of St. Maarten have a clear understanding of the challenges that the country is facing is of the utmost importance.

The party board said the clear lack of consultation with the people of St. Maarten on vital issues does not equate to proper governance. Throughout the Caribbean, the US said, examples can be found of governments consulting their people prior to major decisions, decisions that will affect the lives of your very population.

“References to agreements signed by government on behalf of the people of St. Maarten in the form of country packages, COHO, liquidity support and the consequences of such have yet to be clearly explained. No democracy the world over has ever been run successfully without the full involvement of its people,” the US said.

The board of the party stressed that transparency is one of the core pillars of any democracy and the current governing coalition seems determined on using confidentiality as an excuse for its lack of transparency and misleading and mixed messaging as the order of the day.

“The country has no clear direction and the leadership void has been exasperated and highlighted by performances of ministers and the members of parliament in this NA/UUP coalition on the floor of Parliament. There has yet to be a decision made by either body that is not clouded in controversy.

How can the people of this country foster a sense of tranquility and hope that better days are coming without a clear understanding of what decisions are being made, and how those decisions are going effect their lives and livelihoods in the near future,” the board said.

It continued: “If the only clear decisions made thus far in the form of salary benefits and cuts, which as stated by government had no direct positive impact on its coffers, is any example of what’s to come, it would explain the smoke and mirrors governing style of this National Alliance led coalition.”

The party said it is fairly simple and obvious what the people want and need. They want competent leadership and representation to tackle issues that improves their standard of living. “Not pet projects that does not put food on their table.”

It is with those sentiments in mind that the board of the United St. Maarten party will begin its journey towards restructuring, while maintaining its core belief of educating and elevating the people of this nation to operate at their highest potential by providing food for thought.

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DCNA Paints Bleak Picture of the Impacts of Climate Change in the Dutch Caribbean

SINT MAARTEN/BONAIRE - The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance expressed its concern at the lack of attention on matters related to the impact of Climate Change in the Dutch Caribbean in The Hague. Despite Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte mentioning the impacts of Climate Change in the Dutch Caribbean during his intervention at the UN General Assembly in September, very little concrete actions and support for what will be the most critical crises facing people of the Dutch Caribbean in the immediate future. The statements from the regional conservation network comes on the eve of the opening of CoP26 held in Glasgow, Scotland from November 1st to November 12th.

“While it was commendable that climate change has been mentioned by Dutch Politicians lately, we  are still quite concerned that very little attention is being paid to the impact climate change will have on the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, this while it is clear that those living in the Caribbean, the biodiversity hotspot of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, are at the forefront of the climate crises,” commented DCNA Director Tadzio Bervoets.

Bervoets continued to mention that during meetings held recently with various parliamentarians and directorates in the Netherlands, DCNA highlighted the existential crises posted by the changing climate; “We had to remind the politicians, bureaucrats and technocrats in The Hague that the various agreements and accords related to climate change are ratified by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and not by only the Netherlands, and as such there has to be increased focus in ensuring that the islands are better equipped to deal with what is expected to be an existential crises. We even had to explain issues such as increased hurricanes, coral bleaching, sargassum invasions and droughts to what we assumed would be experts in climate change who had no idea about these impacts. This is both disappointing and alarming,” continued Bervoets.

The most recent climate change predictions for the Caribbean region by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are alarming and suggest that the islands of the Dutch Caribbean will go through profound environmental changes within the next few decades. The IPCC has projected that for the Caribbean Region an increase in air temperature of 1.4°C will result in a decrease in rainfall of 5 to 6%; an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events including a 66% increase in hurricane intensity; and a rise in sea level of 0.5 to 0.6m as a result of thermal expansion of water and glacial melt.

These climate change predictions are especially worrying in the context of an already visible warming trend. Average temperatures in the Dutch Caribbean have risen steeply over the past 40 years according to recent data. In Curaçao, research carried out by the Meteorological Department found that over the past few decades the island has progressively experienced more hot days and fewer cooler nights. Because the islands of the Dutch Caribbean form two geographically distinct groups separated by more than 900 km of open water, it is expected that climate change will not impact these two island groups in the same way.  Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are located in the Southern Caribbean, an area that is predicted to become warmer and drier, with longer seasonal dry periods. Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, which are located in the Northeast Caribbean and therefore within the Caribbean hurricane belt, are predicted to experience more frequent and violent tropical hurricanes, as was evident during the disastrous 2017 Hurricane Season. All of the Dutch Caribbean’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems and the species that inhabit them will be affected, to varying degrees. Coral reefs are predicted to be especially vulnerable as higher ocean temperatures and ocean acidification will undoubtedly result in mass coral bleaching events, among other things.

The economy of the Dutch Caribbean Islands is also largely dependent on tourism and it is expected that this single economic pillar will also be drastically impacted: increase in storms and hurricanes may result in tourists’ perception of destination as unsafe; beach erosion and coral bleaching may negatively impact perceptions of destination attractiveness; there will be an increased risk of damage to coastal resort properties by violent hurricanes and other storms and of damage to tourist attractions; on Bonaire, beach erosion due to loss of shallow reefs leaves historic plantation buildings like those of Washington Slagbaai Park vulnerable.

The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) released a special edition of their free digital newsletter BioNews highlighting the challenges facing the Dutch Caribbean in the fight against climate change.  Using internationally accepted climate change predictions and (research) reports, impacts both above and below water have been defined for all six islands, stressing the need for immediate action to build resilience against the effects of climate change. Loss of nature has far reaching negative consequences for the local population since nature serves as both one of the most important sources of income and offers protection against extreme weather conditions. However, it will take a concerted effort to ensure that nature, lives and livelihoods are not lost due to inaction by decision-makers.

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In 2015 the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation conducted a study which modeled what the island will look like with just 1.5 meters of sea-level rise. Credit Sint Maarten Nature Foundation

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Hurricane Irma, whose unforeseen rapid intensification and whose impacts as one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded was a direct result of climate change. Credit NOAA

 

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Fashion & Art Ova' Guavaberry set for December 3

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Stacy-Ann Taylor Studio is pleased to announce its first annual ‘Fashion & Art Ova’ Guavaberry’ which will take place on Friday evening December 3rd at Emilio Wilson Park.

‘Fashion & Art Ova’ Guavaberry’ is a crossover of Fashion, Culture and Artistry. A true manifestation of blooming cultural practices and expressions layered in various shades of creatively fashionable pieces displayed in an array of artistic emotions. The ‘Fashion & Art Ova’ Guavaberry’ event has the power to not only bring people together, to entertain and inform but also to educate and inspire.

This highly anticipated Fashion, Art and Cultural event does all these things, challenging perceptions and providing a new point of view via a wide variety of activities. The show will entail a combination of high fashion and cultural wear fashion show, poetry, dance, singing and different art exhibitions to name a few, against the historical background of Emilio Wilson Park.

St. Maarten / Saint Martin, a thirty-seven square miles island known proudly for the inhabitance of over one hundred various nationalities, yet! quite often the conversation of, “who is a St. Maartener”, arises. ‘Fashion & Art Ova Guavaberry’ takes its stance as a culturally dynamic crossover between fashion and art on a platform which showcases, tells, preserves and passes on our, St. Maarten’s most sacred treasures to current and future generations irrespective of origin.

The event will be hosted by Clara Reyes, co-founder of the National Institute of Arts (NIA), Cultural Icon and of one of the gate keepers of St. Maarten’s cultural inheritance.

Tickets will be on sale for USD 25 each at Stacy-ann Taylor Studio as of October 11th 2021 (with and early bird special for USD 20 until November 15th 2021). The event will start at 6:30PM and will last two hours, to end around 8:30PM. 

ABOUT STAY-ANN TAYLOR AND THE STUDIO

Stacy-Ann is a self-taught makeup artist, with numerous years of experience at MAC Cosmetics as senior makeup artist and product specialist. Stacy-Ann has been working in this field for over half a decade providing make up for many different occasions, like bridal makeup, fashion makeup, photo shoots, corporate websites and commercial video’s to name a few.

Besides makeup, fashion has always been her passion ever since she can remember. Before pursuing a career as a makeup artist, Stacy-Ann has been working at different boutiques in St. Maarten like Liz Claiborne and Qui Boutique.

With all the experiences gained in the makeup and fashion field, Stacy-ann decided to establish her own Studio to bring her knowledge together and help clients with makeup artistry, image consultancy, creative concept development, photography assistant and providing models. For this last group Stacy-Ann specifically started a modeling agency.​

MODELING AGENCY

The modeling Agency of Stacy-Ann Taylor Studio has created a diverse group of talented individuals, connecting them with the best in the business. The aim is to pave the way to success for our aspiring stars, providing them with all the tools, resources, and personalized attention they need to make it to the top.

The model agency focuses on offering a variety of services were models are required like (corporate) promotional video’s and photo shoots, video and photo shoots for the music and entertainment industry as well as cat-walks and fashion shows for both the local as regional market and in the future the international market.

For interested companies or media outlets that would like to participate or have more information about ‘Fashion & Art Ova Guavaberry’ or schedule a personal interview with Stacy-Ann, please contact her directly by phone: +1721-5226866 or by email.

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Recent rainfall could increase mosquito population. Residents advised to Check Gardens/Yards for Breeding Habitats

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The country has been experiencing rainfall events for several days, and the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is calling on residents to help stop the spread of mosquitoes by preventing them from breeding in your backyard or garden after these events.

The best way to manage a mosquito problem is to tackle it at its source: keep the mosquitoes from breeding.

After every rainfall event take action and end the breeding by not letting your home be a breeding site for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also need to feed in order to reproduce, so avoid being bitten by joining the fight to stop the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

Source reduction is the key to decreasing the mosquito population. Due to the tropical nature of our climate, breeding habitats are in abundance, and many of them are unfortunately man-made.

A bite by an infectious Aedes aegypti mosquito, spreads diseases such as – Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, Yellow Fever -, and therefore it is crucial for every household to prevent its breeding.

Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a half-inch of water. This isn’t a lot of water, and plant saucers are one of those unassuming places that can gather a small amount and still be a huge breeding site for your backyard mosquito.

Breeding sites include anywhere that water can settle for a certain time undisturbed from garbage to your flowers/plants. This includes tin cans, old tires, empty paint cans, buckets, old saucers, flowerpots, cemetery urns/vase, old pet dishes, unused plastic swimming pools, boats on dry dock, or other containers that collect and hold water.

Once again, it is very important to check around your yard to make sure there is no standing water after a rainfall event, especially during the hurricane season when the country experiences more rainfall due to passing tropical weather systems.

A few tips/reminders: Get rid of any unused pots or bins or turn them upside down, so they don’t collect water; Keep trash and recycling bins covered. If you can, try drilling drain holes into the bottom of them; keep a fine-mesh screen over rain barrels, water tanks and cisterns.

Take a look at your plants, once your plants are collecting water in between the leaves and the stem, these too pose as a breeding site.  

For issues surrounding mosquito breeding sites, contact CPS’ vector control team by calling 914. Ask to be connected to the vector control team. You can also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with supporting pictures and contact information to report a mosquito nuisance or request assistance.

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Johnson: Not advancing US Pre-Clearance is a huge error

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - “It is truly remarkable how the people of St. Maarten had to be subjected to media reports of another groundbreaking ceremony at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) without a single mention of US Pre-Clearance,” remarked Stuart Johnson former Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication (TEATT) in a media statement on Tuesday.

“When last has the committee for US Pre-Clearance had a meeting? What is the vision and position of the NA/UP Coalition Government regarding US Pre-Clearance? Have the collective individual positions of the various supporting Members of Parliament (MPs) changed or what is their view now? Have there been any developments regarding the completion of US Pre-Clearance since 2019?” Johnson questioned.

I reiterate my original stance that US Pre-Clearance must be a part of the overall Airport restoration as without it our country will miss a golden opportunity for an economic boost.

Johnson also questioned, “What is the status of the bilateral agreement?”

The Final Draft of the Bilateral Agreement will pave the way for US Pre-Clearance however it requires approval by (1) the Parliament of St. Maarten, (2) the Parliament of the Netherlands, and (3) the construction of a new Pre-Clearance Facility at our Airport.

“Take a look around the region and if we continue on this current trajectory we will lose our hub-function forever along with making a huge error by not advancing US Pre-Clearance. Direct flights to Anguilla and Dominica from the United States of America take away passengers which would have likely connected via our airport,” remarked Johnson. “Has any impact analysis taken place regarding the potential loss of passengers and revenue?”

The various marketing Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) signed especially with our French-Side Counterparts have been totally ignored it seems for over two years. “Since 2019, we have apparently moved away from a vision of one island, one people, one marketing approach, and the unifying of all stakeholders in tourism. It is obvious without a vision, a well-executed marketing plan and our airport lagging behind our competitors create a formula for harder economic challenges ahead,” Johnson added.

During my tenure as former TEATT Minister, an economic impact study was done by the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten (CBCS)  on February 25, 2019, which it highly recommended Pre-Clearance as it advised that it would help to increase US Visitor arrivals to Pre-Hurricane Irma numbers.

The report also mentioned the Improved security and strengthened relations, Improved travel experience for passengers, Improved operations for carriers and airports, Spin-Off Benefits such as Increased spending in host country, Increased Foreign Direct Investments, and Increased tourism.

On August 19th, 2019, Johnson as former Minister of TEATT submitted correspondence and documentation to the Council of Ministers (COM) relating to the US Pre-Clearance Facility at PJIAE NV which included associated cost.  Johnson queried, “In the past two years has the Parliament of St. Maarten held any Public Meeting, Central Committee, TEATT Committee, or any meeting at all about US Pre-Clearance?”

Pre-Clearance refers to a process in which Customs, Immigration and other border functions of a foreign country (e.g. United States) take place within the host country (e.g. St. Maarten). This potentially can provide economic and social benefits for governments, users, and carriers. St. Maarten embarked on a mission to attract US Pre-Clearance to the island first in 2012 and later in 2015 when the Council of Ministers formally submitted an Application of Interest to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In November 2016, the US Department of Homeland announced that it had selected Princess Juliana International, hereinafter referred to as SXM Airport, as one of the eleven (11) new foreign airports located in nine (9) countries,   The other ten (10) locations prioritized for preclearance included:  Brussels Airport, Belgium, Punta Cana Airport,  Dominican Republic, Narita International Airport, Japan; Amsterdam International Airport, Netherlands; Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Turkey; Oslo Airport, Norway; Madrid – Barajas Airport, Spain and London Heathrow and Manchester Airport, United Kingdom.  

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No SER policy-brief on dump

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) - The article released on Sunday, October 17th, 2021, by St. Maarten News entitled “SER policy-brief about dump: Turn Pond Island into residential area” was not issued by the Social Economic Council (SER) and does not express the viewpoints of the institution.

The title of the article “SER policy-brief about dump” is misleading as the SER has not issued advice on the topic mentioned within the article. The SER distances itself from the article published by St. Maarten News.

The article discusses the document entitled “Relocating “The Dump” Inhabitants: Resettlement or Displacement? Policy Brief”, which was submitted as a part of Ms. Chantelle Jessurun’s master’s thesis, as stated on page 06 of the document.

The policy brief was written as a part of a master thesis. Views and recommendations are based on the researcher's own interpretations and do not reflect the opinion of the SER. Ms. Jessurun was an intern with the SER at the beginning of 2021, during which she was able to use the resources and support of the SER in order to complete the research for her master's thesis.

The conclusions and recommendations laid forth by Ms. Jessurun in “Relocating “The Dump” Inhabitants” are the results of her own independent research process. The Board of the SER was not yet installed during her research process and did not participate in the shaping of her research. As an institution, the SER is always willing to help young St. Maarteners in their academic endeavors by providing them a platform through which they can gain access to and learn from.

Regarding the advice of the SER given in relation to the landfill, the SER publicly released its unsolicited advice “Better Waste Management for St. Maarten” in March 2017. The advice discussed the social, economic, and environmental challenges of the Pond Island landfill due to the frequent fires.

The relocation of individuals residing in the vicinity of the dump is a discussion which arose post-Irma in relation to the National Recovery Plan Bureau’s Emergency Debris Management Project. The Board of the SER has currently not been requested to issue advice to the Government of St. Maarten regarding this topic.

At a time when there seems to be more information (and more disinformation) than ever, independent and honest reporting remains a vital pillar of our society. The SER’s advice “Better Waste Management for St. Maarten” is published in English and is available to the public on the website of the SER (www.ser.sx)

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