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Executive Council Saba announces Muller as new Bonaire Island Secretary

SABA - The Executive Council of Saba on Friday, January 24, announced that Island Secretary Tim Muller will start as Island Secretary of Bonaire per May 1, 2020.

Muller said that the decision to leave Saba and the Public Entity Saba was not an easy one. “Saba is home to me. After more than four years of working with great colleagues, helping to develop Saba and strengthening the government organization, it is strange to leave. At the same time there are different challenges on Bonaire where I can contribute and I am looking forward to do so,” he said.

“My wife Yvonne, our daughter Jessye and I are very grateful for the positivity and warmth that we received from the community. We made Saba our home. Together with my colleagues and different stakeholders on the island and in the Netherlands, we were able to accomplish tangible results for Saba and its people. And it is still work in progress.”

Muller came to Saba in 2015 with his family. He and his wife are both of Surinamese descent and they happily moved to the Caribbean from the Netherlands. Muller held several positions in the Netherlands.

He worked for the Municipality The Hague as general director of the Public Affairs Department and for the Municipality Amsterdam as deputy director of the Social Development Department. He also worked at the consultancy bureau Twynstra Gudde and at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The Saba Executive Council has already started the search for a new Island Secretary and wishes Muller success in his new position. (SGIS)


Cold case police find no traces of missing student in grave despite tip-off

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Maastricht police hunting for the remains of an 18-year-old health sciences student who disappeared in 1993 have failed to find any traces of her body in a grave which they reopened on Wednesday.

The grave had been newly dug at the time of Tanja Groen’s disappearance and ‘there was a burial in it on September 1,’ the public prosecution department said ahead of the search.

Early on Wednesday evening, police reported that they had found nothing untoward in the grave. ‘We are extremely disappointed,’ cold case team spokesman Bob Willemsen said.

Tanja Groen vanished on August 31 on her way home from a party at the Circumflex student society in the southern Dutch town. She left the party around midnight to cycle home to her lodgings in Gronsveld but was never seen again.



Urgent Plenary Public session of Parliament about repairs of the public homes and facilities managed by the SMHDF

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – The House of Parliament will sit in an Urgent Plenary Public session on Thursday, January 23, 2020.

The Public meeting is scheduled for 12.00 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg. The Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure will be present.

The agenda point is:

Status of repairs of the public homes and facilities managed by the SMHDF and to give an account of the status of affairs of the SMHDF (IS/459/2019-2020 dated January 20, 2020)

(This meeting was requested by MP A.E. Richardson, MP S.L. Duncan and MP R. Brison)

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations. 

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, via the internet, and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten



SINT MAARTEN/TRINIDAD - Caribbean Airlines is pleased to participate at the 2020 edition of the Caribbean Travel Marketplace, which is jointly hosted by the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association, Baha Mar, and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) in Baha Mar, Bahamas from 21-23 January.

Caribbean Airlines is a Gold Sponsor of the event and will have a corporate promotional display at the Baha Mar Performing Arts and Convention Centre. Commenting on the airline’s participation at Caribbean Travel Marketplace, Caribbean Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Garvin Medera stated: “This is an excellent platform for Caribbean Airlines to network with industry partners and to connect with segments of its customer base to promote the Caribbean Airlines brand.”

2019 was a breakout year for Caribbean Airlines. The airline recorded a strong financial performance in 2019 and plans to continue investments into new planes and services for its customers, building a better place to work for its employees, and supporting communities across the Caribbean through sponsorship, economic activity and global connectivity.

The airline will increase its ATR fleet by the start of the second quarter 2020. These additional aircraft will support the operation of the domestic air bridge between Trinidad and Tobago and other routes.

Caribbean Airlines’ vision is to improve regional connectivity from Jamaica and Cuba in the west, to Suriname in the east. This process of building connections across the region is moving steadily ahead. In 2018, the airline added Havana, Cuba and St Vincent and the Grenadines to its network.

In 2019, the airline started twice weekly non-stop service between Curacao and Trinidad and between Kingston and Barbados and Kingston and Grand Cayman. A number of new products and services were announced during 2019: · Launch of the Caribbean Airlines Mobile App in June 2019, booking and getting the latest flight updates got so much easier. · Launch of My Caribbean Vacations and Tours. The new product will save travellers time and money by allowing them to book airfare, hotels, tours, hotel-transfers and more in a single, convenient transaction. · A revamped website, 24-hour call centre and Flight Notifications means every customer can stay in touch. · Non-stop flights between Port of Spain to Curaçao · Non-stop services between Kingston to Barbados, · Expansion of the Kingston hub to include service to Grand Cayman · Seasonal Service from Montego Bay to Fort Lauderdale

Key 2019 highlights include: · Increased Cargo revenue by 14% and year on year profit increase by 34%. · Addition of three new Cargo Interline partners - Alaskan Airlines, Air Canada and United Airlines, giving market access to 50 global destinations · Increased Duty Free revenue by 1.1% and year on year profit increase by 36% · Introduction of a new Revenue Management System for improved forecasting & business optimization · Caribbean Airlines ranked 96 of 332 global airlines for On-Time Performance Caribbean Airlines has for the 11th consecutive year been nominated by the World Travel Awards, for the “Caribbean Leading Airline” and “Caribbean Leading Brand” awards for 2020.

The Airline has consecutively won the “Caribbean Leading Airline” award since 2010 and for the past three years since 2017, taken home the award for “Caribbean Leading Brand” In the coming weeks, the airline will unveil its 2020 corporate campaign which will celebrate and showcase the vibrant energy and creativity of the Caribbean.

Caribbean Airlines will be represented at Caribbean Travel Marketplace by Head of Sales, Lisa Morales and Sales Executive, Jamaica and Bahamas, Delia Bennett.


Notorious burglar from Cole-Bay arrested again

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - On Saturday evening January 18th 2020 about 8.00 pm, the police patrol arrested the notorious burglar A.R. in Cole-bay for breaking and entering into a supermarket, police said on Monday in a statement.

The suspect was seen earlier in the evening by witnesses breaking into the establishment on the Welfare road.

They decided to call the police dispatch center and inform them about the burglary. The police patrol was dispatched to the to the area of Cole-bay in an attempt to arrest A.R.

The patrol was later able to apprehend suspect after information surfaced about his whereabouts. When the suspect was encountered by the police patrol, he was still in possession of some of the stolen goods. He was brought to the police station and held for further questioning. (KPSM)


Victims of online dating fraud lost €3.7 million in 2019

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The cost of online dating fraud has more than doubled in the last two years, with the average victim losing more than €14,400 in 2019.

Fraudehelpdesk received 639 complaints of dating fraud, of which 259 were from actual victims who had handed over a total of €3.74 million. In 2017 the helpline handled 412 complaints, while the amount lost was €1.65 million.

Fraud investigators say the actual figure is likely to be far higher because many victims are too ashamed to come forward. People over 45 are particularly susceptible to online dating scams, said Fraudehelpdesk spokeswoman Tanya Wijngaarde.

‘Criminals invest months, sometimes years making contact with their victims,’ she said. ‘They present themselves as the ideal man or woman. They send nice messages every day and sometimes even flowers.

After a while they say they need money temporarily.’ The fraudsters typically claim to be British or American expats who have been posted abroad and ask for the money to be paid into foreign bank accounts.

Most victims are unable to reclaim the lost cash because the scammers are based abroad and cannot be traced. Wijngaarde said women were more likely to be victims of dating scams than men.

‘The fraudsters often go after people who are divorced or widowed. People who need human contact.’



SOS Radio Station Turns 11 years

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) - When SOS Radio 95.9 FM celebrated their eleventh anniversary on Saturday, January 18, 2020, it was more than just an anniversary celebration, according to Jacques “Billy D” Hamlet, managing director of SOS Radio.     

“We were celebrating multiple achievements,” said Hamlet. According to the managing director, the radio station has recently received words from their USA based online hosting company that, over the past 11 years more than 25 million people around the world have tuned in to SOS Radio at one time or another. “We are very proud of this information and want to continue taking our role as media very seriously.”  

“We are thankful and humbled for the opportunity to serve the people of St. Martin and many listeners from around the globe; Africa, Europe, United States of America, Asia, Canada, South America and throughout the Caribbean,” said Shujah Reiph, host of Conscious Lyrics Radio Magazine, aired weekly on SOS Radio.

To mark the eleventh anniversary, SOS Radio has just upgraded their website, with a new chatroom where listeners can communicate with their favorite radio announcer.  “We are inviting the general public, our sponsors, business partners and well-wishers, to join the over 500 people, who on a daily basis log on and/or download our app SOS Radio SXM, to be informed, educated and entertained,” said Hamlet, who has been the driving force behind the success of SOS Radio.

During the past 11 years, SOS Radio has been awarded the number one radio station on St. Martin in two separate surveys. “With over 18000 family card members, we credit our success to the people who have supported us from day one,” emphasized Hamlet.    

 “We want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to each and every one for making us their favorite radio station,” shouted the staff of SOS Radio, at an anniversary gathering.  

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Jacques “Billy D” Hamlet managing director of SOS Radio (file photo).




Crispeen Trail works completed

SABA - Much-needed renovation works on the Crispeen hiking trail, the track that connects The Bottom and St. John’s, were completed late last year, and the trail is now back in use.

The Crispeen Trail, an old, historic track of almost 1KM, suffered severe erosion to the point where the safety of people using the trail was at stake. Reason for the Public Entity Saba to take action. Funding was applied for and secured from the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the form of a special allowance for projects to promote nature conservation for an amount of about US $200,000.

The project, which took place in 2019, focused on repairing the urgent parts. Works, carried out by a local contractor under the supervision of the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), included the restoring/reconstructing of walls, in some cases with a foundation, the reconstruction of a number of steps and the construction of a concrete path at Midway.

The Crispeen Trail, second in popularity after the Mount Scenery Trail, is popular among tourists and residents, including students of the Medical School. Large parts of the track had become dangerous due to erosion of both the walk floor and the sides of the trail. In many parts, the side walls were badly damaged, and some walls had completely eroded.

The previous reconstruction work to the track dated back to at least 30 years and consisted of emergency repairs. The 2019 project merely concerned the most urgent renovation. Much more funding would be necessary to do a complete restoration of this track.

For now, the aim of the project, namely to make the Crispeen Trail safe again, to be enjoyed by tourists and residents, was reached. SCF Managing Director Kai Wulf, representing the supervisory organization, and Project Manager Menno van der Velde of the Public Entity Saba carried out an inspection of the works this week.

Crispeen trail work completed 03

Project Manager Menno van der Velde and Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) Managing Director Kai Wulf (front) carried out an inpsection of the works this week.



Police close We Leak Info website, where 12 billion passwords are up for sale

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A 22-year-old man from Arnhem was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of possessing around 12 billion usernames and passwords and offering them for sale via website We Leak Info, police revealed on Friday.

The arrest was made by the cybercrime team Oost-Nederland in close collaboration with the British National Crime Agency which tipped off the Dutch police force. The FBI and German police were also involved in the investigation.

During a search of two homes in Arnhem, including that of the suspect, professional equipment was found which enabled him to offer access to the data for money via the website.

The site has since been taken offline by the FBI. The man is thought to have played a ‘facilitating role’ in the scheme, which used information gleaned in previous data breeches.

The investigation began last summer, and the credentials offered for sale are known to have been used in cyber-attacks in the UK, Germany and the US.

The international police investigation, during which a 22-year-old man from Northern Ireland was arrested as well, is ongoing and no specific information will be given out for the time being, Dutch police said.

People using the ‘We leak info’ website were able to make use of the 12 billion pieces of information for 24 hours for a $2 fee. The website also offered subscriptions for a week or one month.

According to Britain’s NCA, the two men had earned as much as €234,000 from the site. ‘The data behind the site is a collaboration of more than 10,000 data breaches.

Criminals rely on the fact that people duplicate passwords on multiple sites and data breaches such as these create the opportunity for fraudsters to exploit that,’ the NCA said in a statement.



Growth in the Americas Initiative

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – (By Allen S. Greenberg) - Partnerships – between governments and between the public and private sectors – are key to delivering the quality infrastructure that populations across the hemisphere are seeking. The U.S. government is working to strengthen these linkages through a newly expanded initiative called Growth in the Americas.

Latin American and Caribbean countries are partnering with the United States under this initiative to improve transparency, combat corruption, and strengthen governance. Through these partnerships, we will develop enabling environments for private sector investments in infrastructure that are sustainable, transparent, competitive, and in line with international best practices.

The goal is to help the private sector create high-quality infrastructure of all types – energy, airports, seaports, roads, telecommunication and digital networks. We are focusing expertise and resources from across the U.S. government to help the region identify and address barriers to investment. We know that many companies hesitate to invest for a variety of concerns, which leaves our regional partners with fewer options to bridge the significant infrastructure investment gap.

Barriers can include lengthy permitting processes, opaque procurement processes, and burdensome regulations. The United States’ growing collaboration with the region on digital economy and cybersecurity priorities is just one example of the great opportunities for shared growth around shared values.

I am proud to say we are expanding the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership (DCCP) to the Western Hemisphere, helping us leverage public-private partnerships and technical assistance to support the digital infrastructure development that the region and its people need. Other examples of our partnership at work include our cooperation with Panama to improve its credit rating by two grades, resulting in more affordable energy infrastructure for the Panamanian people.

In Argentina, OPIC announced in September more than $1 billion in loan guarantees to support energy and road infrastructure. Other resources include USAID’s Caribbean Energy Initiative, which aims to help the region create an enabling environment that promotes investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Additionally, the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI) Loan Guarantee program aims to mobilize $25 million in private finance for non-oil energy projects and small-scale renewable energy projects, improving access to capital for businesses to reduce energy costs and improve clean energy production as well as promoting small and medium sized enterprise growth and competitiveness.

The U.S. government recognizes that more needs to be done together with regional governments and the private sector to promote growth in the region’s infrastructure. We share strong ties and similar values.

Fundamental to those shared values are a belief in democratic government and peaceful self-expression, and fairness and equality for all. We look forward to working with you to expand economic growth and jobs by paving the way to quality infrastructure.

Allen S. Greenberg, Consul General and Chief of Mission to the Dutch Caribbean

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