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Kolegio Strea Briante reaches highest point

BONAIRE (Caribbean Netherlands) - There was a small party at the building site of the new Kolegio Strea Briante location (formerly the Watapana School). During a brief ceremony those present celebrated the reaching of the highest point. School Director Jubella Balentin and Ronald Haafkes from the firm BonNed threw champagne over the highest point of an aerial work platform.

Among those present were Commissioner Gerald Silberie, responsible for Urban Development, representatives of the public entities Bonaire, Kolegio Strea Briante, BonNed, Jakobs Architekten, RCN/OCW and the Rijksvastgoedbedrijf, which guides the construction in assignment of the Ministry of OCW (Education, Culture and Science) and the public entity.

The new Strea Briante Complex includes two school buildings with in total twelve classrooms and one building with auxiliary spaces like a teachers’ room, a meeting room and an ICT- and office space.

According to plan, the new accommodation of Kolegio Strea Briante will be delivered half December 2015. This construction project is part of the education accommodation plans. The education accommodation plans have been developed for each of the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands by the public entities and the Ministry of OCW. They contain the blueprint for improvement of the education accommodation in the whole of the Caribbean Netherlands, between 2012 and 2017. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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PAHO/WHO helps Bahamas cope with health impact of Hurricane Joaquin. 14,000 residents affected on six islands

THE BAHAMAS – The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) has been coordinating with health officials in The Bahamas to assess the impact of Hurricane Joaquin and to strengthen relief efforts.

Hurricane Joaquin struck The Bahamas as a tropical storm on Sept. 29 and over the next two days escalated to a category 4 hurricane, with maximum wind speeds of 130 mph (210 km/h). Joaquin is the tenth named storm and the second major hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season.

Over 14,000 residents have been affected on the six worst-hit islands—Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, Long Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador—and on Mayguana, Ragged Island, Cat Island, Exuma and Inagua. High winds and high tides combined with flooding from heavy rains have affected access to the islands by air, road and sea, while downed power lines and damaged generators have interrupted electricity supplies. As of Oct. 7, some areas remained inaccessible for damage assessment and delivery of relief supplies.

As part of PAHO/WHO's Regional Disaster Response Team, experts in sanitary and structural engineering have been deployed to support staff from the Ministry of Health and the Department of Public Health in assessing the impact of Joaquin and making recommendations for interventions and resource mobilization to support the affected communities. PAHO/WHO has also deployed a biomedical engineer and two specialists on disaster management and risk reduction to support in-country relief efforts, which are being coordinated with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

Assessments show that, out of 10 health centers in the five worst affected islands, two were destroyed, two were severely damaged, and one suffered minor damages. Five health centers could not been assessed because of inaccessibility and interrupted communication. Many health workers have suffered psychological trauma or experienced material losses, or both, and others remain off the job due to precarious living conditions or inability to reach their job sites.

In addition, medical and surgical supplies in some areas have been damaged or destroyed by flooding or the collapse of health centers. Loss of electricity has resulted in interruptions of the cold chain in health centers where the generators were destroyed, impacting both pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Where health centers are accessible, replacement of health supplies has been limited by weight restrictions and the availability of airlifts.

The PAHO/WHO Country Office for The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, supported by the Regional Disaster Response Team, has identified other public health concerns, including potable water and sanitation. Well water, which many residents use for bathing and cooking, has suffered salt water intrusion and contamination with fecal material and debris, thus requiring decontamination. The severe weather has also increased mosquito breeding sites, raising the risks of vector-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria. Disrupted rodent habitats pose a risk for leptospirosis, indicating a need for increased rodent control.

PAHO/WHO's Country Office and Regional Disaster Response Team have facilitated relief efforts in coordination with the Ministry of Health, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Health Services to mobilize resources for:

  • Emergency restoration of access to health care
  • Procurement of additional satellite phones/communication support systems
  • Procurement of aquatabs (water purification tablets), jerricans (water storage containers), chlorine tablets (disinfectants) to improve water quality and waste management
  • Procurement of insecticides, insect repellants, bed nets and rodenticides for vector control
  • Support for message dissemination on water and sanitation/health promotion in impacted areas
  • Increased in-country support for local and international humanitarian supply/donation management

PAHO/WHO Bahamas Representation and Regional Disaster Response Team members coordinate resource mobilization
"Whilst The Bahamas is a country with high GDP, inequities are clear in certain areas, particularly in the Family Islands, where many older persons and people of poor socio-economic status reside," said PAHO/WHO Representative Gerry Eijkemans. "The PAHO/WHO Bahamas Representation will continue to support the Government of The Bahamas, as the damage and disruption to both public health and environmental health were significant in many of the islands."

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STOP THE INSANITY!!

COMMENTARY - 5 Governments in 5 years; that is Country St. Maarten's CLAIM TO FAME.....and all because we keep trying to work an electoral system that DOES NOT and WILL NOT function on St. Maarten. As long as there are politicians who enter the political arena on our island, who do not mean what they say, do not keep their "word", do not know how to practice "Country above self" and who will do whatever it takes to get into and stay in one of the 15 coveted Parliamentary seats that come with a handsome salary and a gorgeous benefit package, the insanity will continue.

I speak from experience, having run on the DP slate in 2014 and as such, I feel I can comment with authority about the type of people described above. For instance: MP Van Hugh Cornelius de Weever.

This politician hijacked the second DP parliamentary seat earned through party votes, INCLUDING my 129 and started the new 2014/2018 cycle of "I-am-going-to-throw-down-Government-if-I-do-not-get-what-I-want-notwithstanding-the-fact-that-I-am-not-popular-enough-to-get-elected-on-my-own".

To me it is obvious that our system of government, our very democracy, is rapidly becoming the subject of ridicule within the Kingdom, the region and the world. But forget what the rest of the world thinks of us...WHAT DO WE THINK OF OURSELVES? Why is it that, up to now, WE THE PEOPLE accept that a small group of politicians only pay lip-service to the problems of our electoral system, but do NOTHING to give up their lucrative payday as Members of Parliament and Ministers of Government. I challenge any one to show me one single concrete action that has been taken to stop the insanity where a single politician is elevated to Parliament on the coat-tails of a party leader, or combined party votes, to then promptly BOLT (JUMP) across the aisle with "his/her" seat.

Regardless now of how this latest session of political musical chairs plays out, the result will likely be that the usual suspects return in some form or the other. So WHY HAVE NEW ELECTIONS? Just so that the SAME bunch of politicians will be able to make even more promises, while pledging their loyalty to party and party leader as a convenient way to hop on to THAT particular party train to the promised land of a lucrative Parliamentary seat? Or is it to have Christmas come early for those that collect money and favors in return for their vote?

I think it is time to face facts St. Maarten. Our system is broken. Reality is, that we vote for people, not for parties. And only a limited few candidates get the majority of all votes. Their political coat tails are such that other (obscure, little known, or unpopular) political candidates are swept into office. Once in the “seat”, having taken the oath of office, a Member of Parliament, is given a huge amount of authority and power, irrespective of how much PUBLIC SUPPORT they PERSONALLY had. So, where is the democracy in this!?? Why is it that politicians running on a party slate do not actually have to share that party's principles, values and vision? The ease with which members of parties, once elected to office, can switch loyalty is proof that there is no party loyalty or shared party principles or beliefs! It is pretty sad that we have (and keep) a system in which a candidate, who is unable to earn the required PREFERENTIAL votes from the electorate, can hijack an entire government. SUCH A CANDIDATE MUST NOT BE ABLE TO TRADE HIS/HER SEAT.

If a candidate becomes an MP on the popularity of the party, and down the line they cannot, for whatever reason, remain loyal to that party, they should have two options: RESIGN AND VACATE THE SEAT, making it again available to the party, or alternatively, STAY WITH THE PARTY, VOTE THEIR CONSCIENCE and let the chips fall where they may (or as they say in USA Politics: Put on your big-boys' pants!). A Member of Parliament takes an oath of office to represent ALL of the people and not to be obliged to any individual or entity. Not towing the party line is allowed, but it takes GUTS, PRINCIPLES and VALUES. If a politician is sincere in working in the best interest of the people and also wants to stay true to principles of integrity, then he/she should be able to defend his/her view and stand up to his/her party. Trading, or otherwise negotiating deals with a seat in Parliament, for personal gain, is not acceptable. It simply has to stop. Let us eliminate the NOT-EMPOWERED JUMPER!

This means our electoral laws have to change and it will not happen without public pressure. The next government MUST make this change a priority.

For now, just as in 2013, 8 is more than 7 and as long as there is a majority in Parliament (unfortunately, no matter the characters), Ministers (in this case, a majority of whom did not run for office at that) should not be able to cause the dissolution of a Parliament that just gave them (the Ministers) a vote of no confidence (fired them).

Michael J. Ferrier

COMMENTARY – NOTE: The comments here are the sole responsibility of the author.

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CHTA'S 'CHIEF' TO EXPLORE CUBA IMPACT ON CARIBBEAN TOURISM; TAPS INDUSTRY EXPERTS FOR INSIGHT

THE CARIBBEAN - One of the most highly anticipated panels of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association's (CHTA) upcoming Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF) is "Cuba: Opportunity or Threat?" which will take place on the closing day of the conference (Sunday, Oct. 4) from 3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.

"Cuba: Opportunity or Threat?" will delve into how the US-Cuba normalization affects Caribbean business and how hotels can minimize any potential downside impact. Additionally, it will explore the positive opportunities Cuba may present to stimulate the region's growth as a whole.

This highly-anticipated session - expected to be standing-room only - will be moderated by Anton Edmunds, Principal, The Edmunds Group International, and will feature the following panelists:

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Principal Partner, BedfordBakerGroup

Marla Dukharan, Group Economist, Caribbean Banking, Royal Bank of Canada

Simon Suarez, President, ASONAHORES

Hugh Riley, CEO and Secretary General, Caribbean Tourism Organization

"The efforts towards the normalization of trade and travel between the United States and Cuba opens the door to a renewed focus on Caribbean tourism," said Edmunds. "Whether this presents an opportunity or a threat depends in large measure upon the region's stakeholders. We've put together an exceptional cross-sectoral group of panelists for an open and interactive discussion on the subject," he added.

The panelists will expand upon points raised in a paper released by CHTA this summer titled: "Cuba: The Great Disruption for the Good of the Caribbean." The paper sparked debate within the region about the impact which the lifting of the US trade and travel embargo would have on the industry. While the general consensus was to embrace full normalization, numerous concerns surfaced. There is a consensus within CHTA and the region's private sector that the Caribbean must do a better job at embracing tourism as its primary economic development and employment generation tool and a means to reduce the mounting debt of many jurisdictions. According to Edmunds, "the session promises to be lively, enlightening and engaging."

CHIEF, taking place Oct. 2-4, 2015 at El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Puerto Rico, offers a variety of educational tracks lead by experts from a variety of travel, tourism and hospitality industry segments featuring panels with one-on-one discussions in Sales & Marketing, Operations and Sustainability.

"Our aim is to raise awareness about both the challenges and the opportunities to the region following the removal of travel barriers to Cuba," said Emil Lee, president of CHTA. "Now that the issue has had a few months to marinate, we have a clearer vision and look forward to sharing insider insight with attendees," Lee added.

CHIEF offers peer-to-peer exchange sessions in Operations, Sales & Marketing and Sustainability, which are focused on helping businesses generate revenue, reduce costs and increase efficiency. Hoteliers will walk away with practical business tips and best practices for tackling operational and marketing challenges. The educational tracks will be led by experts from a variety of travel, tourism and hospitality industry segments featuring roundtable panels.

As part of the CHIEF program, an awards luncheon will be held where CHTA honors the "Stars of the Caribbean Hotel Industry" including Caribbean Hotelier of the Year, Association Executive of the Year, Supervisor of the Year, Employee of the Year and Allied Member of the Year as well as the winners of the new CHIEF Awards.A description of all winning entries can be found at http://chtachiefawards.weebly.com.

CHIEF is organized with the support of hosts Interval International and MasterCard; platinum sponsors Cable and Wireless, JetBlue Getaways, Travelzoo and TripAdvisor, gold sponsors Adara, Aireko, AskMe, Best Doctors, Bonnier Corp, CaribbeanJobs.com, Choice Hotels International, Expedia, JackRabbit Systems Inc., Lutron Electronics, MobiManage, OBMI, Oracle, Sojern, STR, The New York Times, travAlliancemedia and World Media. (CHTA)

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ST. MAARTEN TEAM READY TO COMPETE IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN GOLF ASSOCIATION TOURNAMENT OCTOBER 2 – 4

MULLET BAY - The members of the St. Maarten Golf Team that will compete in the upcoming annual Eastern Caribbean Golf Association Tournament are looking forward to represent their country as good as possible while having the benefit of their ‘home field’ advantage at the Mullet Bay Golf Course.

The St. Maarten Golf Team consists of the following 12 players that will compete in 4 categories: Ladies: Sidsel Jacobsen, Gitte Poulsen and Anne-Marie Bouillé; Men: Howard Hobgood, Jesus Rivera, Kit Lee and Stanley Samuel; Seniors: Sam Bashir, Steven Mix and Philippe Thevenet; Super-Seniors: Richard Gibson and Keith Graham.

The St. Maarten team members were selected based on their 5 best scores from a total of 9 monthly Medal Play tournaments that were organized by the SMGA during the period from October 2014 until August 2015. These monthly Medal Play tournaments attract average around 30 golfers, most of which are very competitive and eager to make the St. Maarten team.

The St. Maarten golf team has been practicing on and off island during the last 2 months to prepare the best way possible for this two day 36 hole tournament and to be able to win team and individual prizes when Sunday evening comes.

The Eastern Caribbean Golf Association Tournament is organized each year by a different host-country and consists of the best players from eleven countries that are a member of the Eastern Caribbean Golf Association (ECGA). These countries are: Anguilla, Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Maarten and St. Thomas.

This prestigious tournament is made possible due to our year round major contributors namely, Mullet Bay Resort and Golf Course, CC1 / Coca Cola and the St. Maarten Tourist Office. Combined with the tremendous support and sponsorships the SMGA received from Air France – KLM, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canon Business Systems Services, Caribbean Alliance Insurance, Cariburo Office Equipment, Dauphin Telecom, Holland House Beach Hotel, KPMG accountants, Oyster Bay Beach Resort, PricewaterhouseCoopers, RBC Royal Bank, Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Winair Airlines.

Besides these sponsors the SMGA was able to attract other contributors that contributed in different ways through golf materials, hospitality and other services, manpower, vouchers etc.

The SMGA is a non-profit organization of avid golfers that promotes the practice of the game of golf and to foster community sense. The SMGA organizes golf matches and tournaments for its members and non-members and donates most of its proceeds that are made through membership fees, club tournaments and the annual St. Maarten Open, to multiple community organizations on the island.

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Plenary Session of Parliament continues on Tuesday about Settlement Agreement between Port St. Maarten and Zebec

PHILIPSBURG – A public Plenary sitting of the House of Parliament will take place on September 22.  It is the continuation of the House session of September 21    

The plenary session is set for Tuesday, at 2.00pm in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelmina Straat #1 in Philipsburg.

The agenda point is the settlement between the Harbour Group of Companies and Zebec.

This parliamentary meeting was requested by the Democratic Party faction and the National Alliance, Members of Parliament (MP) Hon. Sarah Wescot-Williams, MP William Marlin, and MP Silveria Jacobs. 

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.

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PREVIEW ‘FALL FEST MENUS’ WITH FIVE OYSTER POND DINING SPOTS; FREE EVENT, SUNDAY, OCT. 4

OYSTER POND – As the culinary capital of the Caribbean, St. Maarten offers the best-of-the-best to please the palate – for visitors and locals, alike – offering restaurants serving fine Italian, American, French and other international cuisine.

To kick-off the first annual “Oyster Pond Fall Festival,” participating restaurants will be featured at a free event taking place in the parking lot outside Oyster Bay Beach Resort on Sunday, Oct. 4 from 3 – 7 p.m. While patrons enjoy live music, they can sample food from the restaurants ($5 per plate) where they may want to dine throughout “Oyster Pond Fall Festival” during the month of October. Free parking will be available at Casablanca with shuttle service provided.

Celebrating the island’s eclectic cuisine, “Oyster Pond Fall Festival” will take place during the month of October with five restaurants offering three-course “Fall Fest Menus” at a $25 prix fixe per person, plus service charge.

Participating Oyster Pond area restaurants include: The Infinity Restaurant (at Oyster Bay Beach Resort); Beau Beau’s Beachside Grill (at Oyster Bay Beach Resort); Mr. Busby’s Beach Bar and Daniel’s By The Sea; Big Fish; andCanoa – each in the Oyster Pond area.

For more information about the Oyster Pond Fall Festival, contact the activities desk at Oyster Bay Beach Resort at 1-721-543-6040 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Construction new building JICN Prison is in full swing

BONAIRE (Caribbean Netherlands) - Work is in full swing at the construction site on the Kaminda Lagun on Bonaire, where the new Penitentiary Institution Caribbean Netherlands (JICN) is being constructed.

Currently work is being carried out on the concrete walls and fencing for the complex.

Work is also being carried out on the foundation of the buildings within the walls. The location of nine of the 14 buildings is already visible on the building site. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Cay Hill Community Council invites Community to Meeting on Wednesday

CAY HILL - The Cay Hill Community Council (CHCC) invites Cay Hill residents and other interested persons to a public meeting on Wednesday, September 16 at 7.30pm at the Asha Stevens Hillside Christian School.

The CHCC would like to discuss a number of issues relevant to the Cay Hill Community, and all residents and other stakeholders who have a vested interests in their neighbourhood should come out and attend the meeting.

Some of the issues to be discussed with community members are: empowering Cay Hill Youth, a Safer Cay Hill, a Cleaner Cay Hill, an Active and Healthy Cay Hill, and a more Caring Cay Hill.

CHCC says it’s all about strengthening our community together.

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The New Black Peter is the Refugee washing up on the shores of Fortress Europe

COMMENTARY - Whenever we see the dehumanizing images of young children from Syria and Somalia washing up on the shores of the European Union, we cannot shake off the feeling that the effect of this in the Netherlands is contributing to the birth of a new “Black Peter” figure (Zwarte Piet). This is admittedly a bizarre, and some would even say obscene connection, but one that began to make sense to us when we took the time to reflect. Permit us to share our reflection with you.

For those unfamiliar with Dutch folklore: Black Peter is the collective name given to the servants of Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas), a bearded Santa Claus like figure, originally a Catholic Bishop that brings gifts for children in the Dutch Kingdom on the 5th of December. In the Netherlands and the Flemish part of Belgium the tradition is 500 years old. With colonialism it also became bon ton on Aruba, Curaçao, and Bonaire. You can meet Dutch citizens who would die, metaphorically speaking of course, if someone would dare change their tradition and deprive children of what they consider a perfectly honest fantasy—Black Peter: black clown  like figures, with afros, and thick red lips.

According to the myth, Peters are black because of having to go down chimneys to supply well behaved children with the gifts of Saint Nicholas. Since myths aren’t about empirical truths, it is somewhat understandable that the afro and the thick red lips or the impeccable page costumes worn by Black Peters aren’t given any consideration. Neither is the fact that Saint Nicolas who is said to be a Spaniard, was born and raised in Turkey and lived in that country until his death on the 6th of December 324 A.D. Yearly Saint Nicholas travels with his Black Peters from Spain to the Dutch Kingdom with a boat full of presents and returns home with naughty children that his helpers imprison in their empty bags. What becomes of those children no one knows. Although one of us (Francio Guadeloupe) once jokingly heard adults in a pub comment that when these kidnapped children grow up they become Black Peters as only Saint Nicholas is immortal. So much for this all too brief explanation of what is in fact a rich tradition.

As is to be expected there is a growing minority in the Netherlands that are contesting this tradition. Taking over the baton from activist groups such as the Solidarity Movement Suriname (Solidariteits Beweging Suriname) public and academic intellectuals as diverse as Quinsy Gario, Kno’Ledge Cesare, Anousha Nzume, Sunny Bergman, John Helsloot, Zinhi Ozdil, Sylvana Simmons, Kunta Rincho, Alex van Stipriaan, Artwell Cain, Abulkasim Al-Jaberi, Manu van Kersbergen, Ramona Sno, Mitchel Esajas, Corna Dirks, and Kevin Roberson to name but a few, argue that the Sint Nicholas tradition with its Black Peters is a remnant of Dutch imperialism.

Yearly Dutch children with a darker hue are teased and called Black Peter—meaning insipid happy-go-lucky black servant. What’s more, they stress that the tradition symbolically legitimizes the continuing blight that is racism against dark skinned people of Sub-Saharan descent in the Netherlands. These activist intellectuals use their scholarly prowess to make the case that Saint Nicholas gained black servants in 1850, more precisely, in the work of the Dutch author and educator Jan Schenkman.

This date is of course interestingly close to the period that slavery was being abolished in the Dutch World. It does not surprise these intellectuals that eight years after his first appearance in print, Jan Schenkman proceeded to depict Black Peter as an eternal boy (read “boy” in terms of Jim Crow USA and the UK’s golliwog figure) with an Afro, thick lips, a beret and page costume. Scientific racism—science being used to present the lie of there being biological races instead of one human race—had its companion in the racist culture and arts of the time. White, was alright, Black, slave like. Activist intellectuals emphasize that the intentions of those who celebrate Black Peter do not count; what does count are the consequences, which prolong the racial nightmare the Dutch world is trying to awaken from.

Rather simplistically put, these are the two camps: 1) the pro Black Peter bloc that base themselves on myth (Black Peter is actually a white man), intentionality (most people do not mean to denigrate black people when they engage in the Saint Nicholas celebration), and the noble cause of defending cultural heritage and the right of children in the Netherlands to have fun free from the intellectualizing of grownups, 2) the anti-Black Peter bloc that base their argument on history, consequential ethics, and the need to decolonize Dutch cultural heritage so black children will not to be negatively stereotyped.  

Our take on the whole debate surrounding the figure of Black Peter is to connect this cultural heritage with the new political correctness in the Netherlands on the refugees seeking to enter fortress Europe.

If we were to believe the dominant message coming out of the mouths of leading politicians, conservative pundits, and opinion makers in the Netherlands, we would think, that as is supposedly the case in the entire European Union, Les Pays-Bas is being flooded by Third World peoples who may have Jihadist leanings and cultural mores that are backward when compared to Enlightened Dutch citizens. In fact these refugees may strengthen the intolerant tendencies displayed by the new Dutch, those from the Third World and those who have parents that were born in the Global South.  We however consider this new political correctness politically suspect, as it obscures vital aspects of the current refugee crisis.

Of the 60 million human beings on the run, only 600.000 sought entry into the 508 million strong European Union in 2014. When we look at the Netherlands with its population of 16 million, it needs to be emphasized that about 13.500 persons sought asylum in 2015. The supposed flood of refugees turns out to be, to put it mildly, an overstatement. There is also a clear connection between the growth of refugees and the exploitative practices of multinational companies in the Third World whose centers of operation are located in the wealthy parts of the globe (the Netherlands and the EU as a whole being an example hereof). Then there is the undeniable historical record of the governments of wealthy countries, the capitals of these multinational companies, helping to keep many of the Third World dictators in power (think Syria). And last, we cannot but see the colonial legacy staring us straight in the face. The countries, from which the refugees are fleeing, are the same ones that were dominated by Imperial Europe. No, we haven’t succumbed to the new political correctness.

So what does this all have to do with Saint Nicholas and Black Peter? A lot, if you know how to look. Through education, popular opinion, arts and craft, commerce, and a host of state backed activities, an ideal conception of the citizen is created by contrasting it with a fantastic image of an intimate yet ultimate outsider. Both images find their translation, amongst other things, in the dominant childrearing practices of a society. In the Netherlands of the 19th century, the time when Black Peter was born, the ideal conception of the Dutch citizen was a white, wise, rational, sober, upright, god fearing, principled, emotionally in control person that carried his/her body like a knights armor. The intimate yet ultimate Other bore all the characteristics that according to the dominant narrative Dutch people should not be: an irrational, emotional, playful, black or brown, hedonistic, malicious, eternally childlike person unfit to govern him- or herself. But of course most Dutch exhibited these traits, except for well being black or brown! These negated traits had a certain attraction, especially because they were frowned upon. Slowly, as is always the case in every centralized society, a national figure emerged in the popular culture related to upbringing through which this drama of repulsion and attraction could be ritually enacted: Black Peter from Spain (in a fantastic feat, the Spanish from whom the Dutch gained independence was tied to the black colonized in the Dutch possessions!). Black Peter, the malicious one with a spice of attraction.

Now fast track to the second half of the 20th century, the time of decolonization, the period that the offspring of the colonized living in the Netherlands join hands with the progressive descendants of the nation that colonized them to fight the racism they see in the figure of Black Peter. Think of the work of Quinsy Gario and the other intellectuals we mentioned. Concessions are made (never without a fight). Attraction gains more ground. Black Peter becomes a more likable figure. Children want to be like him, they are more interested in him than Saint Nicholas. With United Nation committees on cultural heritage and racism choosing the side of the anti-Black Peter protesters (for example the Working Group for the People of African Descent of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights), leading politicians like the Dutch Deputy Prime Minister, the honourable Lodewijk Asscher, admit that in the poly-ethnic Netherlands, black and brown, despite being predominantly white, the tradition will have to undergo more changes (the Prime Minister however, the honourable Mark Rutte, and Dutch EU Commissioners, such as Frans Timmermans, aren’t so forthcoming).

As an aside we must mention that on the Dutch Caribbean islands, the majority has traditionally employed the subtle tactic of co-production. Black people on Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire paint their faces black or white thereby perpetually severing the link between these Black Peter and Saint Nicholas and human beings. In co-producing the tradition they have also successfully made Black Peter blue, green, and red, beside black (Perhaps in the spirit of creating equitable ties within Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Ministers of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and the commissioners on the BES islands/overseas municipalities, ought to encourage their counterparts in the Hague to be more sensitive to the racial underpinnings of our colonial legacy).      

Back to the Dutch case. The burning question is what happens next with Black Peter recognizing that s/he will change dramatically? To answer that question more fully one needs to appreciate that a new image of the ideal Dutch citizen is emerging: educated, trustworthy, feminist minded, gay friendly and secular to the bone, yet defending a Judeo-Christian heritage. And his/her Other, his/her new “Black Peter”? Well, it is too soon to tell. But s/he seems to be a religiously fanatic (Islamic), homophobic, misogynistic, uneducated and untrustworthy refugee out to steal the wealth of the Netherlands. And with all the repulsion there is for this Other that embodies the repressed parts of Dutch people, one can smell the faint whiff of attraction. Soon a fantastic translation of this Other will emerge in the nationally endorsed popular culture. This is what we mean when we say that in the Netherlands the new “Black Peter” will be grafted on the refugees washing up on the shores of fortress Europe.  

Dr. Francio Guadeloupe: President/Interim Dean of Academics of the University of St. Martin (USM)

Mr. Erwin Wolthuis: Division Head of Business and Hospitality programs of USM.

Mr. Pedro de Weever: Lecturer at the USM

Ms. Sharelly Emanuelson: guest lecturer at the USM

Ms. Jordi Halfman: guest lecturer at the USM       

COMMENTARY (The comments made here are the sole responsibility of the authors.)    

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