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Soualiga Newsday Latest News (1878)


SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Persons looking to start a business, expand their current operations or just enhance their network of contacts will get the ideal opportunity at an upcoming business seminar hosted by a regional bank.

On Thursday March 14th, 2019, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank will host free a business seminar under the theme: “First in Business with CIBC FirstCaribbean”. The session will be held at the Belair Community Center from 8:00am to 12:00 noon – starting with registration, followed by presentations from 9am.

“We have made a conscious decision to continue to inform the community of St. Maarten and in this regard, we are pleased to offer our business community the opportunity to join us at this interactive seminar which will highlight best practices in Accounting & the Reporting of Financials Information, the legal requirements & obligations and some of the best ways to mitigate the risks of doing business on St. Maarten,” said the bank’s Country Manager Mr. Garth Sherwood. 

“Whether one may be operating a sole proprietorship or corporation – we want to remain at the center of their financial plans – we hope that this seminar either facilitates an improvement in decision making and or enhances the existing competencies of our business owners resulting in an improvement in the performance of businesses on the island,” he added. 

Mr. Jimmy Challenger, Business Banking Manager said there were many different factors that had to be taken into account to ensure the steady and continued growth of any business and many of them would be explored during the seminar. 

“We have partnered with Accounting Firm BDO, Insurance Broker Henderson International and Law Firm VanEps Kunneman & VanDorn to highlight best practices in their respective areas of expertise. In addition, the full suite of CIBC FirstCaribbean financial products and services will be highlighted – with specific emphasis on the needs of business owners and operators.”

The ‘First in Business with CIBC FirstCaribbean’ business seminar will provide an opportunity to network and will be an interactive, information gathering platform for business owners across all sectors of industry – while providing opportunities for them to finance their business’ needs. Interested persons and business owners should email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before March 12th, 2019.


St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Race Report Day 4

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - It’s been four days of awesome sailing, leaving competitors with unforgettable memories of sparkling azure blue seas, sandy white beaches and windswept ragged rocks.  The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta delivered on its promise of four days of serious sailing, with upwind legs dousing the crews hiking on the rails with warm water from the waves breaking over them.  Spectacular champagne sailing with roller coaster downwind legs, with a myriad of colourful spinnaker kites flying in the trade winds.

For the sailors, the adrenalin of achieving the perfect start, the tension of getting the tactics right, the physical challenges of racing to the max, and the relief and jubilation as the boat crosses the famous Heineken finish line are all part of the serious sailing experience.

And as the crew celebrate their day on the water, there’s the fun of the boats jostling to get through the lifting bridge, with music, on board dancing, outrageous dressing up, with the cheers, jeers and dousing from water pistols aimed at the boats from the crowds observing the procession from the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.  In the lagoon’s marinas, the boats dock together, with new found sailing mates, cracking open ice cold Heineken and relaxing in the sun, chatting over the day’s activities before getting ready for the nights of Serious Fun. 

Crews, families and friends can savour the tasty offerings from local restaurants in the regatta village, sharing the banter with old friends and new, before the Regatta Village turns into the best festival venue ever, with the massive stage set up for an outstanding line up of artists playing serious funk, Caribbean jam, hip hop to reggae, and the final night’s legendary sets from Shermanology, Orange Grove and The Jacksons. 

It’s the combined mass of all these elements that make the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta a unique event attracting more than 1500 sailors from 22 countries.  But it’s the individuals that really count.  While many boats really do have rock stars on board – from Olympic champions, Paralympians, world champion sailors, to renowned boat designers and yacht builders, to those who have battled the elements in the most gruelling round the world races, and those who have won their battle spurs in the boardroom - in this event, everyone is a rock star. 

For the crew of Avanti, their on board rock star is Kasia Joblonski, who masterminded the crew’s outfits and activities for the bridge crossing.  On Ocean Racers, the crew nominated their boss, Meg.  She says, “I took this Ocean Racing class to heart. From my regular co-skipper duties, from driving and coaching, making lunches on the reaches, squeezing in some epic media @oceanracers at the right moments, then taking care of business when back at the dock.  This has to be my favourite inshore regatta class and courses – made for Ocean Racers!”  Sailing Poland nominated their only female crew member, Dagmara.  “She is the one and only woman on board.  In her private life she works at Sailing Poland Yacht Club.  It was her debut at the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.” And what does Dagmara think?  “For me, every single day on boat is like a space trip!”

And behind the scenes, all the race officers, committee boat crews, time keepers, mark boat drivers, jury, water taxi drivers, and the hundreds of volunteers who make this event happen, are all rock stars.

For the final day’s racing of the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Race Director Paul Miller and his team devised a format that would create a wall of sails as the boats streamed downwind to the Heineken finish mark.  Using two different start areas, the slower boats set off first, with all the boats sailing to the same first windward mark, before heading different course lengths along the south coast and for the faster, classes, up the east coast of St. Maarten, then turning back past Pelikan Rocks on a long spinnaker leg to the finish.  “We’ve set courses of differing lengths, which will get as many boats as possible spinnaker sailing together back towards the finish, creating an amazing and memorable visual image of boats heading back towards the airport and bridge,” said Paul Miller.

For many classes, this final race would prove crucial to the overall results.  For some, their results had already ensured a place on the podium.  With the 15-18 knot trade winds, nearly all the boats chose to close tack up the shore, with the shifting wind and choppy seas approaching the famous Pointe Blanche, providing plenty of opportunities to win or lose places.

For the Inshore Class, sailing in the lagoon in Jeanneau 20’s it was Miss Guided who won overall, with Budget Marinein second place and Kidz at Sea third.  Miss Guided was helmed by Rien Korteknie, a competitor who has sailed in 38 of the 39 St. Maarten Heineken Regattas, along with crew members Ferdi who has only been sailing for four days and team mate Prince. Prince said, “We like sailing with Rien but we are bad losers so we push it hard to win.” 

In the Offshore Multihull class, famous catamaran Tryst, helmed by Bernard Stoutenbeek, won with a clean sweep of first places.  This is spectacular form for a boat which has been wrecked and rebuilt seven times after hurricanes.

In the Island Time Class, there was a surprise win in today’s race by Dobro Dani, the cruising boat which is half way on her route from Croatia to Vancouver.  Overall the class results were Avocation in first, Altair second and Cloe Dos third.

In the Offshore Mulithull fleet, it was Team Brasil who got a first today, with Ineffable second and R-Six third – reflecting exactly the same order for the overall results. In Offshore Multihull 2 class, Spellbound won today’s race, with Arbuzov second and Sweet Spot third.  This was also the final order overall for this fleet.

In Bareboat Class 1 fleet, Dutch team Semper Pro Grediens took second place, but this was enough to put them in the lead overall, with Marinero Sailing School Ukraine in second and Russian Federation crewed Lascaris third. 

Winning helm Arwin Karssemeijer said, “The St Maarten coat of arms contains the words “Semper Pro Grediens” which translates as “always progressing”.  We renamed our charter boat in recognition of the island’s recovery after Hurricane Irma.”

The Bareboat 2 Class had been dominated from the start by the KHS&S Contractors, who easily took the lead from Breeze Club, with Canadian team Nauti Canucks third. 

The three Melges boats in CSA Class 5 had been battling neck and neck all week.  Today’s honours went to F.K.G who won the race with Team Island Water World second and Team Island Water World Too third overall.

CSA 4 class was won by Whistler who took the bullet today to win the class overall.  She was chased hard by Solstice, whose second place today gave her second overall, with Speedy Nemo third in class.  At the prizegiving, Whistler was presented with the “Most Worthy Performance Overall” Trophy by the Minister of Tourism Stuart Johnson.

The last few days had been tense for the leading boats in CSA Class 3, with all to play for in the final race.  It was Touch2Play’s turn to shine, and her first place today gave her the overall podium spot in this class.  Showing how competitive this fleet is, Liquid and Scarlet Oyster ended up with equal points, resulting in Liquid coming second overall and Scarlet Oyster third.   For bridge crossing activities though, Scarlet Oyster definitely won the crowd’s approval; with helm Ross Applebey being towed through the bridge opening on a wakeboard, holding a can of Heineken!

Dauntless romped to the podium in CSA Class 2, a good lead ahead of Sonrisa in second and Xpatriot third overall.  In CSA Class 1, every day saw exciting and close battles between the two leading Melges, Lazy Dog and Kick ‘em Jenny, with Antigua and Baruda crewed RP 37 Taz always in the thick of the racing. Today was no exception.  On the long spinnaker leg back towards the finish, a spinnaker wrap on Lazy Dog contributed to her coming second in the race, but it was enough for her to retain first place overall, with the day’s winner Kick ‘em Jenny getting second overall and Taz’s fourth place securing third place overall.

The ORC Performance Class had given spectators some of the most exciting starts to watch.  Lady Mariposa retained her top class form, winning the race today to continue her clean sweep of bullets.  Godspeed showed consistency throughout the regatta to achieve second in class overall with Aquis Granis coming third today, and third overall in class.

In Ocean Racer Class 2, Made in Midi won today’s race, ensuring first place overall in this class, with EH01 in second and Avanti third overall, reflecting the order in which they finished today’s race.

The spectacularly fast and furious Ocean Racing 1 class was dominated by Volvo Open 70 I Love Poland romping into first place overall, with Volvo 65 Ambersail 2 just nipping ahead of Sailing Poland, who ended up third in class.

The Maxi class saw today’s race taken by Eliza Vastgoed enabling her to maintain her lead over Juno, who came second overall in class with Zampano third.  And for the very largest and most beautiful yachts on the course, it was Selene who took line honours today to ensure she retained first in class, with the smaller and speedy Fling 16getting second place today to achieve second overall in this highly competitive class.  Swan 100 Varsovie and her smaller rival, Swan 80 Umiko ended the regatta on equal points, with Varsovie’s third place today just putting her ahead in the final rankings.

As the majority of boats were focussing on their fast spinnaker leg towards the Heineken finish, few could have missed the spectacle of six foiling kitesurfers as they raced past the fleet, heading round St. Maarten in an anti-clockwise direction.  The six kitesurfers, who had set off from famous kitesurfing beach at Orient Bay, were attempting to break the 1 hour 19 minute round island record set by catamaran Phaedo.

The winner was Sebastien Queney from Guadaloupe who completed the rounding in 1 hour, 29 minutes and 32 seconds, closely followed by Marc Dubrulle, also from Guadaloupe, in 1 hour and 34 minutes, with local kite surfer Julien Quentel from St. Martin just minutes behind.  With kitesurfing becoming part of the Olympic sailing classes in Paris 2024, this round the island record is sure to get smashed within the next few years!

From the very modern to the classic, the final mention has to go to the majestic 12 Metre class, which had been two boat racing against each other during the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.  It was Stars & Stripes who took first place overall from rival Canada II.

The event has seen widespread praise, enthusiasm and overwhelming support for everyone involved, especially in the wake of recovery from the devastation incurred by Hurricane Irma.  So the final words are from the sailors from over 22 many countries who make this regatta the legendary event that it has become over the last 39 years.   The most frequently used phrases heard during the week include, “a great day sailing”, “it’s the best”, “awesome” and “we’ve had an amazing time”.  For those intending to do some international bonding over the night’s Serious Fun, here’s some handy translations to help start the party!     

A great day sailing

Polish - Wspaniały dzień żeglugi

Russian – Отличный день парусного спорта

Ukrainian - Великий день плавання

French – Une bonne journée de navigation

German - Ein toller Segeltag

Spanish - Un gran día de vela

Dutch – Een geweldige dag zeilen

It’s the best

Polish - To jest najlepsze

Russian – Это лучшее

Ukrainian - Це найкраще

French – C'est le meilleur

German - Es ist das Beste

Spanish - Es el major

Dutch – Het is de beste

We’ve had an amazing time

Polish - Mieliśmy niesamowity czas

Russian – Мы замечательно провели время

Ukrainian - Ми мали дивовижний час

French – Nous avons eu un temps incroyable

German - Wir hatten eine tolle Zeit

Spanish - Hemos tenido un tiempo increíble

Dutch – We hebben een geweldige tijd gehad


Polish - Niesamowite

Russian – Потрясающие

Ukrainian - Високий

French – Impressionnant

German - Genial

Spanish – Increíble

Dutch - Geweldig

All results are posted on

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St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Race Report Day 3

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - When a young person first learns to sail, they rarely imagine that one day they will end up racing on one of the largest, and undeniably most beautiful, yachts taking part in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, Varsovie. 

For local St. Maarten sailors Nina Manley, 21, and Maike van ‘t Laar, 23 their dream came true today as they were invited to become crew on 100-foot Swan Varsovie.  Their sailing career started in the same way as many youngsters on the beautiful island of St. Maarten.  The girls – through youth sailing programmes run by St. Maarten Yacht Club and Kidz at Sea Foundation – moved from the dinghy programme into the racing yachts taking part in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.  “In 2014, I helmed Sail Holiday, a Beneteau First Class 10 and won our class,” said Nina.  “And I was second in Vanille a First Sport 31,” chips in Maike. 

This year the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta sees the next generation of youngsters enjoying their own class of competitive racing in the lagoon, as part of the Inshore Class.  Racing in identically matched Jeanneau 20’s fifteen youngsters are fighting it out with up to five short races each day, organised by Kidz at Sea Founder Garth Steyn and Robbie Ferron, one of the team who originally set up the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.  “The Sunfast 20s, or LSR’s as they are locally known, are one designs and the best way to teach youngsters how to be competitive.  When you’re learning to sail, racing in a handicap fleet makes it hard as the fastest on the water is not necessarily the winner.”

Neil Maher, sailing on J105 Solstice, was youth sailing manager and coach for St Maarten Yacht Club from 2013-2017.  He says, “For youngsters including Nina and Maike, we teach them to love sailing first.  Then they learn to become great crew and many of them can be found today racing on boats where their local knowledge, youth and enthusiasm makes them invaluable, especially those from abroad and who may have not sailed here before.”

Nina and Maike had “the most amazing day” racing as part of the Varsovie’s crew.  “We had a great start,” said Nina, “and chose to head close to the shore to beat up to the first mark.  It was fantastic on board, especially running the long distances along the deck.”  Henry Harris, Bowman and Mate on Varsovie complemented them on their enthusiasm.  “They were really eager to get involved and always smiling,” he said. 

Saturday’s racing at the St Maarten Heineken Regatta saw one of the most exciting starts and closely fought first beats for the Maxi class, with the massive maxis close tacking along the shoreline before heading off on a 10 mile beat to Mancel.  The fleet were then sent north to Le Tintamarre rounding the island anticlockwise.  “With a more easterly wind forecast today, it’s a great opportunity to give the Maxis a long race, but we’ll still aim to get them finishing at the same time as the rest of the fleet at the Heineken finish mark,” said Race Officer Paul Miller.  Little did he realise how accurate that prediction would be.

While the Maxis had one long race, the ORC Performance, CSA 1, CSA 2, and CSA 3 fleets had two shorter races, setting off from Simpson Bay to beat up to a windward mark set just off Fort Willem. In the ORC Performance class Lady Mariposa suffered an individual recall for being OCS, but recovered exceptionally well to be back in the lead by the second mark, resulting in a well-earned first place.  She was to repeat her stunning form in the second race of the day, giving her just five points after five races, and in an unassailable lead over Godspeed, who achieved two second places, putting her now in 2nd place overall with 12 points. 

In the Ocean Racing Class, some punchy pre-start manoeuvres saw both I Love Poland and Ambersail 2 recalled for being OCS.  I Love Poland executed a swift turn to get back over the line and restart, leaving Ambersail 2 lagging well behind.  After around 29 miles of hard and fast racing, it was I Love Poland who took the bullet with Ambersail 2 second and Sailing Poland third.  With I Love Poland counting just three points after three races, today’s result puts Ambersail 2 and Sailing Poland on equal points going into the last day.

Yesterday’s heroes Made in Midi found themselves pipped today by EH01.  This win puts EH01 just two points behind Made in Midi, leaving all to play for tomorrow.

Some of the most exciting sailing for the many spectators enthralled by the sparkling conditions and the mass of sails, was from the CSA classes.  In Class 1 the fleet arrived within seconds of each other at the Fort Willem mark.  But it was Lazy Dog who maintained the lead getting two wins from today’s racing.  A retirement from Kick ‘em Jenny in the last race now puts them in close third place overall with 15 points, just behind Taz with 13 points in second place overall.

In Class 2 Dauntless, with Regatta Director Michele Korteweg as guest crew on board, continued her winning streak with yet another first place.  Her total point score of five puts her six points ahead of Sonrisa, now sitting in second place overall.

The excitement continues to build in the CSA 3 fleet, with Touch2Play getting a first and second today, putting her just ahead of rival Scarlet Oyster, who was not on her best form today, coming second in race one, and third in race two.  Liquid stormed into the lead in the second race, giving her 12 points overall, just behind Scarlet Oyster with 10 points and Touch2Play on nine points. 

In the Melges, where many of St Maarten’s youth sailors are battling it out, resulting in only one race counting as the three boats sailed the incorrect course in race one.  All three boats decided to retire, a move which ensured that the final races remain just as competitive!  In the second race, it was F.K.G who took the gun, with Team Island Water World in second, and Island Water World Too in third. Tomorrow will be an exciting day, with F.K.G and Team Island Water World on equal points.

The Offshore Multihull class is set to see some of the closest racing going into the last day.  R-Six Team took first place today, with Ineffable in second and Team Brasil third.  After today’s races, Team Brasil remains just in the lead, one point ahead of Ineffable, just one point ahead of R-Six Team!  A class to watch tomorrow in the final day’s racing.

Meanwhile, from Committee Boat B, located in the South West corner of Simpson Bay, the Bareboat fleets saw yet more close and competitive sailing.  Race Officer Rob Rowlands, who has more than 10 years of experience as both race officer and judge, managed the fleets exceptionally well, calmly and patiently answering queries on the VHF from the fleet about mark locations and start times.  The Bareboat fleet sees some of the most varied of talents, across the fleet, from highly experiences racers to those new to competitive sailing.  Rob says, “By and large, the two Bareboat classes have exceptional sailors with many experienced racers on board.  The standard of the charter boats is usually really good.  Their bottoms are clean and sails are new.” 

The second race of the day saw the bareboat fleets on a fantastic course, with a tight reach taking them right across the bows of the second longest motor yacht in the world, M/Y Eclipse, giving the crews the opportunity to spot her amazing features which include an on-board mini submarine.

The tight racing between the Bareboat 1 fleet resulted in a multitude of protests being lodged over the VHF, so the results have not yet been posted.  In Bareboat Class 2, it was left to KHS&S Contractors to continue their clean sweep with another win, putting them ten points ahead of Breeze Club with 15 points overall and About Time on 20 points.

Multihull Tryst won her race, with Spellbound maintaining her clean sweep of firsts, putting her well ahead of Arbuzov-VPM and Sweet Spot, who go into the last day on equal points.  In the Island Time Class, it was Altair who took the winning place from Avocation in second and Balance third, putting Avocation just one place ahead of Balance in the final rankings with all to play for tomorrow.  In the 12m class, Stars & Stripes maintains her lead over Canada II.

But the winner of the day award must go to Principal Race Officer Paul Miller, who after running 16 classes of boats, across a variety of courses, with start times spread over more than an hour and a half, achieved his desire to have the majority of boats finishing at the same time at the famous Heineken mark.  For the crew of Incisor, who came fifth in Class 2, the last half mile to the finish line was particularly hair raising, as she was chased down by the leading Maxi Fling 16, closely followed by Selene.  With the Swan 80’s massive blue spinnaker totally dwarfing the Corby 45 as she screamed past, narrowly avoiding the Incisor, it was left to crew member Sandra Saunders to say, “Well, it did feel a bit a bit worrying, but they’re professionals, aren’t they?”

Selene’s outstanding pace at the finish saw her achieve a well-deserved first place, leaving her narrowly ahead by one point from Fling 16, while in the Maxi 2 class Spirit of Juno’s first place over Eliza Vastgoed leaves just one point between them. 

The final day’s racing leaves so much to play for in many classes!  The final day will see a new and unique race format, ensuring a totally memorable final day of serious sailing for the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. 

All results are posted

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Meeting with Consumer Coalition described as fruitful

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - “The meeting with the Consumer Coalition was a fruitful one,” Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA) Emil Lee said on Thursday.

“The active participation of local stakeholder groups is important in the development of Government plans and execution. When we discuss topics such as human rights, it is safe to say that we all agree that the access to quality and affordable health care for the residents of Sint Maarten is something we all want. 

“These meetings will continue on a more frequent basis with our technical support staff, in preparation for further meetings with the Ministers. We want to improve communication and exchange. I remain positive that we are on the right track moving forward, in the best interest of our people," Minister Emil Lee, VSA said on Thursday.


COM takes decision to secure the US$15 million bridge loan for the airport

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Thursday February 28th, 2019, the Council of Ministers (COM) approved the signing of a loan agreement of 15 million US dollars for the airport with the Netherlands. 

This bridge loan will be made available by the Minister of Finance to Princess Juliana International Airport to ensure that the airport can continue to pay salaries and fulfil its other operational obligations in the coming months. 

The airport urgently requested this financial assistance in advance of the 100 million US dollars that the Council of Ministers has secured for the reconstruction of the airport through the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. 

During the meeting, the Council of Ministers also took note of an approved resolution of the supervisory board of the Princess Juliana International Airport Exploitatiemaatschappij, dated February 25th, 2019, accepting the financial assistance of the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.  

Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin applauded the decision of the supervisory board and expressed her appreciation to all stakeholders including State Secretary Raymond Knops, the Council of Ministers, the National Recovery Program Bureau, PJIAH, PJIAE and the airport’s management for their cooperation on this extremely important matter.

State Secretary Knops informed the Council of Ministers that the Netherlands has approved Sint Maarten’s request for a bridge loan of 15 million US dollars for the airport based on Article 25(2) of the Rijkswet Financieel Toezicht. Under this provision, Prime Minister Mark Rutte as Chair of the Kingdom Council of Ministers can in emergency situations approve a loan without a formal decision of the Kingdom Council of Ministers. 

“I’m pleased that the Kingdom Council of Ministers recognizes the urgency of the situation and that all parties are coming together in finding a way forward that is in the benefit of our country and airport”, Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin stated.

The 15 million US dollars will be made available to the airport in several tranches as a zero interest percent loan. Meanwhile, the National Recovery Program Bureau, as the responsible entity for Trust Fund projects, will continue to coordinate the preparation of the airport terminal reconstruction project. This project serves to finance essential works for the reconstruction of the airport terminal and will help to ensure the continuation of the airport operations in a sustainable manner.


Minister Emil Lee: Access to quality health care is a basic human right

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On Wednesday, February 27th, Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Emil Lee presented a brief synopsis of the one of shortcomings of the current health care system on Sint Maarten. Many people in the community, who have financial challenges and cannot afford their health care costs, by law, can come to Government for medical aid assistance. 

Minister Lee pointed out that in essence, this is a form of universal health insurance. However, this system is based on outdated legislation and not well organized, nor efficient, nor cost effective.

“Our goal as a Ministry is to reorganize how we finance our health care system, making sure that it’s sustainable. We operate from a basic fundamental belief that access to health care is a basic human right. Too many people have issues accessing proper health insurance. If you can’t access health insurance that means you have a problem accessing health care or it causes a big financial burden to you.”  - Minister Emil Lee, VSA

Minister Lee stated that there is no dispute by Government or social and health insurance provider SZV that there are structural and fundamental issues with the current health care system. “The financial issues of the current system are from even before 10-10-10.” In the day-to-day, the shortcomings of the current health care system end up coming back to Government. A practical example of this: In a car accident where the passenger was injured; the driver’s vehicle insurance covers only up to NAF 90.000,- for medical expenses for passengers. The actual medical costs exceeded the NAF 90.000,-. Government then received a ‘call’ from the car insurance company where the Government was called to step in for the remainder of the medical costs or the passenger would be left without medical care.

In the coming months the Ministry of VSA will be hosting and facilitating community stakeholder consultations on the topic of General Health Insurance as part of the National Health Reform plans. The Ministry of VSA has requested the support of PAHO in hosting the sessions; the third-party organization has a “wealth” of knowledge and experience on the implementation and implications of universal health insurance in the region.

“As a community when we discuss, do we want to have some form of a general health insurance? We need to agree on certain basic principles as we go forward in these discussions: 1. We want it to be financially sustainable - We know that our current system is not, 2. We want the contributions to be equitable – everyone should contribute their fair share, 3. Every resident should have access to health care or access to health insurance – and if not, then we decide that as a community we stand there and watch that this person gets no access to health care. Is this the type of community we want to live in?”  - Minister Emil Lee, VSA

Minister Lee pointed out that when making the comparison of the implementation of universal health insurance in Aruba and Curacao, that there is criticism that the model is not financially sustainability on those islands. Representatives from the health care sector of Aruba and Curaçao have been invited to take part in the local the stakeholder consultations on General Health Insurance to give insight and share the experiences directly as part of the discussions. Persons interested in taking part in the stakeholder consultations can contact the Cabinet of the Ministry of VSA via telephone number 5202767.


BPW Concordia SXM hosts successful Lupus information workshop

SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - The Business & Professional Women Concordia SXM (BPW) association hosted a health workshop entitled “Lupus, a disease with many faces” on February 16th, 2019 at the Rupert Maynard Youth Community Center in St. Peters, BPW said in a statement on Wednesday.  

“The session which was aimed at educating the general public on the various facets of Lupus and other auto-immune diseases was facilitated by Dr. Gabe van Essen, internist-nephrologist from Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).    

“Dr. van Essen provided a wealth of information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) also known simply as Lupus.  SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in many parts of the body. Symptoms vary between people and may be mild to severe.  

“Ms. Arliene Chittick, the mother of a young lady who was diagnosed several years prior, also provided a heart wrenching testimony about the complications and challenges her daughter has been facing in dealing with this disease.  While she admitted that the journey has been and still is very difficult for her daughter and family, Ms. Chittick also provided words of comfort to persons in the audience who are also coping with Lupus.

“The workshop involved participants from the French and Dutch Sides of the island and served as a network for persons to discuss on the topic of auto-immune conditions. Attendees were able to ask Dr. van Essen questions and receive answers while being treated to a healthy organic breakfast provided by Shieka’s Bistro (Ms. Betty Arrundell). 

“This initiative was hosted in keeping with BPW’s mission to contribute to SDG 3 (Good Health & Wellbeing) by creating awareness and providing information on a health topic.

“Persons in attendance expressed their appreciation for Dr. van Essen’s thorough lecture, the testimony from Ms. Chittick as well as the healthy treat from Shieka’s Bistro.

“BPW Concordia SXM would like to echo the sentiments of the participants and extend sincere Thank You to Dr. van Essen, Ms. Chittick and Ms. Betty Arrundell for their support and assistance.  We also thank the audience and all those who contributed to making the event a success,” the BPW press statement concludes. 

BPW Concordia SXM is a women’s empowerment association with the mission to “Empower women to achieve the sustainable development goals”.  For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


St. Martin “travails” from Irma in Hurricane Protocol; Lasana Sekou’s new poetry book published

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Hurricane “travails experienced by the St. Martin community” is how poems in Lasana Sekou’s new book, Hurricane Protocol, are described in the Italian literary journal Il Tolomeo

The island’s people will be the first audience to see and hear these poems in one setting at the book party on Thursday, February 28, 2019, at 7:30 pm, at the Chamber of Commerce Building in Spring Concordia, Marigot. 

“It’s exciting to the launch Hurricane Protocolas part of the 28thannual Black History Celebration Lecture,” said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi (HNP), the book’s publisher. 

The Hon. Shirley Osborne, Speaker of the Montserrat Legislative Assembly, will deliver the lecture on the “Role of the Arts in Rebuilding After Natural Disasters.” The lecture culminates the month-long celebration of history organized yearly by Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF). 

On Sunday, CLF president Shujah Reiph said on the Culture Time radio program that the lecture/book launch is a “double treat” for 2019. Reiph invited the general public to the cultural affair, which is free to one and all.

Hurricane Protocolis itself an interesting treatment of the hurricane in the Caribbean. “In the California journal Tripwire, which scooped a few of the poems early last year, Lasana expressed a ‘persistent … reluctance’ about the poems,” said Sample. 

“So, at times, readers will have to figure out if he’s talking about experiences in Great Bay or Grand Case, Rambaud or Middle Region. Or whether a poem like ‘11.16.17,’ which glimpses a real life mental breakdown during hurricane Irma, takes place around the Simpson Bay Lagoon or the Fish Pond in French Quarter,” said Sample.

“There is a raw urgency to these poems. All of the pieces within the ‘protocol’ set bear the same subtitle, ‘Hurricane Protocol,’ along with a different date as the name of each poem …, which echoes marine distress-calling, a plea to humanity as a whole,” wrote Margaret Matz in the current edition ofIlTolomeo.

“These poems recount the travails experienced by the St. Martin community during the devastating super-storms Irma and Maria,” wrote Matz.IlTolomeois a leading European journal of “postcolonial voices.”

Hurricane Protocolby Lasana M. Sekou (HNP, 2019), is available at the book party; at Van Dorp and Arnia’s bookstores; and for international orders at


Peace and Conflict Resolution through Community Mobilization

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Peace and conflict Prevention/Resolution are the main focus in February for Rotarians during the course of the Rotary year. Jackeline Mardenborough better known as Jackie gave a presentation to The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle on ‘Peace and Conflict Resolution through Community Mobilization’.  Jackie is currently a social worker with The White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation, Rotary Mid Isle said in a press release on Monday. 

“Community mobilization is the act of encouraging and engaging the community to participate in the creation of safe communities, which will contribute to improving the quality of life of the people in that community. 

“This process must involve the whole community. Every person has the right to feel and be safe in their community and when all members understand and support this sentiment, they can work together to make positive changes in the physical structure, the policies, and the attitudes that shape our society. 

“Thus, community mobilization is important because the community itself is ultimately responsible for and affected by situations of safety or insecurity. In order to prepare the community for Mobilization a framework in put in place, this includes exploring the common issues and set priorities, plan together, act together and evaluate together.  

“Social mobilization is another approach to get persons involved in making a difference in their society. This is an integrative process where stakeholders are stimulated to become active participants in social change, using diverse strategies to meet shared goals. 

“One of the programs in place on St. Maarten, which is a reflection of both community and social mobilization are Teens and Police Service (T.A.P.S), this provides a better understanding on what it means to be a police officer through scenarios and specific topic areas associated with children and youth safety. 

“Among some of the topics discussed with the students are conflict resolution, what to do when stopped by police, drug use and sales, what happens when they are caught stealing, school fights, how to conduct themselves on social media and loitering. 

“Other resources available are collaboration with non-profit organizations, department of Youth Affairs, Ministry of Education. Ministry of Justice and Youth Organizations, just to name a few. This topic made for a very interactive and interesting answer and question segment.”

The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle meets Tuesdays' at 7pm at Pineapple Pete in Simpson Bay. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebook page Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle.


Police looking for Hit and Run Motorbike Driver. Lady sustains injuries in Walter Nisbeth Road incident

PHILIPSBURG - A female victim with initials K.H.S. was hit by a motor bike while attempting to cross the Walter Nisbeth road, on Thursday 21stof February, police announced on Friday. 

According to reports from the Traffic Department, cars heading in both directions stopped to allow the victim to cross but three motor bikes speeding pass did not take heed. The victim managed to escape being hit by the first two bikes and was hit by the third.The driver of the motor bike continued riding in the direction of the Prince Bernard Bridge after hitting the victim.

The victim sustained bruises to various parts of her body. Paramedics were called to the scene to treat the victim for bruises she sustained; she was transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center for further treatment. 

The St. Maarten Police Traffic Department is still investigating the accident and hopes to arrest the person responsible soon. As this investigation continues, the police are asking those persons who were in the vicinity at the time of the accident and can provide more information, to get in contact with Traffic Department as soon as possible by calling 54-22222, the TIP line 9300 or send a private message via our police Facebook page. (Sint Maarten Police Force)


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