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Introduction to: Guest Authors and Workshop Coordinators of St. Martin Book Fair & Program

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG/ST. MARTIN (MARIGOT) – The 17th Annual St. Martin Book Fair organized by Conscious Lyrics Foundation will kick-off on Thursday. Here is an introduction to the guest authors and workshop coordinators as well as the daily program.

David Ambrose is a Grenadian educator and author. He holds a master’s degree in Education – Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix. Ambrose is a communication studies lecturer at T.A. Marryshow Community College in Grenada. He is part of the founding team of the Meridian School of Grenada and became head of the all-age private school in 2003. Ambrose published his first novel, White Spice, a crime thriller, in 2015. His second book, That Time in Bogles – A Carriacou Tale, was released in 2018. Ambrose lives in Grenada with his wife and two children.

Barbara Andrea Arrindell is the manager of Best of Books, a leading bookstore in Antigua. She is an ardent promoter of reading and literature in Antigua and Barbuda. Arrindell is a human resources management graduate from The University of the West Indies – Cave Hill, Barbados.

Rhoda Arrindell, PhD, is a St. Martin linguist and educator. The former Humanities Division head at the University of St. Martin (USM) has taught English composition and reading; Caribbean literature; and world literature. Dr. Arrindell served as the first minister of Education, Culture, Sports, and Youth Affairs for the southern or Dutch-controlled part of St. Martin after the territory obtained its adjusted “autonomous status” in 2010. She co-authored chapters in Agency in the Emergence of Creole Languages (Dr. Nicholas Faraclas, Ed.), edited Brother Rich ... , Creative Writing in St. Martin; and presents papers on linguistics and literature at international conferences. On May 18, 2016, Dr. Arrindell appeared before the Central Committee of the Parliament of St. Maarten with fellow members of the Independence for St. Martin Foundation (ISMF). She presented the ISMF position to the parliamentarians on why the territory should be placed back on the decolonization list of the United Nations. Dr. Arrindell is the owner of the multipurpose café, Source of Inspirational Learning (SoIL). Dr. Arrindell’s book, Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin, is available at St. Martin Book Fair 2019,, and other bookstores. (

 Fabian Adekunle Badejo is the author of Fantasies – Love-making poems, Claude – A Portrait of Power, and Salted Tongues–Modern Literature in St.Martin. His essay “Negritude in the Forgotten Territories: Lasana Mwanza Sekou and Aimé Césaire” appears in Negritude: Legacy and Present Relevance (eds. Isabelle Constant, Kahiudi C. Mabana). In 1982, Badejo coordinated the groundbreaking St. Maarten Festival of Arts & Culture (SMAFESTAC). He has produced concerts by kaisonian Mighty Dow and humorists Paul Keens Douglas and Fernando Clark. He has also directed plays and film documentaries and presented scholarly papers on St. Martin’s literature and culture at regional and international conferences. Between 1989 and 2005, the former Nigerian diplomat was managing director/editor, publisher, and news director respectively of The St. Maarten Guardian, St. Martin Business Week, and Today. Badejo is the producer/host of the long-running weekly radio magazine Culture Time on PJD2. (

Peter Bailey is an award-winning author and journalist who formerly worked as a staff writer for Time, Newsweek and The Miami Herald before launching NiteCap Media. Bailey penned the memoir of Miami hip hop pioneer Trick Daddy, Magic City: Trials of a Native Son, a book called “one of the pop music gems of 2010” by The New York Times. His NiteCap docu-series is routinely featured on BET, The Huffington Post, Vibe and other USA media outlets. Mike Tyson, Fantasia, 50 Cent, Janelle Monae, T.I., and billionaire developer Don Peebles are some of the newsmakers featured on NiteCap. Bailey made his acting debut alongside Lynn Whitfield, Clifton Powell and Keith David in the Civil War film The North Star. He is currently on tour screening his latest film Paradise Discovered, inspired by his New York Times Op Ed on Caribbean hurricane survivors, “Has America Forgotten the Virgin Islands.” Bailey was born in the Virgin Islands of Anguillan heritage. The media executive resides in Miami where he was honored as “one of Miami’s most powerful and influential Black business leaders of 2019” by Legacy Miami.

Nicole Cage (Martinique), poet, novelist, journalist, Spanish teacher, psychotherapist, publisher. She speaks French, Creole, Spanish, and English. In 1996, Cage was awarded the prestigious Casa de las Américas prize for Arc-en-ciel, l’espoir, a collection of poems for children and young adults. Her novels and poetry books, which include L’Espagnole, Aime comme musique ou comme mourir d’aimer; Palabras de paz por tiempos de Guerra; Dèyé pawol sé lanmou/Par-delà les mots, l’amour–Poèmes bilingue, and Vole avec elle, have been published in Martinique, Venezuela, France, and the UK. Cage has performed her poetry, often accompanied by jazz, at literary festivals in Colombia, Romania, Mexico, Tunisia, El Salvador, Canada, and St. Martin. Her poems have been translated into Albanian, Arabic, Romanian, Macedonian, English, and Spanish. Awards include the OENEUMI Award (Macedonia), the Poetry Creativity Award (Lebanon), and the Prix Gros Sel for her novel C’est vole que je vole.

Wendy Crawford-Daniel, PhD, teaches sociology at St. George’s University. The research sociologist serves on the Education Task-Force aimed at modernizing education in Grenada. Her population and research projects have focused on persons with disability, disaster preparedness planning, quality of life of older adults, and juvenile justice reform. Dr. Crawford-Daniel serves on the board of directors for the Hilarion Home for the Aged and chairs the Board of Directors of the Grenada Save the Children Fund. She is the author of Unveiling Island Passion, a novel, and Son Rising, a fictional account of the experiences of a gay young man growing up in Grenada.

Doris Dumabin (Guadeloupe), is the author of four novels. The adult theme books are known to raise eyebrows in her homeland because of the way that she writes about male-female relationships in the new worlds that she explores in her French language fictions. The novelist continues to attended literary conferences and festivals such as the Caribbean Writers Congress and the St. Martin Book Fair.

Sara Florian obtained a Ph.D. in Modern Philology at Cà Foscari University, Italy. Her postdoc in Contemporary Singapore Literature was obtained at Singapore Management University. Dr. Florian has studied Caribbean literature at the research facilities of The University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Trinidad, and Barbados—where she interviewed noted authors and scholars such as Mutabaruka, Gordon Rohlehr, Kenneth Ramchand, Edward Baugh, Mervyn Morris, St Hope Earl McKenzie, Maureen Warner-Lewis, Carolyn Cooper, Jeannette Allsopp, Kendel Hippolyte, John Robert Lee, AJA, David Rudder, Hubert Devonish, Funso Aiyejina, Velma Pollard, Jean D’Costa, and Jennifer Rahim. Florian teaches Italian at the National University of Singapore. According to Dr. Florian, “My infatuation with ancient history led me, as a side passion, to share Latin and ancient Greek with my students. My Venetian roots have accompanied me through various uprooting and re-routing journeys. Like the beautiful city on the water, I share an independent spirit of survival and intellectual curiosity, which steered me toward my first encounter with Caribbean literature.” Dr. Florian’s literature reviews, essays, poems, and short stories have appeared in Small Axe/sx salon, Tripwire, Caribbean Quarterly, Moko – Caribbean Arts and Letters, The Sunday Gleaner, and The Jamaica Observer. Luce, la città morente che mi ha fatto rinascere / Light, the dying city which gave me life again (2011) is her debut bilingual novel. Dr. Florian is among the new generation of Caribbeanist scholars, and Caribbean Counterpoint: The Aesthetics of Salt in Lasana Sekou is her first book on comparative and contemporary Caribbean literature. ( 

Tamara Groeneveldt was born in St. Martin in 1984. She grew up in the traditional fishing village of Grand Case as it was rapidly evolving into a virtual international “cuisine capital of the Caribbean.” Groeneveldt holds a master’s degree in social work from Florida A&M University. In 2012, Groeneveldt read at the Greenlight and Social Cracks slams in St. Martin. She has recited poetry for official St. Martin Day programs and other cultural presentations attended by the island’s officials and the visiting king and queen of the Netherlands; at the “10,000 Men March for St. Martin” (2013); and at “For A World Without Walls” (2019). Groeneveldt coordinates Under the Gazebo, the poetry open mic for the St. Martin Book Fair and recited at the festival’s international literary evening in 2018. The poetry of the former award-winning president of Soualiga Corporate Toastmasters Club were first published in Where I See the Sun – Contemorary Poetry in St. Martin (2013). After The Storm is the first book by Tamara Groeneveldt. (

Deborah Jack (St. Martin), is a poet and visual artist whose work is based in video/sound installation, photography, painting, and text. Deborah has published two poetry collections with House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP), The Rainy Season (1997) and skin (2006). She has read her poetry at literary festivals in St. Martin, South Africa, Indonesia, and Netherlands. Her visual artwork has been exhibited in solo and group shows in the Caribbean, the USA, and Europe. Group exhibitions include the traveling exhibition Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago, which opened at the Museum of Latin American Art in Los Angeles, the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, the Frost Museum at FIU and Portland Museum in Maine in 2019.  Her work is being featured in The Other Side of Now at the Perez Art Museum of Miami in 2019. Jack’s work has been exhibited at the 2014 SITE Santa Fe Biennial, Brooklyn Museum, the Jersey City Museum, The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, and Artspace New Haven. Residencies include a Lightwork and the Big Orbit Gallery Summer Artist in Residence. Jack has received a Prince Bernhard Fund grant, a CEPA Exhibition Award, and a New York Foundation for the Arts SOS grant. Deborah Jack is an Associate Professor of Art at New Jersey City University.

Olsfred James is an author and spoken word artist. He is co-founder of The Spilling Ink, an organization that promotes the arts and artists of Antigua and Barbuda. The Spilling Ink received the country’s Literary Art award in 2017. Olsfred’s self-published books are Ashes: A Broken Inception and Ashes: The Continuum. His poetry chapbooks are Silhouettes of Rose, Affliction of Rose, and Reflections of Rose.  

Collette Jones-Chin earned bachelor’s degrees in art education, painting, and graphic arts from the University of Guyana and the Burrows School of Art. As a set and costume designer, she has performed and mounted several one-woman and group exhibitions in the Caribbean region and in North and South America. Jones-Chin is an educational youth and community development expert with training in human resource and operations management. Jones-Chin was instrumental in establishing Guyana’s National School of Theatre Arts and Drama and served as its first director of studies, lecturer of Design and Production Management, and festival director. She is the recipient of theater, visual arts, and playwriting awards. She is the director and executive producer of SENOJ CREATIONS. Jones-Chin is married and has one daughter. She resides in Anguilla where she founded Stages Anguilla, a youth drama club. Her first book, Mahaica Belle Rings, highlights childhood experiences in the countryside of Guyana.

Louie Laveist (St. Martin), actor, theater director, politician. He was a founding member of the Cole Bay Theater Company (CBTC) at age 15. In 1991, Laveist founded the United Theatre Company, wrote and directed his first play Who’s Fooling Who?; and became the drama coordinator at the government’s Department of Culture in Great Bay (Philipsburg). In the early 1990s, he took courses in acting and writing plays at Jamaica’s Little Rock Theatre and attended lectures by noted author/playwright Earl Lovelace. Laveist directed his Forbidden Love (1992) at Trinidad’s Little Carib Theatre for CARIFESTA VI in 1995. In 1996, he attended the drama workshop of the Caribbean Writers Institute, University of Miami. It is out of that workshop, conducted by Fred D’Aguiar, that he wrote Bondage (1997), his fourth play. In 2002 he wrote his fifth play, Love You To Death!, which looks at domestic violence and was performed in St. Martin and Cuba that same year. The House That Jack Built and Other Plays is Laveist’s first and only book to date. Awards include “Best Actor” and “Best Supporting Actor” from Aruba’s Caribbean/Latin American Drama Festival. Laveist was profiled in the book St. Martin Massive! A Snapshot of Popular Artists (2000) as one of the island’s 20 most popular artists at the turn of the century. (

N.C. Marks (Natasha C. Marks) is a writer from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Marks holds an MSc in Environmental Management from the University of London and teaches geography at the St. Vincent Girls’ High School in her Caribbean homeland. Her previous publications are When Silence Speaks (2011) and Memoirs of a Teacher (2012). Marks’s writings have appeared in The Daily Herald,, and Moko – Caribbean Arts and Letters. The new novel by Marks, Plastered in Pretty (HNP), which has recently been reviewed in The Jamaica Gleaner, is available at St. Martin Book Fair 2019,, and other bookstores. At the Anguilla Lit Fest 2019, where Marks was a guest writer along with Alice Walker, she presented the acclaimed USA author a copy of her dystopian novel. According to, Walker later told Marks: “I’m reading Pretty and I’m loving it. It’s fresh, you are writing for these times. I also like the fact that you spoke in your language.” 

Heddrick McBride is an author and owner of McBride Collection of Stories LLC. His mission is “to provide diverse children’s books that educate and entertain all readers.” He has published 60 books in his first four years of operating his publishing company. McBride’s books have been featured in publications such as L.A Times, USA Today, and The Bleacher Report. His titles have also been seen on television programs such as ESPN SportsNation, The Bill O’Reilly Show, Time Warner Sports, ESPN Sportscenter, NY 1 News, and the Michael Kay Show. He has co-authored books with 12 professionals, including NBA Star Metta World Peace, and reality television stars Lisa Nicole Cloud and Yandy Smith. McBride’s books are used in schools in US cities, including New York City, Buffalo, Boston, Baltimore, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. McBride Stories books are also being read in South Africa, Kenya, and St. Martin. The new title by McBride is St. Maarten Strong and its English and French editions are available at St. Martin Book Fair 2019. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies and hanging out with his wife Danielle and their daughter Skylar.

Kei Miller is an award-winning Jamaican poet, fiction writer, essayist and blogger. Miller was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He read English at the University of the West Indies, but dropped out short of graduation. However, while studying there, he befriended the poet and professor Mervyn Morris, who encouraged his writing. Afterward, Miller began publishing widely throughout the Caribbean. In 2004, he left for England to study for an MA in Creative Writing (The Novel) at Manchester Metropolitan University under the tutelage of poet and scholar Michael Schmidt. Miller later completed a PhD in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. A powerfully prolific Caribbean writer, Kei Miller’s books include Augustown, The Cartographer Tries to Map A Way to Zion, Writing Down the Vision: Essays & Prophecies, The Last Warner Woman, Kingdom of Empty Bellies, There Is An Anger That Moves, and Fear of Stones and other stories.

Opal Palmer Adisa, PhD (Jamaica). is the Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of West Indies. Adisa has lectured and read her work throughout the United States, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Germany, England and the city of Prague, and has performed in Italy and Bosnia. An award-winning poet and prose writer Adisa has over sixteen titles to her credit, including the novel, It Begins With Tears (1997), which Rick Ayers proclaimed as one of the most motivational works for young adults. She has been a resident artist in internationally acclaimed residencies such as El Gounda (Egypt), Sacatar Institute (Brazil), McColl Center (USA), and Headlines Center for the Arts (USA). Opal Palmer Adisa’s work has been reviewed by Ishmael Reed, Al Young, and Alice Walker, who described her work as “solid, visceral, important stories written with integrity and love.” Following in the tradition of the African “griot” Opal Palmer Adisa, an accomplished storyteller, commands the mastery and extraordinary talent of storytelling, exemplary of her predecessors. Through her imaginative characterizations of people, places and things, she is able to transport her listeners to the very wonderlands she creates. For the last 23 years Opal was a distinguished professor at California College of the Arts. She has been a visiting professor at several universities including, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley and University of the Virgin Islands. Her poetry, stories, essays and articles on a wide range of subjects have been collected in over 400 journals, anthologies and other publications, including Essence magazine. She has also conducted workshops in elementary through high school, museums, churches and community centers, as well as in prison and juvenile centers. (

Geoffrey Philp has written two novels, Benjamin, My Son and Garvey’s Ghost; five poetry collections, Exodus and Other Poems, Florida Bound, Hurricane CenterXango Music, and Dub Wise; two collections of short stories, Uncle Obadiah and the Alien and Who’s Your Daddy?, and three children’s books, Marcus and the Amazons, Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories, and The Christmas Dutch Pot Baby. His work is represented in nearly every anthology of Caribbean literature, and he is one of the few writers whose work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Storiesand Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. A former James Michener Fellow at the University of Miami, Philp was a Jamaica Diaspora Luminary Honoree for Literature (2016), which was awarded by the Consulate General of Miami. Philp’s work is featured on The Poetry Rail at The Betsy in an homage to 12 writers that shaped Miami culture. He is currently working on a collection of poems, “Letter from Marcus Garvey.”

Clara Reyes is a dancer, choreographer, teacher, and founder of the Imbali Center for Creative Movement. Her master’s thesis is the first study of the Ponum, the “national” dance of St. Martin (North and South). In 2003, she staged In the Company of Women dance-theater and Ponum the Musical – St. Martin’s Dance of Liberation in Philipsburg and Marigot. A recipient of the Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF) “Personality of the Year Award,” Reyes has taught at the St. Maarten Academy and lectured at the University of St. Martin. In 2004, the John Larmonie Center for Creative Arts named one of its dance halls in honor of this first lady of St. Martin dance. Reyes choreographed and directed Run for Freedom (2005) and St. Martin is My Home … The Musical (2006)—both CLF productions. Reyes has also produced and directed In the Company of Men – His/story. She co-produced and directed Vagina Monologues St. Martin, one of the most successful theatrical productions on the island in recent memory. In 2013, Clara Reyes became a founding director of the National Institute of Arts (NIA). In 2018, the government of St. Martin (South) appointed Clara Reyes as head of the territory’s department culture.

Alex Richards (St. Martin), researcher, translator, and librarian. Richards has also worked as a policy advisor to the government of the Collectivity of St. Martin

Z’Haria K. Richardson is the 2019 St. Martin kaiso queen, known as Empress Zee. In 2014, she was “introduced” to kaiso in performance as one of the opening singers for the Mighty Sparrow concert at Port de Plaisance in St. Martin. In 2015, Empress Zee entered her first calypso competition with the songs “Calypso ain’t just a man thing” and “Be Positive.” Empress Zee returned to the stage in 2016, with the tunes “Politics Not for Me” and “The Flock.” In the 2017 calypso competition of the St. Maarten Carnival, Empress Zee reached the finals for the third consecutive year. In 2019, the kaisonian was back on the carnival stage with “Round and Round,” a song about government’s sloppy service to the public. Her second song, “Calypso is Here to Stay,” listed her displeasures with the lack of support for the art form from the carnival foundation (SCDF), her fellow kaisonians decision to boycott the competition, and radio stations and DJ’s support for foreign music, “while calypso is hardly ever heard outside the carnival season.” With these two tunes, Empress Zee captured the nation’s kaiso crown for 2019.

Max Rippon (Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe) is the author of eleven books of poems, essays on tourism, and narratives, including Pawòl naïf, Agouba, Le Dernier Matin–Récit, Six virgule trios–Secousses à Terre-de-Bas, and Blues an tout lang. He is a strong advocate of Kwéyòl as a popular and literary language. Rippon’s books Le Dernier Matin, Marie La Gracieuse, and Debris de Silences are taught in schools in Guadeloupe and St. Martin. He is featured in the poetry collection Hurricane, Shouts of Islanders (Hurricane, Cris d’Insulaires) among such noted authors as Aimé Césaire, Derek Walcott, and Nabile Fares. Rippon has participated in literary festivals in Guadeloupe, Nicaragua, USA, and France. Over the years, the St. Martin Book Fair has been selected as the release venue of two of Max Rippon’s books, including Marie Galante Regards.

Chika Unigwe (b. 1974) is a Nigerian writer who lives in Belgium and who writes in English and Dutch. With her stories written in English she won the BBC Short Story Award in 2003, the Commonwealth Short Story Award in 2004, and was nominated for the Caine Prize, the African Booker Prize. She made her debut as a novelist in 2005 with De feniks (The Phoenix), about the personal problems of an African woman in Flanders. In the novel Fata Morgana (2007) sex trafficking from Nigeria is portrayed through the world of prostitutes in Antwerp. It has been translated into English, Italian, German, and Hungarian. In her latest novel Nachtdanser (Night Dancer), which is set in Africa, Chika Unigwe returns to Enugu, the city of her birth in the southern part of Nigeria. (

Gerard van Veen was born in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, in 1933. He came to the Caribbean in 1961, and worked in pastoral, social, educational, and cultural fields. In 1983, Gerard van Veen made St. Martin his home, after retiring from the priesthood in Aruba where he had written four books. He worked as a probation officer in St. Martin until 1993, after which he taught sociology and Dutch language courses at the University of St. Martin. He has acted on stage under the direction of Ian Valz during the 1980s heyday of theater on the island. Gerard van Veen’s articles on social issues have appeared in the Newsday, Chronicle and The Daily Herald newspapers. His column “Church News Bits” has appeared in the Weekender supplement of The Daily Herald for almost 20 years. He is the author of St. Theresa’s San Nicolas; Savaneta, Antes y Awor; Religious Snapshots; Lambee & The Road that Couldn’t be Built; and Hakuna Matata & Other Travel Stories. Awards and honors include a Paul Harris Fellow and a Member in the Order of Oranje-Nassau. Van Veen’s newest book, Soualiga Catholica–St. Martin of Tours Parish (1841 – 2016), commemorates the 175th anniversary of the St. Martin of Tours Parish in the South or Dutch part of St. Martin (the island is also called Soualiga, reputedly an Amerindian name which means “Land of Salt”). The autobiographical Schoolboy in Wartime by Gerard van Veen is the senior St. Martin writer’s newest book—available at St. Martin Book Fair 2019 and (

Yvonne Weekes is a writer of poetry, prose and drama. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Interviewing the Caribbean, Wadagabei, and Poui literary journals. Weekes is a recipient of the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award for her memoir Volcano (2006). Her first play “Blue Soap” was published in the anthology Emancipation Moments (2010). Weekes was born in London, England, to Montserratian parents, and has taught English and Drama in London, Montserrat, and Barbados. On moving to Montserrat she formed the Rainbow Theatre Company and became the island’s first Director of Culture. In 1996, following the Soufrière Hills volcano eruption, Weekes moved to Barbados, where she taught theatre at the Barbados Community College and developed its Associate degree in Theatre Arts. With over 40 years of experience in the performing arts she has been a resource person for the Caribbean Examinations Council, developing syllabi and training teachers from across the region. Weekes received her PhD in education from The University of the West Indies – Cave Hill, where she lectures in theatre and arts education. The poetry collection Nomad, the newest book by Dr. Yvonne Weekes, is available at St. Martin Book Fair 2019 and (

Pre-Book Fair Activities

Monday, June 3 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Film screening Paradise Discovered – The Anguilla Connection John Larmonie Center, Philipsburg

Tuesday, June 4 8 pm – 11 pm

Poetry evening The Poets Lounge Simpson Bay

Wednesday, June 5 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Authors reception SoIL café

Thursday, June 6 9 am – 12 noon

Meet the Writers New writers on the scene and leading authors visit primary schools and high schools throughout the island to discuss their work, experience with writing books, the value of reading and literature with teachers and students.

12 noon

Radio Roundable St. Martin Book Fair guest writers in an open discussion on the popular radio program “12-to-1 Talk with Fernando Clark,” SOS Radio 95.9 FM. Topics ranging from each writer’s interpretation of the 2019 book fair theme, “New Ground,” to the writers engaging any number of surprise questions from program host Fernando Clark, St. Martin’s kaiso historian, and one of the Caribbean’s leading comedian. Guest authors: Kei Miller (Jamaica/United Kingdom), Drisana Deborah Jack (St. Martin), Yvonne Weekes (Barbados/Montserrat), David Ambrose (Grenada) Host: Fernando Clark

8 pm – 10 pm

Opening Ceremony New Books Introduced & Book Signings “Under the Literary Big Tent” Lazy Bay fair grounds (Lazy Bay parking lot) Marigot

8 pm Welcome Master of Ceremony

Words of Welcome Mr. Jacques “Billy D” Hamlet Manager, Lazy Bay parking lot Mr. Shujah Reiph President, Conscious Lyrics Foundation Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez President, University of St. Martin Hon. Leona Romeo-Marlin Prime Minister of St. Maarten Hon. Daniel Gibbs President of the Collectivity of St. Martin Introducing Featured Books Plastered in Pretty by N.C. Marks (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) Nomad by Yvonne Weekes (Barbados/Montserrat) New titles from House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) Guest Recital Max Rippon Poet, novelist (Marie-Galante)

Keynote Address Peter Bailey Award-winning author, media executive, filmmaker (Virgin Islands/USA) Ribbon Cutting Ceremony The 17th Annual St. Martin Book Fair 2019 is declared open • Book Fair exhibitions • Authors present for book signings • Reception. Refreshments served.

Friday, June 7 9 am – 12:30 pm

Meet the Writers

New writers on the scene and leading authors visit primary schools and high schools throughout the island to discuss their work, experience with writing books, the value of reading and literature with teachers and students.

9 am – 10:30 pm University of St. Martin, Rm 202 Philipsburg I – Creative Writing Master Class with Opal Palmer Adisa

2 pm – 3:30 pm General Session I University of St. Martin, Rm 202 “Word up” A frank and open discussion with teenagers from St. Martin high schools (North and South) about their ideas for their island’s future. Panelists: Olsfred James (Antigua), Z’haira “Empress Zee” Richardson (St. Martin), David Ambrose (Grenada) Moderator: Jamila Mussington

8 pm – 10 pm LITERARY EVENING Launch of debut poetry book After The Storm by Tamara Groeneveldt (St. Martin) Recital Guest authors from the USA, Guadeloupe, United Kingdom, Grenada, Jamaica, Barbados, Montserrat, Nigeria, Singapore, Italy, Antigua, Martinique, St. Martin, Marie-Galante, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Music Interlude Clara Reyes and Friends (St. Martin) Rancho del Sol restaurant Orient Bay, French Quarter Admission free

Saturday, June 8, 8 am – 4 pm

Book Fair main day, exhibition of books, book sales, book signings, workshops, all open to the public. Free admission University of St. Martin (USM), Philipsburg

9 am – 10 am I – In the Children’s Room, Rm 106 Storytelling, games, songs and more. Ages: 4-12. Storytelling may be in various languages. Special guest appearance, Heddrick Mc Bride (USA), children’s book author and presentation of his new children’s book about hurricane Irma, St. Maarten Strong (English and French editions).

10 am – 1 pm In the Children’s Room, Rm 106 Spelling and reading competition coordinated by Merlyn Joseph (St. Martin), teacher, Barbara Arrindell (Antigua), director, Best of Books bookstore.

9 am – 10:30 am II – First Aid Workshop, Rm 103 A hands-on workshop, understanding and performing first aid assistance in case of an emergency at home and/or in public places. by St. Maarten Red Cross

III – New Technologies and Film Production, Rm 102 An interactive workshop about the new technologies, media apps, and communication platforms that bring audiences closer to film and entertainment. by Joel Ayuk, CEO, Cani TV (St. Martin)

IV – Panel Discussion on Theater, Rm 104 A discussion on the state of theater in the Caribbean region. How can this art form better influence the culture, history, and social fiber of the region’s countries and territories? Leaders and practitioners of theater will give us their insights about what is going on and what should be happening “on stage” in the region. Panelists: Colette Jones-Chin (Anguilla), Dr. Yvonne Weeks (Barbados/Montserrat), Hon. Louie Laveist (St. Martin) Moderator: Clara Reyes (St. Martin)

V – Panel Discussion on Writing Today, Rm 202 How authors and emerging writers are writing in the 21st century about various social and political challenges facing Black people in particular and Caribbean people in general; and are the writers reflecting developments related to, for example, Black Lives Matters in the USA, the Windrush crisis in the UK, and seminal discussions on Reparations in the Caribbean region. Panelists: Dr. Kei Miller (Jamaica/United Kingdom), Dr. Wendy Crawford-Daniel (Grenada), Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez (St. Martin) Moderator: Fabian Adekunle Badejo (St. Martin)

10:35 am – 10:50 am University of St. Martin (USM), Philipsburg Coffee, tea, and pastries break

11 am – 12:30 noon University of St. Martin (USM), Philipsburg

VI – Books and translations, Rm 202 This panel discussion promises to be fascinating as it highlights the prose and cons of literary translations. A question bound to be tackled: Is justice being done to an author’s original work when it has been translated? Panelists: Nicole Cage (Martinique), Fabian Adekunle Badejo (St. Martin), Dr. Sara Florian (Italy/Singapore), Chika Unigwe (Nigeria/Netherlands/USA) Moderator: Alex Richards (St. Martin)

VII – Salt and Hurricane, Rm 206 In this multimedia workshop the artist will show images and discuss the emergence of salt and hurricane elements in her creative work as cultural symbols of St. Martin. by Drisana Deborah Jack, author, artist, professor (St. Martin)

VIII – Presentation of Plastered in Pretty, Rm 103 Author N. C. Marks (St. Vincent and The Grenadines), discusses her dystopian Caribbean novel, Plastered in Pretty, with the Young United Women Book Club. All book fair-goers are welcome to attend and join in. Hosted by the Young United Women Book Club

IX – The Sweetness of the Guavaberry, Rm 102 The guavaberry workshop will highlight the production process of the premier traditional St. Martin liquor. Guavaberry taste samples will be available to workshop participants. by Louis and Luz-Maria Maccow (St. Martin), Guavaberry Colombier Tradition company.

Lunch break 12:30 am – 2:55 am 2 pm – 3:30 pm

Presidents’ Forum, Rm 202 Introduction Antonio Carmona Báez, PhD President, University of St. Martin Rapporteur/moderator Rhoda Arrindell, PhD Institute for Language Research and Development New Grounds: Rebuilding After the Storms Panelists: Peter Bailey (USA/Virgin Islands) Author, filmmaker, former TIME and Newsweek journalist CEO, NiteCap Media Opal Palmer Adisa, PhD (Jamaica) Author, storyteller, professor University of the West Indies – Mona Geoffrey Philp (USA) Poet, novelist, educator

Saturday, June 8 8 pm – 10 pm

Main Book Launch & Closing Ceremony Motorworld Showroom 20 Welfare Road, Cole Bay

Welcome Mistress of Ceremony, Marie Richardson

NEW BOOK LAUNCHED: Caribbean Counterpoint The Aesthetics of Salt in Lasana Sekou by Sara Florian, PhD (Italy/Singapore)

Guest Speaker Kei Miller, PhD Novelist, poet, essayist, blogger (Jamaica/United Kingdom)

Guest Recital Chika Unigwe Novelist, literary critic (Nigeria/Netherlands/USA)

Presentation The Presidents’ Award

Word of Thanks Shujah Reiph Coordinator St. Martin Book Fair

Thank you for participating in the 17th Annual St. Martin Book Fair 2019




Johnson urges residents/businesses to be prepared as hurricane season starts

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - In highlighting the commencement of the 2019 hurricane season Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Stuart Johnson is calling on the business community especially tourism and hospitality related businesses to “be prepared.”

Johnson issued a press release on Sunday stating, “The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season started on June 1st. Already, the U.S. National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center has forecasted up to 15-named storms.”

This Johnson says means that the Caribbean can expect a very “active season and as such I am encouraging all business owners and operators and residents alike to prepare now if you haven’t already started doing so for the season.”

Where it concerns mitigation, preparedness, and contingency planning, work must swiftly begin as hurricanes are an inevitable part of doing business and living in this region.

Sint Maarten recently hosted the Wet/Hurricane Season Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) which was a collaborative effort between the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH) and the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS). MDS falls under the Ministry of Tourism & Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT).

The Forum addressed climate change, increasing climate variability as exemplified by extreme weather and climate events, such as droughts, floods, storms/hurricanes which continue to pose a significant risk for the Caribbean region and Sint Maarten in particular.

“Our destination had the most recent hurricane experience with Irma and Maria, and many lessons have been learnt which has allowed us over the past 20-months to strengthen the tourism sector’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from such a critical event impacting the tourism and hospitality sector.

“Not all tourism-related sector businesses have recovered. We still have a number of hotel properties that are in the process of planning and some are in the reconstruction phase. For the current operational businesses, hurricane season preparedness and response are essential, and therefore I appeal to the business community to start reviewing your hurricane plan and emergency procedures.

“Our tourism sector and supporting businesses are the vital economic foundations of our national economy, and its wellbeing must be assured where it concerns a quick recovery after the impact of a disaster. We have seen and experienced the physical and structural damage, injuries and loss of life.

“Preparedness is key this hurricane season in order to minimize loss of life and property which would also ensure a speedy recovery and resumption of business activity which is core to our continued economic recovery. Remember, it only takes one to make it a bad hurricane season. As a resilient people and nation, we have a lot to be thankful for, but we must be prepared.


Prime Minister leads delegation to Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference

SINT MAARTEN/BARBADOS - From May 27th to May 31st Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin lead a Sint Maarten delegation to Barbados, to attend the Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference organized by the World Bank’s Latin America and Caribbean Region Disaster Risk Management team, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the European Union (EU).

The Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference is aimed at sharing the most current information related to identifying, assessing and reducing disaster risk in the Caribbean region. The conference is hosted by the Government of Barbados and will be held at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus’ Errol Barrow Center for Creative Imagination.

In her keynote address at the conference Prime Minister Romeo Marlin said, “I have spent my first 18 months in office working tirelessly to rebuild our island and to look for ways to better prepare the country for future storms and the financial consequences that will come with them. In doing so, I have strived to follow the examples of other disaster-prone countries in the Caribbean region and to implement existing best practices.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Sint Maarten has taken two important steps to better manage the financial risk of natural disasters. Firstly, as of September 1st, 2018, the Government of Sint Maarten has joined the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, CCRIF, purchasing coverage for tropical cyclones, earthquakes and excess rainfall (CCRIF renewed on June 1st 2019). A second step that we are taking is the establishment of a Disaster Risk Management Fund, which will be financed through our national budget. In creating this self-insurance mechanism, we are following the example of other countries in the region such as St. Kitts and Nevis, and Dominica.”

Prime Minister Romeo Marlin explained that a key component of such a strategy is to find ways to increase the practice of purchasing private insurance. On Sint Maarten, as in many other Caribbean regions, low and middle-income households as well as small business are not insured or severely underinsured. One of the main reasons for this are the extremely high premiums. Addressing the inadequate insurance of the private sector should be a fundamental part of our national strategy, but also of regional and international attempts to build resilience to disasters and climate change in the Caribbean.

“We can only address the challenges that we are facing by working together as Caribbean nations. Our region is one of the least in greenhouse gas emission, but we are confronted with some of the most severe effects of climate change. Meanwhile, access to international funding for mitigation and adaptation measures remains difficult.

As Caribbean nations, we are forever tied to each other “for better or for worse”. A great level of commitment and support is therefore essential for the growth of a resilient nation in particular in the area of finance. It is our vision to develop St. Maarten, into a SMART and Resilient country, but in order to accomplish this goal we must first be ‘willing and able to extend our support where needed to each of our sister countries and partners in resiliency. Together we are stronger, United we are a force. Therefore, we must speak with one voice.

Let us continue to work together, by instituting benchmarks towards excellence, establishing best practices to achieve effective Sustainable Development Goals and embark on innovations that foster a more financial/ economic resilient future for our people and build an integrated and empowered region as a whole. As the Prime Minister of St. Maarten, and your partner in the journey towards resiliency and the various fundamentals that it encompasses, I would like to close by encouraging everyone to believe in the ability to grow stronger by working together. It will not be easy but it definitely will be worth it. The road to resiliency is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Every step will count, so let us take the step in securing financial aspects of resiliency in order to save and protect our respective citizens to assure a united Caribbean” said Prime Minister Romeo Marlin at the conference.

The Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference offered a platform for Caribbean countries and regional organizations, for both public and private sectors, regional disaster risk management agencies, non-governmental organizations, multilateral development banks, international donors and practitioners across the Caribbean to collaborate, build capacity and discuss innovations in risk assessment.


SMMC ER receives donation from AUC

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) The St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) Emergency Room (ER) recently received a donation from students of the American University of the Caribbean (AUC). Heather Langner, representing her graduating class, contacted the hospital with hopes of making a monetary contribution towards the purchase of equipment for the ER, as a token of appreciation.

Heather states: “The September 2017 Class at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine is honored to present SMMC Emergency Department with this donation. SMMC has been an amazing part of our education, providing doctors for our clinical medicine courses, nurses for our CPR course, and a hospital setting for us to learn to be doctors. Thank you for being such a crucial part of our medical education.”

The donation was used towards the purchase of a new mobile patient monitor for the ER department.

Donations are always appreciated by SMMC and if you (or your company/organization) would like to contribute, donations can be made via the SMMC website. Visit for more information about SMMC’s donations program.


Airlift conference returns to St. Maarten/St. Martin

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The 4th annual Caribbean Aviation Meetup conference will be held June 11-13 on St. Maarten/St. Martin. The conference is hosted by St. Maarten/St. Martin and supported by a number of major local and international industry companies. Two years ago, the event was successfully held on St. Maarten before the island was hit by the hurricanes.   

The Caribbean Aviation Meetup conference, CARIBAVIA, is a results and solutions oriented communication platform for stakeholders of airlift which are the aviation and tourism industries. The topics of the 30 sessions will vary from “Friendly Skies; Liberalizing Airlift in the Caribbean” to 

“Regional Airport Design For A Profit Making Concept”, and from “Re-Energizing Destination Marketing” to “Training And Mentoring To Service A Demanding Clientele” and “U.S. Preclearance”.

"St. Maarten is actively engaged in redeveloping its Tourism Product post-Irma and the Aviation Industry, and in particular, the reconstruction of the Princess Juliana International Airport to include US Pre-Clearance is paramount." Considering the importance of Air Transport to the future of our tourism economy, forums such as Caribbean Aviation Meetup provides our people with access to vital information that will aid in the redevelopment of PJIA to meet and improve our Aviation Standards,”

says Honorable Minister of Tourism Economic Affairs Transportation and Telecommunication Mr. Stuart Johnson.

“The opportunity to get best practice information from some of the top Aviation Experts in the region and internationally cannot be understated. At present, the Department of Civil Aviation & Maritime Services in St. Maarten, is working towards regaining its CAT 1 Status. This will create new opportunities for our local carriers to enter into Interline Agreements with US-based Carriers for connection of travelers to our neighboring islands from the US Mainland. This forms part of our strategic plan for further development of PJIA's hub function and service to the region. 

Whether travelling leisurely for vacation or business, Aviation activity generates tremendous economic benefits for the people of the Caribbean and in particular a tourism-dependent destination such as St. Maarten. Therefore, I wish to commend the organizers whose foresight it was to combine the two topics 'Aviation and Tourism' and establish the Caribbean Aviation Meetup”

The conference venue is the Simpson Bay Resort were the sessions on the first and third day, as well as the social events will take place. On the second conference day the sessions will be held at Grand Case airport and an exclusive ‘summit’ on luxury tourism for a limited number of participants will be held and hosted by St. Barth. Air Traffic Control Tower tours at Princess Juliana International Airport will be offered to the participants. 

“Having a conference like this on St. Maarten is important. I believe that we can all agree on the importance of airlift in our region. The event provides us with an opportunity to establish a leadership position in the Caribbean when aviation and related tourism issues are discussed in the region,” according to May-Ling Chun, Director of Tourism St. Maarten Tourism Bureau. “This unique platform gathers regional and international professionals and experts from both tourism and aviation industries, as well as representatives of government authorities. The possibilities to network are tremendous.”

The Caribbean Aviation Meetup is the first aviation and tourism conference in the region to pay attention to Africa in an extensive panel session titled "Opportunities for connecting the Caribbean to Africa through Travel and Tourism, as well as Trade, Investment and Cultural Exchange", and an African Evening Social Event. Direct flight connections between a Caribbean hub and an African destination may be realized in the near future. Africa will become an important source market. St. Maarten has an opportunity to take the lead in establishing the relations and making the connections.

“Over the past four years the Caribbean Aviation Meetup has been getting increased international attention from major players of the aviation industry. CARIBAVIA, as it is often called has become a brand for an extraordinary and different kind of conference format,” comments Cdr. Bud Slabbaert the Chairman and Coordinator of the events, “The Meetup will be further developed to justify its reputation as the most important airlift conference in the region.”

Participants and will join the 3-day event from North and Central America, Europe and Africa, as well as the various Caribbean countries. Nine international journalists are currently accredited to cover the event from various perspectives.

For further information visit the CARIBAVIA website at


CPS: Repeats WHO recommendations on how to Reduce the Risks Factors of Dementia

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Dementia is a syndrome in which there is a deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. Dementia mainly affects older people, and it is not a normal part of ageing. Additional risk factors include depression, low educational attainment, social isolation, and cognitive inactivity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new guidelines that can reduce people’s risk to dementia. Regular exercise, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling weight, eating a healthy diet, maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, said on Sunday, that these healthy lifestyle interventions would go a long way in reducing the risk factors for dementia.

According to the WHO, dementia is a rapidly growing public health problem affecting around 50 million people globally.

“There are nearly 10 million new cases every year. Dementia is a major cause of disability and dependency among older people. Additionally, the disease inflicts a heavy economic burden on societies as a whole, with the costs of caring for people with dementia estimated to rise to two trillion US$ annually by 2030.”

CPS encourages older members of the population to make healthy choices and to live a healthy lifestyle in order to reduce the prospect of dementia and cognitive decline. Family members and circle of friends are also called upon in supporting and assisting in making healthy choices not only for the elders but for all, working together to reduce the risk factors of dementia.

“Signs and symptoms: Dementia affect each person in a different way, depending upon the impact of the disease and the person’s personality before becoming ill. The signs and symptoms linked to dementia can be understood in three stages.

“Early stage: the early stage of dementia is often overlooked, because the onset is gradual. Common symptoms include: forgetfulness; losing track of the time; becoming lost in familiar places.

“Middle stage: as dementia progresses to the middle stage, the signs and symptoms become clearer and more restricting. These include: becoming forgetful of recent events and people's names

becoming lost at home; having increasing difficulty with communication; needing help with personal care; experiencing behaviour changes, including wandering and repeated questioning.

“Late stage: the late stage of dementia is one of near total dependence and inactivity. Memory disturbances are serious and the physical signs and symptoms become more obvious. Symptoms include: becoming unaware of the time and place; having difficulty recognizing relatives and friends; having an increasing need for assisted self-care; having difficulty walking

experiencing behaviour changes that may escalate and include aggression.

“Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60–70% of cases. Other major forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies (abnormal aggregates of protein that develop inside nerve cells), and a group of diseases that contribute to frontotemporal dementia (degeneration of the frontal lobe of the brain). The boundaries between different forms of dementia are indistinct and mixed forms often co-exist,” according to the WHO.

The WHO says there is no treatment currently available to cure dementia or to alter its progressive course. Numerous new treatments are being investigated in various stages of clinical trials.

The WHO said much can be offered to support and improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers and families. The principal goals for dementia care are: early diagnosis in order to promote early and optimal management; optimizing physical health, cognition, activity and well-being; identifying and treating accompanying physical illness; detecting and treating challenging behavioural and psychological symptoms; providing information and long-term support to carers.

infographic dementia 2





Rotary Sunset donates to Dance and Arts Dimension Academy

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - On May 13th, during the general meeting, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset presented Inga Hendrickson-Brown, Event Coordinator at the Dance and Arts Dimension Academy (DADA) with a check for their annual Life Teacher’s Award and Recognition Ceremony.

Dance and Arts Dimensions Academy Foundation (DADA) is hosting its 6th Annual Life Teacher’s Award & Recognition Ceremony. The event, which will be held on Sunday, June 23, 2019 will honor and celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of over 550 educators on the island. This initiative is a part of the Dance and Arts Dimension Academy’s community outreach and is a labor of love from their school and sponsors to let educators know that their efforts are not in vain.

After the devastation of Hurricane Irma, many educators were forced to leave the island as a result of the severe destruction on our island. Despite their personal circumstances, many educators still managed to join the cleanup and restoration efforts and were able to resume normal classes in record time. As one of Rotary’s key areas of focus, supporting education, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset saw it befitting to sponsor funds towards the ceremony.

“It is commendable what the Dance and Arts Dimensions Academy Foundation is doing our community and we are grateful to be able to provide our support towards this initiative. Teachers play an integral role in the development of future business professionals and community leaders; thus it is important that they are appreciated for their role in shaping the lives of our future leaders,” President Nisbett added.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset would like to commend and congratulate the Dance and Arts Dimension Academy on their efforts to recognize our educators on St. Martin. The club appreciates the efforts and are elated to be part of the celebrations by way of this contribution.


Minister De Weever: Commends Police & Participants in Cops & Kids Programme

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) concluded its Cops & Kids programme which is part of their year plan with sports day activities that concluded at the John Cooper/Jose Lake Sr. Ball Park.

Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever would like to firstly congratulate the participating schools and students that took part in the Cops & Kids programme commend KPSMs leadership, the coordinator, and participating officers for a job well done. 

The schools that participated in the sports day this year were: Genevieve De Weever Primary school, Dr. Martin Luther Primary school, Leonard Conner School, Seven-day Adventist school and Sister Regina School. The aforementioned schools participated in four different sports activities, namely Soccer, tug-of-war, relay race and fill-the-bottle.

The overall winner of the 2019 annual Cops & Kids sports day was the Leonard Conner school. Genevieve De Weever Primary school placed 2nd the Seven-day Adventist school placed 3rd, Dr. Martin Luther King placed 4th and the Sister Regina school placed 5th.

“Connecting young people with police officers via the Cops & Kids programme is an innovative police community relations model that develops a positive relationship with the country’s law enforcement agency.

“Congratulations to the various winners who took part in the sports day. KPSM is making every effort via these types of programmes which also includes TAPS (Teens and Police Service Academy) which brings forth awareness about pertinent issues that school-going youth are confronted with during their primary and high school years.

“We all want our youth to make the right choices, and as they say, it takes a village to raise a child, KPSM is playing its role in this concept,” Minister of Justice Cornelius de Weever said on Friday. 


29-Year old Suspect in Cost Pro robbery arrested after lead from French authorities

MADAME ESTATE - On Wednesday 22nd May the KPSM (Sint Maarten Police Force) police arrested one suspect who was involved in the armed robbery of Cost Pro supermarket, it was announced on Friday afternoon.

“Based on a lead received from our French counter parts which provided a big break in the case; the detectives of the armed robbery unit were able to conduct a home search and locate a weapon in the residence of suspect M.J.M (29). The suspect was arrested and brought in to the Philipsburg Police Station for further questioning.

“The robbery took place on the 22nd of April at approximately 01.50 p.m. at Cost Pro in Madame Estate. Four men arrived at the supermarket, three of which armed with guns stormed into the establishment while the drive waited in the getaway vehicle.

“In the supermarket the three-armed men stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the establishment along with several cellular telephones belonging to clients who were in the supermarket at the time of the robbery.

“After committing this act the robbers fled the scene in an awaiting vehicle. This investigation is currently still ongoing,” police said in a statement on Friday. (Sint Maarten Police Force)


Minister Johnson to meet with SCDF on Audit and Subsidy

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation SCDF will have an opportunity to state their concerns over TEATT Minister the Honourable Stuart Johnson's request for their audited books of 2017 and 2018.

"The resistance to this request is simply baffling to me since the SCDF agreed to this request, which is part of the Ministerial Decree granting their subsidy of Naf. 350 K," said Johnson.

Starting in 2018, the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (TEATT) has stipulated in the Ministerial Decree granting the SCDF subsidy that the foundation must present its audited books for the previous Year. While the 2019 financial year is not completed, the Ministerial Decree does mention the need for the government to have a report of spending in that period as well.

According to the Decrees given to the SCDF for the Subsidy, interested party/parties can appeal against this decision based on article 55, and 56, first paragraph, National Ordinance Administrative Case Law (LAR) within six (6) weeks through submitting a notice to the Minister. 

Instead of submitting a notice of objection to the Minister, based on article 7, and 16 of the National Ordinance Administrative Case Law (LAR), the person(s) concerned can submit their notice of objection the Court of First Instance within six that same (6) weeks.

The SCDF accepted the subsidy without objection and Carnival was held. "It must be made very clear that I am in no way critical of the execution of Carnival-50 at this point because from all indications the SCDF has done an excellent Job of hosting the event again and for that, they deserve all praise and thanks. But the work to host the event includes accountability and this should not be shunned away from as doing so will unnecessarily raise questions as to why anyone would resist a transparent approach to their management of this annual national event," said Johnson.

It has also been established since the completion of the 2018 – 2022 Governing Program for the St. Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition, that their must be more emphasis on the cultural aspect of Carnival. This is also mentioned in the Subsidy Decree. The Minister has expressed his concern that the Coalition is also keenly observing the situation with the SCDF in hopes that their can be more clarity on the organizations functioning and that the organization adheres to the objectives of the Governing Program and the Ministerial Decree.

By May of each Year, the SCDF submits its request for a subsidy to the government for hosting St. Maarten's Carnival for the following Year. The Ministerial Decree that comes from the Minister of TEATT outlines the conditions under which government is prepared to but not obligated to grant said subsidy. Once the Minister of TEATT is satisfied that there is sufficient justification for the support, the Council of Ministers meets on the subject of Subsidy for SCDF at which point an approval is given.

Johnson said he has also spoken with his colleagues in the Council of Ministers and the intention is for the SCDF to also present their final audited report to the Council of Ministers which is the ultimate body that finalizes decisions for large sums of money.

Another concern the Minister has based on the increase in the SCDF's request for subsidy by Naf. 200k is that there has to be a clear understanding of what the Tax Payers Money is being spent on. According to Johnson, when he was President of the SCDF for 2011 and 2012, he commissioned a financial audit for both years. He said, "This is something that helps the organization each year to understand where it is and what it can do to improve its financial standings."

Today there are still allegations of people participating in in various events during carnivals dating back to 2017 who say they have stating not been paid by the SCDF. While Carnival is growing larger and attracting more people each Year, the fear is that without accurate accounting for the show, it will become too costly to host with no clear indication of what the real costs are and how best to mitigate losses.

The only difference this Year is that unlike other years when the foundation has requested NAf.350k, this Year they are asking Naf.550k for the next Carnival Season in 2020.  

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