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Open letter to Theo Heyliger.

Dear Theo,

There is always a reason for something. Nothing happens "just fo so" as we like to say. It is amazing to me that you are still trying to peddle your sob stories to the public as if we are supposed to feel sorry for you or your family or forever be beholden to your grandfather's legacy.

Why do you think you are entitled to throw a pity party for us every few months? Why do you expect for us to cry a river every time you speak about being so called "persecuted". It has gotten so bad, both you and Frankie are now singing the same tune as if we are all utterly stupid to the truth. The song is old. We are no longer dancing to it.

Why are the Dutch meddling in our affairs Theo? It is not because of anything I did or my neighbor or my sister. It is because of decades of your shady deals and your suspicious acquaintances. I digress, you and many others who were elected to serve the interest of the public, not your own. SXM is just 16 square miles. Do you really believe that we don't have friends in high places (or in low places) who know about your deals and how your family has enriched itself? They talk. We hear.

Do you really think we believe that you run clean elections, or that you put certain people on your political lists because "they have something to contribute", or that you've never ever benefitted from infrastructure projects? Do you really think that we are so dense? Theo what you are facing now is a backlash of years and years of suspicious dealings.

It is exactly your grandfather's history and your history with questionable persons is why the Dutch are meddling in our affairs. There is nobody else to blame but yourself and others with similar records.

It wasn't me or my neighbor or my sister who was caught on tape taking a bribe, or was prosecuted for buying votes, or is fighting government for permits to construct a pier in Simpson Bay or was shady about funding for the causeway and so forth. It was all of you who brought this on the people of St. Maarten.

All of you people with the big family names, Wathey, Labega, Meyers, Matser, Corallo, Buncamper, Laveist. YOUR actions. Not ours! See the trend, Theo? So the next time you feel the urge to cry to us, don't! Just tell yourself Theo, the people aint stupid. Lemme not insult their intelligence.
Thank you for understanding.

Raoul Nicolaas 

Open letter to Management of Marriott Courtyard International and Government of Bonaire.

Subject: poverty summit Bonaire and right to freedom of expression and right to equality and non-discrimination

Dear Sirs,

Based on our right to freedom of expression, the right to equality and non-discrimination and the recent attempt of intimidation of freedom of free press, we feel obliged to bring the following to your attention:

Monday, January 9th the Government of Bonaire together with the Government of Holland represented by commission Kingdom Relations delegation held a summit on poverty at the Courtyard Marriott on Bonaire. Our movement Nos Kier Bonaire Bek organized a protest action with the objective to draw the attention to the fact that the current local government and the Dutch government represented in this case by the commission Kingdom Relations both have not respected the results of the democratic decision of the Bonerian peoples 2015 referendum, where 65% of the voters, rejected the current constitutional structure with a No-vote and the Dutch parliament have made the first reading to annex and embed the island territory permanently in the Dutch constitution, against international law doctrine and against the democratic decision of the Bonerian peoples.

We have informed the governor and announced publicly that said passive protest will be held outside the Marriott premises, on the public road section and time to start gathering will be 3oclock, awaiting the finishing of the summit press conference which was to take place at 3:30 to 3:45 and so we can show our discontent with protest-boards based on above according to our democratic rights.

However, when we just arrived and positioned ourselves outside, over the road as we informed and announced, we start noticing that some island council members, we saw Mr. Beukenboom, Mr. Kroon, and others start leaving to their car in the car-park. We asked one of our colleagues to go check with them and ask them if there is a change of program as they are leaving. When reaching the car-entrance the security guards took a hostile position and refused entrance to our colleague, which had no protest-boards, nor any object or anything with her.

This was a critical moment because our objective was to protest against the Dutch government violation of our democratic, self-determination and human rights and discriminatory process to embed us on in equal base in their constitution, we on our own island is being deprived free movement to a not marked as no entrance or prohibited entrance or any signs that a Bonaire citizen cannot trespass and violently by security guards. We feel that Mariott Courtyard International brand should be a public place for any citizen to enter without discrimination and if someone is not conducting themselves according to the rules of the hotel of present themselves a risk, then have the right to ask the person to leave. In this case we have not done anything out of conduct only to ask them to go into the car-park and could not see any reason why the guard stopped us, as mentioned above, and physically pushed our female colleague out of the premises. We feel the guard should not physically assault a harmless person.

Based on the fact that our foundation always has promoted and done non-violent manifestations, and this incident of physical discriminatory aggravation of a citizen, based on free expression of it's political view and within it's democratic rights and human right of freedom of expression and right to equality and non-discrimination, we feel that the management of Marriott should apologize to our foundation. We feel also that our government, as our governor was present and has taken notice of part of this situation and in the light of the recent attempt on freedom of free press, should condemn this discriminatory act based on the same grounds as mentioned above and by not doing so is concession to violation of mentioned rights.

Sincerely yours,

James Finies, Nos Ke Boneiru Bek

Former MP Maurice Lake walks government down memory lane.

Dear Editor,
I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and congratulate our Harbor and Airport for being named the Best Caribbean Port and Airport of 2016 by various international entities.
I also would like to commend our Honorable Governor for his "Imagine speech" at his New Year's Reception held last week Friday where he shared several imaginary projects with the general public.
I can remember last year the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Executives also shared with Parliament and the people of St. Maarten areas that need improvement to enhance our Tourism product.
The Central Bank also shared their year-end report of the St. Maarten economy and projections for this year. I have also listened to our Council of Minister's speeches during our Budget debate in Parliament to pass the Budget 2017.
I fully agree with all of these speeches which are nothing new, but as our Excellency stated we have to come together as individuals, media, businesses, unions and government and put a plan action with respect to projects to move St. Maarten forward in 2017. Anyone today in Government has to be creative with a little Budget and take a hands on approach to get any project executed within Government.
The question is how we move St. Maarten forward for 2017 with a limited Budget is by setting our priorities for the year and start acting on most of these imaginary projects which are already in the making by the former Coalition Government. There is a Master Plan already on how to revitalize and bring back life in the entire Philipsburg area. Port St. Maarten also has a Master Plan for the entire Great Bay Harbor area with all stakeholders included.
As the former Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee of Parliament, we sent a letter to Government identifying the old Government Administration Building as the new location for our New Parliament Building and the Post Office Building as a Parking Garage with the vision of making the Clem Labega Square into a national park, and upgrading the entire Soualiga Boulevard to the Court House as a people’s avenue. In this area you can also create a bus terminal and taxi holding area.
We need to focus more on safety and security with, a comprehensive camera surveillance network in Philipsburg and the border, and start putting more blue on the road for 2017 in which was already started b the former Minister of Justice. We also need to give our Community Police Officers in the different districts the necessary tools and equipment to better serve the community.
Community policing is a very successful programme along with neighborhood watch programs for the residents in the different districts.
The Minister of Health would follow the court decision and focus more on building a modern hospital facility and improving our quality care at the Medical Center for our growing population.
I have a lot of confidence in our new Minister of VROMI who has hit the ground running in improving our garbage and traffic situation in which was the main concern by the FCCA and the people of St. Maarten. I have several quick win solutions on how to improve the traffic situation and on renewable energy, solar park which I would be happy to share with the new Minister of VROMI.
I also would like to see my previous motions in Parliament to establish our first National Park and Agriculture Station at Emilio Wilson Estate for our residents and visitors to enjoy. In the signed agreement with Rain Forest, there are conditions for them to establish a national park for the people of St. Maarten to continue to teach our children the history and culture of St. Maarten.
I would like the Minister to follow up with NV GEBE to complete the solar project for the public parking lots in Philipsburg and the water tank project for the residents of Marigot Hill and Guavaberry Road in St. Peters. Last Year, the French Government gave approval in writing for NV GEBE to put the cables underground on the dirt road which is historically on both sides of the island and for the people to get water and lights in the Marigot Hill area. How they say the French and the Dutch Sides can't work together in the general interest of the people. I would like to see us put aside our egos and work together on behalf of the people in which we represent.
Government needs to start a project to upgrade and beautify all the districts, especially Suckergarden and Dutch Quarter. We need to bring back that pride within the different districts and revitalize some of the dormant Community Councils.
I also would like to see the University of St. Martin being recognized as our National University with dormitories and for Government to increase their subsidy. I am still amazed on how we talk about how we believe in higher learning and still neglect our University.
In closing, I would like Government to focus on revitalizing our economy and market our tourism product together with the business community and the people of St. Maarten. We need to cut back on the red tape and bureaucracy in Government to get the people permits and building permits out on time. We need better control on prices and immigration. Everyone has a role to play in making St. Maarten a better place for 2017. We also have to create incentives to stimulate our local entrepreneurs for 2017 which a lot of them closed their doors last year.
We need to encourage our foreign investors to invest into our island to improve our economic growth for this year.
Little things make a big difference in the community.
What happened to the branch offices NV GEBE wanted to rent in St Johns and Belvedere to accommodate the long lines of customers at the main office?
What happened to Link 4 (Cake house road) making it a two-way with railings to ease the traffic flow in Cole Bay? The government already purchased some of the lands to widen the road and they just need to talk to the other landlord to make it possible.
What happened to the taxiway and clearance facility at the Airport to continue to make St. Maarten the clearance hub of the Caribbean?
What happened to the upgrading of Weymouth road for the residents and the beautification plan of Sucker Garden and Dutch Quarter?
What happened to the road markings for the motorists and cyclists and painting of the pedestrian crossings for the safety aspect of our people?
2017 would be a very interesting year but we have to be up for the challenge by being creative in Government and going to get things done and work more closely with the businesses in a Public Private Partnership and the people of both sides of our beautiful island St. Maarten. We need less talk, firmer decision making and more action in 2017.
Former MP Maurice Lake

Dutch and local government non-violent resistance.

apartheidpoverty09012017To: Permanent Commission of The Dutch Parliament and Senate, The Government of Bonaire, Members of the Island Council of Bonaire,
Attn: Jeroen Recourt
Ruard Ganzevoort
Mustafa Amhaouch
Andre Bosman
Sophie van Bijsterveld
Thom de Graaf
Peter Ester
Frank van Kappen
Roelof van Laar
Liesbeth van Tongeren
Tim de Lange, plv Griffier

Kralendijk, January 9, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

We are now over six (6) years after the restructured constitutional relations within the Kingdom, of which we resulted in the BES-islands public entity system, as a temporary structure and where our islands Bonaire and Sint Eustatius has been deceived. Our peoples structurally over the years have complained, protested and have held several referendums all resulting in democratic rejection of this imposed modernized colonial structure on our peoples. Several scientific and popular research from various independent institutions,scholars, etc within and outside the Kingdom including your own appointed Commission Spies all came to the same conclusion, that after 10-10-10 the people of Bonaire are unhappy, build up a anti-Dutch sentiment because of the obvious invasion and takeover by the European Dutch and consequently and hence democratically rejected this status in the December 2015 referendum, with a indisputable 65% No- vote, ratified by the elected island council as a legally binding democratic decision of the Bonerian peoples.

As up today your Dutch government has supported the current local government, which has campaigned openly and publicly for the Yes-vote during the referendum and which is in complete denial and disrespect of the voice and decision of the Bonerian peoples. This implicates both the Dutch Government and the local government to gross violation of the democratic principles of the rule of law, the democratic, self-determination and human rights of the Bonerian peoples with this power-based arrogant position and against the will and voice of the peoples.

It is obvious that you has used your power to overrule local government decisions by your Kingdom acts over the last years structurally within the Kingdom, but as we have experienced and based on all facts here-above and more, you have shown to be of double-moral when it comes to the defense of our peoples democratic, self-determination and human rights, where you consequently is taking a unilateral undemocratic approach and position and are on your way to consolidate the annexation and embedding of us, without freedom and equality in your constitution.

Today, we as the people , which these rights belongs to and not to the government nor the politicians, are experiencing a factual betrayal by both governments,in power, the Kingdom and local, who are elected and are supposed to respect and guide the democratic rule of law. As we all agree that rule of law and law is based on mutual respect from all of us, I myself and all others who are experiencing the same betrayal are without defense of our governments regarding to respect to democracy and laws, has no option to fall back on our universal and inalienable natural rights, our law of nature, which is the base of our existence and our human dignity.

We will only promote passive non-violent resistance, and will follow our natural rights our birth-right natural laws till you stop the embedding of our territory in your constitution and the rule of law and democracy are respected and restored in our territory. It will be up to us the people to respect or not any unnatural laws and protection imposed on our natural resources and habitat so we can guarantee our existence and till we are guaranteed of respect to our democratic, self-determination and human rights are re-established and protected.

Sincerely yours,
James Finies, Nos Ke Boneiru Bek

The State of Our Environment: A Retrospect and Hope for 2017.

Dear Editor,

I have had the privilege to have traveled extensively both for work and for pleasure, although sometimes during those travels the circumstances I found myself in were the least bit pleasurable; having dysentery on an eight hour bus ride with no toilet in Tanzania comes to mind. Travel, whether representing Sint Maarten and its Nature abroad or for personal reasons, causes reflection and thus, as I sit on a plane on the tarmac in Bangkok waiting to continue on to Qatar, Amsterdam and finally home, I reflect on our environment during a very tumultuous 2016.
2016 saw significant issues facing our nature as we develop from a young nation into a country finding her place in the region and in the world. An island strikingly beautiful yet faced with issues damaging to our fragile environment and economy. It is our nature and the goods and services that it provides that drives our economic wellbeing; our sea, beaches, hills and lagoon are the things that make us an important player in the Caribbean Tourism Market.
Early last year on my way to Bimini in the Bahamas to attend a shark conservation workshop I stopped over briefly in Nassau where I was amazed to see a large resort development sitting completely empty. Chatting with the taxi driver he explained that the development was a large project funded by the Chinese and subsequently left bankrupt, causing significant ecological and economic damage. I was worried to hear about similar developments occurring on Sint Maarten and I hope that whatever occurs remains transparent and takes into account the significant ecological concerns the whole island shares.
Similarly, I was discussing the Chinese project with a highly placed politician who was open to my concerns, until I mentioned sharks. He called me crazy for wanting to protect these highly endangered and ecologically significant animals and suggested I seek professional help. I was bothered by the still ongoing ignorance on the importance of these animals so critical to the health of our ocean. While in Japan and Vietnam I saw firsthand shark fins being sold on a tremendous scale, wiping out these animals at a rate of up to one hundred million a year. That is why I was so happy and proud of my government when they declared shark protection for Sint Maarten. I am also proud that Sint Maarten and myself are a part of a regional push to enact shark conservation in the Caribbean, ensuring that these majestic species can continue to maintain the balance of our precious Caribbean Sea.
Another group of majestic creatures that call our waters home are marine mammals, whales and dolphins in particular. I have had the privilege of swimming with both in the wild, sharing intimate space with another animal at least as intelligent as I am. It has changed my life. It is for this reason why I am again very disappointed in the rumors regarding the possibility of a captive dolphin facility on Sint Maarten. Dolphins are highly intelligent, sentient, and highly social creatures and penning them up for our amusement is criminal. Worldwide there is a movement to stop these activities and places that keep dolphins in captivity have been faced with international condemnation. It would be sad to see the same happen here.
Our local ecosystems are also still under threat. The Simpson Bay Lagoon is still continuously under significant pressure although now, with the listing of Mullet Pond as a Ramsar wetland of international importance, there is hope in conserving some of the last mangrove strands left in the Simpson Bay Lagoon. Hopefully we can avoid becoming like the Bay of Tonkin in Vietnam where I recently saw the type of destruction the removal of mangroves can have on a wetland, including damaging floods and immense fish kills.
Our coral reefs are also still facing threats despite our hard work in managing the Marine Park. We are facing unprecedented ecological change in the face of climate change that will significantly impact our reefs. But I have been inspired by the people of Jamaica who have helped us implement our coral gardening project here on Sint Maarten, made us aware that rewilding our coral reefs is not only the ecologically but also the economically sound thing to do.
Finally, I can’t end this letter without mentioning two things that are essential to the true conservation and management of the environment on Sint Maarten; the establishment of a terrestrial protected area and a solution to the Philipsburg landfill. We urgently need an area on land to be protected and conserved, where our endemic orchids, reptiles, and insects can thrive and fulfill their ecological role, a role in which we all play a part as inhabitants of our island nation and of the earth.
But the single biggest issue is the landfill. I think I have said enough on this, to the point of sounding like a broken record in fact, but for the sake of this country, its people and the nature that makes us unique we must find an urgent solution to this environmental disaster. While living in Tanzania in Africa I saw first hand the effects landfills can have on a population, from birth deformities to cancer to asthma. And I am worried that, based on the surveys which were conducted by the Nature Foundation, we have been seeing a spike in these cases on Sint Maarten. Solve this urgently!
My stopover is coming to an end. Time to pack up and settle in for the long flight. I am looking forward to being back on my rock and I would like to wish all a happy New Year and Sint Maarten the stability we need to conserve our land and our sea, to ensure our people are healthy and for us all to realize that Nature is Our Future. Happy 2017!

Tadzio Bervoets
Nature Foundation Sint Maarten
Narrow Road, Cole Bay

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