St. Martin News Network

Mar 31st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

It’s Time for Us to Build Our Nation Not Tear it Down!

User Rating:  / 0

Dear Editor/Publisher,

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." This powerful quote has been attributed to Albert Einstein and forms the basis for my letter today.

Why is this quote pivotal to my letter? As a former journalist who minored in Mass Communication at the University of Tampa twenty years ago, it has become extremely sad for me to see the state of our deteriorating press on St. Maarten as it pertains to fairness, accuracy and content from all forms of media, with particular emphasis today on our print media. Having been on the receiving end of that bias more times than I care to think about, Victorious Living has decided to address this issue head on, not only in addressing the blatant bias of our print media but also the poor journalistic ethics that in particular the Today sometimes exhibits.

As we have looked at the trends over the years, it appears as if the emphasis is more on sensationalism; the macabre, gloom and doom than the things that would seek to empower and uplift the people of this nation. For the interest of time and space, I'd like to first address the most recent biased and inaccurate reporting from the Today Newspaper of Friday March 20th. In this seemingly vindictive and judgmental piece of writing, the writer seems to have gone on a witch hunt to find every reason to turn a perfectly empowering press release which focused on building the leadership capacity of our nation and highlighting one of our young local heroines for taking a stand against pedophilia, to make the initiative of hosting Leadercast seem as the most conniving effort.

What is sadder is that the writer of this article in the Today Newspaper did all types of investigative reporting to determine the cost of a Leadercast license and then went on to express that as a foundation, Victorious Living, a non-profit organization is overcharging. Unfortunately, not once did the Today Newspaper inquire about the event from Victorious Living whose mission is to empower, enlighten, enrich and reconcile the lives of people to our Creator and each other.

Today did not ask any relevant or investigative questions of VLF as a true journalist who has no agendas would have done. The Today did not consider the fact that Victorious Living has been empowering hundreds of families, young people and individuals in St. Martin and beyond for thirteen years and does not rely upon Government subsidy. Rather, VLF utilizes Leadercast as an empowerment tool and a fundraiser to be able to offer our community much needed emotional and life empowerment support.

The American Press Institute states: "...Merely engaging in journalistic-like activity – snapping a cell-phone picture at the scene of a fire or creating a blog site for news and comment – does not by itself produce a journalistic product. Though it can and sometimes does, there is a distinction between the act of journalism and the end result. The journalist places the public good above all else and uses certain methods – the foundation of which is a discipline of verification – to gather and assess what he or she finds."

Sadly, the Today Newspaper did not see it fit to contact the source of the press release in addition to his other sources to provide a story that was for the public good. He announces costs of the event; but does not inquire about the cost for the food at the event, the sound; the venue; permit and all other costs to be factored in, in addition to raising funds so that the work of the foundation continues to transform the lives of hundreds of people.

The American Press Institute's research-based online document, Journalism Essentials, states: "Journalism is our modern cartography. It creates a map for citizens to navigate society. As with any map, its value depends on a completeness and proportionality in which the significant is given greater visibility than the trivial. Keeping news in proportion is a cornerstone of truthfulness. Inflating events for sensation, neglecting others, stereotyping, or being disproportionately negative all make a less reliable map."

Last year for Leadercast 2014 the Today newspaper took another cheap shot at the event; which I only responded to in a private e-mail to Mr. Haar concerning the sordid and inaccurate reporting that was done. This time around, we could not be silent, because over the past five to seven years, we have watched in amazement at the biased and unethical reporting conducted by the Today and other media at strategic times which make us wonder if the intent of the paper is to only destroy the moral fiber of this community.

If that is the case, as a people, and a citizenry, St. Martiners should not allow themselves to be held hostage by persons who do not have St. Martin at heart. It is therefore time for change. It is time for the media to police itself; it is time for us to uphold fairness, truth, justice and the overall good of our society. We therefore request the Today newspaper to retract its very defamatory spin on Victorious Living's recent press release and reprint it fairly.

To the entire community of St. Martin, we need leaders who are worth following. That leadership is also necessary in our media. We must demand a higher caliber of journalism in our print and mass media than we are currently getting. Victorious Living is about empowering others as we are empowered to impact the lives of people positively. As the visionary of Victorious Living I want to remind each citizen as Martin Luther King once said: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." It is time to take a courageous stand for the truth and justice in our land, regardless of the costs!

N. Erna Mae Francis-Cotton, MA, DD
Visionary, Victorious Living Foundation

Last Updated ( Monday, 23 March 2015 13:08 )


RBC bank account trouble (money missing)

User Rating:  / 1

My Name is Jean Marie NGORE TRAORE, I have an US $ RBC bank account with an ATM card from RBC.
My first complaint was because, all the file received from the bank were in euros, I said, I had not an euro account in your bank. The mistake was changes after October 30 2014.

My main concern is about ATM withdrawals, the limit is 500 us $ a day. In my bank file cash withdraw on the same day can reach 1.500 us $ for one day.
Because of this kind of errors, almost 5.000 us $ are missing from my account, due to the fact that the bank file mentioned same amount is withdrawn two times even three times the same day. (Beyond 500 us $ we cannot withdraw any money the card is blocked).

I have a lawyer Vivian Choennie at FOX LAW. This mail is just to inform you that all the troubles about RBC cards are not resolved yet.

Best Regards


Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 March 2015 13:25 )

Judge’s sentence in the van Lunteren and Bada Bing case; the end of sixty years of prostitution in St. Maarten as we know it?

User Rating:  / 0

The sentence handed down by the court of first instance of St. Maarten, today, March 6, 2015. Has had an earth-shaking impact among operators of "adult entertainment " centers on the island. It might well spell the death-knell to the "whore-house business" as we know.
What the Judge said:
Mr. Jaap van den Heuvel well as his company, Lunteren N.V. have both been found guilty of " intentionally recruiting, transporting, transferring and or housing the six women mentioned as victims in the indictment, with the intention of putting these women to work as prostitutes, or with the intention of exploiting them."
Van den Heuvel was accused of providing rooms for these women at Bada Bing, where he set them to work as prostitutes. He furthermore exploited these women by making them pay US$60 per day for a room which they shared with one or more women, while they had to work and live in these same rooms. The women also had to pay for their airfare and for condoms. They were told when they could leave the premises and when they could return. They were given only one day off per week and had to pay a certain amount of money each time they left the premises with a client.
The court ruled that these women were abused because van den Heuvel knew they were poor and vulnerable. The women stated that because of their dire financial circumstances they really had no choice. The accused therefore knew that these women were vulnerable. One of the co-defendants even stated that they recruited women from Santo Domingo because they "wanted to do this work". The women were saddled with a start-off debt which they had to repay with the money they earned from prostitution. The court therefore considered it proven that the accused abused these women by using his power over them to recruit them as prostitutes. This according to the court also proved that the women were trafficked. The court furthermore considered exploitation proven because the women could not decide when, where, and with whom they wanted to work. They were not paid any salary but yet they were obliged to be at Bada Bing from5 pm, and to work from 10 pm to 5 am. Whenever a client wanted to take them out he had to pay Bada Bing US$150 from which the girls received nothing! The girls could not decide where they wanted to live, but were obliged to stay at Bada Bing. They slept two or three to a room, and didn't have their own bed, but had to share a double bed with someone else. For these poor accommodations they paid US$60 per day (US$1,800 per 30 day month), which amount was withheld from the money they earned from prostituting themselves. These circumstances led the court to conclude that van den Heuvel took advantage of the vulnerable position of these women and exploited them. Van den Heuvel was he leader in charge of this behavior at Bada Bing.
What this ruling means for other brother owners
Reading this must have shivers down the spines of the other brother operators. It accurately describes their "business model". This means that as of immediately, all brothel owners can be arrested for engaging in trafficking women and exploiting them. They will therefore have to undertake urgent action before the prosecutors office puts them all out of business, or in jail with Jaap van den Heuvel. A modus operandi which was followed for the sixty years since Campo Alegre opened its doors for business in the 1950s is suddenly threatened, its very existence called into question.
The Paradise in Munich Germany:
Recentyl, "Le Point", a French news magazine published an article about attempts in France to criminalize prostitution by prosecuting the customers. They referred to an article in the "Daily Mail" of London, in which an extensive report was published about club "Paradise" in Munich Germany. Perhaps the club owners in St. Maarten would like to take a look at that business model. Paradise rents rooms for 175 Euros per night to prostitutes who work for their own account. They do not live at the club, and do not work for the club. They only rent rooms there. The city has licensed the club for the purpose of prostitution, but the operators neither recruit nor manage the girls. The keep the place clean and provide security, but the girls are strictly independent operators. How the girls arrive at the club is not their concern, so they cannot be charged with neither human trafficking nor exploitation of vulnerable women. Of course, others do the dirty work of procuring the women, but the club stays safely out of the shadows. It is something whore-house operators in St. Maarten might want to start thinking hard about.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 March 2015 14:00 )

Statement by MP Sarah Wescot-Williams

User Rating:  / 0

Former Prime Minister and initiator of the U2 Can Move Fitness Program

I wish to start by expressing my continued support for the different activities that are geared towards a healthy lifestyle for all.
However, cognizant of the constrains many women face, especially where physical activity is concerned, I warmly endorse activities, business-sponsored or otherwise that offer women the opportunity to stay fit. "It's good for business."
I also ask motorists to be conscious of the many persons who use our roads to "be on the move", bikers included.
The health benefits of even moderate activity are enormous.
Walkathons are a favorite activity on St. Maarten and with this in mind, the U2 Can Move organization has planned a walkathon for Saturday, March 7th, 2015, starting at 5.30 am at the John Larmonie Center on the Longwall road. T-shirts will be provided.
However, this is not your ordinary walkathon, but rather one, accompanied by the brass band, so participants can work up a good sweat, at least those who can and others will walk at their leisure. There is no age limit.
This walk will take participants around the Great Salt Pond, back to the John Larmonie Center, where breakfast will be served. There is no cost involved, and groups are encouraged to participate as well.
The date for the walkathon has been chosen to coincide with International Women's Day, which is annually celebrated on March 8th. This year's international theme is MAKE IT HAPPEN. (More on this theme in a subsequent release.)

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 March 2015 16:05 )

Critique in review CURACAO Civil Aviation Authority

User Rating:  / 0

CURACAO Civil Aviation Authority

Curacao Civil Aviation Authority has not made significant efforts over the past several years to facilitate a change in civil aviation laws required to enable the island countries of Curacao and Sint Maarten to return to Category 1 rating needed to meet the minimum international standards in civil aviation safety.

When the new aviation company AVA Airways announced their intention and desire to enter into the commercial aviation environment on the Caribbean Dutch Kingdom Island Countries of Sint Maarten and Curacao. Honestly I was hoping they can fill a void in the air transportation industry. I started out both excited and enthusiastic about the prospects of them reaching their goals in the long term and getting to see if the wheels of government were turning in the right direction in the short term towards handling the delicate process of bringing AVA goal to fruition.
Having personally made inquiry and seen that the AVA group including its co founder Olivier Arrindell had done most of their homework, in lieu of aircraft purchases, such as meeting with Airbus regional representatives and aircraft certified mechanics, members of Parliaments and political parties, FAA advisors, the CCAA Director Mr. Derby and their administrators, the groups financial backers and general consultants in the field of aviation, I decided to comment on this matter to bring a certain light to this topic of interest. This critique and opinion was brought about when certain issues on the matter were presented within the public domain.
As a Sint Maartener and resident who happens to be a holder of a Department of Transportation private pilot certificate with over 1100hrs in single and multiengine land airplanes beside having flown locally and in the America's. As well as, having achieved the rank of Captain in the USAF Auxiliary "Civil Air Patrol" being qualified in the area of Search and Rescue, communications, ground and air searches (including pilot, observer and scanner)..Thus I have become familiar with the National Aviation Authority which is responsible for issuance of the Certificate of Airworthiness (standard or special airworthiness certificates), FAA policy and procedures for type certifications, pilot certification, Bi-annual pilot flight reviews, medical requirements and ect...NTSB, Dept of Transportation, everything about airports, controlled and uncontrolled airspace, policies and many other aspects of aviation or things related.
So after reading that an SOAB audit was completed, deficiencies were highlighted, fixed and amended by AVA consultants which resulting in a positive advice report from the SOAB. In that I knew, it would take more than a business plan audit to get any aircraft type to the level of being airworthy or receiving a Certificate of Airworthiness as qualified aviation technical mechanics, and Inspectors had to be available to perform the assessment of any new registration of intended use aircraft ear marked for the AVA venture. This is the first of several major problems that are evidently impacting civil aviation in the Sint Maarten and Curacao.
First and foremost AVA aircraft must be Registered (given a permanent call sign), this is the writing we see boldly written usually aft of the plane. Once registered with call sign and a registered owners name is matched to the aircraft. A document is created that will be placed and available in the aircraft at all times and produced upon request by officials representing civil or military or government agency, as well as litigators and customers with cause. Legally the AVA Airline Group has the responsibility to have its aircrafts registered. With documented proof according to ICAO mandate and ISAS regulation the CCAA is responsible to register any aircraft that has ownership domicile within its territorial domain. So registration is a compulsory task of both the owner and the local civil aviation authority (in this case CCAA). Upon the aircraft being registered it must go through a complete systemic inspection of sort by a qualified (meaning in the type certification of aircraft) aviation mechanic/ inspector who can be contractors or persons working under the employment of the Curacao Civil Aviation Authority. To be then considered airworthy to carry passengers for commence purposes whereby with positive advice result in a Certificate of Airworthiness being issued. The Director doesn't evaluate the aircraft itself, unless he is fully qualified in type and responsibly holds the nomenclature of aviation mechanic/ inspector. Today government transparency issues appear to be common policy. One tries to prevent appearance of conflict of interest. It is likely and a fact that the Director is a politically appointed position making it imperative for a person to hold a single position within the CCAA when issue of Airworthiness Certificate is in question.
The CCAA has to provide their part of this mandated responsibility. The economy of Curacao and Sint Maarten are impacted by their current inadequacy to act as the civil aviation authority. The countries that are under the responsibility of the CCAA need this boost in free market economy. . Not to mention the millions of Guilders, Dollars and Euros that won't materialize into economic revenue for these tourist driven and fragile economies of both Sint Maarten and Curacao. Now a Private entity AVA Airlines has literally shown their business plans approved to the point of needing their aircrafts, now to go through the Certificate of Airworthiness assessment and evaluation.
Many concerned citizens and travelers alike have wondered what it will take to return to the previous status of operation. Most believe the Category 1 safety rating downgrade they heard about, occurred as it relates indirectly to the attacks on the World Trade buildings and the subsequent creation and enactment of the "Patriot Act" (whose impact was felt in the civil aviation arena around the world). But the real story as I understand it is this: THE FAA QUOTES" In conducting its IASA assessment the FAA uses a standardized checklist that groups the ICAO Standards on safety oversight into eight critical elements: (1) Primary aviation legislation,(2) specific operating regulations,(3) organization structure and safety oversight function,(4) technical personnel qualification and training, (5) technical guidance, (6) certification personnel and procedures, (7) surveillance obligations and (8) resolution of safety issues. To achieve Category 1, the country must demonstrate that it meets the ICAO Standards for each of the eight elements. Category 2 means that the CAA was noncompliant in at least one critical element. The IASA assessment typically is conducted over the course of one week by a team consisting of a team leader and at least one expert in operations, maintenance, and aviation law. Each FAA expert works through the checklist with host country officials for each of the critical elements. The team looks at a representative sampling of records and processes, and it follows up with host country aviation officials if deficiencies appear. The FAA assessment focuses on the ability of the host country's aeronautical authorities to oversee the operational safety of its airlines. It does not assess the safety compliance of any particular air carrier (nor address aviation security airports, or air traffic management). Although the FAA assessment team typically visits one or more air carriers during its mission, it does so only to verify the relationship between the carrier and the country's aviation safety officials, not to assess the carrier itself. Finally, the IASA category rating applies only to services to and from the United States and to codeshare operations when the code of a U.S. air carrier is placed on a foreign carrier flight. The category ratings do not apply to a foreign carrier's domestic flights or to flights by that carrier between its homeland and a third country. The assessment team looks at the flights only to the extent that they are a reflect on the country's oversight of operations to and from the United States and to codeshare operations where a US air carrier code is placed on a flight conducted by a foreign operator" END QUOTE.
So as I was saying: The process is being held up by CCAA administrative wrangling, claims of no funding, lack of personnel, lack of specified training programs, or professional development in the areas of concern, or lack of Aviation Laws that are guiding every country in compliance at Category 1 ratings of aircraft safety. Required aviation laws are not within the Edits of Government. Since the countries sort autonomy within the Kingdom. Such laws are so vital that there lack of, led to downgrading to a Category 2 rating. The said combined are needed to recruit and bring in qualified aviation mechanics/inspectors, (whether on contract or an employable inspector) to inspect the A 320 and other newer model aircrafts. This must be done to remain in compliance to FAA, ISAS, the International Civil Aviation Org. (a United Nations Specialized Agency) However this issue prevents direct travel to any US territory by aircraft registered by the CCAA in the present and future until CCAA is operating at Category 1 rating of safety standard. It is also to protect the consumer or traveler and well as those who utilize such aircrafts. Air transportation and air safety go hand in hand. So a standard airworthiness certificate ceases to be valid when the aircraft ceases to be registered and remains valid as long as it meets its approved type design and is in a condition for safe operation, requiring it to receive maintenance, preventive maintenance, and any considerable alteration needed to meet relevant requirements and aircraft standards to remain registered by the CCAA or any other mentioned equivalent embodiments.

Since the FAA downgraded the Category rating after ISAS surveyed results were documented. Curacao and Sint Maarten Airports cost for operation of the aviation business increased significantly including ticketing costs, maintenance, service fees, handling, with marked reduction of scheduled flights in and out of these airports. The FAA made exception for Insel Airways. They continued to fly into USA airspace under stricter scrutiny and inspection upon landing. The FAA then unofficially imposed their compliance and enforcement program on the administrative Directorship of the CCAA to fix the issues of deficiency. At that time the Director of CCAA had to bring the plan of action to remediate all deficiencies according to the surveyed results and the later downgrade specifics. Clearly this plan of action must contain short term goals and a long term goal in staying in compliance at Category 1 rating .The intermediate goal is to return to Category 1 rating. The alternative is to remain at the downgraded status until such things out of compliance are returned to appropriate level.
The downgrade was consistent with the safety ratings from Category One down to Category Two. Before 10/10/10 the Netherlands Antilles held an International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category One rating. After becoming individual countries according to the FAA:
I Quote: A Category Two rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority- equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters- is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures.
Before 10/10/10 the IASA rating was based on ICAO standards (United Nations Specialized Agency) and not the FAA. (Here is where the Patriot Act did have influence)
So any new company or additional aircraft owned/ registered and operated from either Sint Maarten or Curacao after the downgrade to Category 2 were barred from entering flights into US airports until a return to Category 1 status for the CCAA Countries (Sint Maarten and Curacao). An exception for Insel Air was made; which was allowed to continue flights into US cities under rating Category Two with stronger scrutiny from FAA inspectors.
That brings me back to this crucial point: that CCAA is deficient in areas including, technical expertise, trained personnel, and inspection procedures. Why do I say this? They haven't been able to inspect the aircraft of the AVA GROUP. Why not? They don't have: 1. trained personal to inspect, repair, service the type of aircraft that is used in today's advanced aviation community. 2. The Aviation Laws used by those civil aviation authorities around the world to be in compliance. 3. The Curacao government has not initiated the enactment of laws that will make the both Island countries compliant with the international standard. 4. So the Directorship of CCAA should have informed the government which is responsible for the CCAA about aviation laws currently documented in model form written according to international law. 5. The Model Laws are located in FAA literature.
This downgrade issue originating from CCAA inaptness to rectify these known deficiencies, which result in a great loss of revenue by all parties... with safety concerns being paramount to aircraft certification of airworthiness, the FAA, ISAS, or ICAO will not budge from sustaining the downgrade. As this doesn't affect aircraft based in the USA or Europe transporting and doing aviation commerce between SXM or CUR. Other countries will continue to monopolize the market.
But further downturn in leadership is preventable as it must be that the expectation of the CCAA is to regulate and not to be relegated to being regulated by a foreign agency in which it should have parity. So whenever possible the two should be inter-related but separately controlled as the relationship should be of mutual respect. There should be a creation of an independent safety board to investigate accidents and incidents that take place within the jurisdiction whereby the CCAA directorship/administration position is not in clear conflict of interest, or where personal investment, or gain can be ruled out when it comes to accidents or incidents with aircraft, or criminal shootings in and around airport terminal that is owned and operated outside of the domain of CCAA and by the municipality. As previously, the current Director of CCAA was in a Directorship position with Jamaica's civil aviation authority. When American Airlines had a runway accident and four years were required to complete the investigation while the Director was on seat. American Airline authorities were concern about the length of time the JCAA took to officially document reasonable cause for the said accident. Speculatively, by here-say the results of the findings were alledged to have been documented upon the present Directors (of CCAA) departure from his post in Jamaica.

In order to be pro active I expect that the AVA group boldly support their own interests by lobbying the Parliament Ministers with documented proof of model laws found in FAA literature(that is to enable those unfamiliar with the aviation community issues) and facilitate the process of getting qualified individuals to perform mechanical maintenance, repairs, services, for all of the aircraft that they will be utilizing and to propose to leadership a way in which contract/employment can occur to enable the professional development of existing CCAA inspectors, the support of recruitment to bring in qualified individuals, scholarships to educate much needed (local) aviation mechanics, programs to create inspector level skills, utilization of aircraft manufacturer manuals, webcam training, or instruction by experts in the field for each model of aircraft and through this collaborative effort they come together with CCAA. As leadership initiatives are required in Parliament, CCAA, and AVA Airline Group alike. It is necessary, so that this is not going to be another opportunity lost due to personal differences, conflicts of interest or poor focus on what this will mean for the Island Countries of Sint Maarten and Curacao to the economies of both in the short and long term future.
The people want and need this change in law. While economist says this is impacting revenues, so the country needs change. Parliament need to know what laws to enact. The world is watching to see the stability of the two nations within the Kingdom. This is a good plan that needs to be given a positive report to promote tourism, safe and modern transportation and air travel, economic freedom from Holland, civic pride for the accomplishment, and removing of the deficiencies in the Category Two rating, so as to return to Category One again.
Private Pilot Joseph Okon dated February 19, 2015

Reference: A: MCARs Model Civil Aviation Regulations Version 2.8, Version 2.7, and Version 2.6

  1.  Intro to the model civil aviation safety act and model regulations
  2. Civil aviation safety act (model law)
  3.  Parts 1-11

B: USA Federal Register Vol 78. No. 46/ Friday March 8th 2013 rules and regulations
Title: Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, 14 CFR Part 129 International Aviation Safety Assessment(IASA) program change

  1. Summary
  2. Effective date April 8th 2013.
  3. For further information contact Manager of International programs and policy division(AFS-50) 1202-385-8070
  4.  Supplementary information
  5. Public expectation of IASA Category Ratings
  6. Current IASA determinations for countries

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 March 2015 12:23 )

  • «
  •  Start 
  •  Prev 
  •  1 
  •  2 
  •  Next 
  •  End 
  • »
Page 1 of 2