PHILIPSBURG:--- Political and social activist Shujah Reiph has urged the United St. Maarten Party (USP) to approach independence for the territory “with confidence.”
Reiph was the guest speaker at the USP congress last Sunday at John Larmonie Center, where the party membership elected Pamela Gordon-Carty as the new political leader.
The theme of Reiph’s speech was “Independence – The way forward.” Reiph said that in his presentation to the full room of about 250 people, he pointed out that, “Ever since the signing of the Concordia treaty of 1648, for the past 373 years, European colonization has been present in St. Martin and it is time for colonialism to go.”
The USP, founded by Frans Richardson in 2013, declared at the congress that in the next parliamentary election it will campaign for the political independence of the southern part of St. Martin, a territory of the Netherlands.
“I congratulated USP for taking such a bold and brave stand on independence,” said Reiph. “I also pointed out that the USP is standing on the shoulders of those who pushed forward openly and widely the discussion some 30 years ago,” said Reiph.
“There was the call for independence by then leading politician Claude Wathey. That call was followed right away by many people discussing it publicly and in the media like never before. Then came the concrete record of that discussion as a foundation through the books The Independence Papers and The Republic of St. Martin,” said Reiph.
Reiph urged the new USP board and the membership “to approach this most important issue of independence with confidence; without doubting by the board and the rank and file that independence is the right choice; and knowing that only in an independent St. Martin republic can we see true democracy,” said Reiph.
Reiph said he highlighted the importance of education and economic development in his speech. As part of his conclusion, he quoted the following from The Republic of St. Martin by Joseph H. Lake Jr.: “The republic shall ensure economic wealth for its citizens by creating an economic atmosphere in which the private sector can freely grow and flourish in a democratic and free-market setting.”