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Let Our Environment Not be an afterthought During our Crises.

tazioletter13102019Dear Editor,

I am no longer a resident of Sint Maarten; I now live on Bonaire. But I am a born and bred Simaatin man and although I am not physically there, my spirit and my navel string still are. So seeing the cloud that now hangs over my island grow darker and gloomier upsets me. It keeps me awake. And at night my dreams are wafted by the smell of greed instead of that of the morning dew on the leaves of the July Tree.

Undoubtedly Sint Maarten is teething. But these growing pains are now accompanied by a fever. And nowhere is that burning malaise more evident than on how we treat our environment; that which makes our island the special, incredible place that it is.

Sint Maarten is lagging, she is falling behind. Falling behind in how we manage our natural resources, how we respond to a changing climate, and how we address our social ills in the face of this climate challenge. We are failing in how we protect and conserve the coral reefs and mountain forests and seagrass beds that make our island one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean.

Bonaire is beautiful but it is a dessert. I miss the green golden sunrise on the Sint Maarten hills, the dawn sunshine so bright it makes your eyes hurt as it heals your soul. But that same sunlight hasn’t been healing us as a Nation. We still depend too much on fossil fuels; on the big generators that sporadically provide electricity. Solar is a renewable resource, one that shines on our soil almost daily. The initial investments to move towards sustainable energy might be a pinch, but the benefits in the long run much outweigh those initial costs. I am in some position to comment; after two years on the Board of Directors of our utilities company trying to push it towards sustainable energy I failed. Failed not because of want of trying but because, as Bob would say; politricks.

Another painful point is the conservation of our beaches and coasts. I remember the first time my mother gifted me a diving mask and I stuck my seven year old head in the sea. The mind-blow I received from seeing a world so different yet familiar to my own has set me on the path I currently walk. Yet we seem to have a flagrant disregard for our most important resource. What is occurring on Kim Sha is a prime example; constant water quality issues and popular party spots building structures without the proper permits. Yet we all want pictures with wings on Instagram.

We are loosing our critical terrestrial and marine ecosystems at an unprecedented rate. Ecosystems that provide essential goods and services to our economy. If there is one thing the exercise of the past two years has shown us is that we are ill-prepared to face what is coming, what this changing world driven by an already changed climate will bring. Ill prepared in terms of conservation, economic resilience, social safety nets and simply caring for our land, people, heritage and culture.

During my nine years working on the island I have constantly, sometimes daily, been offered ‘help’ if I would do a ‘favor’. Naturally I have always refused, but whenever this happened it broke my heart. It eroded my soul. Especially when you realize that this modus operandi has been perpetuated by my own people.

It is unfortunate that, even with the millions of dollars which were made available after Irma; which, again, was a Climate Change driven event; struggling nature and social organizations are treated as an afterthought. Well, maybe with the exception of well-positioned photo-ops in the local media. There have been times when we have had to go without salary for months because of non-payment of our subsidies. And we were fortunate enough to work for an organization that was actually able to provide salaries. Many can’t. But if you compare this to the level of financial support which is given to entities that do not contribute to the sustainable development of our country, then I am worried. Not only do visitors to our shores have a holiday but many entities which can contribute financially to our environmental and social wellbeing are also on holiday, albeit one centered on their tax contribution to the country’s coffers. Money which could go to the establishment of a Climate Change Bureau, or towards the implementing of a circular economy that would effectively eliminate the need for single use plastics. Or for amending laws to include Environmental Impact Assessments for all large developments. But I am known to be a dreamer, though I hope not the only one.

It always appears as if Sint Maarten is falling behind the rest of the region, the rest of the world. We are too caught up with our own insecurities as a people; being reactionary to external threats, wether real or imagined, instead of responding to our existential ones. Irma will happen again. And her successor will be worse. Irma was worse than Luis.

Having said all of that I do consider myself fortunate. Fortunate to have contributed to my island. Fortunate to have worked on protecting the species that call our land and sea home, communicating their importance to my people. Fortunate to have introduced children to the wonders of our nature. But mostly I am fortunate to have worked and to still work with my people and the wild places and wildlife that make Sint Maarten Sint Maarten. Although I am worried about the direction the island is moving towards my heart is still. Still because of the energy, passion and compassion, and drive that I see now on Sint Maarten. My Sweet Sweet Sint Maarten. And it is my hope that this fire will continue to burn, burn not like the one that still burns at the landfill, but like the one that I know still burns in my people’s souls.

Tadzio Bervoets
Sur Salinja 30
Kralendijk, Bonaire
+1 721 5864588


The people who should definitely NOT run in the next election.

Dear  Editor,

Now that it seems we will have an election sometime in the near future I want to be one of the first to send you a letter before it gets too busy and messages get lost in all the hoopla. I wanted to send a message to some people who might be thinking about running but who should not! Under no circumstances should these people put themselves back on a list in 2019.

1. Leona Romeo-Marlin: From NA to USP, to UP, to UD and left all under strange circumstances with almost all parties calling her a liar of some form. No. Time is up. Call it a day.
2. Frankie Meyers: Cannot be trusted. Died on his knees a million times by now and too often makes lofty speeches then backtracks. Flip flopper. Time is up. Call it a day.
3. Sarah Wescot-Williams: At this stage, just an administrator, too tired or too old to table any significant legislation. Yes, we know, you are smart. But if you are not putting that to use for the people after 30 plus years, then no. Time is up. Call it a day.
4. Frans Richardson: Arrested TWICE! That level of smoke means there is enough fire someplace that will eventually burn you. Nothing that you say will be believable or even credible and definitely not integer. Nobody wants to follow somebody arrested once, imagine twice! Especially not someone who hasn’t done anything in Parliament. Not in 2019. Time is up. Call it a day.
5. Theo Heyliger: Why even bother? You don’t need it. Your family doesn’t need it and if you do they will probably lock you up again because you are supposed to be “sick”. Plus, just like Frans, you have been arrested and charged with serious crimes against the people. Too much smoke. Go fight your cases. Time is up. Call it a day.
6. Emil Lee: After a while, his disconnect from the people of St. Maarten with whom he never bonded but sounded nice with an American accent wore thin. Time was up a long time ago. Call it a day.
7. Pastor Wycliff Smith: How on earth is the leader of the Christian Party going to explain away all of the hypocritical moves his party made as part of this government that just fell? How? The pastor needs to save face and call it a day because they will have fun in a campaign with him. Call it a day.
8. Chanel Brownbill: How many lives does a cat have? Apparently too many. Come on now. Enough of this. Time is up. Call it a day.
9. Claude Peterson: Not cohesive, thinks he is still on Facebook while debating in Parliament, no solutions, unprepared, overly dramatic for no reason, ineffective, ignored. Time was short but time is up. Call it a day.
10. Any of the has-beens need to stay out, they know who they are. Just spare us and make space for new people. Preferably younger, educated people.
Mr. Editor I beg these people to consider their place in our history. It is 2019. We must make a turn politically. These people above have too much baggage or are just plain ineffective legislators. Time say to say thank you to these people and move on from then. Now it’s up to the voter.


A concerned citizen.

Tourist Beware,Resolution: for $3100 to be credited to credit card & cancel product shipment.

Complaint 24K

From St. Maarten News Network 3/7/18 interview with Mr. Dimri regarding his business & staying in St. Maarten. Investors are from Canada. Business caters to tourists. They never force anyone to purchase products. They only give free samples. Because tourists & others complain about barkers in Philipsburg, Mr. Dimri assured that his employees would not harass island visitors. The company provides training for employees.
Based on reviews on the internet for Dor 24k stores our experience in Philipsburg stores is not unique: target Senior Citizens (I am 76); impression they target one tourist to the location & lure to 2nd location for free facial; misrepresent products, themselves, TV celebrities endorsing products; use of scare tactics such as spots on face could be cancer & products will prevent from becoming cancer; feeling scammed after leaving store; not explaining No Refund policy- no refunds should be a Red Flag – online purchases have 21 day refund; staff being condescending to customers.
They may refuse proposed resolution but we can make others aware so other tourists are not caught unaware of the tactics used to get their business.
Since 2010 we come to St. Maarten every September including during Irma. We have built relationships with the staff at the businesses we go to every year. We are timeshare owners at Divi Little Bay and attend St. Martin of Tours Church when here.
We tend to avoid Mr. Dimri’s stores when in Philipsburg where they hand out free samples, ask to see your eyes, & try to make you buy the hand into the store for free eye treatment. On 9/13/19 I got lured in one of the stores because I needed some moisturizer. Of course, I had to have the eye treatment. Later I realized they sold me a different type of product instead of what I asked for. I will try to exchange as this receipt says exchange within 14 days. The salesperson said owner was in town (not actually owner) for the grand opening of a new store in St. Bart’s- offseason strange time for this. Referred to him as Dr. Dom & if lucky he would have time to demo free facelifting treatment. She took me by the hand to another store (should have run away).
Dominick started with treatment. Said only needed to use once a month so creams last 6 years. Called me Mom and he was like a son to me, age spots were precancerous & creams would fix this. He called this respect. I call it condescending. He did half of the face, had husband check results. Asked price & he said $6000 & came down to $3900. When I said no he walked out of the store. He came & said $2900. Very pressured, stupidly agreed so 2nd side of face treated. He wanted the promise to only use his products & tell no one how much I paid. I was not given any products but told they would ship from Las Vegas, NV and I stated verbally & on Customer Shipping Form they would not be shipped until 9/20/19 as no one would be home to get the package until after 9/21/19. Based on later texts with Dom this was ignored so in effect he broke our agreement. I also put X inbox for ground transportation- free delivery. Again I stupidly did not read any refunds nor did anyone explain this. In another place says exchange within 14 days. They also said as soon as the package arrives open all the cream boxes to sure nothing broken. This also ensures all are opened & can’t be exchanged. Amount of $2900 scribbled out &3100 written in. By this time I was anxious to leave the store so I accepted the explanation that this was shipping. I took no products with me, just understanding they would ship on 9/20/19.
Text from Dom 9/13/19 so I would have his cell number: Hi it’s your son Dominico the cream guy.
9/14/19 to Dom: I really financially should not have been charged $3100 on credit card. My husband has a heart condition & medication is over $300 per month. He goes in the hospital soon for a heart procedure. I would like you to cancel sending the products on 9/20/19 & refund $3100 to our American Express. A true son would look out for parents and do this. I am sorry for the inconvenience.
9/14/19 from Dom: No refund mom. We already sent your package. I'm sorry company policy
9/14/19 to Dom: We agreed it would not be shipped until 9/20/19 because no one would be home until after 9/21/19-even noted this on the sheet when I wrote address. After checking the internet for company discovered several complaints regarding high-pressure tactics such as you all use including in St. Maarten- those customers had products in hand. Also, your products appeared to not be in the top 10 ratings. If the alternatives are a complaint with American Express, Facebook, BBB, Twitter, Divi Bay Staff, to warn guest about your store tactics in St. Maarten, etc that is what I will do especially considering others who complained had products in hand & I do not. Since your company is based in Florida, I will file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs if you don’t issue a refund to my American Express by Monday morning. Also, you shipped already when I specifically said not to ship until 9/20/19.
9/14/19 from Dom: I don’t appreciate the way you talk to me at all!!! I was extremely respectful & kind to you no refunds. Have a great day. And I respectfully tell you to go ahead & do whatever you like. On all the receipts you signed very clear no refunds!!! Thank you have a great day nobody pressure you & you know that. It was the exact opposite. I was extremely nice to you & you loved everything!!! There is a lot of bad things online, you should know better. I respect you have a great day
(Sent picture with forms and receipt saying no refund. Also shows where I wrote Ship Date 9/20/19)
9/14/19 to Dom: We will do what we have to do
9/14/19 from Dom: very clear all over your signature. No problem have a great day
9/14/19 to Dom: Did you not read ship date of 9/20/19 on the paper you sent?
9/14/19 from Dom: We ship the package immediately you will get it on dates you asked but it’s already out because we don’t want you to wait for the package to get there the day you asked for that’s respect
9/14/19 to Dom: I asked that it not be shipped out until9/20/19 as we will not be home until after 9/21/19. You did not respect my request.
9/14/19 from Dom: My dear the package will be at your house the date asked but we always ship it out so you get on-time you asked.
9/14/19 from Dom: I really respect you & you make me feel a little bit uncomfortable so please I don’t want to feel like that because to me you like a mother, it’s not about the money. All I really did for you at my store is respecting you
9/14/19 to Dom: My other two sons lookout for me & will be upset about spending the money
9/14/19 from Dom: You didn’t spend money you bought something that is very important & good for you &you deserve it
9/14/19 to Dom: With much regret, because it puts us in financial distress, we will do what we need to do.
9/14/19 from Dom: No problem.


Margaret Bristow

 

To know St. Maarten’s Destiny, you must know its History.

Mr. Editor,
As I meditated and enjoyed God’s scenic nature of our beautiful island with my Mom and eldest son, a good friend of mines sent me a WhatsApp message if I ever read the book ‘The Making of an Island’ by Jean Glasscock.
One of the pages in the book in which my friend sent to me spoke about the history of St. Maarten when Mr. Bill Hunter opened Hunter House (now called Castle Cove Inn where he brought guests by boat to Point Blanche from the little pier in town). The article spoke about my Dad ‘Mooch’ who use to work for Mr. Hunter, and who would blow a conch shell from the little boat and pick up the guests and bring them to Hunters House. In those days they only had lanterns and candles and some large flashlights. The road was built out to Point Blanche in the fall of 1961 and in 1963 or 1964 they finally got electricity from the light company.
As I continued to read one of the pages in the book, I turned to my mom and asked her about the history in which she explained to me how my Dad ‘Mooch’ use to work, cook and even sing for the guests at Hunters House during those days. We spoke for a long time about my Dad’s contribution to St. Maarten and how he swam from Anguilla to St. Martin seven (7) times, a talented soccer player and sportsman. He was the chauffeur for three Lt. Governors of St. Maarten. My mom turns to me and says we need to document our history for generations to come to have an insight on how it used to be in the early days before modern development and the progress of society took over.
Mr. Editor, I fully agree with my mom and the point I would like to make in this letter to the editor is that we need to start documenting our history and landmarks of our beautiful island for generations to come. We have lost a lot of our seniors with so much wealth of knowledge without documenting our history.
By documenting our history, we would treasure, value and respect the foundation and principles that St. Maarten was built on by our local ancestors and seniors.
Today, we reap the fruits of St. Maarten’s past heritage but forget some of us forget the history and how St. Maarten was built and by whom. We need to get away from becoming a self- centered society and start focusing on building each other up rather than tearing each other down. It’s very sad to see how we got away from our history and principles on how we lead and build a Nation by becoming more caring and creating hope by speaking truth to our people to move forward in life. The most powerful leaders stay humble and tell people the truth and create hope for their people.
We need to get back to basics and respect, appreciate the solid foundation and principles that St. Maarten was built on for us to enjoy and make us what we are today. We need to pray more, stay humble and start caring and sharing more about our people. We need to pass on all these principles and family values to the next generation and generations to come before we lose focus to outside peer pressure and other influences of the world.
I pray that this letter to the editor will get us to appreciate and start sharing and documenting our history to build a better St. Maarten in unity for our people. A lot of us forget our history, where we came from and how St. Maarten was built for us to become the person, we have grown up to be today. We need to continue naming our buildings and streets after our local icons. I was so happy to see St. Maarteners will have the honor of carrying two street names in Amsterdam, Holland by our own national cultural/heritage expert the late Camille E. Baly.
In closing, let us continue to honor and recognize our people who have contributed to St. Maarten's development, and to create a new Destiny for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.
Gratitude is a must.


Maurice Lake

Mr. Prosecutor, we are tired of the Watheys.

Dear Mr. Prosecutor.
We want to know. We want to know as many of the details you can offer about every single case you have against Theo Heyliger. Why? Because many of us are thankful that the part-charade that he and his wife concocted seem to be over for now. I say part because the health thing nobody wants to mess with. But the other frivolous stuff was a joke and an obvious attempt to distract us from the many charges against him. Party done! Let's get to the matter at hand.
You see, people are sheep. And especially when it comes to the Watheys. They have kept so many generations of families in a beggar state, that they can’t imagine saying anything that comes close to criticism about Heyliger. But there are those of us who remember the stealing of family land and undermining of people here to get their way. There is a trail of broken families at the hands of the Watheys.
So now with their savior facing serious jail time, we want to know! Lay it all out. We want people to understand that Heyliger is no saint. He and his ilk ride our people like mules and all most do is say hit me again Theo! Here is a person who single-handedly increased container fees which made food more expensive overnight. Why? To get his pet project causeway bridge from which he got a nice pay off….allegedly. He increased the burden of people so he can get a pay-day…allegedly.
We are tired of these Watheys! So please Mr. Prosecutor. Lay it out and lay it out well. Because if you as the prosecutor failed to make any of the charges stick and punish these people significantly, you will subject the people of SXM to decades of Wathey rule. They will feel even more emboldened and entitled. Do not let that happen to us. Do your job and do it well!


A concerned citizen.

 

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