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Saba Island Council visits Bonaire.

sabaislandcouncil16092021SABA:--- A delegation of the Saba Island Council paid a working visit to Bonaire earlier this month. The official four-day program included meetings with members of the Bonaire Island Council, Bonaire’s Island Governor Edison Rijna, Commissioner Nina den Heyer, the national parks foundation STINAPA, the Health Insurance Office ZVK, the Immigration, and Naturalization Department IND and BES(t)4Kids, as well as the Bonaire Day celebration.
The Saba delegation consisted of Island Council Members Vito Charles and Esmeralda Johnson, and Island Registrar Akilah Levenstone. Other Members of the Island Council were unable to travel to Bonaire due to other commitments. The delegation traveled to Bonaire on Wednesday, September 1, and returned to Saba on Wednesday, September 8. This was the first time in two years that a delegation of the Saba Island Council visited Bonaire. Last year’s visit didn’t go ahead due to the pandemic.
The delegation had important meetings with three members of the Bonaire Island Council: Esther Bernabela, Elvis Tjin Asjoe, and Désirée Coffie. Discussed were, among other things, the cooperation between the Caribbean Netherlands islands, poverty, the social minimum, connectivity between the islands, the free allowance, and the cost of living.
The Saba delegation expressed support for the motion that the Bonaire Island Council adopted in early September 2021 with regard to the needed establishing of the social minimum and the association measures to combat poverty. According to Council Member Charles, the motion showed that it is important to work together as islands in order to send a stronger message to The Hague.

Close collaboration
Working closely with the other two Island Councils, in general, is important. “Our visit to Bonaire and the meeting with the Island Council Members there showed that it is important to meet with our counterparts to discuss developments for we face similar challenges and issues,” said Charles.
For example, in the area of connectivity, residents from both Saba and Bonaire have to pay high ticket prices for flights to neighboring islands. The cost of living is high in all three Caribbean Netherlands islands. Ideas about how to lower this cost were discussed.
The meeting with Bonaire Commissioner Den Heyer was very good, said Charles. “She has always had good relations with Saba. She again expressed support for cooperation. It was good to see that she and the Island Council share the same views.”
While on Bonaire, the Saba Island Council Members brought up the idea to have a meeting with the Island Councils of Bonaire and St. Eustatius later this year. Ideally, also participating would be the Executive Councils of Bonaire and Saba, and the St. Eustatius Government Commissioners. “We want to have some type of conference with the Island Councils and

Banco di Caribe Committed to Further Growth as Part of United Group Holdings.

Willemstad/Philipsburg:--- Banco di Caribe N.V. ("Banco di Caribe") is being sold to United Group Holdings B.V. ("United"). The sale will include all of Banco di Caribe's banking activities in Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire, and Sint Maarten, as well as the insurance and investment activities of Van der Lubbe Assurantiën N.V., Bancarib Real Insurance Curaçao N.V. and BdC Investments B.V. The sales agreement was signed on September 11, 2021, by the seller, Ennia Caribe Holding N.V. ("ECH"), represented by Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten ("CBCS") and the buyer, United. ECH is the Ennia group's parent company. United is an established financial services company, operating in Curaçao and six European countries, including financial centers such as Amsterdam, London, and Luxemburg, as well as elsewhere.
Banco di Caribe
Banco di Caribe is a key institution in the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Banco di Caribe's acquisition by United contributes to the consolidation of the banking landscape in Curaçao. In United, Banco di Caribe will gain a strong shareholder and a committed partner, thereby creating room for growth and to invest in providing optimal financial services on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and Sint Maarten.
Ennia Group’s Financial Recovery
ECH and United expect to complete the sale of Banco di Caribe, which is conditional on the successful completion of the supervisory screening required by law, in the fourth quarter of this year. The sale of Banco di Caribe to United is an important step in the financial recovery of the Ennia Group. The all-cash proceeds will immediately be made available to ENNIA Caribe Leven N.V., thereby contributing to a lower risk profile and the optimization of its investment portfolio, all for the benefit of its policyholders. Moreover, the sale will allow the Ennia Group to fully focus on its insurance business.
For questions regarding the sale of Banco di Caribe please send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blues and Blues selected as new ferry operator.

bluesferry16092021SABA/STATIA:--- Blues and Blues Ltd. from Anguilla will be the new operator of the ferry services between St. Eustatius, Saba, and St. Maarten and between St. Eustatius and St. Kitts.
The selection of Blues and Blues as the new ferry operator is the first phase. The next phase is the drafting of a so-called Public Service Obligation (PSO). The PSO will state the details of the public-private maritime connectivity agreement. It is estimated that the ferry operation can start earliest on November 1, 2021, depending on how long it takes to draft and sign the PSO agreement.
Funding for the ferry service comes from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) in The Hague, which has granted a subsidy of 2 million euros for the first two years to realize a sustainable PSO agreement.
The selection is the outcome of a successful tendering by the Public Entities Saba and St. Eustatius. The Public Entities jointly issued a tender document on June 30, 2021, inviting licensed ferry operators to submit a proposal to provide regular, affordable maritime connectivity between Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten and between St. Eustatius and St. Kitts.
By the end of August, a total of seven proposals were received from a variety of contenders. A selection committee comprising of members from the two islands assessed the proposals based on prior criteria. These criteria included the suitability of the ferry vessel, the proposed schedule, a profit and loss P&L statement in relation to the proposed schedule, a tariff proposal, and a vision on the long-term collaboration with the two Public Entities.
The committee unanimously selected Blues and Blues as the clear winner. The Anguillian company already provides cargo services to Saba and St. Eustatius and is an experienced ferry operator. The committee’s advice was presented to the governments of Saba and St. Eustatius and subsequently approved.
The ferry will provide same-day connectivity from Saba and St. Eustatius to St. Maarten, connectivity between Saba and St. Eustatius, as well as same-day connectivity between St. Eustatius and St. Kitts. The Public Entities St. Eustatius and Saba appreciate the amount of interest shown in the tender procedure and would like the thank all participating operators for their submissions.

Sekou, Badejo praise historic African Union / CARICOM Summit 2021.

badjeoseiko16092021PHILIPSBURG:--- Two of St. Martin’s authors, Lasana Sekou and Fabian Badejo, have praised the historic Africa-CARICOM Summit held virtually on September 7, 2021, said their publisher HNP.
The summit was hosted by Kenya and chaired by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta under the theme “Unity across Continents and Oceans: Opportunities for Deepening Integration.”
The event was attended and addressed by the heads of state and government of the African Union and CARICOM member states. Heads of regional integration secretariats and institutions of CARICOM and Africa also attended.
“This is the unique culmination of continuous efforts by the people of Africa and the Caribbean to solidify the historical, cultural, and blood connections that they share across centuries,” said Sekou, a poet, and publisher.
“It is the spirit of the African connections so concretized by Garvey that lives on among us,” said Sekou. The pan-African and pan-Caribbean themes of Sekou’s poetry have long been reviewed in critical journals and books.
“Blood is indeed thicker than water,” noted Badejo. “Throughout history, the longing for reconnection between Africa and the African Diaspora has never waned.”
The longing and connectedness—often against great political and social odds and even violence—may be subtle as hush-hush stories in Caribbean families about an African ancestor, to defiantly speaking African-based Caribbean languages; “from folk songs of longing sung in Carriacou for centuries, to Cuba’s decades-long role in the liberation of southern African countries,” said the writers in a joint statement.
“Just as Europe, and in particular the UK, has special relations with its diaspora, especially in the USA, so too it should be considered natural for Africa to have similar special relations with people of African descent in this part of the world,” said Badejo.
The late, great Barbadian poet and historian Kamau Brathwaite, who lived and worked in Ghana and Kenya at the onset of his career, understood this from a personal and professional point of view, Badejo explained.
“So did many others understand and inform this point of view practically and intellectually, from David Walker to Marcus Garvey, from Queen Mother Moore to Kwame Nkrumah,” said Badejo, who is also a journalist and cultural critic.
The summit produced proposals to further strengthen the ties between the two regions. These include direct air links between destinations in Africa and the Caribbean and visa-free travels for the citizens of African and CARICOM countries.
“The Leaders indicated support for the establishment of a CARICOM/Africa public-private partnership dedicated to mobilizing resources and deploying them in critical cutting-edge projects, including renewable energy, the creative industries, and digital technology … (And) the contribution of the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) in making vaccines available to CARICOM was lauded,” according to CARICOM news.
Sekou said that “It is key for the general populations to see themselves as the foundation of this official level summit. What this multilateral cooperation will achieve over time, including ‘wielding global bargaining power,’ widening the diasporic reach to include non-CARICOM members in the region and institutions of Brazil and other nations of the Americas, is invariably based on people’s movements.”
“It is the same people’s movements and consciousness that produce activists and artists such as St. Martin’s Thomas Duruo and Carlos Cooks, Trinidad’s Claudia Jones, Jamaica’s Bob Marley, Antigua’s Dobrene O’Marde, or Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong. And that’s just to name a few of the many who have been about this pan-African liberation business,” said Sekou.
While on September 7, CARICOM “proposed the creation of a Forum of African and Caribbean Territories and States,” both authors said that for St. Martin to critically tap into the opportunities that are sure to open because of the initiatives proposed at the summit, the nation has to act on Nkrumah’s dictum and seek political independence.
“We are at a critical time when we must join the comity of nations coming together to build and rebuild the world to benefit our people. We can only do this if we attain political freedom,” Sekou and Badejo stressed.
This first Africa-CARICOM Summit was a giant step towards pan-African unity, which will facilitate political, economic, educational, cultural, and technological cooperation, Sekou and Badejo said.
“We applaud the vision of all those who made this summit possible on both sides of the Atlantic and encourage them to intensify their efforts to achieve the goal of reuniting the African family at home and abroad,” they added.
It has also been proposed at the Africa-CARICOM Summit for September 7 to be observed annually as “Africa-Caribbean Day.”

Official (re)opening ceremony – sewing center Point Blanche Prison.

prisonsewingcenter1509201PHILIPSBURG:--- Tuesday, September 14, was the official (re)opening ceremony of the sewing center at the Point Blanch prison.

The sewing center at the Pointe Blanche prison has been closed for some years, but after minor renovations, it has officially opened back its doors for the inmates residing at the Pointe Blanche prison. Present during the ceremony were the honorable Minister of Justice, Ms. Anna E. Richardson and her supporting staff, the interim director of the prison, Mr. Aartwichgt Bell, the prison management team, the sewing instructor Mr. Carlos Gomez and the prison staff members.

In the month of April 2021, a survey was conducted amongst the inmates to identify their interests in daytime and rehabilitation programs that could be offered by the prison to ensure that the investment that the ministry makes is a positive and necessary one. The results yielded that about 65 inmates, which includes male and female inmates, have expressed interest in the proposed programs, which translates to approximately 85% of the population. Based on the survey, thirty-seven (37) male and three (3) female inmates expressed interest in participating in the sewing center.

The sewing center has always been used to teach the inmates how to sew where they learn a trade that can be used after release. Minister Richardson, therefore, has been adamant in getting the sewing center reopened as soon as possible to allow the inmates to be proactive during their stay and engage in activities that can positively affect their reintegration into society. Now reopened, the inmates will make uniforms for the inmates, prison officers, and other prison staff. The aim is to eventually have all uniforms used in the justice sector such as KPSM, douane, and so on, to be made by the inmates. This not only provides the inmates with meaningful daytime activity, but it also can reduce the overall uniform expenses within the Ministry of Justice.

The (re)opening ceremony commenced with encouraging words by Minister Richardson who stated:
“Today is monumental. After taking such a hit from the hurricane and some other drawbacks, we are here today. It is such a warm feeling to be here right now. I am excited and I welcome Mr. Gomez back to the sewing center. I cannot wait to be able to show the public all that these young men can do under the leadership and guidance of Mr. Gomez. Congratulations to the management team. What you are doing and bringing to fruition is a great deal and it must not go unmentioned. I commend you for your dedication in reestablishing the sewing center and giving our clients the opportunity to be involved and proactive during their stay.”

Mr. Gomez, the sewing instructor who has been instrumental in setting up the sewing center in the prison in Curacao and has years of service in the Point Blanche prison sewing center stated: “I feel very happy. This is my home, and this is my profession. I will continue to teach the inmates how to sew. I thank Minister Richardson, the management team, and supporting staff for this opportunity.”

During the ceremony Minister Richardson was joined by the interim director Mr. Bell, the prison management team, and Mr. Gomez for the ribbon-cutting, which marked the official (re)opening of the sewing center.

The sewing classes will resume as soon as possible which will yield positive results very soon. This is one of the many programs that the Minister is dedicated to (re)establishing at the prison. Other programs and initiatives such as the GED lessons, cooking lessons, improving the gym and library areas with fresh paint and equipment are presently being worked on.

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