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Relationship in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

georgepantophlet08042021PHILIPSBURG:--- To say that the relationship between the Netherlands and the three Caribbean countries of Aruba, Curacao, and St. Maarten (constitutional states) is strained is an understatement. The Kingdom Charter a document that is some 67 years old is supposed to have established a mutual respect for all involved and adhering to the principles of democracy and might I add good governance. However, experiences over the years and recent developments have proven to be otherwise. The Council of State made some references as to what investments should be made to improve this relationship. While conditions are things that even financial institutions such as banks require to obtain a loan, the ones set by the Dutch government will not lead to improvement in our finances but further deterioration and increase in poverty. I will remain adamant that the only recourse for financial improvement is debt cancellation, not debt restructuring. I have the highest respect for the Council of State but what I have an issue with is that their advice is not binding due to no fault of their own but the insistence of the Kingdom Council of Ministers to maintain the possibility to have the final say. This behavior will not improve the relationship between the Netherlands and the 3 islands of Aruba, Curacao, and St. Maarten. The procedures that must be followed to establish a Kingdom Law is a prime example of inequality when it comes to numbers. What should be considered is the impact it will have on the countries concerned including the Netherlands. I concur with the Council of State with its reference to trust which is a cardinal prerequisite for cooperation. The Democratic Deficit has not yet been addressed. The long-awaited dispute regulation has finally found the day of light again. But for me, as long as the advice is not binding, I will not accept the Law. What must also be recognized and accepted is the pivotal role the Caribbean islands have played in the economic development of the Netherlands. I say this in lieu of a document on Britain’s slave trade written in a report done by the “Public University of Glasgow” and I quote "A nation that does not understand its history and the roots of its wealth will struggle to understand how power, finance, politics, and economics works” end of quote. My interpretation of that phrase is, that without us there would be no them. I welcome discussions based on mutual respect for the human rights of all peoples in the Kingdom of the Netherlands then and only then will our relationship improve.

MP George Pantophlet

What’s on my mind you say!

Am writing to express my utter disgust and disbelief about what is going on, on this beautiful island I’ve called my home for the past 20 plus years from the seemingly endless challenges being faced as a result of not having a job due to covid-19, wondering what will tomorrow bring. Will, there be another disaster that will put more strain on our economic decline or will it be the constant bickering of our politicians with their hidden agendas who can’t seem to get it right. The constant fight between Holland and ST Maarten it’s quite a shame. All the help most of us have gotten came from Holland via K1 Britania, the Red Cross who did a fantastic job to name a few.
What’s next I ask?
To the families who have been depending on the food boxes and the E-voucher cards, come May will no longer be available. Listening to press briefings after press briefings from the Government and desperately hoping that they’ve learned from past mistakes. Living the public with more questions than answers.
Covid-19 has left a tremendous burden on some of us and what is most heartbreaking is the responses from those agencies (SSRP unemployment support, social welfare department) who are supposed to assist those of us who are unemployed due to the pandemic. WE DID NOT ASK FOR THIS. Telem, GEBE, none of those government-owned companies seems to care, your complaints only fall on deaf ears. People are stressed and depressed, we’ve lost all forms of humanity. The upper class walking away feeling ok, while we continue to struggle. I Am exhausted trying to provide for my family while living in financial hardship. Come May we will be left in the cold.

A view from my couch.


Organized confusion the at the people’s expense.

Dear editor,
In the midst of the high level of confusion around the play on words like “trajectory”, the constant repositioning of this governing coalition with regards to COHO, the petition to the United Nations, and continued liquidity support, one thing remains glaringly constant: The everyday plight and hopelessness felt by the average citizens of this country.
The obvious lack of strategic planning with regards to the petition to the U.N. and the seemingly unprepared demeanor for responses of State Secretary Knops hit this coalition like a deer caught in the headlights of an eighteen-wheeler container truck. We have yet to see any formal or formidable response or strategy moving forward, other than the Prime Minister refusing to sign on to the country package until liquidity support is reinstated.
The debris of the collision is a direct reflection of the emotional state of the country. People are divided on the petition because decolonization was not properly explained, State Secretary Knops is offended by the language in the petition, while Senator Jeroen Recourt (Pvda) in the Netherlands sees the fiasco as a “choke or swallow approach.”
At this point, a strategy should have been put in place to address the divide among the people of this country so that there is a clear understanding of what the petition to the U.N. process entails, what decolonization if achieved means for this country and its people, the timeline of the process, and more importantly how the will the people survive this exercise financially. The latter question is of the utmost importance because it has a direct correlation to the viability and sustainability of our economy. No SSRP means less spending power, which can lead to layoffs if not closures of businesses, which equals added pressure on the social welfare system.
It is astonishing to me that the Coharis Law Firm has not been instructed by the President of Parliament as he has been so charged, to dispatch a letter to State Secretary Knops demanding the immediate reinstatement of liquidity support, especially since the U.N. petition was the avenue chosen to challenge aspects of the country package. Keeping in mind that negotiating options were limited to none existent through normal avenues because the government had already unconditionally accepted help in writing early last year, delivered on behalf of the Prime minister by our minister of plenipotentiary in The Hague.
The coalition has been alluding that they wholeheartedly believe in their position, whichever of the many they have taken thus far, with regards to the contents of the petition to the U.N. COHO and liquidity support. So based on that position alone, a letter should have already been dispatched.
State Secretary Knops has clearly demonstrated his disgust with the unclear positions of Prime Minister Jacobs and MP Roland Brison, the leaders of the NA/UP coalition, by pulling liquidity support and further laying the snail’s pace at which projects from the world bank money are being executed squarely on their laps.
The lack of strategic decisions thus far makes you wonder whether or not the NA / UP coalition stands behind the contents of their petition. The people to date don’t even know if their Prime Minister supports the petition and its content, or not. Was the petition submitted on behalf of the people of this country because their rights are being trampled on, or was this merely a strategy to gain leverage with regards to liquidity support and the conditions attached to it, after giving away negotiating privileges from the inception of talks?
The Coharis law firm is on retainer as it should be for a case of this magnitude. They should be advising on a way forward based on the consistent and continued negative reactions of State Secretary Knops to the petition. Why has the coalition not informed the population on a concrete way forward? The silence is defining and it highlights the lack of strategic planning on the part of the leaders of this governing coalition.
Their two options are very clear: 1) retract the petition and receive liquidity support, or 2) stay the course. Movement on either front has yet to be clearly stated, are we to believe that at the people's expense egos are the order of the day. Or are individual MP’s falling from the ranks of the hierarchy on their yet to be announced strategy moving forward.
True leadership stands strong in the face of adversity, when a principle stance is taken on behalf of your people and country, it must be well thought outweighing both the pros and cons and the people you have sworn to represent must at all times have a proper understanding of the journey your course of actions puts them on. This is not a socialist state the last time I checked.
Challenges of authority and autonomy such as the petition to the U.N. on behalf of this country have to be explained properly to the people in preparation for whatever challenges may come from such a bold stance. The country should never be put in a position to be ridiculed or laughed at based on indecision after the fact. We are proud and resilient people by nature and we deserve to be represented in a manner that reflects that, anything less is unacceptable and inexcusable.
This government remains mute when it comes to discussing their position, plans, or vision if they have any. They prefer to keep the people guessing and hoping for solution that thus far have not come. Their silence is beyond disrespectful to the people

Cecil Nicholas


While the Grass is Growing, The Horse is Starving.

We are about over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic. The impact of this disease on our island nation has been nothing short of disastrous. The impact has meant 2134 confirmed infected cases with 27 deaths. Thousands have been pushed into poverty. Equivalently, thousands of jobs have been lost. This can be clearly reflected in the claim of the Minister of Finance indication of the severe increase in income assistance requests, the drastic increase in the requests for social welfare, and the tens of thousands receiving food aid by the various food aid agencies such as the Red Cross and K1 Britannia and civic and church organizations providing food for persons. The absence of these food programs and social assistance would have led to many being place into acute hunger.
Besides the immediate impact smack in our faces from this disease, the Covid-19 pandemic has laid before us all long-lasting scars for us to bear for many years to come. Closed, and or partially opened schools, have halted children’s physical mobility and socialization. The collapse of many small businesses and lost jobs has led to the depletion of savings and assets, which thereby enhanced debt accumulation that has stunted investment and necessary social spending in the economy.
The social and economic burn from Covid-19 has descended down and spread through the working class and poor of this community like wildfire. The pain of this pandemic is layered on some infectious social and economic burdens that had already been eating away at the quality of life and the standard of living in St. Maarten.
An overcrowded school system with no clear direction that is not adequately preparing our children for the local or regional marketplace has led to overburdened and overworked school teachers, a failed justice and labor system that promotes and reward employer abuse of the local job market, and abuse of employees, the impact of climate change which has led to devastating hurricanes on our island and region alike, heightened increase in stress levels and violence throughout the community and a bloated government apparatus which failed to lend any vision for the direction of the country, has all created an economic stagflation pinching and punishing each and every individual at different times and intensities. But the pain and suffering have remained nonetheless.
Because of this individualistic government structure, the natural order of the day has been a reactionary look at each crisis individually and place it in the lap of the respective Minister and ministry to find unilateral solutions to the challenges of the day. Often times they miss the direct consequences of their decisions and solutions or lack thereof. This failed model has missed the opportunity to identify interconnections of the challenges and the necessary solutions. Failures in Justice affect the School system, failures in the economy affect the social welfare system, and failures in infrastructure affect the health system, and so on and so forth.
The government’s decisions and choices today on the heightened challenges of POVERTY, HEALTH CARE, INEQUALITY, and CLIMATE IMPACT will determine our future for years to come. We need a better direction going forward to deal with the interconnected challenges born of the Covid-19 pandemic. A paradigm shift in the management structure in the way this government addresses challenge is necessary. It is high time they move swiftly and honestly with collective integrated responses to these challenges.
The State Secretary has presented a piece-meal country package that once again is an attempt at myopic individualistic solutions to the many challenges. We have seen that the Hon. Prime Minister has agreed to these solutions in her response. However, the overall vision from this government on integrated solutions is still lacking. The resounding question throughout the community is “WHERE ARE WE GOING?”
The government’s silence in its failure to answer this question is deafening. The failure of a clear unambiguous vision combined with the limbo the Prime Minister and Parliament has placed this country in with their COHARIS CATASPTROPHY only exacerbates the crises the people of this country are facing. While the grass is growing the horse is starving. While the people are waiting on the proper leadership of this government on the preverbal field for the grass to grow, THE PEOPLE ARE STARVING.
Khalil K. Revan


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