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Ripple effects.

Dear Editor,

Everything affects everything. We are interconnected, we are interdependent. Hurricane Irma has had a negative effect on many of us but I will not use her as the sole focus of this article. Let’s talk about one of the most important subjects in the world. Money or our income. We know our health is the most important one but If we don’t have an income we can’t pay our bills. Mortgage, rent, utilities, food, clothes, education, school fees, uniforms, books you name it. I have heard it said that one should have at least 6 month’s savings equivalent to our monthly expenditures. Easier said than done. If we are employed and paid the minimum wage or less, it means that we are part of the working poor. I am sure that there are other definitions but I leave that up to you to do the research. As I mentioned earlier, it is said that we should have at least 6 month’s savings equivalent to our monthly expenditures. Question, how can one save when we are earning the minimum wage or less? What kind of rent can we afford to pay? Hence the shacks which all too often can lead to unsanitary situations, and in addition to that, dangerous situations where extension cords are passed from one building to the other. Another thing minimum wage or less means we can’t afford medical coverage or private insurance. This is why it is important to get the National Health Care Insurance Law or policy in place. At the same time some employers refuse to register us with SZV. It means that depending on the seriousness of your condition you might die. When you go to the Supermarkets what can you afford to buy? It is said eating is healthy I will add it is also expensive. I think more consistent control should be held on imported goods. Someone sent me a copy of the 21page price list from the economic affairs department informing the public of government prices for food, construction materials, produce and so on. I randomly picked out one particular item. The Bop Insecticide spray. The list mentioned the 250 mL and 450 mL quoting the price on each. Reality is that there is also the 600 mL can that is sold but it is not mentioned on the list. I think it’s time government determines what products can be brought into the country, especially the Brand names. Quality is what has to be first and foremost. I listened recently to a discussion held on eradicating poverty by now I think 2030. I think the gold post has been moved several times. It stated that world production has increased by 70% but wages by only 20%. In other word we are producing more but earning less income. Translation the rich get richer and the poor poorer. To me it does not matter how many meetings, discussions, forums are held on this subject, as long has the status quo continues where persons are working harder but making less or not compensated, we will spend the next 100 years talking and things will only get worse. Companies are profiting off the backs of the people. Why can’t we also benefit? Let me close with this. Wells Fargo Bank will be laying off some 26000 persons or so between now and 2020 because they are going digital. (Cutting cost, who care about the social ramifications). What kind of ripple effect will this have? Locally Banks on St Maarten are also on the same track to do likewise. Not positive for sure. Ripple effect.

George Pantophlet

Dutch help or recolonization of the former Netherlands Antilles?

We took notice of several expressions, declarations and publications that came out of the last meetings held in Bonaire and The Hague and that greatly alarmed us.

On September 6, Mr. Knops visited Bonaire in remembrance of the discovery of our island on the same day in 1499 and behaved in a comparable way as his ancestors have done over the centuries since the colonization of our islands: he came to (over)see if the subservient local politicians and government comply with the instructions of the colonial master. The great news that the master, Mr. Knops, was satisfied was celebrated extensively by him and the submissive subordinated Bonerian government, humiliating the Bonerian people on their day. The irony of the celebrations’ theme, “From Generation to Generation” was not lost on the people who from generation to generation have suffered under colonial rule. Mr. Knops, true to the colonial tradition, made some promises to our beggar-politicians which could help them win the upcoming elections, and he shone, even scintillated, as the example of the next generation of Dutch colonizers.

Back in The Hague last week, after the show in Bonaire, it was business as usual for Mr. Knops, this time assisted by Mrs. Van Ark. Without shame or regret it was maintained by both, that although all reports show that about half of the population is living way below the poverty line, that there is no need for alleviation, no need for swift action to establish a minimum to guarantee a humane existence. In line with the colonial tradition they both blatantly blamed the islanders for the poverty. It became clear the policies are not to eradicate poverty but to create, promote, and maintain poverty. Poverty is the business model; the aim is to keep and make our people poor by laws and policies as to collect international funds you need poverty. Mr. Knops’ statements are very clear: he cannot do magic or manipulate the dot on the horizon because it is impossible to keep our people in poverty and eradicate poverty at the same time.

The hypocrisy of Mr. Knops reached its summit when he said that the actions in Bonaire, St. Maarten, and St. Eustatius should not be understood as recolonization but as aid, help, assistance to the islands. What help, Mr. Knops, is the illegal removal of the elected government in St. Eustatius and replacing it with appointees from The Hague; what assistance is it to topple the elected government in St. Maarten and force it to accept measures against its interest using the post-Irma chaos; what aid are the few dollars spent whereas measures to alleviate poverty are refused?

To conclude, Mr. Knops admitted to me in our encounter last January on Bonaire during his inaugural visit as State Secretary, that he does not know and does not want to know our common history and colonial past, and that he is only looking forward in the future. Now I understand that by his actions, that he is right: he is innocent, from his perspective as he is acting in accordance with his laws. Because colonialism and racism are part and parcel of the Dutch mind, he is innocent, as were his predecessors, as were our ancestors which by his constitution and laws were de-humanized, declared non-human, and were legally traded as cattle and herring. Because he said he does not know the history, I would like to remind him, that through these inhumane, criminal actions, the Dutch rose from being an insignificant fishing village to one of the world’s richest nations; through the blood, sweat, and tears of our enslaved ancestors. The VOC / WIC are listed as biggest company ever in the world’s history, about 10 times bigger then Microsoft and Apple, and they were not selling software. We understand by now why he does not want to know his history. It is because it would confront him with his criminal origins and would expose his actions of today as crimes against humanity no matter that he has legalized them as a constitutional act, a method not very different from the way the Nazi’s legalized their actions against those whom they regarded as belonging to an inferior race.

I hope that this letter is the dot on the horizon that will grow into the rising sun that will brighten the future and shed light on the past as darkness is not eradicated by darkness but by light. The Netherlands is signatory to the United Nations Charter and as such cannot continue to ignore their violations of the different resolutions to end colonial rule. Mr. Knops and Mrs. Van Ark, you are in the position to make that change on behalf of The Netherlands.


James Finies


17th September 2018 – Leader of the Opposition – Public Statement

My fellow Anguillans, I need to speak to you on serious issues that are confronting our nation at this time.
The recent announcement that CIBC First Caribbean International Bank will be closing its operations here in Anguilla is yet another symptom of our failing economy. The Chief Minister would have us believe that this is an isolated situation, a simple “business decision.” Are we to believe that this banking institution would have made a conscious decision to open a branch here in Anguilla only to maintain five per cent of the overall market share? Furthermore, are we to believe the Chief Minister when he says in the House of Assembly that the government was informed about this decision on September 12th - the same day it was announced to the public - despite the fact that he apparently told the Anguillian that on Tuesday September 11th he had "a scheduled visit from some principals of the FCIB's regional office in Barbados about the closure of the Bank, having before been briefed on that possibility by Eastern Caribbean Central Bank officials"?
Whether or not the Chief Minister's statement in the House was misleading, does this not raise questions as to the ability of this government to maintain proper relations with such institutions?
Surely, with employees on the brink of losing their main source of income, one can safely deduce that officials from the bank would have provided ample notice to all stakeholders, including the government. What is even more appalling is the apparent callous attitude towards the bank’s employees who by the Chief Minister’s own statements, in the last sitting of the House of Assembly, are free to attend the next job fair. Perhaps he has in mind another of the job fairs where the unfortunate unemployed stand in line for hours on end, without shelter, some of them leaving before being interviewed to avoid getting sick and incurring medical bills they cannot afford. This from a leader who claims that “It’s all about you"?
Ensuring that the bank complies with the labour laws of Anguilla in relation to the separation packages offered to employees is not only insufficient, but speaks to a complete disregard for the human suffering that will take place as a result of this situation. I call on the government to operate with humanity and decency by setting up a special committee to provide support to these employees and their families over a six month period as they seek to transition into alternative employment opportunities after January 2019. This should include income support, counselling, family services and possibly negotiating extended timelines for servicing their debts.

As our people continue to struggle under these strenuous economic conditions, the government now lauds the Anguilla Residency by Investment Programme as our saving grace. As Leader of the Opposition, I call on all Anguillians to remember that all that glitters is not gold; indeed the devil is in the details. The Chief Minister and Minister of Finance would have us believe that this Residency by Investment programme, including its retroactive fast track application period and relaxed application process, caters to individuals who already own investments and real estate on the island. While that may be true and what the Chief Minister intends, this programme will also be marketed internationally to attract investors from different countries. As is the case in other OECS countries, programmes of this kind are marketed heavily in the Middle East and to countries in Asia such as China. It is disingenuous at best to suggest that this programme will not have serious implications to our local business owners and our people specifically as it relates to the availability of lands to build homes and start families. In fact, at the last sitting of the House of Assembly, I specifically asked if lands were being ear marked to accommodate the real estate investment route of the Anguilla Residency by Investment Programme, where these lands were located, and the size in acres. Such limitations have been entrenched in similar citizenship by investment programmes in other OECS countries since they recognize the importance of mitigating the impact to their respective societies.
The Chief Minister insists that there will be no constraints or limitations on the lands to be included in the programme. Furthermore, when asked how many more public consultations will take place to discuss concerns raised by the people with a view to the possible modification of the proposals to allay those concerns, the Chief Minister stated – one. Sadly, the voice of the people continues to fall on deaf ears to a group of persons who are out of touch and out of ideas. While the Anguilla Residency by Investment Programme would bring much needed revenue to our economy, we must be cautious in its planning and implementation. While the government moves rapidly to get this done, I am about getting it done right – the future of our nation and our children is at stake.
Anguilla is in desperate need of a new dawn and a new direction. We must end this vicious cycle of entrusting the future of our country and our children to career politicians who only care about self-preservation. This self-preservation is achieved when we allow them to divide us based on family and party affiliation. I make a clarion call today for unity and for our citizens to become active participants in the decisions that affect their lives. I will continue to share this vision for One Anguilla, a nation which is built on love, unity, and active citizenship. Despite the many attacks waged against me, I will continue to stand for the rights of all Anguillians and to ensure that your interests are represented at all costs. This is my solemn duty.

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