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Modern Day Slavery.

Dear community of Sint Maarten,

Certain things have been going on lately that need to share, my article is based on people who are experiencing these real-life matters at the moment.
Our justice system is being continuously tampered with, prosecutors are undermining and situations in our correctional facility are unhealthy.

Sinta Duro ( Sit Tight)

Sometimes we use the word but we rarely take time to understand what the word means, therefore, I took the time to look up the word " Justice". I found that Justice means; Fairness which mean; A just behavior or treatment. I followed with what is the "Purpose of a justice system" it is to deliver justice for
all meaning everyone, including a suspect in a crime. The judicial system of Sint Maarten, however, does not see it like that, it is usually you are innocent until proven guilty however in Sint Maarten you are guilty until proven innocent. The suspect is arrested and then the investigation begins, they serve you with 2 days in jail then you are set to appear in front a judge to see if the arrest was lawful if, in fact, it is the suspect will sit 8 days, 16 days, 60 days and then finally 30 days. This brings it to a total off 116 of imprisonment while they investigate the case within these days the suspect is lucky if they are even questions 4 times pertaining to their case.

Every court appearance the prosecutor asks the judge for more time in order to investigate the case. There are inmates that have been detained in the correctional facility for over 8 months without being sentenced due to the above-mentioned reason.

Examples Of Unjust Punishment

The chief prosecutor Mirjam Mol said: " We need to explain much more, that we cannot go by what a person is saying or posting on the internet."
However there are inmates facing up to 20+ years from the prosecutor's office with no evidence meaning; no weapons being found, no trace of DNA at the scene or even camera footage and yet this is what the prosecutors are asking for.

There is an inmate right now facing a 15+ year sentence for a crime that people allegedly stated that "he was the one who a shot after them."
The police arrested this young man, a weapon was found in his position however after testing they concluded that the weapon was not the same one used in the shooting. The fact that a group of friends stated that it's him, this young man is now facing this time. Another young man is serving 15+ years as well for robberies,
he admitted to the crimes that he committed.
His words were; " If I can do the crime I can do the time." The prosecutor saw this as an opportunity to add more crimes to this young man's rap sheet even though the young man said he had nothing to do with these added cases, the prosecutor added these cases due to the similarities and not facts after presenting it to the judge it was agreed upon and not questioned as he serves time for his case and others.

Our justice system is like a dictatorship and the judge is the dictator.

We have no one overseeing or a person to go to when the judge makes an unfair decision. The prosecutor will then say if you don't like the decision you can always appeal it however it is not mentioned that appeal takes up to 1 year before you are able to appeal your case in front of those 3 judges.

The judges are not allowing the lawyers to do their job meaning

 The lawyers are bringing forth cases where the prosecutor's office is making multiple mistakes and the judges are overlooking it.
They are stating that yes they may have made a mistake but due to the fact of the crime, they are going to overlook the law.
However, that is unacceptable because the law is the law and it should remain in fact that way whether it is a big crime or a small crime the law should never change.

Labeling Us

Chief prosecutor Mirjam Mol said in the daily herald on June 17th, 2019: " It hurts her that convicts have to be released from jail due to lack of detention capacity and
that this is bad news for Sint Maarten because this means that dangerous will end up on the streets again ." I must say it hurts me that the chief of prosecutors sees everyone behind bars as dangerous people. They are all humans some have made mistakes, some were protecting their lives and some were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nevertheless, not all people behind bars are bad people same way not all prosecutors and judges that took an oath to give a fair trial gives one.

Just to help chief Mol out, on how these dangerous people as she would call them to get back into society they are evaluated by the correctional facility meaning they completed most of their time, most likely they had a job and some have never even gotten in trouble before. We ask that before Chief Mol labels us and give us names to take your time to know us, some of us are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunts. To you, we may be dangerous but to some people, we are family members. It surprises me that chief Mol is not hurt by the living conditions in the correctional facility and the fact that they don't have a rehabilitation program for the so call dangerous people as chief Mol would call us are able to leave Point Blanche Prison on the right track into society and are able to help our island, when I say our island I don't mean yours because this is not your home because in the next 10 years you will pack your bags, jump on a plane and never look back.

Destroying Our Youth

The prosecutor office is sending one message to our local youth, it is that they want you to work hard, they want you to become successful but not too successful
because if you decide to own business, drive a nice car or own a nice home it can only mean one thing, money laundering. Looking at our local entrepreneurs go to jail for the same crimes over and over hurts. I am not here to point fingers but why can the Indians own the biggest homes on the island, own multiple jewelry stores on the island sometimes have no clients for months and they are still able to pay rent why are they not considered to be doing money laundering?
The Chinese can own up to 20 shops no problem, never a day do any of them end up behind bars
like our local men.

People of Sint Maarten wake up!!!
This letter may not do anything, may not change anything but I am surely bringing awareness to the unjust that we are living in on our island.


Written by a Pointe Blanche Prison Inmate

Teachers at St.Maarten Academy angered and feels neglected by the FAVE BOARD.

Dear Editor,

On June 19th, 2019, the St.Maarten Academy P.S.V.E. Teachers refused to go back to classes and chose to wait on answers in the staffroom regarding the uncertainty of their vacation pay. However, the principal Mrs. Lavern Nelson refused to meet with her teachers to ease their concerns. This is nothing new as the principal has not have a staff meetings with her staff for the school year 2018/2019. There are constant tensions between the principal and her staff members for the past three years due to her antics and lack of leadership capabilities. This has caused a continuous deterioration of the working environment in which the schoolboard has refused to intervene. Unfortunately, this has created a toxic atmosphere which has now trickled down to the students on campus.
In a separate interview with a couple of exam students, they claimed that have received many conflicting information from the Principal, Mrs. Nelson pertaining their National Exam which left some of the students confused. They rely heavily on the other school managers of the school and their more experience homeroom teachers to guide them. The students also claimed that they are not encourage or motivated by the Principal as she does not attend assembly and is not a reliable source of information. The exam students do not feel comfortable coming to this school in such an environment where there is an obvious tension between the principal and the teachers. One student asked, will the minister of Education, honorable Wycliffe Smith intervene? They thought education and well-being of the students’ was first priority. One student, shouted, “We are suffering too because of her”. Another student asked, how to learn in an environment like this?

The teacher have been complaining about the Principal’s lack competence to manage the school and her inability to work with her staff. In one instance, due to the negligence of the principal, she jeopardized the integrity of the Spanish. This is has caused 121 students to re-do the National exam and delay graduation for some schools. Also, more information indicated that this is not the first time the principal has made such blunder which has caused her staff members to loose complete confidence in her leadership ability.
A couple of weeks ago, Mrs. Nelson informally mentioned to the staff that the vacation pay might not be paid due to lack of funds. And to compound the fears of the teachers, recently, there was an article in the newspaper pertaining to rumors of non-payment of vacation pay. It would have been professional for our School Board and or school managers to communicate whether this is in fact true. A proactive leader would have demanded answers and seek information, so that the issue can be clarified. Now, the teachers are left with uncertainty which only opens the door of misinterpretations and confusion.
The teachers feel that they ought to be respected for their hard work, dedication, and willingness to go above and beyond. Furthermore, most teachers spend their own money; hundreds to purchase supplies for the classroom to create a positive learning environment.
Teachers of the St. Maarten Academy has had enough and this continuous roller-coaster needs to end. We are not just asking for vacation pay but we are asking for F.A.V.E School Board to be professional and to respect educators and to be sensitive to our cries.
As of now, teachers and staff have not received any vacation pay. They are aware that the vacation pay is to be paid from June 15thonward, however, nothing has been formally communicated as to if and when we will receive the vacation pay. In the past years, it is customary that it is paid out around the 15th-19th of the month. Unfortunately, using the newspaper is the only means of communicating with the board as they have not met with staff to provide clarity on the so-called “14” teachers being dismissed nor vacation pay.
The teachers would hate to think that the monies that are rightfully due on to them were used to buy gravel, sand and other building materials to build/rebuild the Academic section and leaving the teachers with empty-handed.
During the sit-in, the Chef du Cabinet of the Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Mr. Peter Gittens was at the school to listen to the grievance of the teachers. He was quite surprise to hear that the recommendation from the ministry during an early dispute had not been implemented by the schoolboard for the sake of the students. Mr. Gittens, informed the staff that the vacation pay was already paid to the schoolboard in a lumpsom payment. However, there is a possibility the schoolboard could have used the monies for other expenses. Teachers also expressed their concerns regarding the lack of communication from the FAVE board regarding their vacation and the removal of the Mrs. Lavern Nelson. Minister was informed of the ongoing situation during a press briefing. The teachers had enough and will continue their sit in on Thursday, June 20th, 2019 until their demands are met by the FAVE Schoolboard which are to receive their hard earn vacation pay and the removal of Mrs. Lavern Nelson.
Mr. A. Wilson

Hope this goes somewhere.

I often meet persons who say that they are not hearing me and that I am too quiet. I have also heard it said by some that I talk too much. These are things that are part of the political culture which I have learned to accept. There are many reasons for writing this article which I will articulate briefly. It is said that repetition is important as this allows your point to be remembered. But sometimes I wonder. I read the article entitled and I quote “GEBE to present a proposal on reducing light bills at schools”. Some of you who have been following my political career would recognize that on matters of GEBE, I have on numerous occasions asked the question as to why GEBEis charging schools commercial rates. And since GEBE plans to address this issue, I think it would be prudent not to only deal with light bills but also water bills. Arguments am sure can and will arise as to the reduction in revenues for GEBE but one should also consider the reduction in costs for government since they are the ones subsidizing the schools. I know It is important to be consistent at the same time I ask myself are they listening (people and government). Prior to obtaining a separate status, I had asked for a consumer protection agency to be established. I had asked to cancel the 10year tax holiday for investors and instead institute a reduce the tax rate for them. I had also asked that locals be given a 5year tax holiday which according to my knowledge has never been done. Another thing I learned while serving as a member of the Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles was the issue of tax evasion and a probable solution for such. I brought it up in our parliament. It had to do with businesses/persons who have accounts abroad created with funds earned in the then Netherlands Antilles but did not pay their taxes. The idea was to have them return these funds at a reduced tax rate and free of penalties. I had also asked that government assist persons who had land but no finances to do their agriculture. I had also asked that when it came to the minimum wage it should be increased but price control on products should be more strictly enforced. I had asked for the basket of goods to be increased. I have also asked about the casino gaming board not knowing that such a discussion has been taking place before I got involved in politics. I had asked why casinos are paying the same fees which were not changed since 1989 and that if they refuse to accept the increase to give government insight into their daily earnings (the drop box). I heard then that there were court cases ongoing relating to these fees. I had also asked why government owned companies were not paying dividends. And one I would consider the most important which was proposed by the National Alliance and supported by USP the infamous short term contract better known as the 6 month’s contract. It has been years since the draft law was made up and after several changes, it is still in incubation. I can almost hear some questioning about the presenting of motions? My response they die a slow death. Some might ask what about law proposals, my response if they are approved and government does not feel like executing them, they too die a slow death. The parliament is apparently powerless. (Our Constitution needs to be adapted to deal with this stalemate). Our people have not learned the art of persuasion. (Peaceful protest). We are the taxpayers, why are we so passive? These are the few that I can remember. Forgive me as I add one more. A law giving the rent committee after it has been reinforced and restructured, more authority to determine what one can charge for rental income. Hope this goes somewhere.

George Pantophlet.

Ferrier is the latest hypocrite.

Dear Editor,

Well. Just when you think you've seen it all in St. Maarten politics you learn something new every day. And every day there is somebody from the old guard getting exposed about how they built their wealth on the backs of the people of St. Maarten. Years and years of self-enrichment allowed by people who kept voting them back into office over and over again.

The latest hypocrite is former Commissioner and Former Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier. Mr. Do No Wrong, Mr. Holier-Than-Thou, Mr. Clean...yea right. Michael Ferrier, if the reports are proven to be true, reportedly has not paid government one cent, not a nickel, niet een gulden, for long lease land that his boatyard company operates on. Reportedly, the amount is somewhere in the area of NAF 1.5 million guilders. On top of that, it is reported that Ferrier and his business partner Jeff Boyd is pressuring the government to extend the long lease right another 12 years!

So wait a minute, let me understand this straight. First, you reportedly deprive the people of St. Maarten and St. Maarten itself of over a million guilders that could have been used on vital services. You didn't pay for the long lease! That is equivalent to tax evasion is it not? So you didn't pay anything for umpteen years, but now you want the government to extend your lease? That's like me not paying rent for my apartment for 10 years and then asking the landlord to extend me another 3 years anyway. It's plain out immoral and wrong.

Worse yet, Ferrier was recently the Minister of Finance. A Minister of Finance who climbed on a pulpit every week talking about people who don't pay taxes and other fees that the government desperately needed. All while you are talking through one side of your face, you knew on the other side you were one of these people. Talk about hypocritical and immoral behavior. It is truly very sad.

All of this from a man who has a history of trying to destroy people's lives by penning letters to the editor about things he had half information on but passing judgment like God Almighty. We can recall Louis Constant Fleming and his foolish vendetta against now MP Rolando Brison and an old baseless case at Winair. Winair the company didn't even speak, but there was Ferrier again, Mr. Superior, passing judgment trying to ruin people's lives.

The government should never grant that extension because of the precedence it will set and the pandora's box it will open. The government already told Ferrier and his partners to vacate the premises and they should do so immediately. If not he should get the same treatment Lee's Roadside Grill received. Call in the heavy equipment and rake the whole place.

No matter how Ferrier tries to spin this, and believe me he will, he will play the victim and record a cute lil NAPA commercial for us. But none of it will absolve him of one very very clear fact: He didn't pay his long lease fees and cost the government of St. Maarten and by extension the people of St. Maarten necessary funds. A clear legal offense. You cannot spin that fact.

Raoul Nicolaas

National Exam Spanish Compromised, St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E. AT FAULT.

Dear Editor,

The National Spanish Exam from the Expertisecentrum voor Toetsen & Examens (ETE) which was scheduled to take place on May 22nd, 2019 at all secondary schools on the Dutch side of the island and the Netherlands has been compromised. This is due to the fact that the exam was administered at St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E. the day before on May 21st, 2019.
The implication of this is that the Spanish exams would have to be annulled for all other schools that took the exam on May 22nd, 2019 except for the St. Maarten Academy P.S.V.E. Unfortunately, all other schools would have to re-do this Spanish exam during the re-sit period in June-July. This ultimately means that there will not be a final result for those schools because of this situation in time for graduation.
The major setback is for the student because those who may have done well on the first exam, may not get the same results during the final exam. This is not fair to the students who prepared for the exam for that day. It is unfortunate that there is no announcement from the minister of education neither from the division of exams regarding this situation.
It is with complete amazement to know that a blunder like this can be made in this day and age with so many checks and balances. I am pleading with the Honorable Minister Wycliffe Smith to look into this matter. The question this remains, why would the principal of St.Maarten Academy P.S.V.E administer the National Spanish exam the day before it is scheduled?
Finally, I am writing this as a parent of a student at MPC who knew the exam schedule and was informed by my son that his friends at St.Maarten Academy P.S.V.E did the Spanish exam the day before. Obviously, the exam was discussed.
Mrs. A Lopez.

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