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USM to launch 10-10-20 lecture series for critical reflection.

PHILIPSBURG:--- On Saturday, 10 October, the University of St Martin (USM) will begin a virtual lecture series dedicated to the significance of the political disintegration of the Netherlands Antilles and Sint Maarten receiving its autonomous country status ten years ago. 10-10-20: A Reflection on St. Maarten’s Constitutional Journey will host 4 lectures and critical dialogue in collaboration with the Mèlé podcast group.

“The idea to create a space for critical reflection on the 10th anniversary of St. Martin receiving its autonomous country status came about through various conversations. In January this year, USM staff reached out to concerned citizens and notable members of our community who were happy to form part of the organising committee”, said USM Events Manager Valda Hazel.

The committee consists of former Minister Plenipotentiary Jorine Wuite; Social Economic Council Policy Advisor Carla Vlaun; Makhicia Brooks of the Sint Maarten Development Fund; political scientist and Consultant Julio Romney; Senior Policy Advisor and Interim Director of the Department of Foreign Relations Patrice Gumbs; sociologist and Co-ordinator of the Sint Maarten Anti-Poverty Platform Raymond Jessurun, USM Event Manager Ms. Valda Hazel and USM President Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez.

According to a press release emitted on Wednesday, the role of the university is not to instigate celebration, nor to lead the public commemoration of 10-10-10. Rather, the mission is to “co-create a space whereby experts, citizens, and residents -young and seasoned- are called to reflect on our reality; opening up the possibility of imagining the future of our beloved St. Martin”.

“Today, as St. Martin continues to struggle with its political status both at Marigot as well as Philipsburg, in the face of climate change, COVID-19 and resulting economic challenges, the university opens its virtual doors and invites the country to engage in a dialogue that will document our history and allow us to walk further with the knowledge we create collectively,” Dr. Carmona stated.

In this first episode, scheduled for Saturday, former Lieutenant Governor and former Minister of Justice, Mr. Dennis Richardson will provide a testimony based on experience and memory. This will serve as the basis for discussion on the referendum and the negotiated outcomes which brought the country to its current legal and institutional situation. The Mèlé podcast group will then engage the public in critical reflection.

Having started their monthly podcast shows in July of this year, Mèlé consists of four young St. Martin professionals who discuss culture, society, and politics from a nuanced perspective. Among these: journalist and USM alumn Ralph Cantave; economist, educator, and artist Jonathan van Arneman, historian and political scientist Carla Vlaun, and tuning-in in from the diaspora in France, an expert on economic law Stephy Gumbs. Other keynote speakers in the lecture series include Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten Executive Director Richard Doornsbosch, and former Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs. The lectures and dialogues will be broadcasted via Zoom on USM’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

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