PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Speaking at the Aruba Day Awards Ceremony held at SOIL on Sunday evening, Prime Minister William Marlin said that Aruba Day is a special celebration not only for Arubians at home and abroad, but for those we might call the “extended family” of Aruba which includes friends and well-wishers all over the world, but particularly in St. Maarten where the Chuchubi Foundation has been the standard bearer for Aruba for quite a while now.
Many St. Martiners the Prime Minister said were born on Aruba, actually the 50% of the Ministers making up the present government were born on our sister island as well as the acting Governor.
The celebration of Aruba Day this year has featured several activities which began on Friday and the Awards Ceremony can therefore be considered the icing on the cake of the Aruba Day celebrations on St. Maarten.
The ties between St. Maarten and Aruba go beyond our shared history of being part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is even deeper, I dare say, than our cultural bonds. Blood ties make us family, and many of you here this evening are living proof of this.
Marlin said that visiting Aruba, particularly San Nicolas is like being in M’Region or Cole, the family ties have never been broken, but have rather remained strong.
It is for this reason that when St. Maarteners go to Aruba, they instantly feel at home, and I am sure the same goes for Arubians who come here. We are two nations with deep-rooted love and admiration for each other.
The Prime Minister said that he always feels at home in Aruba, like he recently did when he was there for meetings and had the privilege to meet with his friend and colleague, Prime Minister of Aruba, Mike Eman.
Prime Minister Marlin borrowed a quote from Franklin Roosevelt who once said: “Friendship among nations, as among individuals, calls for constructive efforts to muster the forces of humanity in order that an atmosphere of close understanding and cooperation may be cultivated.”
I am sure it is that “atmosphere of close understanding and cooperation” that the Chuchubi Foundation seeks to cultivate with its activities, the Prime Minister stated.
Prime Minister Marlin told those present at SOIL that it is the intention of his government to continue to work diligently to further strengthen the understanding and cooperation that exists between St. Maarten and Aruba at all levels.
One area that needs urgent attention if we were to increase contact between our people is transportation. I can speak from personal experience of the difficulty passengers have been encountering in getting from St. Maarten to Aruba and vice versa. We need to first go to a foreign country outside of the Dutch Caribbean and then fly to Aruba or back to Sint Maarten. We need to work closely with the government of Aruba he said, to ensure that our people can travel straight to and from Aruba and Sint Maarten.
We will seek to address this issue in a manner that will result in better, more affordable and more efficient air connections between our two destinations.
Of course, both St. Maarten and Aruba are leading tourism destinations in the Caribbean. Cooperation in this field cannot be limited to just learning from each other from afar but should result in closer and intensified collaboration between our respective tourism authorities that would bring mutual benefits. We need to learn from each other’s mistakes and build on the best practices developed over the years.
We cannot continue to see each other as competitors for the tourism dollar, but rather as partners in providing opportunities for our people to thrive in a very competitive field.
As the curtain is drawn on the official celebration of Aruba Day, the Prime Minister quoted words by essayist, poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau who said:
“The language of friendship is not words but meanings.” When we speak locally we simply say: “action speaks louder than words”. The Chuchubi Foundation, with these awards, is proving just that. The Prime Ministers ended his remarks saying: More than friends with Aruba or friends of Aruba, we are family.
Congratulations to the recipients of this year’s awards.
Once again, Happy Aruba Day!
The Prime Minister and Chairlady of Parliament, Mrs. Sarah Wescot-Williams then handed out the awards on behalf of the Chuchubi Foundation to radio personality, Miss. Lady Grace Blijden of PJD-2 and Funny Man Comedian, Fernando Clark.