Island Opinions

Island Opinions (726)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Dear Editor,

The WICSU/PSU Union was appalled upon reading the headline Daily Herald, Thursday May 19th, 2016 "Prison guards suspended of smuggling into House of detention" Needless to say, the WICSU/PSU Union considers this to be a most disturbing and frightening development that ought to be placed very high on the agenda of the Minister of Justice. Furthermore, the WICSU/PSU Union noticed a very troubling error upon a close review of said article. According to the press release, "the workers immediately involved their union, the WICSU/PSU Union, but the new Union President has been mum since taking the post. The Daily Herald tried to contact Solognier for comment on Wednesday but was unable to reach her. She has yet to call a press conference or give a press statements about the Unions plans to resolve the issue". Dear reader, it is necessary to point out that, in truth, the prison guards in question are members of the ABVO union and as such contacted the latter i.e. ABVO to discuss the issue in further detail. That being the case, it seems completely reasonable that the ABVO Union ought to determine the necessary course of action upon obtaining accurate and complete information after conducting their investigation. Quite frankly, for the WICSU/PSU Union to comment on this issue without having all of the relevant facts would be to breach protocol and is against the spirit of unity & solidarity we enjoy with the ABVO Union! Furthermore, the point must be made that upon discovering the error the WICSU/PSU Union kindly requested the journalist to retract the erroneous statement made on Thursday May 22nd 2016 regarding the WICSU/PSU Union. To date, no retraction has been made. This in our view, seems rather peculiar, disappointing and unprofessional to say the least. Ultimately, the publishing of incomplete or inaccurate information might be considered to be a great disservice to the loyal readers, at home and abroad. Nevertheless, since the development at the Point Blanche House of detention is currently under the microscope, the WICSU/PSU Union wishes to draw the reader's attention to the following. Truthfully, space does not permit the WICSU/PSU Union to chronicle the host of issues affecting and often times prohibits prison guards from effectively carrying out of their duties. However, the Union is very concerned about the working conditions, training, health and safety issues affecting prison guards. The WICSU/PSU Union fears that should the aforementioned issues remain unresolved and continue will further fuel discontent among and jeopardize the safety of the prison guards and even possibly that of society. Rest assured, the WICSU/PSU Union intends to meet with all relevant authorities, within and across the Ministry of Justice, with the sole purpose of identifying and implementing practical solutions to improve the extremely worrisome working conditions at the Point Blanche House of Detention.

Together we struggle, together we achieve.


MARIGOT, St. Martin -

Why Legalize it
And not ostracize it
When the  government
 Legalize gangja
Ah wonder if they
going te free
All Them gangsters
That they lock up for posession
Of Marijuana
And free up the jail
So that they won't have any reasons 
To let out them politicians on bail 
Freedom to the gangsters   
For the purchasing of gangja
But jail to the politicians if
THEY purchased votes from 
A brother
So more gangsters will end Upp
In parliament working
While the politicians Upp
On the hill Chilling
And the government will
Be run from the hill
While the pushers occupied
The new building on pond fill
By Legalizing canabis
Will  also permit his honor the Minister
Of health to stop
The smoking of the DUMP 
On pond fill
And now move it to the Medical
Center in Kay hill
For it's far less Dangerous
To exhale gangja
Than inhale the pond fill
Smoke that's Cancerous
So the St Maarten Medical Center
Will now be renamed
St MAARTEN             
Copyright 2016
Big Ray

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Dear MP Wescot-Williams,

By means of this letter, I am following up with Minister Silveria Jacobs about what progress, if any, has been made on the grievances raised by teachers about the management and management personnel in the Public Education Department and on the matter of outsourcing of school bus transportation.


My questions to the minister on topics are as follows: 


1. Has the minister met with and/or updated the teachers on the resolution of their grievances with the Education Department personnel?


2. Has any meeting or contact been made with the Education Department personnel in question about the issues raised by the teachers?


3. Have the teachers been given any commitment from the minister about the ensuring their grievances if/when fixed will not reoccur in the future? 




4. There is an issue at Milton Peters College with the availability of teachers for the TKL section in the area of Economics and Mathematics. How is this issue being tackled? 


5. It is understood there are personnel issues in TKL. Is the minister aware of this? If yes, what is being done to solve it?  


6. There is an ongoing situation with one teacher related to the non-transfer of the information to students have been proven fruitless.  Management is said to be aware of the situation and has been working with the teacher who leads especially exam classes. Can you investigate this and provide a confirmed solution as well as what the plan will be moving forward?


School Bus


7. What is the latest with Government’s plan to “outsource” the school bus operations? 


8. The bidding process for the school bus operations has been put on hold. What is the latest on this? 


9. What is the arrangement, if any, for the school bus transportation for the new school year?



10.  What has been communicated to the existing bus drivers about the new situation?



I look forward to the prompt answers from the minister.








MP Tamara Leonard


United People’s party

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The meeting requested by all 7 opposition members on vote-buying is scheduled for tomorrow Monday, at 2 pm. The Minister of Justice has been invited to this public meeting. 

Imagine if the coalition of Eight would adopt the attitude of the Opposition and see how they could ever get a quorum for any meeting they request. 
Again I stress, the business of Parliament is every MP's  individual responsibility to the people of St. Maarten. 
Walking out of a meeting is an embarrassment to those very same people, all MPs profess to care for. 
By the way, a request for a roll call is not necessary to take a "head count". If there is not a majority of members in the meeting, the chairperson confirms this by a roll call and adjourns the meeting if a majority is not present.


PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - I believe MP Cornelius de Weever got a little overzealous when he suggested placing the matter of reinstating St. Maarten on the UN's  list of non-self governing territories on the IPKO agenda for next week. A move promptly endorsed by MP Meyers. This basically means re-listing St. Maarten as a colony.
For starters, the IPKO agenda is determined by consensus of all 4 parliaments.
More importantly however is the fact that in the context this proposal was brought by the Independence for St. Maarten Foundation, the reinstatement is to "facilitate international support for our  quest for political freedom".
This decision on political freedom (independence)  however is one yet to be taken by the people of St. Maarten.
The parliament in my opinion therefore is not (yet) in any position to lobby reinstatement of St. Maarten in the UN  listing of non-self-governing territories.
So I caution against, even with our Curacao and Aruba counterparts,  presenting  this issue as one agreed to by the parliament and people of St. Maarten.
Again, in my opinion, 6 years of country status are insufficient to start on a new political process.
Not only that, but the many challenges ahead require our best efforts and undivided attention.
One of those challenges is the devising  of a roadmap to take St. Maarten to the next stage of its development. A roadmap, I again emphasize, that should place a lot of emphasis on nation building, inclusion and social cohesion.


LONDON – As each day passes, the internal situation in Venezuela deteriorates. Rumours of military coups and unstoppable violence swirl, street protests escalate, ordinary citizens suffer shortages of medicine, everyday foodstuffs, and almost everything else, while enduring rapidly escalating inflation.

It is a situation that has led some commentators to suggest that when taken with other developments in South America, leftist political thinking is being rejected by once sympathetic electorates.

The circumstances, however, are otherwise.

Last November in Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her socially-left Peronist party lost power in the Argentinian elections and was replaced by Mauricio Macri, a pro-business conservative.

In February, in quite different circumstances, the Bolivian President, Evo Morales, lost a referendum which he hoped would give him a fourth term in office from 2019. Although widely credited with lifting huge numbers of indigenous Bolivians out of poverty though the more equitable distribution of the country’s income from its vast natural gas reserves, his reputation had been hit by scandals within his political party.

Then in Brazil on May 12, Dilma Rousseff, the country’s left-leaning President, was impeached and forced to demit office. In a time limited period in the coming months the country’s Senate must decide by a two thirds majority if she was guilty of breaking laws relating to the way that the country’s budget was presented, and whether to dismiss her. In the interim her deputy, Michel Temer, the Vice President, and a conservative, has been appointed in her place. The decision followed allegations of widespread corruption in politics and popular street protests.

Ms Rousseff described what happened as a coup. Its objective, she said was to stop her from governing. “I have made mistakes, but I have not committed any crimes. I am being judged unjustly, because I have followed the law to the letter,” she told her supporters and the media.

All of which has led to a view that the political parties of the left are in decline and electorates are demonstrating their anger by turning against leaders whose views are based on socialist or left of center thinking. The suggestion by some think tanks and parts of the media is that the consequent political changes in these and other countries will shape a new hemispheric agenda.

It is a view that is simplistic, lacking nuance and balance. It fails to account for the quite different political and economic scenarios that prevail in each country, or the continuing support for left of center governments in countries where social programmes are well delivered and economic growth can be sustained. It also ignores global trends that suggest that the relationship between those who govern and those who are governed has changed, and voters everywhere are more volatile; ceasing to forgive elites who assume privileges and the right to govern, if they do not deliver what they promise.

If one wants to look for commonalities as to what is changing politics in the Americas, it may therefore be better to consider issues such as economic mismanagement, corruption, cyclical trends in commodity prices, the changing nature of global demand especially from China, the collapse in oil prices, and the failure of governments to prepare for a down-turn, for example by establishing sovereign wealth funds in better times.

More generally the analysis is based on a false left-right dichotomy. The reality is that in Latin America in recent years and in many other parts of the world what constitutes a party of the left has become blurred as some Marxist-Leninist derived models have proved outmoded in their execution, bureaucratic and uninspiring, while others have embraced the market.

What can be seen across Latin America and the Caribbean is an economic downturn in countries that have not diversified, remain heavily dependent on income from commodities, mining and oil: countries with governments that have failed to manage or balance the rhetoric of their social objectives with economic realism, good management, a genuine desire to address corruption, and to find ways to balance middle class aspirations against the social needs of those of ordinary workers and the poor.

What is also interesting, when it comes to hemispheric political analysis, is to wonder why some on the left who sought to deliver greater equality, and an end to capricious decision making, corruption and authoritarianism, have themselves become increasingly autocratic in response to setbacks.

In contrast, there are left of center leaders in the Americas who have adapted to the reality of ensuring results, and who are finding ways of delivering socially-based, less ideologically driven and more pragmatic long-term policies that to varying degrees seek to marry the market to their social thinking.

For example, look at Nicaragua. There Daniel Ortega’s ruling Sandinista Party has abandoned the approach it took in its first term in office which took it down similar paths to those pursued by President Chavez and continued by President Maduro. When returned as President in 2011, Mr Ortega maintained many of the market oriented policies of his predecessor while being a rhetorical populist and democratic socialist, with the consequence that today Nicaragua has an eclectic set of policies that have successfully delivered one of the highest GDP growth rates in Latin America, pro-actively encourages foreign investment, and places a strong emphasis on delivery.

There are also other examples in the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic’s ruling Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) has undertaken a similar transition from its early socialist origins. Re-elected a week ago by a landslide after delivering the highest economic growth in the Americas, President Medina and his predecessor President Fernandez chose to embrace the market while delivering extensive social and infrastructural programmes.

Some on the left argue that what is happening in parts of Latin America is being driven by omnipresent US and capitalistic forces determined to overthrow socialism, and it is true that in parts of Washington there is a more than opportunistic interest in what is now happening in Venezuela.

That said, Latin American and Caribbean history demonstrates that any country, wealthy or not, that is unable to govern wisely, will eventually open up the possibility of one or another form of domestic or external intervention, letting down the vulnerable who had faith in a cause.

The message should therefore not be about left or right or ideology, but that governments everywhere unable to relate their rhetoric to implementation, are unlikely to be forgiven.

(David Jessop is a consultant to the Caribbean Council)

MARIGOT, St. Martin -

The preachers the politicians
And the Pimps

The preacher drop his 
righteous robe
Just so he could take up 
an irreligious role
The pimps openly engage
Government in a heated
Battle over exotic dancers 
and licensing
So as the preacher leave
His pulpit
To take up active politics
The politicians have now 
Taken up
Residence in the henhouses
So they can better control
The Pimping
And human trafficking
And at the same time
Have an eye on their fellow
Who are now 
Partime M P s 
But remain fulltime pimps
The judges and prostitutors
Are In an uproar
For the pimps and politicians
Are on the parliament floor
Where this is going
nobody know
The judges say te too hot 
Fo them te handle 
so they throw it out once more
So that the politicians
Can meet with the pimps
In order to protect the trade
And keep afloat the economy 
And Balance the budget
With out any deficit

copyright 2016 BIG RAY


PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - As a Member of Parliament, I was very vocal in the past via the media about the restructuring of Cadastre and the urgency of filling positions to better serve the community of St. Maarten.

I have taken note of the letter and article of Mr. Lenny Priest regarding the Cadastre.  The Minister of VROMI has already forwarded the proposed names of the restructured board to the Corporate Governance Council for screening. The Corporate Governance Council is in the process of screening the individual candidates and this process by law takes six weeks before the Council renders their advice to Government. They also know the urgency of filling these Board and Management positions.
But everything you do in Government, you have to follow proper procedure in order for it to be done in a transparent and correct manner, and the Minister of VROMI is following this trajectory.‎
MP Lake stated, "I believe in following a procedure in a legal way and transparent way but with a time frame based on the urgency of filling these positions. You can see the same lengthy process in following the right procedures the Minister currently has to follow with restructuring of our electricity company NV GEBE.
I would like to thank the existing interim manager Ms. Marcia Peterson and entire staff of Cadastre for the excellent work that they are doing despite being short staff.  They have continued to work hard‎ and serve the people of St. Maarten of the country. They are the unsung heroes that is keeping Cadastre up and running during the lengthy process.
‎Some people who use to get their certificate of admeasurement in two weeks now might get it in three weeks, but remember they are short staff and the Interim Manager cannot hire new staff so it is unfair to them that they have to work with these conditions.
Just for the record and to inform the public correctly, the interim Manager‎ signs for certificates of admeasurement, the registration of mortgages and other services the Cadastre offers to the public. According to the law the Cadastre has six to eight weeks to sign and process any admeasurements, but due to the short staff and the restructuring of the board it is taking a little longer.
In closing, the restructuring of Cadastre is a high priority for this Coalition Government and I foresee the Corporate Governance Council rendering their advice to Government very soon based the urgency of the situation.


PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – The General public of St. Maarten has been complaining about the long delays that exist now at the office of land measurements and registration of mortgages.

The Cadaster Office at one point was a department of the Central Government of the former Netherlands Antilles and became a foundation. The Cadaster became an operation that you could depend on as certificate of admeasurements and other services were flowing smoothly.     

Over the last year we are seeing these services of this prestigious foundation deteriorates to the point where the general public is suffering. The UP lead government ignored the deteriorating of this office as they didn’t lift a rock to correct the wrong that was happening. Today we are experiencing the same fate from the NA lead government.

Enough is enough. Either this government doesn’t care or they are not capable of correcting the situation. However, as a political party, the OSPP, we have a responsible to bring it to the attention of this government and the parliament of St. Maarten. We have therefore forwarded a letter to the Minister of VROMI, Mr. Angel Meyers querying about the functioning of the Cadaster office. We have asked the minister of Vromi if persons have applied for the position of director of the Cadaster based on the advertisement that was placed. How many applicants were there and if they were interviewed? If yes, what was the outcome? And if no interviews took place why not?

We also want to know from the minister how many members are serving on the Supervisory Board and if the quantity constitutes a legal board. It is also important to inform the general public who are the present members of the supervisory board. These are some very pertinent questions as they all are related the good functioning of the Cadaster. If a general director is not appointed and if the supervisory board is not legal then we will continue to receive the type of long delay in services from the Cadaster.

 The OSPP is of the opinion that this organization is playing too much of an important role in the further development of our economy for this government to continue ignoring these appointments. We are therefore insisting that our Minister of VROMI, Mr. Angel Meyers make the appointments of a general director and members to the supervisory board a top priority in his ministry. We need more surveyors and promotions within are long overdue but that can only happen if those appointments take place. We have to applaud the acting director and the staff for a job well done under these circumstances but things can’t continue like this.

A good functioning cadaster office indirectly generates funds for the coffers of the government and creates many jobs in the construction industry and otherwise. Let’s improve on the services of the Cadaster office we don’t need anybody to come and tell us how to do it.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago - The evolution of labour markets in Latin America and the Caribbean during 2016 will generally be negative, due to forecasts for a more deteriorated macroeconomic context and growth levels than last year and to the weakening of some employment indicators, ECLAC and the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a joint Report released today.

The United Nations organizations point out in a new edition of Employment Situation in Latin America and the Caribbean that these factors, especially the low dynamism in job creation, will likely lead to an increase in urban unemployment of more than half a percentage point (0.5) in 2016 versus 2015.

“The process of continuous improvement of labour indicators that benefited the region during much of the last 15 years halted in a more unfavourable global macroeconomic context,” Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and José Manuel Salazar, Regional Director of ILO for Latin America and the Caribbean, stated in the document’s foreword.

“This underscores the importance of taking measures not only to mitigate the effects of the crisis in the short term, but also to tackle the gaps and lags over the longer term, such as scarce productive diversification, productivity gaps, high informality and inequality,” they added.

The Regional Director of ILO will be one of the special participants in ECLAC’s thirty-sixth session, to be held in Mexico City from 23 to 27 May. In the event, Salazar will deliver a presentation in the round table on regional dimension of follow-up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a series of goals related to inclusive growth and decent jobs.

The Report provides an overview of the performance of Latin American and Caribbean labour markets in 2015. It indicates that, mainly as a result of a slight contraction in regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that year the average unemployment rate recorded its first increase since 2009, rising to 6.5% in 2015 from 6.0% in 2014.

That increase was produced by greater numbers of job seekers entering the labour market compared to previous years, who did not find the necessary quantity of jobs due to the weak creation of salaried employment—which reflects the low dynamism of economic activity, the study adds.

In addition, at a regional level job quality deteriorated because, in light of the dearth of sufficient salaried positions, self-employment expanded and was generally of lower quality.

According to the document, the weakness in job creation in 2015 was manifested in the third consecutive annual decline in the employment rate (by 0.4 percentage points), which implied a reduction in the number of wage income earners per household. This fall in income has played an important role in the estimated poverty increase for 2015 (to 29.2% of the region’s inhabitants, according to ECLAC’s latest projections).

Nevertheless, ECLAC and ILO stress that the deterioration of employment and unemployment indicators is not a widespread phenomenon in the region.

In 2015, the unemployment rate increased in just seven of 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries, while in nine others it fell and in the remaining three it held steady. In general, in Central American countries, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean nations the labour market’s evolution was more favourable than in South America, whose performance was affected by the impact of the external context on its economic activity and inflation, among other factors.

The current edition of Employment Situation also analyzes trends in rural areas of the region’s countries between 2005 and 2014 with the aim of identifying if the improvements seen in this period for labour markets as a whole were also registered in these areas, and if the gaps with respect to urban areas narrowed.

The available data shows that rural areas did indeed benefit from the improvements in employment indicators related to quantity and quality seen in the regional total. Nevertheless, the urban-rural gaps did not shrink.

On this topic, the report concludes that in order to advance towards reducing the deficit of decent jobs in rural areas, greater modernization and productive diversification are indispensable, along with productivity improvements in the farming sector. In addition, the report recommends strengthening labour institutions to contribute to the formalization of rural employment, improved social protection, greater compliance with the minimum wage and other labour regulations, as well as to reduce the obstacles to labour insertion for women and youth from rural areas.



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