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Windward Islands Teachers Union (W.I.T.U.) Board Election 2021

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - This communique is to inform all W.I.T.U. members and the general public, that the board will be holding their elections on October 28th, 2021, at 6:30pm, the W.I.T.U. said in a press statement on Wednesday evening.

“This will take place in our office at Rembrandt Plein #39, Madam Estate. During this gathering, the financial and secretarial report will be presented to the members for their perusal. Based on our constitution, each member has the right and the opportunity to postulate themselves to serve on the board for a period of three years.

“As a board member of W.I.T.U. you will be advocating for the rights of teachers while promoting a safe work environment for all. The deadline to submit your name as a candidate for the upcoming elections will be October 22nd, 2021.

“This can be done by contacting the board via our email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before the deadline. Finally, to partake in this upcoming election, each member must provide proof of membership by presenting a copy of their last pay slip. Feel free to contact us for further information.”

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MP Wescot-Williams: “Short-term Labor Contract Law Hits Another Snag”

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams has expressed her disappointment that the publication of the new Civil Code Book as far as this regards employment contracts (short term contracts), the book does not include any of the amendments made by Parliament in 2019, the MP said in a media statement on Wednesday evening.

“Now I can understand why the Minister of VSA was so evasive when he was  recently asked about short term labor contracts, locally referred to as “6-months contracts”, the MP stated. “I wonder if the Minister is even aware of the current status.”

“But how did we get here in the first place?”  The Civil Code of Sint Maarten was adopted from the Netherlands Antillean Civil Code and at the time of the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, several changes to the Civil Code were in process, such as e.g. Book 2 of the Civil Code that was revised and approved by the Sint Maarten Parliament in 2013.

“In 2015, Parliament received the revised book on labor contracts. A complete new book was hereby created for labor in the Civil Code. The Government at the time subjected the labor proposals to tripartite discussions, before the handling in Parliament of the new Title 10 in Book 7 of the Civil Code.” the MP explained.

“During the handling in Parliament, amendments were presented to include restrictions on short term contracts (no more than two contracts and or a period of two years); extension of maternity leave to 16 weeks and creation of paternity leave of 7 days. These amendments were presented by former MP Tamara Leonard and myself.

“These changes would have gone into effect by National Decree, in other words the Government would decide on the date that these changes to the labor law would go into effect.

“Disappointingly, the publication of the labor book of the Civil Code by the Government does not include any of the amendments submitted by former MP Leonard and myself and approved by Parliament in 2019”, MP Wescot-Williams elaborated.

“To clarify further, “then there is this constant fuss in Parliament about an initiative law amendment of 2011 by the NA faction to address short-term labor contracts that - in the view of some MPs - is being frustrated.

“However, the changes in the Civil Code as mentioned before, are of a complete different nature than what was presented in 2011 by the NA faction. Conversely, this 2011 amendment is still at Parliament and could be picked up by the initiators who are still Members of Parliament if so desired.”

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MP Emmanuel: When is actual work going to begin at PJIA?

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel on Wednesday once again questioned when the actual reconstruction work of the Princess Juliana International Airport will begin. The MP noted that the end of the year is approaching along with another peak season and PJIA is still showing the world the same face it has been showing for four years following Hurricane Irma of 2017.

He also said he is still awaiting a response from the Minister of TEATT to a letter he sent since August 15 seeking an update on any potential delays at PJIA, considering an ongoing situation in the Netherlands between Schiphol International and contractor Ballast Nedam. “As usual, this government never answers official letters sent to it seeking information about relevant matters. The Minister of TEATT mentioned keys being handed over to signal the start of real work, but the country is still aiting,” the MP said.

“We see images of people toasting champagne, videos of what the airport terminal should look like, we see several vacancy ads and pending dates for several services that has yet to be put on bid as part of the work at the airport. What we are not seeing is any meaningful and serious reconstruction work taking place and we don’t know if the airport is still on schedule,” the MP said.

“The government has settled into a comfort zone of simply not caring about providing information about anything. Accountability is through the window and the rest of us have to just sit back and wait without any updates or explanation. We used to have an airport to be proud of, now it seems like we are just accepting this nonchalant approach to our most strategic port. Where is the urgency?” the MP asked.

In the week of August 27, 2021, several media outlets in the Netherlands reported on the significant financial losses of Schiphol International Airport in the first half of 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Included in these reports are the delays Schiphol is now faced with on the construction of a new wing at the airport due to conflicts with contractor Ballast Nedam.

The reports specifically mentioned rising costs and shortage of building materials. Dutch media has reported that the issue between Schiphol and Ballast Nedam could result in a legal dispute between the two.

“As Schiphol is heavily involved at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and as Ballast Nedam has recently been awarded the bid for the re-construction of PJIA, I obviously have my concerns and would appreciate if the Minister would answer a few questions so that we are clear moving forward,” MP Emmanuel said.  

The MP is seeking answers to the following questions:

  1. Has Schiphol or Ballast Nedam informed PJIA of any consequences for the re-construction of PJIA due to the reported dispute between Schiphol and Ballast Nedam? If yes, please elaborate.
  2. Has Schiphol or Ballast Nedam informed PJIA of any cost overruns for the re-construction of PJIA due to increase of material cost? If yes, please indicate how much cost overrun can be expected?
  3. Has Schiphol or Ballast Nedam informed PJIA of any delays in the re-construction of PJIA due to shortage of material? If yes, please indicate the length of this delay.
  4. Please explain if there is any clause in the re-construction contract of PJIA that indemnifies PJIA from additional costs related to third party disputes and delays.
  5. If a legal dispute develops between Schiphol and Ballast Nedam, how will this affect the re-construction of PJIA?
  6. Please indicate if the re-construction is on schedule and if not, why not?

“Lastly Minister, in the event that PJIA does not have any information regarding the aforementioned questions or if they have not been briefed by Schiphol or Ballast Nedam, I hereby also request that you insist that PJIA reaches out to both Schiphol and Ballast Nedam with the questions in order to provide you with the answers. You can in turn inform my person and Parliament accordingly,” MP Emmanuel concluded.

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Seven Seas Waters matches Art Saves Lives donation for National Institute of Arts ballet classes

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - ASLF is pleased to announce that Seven Seas Waters has matched Art Saves Lives Foundation’s (ASLF) donation of $2,500.00 toward free ballet classes for little girls on the island.

The gift has been well received by N.I.A.’s (National Institute of Arts) director Arlene Newhouse who is elated by Seven Seas gesture. Their donation now allows up to 46 ballerinas ages 3-9 to participate in free ballet classes through December 2021.

The dresses for this program were given by the Bronxville Ballet NOT FOR SALE. Director of Bronxville Ballet NOT FOR SALE, Ana Dimas explained that her goal is to collaborate with dance studios around the world who are in need of assistance.

Through this, she hopes to give opportunities to the girls so that they may learn new skills, gain a positive self-image and have a chance to be a “princess”. In 2020 Ms. Dimas sponsored 10 classes for the students with the assistance of Nicole de Weever of Art Saves Lives Foundation.

Ms. de Weever hand delivered some 25-custom made “Princess” dresses to NIA from New York City. With the success of last year’s program Ms. de Weever, Ms. Dimas and the NIA are more than grateful to Mr. Franklyn Richards and Seven Seas Waters for their commitment especially in such times.

As a result of their generosity, the program will be extended until December 2021. NIA and ASLF hopes that Seven Seas Waters actions will encourage more benefactors to come forward and support their efforts.

Additional donations would allow the program to be extended until the end of the school year. Donations can be made to NIA by contacting the school at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Rotary Sunset’s A Book A Day Reaches Over 2,000 students

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – In recognition of Rotary’s Basic Education and Literacy Month, observed during the month of September, members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset volunteered to read to the students at various schools on the island, in efforts to promote education and literacy, one of Rotary’s key areas of focus.

The reading campaign entitled, “A Book A Day”, commenced on September 1st and concluded on September 30th, whereby the Rotarians visited twenty-two primary schools and two daycare centers and conducted interactive reading segments for 15-20 minutes. A Book A Day reading campaign was introduced by the club in 2018 and is proud to announce that this initiative reaches over 2,000 students yearly.

With Rotary’s motto being, “Service above Self” the club recognizes the significance in being examples and encourage students to read more often in and outside of the classroom. This year members were able to read several children books written by one of the club’s dynamic Rotarians and first year author, Tamara Leonard. These books were also gifted to the class as part of the initiative while the students expressed much appreciation and excitement about the reading sessions.

The club would like to thank Paul Harris Fellow Ms. Alicia Liverpool, and Prospective members Ishka Jose, Linaisa Mardenborough and Ruben Pantophlet for their participation in the club’s reading campaign. We would also like to extend much appreciation to the school boards, schools, management, and teachers for allowing the members to visit their respective schools and read to the students. The club would like to encourage the general population to join in and do their part by reading to their child or children, and volunteer at the schools, when possible.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset meets every second and fourth Monday of the month at Carl N Sons Unique Inn and Conference Facilities in Cole Bay at 7:30pm. Due to Covid19, the club currently meets via Zoom. The club can be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the official Facebook page at facebook.com/rotarysxmsunset.

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Carnival Cruises Resumes Cruise Calls to St. Maarten. Other Brands to Follow

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Carnival Cruise Line resumed cruise calls to the island on Tuesday, October 12 when Carnival Freedom arrived in port with 1700 passengers as first destination of call on its itinerary. The last Carnival Cruise Line vessel on a regular cruise call was back in March 2020.

Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Hon. Roger Lawrence said on Tuesday, “Today is a day of celebration, after 19 months, we have received the first transit visit to St. Maarten from Carnival Cruise Lines.

“As we continue to move our country forward, it’s milestones like this that we need to acknowledge and celebrate. It is a pleasure to welcome the fun ships back to our shores. #choosefun.”

Port St. Maarten Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs said on Tuesday: “We have great cooperation with Carnival Corporation, and we are very pleased to welcome them back to the destination. They have and continue to be a great partner and the island can expect to see other Carnival brands calling at the destination in the coming weeks.

“We continue to work diligently with the cruise industry in their staggered approach to the resumption of cruising. Port St. Maarten stands strategically located, a world class cruise terminal and one of the region’s most dynamic ports that serves as a gateway to cruising.

“The port and the destination are at the cusp of a significant rebound as major cruise lines work towards the return of full fleets to cruising. We are anticipating a steady rebound of business.

“Through the fourth quarter of 2021 up to the end of December, we are expecting approximately 125 cruise ship calls including the resumption of MSC Cruises and others to the destination from a transit perspective.

“As a port, we are in a transition phase to becoming a key cruise destination again as the industry continues to bring more vessels online as more travelers book a cruise.”

Port St. Maarten Management and team members met Carnival Freedom Captain and other representatives at the gangway where they received a warm St. Maarten welcome. Tokens of appreciation were exchanged on behalf of the port and the destination.

Captain of Carnival Freedom Roberti Costi: I have been many times before to the island of St. Maarten in the 1980s. We are extremely happy to be back. This is a great destination.

Crew members were not allowed to disembark during the vessels port call which are in line with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and the cruise lines own protocols.

Cruise sector forecasting is currently indicating a strong rebound and the port is looking to local stakeholders such as the taxis, retailers, and tour operators to continue to maintain high service level standards along with local COVID-19 public health and safety protocols.

Carnival Corporation has 24 ships that operate 2- to 17-day voyages, departing from every coast in the U.S. as well as other homeports

Carnival Freedom was launched in 2006 and made its maiden voyage in March 2007. The vessel is part of the Conquest-class and has a gross tonnage of 110,000. It is 952 feet in length and has a passenger capacity of 2,980 and a crew complement of 1,150.

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COCI ceases Business Inactivation Status with immediate effect

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As part of the ongoing efforts to maintain accuracy of the trade registry and ensure compliance among the business community, the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) has taken the decision, and adopted with immediate effect, the cessation of the status of Inactivation.

Businesses and foundations will no longer receive an inactive declaration notice from COCI, and existing inactive businesses and foundations will have until December 31st, 2021, to re-activate or close their business and/or foundation.

In the past, the status of inactivation was implemented for the sole purpose of facilitating businesses that wished to temporarily stop their operation and to justify not filing the monthly Turn Over Tax (TOT) at the Tax Office.

While the inactivation status was initially meant to offer temporary alleviation to businesses, it has proven to have several long-term negative consequences for country Sint Maarten. The most detrimental being the inaccurate representation of the current economic climate and landscape.

This is as a result of the large majority of inactive businesses choosing to remain inactive indefinitely, instead of closing their business. In addition, the registry statistics of COCI play an instrumental role in determining the level of tax compliance on Sint Maarten.

With the recent changes to Article 25, Book 2 of the Civil Code, a legal entity must be accurately registered within the trade registry of COCI and is required to pay the annual registration fee. Failure to do so, will result in the business being de-registered from the trade registry.

In the event that a business chooses to temporarily halt its operations, but remain registered in the trade registry, the business will be responsible to maintain updated registration and payment at COCI and still file its monthly TOT at the Tax Office.

On this premise, COCI is willing to establish payment plans for businesses for a period not exceeding one year, for annual registration fees.

In the event that a business chooses to close their business, they are required to de-register at COCI. Subsequently, the business will need to provide the de-registration declaration at the Tax Office in order to avoid tax assessments.

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Nature Foundation St. Maarten Notices an Active Sea Turtle Nesting Season this Year

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Nature Foundation has noticed an increase of sea turtle nesting activity, sea turtle nesting season normally lasts from April until December each year. Especially Dawn Beach has been a place of interest, already two nests successfully hatched, and hatchlings made it to the ocean, and another three nests were laid successfully by hawksbill turtles. Unfortunately, weather conditions and human disturbances caused some challenges for the sea turtles and nests to survive.

Several hatchlings were disturbed due to artificial lightening around the beach, causing them to end up in the pool and other obstacles, some did not survive, others were saved by the Foundation and Hotel staff. One nest got destroyed due to the swells from hurricanes in the regions, causing the eggs to flush away. 

An increase in sea turtle patrols by the Foundation and the assistance of several hotels including the Westin Hotel, has led to early detection of sea turtle nesting and increased their protection and research possibilities. The Nature Foundation is fortunate to receive the assists form Tessa Volbeda, an intern from University van Hall Larenstein in the Netherlands studying Marine Biology, which will research St. Maarten’s Sea turtle nesting activities in the coming months.

“It has been an honour to be working with the Nature Foundation on this sea turtle project. I have always had a fascination for sea turtles, and I am extremely excited to be experiencing such an active nesting season. I hope to contribute as much to the conservation of these animals as possible, because they play such an important role in the ecosystem” explained Tessa Volbeda. 

From March until at least December, the green, hawksbill, and leatherback sea turtle species will lay their eggs on our beaches. However, sea turtles may be nesting earlier in the season to avoid higher-than-average temperatures due to climate change. Individual sea turtles have been known to lay their eggs at different times outside the regular season. All three populations have declined from human activities and are endangered, critically endangered, and vulnerable, respectively. On average only 1% of hatched sea turtles make it to adulthood, therefore it is crucial to not further hamper their survival and people should stay clear from any sea turtle nesting activity, to ensure the highest chance of survival to these eggs. It is vital that at least a 30 meters distance from sea turtles on the beach is kept, also please refrain from using flashlights and lightening, unless it is a red light.

Unfortunately, the hatchling mortality rate is high, and it is not unusual for them to become dehydrated and pass away before reaching the ocean. “Hawksbills, one of three sea turtle species that nest on St. Maarten's beaches, are critically endangered and protected locally and internationally. This means it is illegal to kill, wound, capture or pick them up. It is also illegal to disturb their environment resulting directly or indirectly in a physical threat or damage, or to commit other acts which result in disturbance of the animal. It is forbidden to disturb, damage or destroy sea turtle nests, lairs, breeding places or eggs.” Stated the Nature Foundation St. Maarten.   

Thanks to collaboration of the Nature Foundation with the security team at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa more data could be collected from the nesting sea turtles. The Foundation was able to confirm three laid nests and two hatching events. The nests have been marked to ensure that it can remain undisturbed for the incubation time until it hatches. Eggs may be quite shallow and close to the surface of the beach. It is essential to prohibit any umbrellas being placed in nest areas which may pierce the eggs, prevent walking over the nest, and to ensure that there is absolutely no chance of the nest being driven over by any type of vehicle. 

At the end of August two hatching events took place, one at Dawn Beach and one at Oyster Bay Beach. While many hatchlings seemed to have made it into the ocean a few did not find their way. Several were found around the property of the Westin Hotel, which could be due to the strong lighting in the area. Hatchling sea turtles normally follow the light of the moon reflecting on the water to reach the ocean safely and strong outdoor lights can confuse them. Some were luckily found wandering early enough to be saved, however, quite some did not survive.  

If a nesting sea turtle, nesting tracks or hatchlings are encountered on the beach, always try to let sea turtles find their own way to the ocean and contact the Nature Foundation Sint Maarten immediately. It is safest to not disturb them if they are heading in the correct direction. Be alert and remove debris that is in the way. If the hatchling gets stuck or starts going in the wrong direction, carefully pick it up along with some sand and put it into a bucket until the Foundation staff arrives. If Foundation staff is not available, never place hatchlings directly in the ocean, always place them in the sand just at the edge of breaking water and count all hatchlings to report to the Foundation. Ensure that pets and animals are kept away from the area and don’t walk over the tracks, as much data can still be retrieved from sea turtle tracks and nesting signs.   

In exceptional situations a nest relocation takes place. Nature Foundation staff relocated a sea turtle nest that was in danger of being damaged due to high wave activity on Dawn Beach at the end of September. A Hawksbill nest was laid on Dawn beach, unfortunately, it was located quite close to the water. There was a high risk of the nest getting flooded due to large swells, which will cause the hatchlings to die. To prevent this from happening, the nest was dug up and 126 eggs were carefully collected. This is a very risky process as the eggs are very vulnerable in the first days after being laid. If eggs are not handled carefully, fragile membranes in the egg will break, which means the egg will not develop any further. 

There are some main threats to the nesting populations on St. Maarten. Lights from homes and businesses look like moonlight and they reflect on the surface of the sea. Hatchlings become confused by the lights and go towards the human lights instead of the ocean. Development reduces the beach's width, forcing sea turtles to nest closer to the sea where their eggs could be washed away. It also pollutes and increases human presence on coasts, making it an unattractive nesting prospect. Finally, sea turtles are vulnerable when they come ashore as their hide and meat can be sold and eaten. Their eggs are also susceptible to poaching for eating. 

If any sea turtle activity is observed on our beaches, please contact the Nature Foundation to report the sighting at 5444267 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

nature turtle tracks

nature nesting hawksbil

 

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ONE SXM Association Formally Launched with Lecture by Regina Labega

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The One SXM Association held its official launch on Saturday, October 9 with a lecture entitled “The Role of the Airport in the Reconstruction of the Economy” given by Ms. Regina Labega. The ceremony also marked the first anniversary of the weekly radio program, named ONESXM which airs Saturdays from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on My 88.3 FM.

One of the objectives of the One SXM Association is “to be an advocate for social, cultural, educational, and economic advancement of the unified people of St. Martin, from both the North and South, regardless of the administration they fall under,” says the association.

The association also aims to promote unity, self-pride, self-reliance, dignity, patriotism, and self-determination and a return to the core values that are the foundation of the St. Martin nation, as well as promote good citizenship based on integrity, responsibility, and mutual cooperation.

After the introduction of the association and its members, the keynote address was delivered by Ms. Regina Labega, a senior policy advisor for the ministry of TEATT and former managing director of the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM Airport). Ms. Labega also served as head of government’s tourism department and in a number of senior positions in the tourism and banking sectors.

In her four-part presentation, Labega outlined how an airport, SXM in particular, drives the economy; events during the past two decades that impacted SXM Airport, and St. Martin’s economy; and opportunities for the airport and St. Martin. The last part of the presentation was a Q&A session.

Presenting a summary of economic benefits to the government, she urged the public to see the airport as more than just a terminal and a runway since airports offer many spinoff activities. Also covered in the presentation were economic impacts--global and local--Moody’s ratings, negotiations, and capital investments. On the matter of preclearance, Labega proposed a number of scenarios and said that the request for US preclearance had already been approved by the US government.  

The ONESXM Association will soon publish more information about membership to the organization and its planned activities. The lecture series continues with the next lecture scheduled for November 6th.

Individuals and organizations are invited to join the Association’s mailing list for more information by going to their Facebook page www.facebook.com/onesxm and clicking signup or by signing up directly at ww.bit.ly/weareonesxm

ONESXMfbcover2

 

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Prime Minister Silveria E. Jacobs Constitution Day Address

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – In the observance of Constitution Day, Prime Minister Hon. Silveria Jacobs released the following message on the occasion.

Prime Minister Jacobs: “Our constitution is our foundation and framework upon which we have built our lives and our very existence as a constituent state within the Kingdom some 11 years ago. A step that saw St. Maarten embark on a journey of self-determination - Fighting for the right to self-govern, with a vision, hopes, and dreams of being a nation of people with a strong identity, a sense of belonging and accountability for our own success.

“Greetings to you, People of St. Maarten, both here at home and those working and studying abroad. It is an honor to address you today on the 11th Anniversary of Constitution Day right here on St. Maarten.

“I congratulate you, the people of St. Maarten, its Parliament, High Councils, government apparatus, civil servants as well as civil society doing all you can on your effort to build a stable and sustainable country. We have come quite far, but we have very far to go. It is upon this foundation that we continue to build. The agreement of 10-10-10 is a historic achievement; the achievement of a status that reflects the legitimate will of the people of St. Maarten and with those dreams and hopes of a better tomorrow. We honor those who had the vision to get us to where we are today.

“This 11th anniversary has been themed “Building our Nation and Investing in Our Future.” We know that we are now at a crossroads to which building our nation is crucial for our long-term sustainability, and in doing so, each crucial step we take now is and should be, a great investment in our future.

“Nation Building is a key factor as we gain more and more autonomy. To build this Nation, it starts with how we identify with our country and how much we see ourselves as key factors for St. Maarten’s success. We must all buy into the idea and work hard to achieve this vision for a St. Maarten where all her people recognize their potential for greatness, are determined in their resolve and decisiveness and disciplined in the execution of the many tasks ahead. With all hands on deck working towards the same goal, we can become a prosperous and financially independent nation. It will require an investment in all the people. It will require an investment in time, in knowledge about self, about country, and our history, coupled with awareness of the potential of each and every woman, man, boy and girl to make a positive change in St. Maarten. Wherever you are, you can be the difference.

“The month of October gives us many reminders of how we must invest in our people. On October 1st, we celebrated the international day of Older persons, the elders of our nation under the theme “Digital Equity for all ages.” This allows them, our elders who we honor, to stay in contact and have meaningful participation in an ever-changing digital world, where sometimes physical contact is not possible, at least being able to do so digitally will keep our elders thriving as well.

“On October 5th, we are reminded to appreciate teachers for their unwavering contribution to helping form our future; helping form the future of the world by molding our young ones under the theme, “Teachers at the heart of the education recovery.” I think any parent today, would know and understand, especially during these trying times, how important our teachers are. 

“So, as we sit here and now, honoring our elders and nurturing our youngsters, we must give all those that fall in between every opportunity to be their best selves as they are the ones carrying the load for both our upline and the downline.

“However, it would be naïve of us not to acknowledge that all the challenges that may make this vision seem far from attainable, such as our aging infrastructure, our sole reliance on tourism, and our susceptibility to external shocks, government’s liquidity position and insufficient human capital also play a role. We cannot ignore these facts, but as we work together through these challenges, one thing that has been crucial to our steady growth, has been the understanding that building a nation is not a one-man job and it is not just the responsibility of a select few. It will require all of us engaging the people we are sworn to serve, engaging the youth in schools and neighborhoods, and CSO/NGOs and so many others who are quietly making their contribution felt and quietly making it happen. As we continue to build our nation, we must remain open to learning, open to seeing other perspectives, open to innovation, open to change and therefore to growth.

“Beyond this 11th year, we must remain on the trajectory to continue to improve our way of life. The future of St. Maarten involves everyone. The constitution is not just for the bureaucratic few, it is for all of us. This document provides the essential framework for our government of, by, and for the people. I encourage each citizen of St. Maarten to familiarize yourselves and become versed with our constitution. Let it remain a part of our dialogue on a daily basis as we continue to develop our island sustainably.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, people of St. Maarten, today, I leave you with this message. There is a lot of work to be done with regards to building this nation and safeguarding our future. We’ve faced challenges, like every other nation, however, we continue to endure, we continue to grow and we continue to strive. These challenges are not unlikely for any country in our developmental stage. However, the challenges of late, have shown that our capacity for resilience, our determination to unite, and our immeasurable potential will get us there. This quote “A journey of a million miles, starts with a single step.” is one we can all take to heart. Let’s take the next steps together to realize the rights as have been set forth in our constitution.

“As we are a country that has prided ourselves on ‘always moving forward,’ this is where I expect the focus our people on St. Maarten to remain; that whatever we are doing today, ensures the next generation will have a prosperous future.

“Learn from the past, plan for the future, but plant your feet firmly in the here and now, living fully today, doing the best that we can with what we have for ourselves, for our families, for our St. Maarten. 

“Happy Constitutional Day St. Maarten – Building our Nation Investing in our Future.”

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