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St. Maarten

St. Maarten Island Fusion:

local voices

How well do you know the Constitution of St. Maarten?

Survival Lessons from

Touzah Jah Bash


2 IN


Aarti Baran


drone pilot, owner of FLY4U Favorite place on the island? Orient Bay beach, Anse Marcel and Grand Case. Best view of St. Maarten from the sky? The aerial view where you see the amazing scenery of beautiful mountains with on the other side the ocean, Kimsha beach and on the other side Simpson Bay Lagoon where the yachts are lined up. It has something magical and in my eyes this really represents St. Maarten. What is on your bucket list for drone shots? To capture all the 37 beaches and beautiful hidden places in St. Maarten. I am halfway. So when possible, I will continue to get this done When you are not working, where do you like to go? I love to do sports activities. For a swimming workout I like to go to Little Bay beach or Mullet bay. For hiking I usually go to Guana Bay. You prefer sunset or sunrise? I find both very beautiful and cinematic in different ways. Sunrise gives new hope and a new day to start and sunset gives hope that the next day will become even better than today. You haven’t lived in St. Maarten until… … you have experienced the St. Maarten Carnival!!

About us

An INSIDE look at the island of St. Maarten. That is what the team offers with this weekly magazine you have in your hands. INSIDE goes beyond the news on the website and in the digital newsletter that subscribers receive weekly. Where online news is aimed at the quick reader, someone who wants to be up-to-date with current events, this weekly magazine goes deeper into developments on the island and makes connections. You can expect from us interviews, background articles, portraits and content that give you an insider’s view on the issues. INSIDE has a fixed format with recurring themes and topics. In this first issue Chief Public Prosecutor Mirjam Mol offers an inside look at the Public Prosecutor’s Office on pages 4 and 5. The private sector is served with a business section on pages 8 and 9 and a success story in the heart of the magazine, a centerspread on pages 12 and 13. For valuable information about health and wellness, please visit pages 20 and 21. We hope you enjoy our content! Do you have a question? Do you want to share your opinion? Or do you have a tip? Mail the editors via


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IN 3

Upbeat street art by local artists

‘Prepare yourself for

Hurricane Season 2020’

PHILIPSBURG – The early start to the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season — the sixth in a row and the first with four named storms by June 23— has rekindled calls to move up the season’s official start. All residents as well as the business community must be prepared, the Office of Disaster Management (ODM) warns. On June 23rd the fourth named storm of the season – Tropical Storm Dolly – formed north of Bermuda. Based on historic weather records, the average date of the fourth named storm formation is August 21, and Dolly was twomonths ahead. The Office of Disasater Management which falls under the Fire Department (Ministry of General Affairs) and headed by Fire Chief/Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson, is calling on residents and the business community to make sure they have their hurri-

PHILIPSBURG - Colorful murals are mounted across Philipsburg. The #colormesxm project is turning the city center into an open art gallery, with the help of artists, volunteers and sponsors. #colormesxm is an initiative of Be The Change St. Maarten. The foundation emphasizes the importance of the Instagram factor, where a bland wall turns into a hashtagworthy site, drawing more people to it as well as attention to a cause. #colormesxm is creating landmarks. Walls in Philipsburg will be covered with authentic pieces of culture that represent community. It’s the story

of the local community. Artist Annemiek Van Kerkhof-Posthuma’s mural design (bottom picture) celebrates the Diamond Estate Freedom Run, an important historical moment. On 29 May, two days after the abolition of enslavement in the French territories, twenty-six persons, the entire enslaved population of Diamond Estate Plantation in St. Maarten fled to the French Plantation Mount Fortune in Saint Martin where they were recognized as free men and women. This ‘run for freedom’ is re-enacted yearly, often in conjunction with Emancipation Day celebrations, today, July 1st.

cane season plans in place and have been preparing. Richardson added that we could see additional storms forming in the coming weeks as the season gets closer to the peak months and is appealing for the community to make all preparations which is required to safeguard life and property. To learn more about hurricane hazards and how to prepare for a storm/hurricane strike, visit the Government website: where you

will be able to download your “Hurricane Season Readiness Guide’ and ‘Hurricane Tracking Chart.’ In addition, you can also download the ‘Disasterprep Sint Maarten’ app for Android and Apple phones by going to the Google and Apple stores. The remaining storm names for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season are: Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, René, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, and Wilfred. Listen to the Government Radio station – 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during and after a hurricane. For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS):

Some cruise ships may never come back PHILIPSBURG – Major cruise lines voluntarily extended a suspension of operations out of U.S. ports until Sept. 15. But some cruise ships may never come back. A number of classic vessels could be laid-up, sold or scrapped. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said in a statement that the extended suspension is due to the ongoing situation within the U.S. related to COVID-19. ” is increasingly clear that more time will be needed to resolve barriers to resumption in the United States.” With their ships stuck in port, the cruise lines keep bleeding

cash. Royal Caribbean alone is losing as much as $275 million per month. While taking on more debt in order to raise the cash they need to survive until their ships can begin sailing again, cruise companies are now considered high risk stock. Last week, cruise giant Carnival Corporation — the world’s biggest cruise company with around 100 ships — said in a regulatory filing that it had preliminary agreements to dispose of six of the vessels in the next 90 days. The CEO of the world’s third-largest cruise company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, also recently said ship retirements were likely. According to the Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention “cruise ship travel exacerbates the global spread of Covid-19 and that the scope of this pandemic is inherently and necessarily a problem that is international and interstate in nature and has not been controlled sufficiently by the cruise ship industry or individual State or local health authorities.” On March 14, the CDC issued a No Sail Order for cruise ships and extended it on April 9 until July 24. The voluntary suspension of voyages until mid-September applies to all CLIA members to which the No Sail Order applied, meaning vessels with capacity to carry 250 persons or more.

4 IN

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“I was born in Curaçao, but I consider myself a St. Maartener because I came at the age of three. St. Maarten is my home; I want to die here. St. Maarten people are friendly. I offer watersports activities and have a beach spot. We go out of our way to make you feel comfortable. We give you an experience that you can take back home and tell your family and friends. I would love to see tourists come back, but I prefer we wait a little longer, to be safe. St. Maarten can’t afford another lockdown. We have to make sure that people return home from their vacation with wonderful memories of our island.”

Paulina Cairo (57)

It’s easy to underestimate the diversity of St. Maarten, the smallest dual-nation island in the world. There is a lot more going on than meets the eye. And it is astoundingly easy to feel at home on this tiny island with green hilltops, 37 beaches and a mix of styles, tastes and looks. We asked locals in town why St. Maarten is different from any other Caribbean island.

Andrew Caines (34)


“A St. Maartener is really and truly someone who was born in St. Maarten. However, I consider myself a St. Maartener, although I was born in Curaçao. I have lived in St. Maarten longer than I have lived in Curaçao. I know that this is my paradise, I love this place! My lombrishi (umbilical cord) is buried in Curaçao, but after a few days over there, I want to go home. In Curaçao, the attitude of Yu di Korsou, those born on the island, is like: there is US and then there’s the rest of the people. Distinctions are made. There is name calling. But not in St. Maarten, here everybody is embraced. Do you, just do you. Once you are considered cool, you don’t have a problem. Life on this island is very relaxed.”

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Jhonny Arrendell (22)

Marilyn Flanders (64)

“I am from here. I am a natural, an original from here. I was born at the end of Front Street, near St. Williams, in a house by the sea. In those days there was no beach there. As a child I could jump from the house into the sea. Next to our house, opposite the cemetery in Front Street, used to be a field with sweet potatoes and vegetables. That’s where we would get our food from, and also from the sea. My mother was raised on the French side. Her family came from Anguilla, like most people in the old days. From my father’s side I come from Statia breed. My father was born in Santo Domingo, but his mother, a Kittitian, brought him to family in St. Eustatius when he was just one month old. Four years later he was brought to St. Maarten. How do I define the identity of our people? St. Maarteners are caring, loving people. Always helpful. I love to cook and every day I make food for my Boardwalk family, people who otherwise have nothing to eat. I have been delivering meals for more than three years. I used to work for the government, 44 years, I was the longest serving civil servant in my department. I started as a cleaner and for many years did wage and salary administration. As a pensioner I want to stay busy. Every day I buy groceries and I cook meals for the homeless. They love the food, and I love to make it for them.”

“I have Dominican roots. Fifteen years ago my family came to St. Maarten. I work as a bartender. Hospitality is a big thing in St. Maarten. The main income comes from tourism, so you have to be service minded. What I didn’t know about St. Maarteners, until hurricane Irma destroyed the island, is how well we can work together. I don’t think there is a place in the Caribbean that recovered as quickly as we did. I am not referring to electricity or internet. I am talking about hard labor. Everyone started working construction and clean up the debris. Unified we are a force, that is for sure! When you remind people, they become soft in the heart. St. Maarten is like our baby; we have to take care of it. If we don’t do it, who will?”

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Wilton Hyatt (48)

Polly Douglas (31)

“What is a St. Maartener? That is a good question. A lot of people think that because your parents are not from here, that you are not considered a real St. Maartener. But to me, if you are born and raised here, and you treasure the island, you speak of the island with pride, then I consider you to be local. Also, people that have come to live on the island and made it their home, I see them as part of our community. I tell tourists who have come to St. Maarten for ten, fifteen years: ‘I consider you locals.’ Because they contributed to the island and continue to do so. I don’t think that St. Maarten has a specific identity. It is a small island with many different cultures. There are so many different aspects that bring out the island. We are well known for the friendliness of the people. When tourists go to other islands, they often don’t feel that secure. They will say: ‘I will always come to St. Maarten because the people are so friendly, always willing to help.’ I think that is the most important characteristic. My advice to people who want to get a taste of our culture? Go to the Kimsha parking lot in Simpson Bay and try the food and drinks from local vendors. You can often find me there too, that is my favorite hangout spot.”

“St. Maarten is a very good place to invest in. There is not a lot of red tape, it is fairly easy to get a business license. Of course, I could have opened a shop in Jamaica, where I was born, but it would have taken me twice as long. Jamaica is very expensive. The first time I came to St. Maarten, in 1999, I was working on a cruise ship. I worked six years with Premier Cruise line and 4 years with Celebrity Cruises. I just fell in love with this island. I remember the first time I came to St. Maarten, on the Edinburgh Castle, on a Wednesday. There was this buzz on the ship. Passengers were saying: ‘St. Maarten is great for shopping. Don’t buy no clothes in Puerto Rico. Don’t buy them in St. Thomas, British Virgin Islands. Wait till you get to St. Maarten.’ And I did. I bought a lot of clothes and electronics. I ended up meeting my wife in St. Maarten. She is also from Jamaica and had been working three years on the island as a nail technician. She had a little shop on Bush Road. We maintained a long distance relationship. It worked, but not for long. I resigned in 2005 and came to St. Maarten. I worked as a pastry chef at Carl and Son’s Bakery, for three years, and then became an executive pastry chef at Sonesta Maho. My wife studied to become a fashion stylist and we opened our shop in Front Street. St. Maarten has given us a lot of opportunities; life is really good on this island.”

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Tony Gibs (60)

Ashok Nariandas Kapoor (63)

“43 years ago, I came to St. Maarten, from India. I was a university student with a master’s degree in commerce. I was a brilliant student, but after my higher studies, I was not making any money. The family Boolchand put an ad in the paper in India, they needed someone to work for them in St. Maarten. When they saw my qualifications, they called me right away. That was in August 1977, and in October that year, they sent me a ticket to come to St. Maarten. I worked for Boolchand’s for ten years, then I opened up my own business. I had a jewelry shop for fourteen years. In 1996, after hurricane Luis had pummeled the island, my shop was looted. Armed men broke into my store and took everything of value. Due to the vast loss, I had to shut down the store. To sustain myself, I became an employee again. After two years, I opened a new business, selling souvenirs. I have two shops, one in the marina and one on the Boardwalk. The latter I will have to close due to COVID-19. I am proud to live in St. Maarten. The island is beautiful and very safe. Living conditions are good. Most important, I think the island is safe for tourists – unlike some other Caribbean islands. St. Maarten truly is The Friendly Island.”

“I am a St. Maartener, although I was born in Curaçao. When I was seven months old, my mother brought me to St. Maarten. Both my parents are from here: my mother was raised in the Marigot area and my father is from French Quarter. He went to Curacao to work, first as a painter, and later started working at the Shell refinery. I grew up on the French side and went to school on the Dutch side. At twelve years old, I spent a vacation in Curaçao. That was the first time I knew about the island. I returned some years later to go to Havo and then to the Police Academy. In 1984 I returned to St. Maarten and started working at the Immigration Department. St. Maarten has changed a lot during my lifetime. When I was a child, everyone depended on Mother Nature. We ate a lot of fish. Many St. Maarteners planted crops, we lived off the land. Around the time I was born, in 1959, the first tourists came to St. Maarten. The airport was in Simpson Bay; it began as a small air strip. In 1964 the airport was remodeled and relocated, with a new terminal building and control tower. Tourism started to grow and we became more service oriented. Local people started to go to restaurants. The older folks would call you lazy for dining out, my great aunt who raised me expected me to go home and cook. She was a cook herself. But eating out became normal. I don’t think we will ever go back; hospitality is ingrained in our blood! St. Maarten will see a tourism comeback, I am sure.”

8 IN

The knowledge of the Constitution by the people of St. Maarten will determine the level of development of their country, says Hensley Plantijn, author of a reference guide for the election process. “At the birth of the country of St. Maarten, the lawmakers made sure that the voter has access to all the information of a political party participating in the elections.” Plantijn’s advice: “First choose a political party, then vote for a candidate.”

‘As electorate, we need to be aware of the laws regarding parliamentary elections’ W hat many voters may not know is that they can check whether their preferred political party is in full compliance with the laws and regulations. “The best information the voter has access to is the articles of incorporation of the political party,” says Plantijn. “This is established by notarial deed. In here, the political party needs to establish its objectives and how they will be achieved.”

The political strategy will then be presented in the party manifesto. Plantijn: “The voter needs to choose between the several manifestos and choose the one that, according to the voter, will be beneficial for the de-

velopment of the country – St. Maarten. The voter can then vote for a candidate of his preference of the political party he just selected.”


St. Maarten has a very transparent election process, says Plantijn. “Nowhere in the Kingdom of the Netherlands is an institution similar to the Electoral Council, with all its tasks and authority, established. This Council functions independently from parliament and government. The three members are appointed for a term of seven years and may be reappointed for one more term.” The Electoral Council registers the political parties and decides on a complete application within three weeks of

its receipt. “All the necessary obligations of the political parties participating in an election are published,” Plantijn explains. “The financing of the political parties and the candidates should be reported, as excessively high donations to candidates entail a risk of conflict of interest. The board of a registered political party shall keep financial accounts such that all rights and obligations and the payments and receipts can be ascertained at all times. The accounts and the accompanying documents shall be kept for at least five years.” In his book, The Constitution of Sint Maarten – When It Is Time To Vote, Plantijn describes further what a new

political party needs to do to become official and who are allowed to make donations to candidates – and who not. If the application of the political party is misleading for voters or is counter to public order, it can be rejected, Plantijn warns. “The decision of the Electoral Council shall be published in one or more daily newspapers for the public to be able to take note of it.”

Checks and balances

As electorate, we need to be aware of the relevant laws and regulations regulating the elections and functioning of Parliament, Plantijn emphasizes. “Since the birth of the country St. Maarten, we have witnessed several political crises, with the government losing a majority in

parliament and calling for new elections. The constellation of the parliament of St. Maarten has changed multiple times. Although there were heated discussions on the timing and reasons for the elections in 2016, 2018 and 2020, one should not forget that free, transparent and secret elections are the cornerstones of democracy. Also, that article 59 of the Constitution, describing the authority of the government to dissolve Parliament and call for new elections, is also part of the system of checks and balances of our parliamentary system.”


Only residents of St. Maarten, 18 years and older, who have a Dutch passport,

IN 9


Cor Merx, attorney at law are allowed to vote. Based on article 44, parliament is said to represent the entire population of the country. This raises the question of whether, from an inclusion point of view, it would be desirable to give voting rights to young people studying abroad as well. “There is something to be said for that, but our experience is that many students do not return to St. Maarten,” Plantijn notes. “I think it is essential that you live in the environment that you contribute to with your voting, that you are aware of what is going on in your society and that you can see how your vote will matter.” In this age of internet and social media, it is not that difficult for students abroad to follow the social and political developments in St. Maarten,

Plantijn admits. “If we make an exception for the students, I think it is good that they are regularly informed about the governing of St. Maarten. The St. Maarten House in the Netherlands could provide them with weekly updates. It is also important that they follow a parliamentary meeting from time to time via the internet.” Inclusion requires action, says Plantijn. “You have to be willing to participate. If not, what is the added value?”

Three-part series

You may also be wondering: why have there been so many elections since 10-10-10? How can the buying of votes be prevented? How do I know if a political party is following the rules? Why does the parliament of St. Maarten have 15 members, and not

21 as in Aruba and Curaçao? Plantijn explains it in detail in his book, the first in a series on the Constitution of St. Maarten. The author’s second book will be published next year. In this book, he will address the relationship between Parliament and Government. “When the government dissolved parliament and called for new elections, it was always a reason for heated discussions - mostly concerning the timing and the authority to do so,” Plantijn says. “This provides sufficient material for a subsequent book. However, the most broad-spread discussion is on the legality of the national decree versus article 59 of the Constitution of St. Maarten. That will be explained later, in a third book.”

Question: My employer says he can’t pay my salary due to COVID-19. What can I do? Cor Merx: “The question is: whose risk is the loss of business income due to the corona pandemic? We’ve seen a similar situation post Irma. After the hurricane there were employers who said: “There are no cruise ships, so I can’t afford to pay my staff.” But this is not how it works. The judge is very clear about this: if someone has to bear the risk, it is the employer. Not the employee. An employment contract is binding: both the employee and the employer must adhere to the agreements made. This contract cannot be terminated unilaterally unless there is an “urgent reason” that is “promptly” communicated so that the employee can defend against it. Take advantage of the time you have now to write a letter to your employer. Make sure that you object and urge the employer to comply with the agreements in the employment contract. By law, the employer must continue to pay the full wages. If he doesn’t, send a reminder. Remember, you have the law at your side. Keep all correspondence, both the letters and the answers to them. Those emails serve to substantiate a possible lawsuit.” An employee’s illness is not a reason for dismissal. If you carry out work for the employer at home and become ill, the employer may not ask what is wrong with you. That falls under privacy. The National Ordinance stipulates that the employee is entitled to compensation in the event of illness, consisting of medical treatment and nursing, and cash benefits. The SZV reimbursement also applies to women who are pregnant or in labor. If the current situation continues for a long time and the employer can demonstrate that he does not have sufficient financial means to pay his staff, while he cannot count on government support, the employer can invoke force majeure. In that case, too, the employee must be able to defend himself. It is up to the judge to determine whether there is indeed force majeure.”

10 IN

Through Different Eyes He defended problem youth in Amsterdam, the hard core, responsible for street terror. Criminal lawyer Remco Stomp took on cases that other lawyers refused. Juvenile crime is different on St. Maarten, he says. “Young people who terrorize the street are rare on this island. But crime is harder here, there are more shootings.”

Name: Remco Stomp Born in: Guatemala Nationality: Dutch Lives in St. Maarten since: 2004 Marital status: Married, three children Profession: Attorney at law

“Crime on St. Maarten is not so bad, given the poverty on the island.”


lawyer who opts for on-call duty, whereby he is assigned to new suspects, can make ends meet in the Netherlands on a monthly basis thanks to reasonable compensation and extra allowances from the government, Stomp knows from the time he did immigration and youth cases in Amsterdam. On the other hand, a lawyer who delivers oncall service has an uncertain life on St. Maarten. “The fee is much lower here,” says Stomp. “And it can take a long time for the government to pay.” To keep his law firm up and running, Stomp has to take on cases with which he has less affinity. “Organized crime, human trafficking, arms and drug transports,” he sums up. “I had cases where automatic firearms were used and bombs exploded. Intense, but after such a big case, I can help people who can’t afford a lawyer.” He believes that what someone has done is of secondary importance. “There are very few people who are really bad. Most suspects in criminal cases have a story, often a series of events precedes a crime. I want to show the judge and the public prosecutor how someone comes to a certain deed, however horrible it may be. I don’t approve it, no, it’s about finding the truth, showing where things went wrong.” Every person deserves a chance, says Stomp. “If you see how widespread poverty is on St. Maarten, then the crime on this island is not so bad, I think. In Amsterdam everyone in my family has been harassed on the street and in the tram and metro. Not only offended, but also attacked and beaten. This rarely happens on St. Maarten, you will not find groups

of problematic youth terrorizing the street. Crime on the island often involves theft and burglaries, targeted actions.” He pauses for a moment. Then, with a serious look: “The enormous differences between rich and poor on this island, you never get used to that. As a Dutchman I feel ashamed. People who have no income do not receive benefits, they really have nothing. I find it inconceivable that this exists in our Kingdom.” Remco Stomp (50) was born in Guatemala. His father was a tropical agriculturalist, he had studied at the school for horticulture in Deventer and then left for Africa. He ran a coffee plantation on Kilimanjaro. “My father was born and raised in Indonesia, the tropics were in his blood,” says Stomp. “From Africa he went to South America, lived in Brazil for a while and then in Guatemala. He met my mother at a student party in the Netherlands and took her to Guatemala. They had three children there; I have two brothers, one older, one younger.” When he was seven, his parents divorced. The family then lived in the Netherlands. “My father left for Spain. I think my mother would also have liked to travel, but she had to take care of the children,” says Stomp. After wandering in the Netherlands, the family ended up in Amsterdam. It was a difficult period, especially for his mother, Stomp recalls. “I was quite a difficult child. At the age of fourteen I went to boarding school. My two brothers followed, also for them the situation at home was untenable.” Thoughtfully: “It all turned out well. I am lucky that my mother loved me very much, it is not that she did away with me.” The decision to study criminal law was influenced by his turbulent

youth. Stomp: “I was a spoiled boy, came from a middle-class family and although I was in a boarding school, I was not short of food and material things. I was privileged. But I also knew the feeling of being on my own as a child. It could have turned out differently with me, I realize. It’s about the choices you make. These choices are influenced by many circumstances. You can see that reflected in criminal law.” Stomp married a Somali. After his studies, he considered leaving for Somalia. She didn’t want that. Too dangerous. “I want to have you with me a little longer, she said to me,” Stomp recalls. He is smiling. “So where do we go then?, I asked. We had traveled a lot, especially in South and Central America. I did not know St. Maarten, I discovered the island online and could not find much information, except that it is half French, half Dutch. That fascinated me. We booked a vacation for a month. It was awesome!” In 2004, Stomp and his wife emigrated, he set up Stomp Lawyers office, and together they had three children, born in the French part of St. Maarten. Uninhibited and unprejudiced, that is how he wants to approach life and criminal cases. “Sometimes things turn out quite differently: after Hurricane Irma, people were imprisoned

for possession of weapons. I went to Pointe Blanche prison, spoke to them, and got several prisoners released through the courts. Those people had defended their home when the island was looted. The military police posted on the street, while the resort where they were staying was attacked and rooms were emptied. After the hurricane it was a war situation here.” Reconstruction and poverty reduction are not only the responsibility of the St. Maarten government, says Stomp. “The Netherlands has been strongly reprimanded several times by the European Court of Human Rights. Look at what the US Army had to do for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The devastation on St. Maarten is even worse. This island, comparable to the average provincial town in the Netherlands, cannot handle it alone.” Solidarity and cooperation, that is what the Kingdom should guarantee, the lawyer believes. “It’s about human rights.” It is not known how many people live on St. Maarten and how many lives the hurricane has claimed. There are also no poverty statistics. “But everyone can see that poverty on the island is dire,” says Stomp. “There are many single mothers, most have two to three jobs to try and support their children. What do those children do while their mothers work? After school there is a

big gap. Except for food, there is also no money for sports or activities. Many children are disadvantaged and face tough prospects.” Last year Stomp decided to go into politics, in the last elections he was number six on the list of the United Democrats (UD). Campaigning went well for him. “I like to talk to people, I have met many interesting people in a short time.” He decided not to place billboards. “I requested a quote. Billboards would cost me 1450 dollars. I thought that money could be better spent on fighting poverty,” says Stomp. He issued two checks, one for the I Can Foundation and one for New Start Foundation, two children’s homes on St. Maarten. He had lighting installed around a number of basketball courts so that children could exercise there in the evening. “I do what I can, before, during and after the elections. People just want help. And they are not helped.” Stomp’s party won one seat and it went to the party leader. “The structural vote trade continues to play into the fragile local democracy and that will not change as long as a large part of the population continues to live in poverty,” says Stomp. The lawyer has decided to assist more minors this year. “Most juveniles who have to appear in court do not benefit from imprisonment, they need guidance. And especially opportunities.”

IN 11


12 IN

How NAGICO delivered on their promise:

‘At the end we said:


accomplished!’ Two hurricanes in one month, thirteen island territories hit. 14.000 policyholders affected. National General Insurance Corp N.V. (NAGICO), headquartered in St. Maarten, paid close to US 800 million dollars. And survived as a company. Post Irma and Maria NAGICO remains financially sound and continues to serve the Caribbean. “Better, bigger and stronger,” says NAGICO chairman Imran McSood Amjad.


wo years after hurricanes Irma and Maria pummeled St. Maarten, on the mornings of September 6th and 18th 2017, he still finds it ‘unbelievable’ that the island, a dot in the Caribbean, found itself in the path of the eye of Irma. “What are the chances?”, says McSood Amjad. “If Irma had turned a few degrees north, or a few degrees south, the outcome would have been very different.” He pauses, frowns at the thought. “The day before the storm we knew that St. Maarten was going to get hit very, very hard. Unless a miracle happened.” He was at home, a well-built house in the Maho area. Protected by hurricane shutters and a good roof. “But you never know,” says McSood Amjad who determined a room on the ground floor as the safest place for his family

to hide. “I was constantly following the movement and tracking of the storm, watching and weather channels. Up all night, too anxious to sleep. In the morning it happened: raging winds. 185 miles an hour.” This storm was massive, he realized. “At first all I could think of was family and friends. But a few hours into the storm I also worried about the company. I said to my wife: ‘NAGICO will face an enormous amount of losses. There is no way we can avoid it. We have to brace ourselves for the worst.’ In my mind I was going over numbers, asking myself if we had not miscalculated. I still had hope that NAGICO had sufficient reinsurance, that we were protected.” The day after When she looked around her house, what was left of it after the hurricane

“The storm has taught us that we as people, and as a company, can do more than we ever imagined possible.’

had passed, Kyria Ali did not believe her eyes. “The roof was gone, it was complete chaos,” says the NAGICO executive. “I did not know what to do. There was no electricity and no water, pipes were broken. I felt overwhelmed, damaged, broken myself.” A quick thinker and go-getter at her job, leading several teams, she however found herself indecisive faced with the damage at home. “Luckily I had family support. Knowing that my home was being taken care of, I could concentrate on how to get to work and help others.” The next day NAGICO’s then Chief Executive Officer Dwayne Elgin came to check on her. “I was surprised and relieved to see our CEO and two of my colleagues,” says Ali. “I didn’t know the main roads had been cleared, and that some areas on the island had


cell phone and internet service. Nobody had been able to reach me.” While the CEO drove around to find missing employees, Chairman Imran McSood Amjad was doing the same in other parts of the island. “We are the only insurance company licensed to do business on both the Dutch and the French side, and have a total of 130 employees in St. Maarten/St Martin. It was not an easy task to locate all of them. We had several managers checking on the members of their team, each reporting to Human Resources. Through our catastrophe group chat we learned how everyone was doing and what they needed from us, how we could help them.” Deliver on a promise Back at the office Kyria Ali, NAGICO’s Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer, found her mojo with the staff. “I felt right at home and knew exactly what to do.” In the office toilets were working, there was a large supply of bottled water and food, the staff had enough resources to last for weeks. “It brought a sense of normalcy,” says Ali, who felt even more determined after hurricane Maria passed, less than two weeks after hurricane Irma. “Before I joined NAGICO I knew what this company was about, I knew our risk. I signed up for it. So I needed to be prepared to act, not run.”

IN 13

In the first staff meeting after the events Ali recounts saying: ‘This is our time! This will be our legacy. Two CAT 5’s plowing through this island in less than two weeks: what we do today, tomorrow and in the days to come will define who we are as professionals. We have to deliver on our promise.” Essentially, that is what NAGICO does, Ali says: sell a promise. “We sell a promise to you, to every policy holder, that we will help you when you need us.” After the hurricane many of NAGICO’s clients did not have internet, they could not be reached. “We chose to go to them ourselves,” Ali recalls. “Executives and non-executives alike walked around with claim forms, talking to people in our respective neighborhoods, telling them: ‘I will help you fill out your form. I will take it into the office for you and register your claim.’ We had to work fast. No insurance company can pay the damages from a hurricane of this magnitude by itself: you need reinsurers. We had to quickly assess the losses, get a scope of the damage, and provide the reinsurers with all the information necessary.” When emotions run high ‘Do not get angry in return’, the staff had been guided before dealing with customers who came to the office. McSood Amjad: “I understand

that people are upset. They come to you for help, that is what they paid for over the years. When they see that there are thousands of other claimants, they fear that by the time NAGICO pays the first one hundred, the company doesn’t have money left.” The average customer doesn’t understand how insurance and reinsurance works; how was this one company to pay for all other businesses on the island? McSood Amjad found it hard to explain. He was a guest on many radio shows and reassured listeners that they would all be paid. “I have been in the insurance business for 45 years and have seen it all: hurricane Luis in 1995, the volcano eruption in Montserrat that same year, many Caribbean islands hit by flooding, power outages. NAGICO operates on 21 islands. Irma and Maria impacted 13 of them, which resulted in almost 14.000 policyholders affected. That is a lot to handle!” While customers expected their claims for their house and car to be settled in a matter of weeks, McSood Amjad knew it would take months. “Even with hundreds of employees in the Caribbean, NAGICO did not have enough hands to handle claims faster. It was frustrating. For me, as a share-

holder, I would say it was a torturous period.” He pauses, then continues thoughtfully: “Thousands of people’s livelihoods and future business depended on us. When there is a catastrophe of this magnitude and people are suffering psychologically, financially, morally, you can’t not respond to people.” McSood Amjad expected adjusters to respond to emails immediately. “At least within 48 hours,” he says. “Although, personally I think 48 hours is way too long, it was understandable in the situation.” Incompetence made him lose his cool. “I have a three-steprule: I give everybody three chances. But a fourth time, I will probably lose it. I have been known to use unacceptable language.” Adding quickly: “But I have never exploded on a client. I may have said: ‘Look, I am very sorry, but this is what we can do.’ We would certainly disagree, sometimes strongly disagree. But lose my cool to a client? No.” Calculating risks The key to risk management is to not only buy proper reinsurance, the right amount of money, but to buy quality reinsurance, McSood Amjad emphasizes. “You could have 5 billion dollars in reinsurance, but if those companies do not pay the claims, then you can’t deliver on your promise. Of course, these are not considerations you take

“We were determined to prove NAGICO can do it. And we did.” 24 hours before a storm; we follow a robust risk management process and ensure that our reinsurance program is in place year round.” NAGICO relies on RMS, the world’s leading catastrophe risk modeling company. From earthquakes, hurricanes and floods to terrorism and infectious diseases, RMS helps financial institutions and public agencies understand, quantify and manage risk. “We give them our policy data, with construction and location details and the total of sums insured,” McSood Amjad explains. “These experts put all our data in a system that they have built to calculate what kind of percentage of damages you are likely going to have with storms of different wind speeds, taking into account the history of all hurricanes that have passed through our region. They analyze the speed, size and path of the hurricane and report on the outcome, the impact it will have and the losses we will likely suffer. Based on their projections and our own expertise and knowledge of the islands, we buy reinsurance.”

14 IN

NAGICO customer Althea Been: ‘After Hurricane Irma came the weekend and I was prepared to wait until offices began to open next week. So, I was very surprised when a NAGICO representative contacted me asking about my wellbeing and informing me that their office was open and accepting claims. I hurried in to report my property damages which were very extensive. The staff at NAGICO were caring, understanding, comforting, fast and efficient with settling my claim.’ Preparations for the storm started long before Irma hit St. Maarten, says McSood Amjad. “NAGICO works with adjusters who are very experienced, they are always somewhere in the world calculating damages from disasters. We had to get these experts as close to our region as possible, and our Chief Claims Officer agreed to have them fly to Antigua, St. Kitts and Anguilla before Irma.” After the hurricane hit St. Maarten, as soon as part of the runway of our airport was cleared, NAGICO arranged for charters and had cars waiting at the airport. “The adjusters started working immediately, visiting virtually every NAGICO insured property on the island,” says McSood Amjad. “They assessed the damage to businesses and houses, in some cases using drones, taking pictures and talking to the owners and our agents and brokers. For each property they created a ‘loss reserve’, reviewed claim submissions and adjusted the loss, with the end result being the amount of money that was expected to be paid out.” International recognition Did NAGICO calculate losses correctly? It was estimated

that after September 6th, 2017, the company would see a gross loss of around US 800 million dollars. “We expected our loss to be over US 900 million dollars, but it did not reach that far,” says McSood Amjad. “The chairman and shareholder smiles a satisfied grin. “We did good. Customers are satisfied and NAGICO remains a massive and strong company.” Kyria Ali adds: “You don’t have to believe NAGICO’s word for it. Look at our reviews!” U.S. based AM Best Company reaffirmed NAGICO’s rating just four months after the hurricane. Ali: “In January 2018 they assessed us as being strong, stable and reliable. While some were questioning whether we would make it or not, the largest credit rating agency in the world reaffirmed us! More so, in 2019 we received an upgrade. And this year they reaffirmed us again, after we dealt with hurricane Dorian last year. It shows their trust in us, in what we are doing.” Since more than twenty years ago, NAGICO has been partnering with Swiss Re, one of the largest and strongest reinsurers in the world. “They covered a sizeable portion of our portfolio,” Ali recounts.

NAGICO customers Vinod & Unica Mahtani:

NAGICO customer Meritza Lake:

‘Since Hurricane Irma, we found NAGICO to be highly efficient, professional and super-fast in processing our car claim. Despite having serious damages to their Head Office, they were still very sufficient. Well done NAGICO team! We humbly appreciate all that you do.’

‘My home and vehicle got damaged during Hurricane Irma but I have life. The staff at NAGICO was very helpful and the claim process went very well.’

“They reviewed us, after the hurricanes, and they saw the value of what they, through NAGICO, were doing for the Caribbean region. They felt strongly connected to us and our purpose.” Atlantic Challenge On January 7th, 2019, Swiss Re and NAGICO Group renewed their Excess of Loss (XoL) reinsurance treaty with a symbolic signing of the document halfway through a rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean. Cameron Parker,

Head of P&C Structured Solutions for Continental Europe at Swiss Re, embarked on the extreme endurance race with a four-man rowing team, as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. “They followed the same path as hurricanes follow towards the Caribbean,” comments Ali on the trans-Atlantic crossing, a journey at the very extreme edge of possible. After 40 days the team arrived in Antigua where NAGICO’s Chairman Imran McSood Amjad countersigned the Treaty which

became effective on 1 January 2019. The race, says Kyria Ali, reflects the challenges all those affected by the hurricane faced. “It shows that we as humans are more resilient than we sometimes think we are. With love and support we will bounce back.” Passionately adding: “Granted, it took us at NAGICO more than 40 days to deliver on our promise. We were determined to do it. And we did!” Chairman McSood smiles: “Mission accomplished!”

IN 15

16 IN

Princess Juliana International Airport partially open As of July 1st, St. Maarten is open to travelers from neighboring islands. But the Council of Ministers decided on May 30th to postpone the restart of all commercial flights from and to the USA for two weeks, as a result of the escalating increase in COVID-19 cases in the USA. The decision was taken in the interest of the safety of St. Maarten residents, given the island’s limited medical resources, as well as the risk of having borders closed to the French Side. Minister of TEATT Ludmila de Weever encourages the community to continue adhering to the proper social distancing and health and safety protocols as well as the established guidelines for businesses to maintain a COVID-19 free St. Maarten.

De Weever released the ‘Travel Entry Requirements’ to all stakeholders that outline the safety and health protocols, testing requirements and health screening procedures, among others for visitors arriving at the Princess Juliana International Airport. St. Maarten is open to passengers from Saba, St. Eustatius, Bonaire, Curaçao, Aruba, Anguilla, St. Barthelemy, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. For these countries, passen-

gers should ensure that they have been consecutively present there for 21 days prior to the date of departure. No quarantine will be required upon arrival to St. Maarten. Visitors from St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica and the British Virgin Islands were already allowed to enter St. Maarten since June 22nd. The 21day minimum applies to passengers from these islands. No quarantine is required.

“The Ministry understands the urgent need for increased economic activity on the island,” said minister De Weever. “But we intend to re-open in a safe and responsible manner for our residents and visitors. The Government of St. Maarten is continuously monitoring global developments to ensure the safety of our visitors and citizens. We advise to regularly check our updates pertaining to entry requirements and protocols before your travels.”

IN 17

Jetair serves St. Maarten and Curaçao From Princess Juliana International Airport to Hato airport in Curaçao in an hour and twenty minutes. This is now possible three times a week with Jetair Caribbean. Jetair flies a Fokker 70 between Curaçao and St. Maarten on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “A boy’s dream has come true,” said businessman Antonio ‘Tony’ Ribeiro in February this year about the inaugural flight on February 2nd to St. Maarten. Smiling broadly, the owner of the new Curaçao airline United Caribbean Airlines BV, license holder for Jetair Caribbean, posed with the pilot, crew and management next to the aircraft at Princess Juliana International Airport. CEO Robert Maas proudly explained that the Fokker 70 belonged to KLM and served as a Cityhopper, until the aircraft was purchased by a company in Southeast Asia. “This aircraft is perfectly maintained, has relatively few flying hours and is in very good condition,” said Maas with a smile. “The plane seats eighty passengers and provides a lot of legroom.”

The 75-year-old Ribeiro had been retired for over ten years when Insel Air closed down and the inter-island air connection was limited. “We need a solution for that,” Ribeiro thought. He had no experience in aviation, but that did not prevent him from unfolding plans for a new Curaçao airline. “I am a businessman,” he emphasizes, adding immediately that he is more than just a lender. “Money comes in last place. The most important thing is to have a good team, that you have people with knowledge of aviation and who are familiar with the islands. I have the right people around me,” says Ribeiro with a wink at Maas. Robert Maas is a former Cash & Treasury manager at Insel Air. Both he and Ribeiro insist that Jetair is not a second Insel Air.

“Jetair is totally different,” both emphasize. “This company has a solid foundation and does not have the ambition to grow quickly. We now have two planes, one of which is in the air and the other serves as a backup. In an emergency, if the plane cannot depart, a replacement can be on site within two hours.” St. Maarten was initially not planned as a destination. “But there was a lot of demand for it,” says Maas. “We decided to use our aircrafts on those routes where there is a need for extra capacity. When we put it to the test with a number of charter flights to St. Maarten, the response was over-

whelming.” Ribeiro adds: “The collaboration with the crew on St. Maarten is excellent.” When they speak about the future, Ribeiro and Maas talk about ‘steps’. Working out the route planning step by step, at our own pace, being service-oriented and efficient, is what Maas has in mind. Collaboration with other companies on new routes is possible, he says, but ‘step by step’ and according to clear agreements. Punctuality is of the most importance for Jetair, according to the management. “Travelers must be able to trust that their aircraft will depart on time and that they will arrive at their destination on time.”

18 IN

Tourism Going local: STAYCATION on


Hotels in St. Maarten face a long road to recovery after the pandemic. We can all help the tourism sector rebound. Oyster Bay Beach Resort and Coral Beach Club were the first to offer special staycation packages for locals only, at just a fraction of the normal rates.


n June 18, Oyster Bay Beach Resort and Coral Beach Club – two of St. Maarten’s most prestigious resorts – welcomed the first staycationers. “For a long weekend only. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, with latest check-out by noon on

Monday,” says general manager Ricardo Perez. “We introduced staycation packages to generate some business and make sure that we test all the new protocols before we start receiving guests from abroad back.” The term staycation, original-

Jelle Hamstra and Ricardo Perez, chairman and vice-chairman of the St. Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA). Perez, on the right, is the general manager of Oyster Bay Beach Resort

ly from the United States, is a neologism deriving from the contraction of ‘stay’ and ‘vacation’. It means that you vacation close to home, staying on the island. A staycation is a great way of spending a joyful vacation while helping one’s pocket. Apart from the finan-

cial savings gained by leaving behind expensive plane tickets, staycation also benefits the environment. It allows people’s carbon footprints not to increase as much as they would if long distances had been traveled. The concept of staycation was born at the time of the 2008 market crisis in the United States. Because of it, many households were forced to restrict their expenses and consequently limit their vacation budget. Shortage of money and reluctance to travel abroad, currently due to the global coronavirus pandemic, does not diminish people’s wanderlust. Staycations allow St. Maarteners to rediscover their island. A boost in domestic tourism, exploring both the Dutch and the French side, benefits everyone in the tourism sector and the country as a whole. International travelers tend

to visit the island mainly during high season. Domestic tourists, on the other hand, do not need to put as much time, money and effort into planning their holidays, and can therefore take vacations all year round, whenever the mood strikes them. There is a misconception among many would-be travelers that travel is only valuable if you travel to other countries to see new cultures and foreign lands. Domestic travel can be just as much of a special experience, and it is up to hospitality industry professionals to challenge this misconception and encourage people to explore their own island. Events like music festivals and public holidays provide opportunities to attract domestic travelers to hotels. Offering value-ads like free transport to and from an event can help beat the competition.

IN 19



Oyster Bay Beach Resort and Coral Beach Club Special are taking the lead by offering a ‘First Responders’ Special. Healthcare workers, law enforcement personnel, members of registered food distribution organizations, such as The Red Cross and K1 Britannia, can book a three-night package and get a complimentary fourth night from the resort. The resorts tightened up their cleaning protocols. These include more frequent disinfecting of common touch surfaces like door handles, light switches, remote controls, faucets. Some items that are difficult to clean may have been re-

moved from the rooms. The extensive hygiene and social distancing measures include daily temperature checks and spaced out lounge areas to ensure safety throughout the resort. The well-known Infinity Restaurant is open from Thursday to Sunday and offers a safe and socially distant dining experience. Reservations are required. The restaurant’s exquisite international dishes can be enjoyed in an outdoor setting, on their elegant terrace, or in the air-conditioned restaurant overlooking the infinity pool and the ocean. Also, the famous Infinity Sunday brunch is back!


SEAWORLD EXPLORER It’s the perfect family activity! Create lifetime memories aboard St. Martin’s only semi-submersible, in the comfort of our cruising underwater observatory. You’ll see the stunning sea life and colorful tropical fish - so close you’ll feel as if you can just reach out and touch them.


our adventure begins in Grand Case, a quaint, unspoiled fishing village on the French side, famous for its idyllic bay and fine dining. Here the friendly crew will welcome you aboard the Seaworld Explorer a state of the art semi submarine developed for use on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Enjoy the scenic cruise through the harbor to the unique geological formations of Creole Rock. Now it’s time to discover the undiscovered St. Martin! The vessel does not submerge, you descend into the hull of the vessel and sit in air conditioned comfort five feet below the surface, observing underwater gardens, coral reefs and colorful fish through large, clear glass windows. As you marvel at this paradise beneath the waves, our diver swims by your window surrounded by schools of feeding fish (keep an eye peeled for the fascinating green and moray eels!) Throughout the trip, a knowledgeable marine expert provides an informative and entertaining commentary. On the return trip to shore, the crew will serve you a complimentary drink, which you can enjoy along with the magnificent view of Creole Rock and Grand Case Bay.

Want to book?

You can dial the following numbers: Locally (Dutch side): 543-1023 From the French side: +1-721-543-1023 From the USA or Canada: 721-543-1023 The SEAWORLD EXPLORER departs from Grand Case.

20 IN

‘People will have to start listening to


in order to survive’ Just like nature, Touzah Jah Bash is thriving during the lockdown. His days are filled with planting in a garden that no longer suffers from the pollution from cars. Without the corridor of carbon monoxide between him and the sea, he now experiences what he calls ‘the fog from the ocean’, something he has been longing for all along. “Oxygen! Life depends on it.”


ou can live up to 30 days without food, one or two days without water, but don’t hold your breath for longer than two minutes. “Oxygen is our first food,” says Touzah Jah Bash. “Yet every island has a road along the seashore, continually functioning. We are living within a circle of pollution, day in, day out.” He shakes his head in dismay. “The trees and plants in the valley are flourishing, but not on this side, near the road. Look at the trees, you can see it for yourself.” Touzah Jah Bash. The farmer, the educator, the healer. And the prophet. A month before the lockdown he said: “For the destruction to stop, you have to wake up civilization. I can’t do it, but nature will.”

What is the lesson to be learned? “People who was ignoring the true value of the properties

of plants will have to reconsider. You don’t hear about a deadly outbreak of coronavirus among animals, only humans are dying from it. The few animals affected are confined by humans, in zoos, or secluded in a house with humans. But the animals that are free, they know what to do. Have you ever wondered how animals survived for thousands of years without doctors? Animals self-medicate, they know what to eat to heal themselves. I study them and learn from them what to eat.”

We have to study animals in nature to help ourselves?

“Yes. You see, during the dry months, the animals are sick; they have ticks, boils, rashes. But when the rain comes and everything becomes green again, the animals thrive. I knew a cow that was heavily battered during hurricane Irma. She

was cut by branches and had many boils with flies all over. She came by my kitchen and started eating a plant that I never saw a cow eat before. The third time she came back to eat the leaves of Man-Better-Man (Achyrantes Aspera, ed.), she lifted up her head and gave me the eye. It was the last time I saw her. About six months later I asked the owner: “What happened to the cow that was messed up by Irma?” He pointed at a tree. “The brown and white one, you mean? Look, there she is.” I couldn’t believe it. What I saw was a brand new cow. No doctor had come. No chemicals were applied; the cow had cured herself completely.”

What do you eat in a day?

“I eat like the birds. I take the fruits from the trees while I work in my garden, and when I get hungry I dig

up a sweet potato and boil it to eat. I am experimenting with a new way of planting, I am creating a herb garden. Every year we lose many of the medicinal plants we have in St. Maarten. If we don’t study them now, preserve and cultivate them, we soon will be too far gone to recuperate the true knowledge of nature and healing. If we stick with the animals, value them, not just eat them, we will learn a lot from them.”

Do you eat meat?

“Once it had life, I don’t touch it. I haven’t eaten animal flesh or fish in 45 years. I eat vegetation because it was written that every herb bearing seed and the fruits of the trees shall be called meat for me. And the leaves from it shall be for the healing of the nation.”

Many people interpret the Bible differently. “The children of Israel had

no right to eat the birds that Moses gave them in the desert. But that is what they did want. Sometimes, even when we know that something is not good, when the majority wants it, it will be considered justified. Those who follow after may not know that it was the majority who caused it to be implemented and they just join in and continue with it. But we all know that flesh does not digest in the human body in 24 hours. And the food that you eat must digest and leave the body in 24 hours, otherwise it starts to rot. You end up with bacteria in your organs that should not be there, that cause diseases, and possibly tumors and other abnormalities.”

Do people see you as a medicine man?

“Well, yes, but my true calling is a spiritual man. Because of a lady, Mrs. Adams. One day

IN 21

she came to me and told me: ‘You have to take care of your people. I know that you don’t want to, because you say that you were not called to do that, but God would not give you all this for you not to help others. You know all the plants, you know them by name, and you know their properties. Then she showed me a plant called Chickweed that is good for fever.” A week later Mrs. Adams died. I remained with this sense of responsibility she instilled in me. When a pastor came from Santo Domingo, and he presented himself as a bush doctor, I gave him the chickweed, and I asked him: ‘What is that?’ He tasted it and turned to a person that accompanied him. He told him in Spanish to tell me that this herb would kill any type of fever in less than 24 hours. He said it is the only bush that can do that. And that is correct. So I began from there, teaching people, encouraging them to use the herbs, make tea from it.” How do you identify a sick plant? “If a plant is free from insects that attack it, then you know it is good

for you to eat. We have a plant here that we call St. Maarten cherry. It is a mine of bacteria, a mine of worms, germs and fungus, whereas the Surinam cherry comes with no pests at all. So when people tell me about St. Maarten national fruit, I say: ‘Garbage. Giving people worms in their belly’.” Many people don’t believe organic food is better, just more expensive. “You eat this stuff from the supermarket that is full of fertilizer, chemicals, hormones and antibiotics, which causes tumors and sickness, but you are not going to accuse the food. Take an eggplant from the supermarket and leave it for a week to spoil, and you will see it starts to rot and it will have worms in it. Now take an eggplant from me, put it out there in the sun, and you will see that over the course of a few months it will turn yellow, then orange and finally brown, hard like a stick, and you can pulverize it. My plants do not rot.”

What do you say to people who want to change their eating habits? “Food is something you require every day, but not the same food continuously. You need variety to give you balance. The cycle of the earth changes once a month, every four weeks. Does a woman not have a monthly cycle? The moon changes and controls the human biology. Our body doesn’t remain the same when the moon changes position. So if you drink the same herbal tea for a month, it becomes excessive and causes stress in the body. Moringa, for instance, is only good in moderation. Moringa is a medicine, and you don’t need medication every day.” When is the last time you went to a doctor? “I don’t visit doctors. If I go to a doctor, he will become my student.” The medical establishment does not recognize natural healing. “We are living in an era where humans are forbidden to know the Truth. And if you don’t know the truth, you will rely on people that

want to control you. True Rastafarians have warned humanity all along. We have taught you how to eat. We have shown you how to live in accordance with nature, and how to pass this knowledge, your legacy, onto your children.” Rastafarians use the term Babylon. What does it mean? “The Western society where everything is based on interest. Laws are being voted in for interest. Immoral laws are voted in in parliament because interest is attached to it. At that moment nothing can go good. It is about individual growth, it is about favoritism, it is about: give me something under the table. And this has to change. If you are elected by the voice of the people, you have to help the people. Your personal interest has nothing to do with it. You already have a salary. You have opportunity. You have gifts. You have favors. All this is attached to you being elected. What else do you want?” Our economy is supposed to help the nation grow. It is helping individuals grow. The nation is suffering.

22 IN We came out of hurricane Irma, the deadliest thing that ever happened to St. Maarten. All the contractors who came to the island, all were saying that they came to help, in their mouth was help, but in their head was: we are going to steal from you. Look at my building. A contractor started to build it, he took half of the money and fled the island. I will have to finish it myself. St. Maarten needs to be purged morally.”

to know the environment around you, that is part of your life. If you don’t learn it, your children will not know it. You will not be able to pass on the legacy. There are consequences for what we do wrong. And anything we do good, we’ll have a reward for it. So today we, Rastafarians, are reaping the reward and those who chose to remain ignorant are reaping the consequences for not listening.”

Do you believe that Babylon will fall? “In the early seventies there was a wave of Rastafarian knowledge and teachings warning humans about the way they are living. And explaining them the way to live, what to start to do and what not to do. We tell them: Stop eating junk. Plant your garden. Eat your food. Your food is your medicine. Use the herbs for healing. Learn

If you say to people that they are ignorant and should know and do better, they might feel offended. “When engaging in a matter, emotional words don’t have no value. Emotional words stagnate your efforts. They don’t deliver, don’t cure, don’t heal and don’t answer matters. If people rely on feelings, they will never get out of it. You have to rely on facts

and reality, only those two can help you. How you feel emotionally, when you are questioning yourself, or you are in doubt, confused, angry, all of those words release negative energy that stagnates the individual growth. We as humans, as adults, we should separate the positive words from the negative speech that stops everything good from happening.” We create our own happiness? “I can’t control people’s feelings, they themselves have to determine what is valuable and what is not. Only facts and reality can help you, regardless of how you feel about it. You have to start separating the good from the bad, and always chose good over bad. It is that simple. Rehabilitate yourselves. And let the wisest among you be a servant onto others.”


Pumpkin speeds up fat burning. This is due to high levels of iron and vitamin B2, which ensure that more oxygen is absorbed into the blood and transported to body tissues. Oxygen is needed for the burning of body fat. Normally you will find absorbable iron more in meat than in vegetables, but pumpkin is an exception. Pumpkin has few calories, has a slightly laxative effect thanks to the mannitol substance and promotes drainage. That makes pumpkin the ideal food for those who want to lose weight. Good oxygen circulation in the body also provides more energy. The orange-yellow pumpkin fruit, like carrots, contains beta-carotene that the body converts to vitamin A. Carotenoids are important for eye health and protect the skin against UV rays. Pumpkin is rich in vitamin C - good for resistance and lowering of blood pressure, vitamin E for healthy skin, and folic acid (vitamin B9). Not only the flesh is tasty and healthy, don’t forget the seeds: pumpkin seeds are very nutritious and prevent prostate complaints, according to scientists. Researchers in the United States have documented the link with pumpkin seed oil and found that pumpkin seeds prevent both prostate inflammation and prostate enlargement. Pumpkin seed is the only seed that is not acid-forming in the intestines. The kernels are alkalizing and help fight intestinal parasites, especially in children. To benefit from the essential oil, try roasting pumpkin seeds. The roasted seeds can be sprinkled over salads, but can also be eaten like nuts. People have been doing this for thousands of years in China, where pumpkin seeds are considered food for a long life. In Mexico, ‘pepitas’ are indispensable in food, and in North America, Indians often ate them. While the flesh of the pumpkin is low in calories, the seeds contain a lot of calories. They are a nutritious snack.

IN 23

A smart Caribbean island can be the high-end champion In the Caribbean, too little attention is given to the visitor segment of high-end clientele that use private jets to come to a destination. Better not consider them tourists or treat them as tourists. Every passenger who arrives on a private jet is a potential investor in the region…, provided that the destination will meet their standards and criteria, and that they eventually fall in love with the island.


igh-end travellers will make the preferred destination part of their lifestyle and invest in that element of their way of life. They are repeat visitors and usually attract other personalities of their social circles to be their guest, which has a multiplying effect. They appreciate authenticity, discretion, serenity, and locations where beautification and cleanness are taken seriously. Mediocrity and fakeness are unacceptable. Yet, they love some simplicity and a laid-back atmosphere in a luxury setting. And they’re trying to find what is ailing living in their country back home. Tourism authorities who say “hmm, yes, we also want those ALSO”, are most likely not getting them. This segment does not fit in with cruise ship tourism or forms of over-tourism. This segment requires a different approach and strategy. In the Caribbean there is a relatively small number of destinations that qualify for pursuing the development of this segment in a full out effort. Those are the ones where serious high-networth individuals should be able to explore the potential

of a return of investment that may be different than you think; it is satisfaction and joy rather than interest rates on their capital. They have enough that already; they are looking for what is missing, a paradise resembling environment. A safe living environment with an insignificant to zero crime rate is important to them. A stable reliable island government to deal with. Not to forget a quality infrastructure. They’re not looking for a highway to speed on, but they definitely don’t appreciate potholes in the roads. Yet, they love a somewhat rural atmosphere. They love a natural landscape that is beautified by orange blossoming flamboyant trees and pink flowering bougainvillea bushes. Some islands that have the potential to attract this clientele, should consider joining efforts and form a task force or action group that focuses on this segment and come up with refreshing and useful advice and suggestions. No, not a ‘study group’. I hate that word ‘study’. One doesn’t need a heap of accumulated theory collected in a report that defends itself from being read because of its thickness.

The last thing needed is a committee that wastes hours and keeps minutes. The group should definitely not be an assembled choir whose members can only sing the shanties of their own ship. The taskforce should be an independent and impartial group and the members should consist of thinkers and movers-and-shakers with brains that are as clear as Bohemian Crystal glass. Persons who are not afraid to express themselves in straightforward wording which may be so hot that it singes the eyebrows of the listeners.

By Cdr. Bud Slabbaert diocracy, the island is more or less compelled to upgrade its infrastructure, facilities, and services which may contribute to an improved overall standard and quality of life of the island’s community. This clientele is also willing to pay higher wages or charges for services. Just think about the saying ‘success breeds success’. A word of caution though. The improvements must not become a financial burden for the ‘native’ members of the island community. Greed of developers must not hurt the common islander.

Why would you want this clientele anyway and what is the sense of this so-called wealth tourism or high-end tourism? Finally, we are getting to the point! This is the clientele that spends approximately ten times as much per person than the average mass-tourism visitor. US$ 800 plus for a hotel room night is not uncommon. US$ 30,000 dollar plus for a week’s villa rent is not unusual. Got it?

There are a few islands where the development of this segment could be successful. However, it is necessary to prepare a strategy first. This is not a matter of opening a can of magic to have a fast food dinner on the table. This clientele does not visit vacation expos. Advertising doesn’t do the trick. Articles by reputable journalists in selected glossy lifestyle magazines may be one way to attract the attention. But before anything will be published, there needs be substance to base the article on.

It is not just the positive economic impact that characterizes this segment. Since this clientele does not accept me-

It is wise for these few islands to form a task force as mentioned before. But why? Why a joined effort when these is-

lands will be competitors with the same objectives? There is no such a thing as competition. The clientele will determine what it likes and what suits it best. Since every island is different and often unique, there are choices. First attract this clientele to the region, then offer the options, and the client will decide. Not trying to do anything about finding new ways for improving the socio-economics of an island may be called complacency, I would categorize it as “The Continuing Art of Suffering in Silence”

About the author. Cdr. Bud Slabbaert is the Chairman and Coordinator of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup, an annual results and solution oriented conference for stakeholders of ‘airlift’ in the Caribbean which will be June 16-18 on St.Maarten. Mr. Slabbaert’s background is accentuated by aviation business development, strategic communication, and journalism.

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