Feb 2021 edition

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Vol 02 Edition No. 001

How the airport became a political football Page 6-7




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Connecting Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.

An Edition of

February 2021

Introducing St. Maarten’s New dental hygienist: Esmee Bakker

Relationship between TelEm and union Deteriorates Page 4

Page 10-11


An Irresistible Pie

focus on AIRPORT

Miss Lokay is back


ANG 3000?

Justice Minister Tightens

Immigration Rules PHILIPSBURG -- Justice Minister Anna Richardson has published new guidelines for the admission and expulsion of foreigners in the National Gazette. These guidelines set new and tighter rules for immigrants, but they seem to completely ignore a report from the Law Enforcement Council from 2014 that revealed serious shortcomings in the system.

PHILIPSBURG - “The best way forward is that all layers of PJIA group are aligned. Only then can we become efficient and get the airport fixed correctly,” SXM Airport CEO Brian Mingo said in a Zoom-interview with

The Law Enforcement Council report is entitled Sint Maarten Welcomes you! after the text of the stamp visitors get in their passports on arrival. The report’s conclusion: “Once you’re in, you stay in.” The researchers found that immigration approved 94 percent of applications for (temporary

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A NEW ABC CONNECTION , Bonaire uba cting Ar e n n Co

and Curacao


Minister Anna Richardson

of indefinite) residence on the island. But in less than 24 percent of the cases these decisions included a stipulation that the right of residence applies only to the term for which the ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor has issued a work permit.

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Justice Minister Tightens Immigration Rules

Continued from page 1 One requirement for admission was back in 2014 that immigrants must have health insurance, to prevent that they would become a burden to the community. But the policy explicitly allowed these foreigners to insure themselves locally through SZV - and 83 percent of foreigners did just that. The Law Enforcement Council scrutinized 255 files and it found no evidence in any of them that the applicants had awaited a decision about their

application abroad. Another aspect of the policy was that low- and unskilled workers would only be recruited in the local market. But according to the report this did not play a role at all in the process of admitting immigrants to the territory. The Labor Department happily granted work permits for security officers, shop assistants, maids and other low-skilled jobs. Based on these work permits, immigration then issued a permit for tem-

Colofon Telephone: +1-721-588-0800 Whatsapp: +1-721-588-0800 Telefax: +1-866-503-0347 Email: Website: Facebook: stmaartennewsdotcom Published by: Anykey Services N.V. P.O. Box 5245 Philipsburg, St. Maarten CoC reg. nr. 020907 WIB ANG ACC# 812.056.00 WIB USD ACC# 812.055.02 RBC ANG ACC# 404227551 RBC USD ACC# 404227713 Publisher/Managing Director Terrance Rey Emeritus Freelance Writer Hilbert Haar Graphics Designer/Layout Oscar Vanegas & Fredrena Pemberton

Video Editor/Engineer Reginald Richardson Freelance Reporters Jacqueline Hooftman Andrew Bishop Contributors Julie Alcin Milton Pieters Correspondent Tim van Dijk, cameraman Distribution Anselmo Carty Copyright (c) 2021 All copyrights on articles, photos and/or content of are reserved. Without the expressed permission of no copyrighted content may be used by anyone.

porary residence, but it never checked later on whether the applicants continued to meet the conditions for it. The Law Enforcement Council found that the department had insufficient resources to conduct such checkups. Minister Richardson wants to tighten the screws a bit. Her new guidelines demand that applicants who want to enter St. Maarten for family reunion must have a gross monthly income of 3000 guilders ($1,676). When someone first applies for a director’s permit, the applicant has to prove that he has a starting capital of at least 36,000 guilders (roughly $20,000) at his or her disposal, earmarked to pay salary for the first year. Continued residence is no longer accepted as a valid reason for staying in St. Maarten. Requests for an extended residence must always mention the recognized purposes. Minister Richardson also has limited the validity of temporary residence permits to one year. Registration of children older than 13 at a primary school is no longer accepted as proof for the requirement of school-going. Letters from French-side schools are not accepted anymore either. If immigration establishes that an applicant has been residing illegally in St. Maarten, a request for a temporary residence permit will be denied, also if the applicant has left the island to await a decision. Such applicants will have to wait three years before they can apply again.


Is ANG 3000 the new minimum wage?


he explanatory notes (memorie van toelichting) of the new law for the admission and expulsion of foreigners describe why a person should have an income of 36,000 ANG to bring in a spouse as follows.

“Twee personen onderhouden op een brutosalaris van ANG 2.000,= is zo goed als onmogelijk. Het is dan ook onverantwoord om de norm van ANG 2.000,= bruto inkomen per maand te blijven hanteren.” What this means - and now decreed in black and white as part of a ministerial resolution and subsequent reasoning why the minimum income has to be 36,000 guilders - is that an income of 1500 guilders per person not sufficient for being eligible for admittance. So then how come the minimum wage in St. Maarten is 1500 guilders? People with families consisting of not only one spouse have to live on this minimum wage here in St. Maarten. Well, it is clear. The minister has said that it is close to impossible for a couple to live with a salary of ANG 2000 per month. Therefore, that means that it is impossible for any family to live off the minimum wage of ANG 1500. This should be sufficient fuel to spark a movement for an increase in the minimum wage. Organizations like the St. Maarten Anti Poverty Platform and the St. Maarten Consumers Coalition, armed with this decree, should force the relevant authorities to raise the minimum wage to at least 3000 guilders if not to 4000 guilders.


MINGO keeps focus on airport RECONSTRUCTION


ingo said that he received a 90% score on his performance evaluation for 2020. He provided proof that this evaluation took place before the holding company (PJIAH) demanded his removal due to poor performance output in a letter dated December 3, 2020. “Corporate actions such as these are very daring since it confirms we are not all on the same page within the airport group. This creates uncertainty for the many different parties not excluding the sponsors of the present reconstruction project valued over $100 million. A project we have been waiting on for nearly 3½ years.” Mingo emphasized that he did not want to make the interview about the attempts to remove him from his position. “This is not about Brian Mingo. This is about the airport,” he said. The supervisory board of PJIAE consists of “professionals,” Mingo said, adding that the present supervisory board evaluated his performance. Currently it consists of four members: Kamla Besancon, Clarence Derby, Alain Maca and Helma Etnel. Next to Mingo as Chief Executive Officer, the managing board consists of Michel Hyman (Chief Operations Officer) and Leo van der Meiden (Chief Financial Officer). They are all three statutory directors. “COO Michel Hyman is an experienced operational person and Leo van der Meiden is a financial executive with vast knowledge who worked for more than 32 years for the Royal Shell Group until 2016 as global controller of the Project and Technology Division and whose appointment in July 2020 at the airport was seconded by the Royal Schiphol Group.” With this management team the recovery program to rebuild the business and the reconstruction of the main terminal is being executed. “It is not an easy task

since our airport is the only airport in the world that is facing a double crisis, the reconstruction of its building and the present Covid-19 business recovery.” PJIAE was an airport which always held a great financial position with reserves, however at the end of 2018 this was not the case and in 2019 the airport needed immediate intervention of its shareholder the government. “The airport could not meet its obligations and had consumed all its cash and was unable to secure any capital funding to rebuild its damaged main structure. The company had performed many initiatives in 2017 and 2018 after Hurricane Irma, these were to reopen and keep the airport functioning but with the low passenger numbers, without any new funding and the delayed insurance proceeds, the plan to recovery became impossible.” In 2019 the government and the airport agreed to the funding of the World Bank which included a bridge loan of $20 million and a $100 million capital package to rebuild the terminal building. In a presentation to the Central Committee of Parliament last week, it was mentioned that Princess Juliana is the only airport in the world that must deal with a double crisis: the devastating consequences of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and

the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the airport is doing relatively well: in 2020 it recovered 37 percent of the passengers it handled in 2019, compared to a global average recovery percentage of 25%. “We are not out of the woods as yet, but it is a great effort by all stakeholders, the airlines, the airport community, the government and the airport. We need to face the reality and if the numbers do not climb beyond the 70 percent, we are losing money every day. Today our airport is on life support,” Mingo says. “The good news is that we have made a plan, a plan that we are finalizing to get the airport back on its feet. One part tackles the business the other the reconstruction project. With this plan we have forecasted a baseline recovery.” The baseline recovery projection assumes 49 percent recovery in 2021 and 77 percent in the following year. In 2024 the airport will for the first time beat the numbers from 2019 (102 percent). But there is also a worst-case scenario with 36 percent recovery in 2021, 58 percent in 2022 and just 97 percent in 2024. For now, Mingo’s focus is on the airport’s reconstruction project. While parliamentarians have echoed the baseless accusations of the holding’s supervisory board that he has caused cost overruns (from $107 to $119 million

and according to MP Emmanuel to an unsubstantiated $131 million), Mingo showed that this is not the case. “The $107 million represents Package 2 (the main reconstruction project) of which the capital funding by the World Bank and the European Investment Bank is for $100 million. We already paid a lot of expenses out of pocket this for the preparatory works and other fixes to keep the airport running. For now, there are no cost overruns. We have reported a possible increase in pricing, but this is a precautionary measure,” Mingo said. Since all numbers are based on blueprint estimates made in 2018 and the actual bids are not known until the end of March 2021, no concrete confirmation can be given on the overall project costs. Prices are only confirmed after we get to see how the market reacts, and during these extraordinary times the market can respond differently. “We have reviewed the estimations and due to the price indexation (6%), update of scope (3%) and finalization of the detailed design (3 %) we have estimated a 12% increase. Market prices swing. Some go up, some go down. We have reported this to many of the stakeholders and to the Council of Ministers. It was also misinterpreted by some as a project

overrun, but it is rather an reporting obligation we have decided on.” The bidding process takes time, Mingo says, each potential contractor has the ability to ask questions on the provided bidding documents and these have to be answered accordingly. Some of these questions and answers lead to clarifications and amendments in the bidding documents to be shared with all potential contractors. The airport has had to answer well over 200 technical questions from potential bidders. The process is guarded by the World Bank and these steps are taken to avoid any future disagreements and even litigations as we have seen in the past. The mold remediation (in other words: solving the mold-problem in the terminal building) is scheduled to be completed in April. Bids for the main reconstruction work are expected in March, followed by an evaluation in April and awarding contracts in May. This process is governed by World Bank protocols. Work will begin as early as June and will take 22 months to complete, setting the tentative completion date at March or April of 2023. Fun fact: Mingo bought the Carousel (that is, the merrygo-round from the former ice cream parlor in Simpson Bay) from Toppers for a symbolic one dollar. It has been dismantled and put in storage and will return at a later date to make being at the airport a more memorable experience - with a big thank you to Topper and his family on display. “In closing,” Mingo concluded. “St. Maarten can only move forward if all parties are on board. The government, the sponsors, the airport group of companies and not forgetting the organization and its workers. Fixing the airport is so important and so grand and it’s not only for St. Maarten. We also serve the region. We need to work together; we need to get this right. Anything else is fruitless.”


Relationship between TelEm

and union


PHILIPSBURG -- The relationship between TelEm’s Chief Executive Officer Kendal Dupersoy and Ludson Evers, the President of the St. Maarten Communication Union (SMCU) is deteriorating fast, it appear from correspondence between the two parties. The latest controversy began with a letter Dupersoy sent to the union on February 12. In it, he outlines six ideas for cost cutting measures. Dupersoy explains that he asked the government and financial supervisor Cft to clarify how the 12.5 percent cuts will have to be applied. He did not receive a reaction from the Cft and the answer from the government gave “no comfort.” “We suggested on numerous occasions to wait until there is clarity but you indicated that you did not want to wait. This is causing unrest among our employees,” Dupersoy wrote. TelEm selected six options for cost cutting: reduction of five vacation days, elimination of the savings plan and the oncall allowance, reduction of vacation allowance by 60 percent and no payment of profit-share and

year-end bonuses. This year there will be no salary increases. The merit max bonuses that have been processed in January will have to be reversed,” Dupersoy wrote. Employees will be allowed to pay back over a period of twelve months. A day later the union sent its reply, calling Dupersoy’s letter “shockingly disrespectful and autocratic.” SMCU-President Evers wrote that the TelEm CEO is “unwilling or incapable” to negotiate in good faith with the unions. Furthermore Evers claimed that “the government has not imposed any measures to reduce our labor conditions,” but that he is willing to discuss them once they have become law. “Until then you have no jurisdiction to make any cuts.” That letter did not sit well with Dupersoy who gave the union leader a piece of his mind in a letter dated February 17. “Do you like playing victim?” That is the famous first line of this letter. Dupersoy writes to Evers that “your constant bullying of staff and management is disrespectful. You claim that I do not want to negotiate but you behave in an autocratic way. You refuse to acknowledge the company’s financial situa-

TelEm CEO admits to ghetto tone in letter to SMCU tion and you refuse to negotiate a new collective labor agreement that better reflects the current telecom situation worldwide.” Dupersoy furthermore notes that Evers has “no intention to sit down to come to a realistic solution with limited impact on employees. You prefer to stick your head in the sand by making statements like “the government has not imposed any measures to reduce our labor conditions” while you are fully aware of the law that was passed in parliament two weeks ago.” The union refuses to get together with TelEm management for talks about the cuts, saying it has put the matter in the hands of the labor mediator. “Management will adhere to the rules and engage in the process,” Dupersoy states in his letter.

‘Ghetto letter’

When StMaartenNews. com contacted the CEO of TelEm, Dupersoy admitted that the tone of the first paragraph was not the best. He indicated that even though he waited a full 4 hours before responding, the personal attacks were not appreciated. In his response to SMCU

he addressed the constant lies perpetuated by the union to paint him in a negative light. The issue is not about him but about the staff. SMCU has taken the position of sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the upcoming law. As CEO he is responsible for not only the company but the em-

ployees as well. The position of SMCU will lead to disastrous results for the employees, an issue SMCU does not seem to care about. Having said that, the CEO admits that the letter lacked the professionalism that is required of a CEO not withstanding the personal attacks by SMCU.


TelEm awaits new proposal from union PHILIPSBURG -- The spat between TelEm CEO Kendal Dupersoy and SMCU-leader Ludson Evers has calmed down a bit after Dupersoy retracted the first paragraph of a letter he sent to the union that began with the sarcastic remark: “Do you like playing the victim?” Parties met with labor mediator Marcelina Loblak in a vain attempt to find common ground.

and we could not come to any amicable solution.” TelEm’s management finds itself between a rock and a hard place. In the interview, StMaartenNews. com pointed out that we don’t see how the government can enforce a 12.5 percent cut in the private sector sphere when employees have agreements, contracts and even collective labor agreements governing their labor agreements.

“The position of management was not to touch salaries of employees and that the payments the unions are demanding will lead to disastrous results for the employees,” Dupersoy told after the meeting. “The unions disagreed

The St. Maarten Communication Union (SMCU) insisted that there is a way to continue with the payment of profit sharing bonuses and still cut 12.5 percent without touching salaries. “I proposed to send the personnel budget information to the union

so that they can come up with a proposal to management. The union requested two weeks for that. Management adjusted the first letter (Editor’s note: the one of February 12, the so-called “ghettoletter”) to make clear that it was only a proposal and not an instruction. It was not intended for employees but a jumping off point for negotiations.” Dupersoy said that “the ball is in the union’s court now” and that once they have a proposal there is an opportunity to compare it with management’s proposal and find middle ground, “As long as this does not affect the monthly salaries of our employees. We are waiting for the proposal and we are not paying out any of the ben-

SMCU union leader Ludson Evers efits until we have the explanatory notes of the law.” “I am looking at all the numbers and the effect measures would have on our employees. We have a non-compliant union because these people are also employees. That clouds their judgment about the long term effects. They

have a personal interest in getting paid as much as possible.” Dupersoy concluded. In the meantime, a new letter has been sent to the SMCU union dated February 18, 2021, which will serve as the basis for the negotiations moving forward.

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An irresistible pie


By Hilbert Haar

he reconstruction of the Princess Juliana International Airport is a multi-million dollar project. Projects of such magnitude have the tendency to attract the attention of people with less than honorable intentions. From the perspective of a criminal mind this makes sense because half a percent of $100 million is still 500,000 very cool dollars. So what has been happening? Airport director Brian Mingo scored 90 percent on the evaluation of his performance in 2020. That is a stellar performance, so Mingo cannot be the problem.

How the

And yet, the supervisory board of the airport’s holding company demanded that Mingo steps down in a letter dated December 3, 2020 - way after the completion of his evaluation. The holding reproaches Mingo for cost overruns, based on a presentation he made to the Council of Ministers. But Mingo has made clear that there are no cost overruns. The projection of a potential price hike from $107 to $119 million is a precautionary initiative. In the unfortunate case that the airport needs that additional $12 million, the organization has to be ready for it. Besides, the bids are not even in yet, so nobody knows what the real cost is going to be. Observers have described all other reasons the holding gave for its demand that Mingo steps down with one word: nonsense. So what is going on here? We all know that there are forces above the government pulling strings at every opportunity. A multi-million dollar project is too yummy to ignore. The supra-governmental force used to be the so-called Cupecoy shadow government but apparently that group is falling apart. So now it comes down to individuals who want a piece of the pie. At least three of them can be found in Parliament. Bribery-suspect MP Claudius Buncamper who declared Mingo’s evaluation-result without any further explanation as “worthless,” MP Christophe Emmanuel who keeps shouting at every opportunity he gets that Mingo has to go, and the inevitable President of Parliament, Rolando Brison. The funding for the reconstruction project comes from three sources: the World Bank and the European Investment Bank ($50 million each) and the airport itself with a contribution of $7 million. The WB/EIB loans come with conditions and that is not to the liking of the vultures that are circling around this project. They want to do things their own way and grab a piece of this irresistible pie. That is why Mingo has to go because he stands in their way. That’s why the supervisory board of the exploitation company has to go because there is a very experienced Chief Financial Officer on board (Leo van der Meiden on behalf of the Royal Schiphol Group). It is in the interest of the airport, and by extension in the interest of St. Maarten’s economy and the well-being of all the people who live here, that the reconstruction project is executed in a financial and technical responsible way. Every dollar that ends up in the wrong hands and thereby does not contribute to the airport’s rehabilitation, is a dollar lost. It is very clear that the resistance against Mingo and his supervisory board is all about contracts and concessions, about who gets what. It is a somewhat comforting thought that the whole project is governed by World Bank procedures. Maybe these procedures are slow, and maybe they are complicated, but they sure as hell will prevent that the wrong people get their hands on money that does not belong to them. In this context the warning letter from the World Bank is very useful. It did not state this in so many words, but to me the meaning of that letter is clear: remove Mingo and his supervisory board and the $100 million+ funding deal is off the table. In that scenario the saboteurs who are causing all this trouble will have to find money in the private financial market where they will be hit with interest rates of at least 5 to 7 percent. Compare that to the 2.5 percent on the WB/EIB-loans. That’s right: a difference of $2.5 to $4.5 million in interest charges per year. Is there any politician left with a functioning calculator? I wonder.

PHILIPSBURG - The Princes Juliana International Airport has once again become the proverbial “political football” and there is only one politician who is milking the game for all that it’s worth: the lone independent MP Christophe Emmanuel. His demands for the dismissal of airport director Brian Mingo are a prime example of political interference at a government-owned company On Monday, Emmanuel said during a central committee meeting that Mingo is “a disease and a poison” to the growth of the airport. Apparently not satisfied with the reporting about his statements, the MP sent a letter to the editors of local media in which he once more urges the holding company (PJIAH) to dismiss Mingo and to get rid of the board of the exploitation company (PJIAE) as well. But who has the authority to dismiss Mingo? Is it the holding company? Is it the exploitation company? It is clear that the airport director was not hired by the holding. He was hired by PJIAE. This entity issued a press release on January 7, 2019 to announce his appointment. Alex Dijkhoffz, the chairman of PJIAE’s supervisory board stated in that press release: “Mingo is the right candidate. His vision on how the airport needs to be transformed is exactly what PJIA needs.” On February 17, 2019, just five weeks after he started working at the airport, Mingo stated on the company’s website

that the airport urgently needs a $15 million bridge loan. “Work can then begin on reconstruction plans and reconstruction can begin by July 2019.” Furthermore, Mingo stated: “If all goes as planned and urgent action is taken now we will be celebrating the reopening of our reconstructed airport terminal by July 2021.” In June 2019 Gay Nagle Meyers, a staff writer for Travel Weekly quoted Mingo as follows: “All repairs will be completed by 2021 and US pre-clearance will be operational by 2022. It is vital for our tourism product.” Unfortunately, things did not progress as planned. Why? In part due to political interference. In February 2019 the opposition in parliament fiercely opposed plans to fund the airport-reconstruction with loans from the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. MP Frans Richardson then leader of the United St. Maarten party (USp) called it “the worst agreement this country has ever signed.” In December 2019 the government had changed and the USp was no longer in the opposition. That’s when the government signed the loan agreements with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. The conditions for these loans had not changed since February; only the government had changed. This represents a delay of eleven months that can hardly be attributed to airport director Mingo. In the summer of 2019 the opposition threw another spanner in the works by asking for a postponement of the han-


airport became a

political football

dling of the 2019 budget. This postponement was requested b MPs Emmanuel, Rolando Brison and Jurendy Doran. Mingo reacted to this situation with a statement on the airport’s website. “Postponement of the 2019 budget is a devastating blow to the reconstruction plans. Unless the budget is approved, critical funding cannot move ahead.” In the same statement Mingo noted that “commercial funding is not an option because the airport is still paying off a $140 million debt service from 2012.” In early December of last year, the airport’s holding company sent Mingo a letter demanding his resignation per January 4, 2021. The reasons? Lack of progress with the reconstruction project, a strained relationship with the staff, an increase in expected reconstruction costs from $107 million to $119 million (as reported

by Mingo in a presentation to the Council of Ministers on November 12, 2020) and “disinterest” in taking steps towards US preclearance. In this context it is good to remember what former Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings had to say about pre-clearance during a press briefing of the Council of Ministers on September 11, 2019: “Preclearance has its place in the development of the airport. It comes with a heavy price tag. When you look at the airport’s financial predicament you will only fit in pre-clearance when it is financially responsible.” “This government never said that pre-clearance is not a priority,” Geerlings continued. “But these things take time; you are talking about establishing a treaty here and we have to talk about tax-exemptions for the 80+ USemployees that are going to work there. You have to plan this in a responsible way so that it does

not backfire on the country and its people.” Since then there has been no public indication that the treaty Geerlings referred to as been established. This is obviously the competency of the government and not that of the airport or its director. Mingo has so far ignored the marching orders from the holding company. Last Monday he gave a presentation about the situation at the airport in a central committee meeting of parliament, thus sending a clear message that he is not going anywhere. Mingo indicated already on December 29, 2020 in a media statement that he

has no plans to resign. “I am not interested in stepping down, no matter the amount of money. I am

committed to successfully completing the rebuilding of the airport of the future.”

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s an oral hygienist or what is known as a dental hygienist. She is 41 years of age, married and has two sons, 6 and 9 years old. Esmee is a new dental hygienist on the island of St. Maarten. She completed her studies at the Academic Center for Dentistry in Amsterdam in The Netherlands. She worked in Curacao for 4 years after graduating in 2001, that’s where the love for the Caribbean started. In December 2020, she moved with her family to St. Maarten.

“We have been received so friendly on the island by the sweet people here,” Esmee says. “We really feel welcome and are loving to be out and about on the island in a responsible way.” When you meet Esmee Bakker, you will immediately see that this petite and energetic looking lady is personable, friendly and approachable. Qualities someone in her profession definitely needs to have.

What does a dental hygienist do?

Naturally, we wanted to know what precisely a ‘dental hygienist’ does.

Esmee explained that a dental or oral hygienist (‘mondhygienist’) is a specialist in gum- and bone- infections, like swollen and/or bleeding gums, loose teeth and bad breath. Dental hygienists scale and polish teeth; provide deep cleaning, prevention of caries and bleaching of teeth; give advice and directions on how to do self-care at home; and much more.

Esmee says: “About 80% of the people have gum disease without them knowing it because usually there is no pain. In the beginning, one can have some bleeding of the gum or some retraction of it but nothing serious. The infection goes unnoticed and when they come to me, I diagnose gingivitis (inflammation of the gum) or periodontitis (inflammation of the gum and the bone). Worst case is patients losing their teeth because most of the bone is gone. It’s been destroyed by bacteria.”

“I have a lot of experience in treating patients with gum diseases (periodontology), which is my specialty.” Esmee explains. “I also have a lot of experience working with children at the orthodontist clinic and with patients after dental surgery for such as implants or bone- and gum reconstruction.” During the interview, it became clear that Esmee considers prevention as a vital part of her work as a dental hygienist. Esmee advises patients to brush their teeth with toothpaste containing fluoride, use dental toothpicks or interdental brushes, to floss correctly, and avoid mouthwash containing too much alcohol.

Esmee: “My job is to inform patients about the situation, instruct them on how to continue

cleaning their teeth at home, food advice and, of course, clean it thoroughly (under the gum). I help them to maintain treatment and stop infection from going on further. This means that patients can keep their own teeth longer, hopefully forever.” Esmee recommends that anyone experiencing bleeding gums while brushing or flossing pay a visit to her at Brilliant Dental Care at Cay Hill. Bleeding gums are a clear indication of infection in and around the gums and teeth.

“On St. Maarten gum disease treatments are not as common. There are a lot of people with problems. So we would like everyone to know that I am here to help them.” Esmee explains.


ucing St. Maarten’s New dental hygienist:



Children have a special place in Esmee’s dental practice as they are the most vulnerable age group when it comes to the lack of proper dental care and prevention. Esmee often sees children with terrible teeth caused by overeating sweets, consuming too many sugary products, sodas and juices. “Parents often think juices are healthy and therefore can’t be bad for their children.” Esmee explains. But in her short time here in St. Maarten, she has seen some very problematic cases. “It is terrible to see children go through so much pain at such a young age. We hope to get young children to go to the dentist while there are no problems yet, when they come in with pain then they’ll most likely have to undergo a treatment right away. If you can teach children that going to the dentist is a normal thing then they are at ease with us and will never develop any anxiety. Diet and eating habits are also essential factors in having good dental hygiene. “If my child says something is delicious, then I definitely check what’s in it because it means it probably has too much sugar in it.” Esmee jokingly explains. Esmee even cautioned that children with braces also need to visit a dental hygienist to ensure the braces and teeth are cleaned and well maintained. Esmee recalls her own experience of seeing children who removed the teeth braces and were found to have cavities


behind the braces. “All because these were not properly cleaned and instructed.” Esmee said.

“At our practice we are also setting up a project to go and visit schools to teach children from a young age to take good care of their teeth to prevent problems when they grow up. Hopefully I can make a little bit of a difference for all the people on this beautiful Island.” Esmee explains. Esmee: “Besides gum diseases, I advise about food, fluoride-applications for stronger teeth and about habits one might have, such as thumb-sucking, grinding your teeth, etc.. I also provide bleaching-treatments for adults who want a healthy and shining smile.” Finally, Esmee explained that the coronavirus has not had

much of an impact on how she, as an oral hygienist, works. In general, as health care providers, dental staff work in a very safe, clean,

sterile, and hygienic environment where everything in the clinic, including the dentist chairs, is sanitized and disinfected.

Esmee Bakker Dental Hygienist

Gum and bone infection treatments Whitening teeth by bleaching Regular check-ups



Preventative care for kids and adults

Deep cleaning and polishing teeth

Welgelegen Road #33 Cay Hill, St. Maarten Tel. +1(721)542-3028 Whatsapp: +1(721)524-0647 Email:



CAY HILL — The One Tete Lokay statue is back. Back on the block at the Cay Hill roundabout near the SMMC medical center and the Learning Unlimited (LU) school. Sculptor Michael’ Mike’ Maghiro designed and sculpted the statue as a hommage to the history and culture of the island.


n 2017, hurricane Irma severely damaged the statue and left it hanging by one foot. Then one day it disappeared. No one knew at the time what had happened to the One Tete Lokey statue. Later, authorities informed the community that the figure had been taken down to be repaired. Now that the statue is back in its original state,

the Head of the Culture Department, Clara Reyes, calls for the statue to be known as the “Miss Lokay” statue. She finds the name “One Tete Lokay” to be derogatory. Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, who was present for the ceremony, had this to say about the stature: “Our statues, portraying a significant role in display-

ing not only our country’s heritage, but also the strength, defiance, and courage of our women, especially during the enslavement period.” Spontaneous as the decision may have been, the man who made this all possible is none other than Mr. Henri Brookson, President of the Community Aid Sentry Hill (CASH) Foundation. Brookson told the gathering in his speech that the foundation was happy to be a part of the restoration project. He explained that one day in a business meeting with sculptor Mike Maghiro, the topic of the statues spontaneously came up in the conversation. Maghiro explained that although he had given government a proposal for the repairs

of the statues, nothing had happened. According to Brookson, the board of directors of the CASH foundation then thought it was a good idea, and their civic duty, to lend a hand to the government, which lacked the funds to carry out the task. Brookson noted that the St. Maarten cultural heritage was too long in disarray. He mentioned the situation at the roundabout by the Princess Juliana International Airport with the three pelicans statues, which were also damaged, as another example. The restoration of the “One Tete Lokay” statue was a necessary project, as it is a part of the island’s culture and history. The

discussion about this idea resulted in the renegotiation of the price to have the monuments fixed for $10,000 US Dollars, making the sculptor Maghiro happy. Brookson praised the sculptor’s tenacity and stated that what he knows about Maghiro was that he wanted to move the society to a higher cultural level. Brookson thanked the sculptor for his contribution to the restoration of all three statues in disrepair. Brookson took the opportunity to apologize to the government for commissioning the restoration of the statue without their permission, which he said was a “spontaneous act” on his foundation’s part. Nigerian-born Mike Maghiro explained in his


STATUE IS BACK remarks that it is necessary to preserve the culture and history for future generations in the African culture. He spoke briefly of the global pandemic and noted that there will still be the need to preserve peoples’ heritage as we find our way out of this struggle at the end of this. Minister of Education Drs. Rudolphe Samuel in his remarks thanked the different foundations for their involvement in restoring the statues which he said played a significant role in displaying the country’s heritage. He acknowledged the contributions of the various organizations that have funded projects on the island, including those regarding education and youth affairs. Samuel hopes that the restoration of these projects that display the people’s heritage will solidify the importance of culture and the creative industry to our island. He expects that this will increase the awareness of the importance of public/private partnerships so that more can be done to help restore and maintain the statues and the tangible and intangible heritage. Minister Samuel, in particular, acknowledged the contribution of the CASH foundation, which strives to provide financial aid to various organizations on the island. “I have to commend not only this project but also their contribution to education and youthrelated projects,” Samuel said. “As Minister of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport, I would hereby like to thank the Foundation Community Aid Sentry Hill, Mag Tech BV, TelEM Group, and First Response for your initiative to restore the statues on the three roundabouts as a contribution in support of St.

Maarten’s culture and heritage,” Samuel continued. “As minister, I thank you for the restoration of the Lokay, Peridot Foundation/ Domestic Violence, and the Salt Pickers statues.” There were notable comments from the Head of the Culture Department, Clara Reyes, who spoke of the severe damage of the statue and the financial constraints, and the tough choices that the ministry had to make. “While we applaud the group of organizations that had come together to invest in St. Maarten culture and heritage to have the statues repaired, there are more areas that need to be supported.” This was when Reyes mentioned that the statue should now be known as Miss Lokey and no longer One Tete Lokay since she finds it derogatory. She called for a continuation of public/private partnership with the government. President of the Peridot Foundation Gracita Arrindell noted that Lokay is one of the persons who unites us and has encouraged us.

She mentioned that all persons who have contributed to the country’s cultural aspects, including the Commissioners of Culture, were committed to ensur-

ing that the national symbols unified us as a country. Gracita also expressed her gratitude to the sponsors who have contributed to the awareness of violence

in our communities. She called on the community to guard against violence against our women and children and against our men.


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