Wednesday, July 28, 2021

May 24, 2021  PHILIPSBURG—Since Parliament started discussing the finalization of the decolonization of the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles, the process has been questioned by a number of sceptics here and abroad. When the motion of November 5th, 2021 was passed, and the Permanent Constitutional Affairs and Decolonization Committee was established, these sceptics wondered if it made any sense.

Arguments against the process included “now is not the time”, “there are more pressing matters to address”, “you can’t eat autonomy”, “Sint Maarten cannot survive without the Dutch, and the local politicians can’t handle independence”, “there is no legal basis for decolonization”, “the people chose this status”, “we already have autonomy”, and the list goes on and on. We should not forget that there was never a “right time” to implement human rights, equal rights for women, or a “right time” to abolish slavery for those who opposed these changes and wanted the status quo.

All these arguments will be addressed as the process continues, but as MP I would like to respond to one important criticism of Parliament’s decision to pursue the finalization of the decolonization process. That criticism is that decolonization is only being pushed by a small group of politicians and “people behind the scenes” who “conspire” to decolonize for one reason only. The reason is supposedly to “kick the Dutch out” in order to have some kind of unchecked dictatorial reign over the people of Sint Maarten.

But in light of what has transpired in the area of constitutional affairs in the Dutch Kingdom and beyond during the last few decades, the question that really should be asked is: “what is the agenda of the local politicians who oppose decolonization, and why would they oppose it in the first place?”

Is it to hide the fact that they failed the people of Sint Maarten by completing the process when they should have, and are now being exposed for that failure? Are they being pressured by elements within certain Dutch political circles, who would rather see Sint Maarten eternally dependent on Holland, and want to keep their influence via deals like the one with the Royal Schiphol Group?

Which arguments could they possibly have done they have against the clear academic and political consensus on these two facts?:

a) The decolonization of the former Netherlands Antilles was not finalized and;
b) It should be finalized as soon as possible in order to be in compliance with international law and create workable relationships within the Kingdom of the Netherlands?

Let’s look at the academic and political substantiations (in no particular order) making the case for finalizing the decolonization process as being pursued by the Parliament of Sint Maarten:

1. Dutch political statements

In 2016, both former MP André Bosman and Minister Plasterk confirmed that article 73 was still applicable. Following a statement by State Secretary Knops to the Dutch Parliament in October 2019, that “new insights” indicated that this was no longer the case, the Dutch State declared in court that it is not aware of any document proving that article 73 does no longer apply to the Netherlands. This last statement would mean that State Secretary Knops lied to the Dutch Parliament in 2019, a cardinal sin in politics and government.

In 2020, Dutch MP Sietse Fritsma wrote the following in an article published in “Koninkrijk op Eieren”: "…This (strange) fact can be traced back to Article 73 of the UN Charter, which applies to the relationship between the Netherlands and the former Netherlands Antilles.”

Former MP’s Bosman and van Raak presented a commonwealth proposal in 2012.
In 2016, then-Senator (and currently Vice-Chair of the Council of State) Thom de Graaff stated that the Statuut is outdated and needs revamping.

In 2019, Dutch MP Bosman proposed to revamp the “Statuut”. Also in 2019, the Dutch Parliament passed a motion to create a working group to establish a “division of responsibilities between Kingdom partners”. Knops invited CAS to participate, and they all agreed.

On April 13th, 2021, the Dutch Senate passed a motion by Senator Rosenmöller, to give a higher priority to the kingdom relations by intensifying the Dutch involvement in order to concretely and sustainably improve the relations.

2. Research by Dr. Steven Hillenbrink

Dr. Hillenbrink academic research clearly proves that the “Statuut” did not provide the islands with a full measure of self-government in accordance with the UN Charter and relevant resolutions. He also provided proof that the Netherlands (together with the Antillean delegation members) made efforts to make the UN believe that this was the case in 1954 and 1955.

3. Party manifestos Dutch Parliamentary elections 2021

The election campaign manifestos of VVD, SP, BIJ1, and PvdA all included commitments to addressing constitutional reform within the Dutch Kingdom.

4. Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Eustatius

In 2020, Aruba and Curacao dispatched several letters and petitions to the UN and the EU regarding infringements on our autonomy by the Dutch Government. Sint Eustatius recently sent a letter to the Dutch Government insisting on the restoration of full democracy as soon as possible.

5. Research by Dr. Carlyle Corbin

Dr. Corbin has carried out different self-government assessments (on Bonaire, Curacao, and in the Pacific) which clearly show that the structures of these territories are not in compliance with contemporary international standards of full self-government and international standards of full political equality.

6. United Nations

The United Nations Secretary-General continues to express his commitment to finalizing decolonization, and repeats calls to do so. Additionally, the UN General Assembly recently declared the fourth international decade for decolonization.

7. COPPPAL and Parlatino

These organizations have both condemned recolonizing actions by the Dutch Government in letters to the UN and Prime Minister Rutte starting back in 2015.
Unless all the entities and individuals listed above are in on this so-called “conspiracy” by a select few on Sint Maarten with an agenda, it is clear that decolonization is needed, and needed now. It will correct a legally incorrect situation that has existed since 1945. And ultimately, it will benefit the people on all the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles.

As a representative of the people of Sint Maarten, I therefore challenge all those who oppose or criticize this important process to explain why they did not finish it when they had the chance to, why they are against finalizing it now, and what their agenda is? I look forward to receiving those answers and the public debate as the process continues.

Instead of focusing on one or two messengers on Sint Maarten who supposedly have a “hidden agenda”, the critics of decolonization should focus on the message that is supported widely outside of Sint Maarten. They should also realize that globally, being decolonized and fully autonomous as a nation, in whichever shape or form is the rule, and not the exception.

Grisha Heyliger-Marten

SXM Radio Online


July 22, 2021  LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday to four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts. Sheriff’s deputies brought the 69-year-old convicted rapist into court in a wheelchair. He was wearing a brown jail jumpsuit and face mask. Attorney Mark Werksman entered the plea for the disgraced movie mogul a day after Weinstein was extradited to California from New York, where he was serving a 23-year prison term. Weinstein spoke only to say “thank you” to Judge Sergio Tapia, who wished him good luck as the hearing ended. He now awaits a second trial on a second coast, and the possibility of another lengthy sentence.

July 21, 2021  NEW YORK (AP) — “The View” canceled a planned appearance Wednesday by a woman who settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill O’Reilly, after the former Fox News Channel personality sought and received a restraining order against her. O’Reilly accused his former producer, Andrea Mackris, of violating a non-disclosure agreement by talking about her experiences with him nearly two decades ago. ABC’s daytime talk show, in a statement, said that after being notified of the restraining order “we decided to postpone her interview pending further developments. We look forward to welcoming her to ‘The View’ at a later date.” Mackris gave an interview to the Daily Beast earlier this month detailing her experiences with O’Reilly. She had accused him of making repeated lewd telephone calls, while he accused Mackris of an extortion attempt before agreeing to a $9 million settlement in 2004.

July 21, 2021  WASHINGTON (AP) — The Kennedy Center Honors will return in December with a class that includes Motown Records creator Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” mastermind Lorne Michaels and actress-singer Bette Midler. Organizers expect to operate at full capacity after last year’s ceremony was delayed for months and later conducted under COVID-19 restrictions. This 44th class of honorees for lifetime achievement in the creative arts is heavy on musical performers. The honorees also include opera singer Justino Diaz and folk music legend Joni Mitchell. All will be honored on Dec. 5 with a trademark program that includes personalized tributes and performances that are kept secret from the honorees. Deborah Rutter, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, said the current plan is to pack the center’s opera house to full capacity and require all attendees to wear masks. But the plans remain fluid and Rutter said they’re ready to adapt to changing circumstances depending on the country’s COVID-19 situation.

July 22, 2021   LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kanye West knows how to make a splash even with a listening event. West is expected to unveil his 10th studio album, “Donda” during a listening event Thursday night at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. His album was named after his mother, Donda West, who died at the age of 58 following plastic surgery complications in 2007.  The sold-out event will be live-streamed on Apple Music. West, 44, is mostly known as being associated with Chicago, but he was born in Atlanta - a Georgia city where there are no restrictions against large gatherings. The rapper-producer gifted 5,000 tickets to faculty, staff and students from some Atlanta HBCUs including Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, Spelman, Morris Brown and the Interdenominational Theological Center. The 22-time Grammy winner revealed in a commercial, featuring U.S. track star Sha’Carri Richardson, during the NBA Finals on Tuesday that his highly-anticipated album will be released Friday. The commercial, scored and directed by West, featured “No Child Left Behind,” a song from his forthcoming album.

Business News

July 22, 2021  WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s administration is beginning to make $3 billion in economic development grants available to communities — a tenfold increase in the program paid for by this year’s COVID-19 relief bill. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said her agency on Thursday will begin accepting applications for the competitive grants, which officials hope will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and help struggling cities and towns make long-term investments to drive development for years to come. “This is about real help for communities across the country as they rebuild,” Raimondo said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s about longer-term investments to help communities build themselves back from the bottom up in the ways that work best for them.” The grants will be targeted at supporting local infrastructure, job training programs and developing new industries. Recipients will be selected on the basis of the anticipated return on investment to taxpayers. Raimondo was set to appear at Thursday’s White House press briefing to promote the new program.

July 21, 2021   DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — For months, anyone who wandered onto a dealer lot to look for a used car could be forgiven for doing a double-take — and then wandering right off the lot. Prices had rocketed more than 40% from their levels just before the viral pandemic struck, to an average of nearly $25,000. The supply of vehicles had shrunk. And any hope of negotiating on price? Good luck with that. But now, a sliver of hope has emerged. The seemingly endless streak of skyrocketing used-vehicle prices appears to be coming to a close. Not that anyone should expect bargains. Though average wholesale prices that dealers pay are gradually dropping, they’ll likely remain near record levels. So will the retail prices for consumers. Supply remains tight. And while demand has eased a bit, a steady flow of buyers could keep prices unusually high for a couple of years more. “It’s a short-term correction,” suggested Paul Sugars, sales manager for pre-owned vehicles at Jack Demmer Lincoln in Dearborn, Michigan. “Buyers are sitting on the fence, waiting to see what happens.”

July 22, 2021  SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric plans to bury 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) of its power lines in an effort to prevent its fraying grid from sparking wildfires when electrical equipment collides with millions of trees and other vegetation across drought-stricken California. The daunting project announced Wednesday aims to bury about 10% of PG&E’s distribution and transmission lines at a projected cost of $15 billion to as much as $30 billion, based on how much the process currently costs. The utility believes it will find ways to keep the final bill at the lower end of those estimates. Most of the costs will likely be shouldered by PG&E customers, whose electricity rates are already among the highest in the U.S. PG&E stepped up its safety commitment just days after informing regulators a 70-foot (23-meter) pine tree that toppled on one of its power lines ignited a major fire in Butte County, the same rural area about 145 miles (233 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco where another fire sparked by its equipment in 2018 killed more than 80 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

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