Prime Minister Speaks Out Against Defamation

November 6, 2023  -PHLIPSBURG, Sint Maarten— As the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, and someone who has held public office in this great nation, I stake my reputation on passion and dedication to service in the political arena. I have never wavered in my integrity and service to the people of St. Maarten. Because of this, I initially had no intention to respond to the ridiculous allegations being made against me.

Contrary to what has been promoted by Mr. Arrindell, this civil case is to ensure the freedom of speech as guaranteed by our constitution in article 10, cannot lead to a violation of other human rights an individual has, such as the right to privacy and family life. One aspect of the right to privacy and family life is the right not to be subjected to attacks upon his/her honor and reputation.

My integrity, upbringing, education, teaching career, and time as a student care coordinator and school manager were based on the principle of doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason. I was always taught to have respect, control over impulsiveness, compassion, and equity. This is a lesson I passed on to my children and others I may have met.

However, after several weeks, and the increasingly defamatory nature of statements made by one person and shared throughout the community, it became clear that silence would breed consent, and I ran the risk of unknowing people believing the statements and allegations being made.

Every slanderous, defamatory statement made about me has been based on lies, innuendo and is very clearly politically motivated. People who want to represent the constituents of Sint Maarten should run for parliament, not try to control ministries or ministers, or government-owned entities from outside and behind a screen. That is what the elections of January 11th are for.

The gentleman making the allegations has political aspirations, wants to be honored with a street, a statue, he wants to run a ministry, own WINAIR and be, “powerful.” The political persecution is clear in the motives mentioned over and over. The baseless attacks on my good name, and my service in this function, without any proof, is an attack on the people of Sint Maarten.

The sometimes-maniacal rantings and ravings of this individual spark pity and compassion within me. In my 55 years more than half of which has been dedicated to our youth, I can tell that he is exhibiting symptoms of a person in pain, and we all know that hurt people hurt people.

The reporting of the alleged abuse I experienced as a child is considered a tactic of re-victimization. This is not just, and is not acceptable in any democratic society, which Sint Maarten is. While several lines were crossed in the attacks on my person, on an entire community, and the accusations which sought to harm me, none were as grievous to me as those against my children.

Stooping so low as to dig up—and when none can be found—create information about my family and make accusations that are wildly inflammatory, not based in truth and can be used to incite others to take actions is a dangerous precedence being set if allowed by this court.

My daughter, a young professional, studied hard, works hard, and deserves, like any Sint Maartener, to be able to purchase land and own a home in her country. My son, one of Sint Maarten’s student athletes, studying abroad, has earned study financing and as per his parents’ income will have to repay it 100%.

These attacks on me, several ministers, Members of Parliament, civil servants, and anyone daring to speak out against the slander, defamation, and belittling remarks –if left unchecked— will create a new culture in politics on Sint Maarten. In Sint Maarten politics opposing parties stand shoulder to shoulder sharing food, drinks and shade while trying to entice voters as they go to the polls. So indeed, I believe that this has gone on too long. This is not who we are on Sint Maarten, we can speak up on issues without slander, we can carry out investigations and report on proven facts. The prosecutor’s office has its role to play.

Even the former US President is having his day in court for inciting violence at the Capitol Building in Washington and those who blindly promoted his lies have either been convicted or taken plea deals. No one should be exempt, and all involved in deliberate slander and defamation against another should take responsibility for their actions.

Up to my appearance in court, the gentleman had not denied his statements, nor had he proven any of the allegations made against me. So, I trust the court will be able to restore my good name with its decision.

God knows who I am. I know who I am. My children and loved ones know who I am. The people I have worked with, learned from, played sports with, danced with, and the people of Sint Maarten know who I am. I thank them all for their words and prayers of encouragement and support.

Justice is ensuring the rights of all citizens; I am also a citizen of Sint Maarten and I also deserve Justice.

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