SINT MAARTEN/SAINT-MARTIN - Gracita Arrindell, Leader of the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) stated on Wednesday in a media statement that the: “Border blockade is being used increasingly as an instrument to control the free movement of our people. Once that ‘ Genie’ is out of the bottle it’s hard to put it back in. There’s a sea of difference between a border-blockade and a border control. Whichever the case, both measures seriously hamper the internal free movement of people and goods as proclaimed in the over 300 year Treaty of Concordia”.
“We support the many voices that call for the overturn of this latest Paris mandated ad hoc- decision. Inadvertently, this issue has now been elevated to an international level given the latest twitter rant by the current President of the USA.
Mr. Trump took the Prime Minister of the Dutch side to task for closing the border to Americans.
“The complaint regarding the border closure for Americans belongs in France with President Macron, and the Netherlands Prime Minister Rutte. While the elephants fight our grass (St. Maarten- St. Martin) gets trampled.
It is no secret that France and the USA have always had a love-hate relationship. Who can forget the silly ‘French-freedom fries’ pseudo-war between the two countries; said Gracita”
Gracita states: “Constant changes to this policy for one to visit or go home on either side of this 37 square mile territory underscores the unfair and unjustifiable nature of this measure. The Prefecture in St. Martin takes orders from Paris and implement their instructions and leave the island. Au revoir! Good-by Charlie! We suffer the consequences. Going home or visiting friends and families or keeping appointments without first providing a test are mandatory. August is traditionally the period for storewide sales for most businesses in the North and now this too has been compromised. This is making a very bad situation worse. What now?”
Arrindell continues: “The present discussion is not whether we should become one island. More importantly is to acknowledge that we may be two countries in one island but we are one island in heart and spirit and we must think as one.
It’s about what steps can be taken locally to overturn and prevent ill- conceived decisions taken thousands of miles away by bureaucrats who may or may not understand us and may or may not have our best interests in mind for the future? Some steps the government in Philipsburg can consider are:
- a meeting based on a clear agenda held as soon as possible with the local French side authorities aimed at reopening the borders. The local vacant position of a French- Dutch liaison officer should be filled soonest. This candidate must be knowledgeable of the issues, tasked with a proactive (mediating) role.
- the Department of Interior and Kingdom Relations that resort under the Prime Minister can play a key and active role in these discussions between Philipsburg, Marigot, Paris and the Hague. The office of the local representative for the Dutch government as represented by Mr. Chris Johnson can serve as the center for diplomacy and discussions on this urgent matter.
- Parliament must have a meaningful and prominent role other than some members voicing their opinions on this matter outside of Parliament. The Treaty of Concordia must be an urgent agenda point. The results of this meeting will carry more weight in the Hague and Paris and around the world when prepared and executed correctly”.
Gracita concludes: “Our economy depends on over 70 percent of American-based tourists. Having health screening policies in place that protects both our local residents as well as people from other tourist destinations are in order. Making decisions in Paris or the Hague that negatively affects our way of life as a People is outright wrong”.
“Defending the letter and spirit of one of the world’s oldest Treaties is worth fighting for. Let us think of the next generation and put the proverbial ‘genie’ back in the bottle for the next 372 years. It’s time to cut the remote-control bureaucratic red tape hampering our free movement. Remove those container barricades and keep your hands of our Treaty of Concordia”.