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Stakeholders attend presentation on statistical information key for evidenced based sustainable development planning

GREAT BAY (DCOMM) – Secretary Generals, National Development Plan team from the Department of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK), implementing agency for NDP project, representatives from all ministries involved with Millennium Development goals, the Inter-Ministerial work group and the Steering Committee for the project Building a Nation: St. Maarten National Development Plan and institutional Strengthening, on Tuesday attended a presentation about country Statistics at the University of St. Martin (USM).

Statistics ensures accessibility to reliable information that enables policy makers to make policies and (budgetary) plans and to actually monitor progress in human development.

To further consolidate Governments efforts in evidenced based sustainable development planning, the aforementioned will establish a national database, called DEV–Info that will enable Government to monitor the developmental progress of the country.

The DEV-Info database system is being used by numerous countries for this purpose. The Government of Sint Maarten, in particular the Department of Statistics within the Ministry of Tourism, Economic affairs Transport and Telecommunication and BAK, will oversee the implementation of the DEV–Info system in Sint Maarten.

The 2011 Millennium Development report for Sint Maarten indicated that the country was lagging behind on (Millennium Development Goals (MDG) MDG1 (Eradicating of Poverty and hunger) and MDG 7 (Ensure Environmental sustainability).

In order to address that, a country action plan was developed to accelerate progress in addressing poverty and environmental issues on Sint Maarten.

For the country action plan to work, as in deed implementing a national strategic plan, there is a need for reliable statistical data. At present much of the data is not in retrievable form or validated.

Only through a process of collecting, digitalizing and confirming data validity is government able to truly measure progress in achieving the policy results that are expected to be accomplished.

Data availability is an important aspect of governance as was recently also stipulated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and different committees on integrity.

The presentation was given by Sameer Thapar who works for CSF, the company awarded the project to develop and implement the DEV-Info Database in Sint Maarten. Thapar is a Technical Manager and Senior trainer of the DEV-Info support group.

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Rotary Sunrise begins Rotary has Heart initiative

PHILIPSBURG -   Rotary International celebrated its 110th birthday on February 23rd and as the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise continues to celebrate its 10th year President Virginia Asin found it fitting to donate to groups who have been in keeping with Rotary’s motto “Service Above Self” .

Rotary Sunrise began its “Rotary has Heart” initiative by donating funds to three groups: I Too Can Learn Foundation, St. Maarten Generation New Status Drum Band and Sister Magda Parent Teacher Association were all recipients of this initiative. On hand to accept the donations were Beverley Gibbs of I Too Can Learn Foundation, Youmay Dormoy of Generation New Status Drum Band and Bregje Boetekees of Sister Magda Parent Teacher Association. All recipients thanked Rotary Sunrise and encourage them to continue supporting them and the community at large.

I Too Can Learn Foundation will be using their funds to provide breakfast and lunch to its students. Sister Magda PTA plan to put their donation to use by providing breakfast to students in need. Generation New Status Drum Band will use their funds towards a trip to Howard University to learn about how a university band works in hopes of improving their already top notch skills.

Those in attendance learned new facts about Rotary’s founder Paul P. Harris, such as his work for a newspaper as a salesman and a reporter, on fruit farms, as an actor and cowboy, and on cattle ships that traveled toEurope and also got kicked out a couple of schools, thanks to a synopsis of Rotary’s origin by Assistant District Governor Rebecca Low. Ms. Low also pointed to how one person can in fact make a difference. 110 years later, with over 33,000 clubs in over 200 countries with over 1.2 million members, Mr Harris indeed showed the power of one can indeed lead to the power of many.

President Virginia Asin expounded on the power of one fitting into the Rotary International’s year theme “Light Up Rotary”, which was derived by a Chinese proverb “it is better to light a single candle than curse the darkness”. She encouraged everyone to be a source of light in the world. President Asin was very ecstatic about the start of Rotary Sunrise “Rotary has Heart” initiative and looks forward to their next project of making a three course meal for kids at a children’s home.

Rotary Sunrise will also be holding a food sale that will enable to continue the good works they have been doing for the past 10 years this Saturday, February 28, any Rotary Sunrise member can be contacted for tickets.

The club meets at Philipburg Jubilee Library Conference Room every Tuesday mornings at 7:00am for fellowship and breakfast.  For more information on the club visit us at sxmsunrise.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., we are also on Facebook: Rotary Club of Saint Martin Sunrise.

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Official guidelines Criminal Prosecution and the new directive "illegal firearms and ammunition possession" effective March 1, 2015

SIMPSON BAY - It is the desire of the Attorney-General that the prosecution policy in and between the Prosecutor’s Offices of Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are, as far as possible, unambiguous.

Within each of the Prosecutor’s Offices similar punishments should be exacted for similar offenses and circumstances; this regardless the assessor, time and place it has taken place. The Attorney-General seeks ambiguity between the criminal policies of the various Prosecutor’s Offices with obviously room for the local situation and problems of each country or region.

Furthermore, the Office of the Attorney-General from today, in the context of transparency, provide insight into the principles that apply to Public Prosecutors in the formulation of the sentencing guidelines by publishing these.

New directive "illegal firearms and ammunition possession"

The illegal possession of firearms in St. Maarten, Curaçao and the BES-islands is cause for concern. This is clearly shown, for example after the actions "Ta Basta Awor" on Curaçao and "Stop, Drop & Go" in Sint Maarten where large numbers of firearms has been surrendered and were seized. During the action it was announced that more severe penalties for possession of firearms would be introduced.

To emphasize the policy of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, reducing violence and to improve the security of citizens, the directive for possession of firearms is published today.

The Primary Prosecution Offices of Sint Maarten, Curaçao and the BES-islands will use the new directive effective March 1st 2015 taking particular account of recidivism as a major aggravating circumstance.

The Public Prosecutor’s will not only look into recidivism for illegal possession of firearms, but also look into recidivism for violent offenses. The reason for this lies in the fact that a weapon in the hands of a person with a violent past yields a (still) greater danger to the community.

The Public Prosecutor’s will also be taken into account if the illegal possession of firearms has taken place on the streets, used in the nighttime or in and around entertainment or during events or public celebrations.

The number of firearms will also be an aggravating fact. The principle is that the above punishments exacted by how many firearms are found on a suspect. For example, if someone has been arrested with two firearms, the Prosecution will call for twice the punishment that is required for one firearm.

The publication and use of guidelines will promote transparency and ensure that similar cases should be assessed equally on Sint Maarten, Curaçao and the BES-islands.

For further information on the new directive please visit to the Facebook of Public Prosecutions Curaçao, the Facebook of Public Prosecutions Sint Maarten or the website http://www.openbaarministerie.org Click on the country and then publications. (Public Prosecution Service)

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THOMAS R. SMITH CHALLENGE CUP 2015. Sponsored by SMGA and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort

MULLET BAY - The St. Maarten Golf Association SMGA is pleased to announce the 21st annual Club Championship Match Play competition. This tournament, better known as the ‘Thomas R. Smith Challenge Cup’ is named after one of its founders and honorable member Tom Smith.

The tournament that is open for all members of the SMGA will commence on March 1st and run over the course of some three months, culminating with the crowning of the Association’s 2015 Champion Golfer who’ll follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner Ricardo Perez.

The Championship is sponsored by Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort who will sponsor the first round green fees of all participating members. The SMGA will contribute towards the cart fees of the first round. Next to that both Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort and the SMGA will sponsor the rounds for the players who reach the semi-finals and finals.

The Tournament Committee urges all (new) members to sign up before February 26th and participate in a great tournament where everyone has an equal shot to advance through the field and emerge as our Association’s Champion Golfer for 2015. If you like to join please sign up at the Pro Shop at Mullet Bay Golf Course or email the SMGA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To participate in the Challenge Cup tournament and enjoy the first round of golf for free, you have to be an SMGA member and have paid your annual membership dues of USD 75. If you’re not a member as yet but like to become one, please contact the Pro Shop at Mullet Bay Golf Course or send an email to the SMGA.

For more information like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/St.MaartenGolfAssociation

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Tzu Chi entertains, treats at New Year’s/Valentines event

CUL DE SAC - The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation entertained, educated and spread loving cheer to more than 120 of its members, volunteers, their family members and other guests at its Lunar New Year’s and Valentine’s Day event on Sunday, February 15.

The event was held in an effort to thank the Foundation’s angels on earth (volunteers) for their volunteerism over the past calendar year and to pay homage to members, whose contributions help fuel the activities of the Foundation. Since it was held the day after Valentine’s Day, the Foundation also wanted to show the importance of love in the family unit and in the world.

The event opened with Tzu Chi volunteers and pupils from the All Children’s Education Foundation (ACE) delivering a lion dance performance for guests. This Lunar New Year is the year of the Sheep.  

Volunteers also performed the “One Family” sign language song.  The work of the Foundation over the past calendar year was also highlighted via a video presentation and elaboration from hosts. Tzu Chi was involved in numerous activities last year including helping several victims of devastating fires that occurred last year; assisting victims and a school following the passage of Hurricane Gonzalo and the devastating floods that followed days after and its regular contributions of monthly food supplies to underprivileged persons in the community. 

Tzu Chi also held several fundraising activities and vegetarian food sales to raise funds for its Hope education mission to assist the ACE school; collaborated with several foundations such as the Diabetes Foundation and American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine for several projects and engaged in other activities of benefit to the community.  

The Valentine’s aspect of the programme featured a “gratitude presentation” with husbands/partners presenting tokens of floral appreciation to their wives and sons to their mothers, on stage. Some partners also took the time to say why their spouses were special to them.

Attendees also enjoyed some fun “unity games” with the winners receiving prizes.

The highlight of the programme was the performance of “The Man with Four Wives” skit in which volunteers depicted through their performance, the importance of good karma and living one’s life in gratitude and with a giving heart.

A total of US $791.82 was collected in the bamboo bank return ceremony, in which volunteers and members returned their filled recycled bottle bamboo bank (donations bottles).

Volunteers, members and guests were also presented with a special Red Pocket gift from Tzu Chi Founder Master Cheng Yen and a gift from Tzu Chi. Each Red Pocket contained 50NT cents; three grains of rice, which were planted, cultivated an prepared from start to finish by Tzu Chi volunteers who are medical doctors and three vows: purified mind; harmonious society and free of disaster. 

The curtains closed on the event with the 121 guests and 45 volunteers enjoying a vegetarian dinner prepared by the loving hands of volunteers and Cake House Supermarket.

At the end of the programme, many guests said they enjoyed the programme and were particularly enthused by the skit and the positive message it imparted on them. (St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation)

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Captain Morgan has once again boarded the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta

SIMPSON BAY - The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta organizers are proud to announce that Captain Morgan will be part of the Serious Fun! again for this year's 35th anniversary. The Captain and his Morganettes have made a real impression in previous years and the brand has become a true icon of the event over the years.

For the fifth year in a row Captain Morgan Rum will be part of the island biggest event.  For the last five years, the popular rum has been adding fun and excitement to this great event and that's exactly the plan again this year.

"Captain Morgan is a great fit with our event" says Regatta Director Michele Korteweg. "Not only are sailors known for enjoying a good glass of dark rum after a long day on the water, the Captain Morgan brand is fun and lively, very much in tune with the Regatta's slogan of Serious Fun! After a day of intense racing everyone can use some extra spirit. The brand is very active at promotions and gets everyone into the Regatta Vibe with its pre parties.

This year The Captain is making its appearance a little earlier. Leading up to the famous first weekend in March there will be daily Captain Morgan happy hours with Captain Morgan drink specials at various popular pirate hung outs around the island. Every Fridaynight you can all "Live Like The Captain" at The Soggy Dollar Bar, where all Captain Morgan drinks are $3 all night!

Then, on February 28th, the real party week kicks off at Soggy Dollar Bar with the first annual "Morgan Fest"! This dress like a pirate party gives you a chance to really show of your Captain skills.

There are cash prizes for the best dressed male and female pirates! This year's team of "Morganettes" will be making sure all pirates have their official pirate eye patches, beads and tri corner hats.

On Sunday March 1stThe Captain goes all out as he teams up with Heineken for a pre-regatta training session (PARTY!) at Sunset Beach Bar.

If you rather party on your own ship, head over to one of the major supermarkets where you are guaranteed to find your bottle of Captain Morgan at great prices. And not only that, The Captain is offering a bounty of glasses and pirates- ware (T-shirts) with your purchase.

During the Regatta, The Captain's crew will be passing out loot, posing for pictures and be making sure everyone lives like The Captain!

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Minister Fleming-Artsen says Dutch Chairman of Kingdom Relations Committee has a Positive Outlook on Building Relations

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands - Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Josianne Fleming-Artsen met with Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament Chairman of the Kingdom Relations Committee Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Jeroen Recourt as part of her orientation visit to different government entities in The Hague since becoming minister.

The purpose of the visit was to gather information with respect to the next Kingdom Conference which has been rescheduled to be held on Curacao.

“It is important that as a representative of the Government of Sint Maarten here in the Netherlands, that you have a good relationship with the different players.

“It helps to build relations and for the other party to have a better understanding about developments within the country.  MP Recourt when he was appointed to chair the committee stated that he will contribute to the strengthening of the relations between the Netherlands and Sint Maarten, Curacao and Aruba.

“The inter-parliamentary discussions within the Kingdom provide a very good platform for the building and strengthening of relations.  MP Recourt has a positive outlook on building relations with Sint Maarten,” Minister Plenipotentiary Hon. Josianne Fleming-Artsen said.

MP Recourt is a member of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA).

 

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St. Dominic High School’s Foundation Interact Club Donates to St. Maarten Zoo

MADAME ESATE - The Board of the St. Maarten Zoological & Botanical Garden Foundation would like to extend a warm felt thank you to the St. Dominic High School’s Interact Club who raised over $1000.00 over the Christmas vacation with their gift wrapping fundraiser event.  

The St. Dominic High School Interact Club decided to choose the St. Maarten Zoo as their beneficiary organization, donating two vouchers from local hardware supply stores totalling a sum of $1000.00 to purchase the materials necessary to continue upgrading the St. Maarten Zoo in Madame Estate.  

“It has come to our attention that the St. Maarten Zoo required some sort of attention and therefore, we decided to assist them since we believe it is essential to have a healthy and functional zoo in the community,” stated President of the Interact Club of St. Dominic High, Ajay Dayalani.  

Over a period of five days members of the Interact Club wrapped potential presents at two different locations on St. Maarten in order to raise funds for a local organization in need, such as the St. Maarten Zoo Foundation.

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King Ocean Officials Meet Port Management and Recommits to Using St. Maarten Hub Function for Cargo Activities

POINT BLANCHE – In 2013, King Ocean Services, a family of companies that specializes in cargo transportation throughout the Western Hemisphere, officially launched their services in St. Maarten at a launch party held at Divi Little Bay Resort.

Last week King Ocean management officials Franco Da Costa Gomez and Charles Gittens, met with Port St. Maarten management to discuss future strategic developments in cargo movements and trade.  At the same time, the representatives from King Ocean recommitted themselves in a firm manner to increasing business ties and partnership with the port.

Port St. Maarten has seen King Ocean local imports of goods and cargo increase by 34 per cent in 2014; and their transshipment cargo has increased by a whopping 187 per cent in 2014 over 2013.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo said on Monday that the figures speak for themselves.  “Investments in the port over the years, in cargo infrastructure and operations, have resulted in positive results.  By increasing efficiency in cargo port operations, we are able to handle more vessels and keep pace with economic growth of our country and that of the surrounding islands.  The figures tell of the importance of our hub function in the north eastern Caribbean.

“The strategic location of the country allows us to service the four neighboring islands of Anguilla, St. Barths, Saba and St. Eustatius.  Our recent meetings with government officials in Saba and St. Eustatius demonstrate Port St. Maarten’s commitment to the islands. 

“King Ocean has successfully increased their local and transshipment volume immensely since joining the cargo operations section of Port St. Maarten and becoming one of the major stakeholders in the country and the neighboring islands.

“King Ocean, just like the other cargo lines that service the country and the north eastern Caribbean, recognize the strategic proximity and connectivity that our country has to offer.  King Ocean has shown true commitment in developing their market share and have successfully done so based on the investments that Port St. Maarten has made in cargo infrastructure and capabilities along with a highly trained and efficient staff,” CEO Mark Mingo pointed out on Monday.

King Ocean Services offers an array of maritime transport services between ports in Florida, U.S.A. and more than a dozen of ports throughout South, Central America and the Caribbean.

The company has more than 30-years of experience with specialty in various types of cargo containerized and general including, but not limited to raw materials, food (dry goods), refrigerated cargo, vehicles and parts, construction machinery, building materials, jewelry, and clothing accessories.

King Ocean vessels make weekly connections from the Port of Jacksonville, Miami and Port Everglades in the South of Florida, with Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire, and with the Eastern Caribbean.  Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador in Central America, Colombia and Venezuela, are all part of the companies weekly callings.

The company has a network of 20 offices that it has opened over the 30-year period in business and is a proud participant in the CTPAT program with the United States Customs and Border Protection.

King Ocean Services was founded in 1982 by the Da Costa Gomez family.

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Emilio Jorge Rodríguez receives Caribbean lifetime award in Cuba. Considered one of four experts on St. Martin literature

GREAT BAY—Emilio Jorge Rodríguez, a leading independent Cuban essayist and literary critic recently won the “Este Caribe Nuestro” Award 2014, at the University of Havana. 

The “Este Caribe Nuestro” (This is Our Caribbean), is a lifetime achievement award given annually by the Chair of Caribbean Studies at the University of Havana. Dr. Antonio Romero, president of the Chair of Caribbean Studies, presented the award to Rodríguez on January 26, 2015.

Rodríguez is a proficient trans-Caribbean literary expert. His studies and comparisons of authors and literary cultures from all of the region’s major language zones, including the Kweyol languages, are essential to our understanding of what he has called, ‘the expansion of cultures beyond national administrative boundaries’,” said HNP publisher Lasana M. Sekou.  

The “Este Caribe Nuestro” is awarded to personalities such as scholars and artists or institutions, such as cultural organizations, that have made outstanding contributions to the Caribbean region during their lifetime. Rodríguez is 67.

House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) has published three books by Rodríguez on Haitian and St. Martin literatures. He’s one of four scholars who can be called experts on the growing literature of St. Martin, said Sekou. Major publishers such as Editorial Arte y Literatura have published Rodríguez in Cuba. He is a University of Havana graduate with degrees in Spanish and Latin American Literature.

Rodríguez is not so much a literary critic as a literary historian,” wrote New York University professor Michael Dash in a critical review of Rodríguez’s Haiti and Trans-Caribbean Literary Identity / Haiti y la transcaribenidad literaria (2011). The review appeared in the New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids (2013). 

What is generally well agreed on is the essential skills of Rodríguez as a meticulous researcher. In fact, Rodríguez holds the prestigious Researcher degree from the Cuban Academy of Sciences. He has lectured at universities, research institutes, and conferences in Cuba, the USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Barbados, and Germany, said Sekou.

Rodriguez was a researcher at Casa de las Américas’ Literary Research Center and the Center of Caribbean Studies, from 1972 to 2000. He directed the Center of Caribbean Studies from 1994 to 1998, where he founded and edited the journal Anales del Caribe between 1981 and 2000.

Rodriguez, who the author Fabian Adekunle Badejo once called an “erudite scholar,” has written articles and essays that have appeared in Casa de las Américas, Bim, Caribbean Quarterly, Cuadernos Americanos, Revue Internationale de Litterature Comparé, Del Caribe, Gaceta de Cuba, Temas, and Universidad de La Habana.

Awards and honors include the “Razón de Ser” from the Centro Alejo Carpentier, a CUNY Caribbean Fellowship, a Fundación Nicolás Guillén Fellowship, and the Latin American and Caribbean Third Millennium Essay Award. He was selected for the Visiting Scholars’ Program of the Africana Studies and Research Center of Cornell University, according to his HNP profile.

Rodriguez has served as a member of the board of examiners for Scientific Degrees at the Cuban Literature and Linguistic Institute and was an awards juror for Casa de las Américas, the National Culture Award COLCULTURA, the International Orality Contest ORCALC-UNESCO, and the Grand Prix Littéraire Caribéen. He’s a member of the Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC).

His memberships to organizations extend outside of Cuba, to the editorial board of Revista Mexicana del Caribe, and the Academic Committee of the Biblioteca del Caribe Series of Puerto Rico.  

Books authored by Rodríguez include Literatura caribeña; bojeo y cuaderno de bitácora (1989); Religiones afroamericanas (coordinator, 1996); Acriollamiento y discurso escrit/oral caribeño (2001), and the anthologies of Efraín Huerta, Pedro Juan Soto, Cuentos para ahuyentar el turismo: 16 autores puertorriqueños, and the bilingual volume Pelican Heart: An Anthology of Poems by Lasana M. Sekou (2010). His El Caribe literario, Trazados de convivencia was published in Havana in 2011and Haïti et l’identité littéraire trans-caribéenne was published in St. Martin in 2013.   

Rodríguez has also contributed to the following books: Panorama histórico-literario de nuestra América (1982), América Latina: Palavra, Literatura e Cultura (1995), Diccionario Enciclopédico de las Letras de América Latina (1996), Defining New Idioms and Alternative Forms of Expression (1996), A History of Literature in the Caribbean (1997), Spain’s 1898 Crisis (2000), A Pepper-Pot of Cultures; Aspects of Creolization in the Caribbean (2003), La oralidad: ¿ciencia o sabiduría popular? (2004), and the Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature (2006).

Books authored by Emilio Jorge Rodríguez and published in St. Martin by HNP are available at Van Dorp, Arnia’s, and Jasor’s bookstores, Amazon.com, bookishplaza.com, and SPDbooks.org.

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