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SUR investigating several armed robberies. Calls on Businesses to Take Measures

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The detectives of the Special Unit Robberies (S.U.R.) have been kept busy investigating several robberies that have been reported over the past couple of weeks.

Seeing the uptick, the police of Sint Maarten find it imperative to educate the public as well as the business owners in an effort to minimize the risk of being targeted by these

criminals.

The best way to “deal with” with armed robberies is to prevent them. An appeal goes out to the owner of the small supermarkets to take precautionary measures to protect themselves by not storing large amounts cash in the establishment. Understand that robbers commit crimes because they believe that the payoff outweighs any risk.

Robberies usually take place when there’s a lack of planning for emergency situations and when poor cash handling is involved. Without the right security measures, many businesses unknowingly make criminal situations convenient for robbers. The police will continue to do our part and we will continue to ask the community to assist.

Only by working as a unit can we stop the individuals who go into the community looking for an easy payout by committing a robbery. Prevention is always better than finding a cure.

To help you do that, the Sint Maarten Force Communication department has put together some tips that can help your business from becoming a victim of robbery and also how to deal with them in the event a robbery does occur.

Armed robberies usually happen during opening and closing times, as well as lunch breaks. Why? “Opening and closing periods are particularly vulnerable times due to low staffing and large amounts of cash on hand. Lunch hours are primary times for the same reasons.”

Practice safe cash handling

Robbers are after cash, so take the necessary cash handling precautions to minimize risk and loss. Here are some of the ways to do that:

  • Avoid having unnecessary amounts of money in your register. Only keep the amount you need to conduct normal business, and either put everything else in a safe or transfer to the bank.

Improve visibility

Having a checkout area that’s highly visible can discourage robbers. That why it’s best to:

  • Avoid fixtures or signs that can obstruct views of and from the register. 
  • Cover your blind spots using mirrors or cameras. 
  • Invest in good lighting both inside and outside your stores.

 (KPSM)

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Suspect arrested for drug smuggling by the ALPHA team

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On May 11, 2022, the Alpha Team, in connection with an ongoing investigation, arrested a male with the initials C.L.B. (51) for being involved with a drug smuggling offense.

Said incident for which the suspect was arrested took place on May 09, 2022, at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise Facility. Subsequently, a search was carried out at the suspect's dwelling during which relevant items were confiscated in the interest of further investigation.

This suspect is being detained at the police station in Philipsburg in connection with the ongoing investigation

The Alpha Team is a jointly multidisciplinary Team that is comprised of the Police Department KPSM, the Customs Department, the Immigration Department, the Koninklijke Marechaussee and the Coast Guard. (KPSM)

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Minister pledges legal help for parents caught up in benefit scandal

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Parents who were caught up in the childcare benefit scandal and whose children were taken into care will get more specialist help, including a free lawyer, to try and get back their offspring, legal protection minister Franc Weerwind told MPs during a stormy debate on Thursday.

But the children will not be returned without going through the legal procedures, because that would not be a sensible decision, Weerwind said.

According to national statistics agency CBS, 555 children from parents hit by accusations of fraud are still in care, following the intervention of social workers and the courts.

Children are not removed from their home, ‘just like that’, Weerwind told MPs and parents who were in the public gallery. ‘The social workers I have spoken to have sleepless nights about it. And judges always look for other options,’ he said.

Prime minister Mark Rutte also defended social workers and judges who ‘have to take difficult decisions’. The children had not been removed from their homes because of the childcare benefit scandal per se, he said.

But the stress and the poverty generated by the allegations of fraud had increased the risk of removal, he said. The cabinet is setting up an investigation into the reasons why 1,675 children were removed from their homes and MPs have also called for an independent commission to look into the issue.

Social workers

Experts have criticized the current system which led to 37,515 children being removed from their homes in the first six months of last year.

In particular, a report by the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) said removing children rarely leads to an improvement in their individual development,Trouw reported on Monday.

‘It is a broken system,’ Professor Peer van der Helm told broadcaster NOS. ‘Youth social services are struggling with an enormous staff turnover. In recent years, about two thousand social workers have left and fewer and fewer people have to deal with increasingly complex cases.’

‘Social workers often think parents should not have contact with their children. This has not scientifically substantiated, but is presented as fact,’ he says. ‘Parents almost always lose the case because they don’t have the money to hire their own expert.’

Removals

Children can be removed from home because they are being abused or neglected or if the parents cannot care for them for ‘one reason or another’. However, the KNAW researchers say is is unclear what those ‘different reasons’ are.

In addition, in 40% of cases that come to court, social workers do not specify why alternative, less drastic measures than taking a child into care would not be an option, the KNAW report said.

Weerwind said the experts’ findings are worrying and has pledged to reform the child social work system in the short term.

(DutchNews)

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Post coronavirus bankruptcies could cost tax office €6 billion

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch government may miss out on some €6 billion in tax income in the coming years, as companies which asked for deferred payments because of coronavirus go bust.

In total, 400,000 firms asked for a delay in paying corporate taxes and while some have already repaid what they owe, nearly €21 billion is still outstanding, tax minister Marnix van Rij has told MPs.

Some 282,000 firms still have outstanding tax debts and Van Rij says he expects between 25% and 33% will not be able to pay because of their weak financial position.

‘The total includes companies which were not doing well before the coronavirus crisis,’ he said. Companies must start repayments by October and have five years to clear their debt.

However, finance ministry officials will only have a good idea how big the problem is once that deadline has been reached, Van Rij said.

Warning

The Dutch central bank said in March that while government support measures were effective in supporting hard-hit industries in the first year of the coronavirus crisis, they also reduced the incentive for businesses to adapt to change.

In addition, the bank says, there is also the possibility that the support measures have allowed many underperforming businesses to stay afloat, whereas in an economy with ‘normal’ business dynamics, they would have gone bankrupt.

The financial aid package also led the government’s macro-economic advisory unit CPB to warn last year that government support was keeping companies afloat which would have gone bust anyway.

(DutchNews)

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Government Commissioner Francis: It is time we get it right

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) – Government Commissioner Alida Francis on May 12 delivered the following address at a Healthcare Seminar.

Francis address is as follows:

Establish protocol

It was just three short weeks ago that we received the devastating news of the death of one of our bright young professionals.

Solandy Sanchez’s passing - at a still tender age - was crushing for many reasons, not least of which was the fact that her immense potential was left untapped, her dreams were left unfulfilled.

I’ll have more to say about Solandy when I pay tribute to her at the appropriate time, but her death and that of several other patients - many whom you may have known, and some of whom you might have treated - signal an alarm that all is not well with our health care system.

It’s a system that’s perfect in its ideals - that everyone, no matter their class, status or standing - receives timely, adequate, affordable care.

But there’s so much that’s lacking in its application, including the unacceptably huge backlog of medical referrals for specialist and extra specialist care that have catastrophic results.

One death because of these backlogs is one too many. We can and must do better!

The pain, the grief, the sense of loss, the anguish and the anger experienced by families and loved ones of the victims often bury our instinctive sense of gratitude for the work you as health care professionals do.

Every one of you is drawn to this profession because of your strong desire to care, to serve, to help, to heal. Yours is a daunting task, and often a turbulent one. You sometimes work in less-than-ideal conditions that drain your energy and challenge your inner strength, but never dent your will, or your commitment, or your spirit.

How many of us have the strength of character and the internal constitution to witness the things you experience daily and not be severely impacted mentally, or emotionally?

Sick and dying patients seeking solace, families praying for miracles that do not happen, vulnerable humans deteriorating before your very eyes.

These are some of the scenes that you as health care professionals encounter daily. And yet you continue - caring, nurturing, consoling, and healing where possible.

Few could do what you do and not be traumatized. In fact, please allow me to paraphrase Rawsi Williams, the American registered nurse and professional speaker at health care conferences, by stating emphatically that you do what no one else will do, in a way that nobody else can, despite everything you go through.

And for this, we thank you. Sincerely.

Nowhere have your strength, courage and dedication been more apparent that during the last two-plus years when the worst enemy we’ve encountered in a lifetime unleashed its deadly wrath upon us.

We shall long remember the extraordinary sacrifices that you made during COVID-19- even at the risk of your own lives and the lives of your families and loved ones - to keep us safe.

We shall not soon forget the long days and even longer nights you put in, leaving your children and spouses at home, so you could care for those who needed it

We will never forget how much you gave of yourself so you can make the pain bearable for patients and families alike.

However, to ensure that your sacrifices are not in vain, your efforts are not wasted, or your legacy does not perish in a raging ocean of despair, we must tackle the issues facing our health care system that hang over us like the modern-day sword of Damocles.

Like the ebullience of hope to which Dr. Martin Luther King referred in his April 1967 speech at Stanford University in the United States, our health insurance coverage is among the best in the region.

But Dr. King also warned of this ebullience of hope becoming fatigue of despair. This is what we risk with the health care system if we do not ensure that the people it is designed to benefit have easy and timely access to it.

Now is the time to conduct a thorough examination of ourselves to discover the inner barriers to progress in this regard.

Now is the time to ask, how long must we allow our people to suffer, and, sadly, to die, before we recognize that it’s only if we work as one team - doctors and nurses, hospitals and hospital administrators, policymakers and patients, health care providers and health insurance suppliers - only then will we find workable solutions to the dangerous and deadly log jams.

Now is the time to ask ourselves, how long must we keep pointing fingers at each other instead of sitting together in search of one goal, one destiny?

Let us hope that we all conclude, as Dr. King said in his March 1965 speech in Selma, Alabama, not long. Not long because we cannot maintain this division, the finger pointing, the lack of coordination forever.

Not long, because we will reap what we sow - and what we must aim to reap is a better life and accessible health care for every resident of Statia, Saba and Bonaire.

Not long, because for the sake of those for whom we care, those we help, and those we heal, we must trust each other and collaborate with each other.

As you deliberate during this seminar, it is important that you emerge with a clear, practical plan that will instill confidence in our communities that we are willing, prepared and committed to coordinate our efforts better so patients can feel safe and cared for.

This is as good a time as any to examine the most vexing concerns:

Are General Practitioners listening to their patients?

Are the patients providing their GPs with the right and complete information?

How are we managing complaints? And do we dismiss complaints from patients based on who they are?

These are all critical questions that require urgent and honest responses if we are to instill confidence in the people whom we serve - confidence that we know what we are doing and that we care.

It has been 12 years since the introduction of this general health insurance system. It is time we get it right!

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The Global Women’s Sailing Festival

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - After last year’s success, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club (SMYC) is participating again in the Steering the Course - to promote Woman’s Sailing - organized by World Sailing.

This year the SMYC will organize the Woman's Sailing Festival 'She Sails' on May 26 (Ascension Day) at the Yacht Club Dock.

The organization is teaming up with different partners to make this a great active afternoon. 

Nicky from Joga will organize Paddle Board Pilates, the sailing instructors will take you out for a sail in the lagoon and there will be activities, food and drinks at the dock. 

Feel free to hang around on the dock the full afternoon, even if you don't want to participate in any of the activities. 

All activities are free of charge. 

From 12.30 PM till 4 PM

Location; Sint Maarten Yacht Club

The Global Womens Sailing festival is part of 'World Sailing'; 

Supported by the IOC Development Fund, Steering the Course aims to introduce women and girls across the globe to the sport of sailing, as well as encourage alternative pathways for those already within the sport, such as coaching or officiating.

Held over a 10-day period across two separate events - one in the Northern and the other in the Southern Hemisphere - the festival will bring together sailing communities from all backgrounds, with events taking place in multiple countries at the same time.

From dinghies to keelboats and windsurfing to kiteboarding, all disciplines are welcome to be part of the festival.

The SMYC is proud to be a part of this event! 

smyc boaters thurs1205

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Tourism Sector Celebrates 2022 VISIT Hotel Magazine

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - During a special event at Emilio's Restaurant this Wednesday, tourism representatives celebrated the successful campaign of the 2022 VISIT St. Maarten / St. Martin Magazine. VISIT St. Maarten / St. Martin has been the St Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) in-room Hotel Magazine since 2014, produced by North South Net (NSN), a publishing house specialized in the Caribbean region.

The celebratory event marked the end of the spring campaign of the new 5th edition of VISIT and its takeout magazines VISIT Maps, VISIT Shopping and VISIT Dining & Activities. Whereas the official hotel magazine can be found in St. Maarten and St. Martin Hotel rooms, take outs are available at many SHTA member locations and public spaces. In addition to the magazine, its accompanying VISIT app and website VISITstmaarten.com have been restyled for this fifth edition.

VISIT 2022 highlights amongst others new boutique hotel Pasture Piece, voluntourism, active holidays on St Maarten and novelties in the restaurant sector. The magazine traditionally works with local writers, influencers and photographers to capture their love for the island they call home and the latest tips for tourists. VISIT St. Maarten / St. Martin 2022 is the first magazine on island to be printed on anti-microbial paper to prevent spread of viruses.

The 2022 edition keeps the VISIT tradition of informing St Maarten hotel guests about things to see and do, while presenting a fresh take on the best experiences found throughout the island of St. Maarten / St. Martin. The richly illustrated book highlights personalities and captures the beauty of the island with captivating photography, engaging stories and valuable information about shopping, dining, activities, attractions and much more. As of its 2019 edition, VISIT St. Maarten / St. Martin contains a foldable edition SHTA's well known annual Event Calendar, featuring cultural icon Roland Richardson on its 2022 cover.

Traditionally, the celebration also marks the start of the new VISIT year. Whereas the current magazine stock will be dispersed throughout 2022 and the first weeks of the new year, SHTA and NSN call on companies interested to reach tourists in 2023 to take up contact via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Seven arrested for stealing lawnmowers and sprinkler systems

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police have arrested seven people from Limburg and Oost-Brabant suspected of carrying out a spate of garden tool thefts across the country over the past two years.

The seven, who range in age from 27 to 58, are said to have focused on stealing expensive lawn mowers, tools and sprinkler installations. ‘At first they would ring the doorbell of a house,’ police said in a statement.

‘If there was someone at home, they would ask a question or if the occupants had any old iron. If there was no-one in, they would steal expensive equipment from sheds and garages.’

The gang cleaned the equipment, put new stickers on it and sold it on, recouping thousands of euros, police said. During a string of raids earlier in the week as part of the investigation, police seized tens of thousands of euros as well as a stolen caravan, which has now been returned to its owner.

(DutchNews)

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Eleven men jailed for preparing to torture gang rivals in a sea container

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Eleven men have been jailed for between one and nine years for their role in the Dutch torture chamber case, which made headlines round the world when the gang was rounded up in 2020.

The case centred on seven sound-proofed containers in a warehouse in Brabant which had been kitted out as cells and, in one case, as a torture chamber, complete with dentist’s chair and restraining straps.

Police discovered the containers in Wouwse Plantage after intercepting encrypted messages between gang members. They also seized a chest, freezer, garden clippers and gas burners which could have been used to torture the victims.

Ringleader Roger P, nicknamed Piet Costa, was jailed for 33 months, which comes on top of the 15-year sentence he was given last month for smuggling cocaine on a massive scale.

Judges at the high security court in Amsterdam said the gang was guilty of a variety of crimes, including preparing to kidnap and torture rival gang members and their families.

The sea containers plus chat messages provided sufficient evidence to convict the gang, the court said. One message read out in court said: ‘we must have enough belts and tie wraps to tie them up’.

Another said: ‘we need pliers for fingers and toes’. P’s right-hand man was jailed for eight years. He was found guilty of collecting information about the potential victims, among other charges.

Police said the planned abductions had been prepared with great care, with ‘an observation team and a large number of guns, police uniforms, minibuses, stop signs and bullet-proof vests’.

The gang had argued that the containers had been kitted out to scare victims or to use for growing marijuana.

(DutchNews)

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MP Romou Congratulates Keacy Carty on His Latest Sports Achievements

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) Angelique Romou is extremely proud of athlete Keacy Carty for being the first St. Maartener to be picked for the West Indies Cricket Team.

Keacy Carty has been playing cricket since a very young age and has been making strides for his Country St. Maarten ever since. “It is no secret that our Country is home to talented youth that have the potential to make it far internationally.

“We look around us every day and see skilled athletes, deejays, rappers, singers, poets etc. It is important for us to continue to recognize and motivate them to push their talents to its full potential. Besides that, it is essential that we facilitate them with the tools that they need to excel on the highest scale possible”, said MP Romou.

In February 2021, MP Romou had the honor of presenting Keacy Carty with an Award of Excellence, the very first award of the monthly artist and athlete recognition program done in collaboration with the St. Martin Promoting Young Ambassadors Foundation.

An initiative that has since recognized dozens of talented youngsters since its inception in February 2021. The MP stated that she is elated to see that Keacy is living up to that title and hopes that he serves as an inspiration to the upcoming generation.

“Keacy the people of St. Maarten are extremely proud to call you one of our own. Continue to strive for excellence while living your dream. Congratulations!”, MP Romou concluded.

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