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Second-named short-lived storm Bertha forms before start of hurricane season

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – The second-named storm of the season Bertha formed off the U.S. east coast near the Carolinas but fizzled out on Wednesday and was downgraded to a tropical depression.

The key weather messages during Bertha was that it may produce life-threatening flash flooding across portions of eastern to central South Carolina into west central to far southeast North Carolina and Southwest Virginia. Ongoing river flooding will be aggravated, and recessions prolonged in the region.

The second key message was: Bertha is expected to continue to bring tropical storm winds to portions of the South Carolina coast within the warning area over next few hours.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY WEATHER WATCH

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U.S. Consulate General Partners with Fundashon Venex in Food Support Project

CURACAO (WILLEMSTAD) - Non-Profit Foundation Venex received a US $12,000 grant from Spirit of America, with support of the U.S. Consulate General Curacao, to purchase food packages for vulnerable populations on Curacao, including Venezuelans displaced by the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

On May 26 and 27, staff of the U.S. Consulate General, members of the U.S. Air Force Forward Operating Location, and volunteers of Venex delivered food packages throughout the island. In total 200 food packages are being delivered, which are expected to feed up to 500 people for the next few weeks.

“It’s our duty to support the most vulnerable in the community and an honor to have participated in the donation of food to about 200 families of the Venezuelan community and others on Curacao. Our special thanks go out to Fundashon Venex and Spirit of America that helped organize this project and a shout out to Esperamos supermarket for bagging the food,” Consul General Allen Greenberg said.

Following the attacks of 9/11 in the United States, Spirit of America’s founder was inspired by a simple idea: private citizens can support the missions of diplomats and armed forces by doing the things government cannot.

Since then, Spirit of America has provided resources to address local needs in more than 70 countries. In 2018, Spirit of America was recognized by the U.S. Congress for “supporting the missions of deployed United States personnel around the world.” No one else has achieved this distinction.

CG Loading Food at Esperamos

CG jeep full

 

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Temporary subsidy scheme to reduce childcare costs for parents introduced as of July 1st

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - As of July 1st, 2020 childcare and out-of-school care organizations in Bonaire and St. Eustatius can qualify for a cost-price reducing subsidy. This subsidy is a next step in the BES(t) 4 kids’ program to make childcare more accessible to parents.

With the subsidy, a childcare organization can reduce the parental contribution and take measures to improve the quality of childcare. The intention is to implement a structural financing scheme for childcare in 2022.

The BES(t) 4 kids’ program is aimed at improving the quality of childcare and out-of-school care, and making the care (financially) accessible to all children in the Caribbean Netherlands. Approximately 10 million euros will be made available for this purpose, on an annual basis. The intention is to make childcare and out-of-school care in the Caribbean Netherlands financially accessible to all children up to approximately 12 years in 2022.

Temporary subsidy scheme

Childcare organizations in Bonaire and St. Eustatius holding an operating license under the Childcare Island Ordinance can qualify for the cost-price reducing subsidy as of July 1st, 2020. For childcare organizations that have already taken care of children in 2019, it is sufficient that they have submitted an application for an operating license to the public entity.

The temporary subsidy scheme will be implemented under the responsibility of the Central Government in close collaboration with the public entities. Childcare organizations can submit a subsidy application to Implementation and Policy (in Dutch: Uitvoering van Beleid, UVB) and will be supported in this process by the front office which has been established at the public entity for this purpose.

St. Eustatius

Childcare organizations in St. Eustatius that have already submitted an application for an operating license to the Public Entity, can submit a subsidy application as of today in consultation with the front office. The subsidy amounts in St. Eustatius vary from 80 dollars per child per month for day care to 200 dollars per child per month for out-of-school care. Parents who cannot afford the parental contribution, can apply for a supplementary childcare subsidy at the Public Entity.

Saba

For the year 2020, the cost-price reducing subsidy does not apply to childcare organizations established in Saba. The childcare costs for parents in Saba are already lower than the minimum parental contribution in the subsidy scheme. With the financing from BES(t) 4 kids, the Public Entity Saba this year is investing in improving the quality and safety of childcare facilities. In addition, the Public Entity supports parents with a low income. Parents who cannot afford the parental contribution, can apply for a supplementary childcare subsidy at the Public Entity Saba. 

Bonaire

Childcare organizations in Bonaire can submit a subsidy application from the moment that the Childcare Island Ordinance has been approved by the Island Council. If this happens before July 1st, 2020, childcare organizations can apply for subsidy for the third quarter of 2020 before August 1st, 2020.

In Bonaire the cost-reducing subsidy is 200 dollars per child per month for day care and 150 dollars per child per month for out-of-school care. Childcare organizations in Bonaire that receive the subsidy, may request a parental contribution of up to 200 dollars per month for day care and out-of-school care.

These childcare organizations must then request a minimum parental contribution of 150 dollars per month for day care and of 100 dollars per month for out-of-school care. This is to ensure that the childcare organizations will actually use the subsidy to improve the quality of childcare. The condition of the minimum parental contribution does not apply to organizations that already receive another subsidy from the Public Entity. Parents who cannot afford the minimum parental contribution, can apply for a supplementary childcare subsidy at the Public Entity.

More information is available on www.best4kids.nu and www.uitvoeringvanbeleidszw.nl/subsidies-en-regelingen/best4kids

(RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Caribbean Airlines Cargo Transports 159 Dairy Cows from Miami to Barbados

SINT MAARTEN/TRINIDAD - Caribbean Airlines Cargo recently shipped 159 dairy cows to Barbados, on two consecutive charter flights out of Miami, on its dedicated B-767-300 all-cargo freighter.

The airline worked closely with veterinary offices and other stakeholders, to ensure compliance and the safe passage of the animals. It also ensured the comfort of the cattle, by housing them in its world class stalls during the flight.

Caribbean Airlines Cargo is a member of IPATA (The International Pet and Animal Association) and is experienced in offering specialized air transportation that minimizes stress and allows safe, humane and efficient movement of live animals.

Over the past 13 years, the airline has shipped a range of live animals including horses, dogs, chicks and tropical fish to name a few. These charter flights come after the airline had its historic cargo-only charter utilizing its 737-passenger aircraft earlier this month to transport humanitarian supplies from Guyana to Cuba.

In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Caribbean Airlines is offering cargo charter services to and from destinations in the Caribbean including but not limited to Guyana, St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Vincent Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Suriname.

The airline continues to offer cargo services through its scheduled freighter flights operating out of Miami to the Caribbean and daily flights between Trinidad and Tobago.

Caribbean Airlines Cargo also offers worldwide shipping through interline arrangements.

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Pedagogic juvenile justice for the Caribbean Netherlands in the pipeline

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - The most frequently occurring criminal behaviour among young people in the Caribbean Netherlands is theft and driving without a driving license.

This has emerged from research conducted by the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC). Organizations in the criminal justice chain are positive about the implementation of juvenile criminal law in the Caribbean Netherlands. In this respect a pedagogic approach is chosen for juveniles who commit criminal offenses.

In preparation for the implementation of juvenile criminal law in the Caribbean Netherlands, the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) conducted research on the nature and scope of crimes committed by minors and adolescents in 2018.

In total it regarded 105 juveniles in the age groups of 12-18 and 18-21 years who had dealings with the criminal justice system. The most frequently occurring criminal offenses are theft and driving without a driving license. For more than half of the juveniles it was the first time that they had dealings with the criminal justice system.

The WODC research also shows that organizations in the criminal justice chain are positive about the implementation of juvenile justice on the BES Islands. Juvenile criminal law offers more options to provide young people good assistance and counselling. Chain partners have already initiated preparations for the implementation of juvenile criminal law, for instance by following courses and training.

Juvenile justice: encouraging young people to adopt positive behavioural change

Although the current criminal law in the Caribbean Netherlands has special provisions for young people up to the age of eighteen, there is no separate juvenile criminal law yet.

This regularly leads that young people are being punished in the same manner as adults or that juvenile cases are not handled further. As a result, young people do not receive proper guidance to prevent recidivism.

With the introduction of juvenile criminal law, there will be more options to handle criminal behaviour in a manner that is more in line with young people. The preparations for this are in full swing. It is expected that juvenile criminal law will be implemented in the Caribbean Netherlands this year. This is in line with the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Characteristic of juvenile criminal law is the pedagogic approach and the ‘out-of-court settlement’ for minor crimes, comparable to the Halt sentence in the European Netherlands. This means that a sentence for a minor criminal offense such as vandalism, school absenteeism or driving without a driving license, is of a pedagogic nature. This sentence is handled outside the courtroom of court so that a young person does not immediately have a criminal record. Such a punitive measure does, however, have the aim of positively influencing the behaviour, improving the environment of the juvenile and preventing repetition of criminal behaviour.

Juvenile detention can be imposed for serious criminal offenses. This is a prison sentence for young people and will only occur as a last resort, when there are no other options. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Planned start Saba Island Secretary in Bonaire canceled

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Tim Muller, Island Secretary of Saba, was to start as Island Secretary of Bonaire in May 2020. This transfer will no longer take place. The reason for this decision is a combination of the coronavirus crisis situation, Saba’s vulnerability and personal considerations.

The decision was taken in close consultation with representatives of the Executive Council of both Saba and Bonaire. In the past months, Muller has worked on various comprehensive files for the Caribbean Netherlands which are also of importance for Bonaire. That cooperation will be fortified in the coming period, as well as with the ministries in The Hague.

Bonaire will shortly start the recruitment process for a new Island Secretary. Bonaire’s Executive Council said it had been looking forward to Muller’s start as the new Island Secretary, but understands his decision given the exceptional circumstances.    

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SXM Citizen United says still no response about Utility Bill Petition

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - SXM Citizen United represented by Raphael Dorra, in a statement on Saturday said that he has on multiple occasions attempted to reach members of the Government but was unable to learn anything further about relief on utility bills that was submitted on Tuesday, April 21 to the Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion with 3280 signatures of citizens calling for NV GEBE to cancel utility bills during the lockdown.  

In his statement he said, “The price of petrol has reached its lowest price point ever and NV GEBE is set to bring it high revenue this year. This is one of the wealthiest business of the island. While so many of us couldn't work by government's order, why was GEBE allowed to open doors and to receive public during lockdown? I still hope to push the petition for all of us to get help. We will have to bring the island towards a more sustainable place where we use the natural resources available locally,” Dorra’s statement concludes.

Back in early May the number of petition signees grew to 3600.

ARCHIVE APRIL 17 - SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - SXM Citizen United, has started a petition calling on the Government of Sint Maarten, the Prime Minister and NV GEBE’s Supervisory Board of Directors to cancel utility bills during the lock down.

The introduction of the petition says, “On Sunday April 5th, to be able to fight the spread of Covid-19, the government decided to put Sint Maarten in total lockdown. All citizens have to stay at home, without the possibility to work.

“Meanwhile GEBE NV, the public service provider, still plans to bill electricity and water consumption.

“We will be asked to pay bills to a public company while in the meantime the government is giving us the strict order to stay home.

“We ask the government / GEBE to cancel the bill consumption of all customers during the period of mandatory lockdown.”

The petitioners are looking at collecting 5000 online signatures. Up to Thursday evening just before midnight, the petition has 2635 signatures, more than half to the goal of SXM Citizen United.

The link to the online petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/CancelGebeBills

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WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, RIGHT?

SINT MAARTEN (COMMENTARY – By Michael Ferrier) - The spirit of compromise seems to be in short supply these days. A pity really and also a bit baffling. The Coronavirus does not discriminate. With few exceptions, every country, creed or color, must accept that they/we are not safe from the virus.

The only action that is safe requires us to stay apart; the so-called social distancing. At first, we had to “stay apart, together” to survive. This solidarity, at least from a health perspective was automatic. Economically, the situation is quite different.

‘Lockdown’ has caused financial ‘knockdown’ for most in the Private Sector. While the COVID-19 might not discriminate, the same cannot be said for the consequences of fighting it. Some people who can’t work because of the lockdown, are feeling the pinch of no, or less money coming in.

The ones without income must have a hard time understanding why their experience of “we in this together” is different than that of, for example government workers (Civil Servants), whose financial survival is the direct responsibility of the Government.

Our Civil Servants have yet to fear what most of us in the Private Sector are experiencing: “HOW WILL MY BOSS BE ABLE TO AFFORD MY NEXT PAYCHECK IF THERE IS HARDLY ANY MONEY COMING IN DUE TO THE LOCK-DOWN?”. There is a need for over US$ 200 Million to artificially keep the economy of our ‘half of the island’ on life support for the next 6 months awaiting either an effective medication and/or vaccination for us to go on with life living with COVID-19.

For some, or all of this huge amount of money (and more if 6 months are not enough to invent medication to fight the virus), we turned to the only (reluctant) provider of financial support (fair or not): The Kingdom Government (read: Holland). They have made it known that, once more (like it or not), their financial support comes with conditions.

At this point, I invite everyone to read the Opinion of one Mr. Armand Hessels on page 10 of the ANTILIAANS DAGBLAD of Saturday, May 23, 2020. Those that do not read Dutch, will need Mr. Google to translate and replace “St. Maarten” where he refers to “Aruba”.

But back to Holland’s financial support: In the opinion of “Political The Hague”, everybody must give up something. For the politicians, it is 25% of their compensation package (salaries and fringe benefits).

The government owned companies and subsidized entities must also cap their salaries and fringe benefit packages. It really should not have taken the Dutch government to demand this. Like other Caribbean countries, our local politicians should have taken the initiative.

But, they did not, and now we are here dealing with the most contentious part of this imposed solidarity: the demand for a 12.5% across the board cut on civil servant salaries. Unions do not want to hear it, civil servants are upset, and future liquidity support for government (to amongst others, PAY THOSE SAME CIVIL SERVANTS) depends on it!

We can argue all we want, but the clock is ticking, government agreed to the Dutch government’s terms and it is time to be practical and compromise. Solidarity means that we recognize the common interest. At this time, whether we like it or not, St. Maarten needs liquidity support. That support comes at a price. There is no PLAN B. As it stands, solidarity requires that those who can bear it the most, give up some salary for those who cannot.

In the Private Sector (PS) where the applicable labor laws have made all the PS employees the responsibility of the businesses they work for, the employees are nervously awaiting when they can go back to work and whether or not the business where they work will be able to get SSRP support, should business ‘suck’.

And let us not forget the multitude of self-employed businesspersons like our Taxi Drivers and Bus operators, totally dependent on movement of people and the influx of tourists. Unlike the Civil Servants, they are not thinking about Vacation Pay, Bonus, or legally set pay-scale increases. THEY JUST WANT SOME MONEY, SO THEY CAN PUT BREAD ON THEIR TABLES.

From personal experience I know that many Civil Servants are of goodwill and doing their jobs when and how they are supposed to. But this is NOT the time to be mad at Holland. Not now. Those of you, especially in the middle and higher scales, who are not part of the ESSENTIAL group, should consider giving up that 12.5%, in order to get paid at all and to allow the Cleaner and other lower scale Government workers to keep getting the little they get.

And how about this: Instead of singing, shouting out on radio programs, clapping and honking horns to show our gratitude for THOSE Civil Servants WHO FACE RISKS AND DANGERS OF COVID-19 ON A DAILY BASIS, like OUR POLICE FORCE, VKS, EMS and OTHER FRONT LINE HEALTH DEPARTMENT WORKERS (the ones that truly are out in the field risking their lives for all of us), why don’t we ask our Council of Ministers to identify these Civil Servants and on short notice, propose to the Dutch providers of financial support that these civil servants should be EXCLUDED from the mandatory 12.5% cut on salaries & benefits. That should be OUR collective THANK YOU to the Civil Service Frontline workers and our way of showing THEM some solidarity.

We are all in this together, RIGHT?

Michael J. Ferrier

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Recently returned resident is new COVID-19 positive case

CURACAO (WILLEMSTAD) – Epidemiologist Izzy Gerstenbluth, on Saturday disclosed that Curacao has another confirmed case of COVID-19 bringing its positive total to 17 cases. 

The person is a resident who returned to the island recently and was in mandatory quarantine.  Once symptoms developed, the person was tested with the result coming back positive.  The public health authority of Curacao is now carrying out contact tracing.

Curacao’s curfew is from midnight until 6.00AM. Those who like to exercise outdoors, they can do so from 6.00AM to midday.

Restaurants and catering establishments have to close by 10.00PM and Casino’s are allowed to open their doors again.  

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U.S. Consulate General Announces Arrival of U.S. Forward Operating Location Rotation

CURACAO - The U.S. Air Force Forward Operating Location (USFOL) will be rotating its regular staff. This will be the 40th regular rotation of staff since the USFOL’s inception.

The U.S. Consulate General and the USFOL are working with the Government of Curaçao to make sure all incoming staff uphold the highest standards of preventative health practices and abide by local health regulations.

Since 2000, the USFOL has built strong partnerships on Curaçao and they continue to express their appreciation for the hospitality they have received from the citizens of Curaçao.

Curacao/Aruba Forward Operating Locations (FOLs)

Mission:

  • Aerial detection and monitoring of suspected air and maritime drug trafficking activities;
  • Reporting of illicit trafficking activities to U.S. and international law enforcement authorities for interdiction, apprehension of illicit traffickers and seizure of illicit cargo;
  • Part of a larger multinational counterdrug cooperation effort with other countries in the region committed to disrupting these transnational criminal activities in our hemisphere.

Bilateral agreement governing FOL operations:

  • The mission of the Forward Operating Locations in Curacao and Aruba is defined in a bilateral agreement between the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Aruba and the United States. In compliance with this agreement, operations carried out at the FOLs are limited to activities that detect and monitor illicit trafficking.

U.S., international personnel support to the FOLs

  • Eleven U.S. military personnel are permanently assigned for periods up to one year. These are personnel who fulfill key roles within the FOLs, for example, the Commander of the FOLs.
  • Approximately 100 U.S. military personnel are temporarily assigned for periods from about two weeks to six months. Their roles range from aircrew who conduct aerial-counter-illicit-trafficking missions to logistics and maintenance personnel who support the FOL missions on the ground.
  • Approximately 61 U.S. citizens and 52 Dutch and Curacao citizens also provide contracted support to the FOLs.

U.S., international aircraft support to the FOLs

  • Each FOL can host up to eight aircraft, depending on aircraft or airframe.
  • U.S. Aircraft that can support counter-illicit-trafficking missions from the FOLs include the E-3 Sentry (AWACS), P-3C Orion, E-2 Hawkeye and the C-130 Hercules.
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