Message to the Dutch First Chamber as compiled by members of the Statian community
January 2013 (published on the website of OCAN)
written by Jacintha Brice.
Actress Julia Roberts acted as the wicked spoiled queen who lived her life large.
The beautiful parties, a wonderful palace and all the luxeries one could afford. However she could not afford it. She taxed her poor and needy villagers to death, and when there was nothing left she taxed them for nothing aswell.The village that was once bright with song, dance and laughter turned dismal and dreary and all song and dance ceased. As her people cried out for help she laughed and sneered. She was the queen they had to obey!
(The recent version of Snowwhite “Mirror, mirror” with main actressJulia Roberts)
Statia is is at the moment suffering the same fate as this above described village. We are scared, angry and being pushed to the place of desperation. Someone needs to hear us and act soon, as we have all seen in recent times how far desperate people can go. Please listen to our plea before it is too late.
The following complaints are written under the the five basic human needs format according to Dr. Glasser:
– This need is a physiological need, which includes the need for food, shelter, and safety. Because we have genetic instructions to survive, not only as individuals but as a species, this includes the need to reproduce.(source internet)
Water: We do not have water. There are no rivers and streams on our little island and although we are surrounded by lots of it we do not have enough to survive. We rely solely on the rain, if there is no rain, we have no water. At my home we recently spent $163.22 (124.43euro) for 14.6 M3 of water. But before it could be delivered we waited one week! We showered at friends, bought bottled water 3 liters $3.25. And that is how we survived. If you do not have the money and many don’t, no shower, no clean clothes, no cooking or cleaning, this is a reality on Statia.
Food: Our meals never came cheaply. Long ago People planted and there was enough for everybody. As the population grew and land and water became scarce, storms destoyed our vegatation, demands changed, local farmers could not consistently meet the demands, and folks we forced to purchase their food at the local supermarkets.
Our local supermarket buy their stuff from America or The Netherlands via St. Maarten. Cargo makes one or two stops before it reaches us and no middle man works for free. St. Maarten has its own taxes which are also added and there you go:
Food prices from the American market + freight to St. Maarten= St. Maarten’s price + profit, freight and tax + Freight from St. Maarten to Statia + 6% total of the goods+ 6% frieight, (if it is directly from Holland or anyother international port, they charge 6% on the freight from the country of origin) + harbor fees + supermarket’s daily expenses +profit=consumer price!
That is hoping the consumers can afford it. They often can’t!
They charge taxes before you have the chance to verify if the cargo arrived so often you pay for something that is not even there, with no apologies it is a done deal! A basic need like food is not so basic. On average with a family of 4 to eat the basics, one would spend about $500-$1200 monthly!
Shelter: The Dutch arrived looked around at our large homes and thought”these people must have money their homes are large”.
Yes, some of them are, but they were not built with money but with love!
Example: One neighbor calls to the other “next week I’m pouring” and all hands joined in. We have a local collection “system” (Padna Han) that carried over from slavery where we would save each other cash as we added our own share. And we would agree to the amount, when and whom wanted their cash.
As one would get ready to complete the first fase of their home, the foundation, they would request their “padna han” and buy the cement.
We would dig for our own sand with our own hands, transport it with a friends truck, together we would mix the mortar to build and make the blocks for the next fase ect. That is how it was done! Not with any help from government but by friends and neighbors sometimes until way after sundown with torch lights, get enough sleep to be ready for the next day’s day job.There are no general housing commitees on Statia, no building or rent subsidees, we need shelter and we have to build it ourselves, no choice!
Safety: We once felt safe and confident however we are very concerned that crime which has already increased will escalate. Our leaders have disapointed us and sold our souls how can one feel safe under these conditions.
2. Love & Belonging
– This need and the following three needs are psychological needs. The need to love and belong includes the need for relationships, social connections, to give and receive affection and to feel part of a group (source internet)
Since 10-10-10 we are seeing an increase divisions. We once coexisted with foreigners without making anything an issue there was no need, now there is a distrust of everything that is Dutch, people feel a need to be defensive,and segregation is developing simply because there is a lack of equality in terms of communication and decision making. Locals are angry and frustrated and are placing the blame on the innocent who has nothing to do with the power game, and only want to help.
-To be powerful is to achieve, to be competent, to be skilled, to be recognized for our achievements and skill, to be listened to and have a sense of self worth. (source internet)
We have lost our power as a people to achieve, as with the above mentioned house. We had something no one could take away from us: the feeling that if we had a dream, worked hard enough to achieve, it would be done, and the results would stand, literally. Building a home on Statia is not about economic status, building a home on Statia is about, the pride of perseverance, personal creativity (we would design them ourselves) willpower, and the pride and strength of managing enough funds to complete it. Completing a home here is directly tied with who you are and your personal power.
To tax our homes and threaten to take them away, you are removing deep emotional bonds, traditions of togetherness, memories of the pain of the many setbacks, Year and years of toil, hope and despair, removed by a power who simply does not understand. Leave our homes and businesses alone look around many are still being built! Because here it takes us decades per home! Our homes are our symbol of power and strength if you touch them you touch the very core of who we are striving to be, our sense of self-worth.
– The need to be free is the need for independence, autonomy, to have choices and to be able to take control of the direction of one’s life (source internet)
We are no longer free! We do not feel free. A lady told the story last evening at a meeting where her bank accounts were seized, she could not use her credit card, or her ATM cards as the tax had demanded the bank to seize it all. Because according to them she owed them. Minimum wage on Statia is under five dollars an hour. The average none professional employee earns this amount and this is the largest group in our population. Imagine having rent of 400,- to 600,- dollars. Which leaves you with 400,- to spend on groceries and utilities monthly. After which all is spent!
Was there any research done concerning the spending power of the average Statian before 10-10-10 ?
Yes there is a Poverty report (Mei 2012 Armoede in Caribisch Nederland) why even with this information you do nothing? Worse you add to the cost.
Quick look at the average monthly salary& expenses for a Statian:
· Salary $900,-
· Food $500,-
· Shelter $400,-
· Transportation $ 200,-
· Cooking gas 120,- (100 pound bottle)
· Cable $55
· Internet $ 139,- (very poor, very slow)
· Clothing $80
· Telephone $100
Which leave us with a personal deficit of 594,- monthly and this the reality! And the same fate befalls small business owners who cannot afford to pay himself a salary after all expenses have been paid.
You see our beautiful vehicles, but are you aware that we have no form of public transportation save for the school children?
Are you aware that we need to purchase our vehicles overseas as we do not have car dealers on the island? You profit from the inevitable fact by charging 25% for us to bring the much needed vehicles in.
Do you realise with our horrendous roads and harsh climates that we need (not want) these vehicles to move around.
Do you realise that those beautiful vehicles are owned by the banks, offered by banks at high-end car shows.
First chamber members how can our people be free when:
· We have no safe running city water?
· We have no proper roads?
· We cannot afford groceries and are constantly getting sick because of malnutrition?
· Our expensive electricity fails on an average of twice weekly or appliances destroyed, if we are late to pay the bills we are disconnected without warning! and no one to complain to?
· You have tested and proven that our educational system is way below average level and we are losing our brightest minds
· No proper healthcare for our people we are losing the best literally to death because of lack in proper care. Often after two or three improper diagnosis they are sent overseas and hopefully they are not too late. Too late have been the fate of many!
· Hygiene facilities not up to par. Flies and mosquitoes are overwhelming and dangerous, dengue a disease for years unheard of is back in full force
· Dumping facilities not organized, garbage strewn all over our roads and animals ravage the remains, leaving a disgusting sight and smell for all. No recycling possibilities
· No structured and consistent afterschool programs for our youth
· Debris from our dump enters our seas and destroys marine life.
· The resilient and consistent roaming of farm animals, destroy the little that we dare call an infrastructure.
· To travel off island (mostly because of a need not a want) one can only travel by Winair (local and European owned), tickets cost us per person 202,- dollars plus $15,- for exit tax. Imagine travelling with a family of 5!
· Where in Holland do you pay 155 euro to visit your relative who resides in another town or village? This is our reality!
· When you cannot find workers in The Netherlands you open doors for foreigners to come in and help. Since 10-10-10 you have made it next impossible to bring labourers from neighbouring St. Maarten. Before this date if we needed someone we placed an ad and workers with Antilleans rights of residency could come and work here, now that is blocked and we are in dreadful need of help and you are not forthcoming.
· Where in Holland do you send a gift to a relative in the next province and you are heavily taxed for that gift?
· We no longer have a full functioning postal service did you know?
· Our harbour facilities are a mess, boat arrives with perishable goods, harbour truck is broken down our stuff stays there and spoil if a local will not cease his own work and use his truck to transport the containers. Cargo Boat come in late no lights at the warehouse . They close whenever they please ignoring their own hours of business signs, and we just have to wait for our expensive goods hoping that they are not spoiled until the warehouse can again open.
· We often do not have petrol to keep our cars going, no public transportation exists so what do you do?
· Our roads are no longer properly lit, and I know of a case where a lady twisted her ankle because she did not see the pothole in the dark.
· Our police force is crying out for help they do not have enough officers and/or facilities to support the growing crime on our island
· Internet is very poor and expensive, (see above) telephone cost is out of control.
· Government Service is nonexistent they do not even bother to answer a letter and sometimes the telephone. Many project proposals by locals are left in files never to resurface.
· Before 10-10-10 Buildings were tendered to local contractors and everyone had a fair chance to bid and receive a project.
We recently saw a new building built, heard of an architect working on designing new government projects but all done without the knowledge of the people, are we Free!??
· Are we free when new tax laws are being implemented without our knowledge or our input? and when we can’t or refuse to pay our salaries are seized, and our accounts blocked!
· Are we free when, to make ends meet we have to work an average of 14 hours a day on our side businesses and/or jobs? And every cent earned next to our full time job is taxed! By you?
· Are we free when we have to pay retroactive tax, from a country that ceased to exist to a country that is we are not fully a part of, where benefits are concerned, and refuses to understand our pain?
· Are we free when the country is siding with our local leaders whom the majority for years have trusted and who have brought us into this desperate, horrendous mess?
· There is no way you will enter a dirty, unkempt village restaurant and pay the price of Michelin restaurant. This is the situation now on Statia. You make us pay a service that we are not receiving with only empty promises.
· How can we be free when many of our laws (and all laws are meant for liberty and equality of the people) are in a language 90% of our people cannot read and understand!
· We have a billion dollar company destroying our land and seas and throwing crumbs next to our plates,throwing their heads back in laughter, with your consent.
· So now we are sick blind and broke,…. you cut the insurances and what little hope of healing we had, too is gone.
· I could go on and on but these are the basics. Shame on you for taking us back to a system that was abolished since 1863. You claim to have grown and changed and would never do it again, but as love blinds greed also blinds, and you did it again!
– The need for fun is the need to find pleasure, to play and to laugh. Should you doubt that this is as important as any of the others, imagine a life without hope of any enjoyment. Glasser links the need for fun to learning. All of the higher animals (dogs, dolphins, primates, etc.) play. As they play, they learn important life skills. Human beings are no different. It is true that “play is a child’s work.” (source internet)
This here is our strength and downfall simultaneously. We dance, and are merry, make jokes and smile. The last crumbs that we can muster we use to distract ourselves from the grief and pain we face daily. Most of us cannot afford vacations so we do without and continue to create fun.
However one warning; even that God given ability is being lost. And when as the final basic human need namely our ability to have fun is gone. Something awful will happen. We people of Statia dread to think of what can happen, so we are beseeching you chamber members. Return to the drawing board, we demand a new referendum, and research into which status best fits our island,Financially, Geographically, socially and economically.
Our local leaders have failed miserably and you are just behind. We will no longer stand for this we want to laugh again. Final most important need!