Category Archives: Headlines

UPC pleads for action plan during constitutional debate

Published in Daily Herald May 18

ST. EUSTATIUS–The current constitutional status of St. Eustatius of a public entity of The Netherlands was discussed during a town
hall meeting at Lions Den on Tuesday.
A large cross-section of the island community attended the meeting, which was organized by the Executive Council.
Part-time lecturer of University of the Netherlands Antilles (UNA) Arjan van Rijn was the keynote speaker, whereas all parties
represented in the Island Council made their positions known on Statia’s current status and the upcoming evaluation, scheduled
for 2015.
Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs Koos Sneek, representatives of the Democratic Party (DP)/Lijfrock coalition, as well as
leaders of the opposition parties United People’s Coalition (UPC) and St. Eustatius Empowerment Party (STEP) participated in a
panel discussion. Persons in attendance were also able to voice their opinion and ask questions.
UPC-leader Zaandam said that in the decolonizing process, the colonial power has the duty and responsibility to make time, manpower and finances available to educate the people about the pros and cons of constitutional choices.
According to him, it was the responsibility of The Netherlands to explain to the people what full integration meant.
“The majority of the people have little or no understanding of even the most fundamental elements of a constitutional process. In
that regard, Holland failed the people of Statia miserably,” said Zaandam.He also answered to allegations that UPC would be against the current status, and would be manipulating voters to demand a constitutional referendum.“That is utter nonsense, because there is no need for us to do that. The people are wiser and will not allow themselves to be misled, manipulated or shouted down,” said Zaandam.
The UPC-leader said inequality was the biggest problem of the current status.“Testament to that is that Holland makes provisions
available to the people, and just when the people get accustomed to these, Holland unilaterally decides to trim down these services and or halt them completely.” Another problem is that Statians are not represented in the Dutch parliament. “Without representation
how can you, as a people, have check and balances on those deciding for you?” Zaandam asked. UPC wants to ensure that the people of Statia choose their destiny, and not the Executive Council or the Dutch parliament. Zaandam also pointed out that according to a resolution of the United Nations  General Assembly, territories should be free to  choose their constitutional future.
He disagreed with the Executive Council, which is of the opinion that the danger of anchoring the current constitutional status in the
Constitution no longer exists, because of the position of the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament. Zaandam, however, strongly believes that the VVD/PvdA coalition will find ways to obtain a majority in the Senate to finalize the anchoring of the special-entity status in the Constitution.
According to the UPCleader, the constitutional evaluation should be based on a Constitutional Action Plan. “In this action plan, Statia and the people’s interest must at all times be the point of departure. Not the BES (special entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba – Ed.) utopia, and surely not the interest of Holland,” Zaandam stated. The action plan should consist of a timeline during which the evaluation must be finalized, and should include the adoption of a Referendum Ordinance, consultation and information of the people and the acquisition of services from an experienced constitutional professional.“All of us, including Holland, must work to ensure
that there is a procedure in place that is transparent from the beginning, that will not be changed arbitrarily and that puts the final decision in the hands of the people,” Zaandam said.

According to him, it would be pointless to go through a lengthy period of information gathering and debate if the people were to be
denied their right to decide their future. Concerning a referendum, Zaandam said that contrary to other parties, UPC has the strong conviction that consultation of the people of Statia on the current status should be at the basis of the constitutional evaluation process.”What sense does it make to evaluate a status that is not properly defined? This status is not that of a borough, not part of a
municipality or a province. Because of the fact that our status is neither one thing nor the other, Statia is in a situation in which
we are compelled to constantly seek conference with Holland to talk about provisions and finances that would have been normal
if the status was properly and well-defined within the Dutch governmental structure…Consulting the people is a must, not a luxury or
a privilege granted by the Executive Council or Holland, but a right founded on international treaties.

About the Child Rights Symposium

  • As written by Elsa van Putten on facebook
    Today a good number of us came out to listen to the results of the research done in the Dutch Caribbean islands concerning the rights of the child. It was so good to meet up with our folks from back home. To hear how things are progressing and to share thoughts and ideas in the various workshops. The discussions were interesting, educative and supportive. There is so much that still needs to be done. That together we can help make a difference and help start get the ball rolling to put into action that which is needed to start improving the situations to ensure the safety of the children. Our futures. Was a blessing and a great opportunity to have networked as well and meet new people. In conclusion: a great day, reunited with past colleaugues and reminisce and discuss and just go back to the islands in mind and heart. Home is where the heart is, and the warmth of home is always in the heart. Continue the good work and let us continue to strive for greatness St. Eustatius and all the other islands. God bless our ROCK.
    There was one speaker that brought a very valid and important point across….On our islands often times it is seen on the birth certificates : FATHER- UNKNOWN. His plea and the work of a few organizations, and we learnt today that St. Maarten is already busy with making changes in this area, is to put a halt on this and start putting the name of the father on the birth certificate. A child has the right to know who his/her FATHER is. Although he is not part of his/her life, no child should have FATHER-UNKNOWN on his/her birth certificate. Was a father not needed to put them in this world. Valid point and something to start thinking about as a community and government. Thank you Chris Frans.
  • It is mentioned of our Island due to the researches done and the islands were the center of attention, of course this point concerning the birth certificates may be taking place in other countries as well.

Declaration of the rights of the child

Today the results of the UNICEF childrens’ survey will be presented in Leiden.

Samenvatting Kind op BES LOWRES

It is concluded that the situation of the children on the BES islands do not meet with the standards as defined in the Declaration of the rights of the child.

Here you can read what this declaration enhances.

DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 1386 (XIV) of 10 December 1959
   WHEREAS the peoples of the United Nations have, in the Charter, reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person, and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
   WHEREAS the United Nations has, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,
   WHEREAS the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth,
   WHEREAS the need for such special safeguards has been stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924, and recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the statutes of specialized agencies and international organizations concerned with the welfare of children,
   WHEREAS mankind owes to the child the best it has to give,
   Now, therefore,  Proclaims
THIS DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD to the end that he may have a happy childhood and enjoy for his own good and for the good of society the rights and freedoms herein set forth, and calls upon parents, upon men and women as individuals, and upon voluntary organizations, local authorities and national Governments to recognize these rights and strive for their observance by legislative and other measures progressively taken in accordance with the following principles:
1   The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.
2   The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
3   The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality.
4   The child shall enjoy the benefits of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care. The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services.
5   The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition.
6   The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without adequate means of support. Payment of State and other assistance towards the maintenance of children of large families is desirable.
7   The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society.
The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the first place with his parents.
The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavour to promote the enjoyment of this right.
8   The child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief.
9   The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of traffic, in any form.
The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development.
10   The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.

Townhall meeting about Status

Professor Van Rijn urges Statians to think twice about different status

By on May 22, 2013

St. Eustatius should think twice before changing its constitutional status, said Professor Arjen van Rijn of University of the Netherlands Antilles (UNA) during a town hall meeting on constitutional affairs at Ernest van Putten Youth Centre on May 14. The meeting was organised by the Island Government to talk with the community about constitutional developments since the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles on October 10, 2010, after which Statia became a special public entity of The Netherlands. The negative aspects and how these are addressed, as well as the positive aspects of the new status were highlighted, while attention was also given to the various services which have been transferred to the Dutch government and the efficiency thereof.

A large crowd had turned out for the evening, which also comprised a panel discussion with participation of Island Governor Gerald Berkel, Commissioner Koos Sneek, Island Council Members Reuben Merkman (Democratic Party, DP), Millicent Lijfrock-Marsdin (independent) Reginald Zaandam (United People’s Coalition, UPC) and Franklin Brown (St. Eustatius Empowerment Party, STEP) and Professor Van Rijn.

Van Rijn said the issue at hand was of great importance for the present and future development of the island. He predicted that the audience would not always be happy with his opinions as a constitutional professional. He started with a historic overview, stating that Statia had come in a difficult situation after 76.6 per cent of the people voted for becoming part of a restructured Netherlands Antilles in the April 2005 referendum. However, none of the other islands wanted to stay aboard the Netherlands Antilles. In the end, the Island Council acknowledged the outcome of the referendums on the other islands and declared its willingness to reach a mutual agreement, which led to Bonaire, Statia and Saba being integrated into The Netherlands as public entities. The current status will be evaluated in 2015, which may result in an adaptation of the status, if there are reasons to do so.

Self-determination

So far, so good, said Van Rijn, but how about the island’s right to self-determination? UN-Resolution 1514 and both UN Human Rights Treaties state that: “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” There are several ways to reach paradise, Van Rijn pointed out but self-determination is not restricted to the option of independence. “Any status is acceptable, as long as exercising an option is the result of free choice. This is an essential element in the UN doctrine and in the legal discussions.” “The UN has explicitly recognised a referendum as one of the means of achieving self-determination; but, a referendum is not obligatory. Also other democratic means can be valid,” he said. “Important is also that the right of self-determination is a unilateral right, only to be exercised by the former colonial entity and not by the former mother country,” according to Van Rijn. Despite the question whether the referendum on Statia was a suitable instrument to reflect the will of the people in 2005, the outcome was ignored by the people’s representatives, researchers stated in a study published in 2011. They said it was highly doubtful that the decision of the representatives can be qualified as being in compliance with the principles of free choice. “At this point, it cannot be concluded that the people of Statia have freely determined their status,” Van Rijn said. Zaandam came to the same conclusion in a meeting in April 2010 in the Second Chamber. He requested a referendum to be held before 10-10-10. “Popular unrest did not occur and, therefore, it might have been argued that the representatives had acted in conformity with the wishes of the population. However, the recent turmoil on the direct effects of the integration, inter alia, the imposition of controversial legislation regarding abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage, reveals the deficit in the integration process of the BES islands,” Van Rijn contested. Van Rijn also thinks it would have been better if the results of the negotiations with The Netherlands about the new status would have been put to a final referendum before 10-10-10, but did Statia have a real alternative at that time? “Every outcome would have been second best, because continuation of the Netherlands Antilles was not possible anymore,” he said.

Autonomy

An autonomous status for Statia would theoretically have been feasible and possible, and still is, but Van Rijn cautioned about this alternative. “Even for St. Maarten this is difficult enough. Autonomy means that you can decide about your own money. But, it also means that you basically have to earn your own money. At the moment the expenditures of the three BES islands on health care are US $90 million, only $30 million of which are paid for by the citizens of the BES themselves.” Independence is also possible, but would take the island away from the protective shield of the Kingdom and would take Dutch citizenship and passports away. Finally, is the present status really very different from the status Statia opted for? Van Rijn wondered. “The big difference now is that the central level is not based in Willemstad but in The Hague…It is true: The Hague has more power and competences than Willemstad. It is also true that Statia would have had more influence on the central level as one of the five Island Territories of The Netherlands Antilles than nowadays as only one of the 400+ local communities of The Netherlands. But, it is also true that the central level is functioning much smoother and better then The Netherlands- Antillean central level. That means “unfortunately” that you are not only obliged to pay taxes, but that you also have to pay them in fact.”

No eternal thing

Van Rijn said that in terms of self-determination the current status was not a bad choice, although some “major deficits” call for “legal and practical action.” The present status is not a “given and eternal thing,” Van Rijn underlined. “The people have the right to ask for changes if it wants so. But, I also would advise: be realistic. Statia counts 4,000 citizens. In The Netherlands we are more than 16 million… The construction you chose a few years ago offers a lot of advantages. It gives you protection and security. Be proud of it. Don’t throw it away too easily.” The UNA professor advised for the evaluation to be taken seriously and prepared well. It is the chance for you to do proposals for change, if you feel the need. “Your right to self-determination gives you the right to formulate your wishes, and it puts an obligation upon The Netherlands to listen to you and to try to realise these wishes together with you when feasible and realistic.” He pleaded for better communication between the islands and The Hague and for a better level of representation of the islands on a central level, stating that the “democratic deficit of non-representation must be taken away.” He welcomed the suggestion for a special State Secretary for the BESislands within the Dutch government.

Changes and progress

Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs Koos Sneek gave a presentation on the developments concerning the constitutional status, including changes and progress made to mould the present status in a way most beneficial to the people. “Even Aruba with a ‘Status Aparte’ since 1986, does not have the level of services we are enjoying in Statia,” Sneek claimed. “Our situation, as a public entity is not equal to that of a municipality in the European part of The Netherlands and, therefore, we can be different. We can have different laws, a different tax system, but also a different social services system. This is also supported in our Constitution where Article 1 states that we are all treated equal in equal circumstances. This means that when the circumstances are not equal one does not need to be treated equal. It is important to emphasize though, that this inequality counts not only for benefits but also for our obligations. This means for instance that our taxes can be less and our health benefits can be more. Which, by the way, is also the case,” Sneek said. In the meantime, the First Chamber has delayed the process in which Statia’s special status will be imbedded in the Constitution. “This will take the pressure of the evaluation period and takes away the impression that already before the completion of the evaluation the decision was made on our final constitutional status,” Sneek said.

Perfect status

“Is this a perfect status? The answer is no. But, is there a perfect status? Also to this question the answer is no. In my humble opinion, for the moment and foreseeable future the status as a public entity is by far the most favourable one within the possibilities for Statia, taking into consideration for instance the size of our island, our population size and geographical situation. “This status guarantees the best possible level of services for our people. It guarantees the best possible safety and security as well as proper and transparent government. Of course we have started our new status with all kind of shortcomings; but, I believe that it is clearly visible that both the central government in The Hague and the island government are making great strides with the improvement of all matters that require improvement,” Commissioner Sneek told the audience As examples of such improvements, Sneek specifically mentioned the tax system, the increase in minimum wage and health care insurance. Sneek stressed that the DP was not against a referendum, but that it was important to await the outcome of the evaluation. “After the evaluation we can then decide to hold a referendum,” he said. DP leader Reuben Merkman stated that the right of self determination cannot be taken away from the people. “This means that we as Island Council should stop fighting one another and put laws in place to guarantee our island and its people are in the best position to make any decision that is needed. By fighting one another the people of Statia are divided by us, the leaders, who should lead and unite them.” Merkman said it was important for people to be educated pertaining to what a referendum entails and which statuses are economically possible. More information sessions will be convened at a later date.

Source: “The Daily Herald” 2013-05-22 vanrijn (35)

Markets on Statia

Picture Wilhelminapark St. Eustatius by Walter Hellebrand

Historically, there was a market at Wilhelminapark.

Wilhelminapark didn’t look the same as it looks now, it is a parc now, but it used to be a market place.

Today, this Friday in May 2013, there are three spots were you can get good and healthy food at cheap prices. 

At the slaughterhouse you can get your fresh local meat. Most of the time you can get fresh local flowers and vegetables there aswell. At Hazel’s fruitgarden you can get local fresh tomatoes for $1 per pound and you can go to Charlie’s place were they have food and  homegoods, bedding and Llnens, jewelry, books, etc

If this is a trend, I love the trend.

People that want to sell things can join and more costumers will come.

I hope local food will be for sale more and more, especially fruit and fruit drinks will sell good.

Annemiek

 

Swimming

When I see Statia’s public swimmingpool I always start to dream. Most of the time you see it there, invitingly dark fresh turquois, with the sandstone hot path surrounding it. Pueblo kind of building, cold and fresh inside where the lockers are. Only needs a veranda, a roof outside. It doesn’t work with the few parasols they have there, it needs a structural roofing.

And then I dream of all the swimminglessons that can take place there, year round. All of the school children can swim once a week and get their swimmingdiploma’s. A swimming culture could start, with games and competitions and active participations and organizations of regional and international competitions.

By the way, my guess is 60% of the grown ups can’t swim and with the healthrisks of diabetes getting adult people to come swim and get their diploma’s can be a great opportunity for fun and activities for young and old on the island.

 

O yes, and that building you see there in the background is supposed to be fixed up for groups of overseas children to accomodate them when they are here with their sportsteams.

 

Statianews is going to be different

Dear Statianews reader.

Statianews started out with an emaillist of residents of St. Eustatius. I was living on the island and every month I would gather the news, make a pdf and send it around via that list. That local list now has about 800 emailadresses and outside of St. Eustatius, there are about the same amount of people that are sent news about the island from time to time.

When I left the island in 2010, I stopped making these pdf”s. But the mailinglist still continued, because people would be sending me emails to distribute to the community. I had a lot of work when the Nustar expansion discussion started and because of the relevance, I decided to copy all these letters to the editor and make a website.

The www.statianews.com website opened and I also copied all the other news I could find about Statia. Unfortunately, personally I couldn’t go on the lookout for news on the island self.

I did have my sources with whom I skyped and who I chatted with on facebook. But on the website, mostly news copied from other online sources.

I won’t close down this website, but I will stop copying news from other sources.

To know about rules, regulations, opinions about the island, I suggest you check www.sabanews.com.

If you want to recieve announcements, opinions, advertisements about Statia, please join the mailinggroup and send an email to info@statianews.com

This website will be my personal website. If you want to write on it, please do, send an email, or post a comment.

Thank you for all the support over the last years, it was great fun to live on St. Eustatius, I have made a lot of friends and I have grown to love the culture, history, nature and the residents on the island. It is in my view a nice peaceful melting pot.

All Statia, all the time!

Annemieke Jansen

This group hug is for Helmin Wiels, let us hope they get to the bottom of this and clean sweep that island, the people deserve better then this.

 

Dijksma says 7 dead donkeys, but at least 20 donkeys died.

The volunteers of Greenfound are very upset with the news they read in the Daily Herald, this Friday. The article refers to a Second Chamber debate about the neglected donkeys on Statia.

This is what they wrote:

Dear Donkey friends, the answers State Secretary Dijksma gave are very upsetting. Of course she was misinformed again. Here are the facts as logged on our Facebook site. The donkeys did not die of a severe drought. I agree that we had a longer dry period than usual. The donkeys died of overgrazing an area which was not sufficient for 80 donkeys. They were not monitored and taken care of. They did not get sufficient / daily water. I photographed 14 dead donkeys in the old pen, which was 19 acre. Around the 18 of February the 65 donkeys still alive in the old pen, where transferred to a 4 acre pen. At the end of March and the beginning of April 6 donkeys more died and if Greenfound did not pull out 10 more, 7 of those would have died a sure dead to. Police is investigating an animal cruelty case. The fact that only after interference of GreenFound and the media attention it got, things improved for the donkeys is proof that deliberately the government was starving the donkeys because they did not have a long term goal for them. They sold some (about 16) of which till today is not clarified were the money went. The proof is that they ordered food for the donkeys and other cattle on the island only after the drought of 4,5 months, what a planning and how serious did they found this drought? The Commissioner is planning a visit to the Donkey Sanctuary to see first-hand what value this can be for the island, I applaud this. I hope the government is going to support GreenFound to realize this for our Island. Up to now GreenFound set up a Donkey Nursery, with 16 donkeys they saved. Our website will be launched soon http://statia-donkeys.org/

 

Here is that article:

THE HAGUE–The situation concerning the neglected donkeys in St. Eustatius has been dealt with sufficiently by the island government. The Dutch government will, therefore, not interfere where the well-being of animals is concerned. State Secretary of Economic Affairs Sharon Dijksma said this in response to questions posed by animal rights party PvdD in the Second Chamber. At the end of February, PvdD leader Marianne Thieme wanted to know whether the Dutch government had the intention to take measures after news surfaced that there was a group of neglected donkeys in Statia. Dijksma stated that the well-being of animals falls under the responsibility of the island government. She added that she considered the action plan, which includes several measures to improve the situation under which the donkeys are being kept, to be sufficient. Dijksma declined to comment on Thieme’s questions whether she considered it acceptable that there was inequality in animal welfare in the different municipalities within the Kingdom. In her response, the State Secretary referred to the agreed restraint to introduce new laws in the Caribbean Netherlands prior to the evaluation in 2015. According to State Secretary Dijksma, seven of the total 61 donkeys that were kept on a property of 19 hectares died during the past six months.