Dear Editor,

Never met the man and probably never will, but I am impressed by the presidency and achievement of President Barack Obama. History will confer the appropriate accolades in time and future generations will reap or chafe. Impact is certain; miraculous seemed his appearance and rise on the world stage in just the past 12 years; some may even say divine providence. God works in mysterious ways.

The unlikeliest of candidates embodying both the heartland of America and the heartland of Africa; educated in Muslim Indonesia and ivy league Harvard; community organizer in Chicago; this black man rose to the presidency with audacity.

Yes, a black man, but president of all Americans. He was elected to office by Americans of all races and of all economic ladders; he represented a vision, a dare, a risk and a challenge, and reality. He has proven again that black leaders of great calibre do exist, and that blackness is not an obstacle to success. His presidency also proves that blackness will excite passions in some societies, in various directions, among some groups.

The hope of so many, he also became the poster child for everything that is still wrong about the country and the world. Republicans vowed from day one to make his life miserable and determined he will be a one-term president. They obstructed him in every way and at every turn. Elected it seemed to make sure the president (and the country) fails. Yet he prevailed against the odds on many occasions; yes, the black boy from Chicago saved the auto industry, saved the economy from a second Great Depression, passed health reform that gave millions healthcare for the first time, and he laid Osama bin Laden to rest, and more. He was elected to a second term.

At the same time, Barack Obama brought out the demons hiding in the hearts of many. Reminding us that evil forces are forever lurking just beneath the surface in the hearts of man. It takes very little for these to bubble to the surface; you don’t have to do people anything it happens automatically when they think they are losing ground, when they believe they are governed, threatened by those who look or think different than them.

So, President Barack Obama was a force for good but also a reminder of what is still to be accomplished in this world. God uses the least among us to teach us these important lessons; he seeks out the unlikeliest of characters to represent him among our peers. Barack Obama has done what he came to do; a President for his time. The rest is up to who comes after.

You came, you saw, you conquered. You held the office with decency and distinction. I wish him and his family well. Sayonara!!!

  

Glenn Schmidt

Statia

Dear Editor,

It is with enormous sadness that my husband and I learned of the recent court ruling against Lee’s Roadside Grill, despite the long-term lease that Lee Halley had been promised and honoured and that Mr. Halley had been operating under for years. This seems to be an arbitrary application of the law that disregarded that agreement in favour of development that will only serve to line the pockets of the developer, at the expense of small business and the character of St. Maarten. What a terrible loss for the local and tourism communities of the island.

As frequent visitors to St. Maarten, Lee’s Roadside Grill has become a place of great significance for my husband and me. I know that we share these feelings with many, many people and to say that we are devastated by the court’s decision is not in any way an exaggeration. Lee’s is a very special place. It is not just a restaurant or a charter fishing operation. Lee’s is locally owned, locally staffed and locally patronized. It is a draw for thousands upon thousands of residents and tourists all year long. The food is distinctly, deliciously Caribbean and the entertainment is perfectly-suited to all of its loyal guests.

Furthermore, Lee’s is part of the rich and wonderful culture of St. Maarten. The fact that the culture has thus far remained intact is one of the main reasons we have come back for years. It is a big part of the reason that we chose to invest on St. Maarten, instead of the plethora of other Caribbean islands. What we love about St. Maarten is simple: we love its people, its culture, its traditions, its beauty and especially, its uniqueness.

All in all, a visit to the island and to places like Lee’s is priceless. If authentic island restaurants like Lee’s are not deemed to be culturally significant, protected or preserved, then I believe that St. Maarten will lose a huge part of its identity. This can only result in an additional huge loss of the island’s appeal to many of its vacationers. How long before St. Maarten turns into something so cookie-cutter and bland that people start looking elsewhere for a unique vacation destination? We were certain that this could never happen on St. Maarten, but sadly, each year, more and more of the things that make the island special seem to be disappearing.

Personally, we are not interested in going to a place where there are big hotel chains blocking the beaches and generic restaurants serving mediocre food catering to basic tastes. We don’t want to visit an island that is best viewed through the tinted windows of tour buses making a quick drive around a few curated “places of interest.” We don’t want to visit a destination that has reinvented itself to look just like the towns at home that we were hoping to escape for a while. Orient Beach should serve as a cautionary tale. It used to be so vibrant, filled with interesting shops and beach bars and restaurants. Now, it’s a series of uninteresting, government-built sheds, differentiated only by the colour of their paint, with no other distinguishing features. Long-time tenants vacated and long-time visitors are dismayed at the change. If Simpson Bay becomes a row of non-descript, half-occupied concrete buildings, who would bother visiting?

We urge you to reconsider your decision and to allow Lee's Roadside Grill to continue operating at its present location. The island is better off for it. Very best regards,

Jill and Danny

New York City

Dear Editor,

Cycling across sandy roads in the scorching heat. Between towering coral cliffs, artistically sculpted by the eternal wind. Between thriving mangrove forests and infinite salt marshes. Where menacing cacti are standing beside enchanting trees.

It can all be found in the western part of the Netherlands - in the far west to be clear. Where you can swim with tropical fish, which sway with you to the rhythm of the waves. Where people give you a friendly smile - and take life as it comes. Heavy divers popping up as stiff seals out of the blue sea. Older surfers experience their childhood once again in the timeless sunlight. You see it on Bonaire - The Netherlands in the Caribbean.

But the paradise of Bonaire – like St. Eustatius and Saba since 2010 part of the Netherlands as a public entity - also has a black edge. The island is a small community (fewer than 20,000 inhabitants), but there are significant differences. Along the coast are the million-dollar villas, of which there are few earned with honest work. Not far from there are poor neighbourhoods, where there is little work and not a lot to earn. There is a lot of anger because 'the Dutch' arrange everything. But if they don’t, not much would be done. Poverty is also brought up all the time. So many young people do not have employment, but jobs are done by people from outside - from Venezuela, Colombia and Peru - who are underpaid and exploited.

Recently, Bonaire was shocked by the murder of a policeman, an act that might have been committed by a drug trafficker, who also works for the drug mafia in Colombia. During my stay last week on this beautiful island, there were several shootings, nearby where I was staying. The car of a critical journalist was destroyed - a form of harassment. 

Other great villains are the banks, which extend expensive loans for too expensive cars that people cannot afford. And there are the Chinese supermarkets, which lend people money at high interest rates. This leads to debts and feeds the anger towards the Netherlands. With signs along the roads where unsuspecting tourists are accused of ‘Dutch apartheid’.

Since 1633, when our country conquered Bonaire from the Spaniards, we belong together, but we still do not understand each other. But that doesn’t really matter, because deep down we love each other - otherwise we would not make such a hassle. Because this is our "Island in the Sun" as Harry Belafonte sang 60 years ago. A song in which the American calypso king sang about his love for our Bonaire. With all the money he earned from this worldwide hit, Belafonte bought property in Bonaire, where even a residential area (Belnem) was named after him. And so love became money again and the Caribbean circle is round again. In this paradise, but always elusive, as part of the Netherlands.

Ronald van Raak

Member of the Second Chamber of the

Dutch Parliament for the Socialist Party (SP)

Dear Editor,

Please grant me a small space in your well-read newspaper to voice my opinion.

Nurses

I would assume many are familiar with the “Hippocratic Oath”. It is an oath typically taken by physicians. It is widely known in Greek medical texts. However, I wonder how many are familiar with a modified "Hippocratic Oath" for nurses called the Florence Nightingale Pledge. Lystra E. Gretter and a Committee for Farrand Training School for Nurses, Detroit, Michigan, composed this in 1893 as a token of esteem for the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale herself. It reads as follows:

“I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping, and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavour to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”

The aforementioned paragraphs are not meant to give anyone a history lesson, but merely a reminder. “I will treat the ill to the best of my ability and the preserve a patients’ privacy. As well as not be ashamed to say, “If I know not will I not fail to call on my colleagues when needed”.

Banking

Seeing the imminent closure of Windward Islands Bank Ltd., and the lack of a second commercial bank setting up shop and staying on our island, I wonder: Would the “Government” grant permission to a company to offer Vault and Safe Deposit boxes? These are not typically available at a local financial institution, or storage company anyway. Of course, they would need to have a controlled environment with all the safety precautions in place, just as the ones all over the world. You see, some people think they can sing and drink water at the same time.

Wild Animals

Saba has made it known; we have a problem with goats on Social Media and government expedited orders to kill them. You can look around and see the big wooden house. You must remember the gods of Saba are dead. Those gods would have known what to do with them.

Name withheld at author's request.

Dear Editor,

The writing is on the wall. Government should uplift the border areas in Oyster Pond and also Dawn Beach main road with proper roads sidewalks and more streetlight and see to that the four green containers be painted.

Middle Region, which has one the best district names, government should do more towards bringing some of the public offices to Middle Region. GEBE, UTS, and Telcell. bills can also be paid in Middle Region; even some of the schools in St. Peters and South Rewards can be move to Middle Region.

One fire truck can be put in Middle Region to protect Middle Region, Oyster Pond, Dawn Beach, Dutch Quarter, Sucker Garden, Guana Bay and Madame Estate areas.

Government must resurface Middle Region’s roads so that the bus drivers will feel very comfortable running their buses there again. The bus drivers are right the road needs to be resurface very soon.

Now, St. Maarten has a new government let us hope they will help our senior citizens more internationally, build low income homes for the people. The high house rent on the island and a very low minimum wage makes life very hard for the people.

It's time government let Central Bank pay the clients of CKC Credit Union members their money.

Cuthbert Bannis

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