30 September 2011



By: "Bevan Springer"

 Guadeloupe will host the 20th Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) conference and exhibition which opens this Sunday, October 2 in the resort town of Gosier. Representatives from more than 45 countries will descend on the French Caribbean island department from October 2 to 7 to participate in CWWA's annual meeting as well as the 10th "The Water Days" in Guadeloupe to be jointly held at the new Gosier Sports Centre. 

This combined event will reinforce Caribbean links, promote the sharing of expertise and consolidate partnership agreements between the nations of the region in the water, sanitation and waste management sectors. Organized by Syndicat Intercommunal d'Alimentation en Eau et d'Assainissement de la Guadeloupe (Guadeloupe' s Inter-Urban District Union of Water Supply and Sanitation) in partnership with Syndicat Intercommunal du Centre et du Sud de la Martinique (Inter-Urban District Union of Central and Southern Martinique) and Communauté de Communes du Centre Littoral de Guyane (French Guyanese Community of Municipalities for the Central Coast), there will also be participants from the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe, as well as from countries and territories in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific

Legislative procedures and regulations in the field of water sanitation and waste management, the state of networks in the Caribbean region, and the financial management of waste and the recovery of rain water will be among the principal themes to be debated under the title "Caribbean Cooperation: The Future of Water and Waste Management in the Region". Schoolchildren and university students will take part in both academic and recreational elements of the event in partnership with Université des Antilles et de la Guyane (UAD), while there will also be discussions to prepare a united Caribbean presentation for the 6th World Water Forum to be held in Marseilles, France from March 12 to 17, 2012. For further information, visit www.cwwa2011. com.

29 September 2011

Will Obama review denial of Marcus Garvey pardon?

by Calvin G. Brown
CARICOM News Network

 That Marcus Garvey pardon fiasco could cost Obama dearly

As US President Barak Obama contemplates a possible review of his ill fated decision not to posthumously grant a pardon to Jamaica's National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the following Jamaican proverb comes to mind: "“the same knife dat stick sheep will also stick goat.

Indeed, if the jihadist Tea Party faction of the Republican Party is allowed to have its way, President Obama will not have as much as a snowball’s chance in hell to be re-elected. According to Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, his primary goal is to make Obama a one term President. Clearly, the power structure is afraid that given a level playing field, Obama will succeed.

Hence in order to stop him, it is necessary to starve him of additional stimulus money to create jobs; encourage big business like Kotch Industries to withhold spending that would create well needed jobs; give Obama ownership of all that is wrong in the United States including a fragile economy fuelled by billions wasted on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; give him ownership of the Wall Street melt down; give him ownership of the Bush tax cuts for the rich that were never funded and represents one of the biggest addition to the national debt; and finally, to block any meaningful legislation that would assist Obama in helping the poor and downtrodden in the United States.

Like Marcus Garvey, Obama has tremendous capacity to mobilize people by way of his oratorical and organizational skills, and the only way to defeat him is to fraudulently give him ownership of an economy destroyed by Republicans. There is no doubt that racism is alive and well in the hallowed halls of the United States Congress and Senate.

On Monday the 28th of August, Barak Obama, the first Black president of the United States, will deliver the dedication speech celebrating the unveiling of a national memorial in honour of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. near the place on the National Mall in Washington DC where he made his famous "I have a dream" speech on 28 Aug 1963 which drew some 200,000 civil rights activists to the Mall.

The Dedication and the events surrounding this historic weekend promise to honor one of mankind’s most inspirational leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The memorial will honour Dr. King for his contribution to the breakdown of American racism. He led marches and protests throughout the segregated south, preached non-violence in the face of violence and went to jail several times for his actions. He is credited with helping to change the course of US history. The 17-minute speech by King, in which he called for racial equality and an end to discrimination, is regarded as a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement.

King, however, stood on the shoulders of those who came before him, and fought the injustices of a racist American socio-economic system where people of colour were considered less than human.

One of the giants on whose shoulders he stood, was that of a Jamaican journalist and publisher, Marcus Mosiah Garvey who arrived in the US on March 23, 1916. While there he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, and the Communities League (UNIA-ACL), a black nationalist fraternal organization and the Black Star Steamship Line, which promoted the return of the African diaspora to their ancestral lands, the Black Cross Trading and Navigation Company, as well as the Negro Factories Corporation among other organizations.

In the nine short years he spent in the United States, Garvey built the largest mass movement of Black people in United States history. In a society riddled with racial discrimination, lynching and poor housing and unemployment, the masses of Black people were ready for a leader who was aggressive and had a plan to "uplift the race".

It however began to fail after he was convicted of mail fraud and was deported from the U.S. The Black Star Line failed because of purported mismanagement and lack of sufficient funds.

Many believe that fearful of his widening popularity among downtrodden US blacks, Garvey was set up by the J Edgar Hoover-led Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and imprisoned for mail fraud totalling US$25 in June 1923. After spending two years and nine months in an Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, Garvey was deported from New Orleans, Louisiana to Jamaica on a ship.

Today, from the Halls of Montezuma, across the Isthmus of Panama, through the isles of the Caribbean and the lands of continental Africa to the shores of Tripoli, Marcus Mosiah Garvey remains the most revered Black historical figure to have emanated from the new world.

The news that the Obama Administration has rejected overtures from Jamaicans to officially pardon Garvey posthumously, is disappointing, to say the least. Numerous efforts have been made over the years to have the matter rectified, but to no avail.

As a matter of fact, Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga had asked the late US President, Ronald Reagan to grant a full pardon to Marcus Garvey on the 1923 charge of mail fraud. In addition, from as far back as 1987, a resolution was brought to the US House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice to have Garvey’s name cleared, but the issue seemed to have fallen off the agenda and was never pursued.

Every student of the civil rights movement is acutely aware of the injustice meted out to Garvey as well as the conventional wisdom that he was “railroaded” by J Edgar Hoover because he was getting too powerful as a black leader, but that the only charge that could be trumped up against him was “mail fraud”.

Jamaican born attorney Donavon Parker, whose weekly mails to the White House demanding a pardon for Garvey goaded the Barak Obama administration into making this unfortunate reply, also pointed out that the original transcripts of Garvey's trial cannot be found. "They don't have it. Somebody took it. I was told this by the Jamaican Consul General in Miami, Sandra Grant-Griffiths, who informed me via a letter," Parker said.

It is difficult to believe that Obama had a hand in this patently anal response from The White House Pardon Attorney, Ronald Rodgers who indicated that ‘pardoning Garvey would be a waste of time and resources since Garvey had been dead for ages.’ According to Rodgers, "It is the general policy of the Department of Justice that requests for posthumous pardons for federal offences not be processed for adjudication. The policy is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on pardon and commutation requests of living persons.”

He said "Many posthumous pardon requests would likely be based on a claim of manifest injustice, and given that decades have passed since the event and the historical record would have to be scoured to objectively and comprehensively investigate such applications, it is the Department's position that the limited resources which are available to process requests for Presidential clemency -- now being submitted in record numbers -- are best dedicated to requests submitted by persons who can truly benefit from a grant of the request," said Rodgers who replied on behalf of Obama who is seeking re-election in 2012.

Garvey has influenced Black leaders from Malcolm X to and Muhamad Ali to Mandela Martin Luther King, and undoubtedly must be considered as a supremely important historical figure not only in US history, but that of Africa and the Caribbean as well. In fact, Young Malcolm used to accompany his father to Garvey's meetings. His father's involvement later cost him his life. Interestingly enough, former New York State Governor David Paterson was also indirectly influenced by the Garvey Movement as his paternal grandmother, Evangeline Rondon Paterson was no less than secretary to Marcus Garvey.

During a trip to Jamaica, Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King visited the shrine of Marcus Garvey on 20 June 1965 and laid a wreath, “out of respect for a man he said, gave Negroes in the US a sense of dignity, a "sense of personhood, a sense of manhood, a sense of somebodiness".

If Martin Luther King whose monument Obama will dedicate on the 28th of August can realise the importance of Garvey, what is so difficult about him recognizing the fact of the fundamental importance to Jamaicans and people of colour, of posthumously clearing the name of Garvey.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey is not only a National Hero of Jamaica and a folk Hero in many Caribbean and Central American countries, but also a most important forebear of the American civil rights experience. Hence this rejection of an official pardon from quarters out of which one would expect a more reasoned response, represents a supreme blow to the ethos of the continuing movement for equality in the US.

When on the 28th day of August, President Barak Obama rises to dedicate the official monument to the memory of Martin Luther King, the ghost of forebears such as Marcus Garvey will not allow him to forget that he too stands on the shoulders of those who have gone before and have paid the price to enable him, a Black man, to attain the high office of President of the United States of America.

An Executive Pardon is usually reserved to be addressed at the end of a President’s term in office because of the obvious sensitivities involved and the decision is usually final. It cannot be reversed.

Therefore, what’s the rationale in this functionary, Rodgers apparently taking it upon himself to make such an insensitive pronouncement in an election year? Is he secretly working against Obama? In fact, this is a matter that is usually addressed on the recommendation the Attorney General, who, in this case, happens to be Eric Holder who is of Barbadian descent and well versed in the achievements of Marcus Garvey.

What may at first glance seem to be an insignificant and innocuous occurrence, could very well, in the long run, cost candidate Obama very dearly by underestimating the historical value and importance of Marcus Garvey to the black and afro-centric immigrant community in the United States . In an election year, Obama can ill afford any resistance from a traditionally safe, black, Caribbean, African immigrant constituency, which would possibly otherwise unreservedly support his policies.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Donavon Parker for his tremendous efforts and urge every Jamaican, Caribbean, and Black American to write to the White House in continuation of the effort to have The Rt. Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey posthumously pardoned by the United States Government.

28 September 2011

Malawi presses UN to renew efforts to advance process of decolonization


Foreign Minister Arthur Peter Mutharika of Malawi


27 September 2011 – The United Nations must renew its commitment to ensure that the world’s 16 remaining non-self-governing territories, home collectively to nearly two million people, are able to exercise their right to self-determination, Malawi said today. 

Addressing the final day of the General Assembly’s annual general debate, Malawian Foreign Minister Arthur Peter Mutharika said “the continuation of colonialism in any form is therefore counter-productive to social, economic and cultural development.” 

While Mr. Mutharika paid tribute to the UN’s decolonization efforts, given that almost 750 million people lived in non-self-governing territories when the Organization was founded in 1945, he stressed that “there is still a long way to go. Our task is not finished. The many commitments we have made in the past need to be fulfilled.” 

The 16 territories on the list today are: Western Sahara; Anguilla; Bermuda; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); Montserrat; St. Helena; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States Virgin Islands; Gibraltar; American Samoa; Guam; New Caledonia; Pitcairn; and Tokelau. 

Mr. Mutharika noted that the start of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, which runs from 2011 to 2021, makes the case for self-determination more urgent than ever. 

But he also commended administering powers which had provided an opportunity for people in their non-self-governing territories to freely choose their destiny.

The Foreign Minister called on the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization, also known as the Committee of 24, “to pursue genuine dialogue aimed at finding fresh and more creative ways to eradicate colonialism.”

Organization of American States (OAS) Resolution on Security of Small States of the Caribbean

AG/RES.2619 (XLI-O/11)



 HAVING SEEN the Annual Report of the Permanent Council to the General Assembly, in particular the section on the matters entrusted to the Committee on Hemispheric Security (AG/doc.5111/10);


Its resolutions AG/RES. 1886 (XXXII-O/02), AG/RES. 1970 (XXXIII-O/03), AG/RES. 2006 (XXXIV-O/04), AG/RES. 2112 (XXXV-O/05), AG/RES. 2187 (XXXVI-O/06), AG/RES. 2325 (XXXVII-O/07), AG/RES. 2397 (XXXVIII-O/08), and AG/RES. 2485 (XXXIX-O/09) “Special Security Concerns of the Small Island States of the Caribbean”; AG/RES. 1497 (XXVII-O/97), AG/RES. 1567 (XXVIII-O/98), AG/RES. 1640 (XXIX-O/99), and AG/RES. 1802 (XXXI-O/01), “Special Security Concerns of Small Island States”; and AG/RES. 1410 (XXVI-O/96), “Promotion of Security in the Small Island States”;

That the ministers of foreign affairs and heads of delegation recognized, as stated in the Declaration of Bridgetown:  The Multidimensional Approach to Hemispheric Security (Bridgetown, Barbados, June 4, 2002), that the security threats, concerns, and other challenges in the hemispheric context are diverse in nature and multidimensional in scope, and that the traditional concept and approach must be expanded to encompass new and nontraditional threats, which include political, economic, social, health, and environmental aspects;

That, at the Special Conference on Security, held in Mexico City on October 27 and 28, 2003, the member states addressed, in paragraphs 2 and 4 of the Declaration on Security in the Americas, the multidimensional scope of security and the new threats, concerns, and other challenges and, in paragraph 8 of that Declaration, called for “renewed and ongoing attention to, and the development of appropriate instruments and strategies within the Inter-American system to address the special security concerns of small island states as reflected in the Declaration of Kingstown on the Security of Small Island States”; and

That, in the Declaration of Kingstown on the Security of Small Island States, the member states reaffirmed that the political, economic, social, health, and environmental integrity and stability of small island states are integral to the security of the Hemisphere;

REITERATING that the security of small island states has peculiar characteristics which render these states particularly vulnerable and susceptible to risks and threats of a multidimensional and transnational nature, involving political, economic, social, health, environmental, and geographic factors; and that multilateral cooperation is the most effective approach for responding to and managing the threats and concerns of small island states;
MINDFUL of the potentially disastrous impact of acts of terrorism on the stability and security of all states in the Hemisphere, particularly the small and vulnerable island states;

ACKNOWLEDGING that effectively addressing the security threats, concerns and challenges of small island states requires simultaneous efforts to reduce both threats and vulnerabilities;

RECOGNIZING the asymmetry that exists between the institutional capacity of small island states and the volume and scope of transnational organized criminal activity in the region;

AWARE that the small island states remain deeply concerned about the possible threats posed to their economies and maritime environment should a ship transporting substances such as petroleum and potentially dangerous materials, radioactive material, and toxic waste, have an accident or be the target of a terrorist attack while transiting the Caribbean Sea and other sea-lanes of communication in the Hemisphere;

RECOGNIZING the international obligations of member states, particularly obligations of the states parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and relevant instruments of the International Maritime Organization;

UNDERSCORING the importance of sustained dialogue on the multidimensional aspects of security and their impact on the small island states of the Caribbean, in support of ongoing subregional efforts to enhance law enforcement, violence prevention, security cooperation, and disaster mitigation and preparedness;


The Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, in which the Heads of State and Government recognized, inter alia, that it is important to address the threats, concerns, and challenges to security in the Hemisphere that are diverse, multidimensional in scope, and impact on the well-being of our citizens; that violence is preventable; and that climate change has adverse effects on all countries of the Hemisphere, in particular, on small island states and countries with low-lying coastal areas;[1]/

The decisions adopted at the Tenth and Eleventh Regular Sessions of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) to promote public-private cooperation in the fight against terrorism and to renew hemispheric commitment to enhance cooperation to prevent, combat and eliminate terrorism, as well as the decisions adopted at all previous regular sessions of CICTE that address the special security concerns of small island states; and

The outcomes of the Twelfth Regular Meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (CIFTA);

BEARING IN MIND the decisions adopted at the Thirteenth Special Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), held in Trinidad and Tobago in April 2008, which identified the special security concerns of the region and have been formulated into the security cooperation agenda, instruments, and strategic priorities currently being pursued and implemented in that region;


Its resolutions AG/RES. 2114 (XXXV-O/05), “Natural Disaster Reduction and Risk Management,” AG/RES. 2184 (XXXVI-O/06), “Natural Disaster Reduction, Risk Management, and Assistance in Natural and Other Disaster Situations,” AG/RES. 2492 (XXXIX-O/09), and AG/RES. (XL-O/10), “Existing Mechanisms for Disaster Prevention and Response and Humanitarian Assistance Among Member States”; and

Its resolution AG/RES. 1 (XXXII-E/06), “Statutes of the Inter-American Defense Board,” which mandates the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), in carrying out its purpose, to take into account the needs of the smaller states, whose level of vulnerability is greater in the face of traditional threats and of new threats, concerns, and other challenges;


The meetings of the permanent committee of the Permanent Council–Committee on Hemispheric Security–held on March 25, 2010 and March 31, 2011 respectively, that addressed the follow-up of the implementation of resolution AG/RES. 2485 (XXXIX-O/09), “Special Security Concerns of the Small Island States of the Caribbean,” and which included expert presentations on CARICOM’s security priorities, among them disaster management and mitigation, violence and crime prevention, the impact of climate change as an ongoing threat to sustainable development, and border control enhancement;

The Second Meeting of National Authorities on Trafficking in Persons, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from March 25 to 27, 2009;

The renewed Commitment to Public Security in the Americas at the Second Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security (MISPA II) held in Santo Domingo on November 4 and 5, 2009, and the importance of the undertakings therein to the security of small island states;

The convocation of the Third Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas (MISPA III), to be held in Trinidad and Tobago on November 17 and 18, 2011, which will focus on the theme of Police Management; and

The actions taken to address the special security concerns of the small island states by the organs, agencies, and entities of the inter-American system and by the General Secretariat, through the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security and the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development; and

NOTING WITH INTEREST the intention of the IADB to address more effectively the special concerns of the small island states, in compliance with Statutes of the IADB, through the formation of a new office of “Small States Issues” to expand, in accordance with its Statutes, cooperation and coordination with regional and subregional organizations on the needs of small island states in the Caribbean,[2]/


1.                   To reemphasize the importance of strengthening and enhancing the hemispheric security agenda of the Organization of American States (OAS) by addressing the multidimensional nature of security as it relates to the special security concerns of the small island states of the Caribbean.

2.                   To instruct the Permanent Council to continue considering the issues which have an impact on the security of small island states, including global climate change, and, to this end, through its Committee on Hemispheric Security (CSH), to evaluate progress made in addressing the security concerns of those states and the development of strategies for the implementation of related General Assembly resolutions.

3.                   To urge all member states that have not already done so to give prompt consideration to ratifying or acceding to, as the case may be, the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials, the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism, and the Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions (CITAAC), and to adopting all necessary measures for their effective implementation.

4.         To reiterate its request that the General Secretariat, through the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security and the relevant organs, agencies, and entities of the inter-American system and in collaboration with member states, civil society, private sector organizations and relevant multilateral institutions, as appropriate, within their areas of competence and programming:

a.                   Strengthen regional, sub-regional, and national crime management systems, taking into account those initiatives currently being implemented or pursued by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM);

b.                   Enhance border security systems and capacities, including transportation security, at airports, seaports, and border crossing points, and assist border control authorities in the small island states in accessing critical information;

c.                   Strengthen the capacity of small island states to fight money laundering and the illicit trafficking in drugs;

d.                   Strengthen the capacity of small island states to combat the illicit manufacture and trafficking in small arms, light weapons, and ammunition;

e.                   Continue to analyze the causes and effects of violence as it relates to criminal gangs and at-risk youth and other vulnerable populations with a view to identifying best practices and supporting capacity-building initiatives including prevention, social rehabilitation, and reintegration programs aimed at reducing incidences of violence;

f.                    Continue to support the states through the provision of capacity building programs and technical assistance regarding legislation aimed at countering trafficking in persons;

g.                   Promote technical cooperation and institutional capacity-building, in order to strengthen natural and man-made disaster response and mitigation and crisis management capacity in the small island states, including the development of reconstruction capability, training in humanitarian assistance, search and rescue operations, and strengthening of critical infrastructure protection, as well as the security of tourism and recreational facilities and the use of simulation exercises;

h.                   Provide training and technical assistance regarding legislation on counter-terrorism, terrorist financing, cyber-security, and cyber-crime to small island states;

i.                     Improve coordination among the organs, agencies, and entities of the OAS, and with regional and subregional organizations, including the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and the Regional Security System (RSS), on matters related to the special security concerns of small island states, so as to ensure awareness and avoid duplication in their response to these concerns; and

j.                     Improve coordination and information-sharing among member states on immigration policies, including deportation.

5.         To urge member states and the international community to adopt measures to strengthen international cooperation with a view to complying with security measures on the transportation of radioactive and hazardous materials.

6.         To request that the General Secretariat, through the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security and the relevant organs, agencies, and entities of the inter-American system, keep the Committee on Hemispheric Security duly apprised on the progress made in addressing the special security concerns of the small island states of the Caribbean.

7.                   To request the Permanent Council and the General Secretariat to report to the General Assembly at its forty-second and forty-third regular sessions on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.


1.             During the event, Nicaragua stated its position that it considered the Declaration of the Fifth Summit of the Americas to be unacceptable and insufficient as it failed to address a number of issues of vital importance for the Hemisphere, which are still pending discussion.  Similarly, Nicaragua does not accept the reference to that Declaration in various resolutions adopted by the General Assembly.  Nicaragua insists that the items on the agenda for the General Assembly should be drawn from the discussions and debates of the Heads of State and Government gathered in Trinidad and Tobago.

2.             The Government of Nicaragua has maintained a critical stance towards the IADB, not agreeing that it should be engaged in matters of a military or defense nature in the countries of the hemisphere, or in any other activity that affects the sovereignty of states.

                [1].         The Government of Nicaragua places on record its express reservation to the Declaration of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago….
                [2].         Nicaragua respects the sovereign right of the CARICOM member states to create a new office of “Small States Issues” ….

27 September 2011

Guam Commission on Decolonization convenes to initiate self-determination process


 Guam decolonization meeting held 

HAGÅTÑA (Office of the Guam Governor) — Gov. Eddie Calvo last Friday convened the Commission on Decolonization for the first time in about a decade.

Trini Torres makes a point to fellow members of the Decolonization Committee during its Friday meeting. Photo shows, from left, Piti Mayor Ben Gumataotao, Joe Garrido, Torres, Senators Aline Yamashita and Rory Respicio, commission chairman Ed Alvarez, Gov. Eddie B. Calvo, and Speaker Judi Won Pat. Photo by Matt WeissCalvo also signed a letter to President Obama announcing the commission’s plans to seek political self-determination.

“Times have changed since the last time this commission met. I suggest we set up various groups within our organization to go out into the community and identify what the needs and wants of the people are today,” Calvo said. “We’ve got to look at the social, political and economic aspects of this initiative and how it will affect us today.”

On the table for discussion were issues such as funding for a delegation to represent Guam at an upcoming United Nations meeting as well as an agenda for an upcoming visit from Dr. Carlyle Corbin, an expert on decolonization.

“We don’t need to look far to understand the degree of success and failure when exploring our options,” Calvo stated. “Whether it’s free association, statehood or independence, the people of Guam really need to come together to think these issues through and ultimately decide what is going to be the best course of action.”

Guam is one of 16 non-self-governing territories identified by the United Nations. UN Resolution No. 1514, signed in 1960, affirms that at all non-self-governing territories have the right to self-determination.

Members of the Commission on Decolonization voted to schedule regular meetings every first and third Friday of the month.

26 September 2011


Organization of American States

AG/RES. 2674 (XLI-O/11)
(Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 7, 2011)


RECALLING resolutions AG/RES. 1022 (XIX-O/89), AG/RES. 1479 (XXVII-O/97), AG/RES. 1549 (XXVIII-O/98), AG/RES. 1610 (XXIX-O/99), AG/RES. 1708 (XXX-O/00), AG/RES. 1780 (XXXI-O/01), AG/RES. 1851 (XXXII-O/02), AG/RES. 1919 (XXXIII-O/03), AG/RES. 2029 (XXXIV-O/04), AG/RES. 2073 (XXXV-O/05), AG/RES. 2234 (XXXVI-O/06), AG/RES. 2294 (XXXVII-O/07), AG/RES. 2368 (XXXVIII-O/08), AG/RES. 2498 (XXXIX-O/09), and AG/RES. 2565 (XL-O/10);

HAVING SEEN the report of the Chair of the Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on the activities carried out in 2010-2011 (GT/DADIN/doc.409/11), including the Thirteenth Meeting of Negotiations in the Quest for Points of Consensus, and the report on that meeting (GT/DADIN/doc.406/11);

UNDERSCORING the results of the Thirteenth Meeting of Negotiations in the Quest for Points of Consensus on the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, held in Washington, D.C., United States of America, from January 18 to 20, 2011, and in particular the concerted efforts of the states parties and the Indigenous Caucus to move forward in their quest for points of consensus;

ACKNOWLEDGING WITH SATISFACTION the outstanding efforts of the Working Group during this period through its Chair; and

RECOGNIZING the importance of contributions to the Specific Fund to Support the Elaboration of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which enable effective participation by indigenous representatives in the meetings of negotiation,


1.  To reaffirm the will and the commitment of the OAS member states to the process surrounding the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

2.   To renew the mandate of the Working Group to Prepare the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to continue holding its Meetings of Negotiations in the Quest for Points of Consensus, so as to complete the drafting of the Declaration, on the basis of the “Record of the Current Status of the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” hereinafter “Record of the Current Status” (GT/DADIN/doc.334/08 rev. 6), and taking into consideration the “Compendium of Proposals of Negotiations in the Quest for Points of Consensus Held by the Working Group,” issued by the Thirteenth Meeting of Negotiations in the Quest for Points of Consensus (GT/DADIN/doc.255/06 add. 4), and other pertinent documents of the Working Group

3.      To request the Permanent Council to instruct the Working Group to:

a.         Hold up to two three-day Meetings of Negotiations in the Quest for Points of Consensus prior to the  forty-second regular session of the General Assembly;

b.        Convene the Meetings of Negotiations in the Quest for Points of Consensus the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples three months in advance; and

c.         Take the appropriate measures to ensure the effective participation in these meetings of member states and representatives of the indigenous peoples 

4.                   To invite the member states to conduct consultations or dialogues on the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with the respective indigenous peoples. 

5.                   To request the Selection Board of the Specific Fund to continue to work according to the principles of transparency established in the resolution CP/RES. 951 (1691/09) “Specific Fund to Support the Elaboration of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” 

6.                   To thank the member states, permanent observers, and institutions for their valuable contributions to the Specific Fund, which will make it possible to hold the meetings suggested for the period covered by this resolution; and to invite all the states and institutions to continue supporting the purposes of the Fund through their contributions. 

7.                   To request the General Secretariat and the organs, agencies, and entities of the Organization to continue to lend their valuable support to the process of drafting the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and to thank them for their ongoing contribution to that process. 

8.                   To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its forty-second regular session on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.

25 September 2011

Dutch Caribbean 'public entities' have tax increases reversed

Bonaire Reporter

Elected officials, at both the island and national level, under pressure from disgruntled citizens influenced government officials to lower taxes in the BES Islands and improve public relations.

(OTR Note: The BES islands are Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, formerly part of the erstwhile 5-island Netherlands Antilles, and partially integrated 'public entities of the Kingdom of the Netherlands' after 10th October 2010).

The general sales tax (ABB) on all services in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will be reduced by 2% on January 1,2012. The import tax on cars in St.Eustatius and Saba will be reduced. Instead of having to pay 25% import duty, people buying cars on these islands now will have to pay 18% on the first $20,000 of value increasing to 30% for vehicles worth more than $30,000.

Several other tax relief measures for the islands will go into effect on October 1 this year. Overall taxes will be reduced by $6 million. Other cuts are being discussed.

On October 1, the tax-free sum and the allowance for children and the elderly all will be increased by five per cent. The 5% increase for children and the elderly will be added to the 5.9% inflation indexing.

Furthermore, the elderly deduction in income and wage tax assessment will be increased from $200 to $1,200. Pension premiums paid by the elderly will be marked as negative income in their tax assessment.

According to preliminary indications, the ABB tax and excises on the three islands for this year have yielded an additional $10 million. The new fiscal regime that went into effect on January 1 this year should yield a total tax revenue of $52 million for the three islands per year, but it turned out to be more.

24 September 2011

Governor of Bonaire Resigns


Special Report
Bonaire Reporter 

Glenn Thodé, the respected Governor of Bonaire, quit his job today.  The dramatic action made a strong statement condemning the political bickering that has virtually paralyzed the leadership of the Bonaire island council and government for six months. 
  Politically things in Bonaire, have been in turmoil for an extended period. The most recent development has been in the forming of a new executive council (the island's executive branch). The Island Council named an individual who has been the focus of serious financial crimes for the last two years to head the Economics and Tourism departments.

 The Governor told The Reporter he could no longer be a party to those activities. Politics on Bonaire is like a gunfight on a ship at sea.  The opponents are shooting at each other so much and not thinking that the bullets are making holes in the ship and it is sinking.  And themselves and the passengers, the Bonairean people, are about to go under.
 Today, Thodé called an emergency press conference and announced he was leaving his job. (He’s served three years, had another three to go).  He said he hoped that this act would make people on the island realize that they have to alter course and get people into leadership positions who are for the people, not just for themselves and their associates. 

 A governor leaving office is not unprecedented: in the 60s the first Antillean Governor, Raymundo Saleh, quit to start a political party. No gubernatorial replacement has been named. Thodé will become the Director of the University of Aruba. He was the head of the Law School there before being selected to become Bonaire's Governor. 


22 September 2011

Five Caribbean Community countries recognise Palestine




Antigua and Barbuda Recognizes Palestine as an Independent Sovereign

 by: "Maurice Merchant"


Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:17 pm (PDT)

UNITED NATIONS, New York ­ September 21, 2011
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda the Hon. W. Baldwin Spencer on Wednesday announced that his government has formally recognized the State of Palestine as an independent sovereign State.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of a proposed move by Palestine to submit a written application to Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon on Friday, which will then go to the Security Council to be examined and voted on.
In a statement circulated to the members of the United Nations attending the General Assembly, Antigua and Barbuda outlined that the country's recognition of Palestine as an Independent sovereign State is in keeping with its support for the aspirations of the Palestinian people and for the idea of a two-State solution that would allo w the Palestinian people the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential in a sovereign and contiguous state.
Antigua and Barbuda is of the view that recognition of the State of Palestine will contribute to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the creation of lasting peace and stability in the region; we are also of the view that recognition of the State of Palestine should not detract from the fact that many core issues of this conflict remain unresolved and must be negotiated, and that an outcome of those negotiations must be a viable Palestine and a secure Israel, the statement reads.
The statement concludes that Antigua and Barbuda will continue to maintain that the ultimate resolution of the long-standing conflict should result in the existence of two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.  
The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that securer and recognized borders are established for both sides, it stated. In order for the Palestinian request for membership of the United Nations, which will translate into it becoming an independent state, it would need the backing of nine out of 15 council members, with no vetoes from the permanent members. The United States has already indicated that it will veto any move by Palestine to become a member of the United Nations. To date, five (5) CARICOM Member States ­ Belize, Guyana, Suriname, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda ­ have recognized Palestine. (Ends)

21 September 2011

National Council for Decolonisation (CONADE) announces congress for decolonizing Puerto Rico


By Rafael R. Díaz Torres
Special to the Puerto Rico Daily Sun

A multi-sector civil organization known as the National Council for Decolonization (CONADE for its Spanish acronym) announced on Wednesday the formation of a congress that would seek to integrate different interest groups on the island to discuss Puerto Rico's colonial issue and develop national self-determination options to resolve the perennial political problem in the Caribbean U.S. non-incorporated territory.

The congress will take place at the Río Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico and will be held from Oct. 24 until Oct. 29. According to the event’s organizers, the integration of diverse interest groups and non-partisan sectors has the purpose of developing decolonizing strategies outside of what they identified as the “monopoly” and top-to-bottom management controlled by traditional political parties.

“The National Council for Decolonization has always denounced that what people in this country usually denominate as the problem of status, is in fact, a problem of colonialism,” said CONADE spokesperson and lawyer, Humberto Pagán. “Political status is a series of options that range from integration or statehood, independence or free association if it fulfills the requisites according to the International Law. But our main problem is not one of status, but of colonialism.”

Pagán identified the lack of political sovereignty as the most relevant issue in colonialism as the people of Puerto Rico are unable to organize in a process of self-determination since the U.S. Congress has sovereign powers over the island and has the last word regarding the administration and international management of the Caribbean territory.

The group also criticized the New Progressive Party legislative majority’s intention to approve another political status plebiscite as has been expressed by both senators and representatives at the beginning of this year’s second ordinary session that started Monday in Capitol Hill.

“We have had three plebiscites in Puerto Rico and they have not solved anything,” said labor relations professor and CONADE member, Dr. Ramón Nenadich. “Political parties try to take advantage of this issue for their benefit. However, we all know that plebiscites do not solve anything because the U.S. Congress has the final word in the problem of the status in Puerto Rico.”

“The idea of this (CONADE) congress is to have a multi-sector analysis and deliberation and then present those options to the Puerto Rican and U.S. governments,” added Nenadich. “Involving the people is the only way to legitimately start a true process of decolonization without the impositions of traditional political parties.” CONADE also announced that its members have already approached residents of different communities that, according to them, are interested in becoming involved in the process of decolonization promoted by their organization.

“We have received good feedback from communities that are interested in participating, such as La Perla in San Juan and Villas Del Sol,” affirmed public administration graduate student, Raúl Mari Fernández. “These people from the communities are tired of having every four years the same people and political parties that do not take into the consideration their problems and needs. That is one of the big limitations of representative democracy.”
The congress is open to scholars, educators, civic leaders, politicians, workers, activists and citizens in general from all political spectrums on the island. People can submit abstracts for proposals to conade.boricua@gmail.com no later than Aug. 30. The event is sponsored by the UPR’s College of Social Sciences, “Comité Timón Nación Boricua”, and the Social Sciences Department at the UPR’s College of General Education, among other civil and academic groups.

19 September 2011

Sint Maarten Parliament Opens 2011-2012 Session


St Martin News Network


Governor of St. Maarten delivers address to Parliament of Sint Maarten

Philipsburg:--- Several dignitaries including the members of the Constitutional Court, Ombudsman, Council of Ministers, Chamber of Commerce and senior civil servants were part of the crowd that attended the official opening of Parliament for the year 2011 - 2012. The Governor of St. Maarten Drs. Eugene Holiday delivered the Governors address shortly before the opening of the second year of Parliament. Governor Holiday also inspected the uniform troops which comprised of the St. Maarten Police, the St. Maarten Voluntary Corps and the Marines. Shortly after the official opening of Parliament, the dignitaries moved to Front Street to view the parade of the uniform troops after which they went to the Sheer restaurant for lunch. Below is the full address delivered by the Governor of St. Maarten Drs. Eugene Holiday.





Madam Chairlady, Members of Parliament,

Congratulations with the opening of the new parliamentary year.

Today marks the start of the second and first full, parliamentary year of Sint Maarten since becoming a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands on October 10, 2010. As of that date, you have been entrusted with the significant responsibility to serve the general interest of the people of Sint Maarten. In the eleven months since my installation as Governor, I have had the privilege of meeting with people from all walks of life, committed to doing their part, dedicated to carrying their stone, towards helping build a stronger and better Sint Maarten.

My conversations with these persons have revalidated my conviction of the potential of this small and remarkable country of ours.

Through my discussions with these persons I have learned that, regardless of age or affiliation, people are looking to parliament and government to create an environment of opportunity, where everyone can receive an education, work, contribute and succeed in Sint Maarten. Madame Chairlady, Members of Parliament, this is the basic reason for this gathering and the coming sessions of Parliament.

As we gather here today for the opening of the new parliamentary year I shall, in my capacity as Governor of Sint Maarten, present you with an outline of the policy plans of the government for the coming year. Policy plans placed within the context of the prevailing domestic constitutional and socio-economic setting and the global financial and economic climate.

Madam Chairlady, Members of Parliament,

The course for Sint Maarten has been set with the accomplishment of country status on October 10, 2010. This is a course towards more self-reliance, more responsibilities and a broader mindset for our country.

Following a long quest to achieve and having some 11 months of experience with country status, it is clear that the road ahead is not an easy one.

In preparation for Country Sint Maarten, much attention was paid to the democratic foundation which is so necessary for our young nation. The price tag that comes with these democratic guarantees is high, but without them our country would be standing on shaky grounds. In preparation for country Sint Maarten our resources were pushed to their limits, but it did provide us the blueprint for a government organization worthy of our country.

Filing of all positions necessary to man this organization is now upon us, and it is clear that for the coming 12-18 months and maybe longer, all the additional human resources needed, will not be available to us. And if they are, it will be at a higher cost than if the pressure of time was not upon us.

The challenges associated with the price tag and financial framework, have been apparent with the balancing of the 2011 budget, which was approved less than two months ago. Given the limited available financial means the budget for 2012 will be the next challenge as government move to comply with its obligations to meet the needs and aspirations of the people of Sint Maarten. As such the coming year shall be a tough year, but by no means impossible!

Needless to say, that the much anticipated constitutional change has come at a time of major international financial and economic instability, as reflected in sluggish global economic performances and more recently in the downgrade of the US credit rating by Standard and Poors, one of the three reputable rating agencies, and as reflected in the ongoing debt crises in Europe. Sint Maarten has not been immune to these developments and continues to experience the impact of the protracted fragile global financial and economic conditions.

Madam Chairlady, Members of Parliament,

Many of government's policy plans will be tempered because of the domestic and global economic and financial realities of the day. None of the above however, will dampen the spirit of Moving Ahead as a country, responsible for our own destiny and that of our children.

Convinced that the constitutional change on October 10, 2010, is for the betterment of the people of this nation, government is determined despite the many challenges, to present and fulfill its vision of creating a foundation built on strength, compassion and decisiveness for Sint Maarten.

Country status has come at a time and a cost that calls for the old adage all hands on deck to become the clarion call to action for all who call Sint Maarten home.

As such Government invites you to be a participant in its considerations, dilemmas and solutions for Sint Maarten. Given that Sint Maarten has many challenges and a limited budget, making the correct choices will take courage. Choices as presented in government's policy plan called "A Foundation of Hope for our Country". Choices guided by the following focal points: social cohesion, sustainable economy, quality of life and a knowledge based society.

Appreciation for the little things that make us who we are is paramount, as we seek to bear out our culture for others to see and experience. It is the collective bearing out of that culture, day in, day out, that strengthens us and provides the social cohesion, so necessary for Moving Ahead as a country.

Government's plan therefore is to promote cultural development aimed at continuously strengthening Sint Maarten as "A nation of proud people, cognizant of our past and confident of our future, where communities work together to build the country Sint Maarten".

Thus as the government of country Sint Maarten takes definite shape, it is clear that the governance cycle must be one of delegated authority and accountability. Processes must be transparent internally and externally to the clients that government serves; namely the people of Sint Maarten.

Accountability and checks and balances are the bedrock of our democracy and anchored in our constitution and institutions. The Constitutional Court, the High Councils of State and the human rights catalog are guarantees of our democratic system.

Government in the building of these institutions and the respective ministries will make use of local expertise and manpower. In addition government shall where necessary to secure vital services, enter into service level agreements and use expatriate expertise as a means to build local and sustainable cadre.

Essential in that regard, is that the integrity program as developed, along with the legislation that supports it will continue. In doing so, government will place the emphasis on empowering workers, with the knowledge that an open, transparent, fair, and accountable government operation benefits all.

The success of government's governance approach will depend on the development and quality of the labor force. Education is paramount in that regard. The vision for education on Sint Maarten is predicated on the firm belief, that all citizens will acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes that will enable them to reach their highest human potential. Education will empower all citizens to participate and as a result promote and sustain a socio-economic climate that will move the island forward; Education will thus expand our island's competitive capacity within the context of its regional and global socio-economic position.

Government intends to create a new design for Education, which fully makes our citizens responsible for developing a new mentality, new attitudes, new levels of achievement and success within our education system. This means that the new system should fit our citizenry. The new system also is to promote a shared vision that includes best practices, national standards, community consciousness, curriculum changes, 21st century skills priorities and relevance. The new Education Plan shall emphasize the building of human capital through education. On the one hand, it must emphasize human resource development and national development and, on the other hand, it must foster individual and personal development anchored in pillars of trust, reciprocity and commitment.

Madam Chairlady, Members of Parliament,

Together with the new design for Education, it is the vision of government that national long term planning can no longer be postponed. A National Development Plan, a successor of the Multi Annual Policy Plan (MAPP) will therefore be undertaken post haste. This is no small undertaking as it will require broad private sector input and support.

Through the National Development Plan government shall continue to promote economic growth through investments in public programs and by creating an enabling environment for business development.

In that regard, government sees a market which promotes competition; a market where market forces compete fairly; a market in which clear rules and incentives for good corporate citizenship apply; and a market guided by government through dialogue and enabling legislation.

In developing the National Development Plan consideration will be given to the fact that our traditional stay-over tourism product, as the prime engine of growth, is a mature one; One where the need to encourage property owners to upgrade their properties is ever present. Moreover, more attention is warranted for the market of condominium development. Noteworthy in this context is that the cruise product continues to hold its own and has bridged the rather sluggish global economic conditions and its effects on the region. Additionally, other areas such as the marine trade industry continue to hold their own and demonstrate further growth potential.

To support its socio-economic development, it is essential that Sint Maarten invests in the maintenance of a durable, weather proven economic infrastructure comprised of adequate housing, a good road network, modern sea- and airports, adequate lighting, proper drainage and efficient waste disposal. Government has therefore embarked on the implementation of a road and drainage maintenance program. Notwithstanding the budgetary challenges, neighborhood development is a priority of government for this governing term. Several road infrastructure projects are currently under construction in the neighborhoods, which not only include improvements in the road network and street lighting, but also water drainage and sewerage lines. Moreover, garbage waste disposal improvement and furtherance of a modern waste disposal plant on Sint Maarten are under consideration.

The government has recently commissioned the project "Sint Maarten Housing Vision 2012-2017". The goal is to develop a 5-year policy plan for housing on Sint Maarten, with specific attention for lower and middle income categories. The project shall also address the legislation governing housing and the goal is to improve the overall quality of housing on Sint Maarten. This plan falls under the Social chapter of the Social Economic Initiative of the country.

In addition, government intends to pursue the creation of a development bank for Sint Maarten or have an institution serve as such by tapping into the available revenue streams. This becomes even more pressing, as traditional development aid from the Netherlands is being phased out. Associated with this idea is the creation of a financing agency for social programs, as a successor for Reda Social on Sint Maarten.

Madam Chairlady, Members of Parliament,

As government invests in the economic infrastructure, it is cognizant that the environmental health of our country is a delicate one. A "green" vision of government for sustainability is therefore one of careful balancing. Actions on different fronts support this endeavor. The zoning of the island has taken on renewed impetus, and the management of waste water and refuse is a top priority. With SLAC's commitment to an improved management of the Simpson bay Lagoon and the imminent clean-up of the Great Salt Pond, these two vital water areas will be given new breath. Moreover government supports and encourages the use of alternative energy sources!

Community Development encompasses a broad area of operation with the overarching aim to facilitate developments that will enhance the lives of the people and the communities by means of social empowerment and district improvement. As such, government plans to achieve Community Development using an integrated neighborhood development approach (INDP) by working in close collaboration with relevant stakeholders. Stakeholders include, but is not limited to Community Councils, NGOs, representation of various groups, (such as the Elderly and Disabled) and the socially deprived (such as the homeless and addicts). This holistic approach not only improves the physical environment but also enhances the position of the people living in the communities.

As government pursues enhancing the position of people living in the communities, special attention will be given to eliminating gender inequalities through the empowerment of women. In that regard, empowerment of women is not only about combating violence against women, but also addressing the more subtle forms of inequality and discrimination in areas such as wages and governmental representation.

With the borrowed phrase: "A community is strongest when the care for its weakest is constant and deliberate" in mind, the government of Sint Maarten is cognizant of its work in the areas as outlined in the "Millennium Development Goals" as adopted in 2000. The first report regarding attainment of these goals as presented in 2011 serves as a basis for strategic policy objectives in the coming 4 years.

With respect to youth unemployment, which in government's view must be reduced drastically, training and schooling is paramount. The secondary vocational education (SBO) programs are already bearing fruit and thus the construction of a school for this type of education, is part of government's 2011 year program. Together with training programs, incentives can contribute to government's goal of reducing unemployment to between 5 and 7 %.

Further, it is essential to have established and to maintain adequate sport facilities. However, in addition to this action, there is the need to promote awareness and guidance in regards to regular physical activity and education, to ensure a healthy and vibrant community. Physical activity must in that regard become a "national sport". Thus as Sint Maarten looks forward to hosting the 2013 Kingdom games, a renewed impetus is being given to sport facilities' upgrades. Slowly, but surely, Sint Maarten athletes are beginning to make a name for themselves abroad, a development that Government is keen on nurturing through a close working relationship with sports organizations. This will be evident in the Sports Policy, currently a topic for discussion in sports circles.

Madam Chairlady, Members of Parliament,

While we emphasize the importance of education in creating an environment of opportunity for all, where people can be self-reliant we must be mindful of the need to provide an adequate social safety net.

It should come as no surprise that the social infrastructure of Sint Maarten lags behind the social needs. In as far as we do have (basic) social infrastructures, the level needs serious improvement. The general old age pension and sickness insurances and benefits are services that need to be adjusted to the demands of our developing society.

Therefore government is pursuing the establishment of social systems, which over time will offer a basic level of social security to all citizens. Sustainability, solidarity and affordability are key components of this vision. Revision of the systems and addressing parties' responsibilities within the system to promote better cost control and savings is crucial for the sustainability of the systems.

The transformation of the present old age pension system into a comprehensive and sustainable pension system will be studied and prepared during this and the coming year.

The government is, in addition pursuing the introduction of a new national health insurance program.

Consistent with the aim of a sustainable safety net system, additional measures are warranted for collective health care and prevention. Programs for promotion of healthy lifestyles will be continued. And social services shall be reviewed with the aim to make them more accessible, transparent and fair.

In conjunction, the government is committed to make combating of poverty a structural program, by combining different elements and reaching across ministries. In this regard, closer collaboration with NGO's is a conditio sine qua non to reach government's goal of a measurable reduction in poverty.

Hence the social financial aid system will be reviewed and revised. These social safety nets need to be accessible to those who do not have other resources or means. More emphasis will be on the prevention of poverty; self-empowerment and the importance of individual and social responsibility in society.

Madam Chairlady, Members of Parliament,

As we invest in the education of and in a more healthy population, towards the realization of our full potential as a country, a sense of peace and safety for residents and visitors is critical. Government's objective is to fight for a crime-free Sint Maarten, where law enforcement exudes confidence and citizens consider it their social duty to do their part in fighting crime. Crime against any resident or visitor is a crime against Sint Maarten. In accordance with the "Plan of Approach of the Police of Force Sint Maarten", the police force will focus on recruitment and training of officers. Several new approaches have been undertaken to urgently boost the recruitment of police officers. In addition, given the target for the ultimate strength of 390 officers, the police force will be held to the commitment to reach the minimum strength as defined in the Kingdom Resolution.

To support the fight against crime and to promote the feeling of safety amongst the residents of Sint Maarten, the government shall promote second-chance education, foster care, youth facilities development and re-socialization efforts.

In accordance with the "Plan of Approach of the New Immigration Organization", the set-up of this entity is in progress. The process of setting up the new entity includes the recruitment and training of personnel, to strengthen the organization. Important factors in the process will be the creation of (new) policies in regard to admittance.

With the authority for work permits and immigration in the hands of the government of Sint Maarten, synchronization of policies is a must. This means, amongst others, that the government will take measures to deal with the consequences of the implementation of the Brooks Tower Accord.

Additionally, the government believes that there are possibilities for new investment niches on Sint Maarten. As a result, certain policies in the area of the establishment of businesses and persons must be reviewed to tap into hitherto un-researched areas of growth.

A new labor policy will focus on regulating the labor market with better control on compliance with labor laws, especially where labor conditions, premium and tax payments and wages are concerned.

Further the current work permit policy is under review; this based on the need to streamline processes and re-institute tripartite dialogue regarding reform of labor laws.

As government pursues its policy plans it shall broaden its scope as made possible by the constitutional change. Sint Maarten can now diligently pursue regional cooperation and has undertaken several steps to this effect. New relationships and engagements have and are taking place with UNDP, UNESCO, CFATF, CIAT, COTA and CARICOM, while functional cooperation in tax information exchanges and mutual assistance in tax matters is ongoing. Sint Maarten needs to expand its horizons in terms of assistance, as we set about to build a strong foundation for our country. With due consideration for the Dutch Kingdom's coordinating role for foreign relations, Sint Maarten needs the space to develop its own foreign policy. As an Overseas Country of the European Union, Sint Maarten's participation in agencies such as OCTA is desirable and necessary, this also in light of the approaching new development agreement with the EU.

In furthering the dialogue on the future of the Dutch Kingdom, the focus for Sint Maarten will be on the economic and financial relationships within the Kingdom, on a relationship based on respect and free will. Recent times have been dominated by political discussions that have muddled the political realities of the Kingdom comprised of 4 countries forming a voluntary association.

Staying in the Kingdom, it is noteworthy that the organization of the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten has suffered some serious setbacks. For Sint Maarten, this meant that the envisaged full-fledged Central Bank branch on Sint Maarten has not materialized to date and that no further joint action on a joint currency has been undertaken. Given the rocky start of this joint institution, the government of Sint Maarten is of the belief that a separate monetary agency for Sint Maarten must be given serious consideration. The scope and form of this agency (central bank) will be dependent on the ultimate choice by Sint Maarten for its currency. In the meantime, arrangements will be made with Curacao for the continued use of the Netherlands Antillean currency, pegged to the US dollar as is presently the case. It is recommended that this arrangement be upheld for the year 2012, to allow for the Sint Maarten branch of the Central Bank to take root and for a careful analysis of the available choices of currency.

Madam Chairlady, members of Parliament

The implementation of these policy plans will come at a cost, costs which will have to be managed efficiently. St. Maarten is currently working on obtaining a sovereign rating to facilitate lowering some of these costs if borrowing is done in Capital markets. The extent and speed of implementation of these policy measures depends in large part on the available financial resources. Getting the right financial fit for country Sint Maarten, after decades of co-management with the Netherlands Antilles will take time, creativity and crafting and re-crafting. The neglect of the past needs to be undone and new challenges will have to be met head-on. The redrafted 2011 budget has gotten closer to this ideal, however there is still much more work to be done. This work continues to be done within the framework of the financial agreements of the constitutional reforms.

The tax system will be overhauled within the next 18 months. Non-disputable elements of this overhaul are: simplification, fairness, efficiency, stability and feasibility. Upgrading the tax administration however, is an ongoing project. The first results will be the inclusion of all tax payers in the tax system. To achieve this, data bases of for example the Chamber of Commerce and that of the Civil Registry should be synchronized or at least accessible for the tax office, and ultimately should result in one general registration number/code for residents and businesses. The project "Improvement Data Management By Government Agencies" has been launched with this objective in mind. 

It is the intention of government to extend this data management process to other government departments as well. This alone will considerably improve government's income and will provide better insight for the bases of tax reforms. Serious consideration will be given to the current turn-over-tax in this review. While the TOT is good for government's coffers, its effects on the economy need to be analyzed. But mostly, our tax system needs to have those elements built-in that provides a low threshold, both in terms of the complexity as well as in competiveness; Thus improving the tax payers' attitude towards taxes in general.

Madam Chairlady, Members of Parliament,

With the outlined vision and policy measures the government plans to create hope and opportunity for all residents of Sint Maarten based on a sound national, social and economic foundation. Cognizant that it cannot accomplish this alone, the government invites all to participate in the execution and pursuit of its vision for a better and stronger Sint Maarten.

Madam Chairlady, Members of Parliament,

The government looks to you as political representatives of the people of Sint Maarten for your participation and your support in achieving this vision for the coming period in the interest of the people of Sint Maarten. I wish you much wisdom, strength, and God's speed.