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To Obtain True Autonomy

Dear Editor,

I love the word independence. Mainly because once it's mentioned a flame seems to spark in the souls of those who are either pro or anti independent (NB: every St. Martiner is a potential independista) to take the current condition and future of our country seriously. Our problem as a people is that since we arrived at the doorstep of our destiny, we have been brought to a halt, because we are busy arguing about which foot should we put forward.

In my personal analysis I realized that whether people want political freedom or not, they all have a common belief/goal: the need for our own to be in control on all levels. I have yet to hear a person say that they prefer people from elsewhere to hold key positions over our own qualified locals. But what keeps that from happening is the fact that we do not support our own (especially the youth) and we continue to tear each other down.

So while we bicker and fight in the barrel, the barrel maker (the person who put you there) selects who he feels will serve him best and makes sure that his own is in your midst to monitor you (which makes you feel equal). Nevertheless, our current status grants us independence to make our own decisions; we just don't have the political freedom (so don't expect CFT to give us a break). If we, the people of St. Martin, want to be in control of our destiny, then we will have to use the system to beat it. I suggest you read up on Toussaint L'Ouverture and how he took control of Haiti while it was still a colony of France.

The first thing we must realize is that the people are the foundation of the country; namely the family unit. I don't blame those in decision-making places for how they function due to the fact that we elected them in. Our government is a reflection of the wider society. They represent us; literally. Now this is a fact you must smoke in your pipe and after you finish blaze, come to realization that for the last five years, the people who represent us have greatly damaged our national and international image.

Each government played a crucial role in our demise. And this is what led to the Netherlands' belief that we can't govern ourselves. But this is not something new. Europeans have had that belief since slavery, because we were conditioned to be destructive (take another toke). However, let's take a look at our inaction or unwillingness to capitalize on our potential.

We wasted a decade that was needed for the preparation of the status change by playing politics. If we don't like the direction the wind vane is pointing, then we must start dealing with the wind. That change of direction starts from the grassroots. We must revive our spirit of independence more than ever. How can you expect to govern yourself when you can't provide the basic necessities you need? Where are our manufacturing factories? We have many fine tailors and seamstresses on the island, yet how pastors, businessmen or politicians own suites made by our own? Look at how often you drink soda in comparison to Mauby. Who controls most of the economy? Where are our supermarkets, real estate or hotels? It is the job of government to improve the economy, balance budgets, create legislation, while implementing and regulating policies to ensure that government remains steady and sustainable. But we will never have such a government if we remain a lackluster group of people.

More than ever we must focus on our development, if we are to make St. Martin for the St. Martiner (an issue that has yet to be settled). In the process of creating a national development plan, all citizens must be involved and equipped with the knowledge of our cultural heritage in order to rebuild the broken walls of our society. I am firmly convinced that we will achieve our independence, due to the fact that we have history on our side. Having been left behind, allowed us to study the mistakes of the many different nations who were in predicaments like ours.

But we must understand that the coming generations will reap the benefits of the seed we plant. The next generation will be responsible for its nourishment, another for its protection and another will get to enjoy its fruit. We must stop being selfish and be productive. That is the legacy of St. Martin people. We chose our current status, and we will have to deal with it, while preparing for the D train (political freedom), because, hey, it's the last option we have left. Let us own up to our responsibility. Once that final pipe has been smoked, shake off the ashes and get ready for another one about our political freedom.

"Forward ever, backward never!"

Ralph Cantave

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Saturday Oct. 17, 2015
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Friday Oct. 16, 2015
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