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Will all the feathers ever get back in the bag?

Dear Editor,

The following thoughts have been triggered by a phone call I received a couple of evenings ago from a lady in Curaçao, whom I have been assisting with her family estate. She told me that she had received a call from her brother in Holland, who informed her that he just had read a story on Face book, where a blogger from Sint Maarten was saying extremely negative things about me, like that I, as a notary had spent time in prison for having stolen land from people. The brother, after reading that article, obviously became very worried about me now helping his family with their important land situation.

I thanked the lady very much for what she had told me and decided that this time I had to do something, as this story reminded me too much of the parable of the Feathers in the Bag of which the message can continue haunting those affected by it for the rest of their life.

That parable is about a man who was standing on top of a windy hill with a bag of feathers in his hand when suddenly a gust of wind snatched the bag from his hand causing all the feathers to be spread in different directions and making it practically impossible to gather all the feathers back in the bag. I (like most of us) know people who, for the rest of their lives will suffer from the injustice done to them, particularly, when such has been the result of an arrest or possibly even a conviction by a court, while being completely innocent of a crime they have been accused of.

The news of the alleged crime most of the time receives front page coverage by the media, while the verdict of acquittal (if there is any) is often left to a few lines somewhere in the news on other pages.

In my case, there have not been one but various legal cases, some of them in court, but some also outside the court perimeters, which I will entertain more at length in a book I am writing about my experiences.

My connection with the Feathers in the Bag parable originated at a time when I can honestly say that my social image on Sint Maarten was a very positive one; I still experience my first 10 years here as some of the best years of my professional life, organizing and participating in an enormous variety of activities. Those years I was one of the strongest advocates of keeping our Netherlands Antillean Nation together.

On March 5 1993, I was shocked being arrested in a bookstore in Holland after I had gone there to give a lecture titled “The Value of the Netherlands Antilles”, which lecture I had given on March 2 at the University in Curaçao and on February 27th, at the University in Sint Maarten. I was kept for 7 hours at the police station in Leiden, without receiving any information about the reasons for my arrest and then brought to the heavy security prison in Scheveningen were a judge handed me the order to arrest me for, as the above referred to face book blogger called, “Land Stealing”, and “because he is a felonious criminal, who went to prison caught (and has not stopped) filling in pond land down at Mullet Bay”.

The story of my imprisonment was front page news, not only by us in the Antilles, but even in Holland and was used by the then Dutch government to emphasize how our people, once in important positions would automatically become corrupt.

The truth, however, is totally the opposite of the blogger’s story: not only have I been completely exonerated of all the charges against me, but the government of the Netherlands Antilles afterwards has been convicted to pay me compensation for the damage caused to me by its wrongful actions.

Those legal victories, however, did not remove the obstinacy of the Feathers in the Bag parable; up to this day I feel the repercussions in both my social and professional life, with the “where there is smoke there is fire” syndrome oftentimes tacitly and sometimes overtly being made tangible to me.

I have been barred from exercising my profession (thereby emphasizing the prediction of my successor as a notary that I will never again win a court case against me), lost all my possessions, called a liar by colleagues and a criminal by people like the blogger and others for just disagreeing with them, etc.

While I understood that the blogger indeed in her blogs has accused me of other things like human trafficking and being the leader of sexual slavery, I have never lodged a complaint against her for that, so it is untrue that she now writes that she went to jail for blogging about me. It may help to return at least this feather in the bag by, in this case, just do that.

 

Elco Rosario

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