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St. Maarten Prime Minister wants critics to commit suicide

Dear Editor,

“Tie a stone around your neck and jump off the pier. Seek help from a psychologist, jump out of an airplane.” St. Maarten Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs told his critics recently that they can better commit suicide. He also made suggestions on how this best could be done. In a society of 45,000 people, such a statement has a big impact. Especially since everyone really knows which people he is referring to. However, the St. Maarten people have had enough of the corruption and the crime and ask for help.

 

A culture of intimidation

In St. Maarten, there are a few people who dare to criticize. Judith Roumou, the blogger whom I wrote about earlier, is one of them. She was arrested and intimidated (link: http://politiek.tpo.nl/column/sint-maarten-kritische-blogger-gevangen-genomen-en-geintimideerd/). And she still has to deal with intimidation: her dog was killed, her telephones and computers were seized and she seems to be constantly disconnected from water and energy. Premier Gumbs has since apologised for his statements, but the way he did it, was not very convincing. The Prime Minister said he regretted his words: “But I do not apologise for the message I was trying to send." (link: http://www.kkcuracao.info/?p=126442)

 

The people are sick of it

The people of St. Maarten are more than sick of all the corruption and crime on the island. The violence, even in broad daylight. People who are robbed and abused in their own homes. This is done often by young people, who join one of the many gangs on the island. The people are also done with the irresponsible incomes at the top of businesses and the unprecedented inequality on the island. All those millionaires on their expensive yachts that use St. Maarten to launder their dirty money. While people who work hard, make around US $800 - of which they easily pay US $600 in rent. More and more teenage girls become pregnant, more and more young mothers are struggling to feed their children properly. Meanwhile, the mafia pretends the island is theirs. 

 

Corruption is too big

In April, the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament voted in favour of a proposal of me and my VVD colleague André Bosman to have a large-scale investigation of the connection between criminals and politicians on Curaçao and St. Maarten. In particular, the financing of politicians by the gambling industry, which according to many studies, launders a lot of drugs money. The Dutch government appeared willing to invest 22 million euros and appoint 55 investigators to combat corruption and crime. But politicians in St. Maarten were not that enthusiastic about this. The Minister of Justice even declared Gerard Bouman, the Head of the Dutch National Police, a persona non grata. The Dutch police will no longer be working with the Government of St. Maarten, because corruption is too widespread. Next week, the St. Maarten Minister of Justice will visit the Netherlands to explain this situation. (link http://nos.nl/artikel/2052698-spoedberaad-sint-maarten-en-nederland-over-aanpak-criminaliteit.html)

 

A choice for the people

I have been fighting corruption and crime in St. Maarten for years, often together with André Bosman. We’re both very different politicians of very different political parties. But we both see that the people on St. Maarten have no future if corruption and crime remain. This has led to much criticism from St. Maarten politicians. Also, there have been attempts to intimidate us (link:http://politiek.tpo.nl/column/ik-mag-francesco-corallo-geen-maffiabaas-meer-noemen/). But we won’t let the culture of intimidation in St. Maarten be exported to the Netherlands (link: http://www.nu.nl/politiek/4024313/vvder-bosman-hoeft-niet-rectificeren.html). I hope that we can free St. Maarten of corruption and crime. St. Maarten politicians always claim that I am against their island. However, that is not the case: I am against corruption and crime. And perhaps I’m even more on the side of the St. Maarten people than some local politicians are. It is about time those politicians make a choice. I hope they make a choice in favour of their own people.

 

Ronald van Raak, as published on

the Dutch website ThePostOnline

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