The word on the street and internationally is that St. Maarten has become a cesspool of crime and corruption. The perception that every government company, their CEO and their supervisory boards are viewed as rogues or potential rogues by locals, and the outside world is also not in doubt.
Local radio personalities have also, on several occasions, admitted that St. Maarten and the entire Caribbean region have a culture of corruption where vote buying and taking bribes is very normal and common.
It is no secret that in order to get any kind of contract, building permit, a piece of government long-lease land, special monopoly business permits they hold for themselves and cronies, or an electric meter from the government one must bribe somebody, give a percentage of the contract’s value to the persons awarding it; and, do shoddy work and get approved by the thieves that awarded the contract. They pour tar or cement on sand and call it road and the first heavy rainfall washes the damn thing off; they build rickety houses in South Reward and Belvedere that upon the slightest hurricane the houses collapse and endanger the lives of the people living in them.
Consider that in the main our politicians seek public offices: legislative, executive, judiciary and bureaucratic to loot the treasury. They seek political and bureaucratic offices as opportunities to steal to their hearts satisfaction, not because they want to do anything useful for their people. Political offices are seen as avenues from which to become rich and to be called "honourable" (very important persons).
It is simply the truth that nothing gets done in St. Maarten without someone bribing someone. That St. Maarten is yet to make any improvement from being one of the most corrupt small nation countries in world, going by Transparency International (TI's) rating is also common knowledge.
We are currently having several pretentious efforts by governments to fight crime and corruption. Although we have had occasional arrests, here and there, none of such arrests and trials have amounted to any jail time for the suspects. Making one believe these mock trials are straight up dog and pony shows.
An old local businessman recently told me that he believes that "if there is any country more corrupt than St. Maarten, then that country is either situated in hell or very close to it." I told him that I don't believe it's one of the worst yet, but it’s getting there.
Until corruption and crime is seriously tackled with all the ferocity that can be mustered, this young nation is doomed. We are rapidly becoming a poverty-stricken, third-world nation because of crime and corruption. And no, no amount of “council of churches” meetings will solve it. All-out war must be declared on crime and corruption. The more corrupt the country, the more poor the people.
Ok now, back to the cock fight – “Hey there, $50 on the red cock?”