Fellow St. Martiners , St. Martiners-at-heart, citizens of the island of St. Martin,
Once more, I have the honor and privilege to deliver the State of the St. Martin nation address from the perspective of the St. Martin Grassroots people Movement.
This address marks our fifth one- and thus signifies a mile-stone in our existence as a movement.
As usual, we care to emphasize that the main objective of our movement is to promote the preservation of the native, indigenous St. Martin people and their cultural-heritage as part of a ‘bigger-picture’ – the St. Martin nation building- and unification process.
In addition, for us an integral part of the nation building process – is the inclusion of people of all ethnic backgrounds with an added-value to the process.
Inclusion of others with an added value reinforces the nation building process with new socio-cultural- and intellectual ‘DNA’ making the nation more competitive in dealing with other nations.
Based on these and other considerations, our grassroots movement, not only welcomes these people – we emphatically encourage and invite them to become part of the process in all its aspects.
As stated before – this particular State of the nation marks a very important mile-stone for us.
We are very proud that the initial phase of our functioning, which was the most difficult part has now been transformed into the next phase.
While initially, our movement had to overcome many forms of mis-understandings and understandable distrust by many – our hard- and committed work over many years, has yielded a broad basis of understanding , interest, sympathy and support from all ethnic sectors of our society.
The Year 2014 – from a political perspective for sure – has brought about a complete paradigm shift as never before – certainly on the Southern-/Dutch side of the island.
Whereas in the past – certain political parties and traditionally powerful families – because of their track-record of using political intimidation, bribery, foreign ‘witch-doctors’, money, connections to financiers etc – were always sure of the outcome of elections – no more.
Worse yet- many of the political candidates for the ministerial- and Parliamentary positions have been indicted to stand trial for a range of alleged crimes and could face jail-time.
Even the most powerful politician of them all – ‘The Golden Boy’ – Theo Heyliger, has become an almost pathetic, ‘sitting duck’- like political leader – many no longer fear, respect, let alone even care to be associated with.
Without his once –alleged – total control of the vast money-sources – including the very profitable Government-companies – the political ‘boss’ of the ‘Friendly-island’ now needs real intelligence, real personal-appeal and real leadership skills to maintain the ‘iron grip’ he had up until very recently on the island, much like his late grand-father, Claude Wathey.
For Theo Heyliger as well – a ministerial position now at best – seems to be an illusion – since he too has to stand trial as the ‘Master suspect’ of the island now internationally known as a ‘Den of corruption’.
Most of the changes that have altered the very political landscape of St. Martin, South, can be attributed to the growing awareness, involvement and empowerment of the people by the so-called internet bloggers.
Collectively, they have become the ‘night-mare’ for corrupt politicians and their cronies.
Among these internet investigative reporters – or our own local SXM ‘Weaki-leakers’ – NONE stands out like Judith Roumou.
This young lady is simply a tireless, fearless, laser-focused ‘One –Woman – Intelligence-Service’ with a deep expertise of everything ‘internet – blogging’.
While this lady has contributed to the awareness of the public of what has been taking place in the body politic, we hope that in the years to come, she would train youngsters in that field as well.
Also, we hope the lady transforms her work into an even more professional ‘investigative tool’ – not focusing on personal attacks, but on making Government and politicians much more transparent and accountable.
2014 also saw a very regrettable setback for the people of St. Martin in the area of civil society.
Because a number of newcomers to the original St. Martin Grassroots People Movement felt, that it was not ‘moving fast enough’ – they committed a ‘coup’ and first tried to move away on their own with the name that was officially registered on both sides of the island of which they were not officially part.
When they realized the possible legal implications of their act of plagiarism – and also under the pressure of criticism from the public, they slightly changed their name -still leaving much room for people to be confused.
This- we think shows either bad faith and/or it shows that the new group in town wanted to benefit from the original St. Martin Grassroots People Movement’s name, because of its record.
Be it as it might- it still is a great dis-service to the people they claim they so love so much – the ‘Soualigans’.
For the record.
We have no problem whatsoever, with members of an organization wanting to do their own thing – it happens all the time in politics as well.
But – please people – at least do such in the ‘light of day’ and not in a ‘coup’ under the ‘darkness of the night’.
That shows poor character- and intentions, to say the least.
Also – if one wants to moralize- and to criticize those in Government, at least one should respect oneself and one’s own credibility.
One should carefully realize, that everything that one starts out in bad faith- can only take one so-far and no more.
Had they decided to do ‘their own thing’ in a transparent, mature way and had come out with a novel name and a clear identity, then for sure, there would have been the possibility in the future – for us to find common grounds and work along as distinctly different organizations, where possible and in the best interest for the St. Martin people.
Clearly, the way this ‘coup’ took place, was not well thought out.
Or was it ?
Could it have been the fulfillment of a ‘promise’, the ‘Great new leader’ made during a meeting to – quote ; ‘Break the movement at its knees’ ?
Time might tell.
In the meantime, the ‘new’ group that was in so much a hurry for ‘actions’, has become the very embodiment for more ‘talk’- and less action, as has been observed and mentioned by their dwindling listening audience.
As a matter of fact, their ‘Great new leader’ recently started off their radio-program with a lesson in ‘philosophy’.
He explained that for a ‘Bamboo’ seed to germinate and to develop into a mature tree – it takes at least 5 years – with constant watering and nurturing.
This was how he predicted his Soualiga Grassroots Movement would also develop – with much watering and nurturing at least 5 years to become mature.
Not our words – but words of the new ‘Great leader’ of the ‘Bamboo-seed- movement’.
Meanwhile, 2015 will clearly expose the fundamental difference between the original St. Martin Grassroots People Movement and the new ‘Soualiga Grassroots Movement’.
This un-ambiguous difference will allow for the population to determine, which of the two is ‘reactionary’ and ‘frozen in time’ and which one –once more – is of a visionary, pro-active nature and ahead of time.
As far as the New Year 2015 is concerned, we are planning to produce a syndicated series of radio- and television programs specifically dealing with all aspects of the St. Martin nation building process in which interested persons of all ethnic groups on our island will be allowed to give their input.
We are proud, to be able to – once more – set the trend for the future in terms of nation building – again remaining ahead of the curve of those still trying to establish themselves and fearful of including others in the process.
In keeping with our tradition, we have nominated our top- 10 Persons of the Year 2014.
All these persons -in their own personal way have contributed towards the empowerment of the St. Martin people and citizens on the island.
Collectively – they form a ‘mosaic’ – reflective of our very diverse population.
Some are of native St. Martin heritage others not.
However – once anyone in our judgment has earned our recognition and nomination – we will not fail to acknowledge such -, regardless of nationality, race and creed.
Our St. Martin Grassroots people Movement is for St. Martiners coming first at home – but will never exclude others with added value simply because they are non-native St. Martiners.
Following are our Persons of the year 2014.
Out of these was nominated as the St. Martin Grassroots People Movement’s Person of the Year 2014 – none other than Judith Roumou.
Judith Roumou, A very courageous, un-conventional, grassroots St. Martin activist and blogger. More than any other person in the media, Judith has transformed blogging into a very effective medium capable of maximum exposure of corrupt politicians. Based on her impact on others, Judith has – like no other blogger – empowered St. Martin people, while at the same time, humbled politicians in realizing that they no longer are in full control of the minds of the people and that the people will no longer simply accept what any politician does, or says.
Other persons of the Year 2014 are;
‘Gabu’ – the embodiment of a natural, unpretentious, straight-talking, un-polished, conscious and proud grassroots St. Martiner. For years ‘Gabu’ has made it her business to call in at radio-talkshows to vent her concerns about what is happening to the natives of this island. While some may look at her condescendingly – for us ‘Gabu’ is the very proof that the St. Martin spirit is alive and kicking in the hearts, souls and minds of St. Martin grassroots people.
Emil Lee – As a non-native St. Martiner, Emil Lee has broken many barriers to gain our respect. For years, he has –grace-fully accepted our public criticism of him not being reflective of St. Martin people in functioning as the president of the SHTA . However, after having met Emile on a number of occasions, we realized that we were wrong and had been prejudiced towards him. We have meanwhile apologized to him for such. In addition – Emil has courageously- and publicly spoken of the importance of our movement as an example of a necessary agent of change’ for SXM. He did this not in a private conversation – as many of our own politicians do. To the contrary, he did that during an Annual SHTA meeting, in the presence of the Governor drs. Holiday, Prim-minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, many other ministers, captains of industry, talks-show host Oral Gibbes and members of our grassroots people movement. In addition – more than anyone else – Emile has publicly emphasized the need to fight against corruption, a most sensitive and risky issue to bring up. In addition – Emil can be credited to have contributed significantly to the transformation of the DP-party towards having their members sign a pledge towards open- and transparent Government. As a non-native St. Martiner, he could have done like many other SXM’ers have done for year – ‘gone along to get along’. He did not. Not acknowledging people with such an added value to our nation would be a sign of prejudice. We choose not to be that, because we consider Emile Lee a most value added member to our St. Martin nation.
Chris Emmanuel- a young very dynamic and outspoken young man and new Member of Parliament for St. Maarten.
Chris has remained true to the values he was raised with- and to the contributions his late mother Lillian Stephens has made to the awareness- and empowerment of the St. Martin people. In addition – Chris has been a popular talk show-host, social- activist and a role-model for many young people.
These- and other attributes allowed for Chris to break the barrier of the power of money to get elected in office.
By having made these great achievements, Chris has also created hope for up- and coming social activists to get elected without having deep pockets.
Another person of the year 2015, is Councilor Jules Charville, for going beyond in keeping his St. Martin people up to date of all important developments within the Collectivity.
In addition, Mr. Charville is very well respected for the very clear and eloquent way of expressing himself.
Even when under undue pressure by certain interviewers – Mr. Charville always remains a gentleman, never loses his control and always stays focused on the issues at hand. These are very important attributes for people who want to deserve the respect and trust of the people to become leaders.
Leopold Baly, one of St. Martin’s most prominent -and respected intellectuals, independent thinker, self-made agriculturalist, home- and boat builder, author etc.
Leopold Baly has earned broad respect from so many people on the island for always sharing valuable information with the public.
In addition, so many people have told us how, Mr. Baly has helped them with legal- and other forms of advice pro deo.
Leopold Baly is not only one of our most respected elders and intellectuals, but he is the embodiment of wisdom, stability and of a fiercely independent mind.
Dominique Aubert is a woman with class, principles and of her word.
A lady who stepped up to the plate and created an oasis, where our young students could go to for help in mastering any subject they might have been having difficulty with.
When called upon, Dominique was not afraid to give it a shot in order to enter the political arena taking along with her high morals standards and scrupules.
A woman we can all be proud of.
He is called ‘Big Ray’ – his real name is Raymond Helligar.
‘Big Ray’ has transformed his talent to a really creative-, local art-form, loved by so many.
The way he describes our history, our cultural-traditions and social happenings in poetry- form, is really connecting with St. Martin people as well as with others.
‘Big Ray’ is a great example- and role model for so many St. Martiners, who also have their own talents, to take it to the ‘next level’ and to improve on is, in the process, regardless of age.
‘Colombo’ – nick-name for Remy Daniel.
Apart from being one of the very popular ‘Sand-box’ tree co-hosts ‘Colombo’ – also nick-named ‘Inspector’ does his own interviewing of political leaders from St. Martin and France as well.
According to the many people, who recommended his nomination, ‘Colombo’ deserves a lot of respect and praises for the very professional way he conducts his interviews.
Not only his profiency of the French language, makes him stands out of the crowd, but the respect he shows for his guests- and callers as well as his overall control of his interviews makes him some-one with a promising future.
The other individual of our Persons of the Year 2014, was our number 1 Person of the Year 2011- and again, he could have easily become such this year again, but because we wanted to give some-one else a chance, he did not get that position this time around.
However- we consider the man – some jokingly refer to as ‘World-boss’ – a living St. Martin institution- and legend in his own rights.
With respect to others – it can hardly be denied that ‘Billy D belongs’ to a class of St. Martin cultural champions by himself.
The contributions ‘Billy D’ has made and has allowed others to make towards the preservation of our St. Martin culture and tradition is totally un-deniable.
His tireless- and creative mind is hard to keep up with- and he has really made his radio-station SOS-radio, 95.9 F.M. one of St. Martin’s most well-known ‘export-product’, there is.
For doing that for so long- and so consistently makes ‘Billy D’ an ‘All-time St. Martiner’ in our books.
As token of our appreciation – these persons – if they so choose – can contact us in order to will receive their St. Martin ID-card from us.
In ending, on behalf of the St. Martin Grassroots People Movement, I wish you a
Happy, prosperous and blessed New Year 2015.
Drs. Leopold James
Founder- and president of the
St. Martin Grassroots People Movement.