Fellow residents of St. Maarten here on the island or abroad, it is with mixed emotions I address you as 2017 comes to its end and 2018 approaches.
It is customary that at the end of the year we reflect on the occurrences of the past year and make resolutions for the coming year. Our resolutions are made with optimistic expectations.
As we all look back at 2017 from January to December, I am sure that most of you, if not all of you, share the mixed feelings I have about the year.
2017 was no normal year for St. Maarten. We were faced with some unusual challenges, which many of us have not yet fully recovered from. We suffered material damage. Homes, vehicles, jobs and even lives were lost. There was political upheaval, social unrest, looting, and the list of negativity can go on and on.
Under normal circumstances if asked to recall the most memorable day of the year, you hear responses like: my birthday, the day I started my new job, Christmas, the birth of my child. Those types of responses. All positive.
I am sure that if that same question is asked about 2017 the unanimous response will be: “Hurricane Irma on September 6th.” Of the 365 days in 2017, this date will undoubtedly be the most memorable for all of us. Yes, that was the day that changed St. Maarten people’s lives, their hopes and their dreams. That day will long be remembered by all of us. In fact, I dare say that St. Maarten’s history will be written as “the days before Hurricane Irma and the days after Hurricane Irma.”
Having said that, I take this opportunity to ask every one of you not to look back at 2017 and see only negative. Let’s not linger on the obstacles and the downside of life. Let us start by being thankful for life. Many good things have transpired in our personal lives and throughout the community during the year. Let us hold on to the positive and use that as our tool to move forward into 2018. We should however remain critical and demand transparency and good governance.
The challenges we will be faced with in 2018 are many. Our economy will shrink. Many will be jobless. Things will not be easy and we should not expect such to be the case. Many social issues such as crime, mental health and domestic violence must also be addressed. All of this whilst we prepare for the next hurricane season. That is our reality.
However, together we will overcome these challenges facing us. We are known to be resilient people. In 2018 let us find the courage to face difficulties. Let us seek strength to overcome our weaknesses. Let us show loyalty in friendship and be faithful in executing our duties.
Let’s go into 2018 with optimism, hope and the desire for improvement. That is the only way we will fully recover from the disaster we suffered in 2017. Our recovery depends on each and every citizen.
As we celebrate during the festive season, I again urge you to think of the less fortunate. Those without a home, without a family or the means to celebrate. Let us keep the celebrations safe. Have fun, but always remain in control of your faculties. Enjoy with family and friends. Give thanks and praises.
I wish all of you and your loved ones a prosperous and healthy 2018. Let us not lose faith and give up on our dreams. Let us stand together and rebuild our beautiful island.
God bless you all.
God bless our beloved St. Maarten
Prime Minister The Honorable Rafael Boasman