PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Caribbean Reform Entity (CRE) was initially rejected by the governments of Aruba, Curacao, and St. Maarten. After Prime Minister Rutte stated that there would be no negotiations regarding the CRE in September of 2020, it seems that the Netherlands are actually willing to negotiate after realizing that the initial proposed CRE was indeed very draconian and against the political aspirations of the people as mentioned in Article 73b of the UN Charter.
St. Maarten is in urgent need of a total revitalization of its tourism sector. If the Netherlands were to speak to the business, hospitality, hotel, maritime, tourism, as well as, transportation representatives on St. Maarten, the same sentiment regarding the importance of reviving St. Maarten’s tourism industry would most certainly be echoed.
On October 19th, 2020, Pro Soualiga sent a letter addressed to Minister of Foreign Affairs Blok and State Secretary Knops imploring them to dispense aid to St. Maarten via a locally Dutch-funded foundation. The premise was that these funds could go directly to the government to cover their liquidity needs, open kitchens in each district to assist the unemployed, repair the prison, as well as, fund an aggressive campaign to get the air, cruise, private jet, and yachting industries back on track. Additionally, controlling their own foundation would afford the Dutch the opportunity to implement their humanitarian work while being in total control of its own funds without constraining the government of St. Maarten. In other words, a “win-win” situation for both St. Maarten and the Netherlands.
A quick synopsis of the last three years has clearly demonstrated that the Dutch have very little understanding about reforming or improving the issues that we face in the Caribbean. The World Bank situation has been a major disappointment. The removal of Statia’s democratically elected government in 2017 was a complete failure as the people of Statia re-elected the very same political party with a resounding majority vote. Prior to the elections in June of 2020, the Dutch parliament displayed disappointment in the slow progress being made in Statia. In August of 2020, Saba, who is under direct Dutch control, reported a deficit for the very first time due to a lack of structural funding.
Can the CRE deliver a revitalization of the cruise industry? Can the CRE deliver more airlifts from Canada, Latin America, and the United States to St. Maarten? Can the CRE deliver an increase in the yachting and private jet sectors respectively? If the aforementioned are not key components of the proposed CRE, then the CRE is just a temporary fix to a foreseeably long-lasting economic crisis.