MP Heyliger-Marten “Government seems asleep at the wheel, while the outside world moves on”

MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Sunday afternoon, MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten again questioned if the Government of St. Maarten is aware of the developments on an international level, and if it is capable of representing the paramount interest of the people St. Maarten.

“As a people, we continue to face major challenges. These range from our legal system being based on the Dutch language to concerns about food security, and inequality and injustice when it comes to our (financial) relationship with Holland, the so-called democratic deficit”, Heyliger-Marten said.

“Since the beginning of my tenure, I have maintained that all these problems lead back to one main issue, and that is the fact that the constitutional structure of the Kingdom is not in compliance with international law.

A few months ago, Dr. June Soomer addressed this in a presentation to Parliament from the perspective of St. Maarten’s right to “development justice. In her presentation, Dr. Soomer provided recommendations on a way forward for our nation along the lines of the National Sustainable Development plan that the BVI and other Caribbean nations have adopted.

As far back as 2017, former Dutch Minister Plasterk informed the Dutch House of Representatives that based on his visit to the UN and the World Bank, St. Maarten could and should do much more regionally with the assistance from international organizations.

However, from what I have gathered reading recent news reports, it seems that our current Government is blissfully ignorant of what is going on the global stage, how to engage foreign entities, and what our international rights are. What’s even worse, Government is only looking to the Dutch Ministry of Kingdom Relations for instructions and solutions.

Not only is Government behind with it comes to responding to Parliament, but it also seems to be lagging behind when it comes to international developments.

Separate recent news reports state that:

    • One SXM Foundation attended a CARICOM-African Union reparations conference in Barbados;
    • Colombia, CARICOM, Aruba, and Curacao are looking into cooperation;
    • Dutch caretaker Minister for Foreign Affairs Hoekstra will sign a new “post Cotonou Treaty” between the EU, the Pacific States, and the Caribbean in the fall of this year. Despite the fact that this treaty will not be applicable to Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, Hoekstra will sign it because according to him it facilitates more intensive cooperation in Dutch priority areas like democracy and human rights and climate change. It also provides instruments to strengthen the dialogue regarding trade relations.

Apart from these reports, I have sent a letter to the Hon. Prime Minister to have the Kingdom Charter and other Kingdom legislation vetted against international law, and one to the Hon. Minister of Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication regarding food security and economic diversification”, according to Heyliger-Marten.

“Also, MP Sarah Wescot-Williams recently sent a letter to the Hon. Prime Minister regarding the status of Governments request for CARICOM associate membership, seeing that Aruba and Curaçao are close to achieving this status.

Pending the Council of Minister’s answers to Parliament and in light of all these developments, including the latest news about the new “post Cotonou Treaty”, I will send a letter to the Hon. Prime Minster with specific questions about this treaty, and what it will mean for the people of St. Maarten”, Heyliger-Marten concluded.