Capitalism, compassion and progress 

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Dear Editor,

Maybe it was out of necessity that decades ago we started selling our heritage for profit; selling off our patrimony for the dollar. But I know…because of slavery and colonialism, our forefathers inherited an undeveloped nation. That’s why my grandparents had to migrate for work and return years later to pick up where they had left off. That’s why we chose mass tourism and held onto it for dear life. And now we ache for the state of our environment. It’s as if we could do nothing but watch the development take place, unsustainably. In Parliament, as Chair of the Petitions committee I reminded the people that the power to make a difference lay in their hands, more so than in the hands of politicians. It is everyone’s constitutional right to ask the Government and Parliament to investigate matters affecting them. Demand that they listen!

So we became capitalists. But what about our compassion? Because once upon a time we embodied “The Friendly Island” and we cared about each other and looked after one another with a smile; the village raised the child. We still say ‘Mawnin neighbor!’ when we pass by, well, at least some of us still do. Because some of us remember who we are.

So how do we replace St. Maarten-style capitalism with St. Maarten-style compassion? Well that’s what nation building is all about; an honest and radical effort to create propaganda, programs and projects that focus on developing our people and those values we want to see embodied in every person in this country. We need to transform our curriculums across schools to include environmental awareness, local history and civic education. We must fiercely protect what’s left of our natural and built heritage; our monuments. We remind our people of who they are. Who they can still become. 

In Parliament, I passed a motion on the creation of a national heritage week as well as a plan for the establishment of a Culture Council. I would love to support the expansion of Be the Change Foundation’s Color Me SXM project and triple the amount of murals around the island. St. Maarten can be the creative capital of the Eastern Caribbean… if we want it to be.

I believe firmly in paying tribute to those who came before and those paving a new way in sports. I would replace some of those liquor branded billboards with the images of our young athletes in track and field, soccer, basketball and baseball. I believe, with the right policies, that we could have St. Maarteners in the Olympics or playing sports at the highest levels around the world. We always had the talent. We just lack the right decision makers in power and leaders who truly want to see our youth excel.

It’s August 19th, you wake up and you’re mentally tired, angry and frustrated – let out a sigh but go to the polls anyway! Because now more than ever it’s about saving what’s left of this country. And remember that if you don’t vote, that vote still counts. This election choose compassion over capitalism, choose true vision and action over gimmicks, choose progress over false promises.  

Solange Ludmila Duncan
Candidate #11
Party for Progress