Spirit of the treaty

Spirit of the treaty

Friday’s front page photo nicely brought home what the entire lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was ultimately all for – saving lives. Persons who complain about the restrictive measures and their severe socioeconomic consequences should keep that in mind.

Under that picture was a story stating that no agreement had yet been reached on reopening the borders between the Dutch and French sides of the island. As de-escalation leads to more businesses, offices, schools, etc. resuming operations, the need to cross the border logically increases.

There are many who reside in French St. Martin but study, work, bank or otherwise spend a lot of time in Dutch St. Maarten, and vice versa. They are having trouble going about their daily lives because forms requested to pass the roadblocks at Bellevue and Belvedere are not always approved in a timely manner.

It is understandable that the Collectivité being an integral part of France makes reopening the frontier a bit more difficult. However, local authorities in Marigot have been allowed to deviate from national policies set in Paris when it came to, for example, going back to the classroom.

Free movement of people and goods between the two sides of the island goes back to the Treaty of Concordia signed in 1648. Continuing this practice may not always be feasible under any circumstances such as a health-related crisis, but certainly the spirit behind it of one community in two different counties peacefully coexisting on a relatively small territory should be honoured where possible.

Especially with a growing number of establishments coming online it is important to eventually restore that 372-year-old tradition.