URSM leader Dr. Luc Mercelina.
PHILIPSBURG--Unified Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM) leader Dr. Luc Mercelina believes that this is an historic opportunity for St. Maarten to not only accept the Dutch government’s apology for the manner in which the Netherlands benefitted from slavery in St. Maarten, Curaçao, Aruba, the Caribbean Netherlands and Suriname, but also to discuss, propose and agree on reparations that will actually impact the St. Maarten society moving forward for generations to come.
The party believes that government should take a proactive approach towards the apology on slavery past as well as on the issue of reparation talks. Mercelina along with members of the party Chris Wever and Herbert “Prince” Martina outlined the position of the URSM during their recent live weekly Table Talk Programme.
“I find it quite unfortunate, however not surprising, that our government is once again taking a passive and reactive approach instead of being proactive by conducting proper research and proposing sustainable ways for reparations,” stated Mercelina.
Both Martina and Wever said the prime minister chose to initiate discussions on this sensitive topic with, as a condition, the removal of the 12.5% cost-cutting measures for civil servants. The URSM candidates are of the opinion that the opportunity to hold such a discussion with the Dutch is much bigger than the 12.5%.
The leader of URSM outlined the party’s position on possible reparation demands for the country. “The URSM believes that as a country, we should demand reparations that will do some level of justice to our ancestors, but more importantly to the generations to come. To do so we will have to define what actually transpired during slavery times and how this has negatively impacted our ancestors, the generations that followed, and what implications this sensitive chapter in our common history in the Kingdom had, considering the stagnation of the development of our country. Reparation for damages should help accelerate the development of our negatively impacted St. Maarten. Some specific reparations and initiatives could be: assistance in formally establishing a national university for St. Maarten, building a national arts centre, the construction of a national library for the people, construction of sport facilities in the different districts, assistance in social housing projects for the country, establishment of a social security system as in the Netherlands to be unified with the Kingdom, after-school activity centres, state-of-the-art school establishments that adhere to the modern education concept, a modern headquarter police station with satellite stations in the districts, a modern penitentiary centre that respects the human rights of the detainees, [and – Ed.] a much needed psychiatric centre that meets the requirements of modern psychiatry, just to name a few,” the party said.
Mercelina said this important historical development in the Kingdom must not be politicised.