In The Spotlight
Never met the man and probably never will, but I am impressed by the presidency and achievement of President Barack Obama. History will confer the appropriate accolades in time and future generations will reap or chafe. Impact is certain; miraculous seemed his appearance and rise on the world stage in just the past 12 years; some may even say divine providence. God works in mysterious ways.
The unlikeliest of candidates embodying both the heartland of America and the heartland of Africa; educated in Muslim Indonesia and ivy league Harvard; community organizer in Chicago; this black man rose to the presidency with audacity.
Yes, a black man, but president of all Americans. He was elected to office by Americans of all races and of all economic ladders; he represented a vision, a dare, a risk and a challenge, and reality. He has proven again that black leaders of great calibre do exist, and that blackness is not an obstacle to success. His presidency also proves that blackness will excite passions in some societies, in various directions, among some groups.
The hope of so many, he also became the poster child for everything that is still wrong about the country and the world. Republicans vowed from day one to make his life miserable and determined he will be a one-term president. They obstructed him in every way and at every turn. Elected it seemed to make sure the president (and the country) fails. Yet he prevailed against the odds on many occasions; yes, the black boy from Chicago saved the auto industry, saved the economy from a second Great Depression, passed health reform that gave millions healthcare for the first time, and he laid Osama bin Laden to rest, and more. He was elected to a second term.
At the same time, Barack Obama brought out the demons hiding in the hearts of many. Reminding us that evil forces are forever lurking just beneath the surface in the hearts of man. It takes very little for these to bubble to the surface; you don’t have to do people anything it happens automatically when they think they are losing ground, when they believe they are governed, threatened by those who look or think different than them.
So, President Barack Obama was a force for good but also a reminder of what is still to be accomplished in this world. God uses the least among us to teach us these important lessons; he seeks out the unlikeliest of characters to represent him among our peers. Barack Obama has done what he came to do; a President for his time. The rest is up to who comes after.
You came, you saw, you conquered. You held the office with decency and distinction. I wish him and his family well. Sayonara!!!
I received an invitation to a party that included a request to bring a certain dish for the dinner. I have heard from other invitees that they received similar requests.
Queenie, is this some new custom or am I right to feel imposed on?—Guesti-Ket
Such an invitation is totally inappropriate. A situation like this makes you more of a co-host than a guest. Feel free to decline the invitation, or to accept on the condition that you will not be responsible for helping to feed the other guests.
It is with enormous sadness that my husband and I learned of the recent court ruling against Lee’s Roadside Grill, despite the long-term lease that Lee Halley had been promised and honoured and that Mr. Halley had been operating under for years. This seems to be an arbitrary application of the law that disregarded that agreement in favour of development that will only serve to line the pockets of the developer, at the expense of small business and the character of St. Maarten. What a terrible loss for the local and tourism communities of the island.
As frequent visitors to St. Maarten, Lee’s Roadside Grill has become a place of great significance for my husband and me. I know that we share these feelings with many, many people and to say that we are devastated by the court’s decision is not in any way an exaggeration. Lee’s is a very special place. It is not just a restaurant or a charter fishing operation. Lee’s is locally owned, locally staffed and locally patronized. It is a draw for thousands upon thousands of residents and tourists all year long. The food is distinctly, deliciously Caribbean and the entertainment is perfectly-suited to all of its loyal guests.
Furthermore, Lee’s is part of the rich and wonderful culture of St. Maarten. The fact that the culture has thus far remained intact is one of the main reasons we have come back for years. It is a big part of the reason that we chose to invest on St. Maarten, instead of the plethora of other Caribbean islands. What we love about St. Maarten is simple: we love its people, its culture, its traditions, its beauty and especially, its uniqueness.
All in all, a visit to the island and to places like Lee’s is priceless. If authentic island restaurants like Lee’s are not deemed to be culturally significant, protected or preserved, then I believe that St. Maarten will lose a huge part of its identity. This can only result in an additional huge loss of the island’s appeal to many of its vacationers. How long before St. Maarten turns into something so cookie-cutter and bland that people start looking elsewhere for a unique vacation destination? We were certain that this could never happen on St. Maarten, but sadly, each year, more and more of the things that make the island special seem to be disappearing.
Personally, we are not interested in going to a place where there are big hotel chains blocking the beaches and generic restaurants serving mediocre food catering to basic tastes. We don’t want to visit an island that is best viewed through the tinted windows of tour buses making a quick drive around a few curated “places of interest.” We don’t want to visit a destination that has reinvented itself to look just like the towns at home that we were hoping to escape for a while. Orient Beach should serve as a cautionary tale. It used to be so vibrant, filled with interesting shops and beach bars and restaurants. Now, it’s a series of uninteresting, government-built sheds, differentiated only by the colour of their paint, with no other distinguishing features. Long-time tenants vacated and long-time visitors are dismayed at the change. If Simpson Bay becomes a row of non-descript, half-occupied concrete buildings, who would bother visiting?
We urge you to reconsider your decision and to allow Lee's Roadside Grill to continue operating at its present location. The island is better off for it. Very best regards,
Jill and Danny
New York City
I started dating my boyfriend while he was going through a divorce and now we are planning to get married. The problem is my family will not accept him because he was still married when we got together, even though he had been separated from his wife for quite some time.
Queenie, is my family being unreasonable or was it wrong of me to get together with him before the divorce was final?—Divorce-dating Etty Ket
Dear Etty Ket,
If your boyfriend was separated from his wife and in the process of divorcing her when the two of you got together, it seems clear to me that the marriage was over for all practical purposes and your family is being unreasonable.
However, that is just my opinion. Obviously your family has stricter standards than I do. Hopefully they will come around, given time to get to know him.
When you’re talking on the phone and another call comes in (I have “call waiting”) should you answer the second call and tell them you will call back or just ignore it? And if you answer the second call should you put the first caller on hold or tell them you will call back?—Telephone Etty Ket
Dear Etty Ket,
It depends on how important the second call is.
Generally speaking, the person to whom you already are talking takes precedence, so if you take a moment to answer the second call to tell them you will call back you should not keep the first caller waiting for more than minute or two.
And if you absolutely must take the second call immediately, you should apologise to the first caller and then be sure to call them back as soon as possible.
My husband tends to thrash around in his sleep. He waves is arms and kicks his feet and sometimes he hits me and kicks me without even waking up and our sheets are all torn up from his toenails.
He doesn’t know he is doing all this. Even when I showed him the sheets, he wouldn’t believe it was from what he did.
Queenie, I can’t think what is wrong with him. What should I do?—Bruised wife
Dear Bruised wife,
Your husband may have some kind of sleep disorder. Encourage him to go to his doctor for a complete physical exam and to be sure to discuss his sleep problems with the doctor. You might go with him or have a private chat with the doctor before the appointment, in case your husband is less than forthcoming about the problem.
And you might want to consider separate beds and less-delicate bedding for your husband.
Please grant me a small space in your well-read newspaper to voice my opinion.
I would assume many are familiar with the “Hippocratic Oath”. It is an oath typically taken by physicians. It is widely known in Greek medical texts. However, I wonder how many are familiar with a modified "Hippocratic Oath" for nurses called the Florence Nightingale Pledge. Lystra E. Gretter and a Committee for Farrand Training School for Nurses, Detroit, Michigan, composed this in 1893 as a token of esteem for the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale herself. It reads as follows:
“I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping, and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavour to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”
The aforementioned paragraphs are not meant to give anyone a history lesson, but merely a reminder. “I will treat the ill to the best of my ability and the preserve a patients’ privacy. As well as not be ashamed to say, “If I know not will I not fail to call on my colleagues when needed”.
Seeing the imminent closure of Windward Islands Bank Ltd., and the lack of a second commercial bank setting up shop and staying on our island, I wonder: Would the “Government” grant permission to a company to offer Vault and Safe Deposit boxes? These are not typically available at a local financial institution, or storage company anyway. Of course, they would need to have a controlled environment with all the safety precautions in place, just as the ones all over the world. You see, some people think they can sing and drink water at the same time.
Saba has made it known; we have a problem with goats on Social Media and government expedited orders to kill them. You can look around and see the big wooden house. You must remember the gods of Saba are dead. Those gods would have known what to do with them.
Name withheld at author's request.
After I dated my husband for several years and then married him a couple of years ago, I learned that everything he told me about himself was a lie, from his finances, his former marriage, his job, you name it.
I’m trapped in a marriage with a man I just don’t know and his family is no help. They believe everything he tells them, even about me even though they know me.
Queenie, should I stay with him or get a divorce?—Liar’s wife
Dear Liar’s wife,
Professional counselling for the two of you, separately and together, might help you save your marriage, but if your husband will not go with you, go by yourself.
And, especially if he will not go for counselling, consult a divorce lawyer to learn what your options are. And if your husband knows you are doing so, it might just motivate him to go for counselling!
For what it is worth, I do not understand how, on this small island, you did not detect his lies long before you married him. Well, they do say love is blind – and deaf too, it would seem.
Cycling across sandy roads in the scorching heat. Between towering coral cliffs, artistically sculpted by the eternal wind. Between thriving mangrove forests and infinite salt marshes. Where menacing cacti are standing beside enchanting trees.
It can all be found in the western part of the Netherlands - in the far west to be clear. Where you can swim with tropical fish, which sway with you to the rhythm of the waves. Where people give you a friendly smile - and take life as it comes. Heavy divers popping up as stiff seals out of the blue sea. Older surfers experience their childhood once again in the timeless sunlight. You see it on Bonaire - The Netherlands in the Caribbean.
But the paradise of Bonaire – like St. Eustatius and Saba since 2010 part of the Netherlands as a public entity - also has a black edge. The island is a small community (fewer than 20,000 inhabitants), but there are significant differences. Along the coast are the million-dollar villas, of which there are few earned with honest work. Not far from there are poor neighbourhoods, where there is little work and not a lot to earn. There is a lot of anger because 'the Dutch' arrange everything. But if they don’t, not much would be done. Poverty is also brought up all the time. So many young people do not have employment, but jobs are done by people from outside - from Venezuela, Colombia and Peru - who are underpaid and exploited.
Recently, Bonaire was shocked by the murder of a policeman, an act that might have been committed by a drug trafficker, who also works for the drug mafia in Colombia. During my stay last week on this beautiful island, there were several shootings, nearby where I was staying. The car of a critical journalist was destroyed - a form of harassment.
Other great villains are the banks, which extend expensive loans for too expensive cars that people cannot afford. And there are the Chinese supermarkets, which lend people money at high interest rates. This leads to debts and feeds the anger towards the Netherlands. With signs along the roads where unsuspecting tourists are accused of ‘Dutch apartheid’.
Since 1633, when our country conquered Bonaire from the Spaniards, we belong together, but we still do not understand each other. But that doesn’t really matter, because deep down we love each other - otherwise we would not make such a hassle. Because this is our "Island in the Sun" as Harry Belafonte sang 60 years ago. A song in which the American calypso king sang about his love for our Bonaire. With all the money he earned from this worldwide hit, Belafonte bought property in Bonaire, where even a residential area (Belnem) was named after him. And so love became money again and the Caribbean circle is round again. In this paradise, but always elusive, as part of the Netherlands.
Ronald van Raak
Member of the Second Chamber of the
Dutch Parliament for the Socialist Party (SP)
I’ve been married for more than 10 years. At first everything was great, but then the kids came along and my husband changed. One minute he will be shouting at me and telling me he hates me and the next he is all lovey-dovey and wants sex. He thinks he is always right, even when I know he isn’t, but he just says I am too stupid to know better.
I tried to get him to go for counselling with me, but he refused. He said he didn’t need it because the problem was all my fault.
Queenie, what more can I do?—He’s driving me crazy
If your husband refuses to get professional counselling, there is no reason you cannot get counselling for yourself, and you need it to help you cope with this abusive man.
Ask Safe Haven (office 9277, 24-hour hotline number 9333 or 721- 523-6400, e-mail [email protected] and Facebook: SafeHavenSt.Maarten) for help.
The writing is on the wall. Government should uplift the border areas in Oyster Pond and also Dawn Beach main road with proper roads sidewalks and more streetlight and see to that the four green containers be painted.
Middle Region, which has one the best district names, government should do more towards bringing some of the public offices to Middle Region. GEBE, UTS, and Telcell. bills can also be paid in Middle Region; even some of the schools in St. Peters and South Rewards can be move to Middle Region.
One fire truck can be put in Middle Region to protect Middle Region, Oyster Pond, Dawn Beach, Dutch Quarter, Sucker Garden, Guana Bay and Madame Estate areas.
Government must resurface Middle Region’s roads so that the bus drivers will feel very comfortable running their buses there again. The bus drivers are right the road needs to be resurface very soon.
Now, St. Maarten has a new government let us hope they will help our senior citizens more internationally, build low income homes for the people. The high house rent on the island and a very low minimum wage makes life very hard for the people.
It's time government let Central Bank pay the clients of CKC Credit Union members their money.
What do you do when a friend tells you something that they ask you to keep to yourself and then you find out you are not the only one they have told.
Queenie, if it’s supposed to be a secret, shouldn’t they not tell anyone in the first place?—Disgusted
If it really is a secret, of course they should not be blabbing it around like that. But do not make things worse by following their example. Keep your mouth shut, even if they cannot.
The entire top brass of Parliament has flown off to Curaçao for the entire week of January 9th, to attend the tripartite meetings, and the Interparliamentary Kingdom Consultations (IPKO). While the President of Parliament MP Sarah Wescot-Williams, and First and Second Vice Presidents, MP Rudolphe Samuel and MP Frans Richardson, respectively, are off island, the Parliament of Sint Maarten is left without a leader.
I have a friend who is physically attractive, smart and has a good sense of humour, but she just can’t keep a man interested for more than one date and I know why – it’s because she just won’t shut up. She talks and talks and if the guy manages to get a word in she interrupts him and goes on and on without listening to what he has to say.
Queenie, should I tell her what her problem is?—Concerned friend
You can try, but it is not likely that she will listen. And if she does, she may just be insulted and not take to heart what you have said.
Everywhere you go, be it on social media or here in St. Maarten, the truth is becoming now the new hate speech.
The dangerous part is that many people who proclaim they like the truth are who actually oppose it. Do you know having money now means you are a good man or a good woman?
Some people call a man with money a good provider but do they check to see how he is accumulating his money.
Some people call a woman a good woman because she has a beautiful body.
But do they know if she has a clean heart? But let’s keep it in St. Maarten; once you are making a quick dollar and you can pay bills for some women they will call you a good man.
But morality does not matter anymore; it is all about the money. But if you tell women and men that you will be labelled offensive and they will call that hate speech.
The truth is in a class by itself. Because truth shines a light on darkness. Look how many young ladies love hanging out and being involved in a relationship with gangsters and drug pushers.
We see it and we turn the blind eye because the truth is too painful and it is in a class by itself.
We train our sons to be macho men, but doing that on the other end of the stick means your daughter should be like a whore. It takes two hands to clap.
But if I say that, it will be called hate speech and offensive.
We always talk about education, but the first education should be taught at home. This education is called values and morality.
Education does not make you a decent person, education gives you the tool to attain wealth and success but that does not make you a good and decent person.
Strippers and Gigolos get rich by selling sex or the beauty of flesh; does it makes them a good man and woman eventhough they may be a good provider.
The conclusion is if we truly believe in hope and optimism then we should promote values that foster a good and healthy lifestyle.
The truth will remain in a class by itself if we do not change for the better.
The patriot Miguel Arrindell
Now that he is getting older my husband sometimes has trouble getting it up, if you know what I mean. He is worried that I will think it means he doesn’t love me anymore, but I know it’s just a matter of his age.
Queenie, how can I reassure him?—Sympathetic wife
Your husband should go to his doctor for a thorough medical exam. His problem could be just a matter of his age, but it also could be related to a real physical condition that needs to be treated. He should find out sooner than later.
We are now over six (6) years after the restructured constitutional relations within the Kingdom, of which we resulted in the BES-islands public entity system, as a temporary structure and where our islands Bonaire and Sint Eustatius have been deceived. Our peoples structurally over the years have complained, protested and have held several referendums all resulting in democratic rejection of this imposed modernized colonial structure on our peoples.
Several scientific and popular research from various independent institutions, scholars, etc. within and outside the Kingdom including your own appointed Commission Spies all came to the same conclusion, that after 10-10-10 the people of Bonaire are unhappy, build up an anti-Dutch sentiment because of the obvious invasion and takeover by the European Dutch and consequently, and hence democratically rejected this status in the December 2015 referendum, with an indisputable 65 per cent “no”vote, ratified by the elected island council as a legally binding democratic decision of the Bonairian peoples.
As up today your Dutch government has supported the current local government, which has campaigned openly and publicly for the “yes”vote during the referendum and which is in complete denial and disrespect of the voice and decision of the peoples. This implicates both the Dutch Government and the local government to gross violation of the democratic principles of the rule of law, the democratic, self-determination and human rights of the Bonairian peoples with this power-based arrogant position and against the will and voice of the peoples.
It is obvious that you have used your power to overrule local government decisions by your Kingdom acts over the last years structurally within the Kingdom, but as we have experienced and based on all facts here – above and more, you have shown to be of double – moral when it comes to the defence of our people’s democratic, self-determination and human rights, where you consequently are taking a unilateral undemocratic approach and position and are on your way to consolidate the annexation and embedding of us, without freedom and equality in your constitution.
Today, we as the people , which these rights belong to and not to the government nor the politicians, are experiencing a factual betrayal by both governments, in power, the Kingdom and local, who are elected and are supposed to respect and guide the democratic rule of law. As we all agree that rule of law and law is based on mutual respect from all of us, I myself and all others who are experiencing the same betrayal are without defence of our governments regarding to respect to democracy and laws, has no option to fall back on our universal and inalienable natural rights, our law of nature, which is the base of our existence and our human dignity.
We will only promote passive non-violent resistance, and will follow our natural rights our birth-right natural laws till you stop the embedding of our territory in your constitution and the rule of law and democracy are respected and restored in our territory. It will be up to us the people to respect or not any unnatural laws and protection imposed on our natural resources and habitat so we can guarantee our existence and till we are guaranteed of respect to our democratic, self-determination and human rights are re-established and protected.
James Finies, Nos Ke Boneiru Bek
When my daughter-in-law went to the hospital to have her first baby she said she didn’t want anyone but her husband there on the day the baby was born because she wanted time to bond with her baby.
I brought some flowers for her and gave them to my son to give to her and he took me to the nursery to get a peek at the baby through a window. When his wife found out I had been there she got upset and now she won’t let me see my grandchild at all.
Queenie, how can I make this right?—Sad grandma
You should have respected your daughter-in-law’s wishes, however unreasonable they may have seemed to you. You could have waited a day or two to see your new grandchild.
Your son and his wife are the child’s parents and they get to make the rules regarding their children. Apologise profusely and, if you want to remain in contact with them, abide by their rules.
For several years now we have heard certain politicians talking about wanting to create medical tourism to generate more revenues for the island. Shouldn’t they focus instead on improving the health and prolonging the lives of our local people? Besides, they ought to know by now that medical tourism is already flourishing on the island; namely from the Dutch to the French side.
Every time I go to the eye specialist, where the state-of-the art equipment is impressive, the dentist or the Lab, or take someone to a general practitioner, I almost always meet people from the Dutch side in the waiting room. Practically all my acquaintances have told me they no longer go to doctors on the Dutch side. They are willing to pay their out-of-pocket money instead of making use of their health insurance, in order to get more reliable treatment.
I guess the medical savoir-faire in France was obtained from its population of almost 65 million, compared to Holland’s 17 million. They have always had a great deal more patients to experiment on and learn. Whatever the reason, French doctors seem to be more successful in their diagnoses and treatment of their patients.
Another valid reason for especially diabetics to cross the border is that medication is also way cheaper on the French side. I don’t know the reason for this, but I suppose that unlike the Dutch side, the cost of all medication is strictly controlled by the French authorities.
How did I find this out? One Friday afternoon, while my wife and I were shopping at Super U – another place patronized by lots of Dutch-side people – she reminded me that I was completely out of eye drops. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to get them on the Dutch side until after the weekend, I decided to buy a bottle in Marigot.
To my surprise, I paid US $ 9.37 for the bottle at a French pharmacy: the identical eye drops – same brand, same strength – on the Dutch side cost Fls. 58.50 (US $32.50), three and a half times more expensive.
The very next time I entered a Dutch pharmacy, I asked the druggist why the big difference in price. He smiled and said, “We buy local.” By the way, local means Curaçao, as most suppliers of medical products are branches of Curaçao-based businesses. Their profit margin must be tremendous; nothing less than a get-rich-quick scam at the expense of sick people. To say their branches on St. Maarten are blooming would be an understatement. And of course, pharmacies and the hospital add their mark-up to these already outrageously marked-up prices.
It gets worse! I understand these Curaçao-based businesses pay their taxes via their head office in Curaçao. They have been doing this since the time of Claude Wathey, when St. Maarten and the other islands were treated as colonies of Curaçao. They make their millions on St. Maarten, but their tax money ends up in the coffers of the government of Curaçao.
I once asked a former prime minister about this matter. Her reply was: “It depends on how the business is structured.” If they are making tons of money on St. Maarten, shouldn’t they be paying taxes here, regardless of how the business is structured? Why should consumers on St. Maarten support the government of Curaçao?
Being a diabetic myself, I decided to make some further inquiries about the cost of some must-have medical supplies for diabetics. I compared the prices at two Dutch- with those of two French pharmacies and found the following:
Lantus SoloStar insulin pens cost Fls. 48.00 (US $26.67) and Fls. 40, 00 (US $22.22) respectively at both Dutch-side pharmacies, compared to US $14.38 and US $ 14.96 at the French pharmacies.
NovoRapid insulin pens cost Fls. 32.88 (US $18.27) and Fls. 27.40 (US $15.22) at the Dutch pharmacies, compared to US $11.41 and US $11.31 at the French pharmacies.
Pen needles (90) cost Fls. 45.00 (US $25.00) and Fls. 63.25 (U$ 35.14) at the Dutch pharmacies, compared to US $20.99 and US $21.19 at the French pharmacies for 100. The Dutch pharmacies actually remove 10 needles from each box.
Galvus Met 50mg/850mg 60 pieces cost Fls. 92.40 (US $51.33) and Fls. 99.00 (US $55.00) at the Dutch pharmacies, compared to US $20.99 and US $21.19 at the French pharmacies.
As stated above, Lantanoprost eye drops, which are also used by non-diabetics, namely people with glaucoma, cost Fls. 58.50 (US $32.50) at both Dutch pharmacies, compared to US $9.46 and US $9.37 at the French pharmacies. As you can see, the difference in the prices is rather significant.
Depending on a diabetic’s daily dosage, he or she will need 5 to possibly 10 long-acting insulin and 5 or more fast-acting insulin pens per month. I have not included all crucial items for diabetics, such as strips used with a glucose metre, lancets and others. However, I don’t doubt that all of these other items are cheaper on the French side.
One Dutch druggist told me he could sell these medications a lot cheaper if he ordered them from Holland, but he is not allowed to do so. The Health Inspectorate restricts the countries from which medical supplies can be ordered. Are they doing so to protect the vendors of these unacceptably overpriced products, or could the reason for this be that the cheaper the imported medication, the less turnover tax is collected by government? Do they consider revenue from taxes more important than the health of our people?
Thank God for SZV!! I assume that most people are insured by SZV, but, it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that SZV and by extension the government, would save tens of thousands of guilders every month by making an arrangement with pharmacies on the French side to accept SZV-cards.
By doing so, they would most certainly make life affordable for uninsured diabetics and sick people in general. Supporting our local economy is without a doubt extremely important, but if our “local” businesses cannot provide reasonably-priced products, they oblige us to cross the border… or go online.
On behalf of all diabetics on the Dutch side and there are literally thousands of us, with more being diagnosed on a daily basis, I call on our Parliamentarians and especially the Minister of Health to make an in-depth inquiry into this matter without delay. Let’s wait and see if this new government will make a serious attempt to save lots and lots of money and make life for diabetics and other sick people affordable.