St. Maarten people need better opportunities, access and representation

Dear Editor,
Though we bask in the warmth of the sunshine and explore the wonders of sea and sand, ordinary citizens of St. Maarten are being left out in the cold. For many, the cost and standard of living poses daily struggles, demanding that many seek two or three jobs just to survive. The realities of even being able to open a bank account prove difficult for some. A travesty in the era of technology and the ease of doing business.
How then can individuals do what they were taught? Leveraging their savings in hopes of acquiring land and housing. That realization seems a distant thought for many, as the cost of such is a virtual impossibility for many. Those for whom money poses little trouble are faced with a different issue, accessibility. It seems as though one must not only find the financial wherewithal but also a connection, one who occupies a posh office and leather chair.
What then of opportunities? How do we expect ordinary men and women to have upward mobility for themselves? How do we expect them to push their families upward and onward? How then do we expect them to set life-changing opportunities in place for their children well into the future? For far too many of St. Maarten’s citizens, these things are not possible. Not when the hopes of accessing bare basics such as land and housing are squashed. They are not within the reach of the ordinary man and woman.
I suspect many would suggest getting a loan, but for a brief moment consider this. If for some there is an inherent difficulty in setting up a bank account, imagine a loan. It is simply too much to do, too much struggle and still not affordable.
What is so disheartening is the devil that lies behind the struggle. Politicians who preach the gospel of people-centered policies and programs pre-election sing a different tune post-election. Once elected, they advance the cause of the wealthy and special interest groups and leave the average voter behind. All this happens while the people who bend backwards day in and day out to ensure the progress and prosperity of St. Maarten are left not being able to own a piece of rock, because it is just not affordable to do so.
These politicians who ought to be ensuring the accessibility and affordability of land and housing as well as other basic commodities are consumed with the progress of a few. How can this be right? How is it fair? How is it in the best interest of the majority?
Heartbreakingly and unsurprisingly so, is that many of the rich and famous exhibit little to no empathy or sympathy for the struggling public.
I am to conclude that better must be done to afford the great people of St. Maarten better opportunities, better access, better representation. In this era of the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals – Ed.], the island of St. Maarten must seek to ensure the elevation of its people. Easier access to bank accounts, affordable land and housing as well as other basic commodities needed for human advancement must be priority.
Which one elected or desirous of such will stand with the people? Will stand for the people? Will stand by the people? “O, sweet St. Maarten land” let’s wonder no more where is the land. Accessibility and affordability for all.

Mervin Hanley

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