“I am fighting, do it for yourself as well” Jessurun fires up senior citizens

POSTED: 02/20/13 12:37 PM

St. Maarten – Yesterday the St. Maarten Seniors and Pensioners Association (SMSPA) held an information session for the senior citizens at the Hope Estate Senior Citizens Recreational Center, which was hosted by Vice President Raymond Jessurun.

Per February 1, Jessurun has also been appointed as ambassador to international organizations for CORV, the Coordination of Civil Society Organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean on Aging. This so Jessurun could expand the SMSPA network to international non-governmental organizations throughout the Caribbean and the Dutch Kingdom; for solidarity and support for their struggle for equal pensions, equal health care, and equal social protection in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

With the subject ‘Achievements and what’s next’ Jessurun addressed the gathered citizens to ‘speak up and to stand for our rights as senior citizens’.

Three topics were discussed during yesterday’s session; the pension increase and the ongoing pension reform; the health care treatment of the seniors and the discriminatory health care insurances; and the local and international support for the struggle for equal rights and the position of the governments and the parliaments in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The first topic was mainly about the government’s plan for the pension increase to 1,000 guilders. “The average income of a senior citizen is 500 guilders; the government wants to increase with 75 guilders a person, which comes down to 2.50 guilder a day. So tell me how the government is thinking we can pay for that,” Jesserun said. “It’s an insult, the prices keep going up and we’ve got nothing.”

“Social security should be equal. In the Netherlands the pensions start at €975 ($1,248) because you can’t live in poverty, that’s the law,” he continued. “Even on the French side they have that, so why is it so impossible to have it here in St. Maarten, we are part of the Dutch Kingdom as well.”

Jessurun put his foot down for the senior community when it came to equal rights. He reminded the people to speak up if they want to make a change, and he remembered the words of the legendary Bob Marley ‘Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights’.

The second point on the agenda was the health care treatment for the elderly on St. Maarten. Numerous points were given by the audience and Jessurun himself: no doctor after five p.m., long waiting lists for senior citizens, SZV who asks five times more in insurance premiums and the national health insurance system.

Jessurun pointed out that country St. Maarten within the Dutch Kingdom still has the right to equally health insurance even when you’re retired “It’s not fair that the people who have the less and are already suffering have to pay the most on health care. After 10-10-10 the government promised that we would get a national health insurance system, this is what we are still waiting for.”

According to Jessurun, the topics for equal pensions and health insurance are not on the agenda when the Kingdom representatives come to the island. He said that the MPs are not going to discuss these issues in parliament, and that the only things that will be discussing are more cuts in the people’s money.

Jessurun just returned from a 10-day conference of the UN committee for social development in New York where he represented the Alzheimer’s Disease International and spread the word for equal rights among the disabled and the senior citizens of St. Maarten.

At the conference Jessurun got the support from several organizations that are more than willing to help the seniors in their struggle for their rights. “This is a good step in the direction to let the government know that we are not the only one who struggles and that we are willing to raise our voices in order to be heard.”

Jessurun believes that if everyone will speak up, and to let the government know that they won’t go away and will fight for their rights, things will make a different. “I fight for our rights, do it for yourself as well. Speak up, write letters to newspapers, give information to others and just let yourself be heard.”



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