Opinion: Gypsies

POSTED: 11/2/11 11:58 AM

A gypsy is a member of a traditionally itinerant people. If we have to believe the Merriam-Webster dictionary they originate from  India and live now mainly in south and southwest Asia, Europe and the United States. In a more general meaning, a gypsy is a wanderer.

That describes pretty well the gypsies we have in St. Maarten and who have now attracted the attention of Justice Minister Roland Duncan.

Gypsies are, for some reason, not particularly liked. The Roma that wander around Europe get kicked from one place to the next; it does not help that whoever chooses to dig into their history, will find some outstanding con men among their tribe members. Gypsies are not trusted, and they are also considered weird because they are, well, gypsies. They don’t live in one place, they don’t grow their own tomatoes, and they don’t do a lot of other things many people consider normal or decent. But, just in case someone overlooks this detail, gypsies are people like you and me.

That gypsies do not fit in a system is a source of irritation for “normal” people. The gypsies in St. Maarten are of course not gypsies at all: they are what Dutch cab drivers call snorders. A snorder is an illegal cab driver who picks up passengers here and there. The word snorder comes from the Yiddish sjnorrer and that means in case you had not guessed it: beggar.

Cab drivers who spot a snorder on their territory in the Netherlands don’t complain. They usually take action and that has proven to be a rather effective method to keep the snorder-population in the big cities more or less under control.

We do not recommend that local cabbies start handing down their own measure of justice to gypsy cab drivers. And actually: characteristic for the Friendly Island is that cab drivers don’t do this.

But now the gypsies are getting roaring Roland on their back, so beware; no more loitering at the airport, no more  sneaky parking around the cruise facility and no more fun trips with cruise shop crew members to local drug dealers. It’s not that the minister wants to deny crew members a happy smoke, its more that he is concerned that the gypsies become accomplices in what one could call the international drug trade, since there are local dealers and foreign buyers involved..

And that is not something Duncan is looking forward to, because accomplices, once they get caught, have to be locked up, and St. Maarten does not have cells to accommodate these people. So it’s probably a smart idea to curb gypsy-activities, since this may also have a positive effect on the crime figures. The local soft drug trade will take a hit but that seems a small price to pay for less pressure on the prison system.

In the meantime, how do all those people get home who rely on a gypsy for transportation late at night?

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