Opinion: If even the grass stops growing

POSTED: 06/22/12 2:23 PM

We figure that our politicians will pretend that there is no protest going on against their decision that made it possible to legally organize cock fights. They will not yield to pressure from foreigners, even though the arguments against cock fighting are not coming from people because they are foreigners, but because they happen to care about the well being of animals.
But when there are no arguments left to defend a position, the foreigner-card is easily played.
Our analysis of a large sample of signatures submitted to the petition against cock fighting shows that our politicians may want to think twice about their decision. A large part of the protesters hail from our single most important source market for tourism – the United States.
That politicians do not lose a night’s sleep over a signature from Sudan or South Korea makes sense to us: there won’t be truckloads of tourists coming from those countries any time soon. But protests from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and, last but certainly not least, from St. Maarten itself, are a bit harder to ignore.
The numbers themselves may not sound that impressive: we found 262 Americans in the sample of 1,024 signatures we examined. The thing is that we do not know who these people are and how many others they represent. It is easy to imagine that one protester has at least a circle of ten people around her or him that share the same opinion. But it becomes a totally different story if just one or two of these signatories happen to be involved in the Humane Society of the United States. It is the most effective animal protection organization on the planet, backed by an astonishing 11 million Americans.
Given the subject matter, chances that Humane Society supporters are indeed signing the online petition, it is certain that they won’t stop there. They will use their network to inform 11 million Americans about the cock fighting decision, and those 11 million in turn could each inform another 5 or 6 (we’re staying on the low end of the scale here) fellow countrymen.
If they dislike the decision bad enough, all this will have a negative impact on the only pillar our economy has – the tourism industry. By the time that becomes apparent, our politicians will probably start asking our Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs for an explanation about why the figures are down.
As MP Hyacinth Richardson would say: “The grass is growing but the horse is starving.”
Imagine what will happen to the island if even the grass stops growing – all because our politicians want to reinstate what they consider a cultural tradition.

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