Opinion: Parlatino

POSTED: 04/24/12 12:08 PM

Hurray: St. Maarten will host a couple of Parlatino meetings in November. One would think that this is good news, and maybe it is. Travel hungry parliamentarians from other countries will come to the Friendly Country for a couple of days and they have to stay somewhere and eat. Since they’re on an expense account, this will give the local economy a little impulse.

Other than that, one may well wonder what the use of Parlatino is, other than an excuse for parliamentarians to travel to exotic places like Panama.

St. Maarten and the Netherlands Antilles before it have been with Parlatino since its inception in 1964, but it is unclear what the benefits for our islands have been so far.

On Friday the Parlatino parliament supported a motion that supports Argentina’s decision to nationalize oil company YPF, by snatching a majority stake from Spanish parent Repsol. And what did St. Maarten do in this meeting? It abstained.

In other words, St. Maarten travels all the way to Panama to attend Parlatino meetings and when there is something to vote about, the delegation chickens out and abstains. The delegation has apparently no opinion about the Argentinean nationalization decision.

In a press release we received about the visit of Parliament President Arrindell and MPs Illidge and Leonard, no explanation was given for this decision. More important seemed to be that Parlatino will come to the island in the fall. That will be the next opportunity to waste some time on meaningless motions, before deciding not to vote on them. What an absolute nonsense this is. Parlatino seems like an interesting form of entertainment for the happy few – and unless somebody manages to explain what the actual use of attending such meeting is and what the tangible benefits for St. Maarten are – we maintain that there are more pressing matters to deal with at home.

It’s time for our politicians to ask themselves the classic Kennedy question: do not ask what your country can do for you (like offering free travel to exotic destinations) but ask what you can do for your country (like solving real problems instead of taking part in nonsensical discussions about stuff that is happening in places like Argentina).

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