St. Maarten’s Day speeches focus on unity, instead of cooperation

POSTED: 11/12/11 7:15 AM

Gumbs says, “One people is in the making.”

St. Maarten – Speeches at Friday’s St. Maarten’s Day celebrations focused only the united nature of St. Maarten and steered clear of statements on functional cooperation. There were also no speeches from the Sous Prefet – who represents the French State – and St. Maarten’s Governor – who represents the Queen.

Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Rhoda Arrindell took time to thank and congratulate islanders for their “participation and engagement’ thus far in the week long celebrations that end on Sunday with the walk-a-thon organized by St. Maarten Trails Hiking Club and the St. Maarten Day Bicycle Race. The latter event was moved to the weekend to reduce the risk of an accident. Arrindell also inserted that the day had been planned in the spirit of the founders – Dr. Claude Wathey and Hubert Petit.

“We have survived because we never believed in artificial ties. This island and its people have been and will always remain one. We are indivisible before God and man. We are a borderless people. Today we are not affirming the administrative separation,” Arrindell said.

President of Parliament drs Gracita Arrindell believes the commemoration of St. Maarten’s Day must be elevated to a more meaningful commemoration, but offered no thoughts on how to accomplish this. She also used the word allegiance multiple times as she called on islanders to pledge themselves to St. Maarten.

“We must have one single sense of allegiance to this island. I pledge allegiance to my country St. Maarten,” she said.

Arrindell’s speech is the first time a politician representing a local legislature has spoken at the St. Maarten’s Day celebration.

President of the Collectivite of St. Martin Frantz Gumbs, conscious that an election is coming in March 2012, announced that he’d remain committed to “one island, one destiny and one people in the making.” His statement about one people in the making relates to the fact that there is still a multiplicity of twos on the island. The examples he gave include two governments, two administrative systems, two ports, two airports, two garbage facilities, two utility companies and two sewage management systems.

“Today is not the day to be discussing functional cooperation. We should be celebrating. March 23, which is the date on which the Treaty of Concordia was signed, is a better day to talk about treaties and other forms of cooperation,” Gumbs said.

Later he added, “We are one island and yes we have our cusses and fusses and while we fight in the home, I will never call on outside help to beat my brother.”

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams who delivered address that drew applause and shouts several times did not have a problem with not talking about functional cooperation at Friday’s celebration as the switch to focusing on unity allowed to call for islanders to have pride in St. Maarten, fly its colors and to respect themselves. She also used it to call on migrants to love the island and respect its people.

“Today I greet you warmly as one St. Maartener to another. Regardless to what there is not another like St. Maarten, which is blessed because of the people who put the governments there. Together we will carry St. Maarten forward. I know that it’s rough right now, but we have faced harder times and difficulties,” Wescot-Williams said.

Friday’s celebration took place in warm temperatures and a partially cloudy sky. The typical St. Maarten’s Day shower was absent, allowing core elements of the program to be move forward without almost seamlessly. For example a smattering of residents waited at the Salt Pickers roundabout for the uniform parade. They then followed the parade into the Festival Village for demonstrations from the Uniform Groups.

The one notable hitch at Friday’s celebration is that the toast did not happen at 11:11 as planned. It ended up happening just after 12:00 noon. The organizers had wanted the toast done at 11:11 to establish a sequence of ones – 11:11 on 11/11/11 – to stress the oneness of the island.

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Comments (1)


  1. irie says:

    How can they co-operate with the other half of the island if the whole lot can’t co-operate with one another on the same side of the island????

    Oh please.