Tuitt defends participation at Obama inauguration

POSTED: 01/24/13 10:11 AM

St. Maarten – The government paid $5,000 to have a representative attend the second inauguration of American President Barack Obama, Finance Minister Roland Tuitt revealed. Yesterday, Tuitt said that he was responding to “naysayers”, many of whom were parliamentarians that had questioned the cost and reason for the island’s participation.

“They said that we did not get an invitation. Then they said that we will be sitting where we cannot even see what’s going on,” the finance minister stated before dramatically reading aloud, the official invitation sent by the State Department of the Obama administration.

He indicated that for President Obama’s first term in 2009, a public-private partnership resulted in $180 million being spent for the US leader’s security on Inauguration Day.

During Monday’s inauguration an estimated $130 million was spent. Those figures pale in comparison to what St. Maarten spent to send a representative to the event, the minister said.

“It is good to go to these functions to see what other people do for their representatives.”

A report published on Buzzfeed.com on Tuesday under the headline Small Countries Have Their Moment to Shine at Ambassador’s Ball, referred to St. Maarten’s presence at the event.

“As thousands of people partied nearby at the Convention Center for the marquee official Inaugural Ball on Monday, a smaller crew gathered at the Carnegie Library for the Ambassadors Ball, a fête of Washington’s diplomatic and international community and one of dozens of unofficial balls taking place on the night of the inauguration.

But the foreign policy world’s heavy hitters were elsewhere; instead, most of the Ambassadors Ball’s diplomats hailed from some of the world’s tiniest nations.

Bastiaan Bolt and André Hoeneveld, diplomats from the Caribbean island of St. Maarten (“Well, we have diplomatic passports”), were standing off to the side eating hors d’oeuvres.

“No,” Bolt said when asked if Obama had ever visited St. Maarten.

“He was invited, but no,” said Hoeneveld, the Director of the Cabinet of St. Maarten’s governor,” an excerpt from the report reads.

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