After the calypso coup

POSTED: 08/3/12 12:43 PM
From left to right: former Vice-Prime Minister Theo Heyliger, poker room manager Pepe and Atlantis owner Francesco Corallo.

St. Maarten – It was not a great carnival this year for former Vice-Prime Minister Theo Heyliger. In the wee hours of Saturday morning April 28, at the end of the calypso-finals in the Festival Village, three members of parliament stood up an announced that they were ready to form a new government with the National Alliance.

Romain Laville handed in his resignation as the faction leader of Heyliger’s United People’s party to become an independent MP and to hook up with independents Patrick Illidge and Frans Richardson – who were both at one time members of the National Alliance.

The picture showing the three politicians triumphant holding hands on the stage in the Festival Village was taken by our photographer Milton Pieters at four minutes pas one in the morning of Saturday April 28.

On Monday April 30, at three minutes to two in the afternoon – 36 hours and 53 minutes after the virtual fall of Heyliger’s government – the picture shown here was taken at Waikiki, a beach bar located on Orient Bay on the French side of the island.

Heyliger (left) seems to be out of his depth, or at least deeply disappointed with the turn of events in his political career. The man in the middle is Pepe, the poker room manager at the Atlantis Casino in Cupecoy; the man on the right is Francesco Corallo, by Italian media identified as the beneficial owner of the Atlantis/BPlus, and in St. Maarten often rumored as the United People’s party most important financial backer.

In this context it is noteworthy that the Schotte-government in Curacao at one time nominated the chief financial officer of Atlantis, Rudolf Baetsen, as chairman of the board of the Central Bank. When that nomination stirred significant controversy, Baetsen withdrew his candidacy.

After the fall of his government Heyliger withdrew from the political scene, even though UP-Minister Franklin Meyers announced at a press conference that he would take up his position as the party’s chairman and that he would look into ways to get Heyliger a seat in the parliament.

So far there has been no indication from Heyliger’s side that he is eager to return to active politics.

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