Historical artifact confiscated during attempted export

POSTED: 05/31/13 12:33 PM

BallSt. Maarten – A tip was given from a local Courier Mail service at Cole Bay to Rueben Thompson that a historical cannonball was being attempted to be exported to the USA. Thompson contacted the director of the St. Maarten Archaeological Center (Simarc) Dr. Jay Haviser, who immediately took action to stop the export of the artifact. Dr. Haviser contacted Inspector Rudolph Bloeiman, Head of the Interpol office on St. Maarten, who called the Prosecutor’s Office and Officer Josepha at the Simpson Bay police station.

Haviser and Bloeiman then went to the mail service office in Cole Bay, where they met Officers Roumou and Woodley from the Simpson Bay station, after Officer Josepha had already arrived and insured that the artifact would be held by the mail service. The 18th century historical cannonball was confiscated, and interviews were made regarding the person who had deposited and attempted to export the artifact, at the mail service office. Apparently a guest at Divi Little Bay Resort from the USA with initials J.B.B., told the mail service clerk that they had found the cannonball at Fort Amsterdam, and were shipping it home.

With the confiscated cannonball in possession, Haviser and Bloeiman then went to Divi Little Bay Resort, where the hotel managers were immediately co-operative to provide information about the guest in question. The hotel guest was not in at the time, so follow-up is to be taken by the police.

Based on the international Valetta Treaty, ratified by the St. Maarten Government, the export of historical and archaeological artifacts without authorized permission is strictly forbidden, with a punishment, related directly to prior St. Maarten statutes, of up to 1 year imprisonment and up to a fine of 5000 guilders.

“In this dramatic case, we saved a piece of St. Maarten patrimony from being stolen from our island, unfortunately there are many more cases that we do not ever heard about, Jay Haviser says in a press release. “Which is why this particular case is an excellent example of clear, rapid, and efficient cooperation between the island’s heritage/environment experts, law enforcement authorities, property owners, and commercial service sector staff members, this kind of watchful eye and communication among our community members is a most effective means to protect our community, from illegal acts,” he added.

“If we truly wish to preserve our heritage it takes all of us in the community, working together in cooperation, to stop the illegal destruction and export of patrimony from the island,” he said.

Both the Haviser and the Divi Little Bay Resort representative, wish to strongly advise the public that removal of artifacts from the fort is strictly forbidden. While the general public is further advised to take notice that the export of historical artifacts without proper authorization, is also strictly forbidden and can be prosecuted.

A simple cannonball may seem like a small thing, yet it is another piece of patrimony helping St. Maarteners to understand the island’s heritage, and protecting even the smallest of artifacts is of enormous significance for the respect of heritage for all the people here on St. Maarten.


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