Opinion: Pride questions parliament’s intentionsPOSTED: 11/14/13 12:51 PM
On April 18 the Parliament of St. Maarten made history by passing several motions which instructed the Council of Ministers to take measures aimed at protecting the island’s natural and cultural heritage.
There was a motion on beach access intended to secure accessibility to beaches by the public via land and sea; – a motion titled National Heritage instructing the Council of Ministers to strengthen monument protection and national heritage conservation legislation; a motion titled ‘Fort Amsterdam’ charging the Council of Ministers with the task of pursuing all legal measures necessary in securing access to Fort Amsterdam and to present the options, consequences, implications and costs of the purchase of Fort Amsterdam; a motion titled ‘Mullet Pond’ declaring that parliament is in favor of establishing Mullet Pond as a protected area and charging the Council of Ministers with the task of taking the necessary measures towards establishing Mullet Pond as a Nature Park.
These motions listed deadlines by which the Council of Ministers would have to initiate suitable measures such as the drafting and implementation of legislation towards meeting the objectives of the resolutions as stipulated in the respective motions. All of these deadlines have since quietly passed without any known efforts by the Council of Ministers having been taken to meet the requirements as set forth in the motions.
Sint Maarten Pride Foundation recently submitted a letter to parliament reminding parliamentarians of the motions and inquiring about the realization of the resolutions as listed in the aforementioned motions.
The Foundation is left to wonder how parliament will proceed. Will Members of Parliament opt to attempt to withdraw these historic motions aimed at the protection of Sint Maarten’s Heritage? Will Parliament follow the line of MP Leroy de Weever who indicated during the debate on April 17 that: “… … these areas should not be protected but should instead be reserved for [real estate] development?” Will Parliament agree with De Weever’s previously published opinion that “we should not protect our heritage as it is only a reminder of slavery which should be forgotten”? Or will Parliamentarians Romain Laville and Frans Richardson pursue the fulfillment of the motions and associated resolutions they tabled?
After forty years of largely unplanned and unregulated development which has led to the devastation of much of Sint Maarten’s natural and cultural heritage including the destruction of 14 of St. Maarten’s 19 ponds it is high time for parliament and the Council of Ministers to protect the little that is left.
Sint Maarten Pride Foundation reminds the Council of Ministers and Members of Parliament that it is government’s constitutional duty to protect the country’s natural and cultural heritage, considering that article 21 of the Constitution of Sint Maarten states that: “The government shall set out conditions for social and cultural development and recreational activities, as well as for the preservation of the cultural heritage.”
Article 22 of the Constitution states that: “It shall be the constant concern of the government to keep the country habitable and to protect and improve the natural environment … …”;
The preamble of the Constitution states: “WE, THE PEOPLE OF SINT MAARTEN”, (Being)“…DETERMINED to care for the perpetual maintenance of nature and the environment.”
Sint Maarten Pride Foundation urges Parliament and the Council of Ministers to uphold the Constitution by working towards the realization of the aforementioned motions, by protecting Mullet Pond and purchasing the Emilio Wilson Estate and by taking all necessary measures to protect Sint Maarten’s remaining natural and cultural heritage.
Sint Maarten Pride Foundation