Opinion: Political tribalism

POSTED: 03/21/14 6:47 PM

Very soon the people will be called again to choose, and they will do so overwhelmingly for one direction. There is a better way forward and it is upward. It is time to put an end to political tribalism.

It is lamentable that never before have we witnessed such desperation and hostility in St. Maarten politics. Because of their inability to stay in government and their greed for power, some politicians have taken a turn for the worst. Apparently they will do anything and grab at everything to try to destabilize a secure and stable government in other to kill growth and development. Their only priority is personal gain and scoring political points, not the progress of the island. This is clear in the hostile and arrogant political ranting and name-calling that pass for press conferences and the negative talk show commentaries by loose cannons who claim to be advisors of their political party.

A news editorial which once stated, “Unfortunately, the level of toxicity rises measurably with each press conference or public statement by some of our politicians these days, and this serves as a hindrance to the search for common ground and the meeting of minds.”

Their modus operandi is crystal clear. Look how they are trying to ask government in one month all the questions they failed to ask in four years. They were silent in every opportunity given when their own appointed Minister of Finance endorsed the capital improvement program of PJIA and the presentations were subsequently made to government. Surely, their goal is to bombard government with questions to keep it from governing, while simultaneously digging up all possible dirt in order to destabilize the economy in some hope that it reflects badly on the present government.

The same political party abandoned its country agenda and orchestrated the calypso coup that led to the fall of the first government after achieving country status. It is the same political party who trampled on democracy and made a mockery of the constitution and parliamentary rules of order by devising a Mexican Stand-off that held the economy hostage in order to secure their own pensions. And it is the same political party that started a direct assault on the Princess Juliana Airport, one of the main pillars of the St. Maarten’s Economy, and dragged the names of well-respected young St. Maarten professionals into the mud. They are hell bent on hurting the young St. Maarten nation and ultimately the people just to win an election and to get into government. If they are doing this now while they are still in parliament imagine what will happen if they are allowed to run the country! How can you say you care about St. Maarten if you are prepared to tear down every achievement the island has received and undermine all the efforts and sacrifices made to rescue the country from national and international embarrassment and positively transform the island into the envy of the world?

Most recently, the island was featured in USA Today’s 10 Best Choice Awards, as one of the best Caribbean islands. Caribbean Travel Marketplace also stated that the island leads growth in Caribbean Travel, and it is a traveler’s favorite. In addition, St. Maarten also tops the world’s average for growth in passenger traffic and remains a force to reckon with as the #1 preferred destination of choice for travelers. PJIA apart from securing a Baa2 rating from Moody’s Investor Service Inc., received the International Award for Leadership in Image and Quality from Global Trade Leadership Club. It is because of the PJIA’s efforts to secure a bond for its capital improvement program for continued sustainability that the country St. Maarten now enjoys a Sovereign credit rating of Baa1 with a stable outlook.

Now, all of these efforts risk being downgraded by reckless and recalcitrant political aspirants with devastating consequences not only for the people, investment climate and economy, but detrimental also to the already badly bruised image of St. Maarten regionally and internationally.

True country above self puts people above party politics and personal gain. We should focus on building the nation, but instead they are tearing St. Maarteners down to further their own political agenda. The fact remains that because of these irresponsible actions every single St. Maartener will suffer in the end, including their own supporters. You cannot keep assaulting and undermining your own country and people and then look to the electorate to vote you into power.  You cannot keep attacking hardworking people with your xenophobic rants because they were not born here and then expect them to give you their vote. This ill-advised slash-and-burn-bring-it-on political tactic is despicable.

Inflated egos are not conducive to the kind of will, resilience, innovation, imagination, vision or capacity needed to lift this country to economic sustainability, growth and prosperity. The challenge before us, therefore, is to change our political habits, to renounce political tribalism, to purge ourselves of the old political bickering, name-calling, hostilities, enmities and divisions and to renew, build and develop our St. Maarten nation. The interest of St. Maarten must take precedence over individual or partisan self-interest. Let us put aside, once and for all, the politics of fear, intimidation and bitterness that fan the flames of hostility and anger that sweep our friendly island. St. Maarten deserves better.

Terry Peterson,

Social activist.


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Comments (1)


  1. L.B. Hill says:

    Mr. Terry Peterson, you are a bitter man! Check yourself!
    By the way, your lenghty letters takes up to much time to read.

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