Opinion: French asphalt

POSTED: 03/19/12 12:43 PM

Driving around on the French side of the island we noticed something odd last week: asphalt. Lots and lots of sparkling new asphalt. At first we did not make the connection, until the E-word popped into our head. Elections!
And to make sure that voters would get a smooth ride to their voting station, the Collectivité went all out with a road repair offensive that made the place look as if it was preparing for a visit by H.M. Queen Beatrix in the company of one Nicolas Sarkozy and of course the inevitable Carla Bruni. But no, it was all about the four-yearly ritual dance around the ballot box.
The road to Concordia, the new road past the cemetery in Marigot towards Sandy Ground, all the bad pieces in the roads in French Quarter as well as the undulating part of the Route Nationale 7 near the turnoff to Colombier and the same road a bit further up in Rambaud all got the royal treatment.
We noticed that almost at the same time Public Works in Philipsburg has found some asphalt as well. Some of it landed on the battered A. Th. Illidge Road – and the Queen isn’t even coming, nor are there elections underway.
Bob Marley’s Get Up Stand Up contains the following lyric; You can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time.
Well, how true this is remains to be seen, because every four years, or as often as there are elections fooling people seems to be the national sport. The French do it with asphalting their roads; on the Dutch side we have seen promises about anything and everything. Promises aside, the only thing that seems to work is paying poor suckers a measly $300 for their vote. At least two police officers and one VKS-officer are known to have cashed this money from the United People’s Party during the 2010 elections.
These people were of course fooling themselves: by selling their vote, they also sold their soul to the devil. Marley’s next lines: so now we see the light; we gonna stand up for our right does not apply to these electorally challenged law enforcement officers, because they literally sold that right for a pittance.
What remains amazing about this electoral fraud is that the culprits have never been prosecuted. Not that this surprises us. After all, there were two parties involved in the scheme: the sellers and the buyer. The buyer happens to be the United People’s Party of Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger. It is safe to assume that the handouts to voters were done under his authority.
The police produced a handy report about this case of electoral fraud for the prosecutor’s office. There, the case mysteriously got stuck: it was for the National Detective Agency to handle, and said agency was in the process of being established. In the background we’ve picked up murmurings that the Justice Ministry was unhappy with this police report.
So what does this tell us? As soon as a criminal investigation threatens to come too close for comfort, the wheels of justice stop turning. That’s something to think about the next time the electorate is called upon to give its power away.
Whatever the outcome of the elections in Marigot will be, at least the people there will have some asphalt to enjoy until the next big storm returns the roads to their natural state. But how many voters will realize that these road works were paid for with their money? When will they really get up and stand up for their right?

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