Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap April 15th, 2018

As far as Aruba is concerned we did not gain anything from the re-opening of the border

We all saw Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah, Vice President of Venezuela since January 2017, in a photo opportunity with the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok, as they signed the agreement to re-open the border with Venezuela and lift the air and sea blockade.

(Please do not forget that El Aissami has faced allegations of participating in corruption, money laundering, and drug trafficking all of which he denies, including terrorism-sponsoring allegations).

But, yes, they signed an agreement, smiled, gave speeches, I listened carefully, they are not saying anything specific, just vowing to have each other’s back, to curtail smuggling, contraband, and human trafficking.

What exactly happened to bring the blockage on, on Jan 6th, and what exactly were the concessions to reopen the border, we don’t know.

The masses are kept in the dark.

An important aspect of the meeting was the statement released by Blok, that all migrants must be returned to Venezuela, deported back to where they came from because they do not meet the UN refuge criteria, they left their country for economic reasons, they are not political refugees.

As far as Aruba is concerned we did not gain anything from the re-opening the border. We will again have plane loads of illegals arriving here instead of just boat loads.

For avocado, and tomatoes we can turn to the Dominican Republic.

Why would we want the frontier with a dictatorial country in crisis, open?

Wanna travel there? You can travel, no problem, via Panama, maybe, or Colombia, for now.

One thing is clear. Venezuela is in dxxp sxxt.

The country is being plundered by its elite, under Cuban mercenary protection. The Cuban paid soldiers stand guard while the country’s wealth is being siphoned away into foreign bank accounts owned by top level Venezuelan officials.

Roberto Rincon was just one example. He got caught and is now in Houston awaiting sentencing, with a bracelet around his ankle. He did reach an understanding with the FEDS, spilling his guts, and as a result, five top guys were arrested for making shady deals. With some of the oil guys in jail, Venezuela is now focusing on gold smuggling.

But here again, the problem lies in Venezuela, where its own people steal millions.  We think that smuggling gold bars is as difficult as illegally selling an oil tanker with crude — both involve the underworld and crazy manipulations.

From Rainbow Warriors, receive on my WhatsApp

April 7, 2018. Oranjestad, Aruba, Dutch Caribbean.
The general human rights violations, mining of rule of law and democratic institutions, wholesale destruction of society, infrastructure, economy, natural resources, natural ecosystems, destruction of all historic and cultural heritage reflecting democratic Venezuela, land grabbing of tribal lands of 200 plus indigenous peoples in Arco Minero whose future has been stolen from them, forcing them to  work as modern slaves in (illegal)  mining of gold signify a humanitarian crisis of gargantuan proportions is playing out in Venezuela.
The current state of public health, safety and food security in Venezuela have this country blessed with an abundance of natural and mineral resources descending into an abyss from which escape is virtually impossible unless the sleeping giant that is the United Nations and its natural counterpart, the international community also awake from its slumber and start to address the Venezuelan crisis which is spiraling out of control.
The United Nations expects by voice of the UNHCR  the neighboring countries of Venezuela, many of which are Small Island Developing States to prepare for a massive influx of  refugees.
The Caribbean nations, Colombia, Panama and Brazil cannot be expected to absorb the possibly millions of migrants and /or refugees without paying a hefty domestic price in terms of the destabilizing impacts on infrastructure and economies.
The United Nations, Organization of American States and the European Union and the United Kingdom the latter two with strong historical and economic ties with Caribbean island nations must assume their responsibility and address the causes of the Venezuelan crisis.
They must also acknowledge and address the strong political engineering,  coordination and even military presence of the Cuban State in all affairs Venezuelan.
Being tough on the Communist regime in Caracas without being tough on the obvious and well known and documented maneuvering from Havana will not solve the Venezuela Crisis.
The current UN stance on  Venezuela violates the very safeguards and protective measures that must be upheld in accordance and by virtue of the vulnerable status accorded to Small Island Developing States.
The UN and European Union must address the Venezuelan crisis by also addressing Cuban State interference and the UN and UNHCR must recognize and acknowledge the special vulnerable status of Small Island Developing States when considering the flow of migrants and/or refugees to neighboring countries of Venezuela.
The most obvious solution to stemming the flow of migrants and refugees is to eliminate the very reasons why Venezuelans flee their country in the first place.  It is with this eliminating of the root causes of the Venezuelan crisis that Rainbow Warriors Core Foundation, a global organization dedicated to sustainable development and human rights of Small Island Developing States and peoples in particular, with statutory seat in Aruba, will launch a global campaign to tackle and eliminate the Venezuelan crisis.


The Hoopla Surrounding Arikok Park

Last week there was a bit of a commotion surrounding the foundation in charge of park management apparently the foundation changed its bylaws, but no one reported on the actual changes.

So, I asked.

Foundation president Greg Peterson, referred me to Glenn Thode, the secretary of the board, a Phd in law, more suitable, he says, to explain ‘subtle matters.’

I like calling Glenn, so I did.

The foundation, previously named Parke National Arikok, indeed wants a name change to reflect its larger responsibility with 16 more natural areas to protect and wishes to be called Parke National Aruba. The park retains its lovely name but the foundation now has a broader umbrella as a national organization.

Makes perfect sense.

The foundation also seeks to salvage the crumbling, desperate Fontein and Boca Prins parcels, both privately owned within the borders of the park, and annex them. Shame on us that these places are in such ruin! We should allow the park to raise funds and purchase them.

I am afraid to ask how much these private owners are asking but taking a page out of the Bonaire handbook, and how Klein Bonaire returned to the patria, everything is possible.

Again, this makes perfect sense.

No, they do not seek more autonomy, they seek a resolution for the park’s quagmire real estate challenges.

And they are talking to the minister and it sounds as if progress is being made. Glenn is a master politician/diplomat.

The park, more than 20% of the land mass of Aruba, has at the moment a good, stable management team, with a highly qualified woman at the helm, Natasha Silva.

Silvia has a super qualified Marketing & Communications guy Carl Quant, and a by-the-book HR Manager, Avonda Powell, who is actually requiring the rangers to work. Then there is Sietske Van der Wal in charge of Conservation Education, the wise and experienced Jan Veneman of CEDE Aruba as a sounding board project manager, Giancarlo Nunes — we worked with him on a Shoco project, a gem of a naturalist, and Frank Judell holding the purse strings.

I recently heard that the idealistic Sheela van der Poel Lacle started working at the park, fired up about children’s education. This power-house with one foot in the Maggy’s Beauty Emporium business voluntarily left a cushy private sector job to change the world, starting at Parke Arikok.

I expect great thinks from them. And by the way, the rangers were never government employees, they have always been foundation employees, but they saw an opportunity to hog the limelight.

Special blessings to all of you who care about birds, bees and trees, because it seems to be last on everyone’s list.

Having suffered under Diego Marquez and Emil Ter Horst, and others I forgot, the park is now in better shape than ever.


A Fun Place for Lunch in Oranjestad

Fed up of the national debt discussion and the trouble with our southern neighbor? The Oranjestad waterfront has a fix for that.

On Monday, we ventured into town for a fast lunch, at a new eatery. As a rule, one should never try any place on inaugural week/month, it is wiser to wait until they iron their kinks out before handing cash over.

But that rule did not apply on Monday.

We’ve seen this place coming up on the main traffic artery and needed to check it out, asap.

Lucy, Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant.

Their surfboard and curling wave is already an Instagram hit.

We were recommended the Serious Nachos but ordered the Pao Shrimp Taco and the Tropical Pork Sliders. Our waitress said they were Da Bom.

We thought so too. The food was crispy, tangy, sassy, sweet, and salty at the same time. We loved it.  The Key Lime Mousse is worth a return trip. I hope the espresso machine is on order.

Lucy comes to us from New Orleans where the business exists for almost three decades, in the warehouse district. Then it was sold to a group of investors with global ambitions and over the past few years they opened Key West and Costa Rica. This week the Oranjestad Waterfront, the former Carpe Diem location, turned on its charm.

The place features a dance floor and an extensive bar with fun drinks. Their Shark attack reportedly offers a bloody ritual where a plastic shark, filled with grenadine is dunked into a mix of Vodka, Gin, Rum an Tequila. The menu warns: Mermaids beware.

We met Jamie, a cool dude, on the management team. He looks and sounds casual, but shared he has a solid food & beverage background, having worked for legendary Ruth’s Chris steakhouse in NOLA and other famous places. He certainly knows something about this tricky biz of mixing drinks and serving food.

The group heard about Aruba via Wind
Creek Hospitality (WCH), an authority of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians whose
subsidiary acquired the Aruba Renaissance
Resort & Casino and the Curacao Renaissance Resort & Casino.

Wind Creek invited Jamie and his group to look/see. It was love at first bite. Jamie has been to Aruba before and is a fan!

Special staff mention: Jennifer and the servers we had the pleasure to meet, are all personalities, with character and pedigree. I met Jennifer at Screaming Eagle where she was restaurant manager. Michele the bartender hails from Moomba. They are just adorable, interactive, chatty and fun.

Good food quality, reasonably priced, I will return, I will recommend. The view is priceless, but that you know already.

Suggestion: Get off your beach chair for shopping and lunch in town. The experience is worth it.

Perhaps Lucy’s dance floor marks the return of nightlife to Oranjestad, tip the scale in favor of dancing and drinking on the waterfront instead of squeezed in on Palm beach, with no view, and no parking.


Our own Home-Grown Fashion Icon Ronchie De Cuba Celebrates Three Decades of KOMA Models

Maestro Ronchi de Cuba circulated a note among friends and clients last week in preparation of a celebratory weekend in September, concluding three decades of creativity on the island.

Back in 1989 he was a college dropout, he went for just one week, he says, hated it and came back home. He hung out with some local friends, Daphne Lejuez and Roxanne Pieters, and together they decided to put on a fashion show. Daphne had some runway experience and together they formed the heart of what would become KOMA Models.

Daphne went on to become a member of Parliament. Roxanne became a professional and moved away, but both are remembered with gratitude for their part in that life changing moment.

Over the past 30 years more than 5,000 young Arubans went through Ronchi De Cuba’s modeling courses, which could be best described as the island’s equivalent to Finishing School classes. Remember those old-fashioned establishments teaching social
graces and upper-class cultural rites, only here at KOMA Models the curriculum runs deeper, polishing raw gems, peeling outer layers to reveal greatness, molding and directing students from all walks of life, under a fashionista umbrella.

We have seen many of Ronchi’s graduates, they are everywhere in the job market and in social circles, self-assured, beautifully turnout man and women, having had their self-esteem and self-worth boosted at Ronchi’s modeling agency.

Known as Knockout first, and KOMA Models later, the agency was among the first in the region to be totally inclusive, welcoming students regardless of body shape, and size, skin color, or age. Because the Maestro so fervently believes everyone is unique and special and deserving of a spot centerstage in the limelight, KOMA Model has room for everyone.

At a recently audition we attended scouting for models for an Island Temptations Magazine shoot, the models we saw practicing their walk varied between the ages of 13 to 66 and ranged in size from zero to twenty. What they had in common was great makeup and graceful poise.

In 1993, five years into shows and modeling courses, Ronchi went back to school to the Miami Institute of Fine Art and Design to finish his degree. He was ready.

Over the years KOMA models produced countless shows, also six seasons of a reality show on TeleAruba. Looking at old photographs and video, Ronchi realizes many were ahead of their time, cutting edge and fashion forward. “But I also sometimes wonder,” he adds.” what I was thinking.”

At the end of his third decade in fashion, having worked the crazy out of hi system, he feels he is more balanced, still fashion forwards but determined to keeping it real.

We should all expect some special events during the coming September, and meanwhile the Maestro is busy with his own Ronchi de Cuba label and with the Solo by Ronchi retail brand, both available at TRASH, his fashion boutique on Sibeliusstraat 8, Oranjestad, Aruba; Open today · 10AM–7PM; Phone: +297 582 6632, also stocking on-trend, affordable clothes and a great selection of plus size clothing.

In his own words:

KOMA Models, established in 1989, represents the top male & female models of our island.  Our models are trained by the island’s best model management team and represent range of looks as diverse as our community.

For almost 3 decades we have discovered, developed, launched and managed the island’s leading models.  The models represented by KOMA Models will add extra value to your advertising needs as they are well trained and have social media following.

We have learned that it is essential to put a local recognized face/image to companies and brands on island.  This will definitely create a local ripple effect thus creating more buzz around your campaign.

(The letter had attached, the official presentation of KOMA Models as well as agency information and rate cards.) 

We would gladly assist you in your model booking needs for commercials, shoots, fashion shows and event hosting.

To see the range of models we represent you can always go to or komamodelsaruba on Instagram and Facebook.

Let me know how we can assist you in booking models for your next advertisement, commercial or fashion event.


In Conversation with Hotelier Willie Chin

We last met at the Sonesta Aruba, twenty-five years ago, at some tourism related event, Willie was in charge of Sales & Marketing, and the host of the party. We continued our conversation yesterday at the Mill Resort, catching up on people, places and things, in no time.

As I recently found out, Willie is back on his home-island, overseeing the renovation of the 193-room resort destined to become a Marriott Courtyard.

His journey started in Aruba at the local high school, he then ventured into hospitality with a special interest in sales and marketing. A Puerto Rican beauty walked into his life, and snatched him away to live, raise a family and work at the Island of Enchantment, for almost two decades.

He didn’t completely stay away. He returned to Aruba annually to visit his parents, and on one of his last professional assignments as a regional executive for the Intercontinental hotel chain, he even got to poke around the Holiday Inn on Palm Beach, a member of IHG.

But, on a recent visit here for his father’s 90th birthday, he met up with the representatives of Interamerican Promo Hotels INC, including President and CEO Klaus Moser. The company runs about 14 hotels in Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela and was recently entrusted with the renovation and management of the Aruba Mill Resort property.

It was a good opportunity to come back, Willie explains, reunite with elderly parents and pick up where he left!

We went on a tour: About one third of the hotel is under renovation, while the pool deck with a new elegant design is already receiving enthusiastic sun worshipers. Willie reports they are renovating in phases and close off the areas under construction, not to disturb guests.

In the second phase, the restaurants and two bars will receive an extensive facelift including the lobby and the lobby store.

We visited the new, very tastefully decorated model room, in cool, muted Caribbean hues with blonde wood paneling, oversize TV, twin sinks in the bathroom, generous closet space, mini fridge and safe, among other upgraded features.

Remember the oversize Jacuzzi tubs mid-room? They are now oversize walk in showers with rainfall shower heads!

The resort, Willie explains, aims at 4-star amenities and services, with a nicely conceptualized food & beverage operation.

At a recent golf tournament as the partner of Erick Wente of Wente Vineyards, both agreed to be working with Arion Wine Company on some events, also welcoming other wine purveyors to showcase their brands at the restaurant which will feature a sushi and ceviche bar!        

On the way out, I got the good news that the derelict area in front of the resort with the genuine Dutch windmill at its heart was sold to a local investor with an interest in architecture. I am hopeful the new owners will convert the area into a classy food and entertainment hub. They already have Chef Annelot in residence, at the Delicious restaurant. That is a good start.


Caribbean Crossroads by Charles Croes

Our National Library issued a bulletin this week announcing the launch of a new book, ‘Caribbean Crossroads,’ by Charles Croes. The book was inspired by true life events.

While Charles insists he is not an author or writer, he likes telling stories and putting them down on paper and during the past two decades he nurtured a loyal local audience via FB posts and during performances at Poetry Night.

His narrative is always introspective and personal, and the words flow beautifully to form a stream of familiar thoughts, and universal questions.

Charles reports that this book was born in Venezuela, on a trip deep into the country where he met a young boy, a goat herder whose family also dipped into Artisania making rustic clay tiles which Charles was about to buy and use for the construction of his home in Aruba.

That ten-year-old whose world revolved around his goats, the pasture and his modest boondocks village, became the protagonist of a book he’s been writing for five years.

It is a journey of self-discovery as the boy moves from his early childhood dustbowl to the Caribbean experiencing life’s many challenges and heartbreaks.

The story. says Charles, is weaved together from many real-life threads, and logic and careful development of characters is no the book’s strongest suit.

But the mystical poetic Caribbean folklore is ever-present.

I found myself writing and writing, Charles explains, this character drew me in to explore many of his relationships until at a certain point I realized I had more than 30 characters in the story, none of which I wanted to give up.

So, I ended the first installment, just like that, mid-air, and went to work on the sequel.

I do not promise my readers logic, and order, but I promise them an escape into a magical fun world cluttered with life’s never-ending peaks and valleys.

Charles was born in Aruba, lived in the USA for many years, then came back to become a star timeshare salesman. With his career wrapped up, Charles found time to devote to his son and to literary pursuits.

His first book, published five years ago is still a steady seller in the book stores. Caribbean Crossroads, his second literary effort was published by LM publishers and Editorial Charuba.

Charles is grateful to a whole army of friends who helped read, comment, and finally publish, Sandra, Alice, Douglas, Sunanda, Elvis, and UNOCA.  


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April 15, 2018
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