Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap Feb 17th, 2019

Post-Mortem for a Press Conference

We all rolled our eyes at the recent press conference, by the CEO of RdA. All this guy wants is to kick the can further down the road so he doesn’t lose his cushy job and fat pay-check.

Most information provided at the conference consisted of past accomplishments, the CEO was patting himself on the back for, and very little info was current, except supposedly 24 contract employees who were going to be laid-off, which has not happened, yet, but he said NOTHING about how or when RdA was doing to get CITGO to comply with its agreements.

This whole thing is a farce, a joke at our expense.

Under normal circumstances negotiations are CONCLUDED at the signing of agreements; but CITGO is acting as if negotiations BEGIN with the signing of agreements!

Anyway, RdA needs to be run by an independent and transparent regulator which is definitely not the case right now.

RdA needs to employ best global practices, by experienced and committed professionals that Aruba has all over the world, by the way, working in the field for other masters. Bring these educated, capable oil men back home!

The way it is right now, it is not transparent, and it runs on inflated salaries, expensive hot-air consultants, baby lawyers, sons and daughters of “friends and family,” useless campañadornan of the former MinEnergy, and they all receive astronomical salaries.

GOA should clean ship. The sooner, the better.

Wasn’t the MinPres determined to drain the swamp pre-elections. She too wanted to see transparency and integrity at RdA, but so far nothing happened. Same old, same old at RdA.

Lesson in history: In an effort to win the 2016 elections they told us, don’t worry, we’re not dealing with the Venezuelans. But now, of course we are. The former MinPres sold us a pile of poo. He dressed 100 employees in CITGO coveralls and paraded them around.

Tragically, we did NOTHING to stop him from getting hitched with a partner from hell. Don’t worry, they said, we have financing.  Then the people they were negotiating with all went to jail.

Sadly, the former MinPres also let Valero walk, off the hook, and now the shares are in the hands of “PDVSA HOLDING.”

(You must remember the classic Rene Kan one-liner: “You should never make a deal with a partner who is dying, with one foot in the coffin and the other on a banana peel.”)

And the delusional CEO is still dreaming about a gas line. What a joke. You couldn’t get the simplest restart done.

And the delusional CEO thinks the new regime in Venezuela will work with Aruba. Are you kiddin’? They have a lot of other challenges on their hands. You are NOT on their radar screen. And if you are, they would want to know how come you got into bed with Roberto Rincon, and his blood sucking vampires, responsible for the plundering of Venezuela.

Back to the press conference: A 14 days of stock makes you comfortable? That’s nuts. You’d better cover your risk by buying from different suppliers and not put all your eggs in one basket. You can’t play Russian Roulette here. Our tourism industry runs on this. No jet fuel = no tourists.

You cannot keep everyone stupid forever.

The Counter-Revolution is Here

Historically, Caribbean compositions have been naughty, cheeky, filled with double entendre, especially Calypso, which was designed to lightly criticize and cleverly comment about the ruling class, male-female relationships, and life in general.

What was once light-hearted, has over the years become more heavy-handed, and in the 2019 Caiso & Soca Monarch competition, one of the contestants practically lashed, mauled and destroyed, a member of the media, now under investigation, he didn’t ‘know,’ he couldn’t obliterate a person from stage, it wasn’t written in the rules.

I wonder what he did in kindergarten, that he failed to learn civility and respect.

The local music videos went down the same path, going from cute and sexy to raunchy and lewd, twerking becoming the exclusive female stance, as the so-called dancers throw and thrust their hips, attached to huge squatting buttocks, usually in yellow spandex.

Take for example the recent bar and street scene in Fuerte Pa Bo, which I find terribly degrading to the females in the clip, suggestively sucking their ice pops every time they take a break from twerking. The video also features weed smoking, mock doggy-style intercourse, and the sweetest children, as props.

OK, so now you understand the backdrop.

In walks Tabitha Smith-Heemstadt. She was the LAST performer during the Caiso & Soca Monarch competition, around 5am, when she took to the stage with MY HOPE written by her in collaboration with her brother Dwain Heemstadt.

And she snatched the crown, as Lady Ambiente.

She blew everyone out of the ball park with her message of unity, lecturing the crowd about taking responsibility, being a good neighbor, telling friends and family members that you loved them, getting involved, breaking off the chains of passivity and mental slavery to consumerism, and by doing so rising from poverty, individually first, then the society as a whole!

She sang beautifully, and had a stage loaded with her own musicians, members of her church. One of my friends explained that Tabitha Smith-Heemstadt isn’t just a gospel singer, she has been a Worship Director for years, coordinating musicians and a choir, and that her win on Saturday was a result of a lifetime of Sunday worship excellence, in Aruba in her parents’ church, and in the Netherlands.

As it turns out, in recent years here, Tabitha conducts the Sunday service at Paseo Herencia, spreading love within her Christian Community, stimulating members to live their BEST life, at 10am, every Sunday.

Tabitha also had a Soca in the race, called Shine, you get it, reminding us to never dim our lights. That song she says, was a divine download, written overnight.

Surprise. That same day, Aruba’s most popular, internationally recognized musician Jeon, writes on his Facebook wall: “I never realized how much damage I have done to kids, with my lyrics, when they sing and repeat the inappropriate language. I must have corrupted a whole generation. Letting them believe in what I said and influencing them with my stinking-thinking. These are things I regret. But God saw my heart and knows I am his messenger, and maybe one day I can inspire all other musicians to just do what God intended us to do. One Love. #positvevibes

Wow, does this means that twerking bit the dust?!

Not sure, but it is an interesting Counter-Revolution, a welcome pull-back.

Hotel In Seroe Colorado

A voice-note circulated by an outraged Rainbow Warrior International representative further spilled the beans about the resort project in San Nicolas, destined to exactly the same spot where Bahia Principe was planned, before developers nixed it, when they realized they will be looking over a refinery.

Immediately after NoticiaCla announced that a 900-room hotel, casino, restaurants, pools, etc. are heading to Seroe Colorado – constructed in two phases, first 600 room all-inclusive and 2 years later a 300 room European Plan (i.e. non-inclusive) hotel — a report by “Sustainable Solutions Consulting N.V.” showed up in our mail boxes.

(With an investment of 60 million, this property will certainly not be high end. On the other hand, they’d better budget a fortune for upkeep in those harsh conditions with the salt air out to destroy practically everything, fast. We need bankers with deep pockets here, just to cover the maintenance cost!)

Aruba Birdlife Conservation was quick to point out that evening, February 7 – 2019, that the “Environmental Impact Assessment Baby Beach Hotel,” came from an anonymous source, from an unidentified company, conveniently declaring that “the future activities will have no influence on the environment or the ecology. Due to the fact that the surrounding landscape is a barren desert-like landscape it is not probable that activities from the hotel will overflow to the surrounding area.”

In view of the rushed manner in which the project was sprung, Aruba Birdlife Conservation declared that there was no due process by both GOA and partners, in which the public and the relevant NGOs were given a serious chance of meaningful participation.

Thus, ABC rejected this environmental assessment, as well as the looming project.

Rainbow Warrior International also tracked the developers, Three Rivers Real Estate NV, doing business as Center Point Real Estate, and reached a trust office, with three little old ladies at Intima Aruba NV on Watapanastraat 7, concluding that the developers are hiding their real identity, for fear of being correctly identified, and exposed as Venezuelans, Chavistas, with plenty of cash to hide.

My friends in the hotel sector tell me that there simply is no airlift to sustain another 900 rooms, and that Aruba should diversify, according to the IMF recommendations, and try other industries, perhaps.

Hiding the identity of the developer, popping an unsigned environmental report in our mail boxes cannot be part of a government that claims to champion integrity and transparency.

Please don’t spring any surprises like that on us.  

The summary of a 14 page report, in just 1

The “Tourism Maturity in Aruba” report landed in my mailbox, prepared by E.E. Pereira and G.G. Croes, both from the Centrale Bank van Aruba, written in October 2018.

This is what they said: This paper explores the tourism life cycle in Aruba by looking at, among others, the number of visitors, hotel rooms, and visitor spending. The tourism sector has been the primary pillar of the Aruban economy for over thirty years, and is likely to stay so for the coming years. Over the years, activities related to tourism evolved significantly, shaping the quality of life and intensifying the usage of scarce natural resources. The question is: In which stage of the life-cycle is the tourism sector of Aruba currently?

This paper attempts to answer this question through the concept of ‘tourism area life cycle,’ or TALC. According to TALC destinations experience a growth stage, a consolidation stage, a stagnation stage, and a decline stage.

So, where do we stand on the TALC scale?!

….While density indicators point to Aruba’s tourism being in the consolidation stage, the majority of indicators analyzed suggest that it has reached the stagnation stage. However, it does appear that the sector has not yet reached the tipping point from which it would start to decline. When alternative accommodations are taken into account – VACATION RENTALS — the number of available rooms has continued to grow, which may be an initial sign of rejuvenation of this sector.

MOST IMPORTANT PART: The findings in this paper indicate that tourism alone is unlikely to serve as the engine of economic growth for the Aruban economy going forward, if policymakers utilize the same growth model they have in the past.

Growth in the past was realized mainly by building new hotels and expanding room capacity. Given the high levels of the density indicators, it would seem that there is limited space to continue growing the sector in this manner. Therefore, the results of this paper suggest that policymakers should give serious consideration to whether or not building new hotels and expanding room capacity going forward are the most efficient use of resources, given the expected benefits and costs.

AMEN.

The TALC theory:  In the beginning, the destination will be attractive to a small number of visitors seeking adventure, followed by increasing numbers of visitors as the area becomes more accessible, better serviced, and well-known. Finally, the area will appeal to declining number of tourists, as it becomes older, more outdated, and less different in comparison to the areas where the tourist come from. Thus, over time as the destination becomes more popular and more commercialized, it loses its qualities which originally attracted tourists.

A Rising Food & Beverage Star

Jonathan Werleman spent his first year at Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino as Food & Beverage Manager in charge of the Sunset Grille. Just before the conclusion of his first 12 months at the resort, in gratitude for the improvements made and the time invested, he was awarded the ultimate title of Manager of the Year.

In his brief address at the recent annual recognition ceremony, director of operations Jacques Monteil expressed his infinite gratitude for a job well done, and gave Jonathan a hug from the heart, in great appreciation of his stellar performance.

Aruban native Jonathan was born in possession of great emotional ties with the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, especially with the Food & Beverage department where his mom, Rugia Siliee, has been the administrative backbone for many years.

After graduating Aruba’s hospitality stream, Jonathan secured an International Hotel Management degree in the Netherlands, with a minor program in Cruise Management. 

He spent the first six years of his career on board the Holland America Cruise Line, first as an International Concierge, and later he climbed up the Food & Beverage ladder as the in-room dining manager, the assistant dining room manager, and finally the restaurant manager, leading a team of staffers on several ships with over 1,000 passenger capacity, ensuring the delivery of superior and unsurpassed service.

In his final onboard role, Johnathan served as Culinary Arts Center Manager, in a Farm to Table concept restaurant, also managing the private-butler cabana-service on the Holland America Cruise Line’s private island, Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.

Then his heart strings tugged, and he wanted to get back to his island, having seen the world and all its wonders. Hilton was his natural choice, and the fine dining at the Sunset Grille, a perfect match.  

At the resort, Jonathan coordinates, plans and directs all functions within the Food & Beverage department to meet the daily operational needs, as well as developing, implementing, and monitoring schedules, menu designs, marketing plans, and responding to internal and external feedback.

“It seems like I have always worked here,” said the newly elected Manager of the Year, and Monteil agrees that Jonathan has provided excellent management and coaching to the team, accomplishing high guest satisfaction scores in accordance to Hilton Hotel standards, before even hitting his 30th birthday.
Mom Rugia and her colleagues in the Food & Beverage department are extremely proud of Jonathan’s accomplishments. They all feel as part of his journey. 

In the Right Direction

The MinJust conducted a press conference on February 14th, indicating he is moving us in the right direction, by creating a legal framework with clear guidelines to deal with Venezuelan illegals and asylum seekers.

For those of you who missed the conference, MinJust developed a four-pronged plan which he will be instituting this coming Monday:

Basically, he is of the opinion that there is an improper exploitation/interpretation of the international conventions endorsed by Aruba regarding Human Rights and Refugee and Asylum Seeker treaties, thus he will be introducing a new protocol to be signed by all airlines, that will clearly outline how to request asylum in Aruba, and under which circumstances.  

APIS & PNR = Aruba will require all airlines running that Aruba-Venezuela route to have an Advance Passenger Information System in place and start a Passenger Name Registry, submitting all passenger names a minimum of 62 hours ahead of flight, to be compared here to the island’s black-list of deportees, allowing Immigration to deny their re-entry.

Accelerated Asylum Procedure = There will be a system in place to process and evaluate those who request asylum upon arrival at the airport. No more dragging of feet. Cases will be looked at, approved or denied, and action will be taken.

Visa Violators = Action will also be taken against Arubans who failed to report visa violations of invited Venezuelan guests who came on vacation, and never left.  Those who stood guarantee for the disappearing tourists turned illegals, will have to answer to authorities.

Continued Severe Control = In total MinJust reports 2,000 deportation in 2018, this is a very high number compared to 800 in 2017.

It’s all moving in a Good Orderly Direction, GOD, but my sources tell me that ADDITIONALLY, the MinJust should also move in the direction of taking inventory, see what we have. The numbers of visa violators vary from 4,000 to 12,000 depending on who you are talking to. They are underground, and we should take inventory. They surely need medical help, they have kids who require schooling, how many of those are hiding in plain views?

So, the system at the airport is a positive development, but we also need to survey the population already here, they should have access to the asylum process too, granted a visa if their case is substantiated and deported if not.

(Remember that day DIMAS “announced an amnesty”? that should have given us an indication as to what’s happening.)  

 

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