I was away for two days, and in island terms it means a lifetime, as I immersed myself for almost 60 hours in another universe.
I think it will take me at least fifteen minutes to re-acclimate and get back to Island Life, so no big, inspiring column today!
Last week was filled with bad behavior. Many of us read with great interest court reports from the IBIS case, in which work permits were systematically traded for beer, tuna cans and concert tickets.
The court testimony described a system that was intentionally crippled to revolve around a government minister, who rigged, botched, and quagmired his own administration to make himself all-important, and omnipotent, the do-all, and fix-all, for financial gains.
The coin finally dropped in my head: As a minister, he was responsible for the so-called ‘failed’ system, because HE failed it.
It’s hard to explain, or digest.
Then two members of the media misbehaved terribly, both in cases of domestic abuse, plus, plus. Without getting into details, a main stream know-it-all reporter and the owner of a radio station were both in the headlines for inappropriate, scummy behavior.
It’s hard to explain or digest.
But then Carnival came and the popular Child and Youth Carnival Queen elections, where our Reina Hubenil, Ilaijah Croes, representing Dushi Carnival Group for Carnival 65, a student with special needs, landed the coveted crown with a spectacular presentation in a gorgeous dress, sailing through the official and unofficial obstacles, mastering a show, and a speech, without a hitch, the embodiment of Aruba’s Carnival Spirit.
That was very uplifting. The total acceptance and inclusion of Aruba’s special people, in this island’s biggest cultural event. It was a highlight.
And congratulations to child queen, Aliyah Harms representing Champagne Kids.
Carnival of the People
If anything, Clyde Burke knows about Carnival and Scriptures.
A retired Policeman, he served as senior advisor to the former MinEnergy, yes, the one who sold us the silly refinery deal, but with the change of government colors Clyde found himself out to pasture, on ice, marked, collecting a salary with no particular job designation under the new administration.
So, he uses his time to take care of his health, preach the gospel, and comment on life on the island, especially in San Nicolas, his hometown.
So, I consulted him about the Last Lap issue and he sees it clear.
The Last Lap is indeed a free for all, an opportunity for people to jump in and enjoy Carnival free of charge. The groups shuffle by in their fancy costumes and their structured catering and security services, and those who did not have the funds to participate wait patiently for the end of the dazzling display, then jump in to follow the last lap band for an all-out party.
It’s poor people’s Carnival says, Burke. The way Carnival is trending, it now targets the upper middle class with mucho disposable funds. A costume that will turn heads comes with a mega price tag, and even the most basic presentation costs four digits.
According to Burke, this is an effort to eliminate poor people’s Carnival, and force Carnavalista to join the festivities in an organized manner. No more free loaders here. You pay, you play. You don’t pay, you don’t play.
Burke argues that’s not the idea.
The idea is to have a let-your-hair-down party, that is shared by princes and paupers. Carnival is the big equalizer, the one place, where an even playing field allows the rich and the poor to share the exact same experience, and by removing the Last Lap, we rob Carnival of its core mission.
No money? Some starting band would provide the service at no charge, Burke argues, for promotional opportunities, or a sponsor can be found, a defender of the poor who would like to give the have-nots a good time.
Bring back the Last Lap, tone down the emphasis on luxury and glitz, and you will inherit the kingdom of heaven, or at least have a great time saying FAREWELL TO FLESH/MEAT, Carni-Val, 40 days ahead of Easter, just before Lent.
In his own words: I’m trying to stay quiet but sorry and God forgive I CAN’T.
I just read that they are eliminating the last lap. Reason, it creates a lot of problems etc.
We have been having last lap up in San Nicolas long time. Bands goin’ till Bonaire Club with the blessing of the police with no problem. I even experienced a band went back round came out by Pacifico Restaurant and went back down without any problems. Now i have to ask myself and you should also. They have been portraying San Nicolas as a city, where uneducated, savage, thieves, drug addicted, drug selling people live. Even telling tourist not to come up here to. But it seems contrary to what the common believe is that, were humble, well behaved, respectful, party loving, last lap jamming and God-fearing people. San Nicolas, I love you bad. Love yourself my people.
Mid 2017, there was a demand to pay the imposed PRECARIO amount, otherwise the resorts’ Tiki huts on the beaches, will be subject to demolition.
At that time, GOA imposed a RENTAL fee per square meter on the beach, WITHOUT cleaning it, maintaining it or policing it; no life-guards, no first-aid, no trash cans, no replenishment of sand, that was all on the hotels’ dime!
And mind you, the beach is not a kiosk or a permanent money-making structure for the resorts, on the contrary. The beach is a service they provide their guests, including chairs and shade. And to run that operation, the resorts offer employment to dozens of people, and spend vast amounts of cash for upkeep.
But the argument was, and is, that it is GOA’s land, and an exploitation fee must be levied.
The resorts did not object to the charge, they originally protested the crazy amounts, but at the end were happy to pay a lump sum, when the pay scale was modified. One GM told me his property was charged in excess of, gulp, Awg 360.000, per year.
Basically, you understand that they are paying GOA considerable amounts for chairs and umbrellas.
So where do we stand on weddings, and banquets and event?
Well, that is an additional charge.
And GOA set it at Awg 135 per square meter, per event, requiring each an INDIVIDUAL PERMIT every time you set up a beach wedding, which is probably 100 times a year per resort, and every time you host anything from beach Olympics to welcome receptions, and those are numerous every day, at all properties.
Some friendly lawyer I spoke to explained the resorts have reluctantly accepted that policy, GOA needs money and is leaning heavily on them. But what they find is unbearable, is the BUREAUCRACY.
You have to fill a form, attach a business permit, a tax number, a valid KVK, an ID, file it in personally, no electronic options, pay the amount, get a copy, get it stamped, wait for the paper-pushers to push the papers, then collect the permit, ahead of each function, hundreds of times a year.
(And if a function is rained out. Do you get a refund?)
You get my drift: The insistence on individual permits creates a bureaucratic hell. The resorts have to hire permit-chasers, then GOA must recruit permit-processors, more paperwork, more lost docs, more opportunity for corruption to rear its ugly head.
Why not charge a flat fee for beach events.
Some of the resorts reported the Police has been making rounds to enforce that hellish, cumbersome policy.
Their time would be better served if they policed Fisherman’s Huts to see if the watersport company owners of the ugly shipping containers are in compliance of their agreements, to move further inland and ‘create more open beach areas.’
As it stands right now, Fishermen’s Huts beach is no longer visible from the road, it is completely blocked by containers. Who will police that?
About Anger Management
It all ended well, so we were led to believe the issue was ‘resolved.’
But it continued to bug me, so, after three days of back and forth, here it is.
About Domestic Violence.
My friends at Power FM, had an interesting conversation on air, I happened to be listening. The conversation revolved around an incident of ‘destruction,’ following a domestic dispute, that resulted in an 8-hour arrest of a sometimes-controversial radio personality.
Then the charges were dropped because his partner did not want to press any.
What I appreciated:
The decision made by the radio personality to publicly announce he was taking time off and distancing himself from his ‘stress-causing,’ radio career. He also asked for forgiveness.
Program host – the poster-child of all well-behaved radio personalities, an iconic DJ – talked briefly about anger management and the need to walk away from confrontation.
What I did not appreciate:
This was a lengthy conversation; TWENTY MINUTES is a long time on the air. The iconic DJ started his spin doctor exercise slowly, carefully picking his words, like a skilled acrobat, twisting and turning to downplay, and minimize, what he called ‘a flip out.’
It’s Carnival, people are stressed and tired, there was a discussion, there was no physical contact, just some material damaged to personal items belonging to the radio personality involved, there was no alcohol consumption, he was totally in control when the men in blue arrived, it’s was just a procedure, you know, 8 hours, no big deal. Etc.
Much Ado Over Nothing.
Or at least that was the impression they wanted us to have.
So, what bugged me?
OK, you owe your partner, listeners, friends, and family members, an apology for bad behavior.
But stop there.
Please don’t ‘explain’ anything, and insult our intelligence by playing the ‘discussion’ down. Get some help. Get better. This is serious. Please take your mental health and anger management issues seriously.
Domestic violence is a phenomenon habitually minimized and downplayed by fans and friends. #nomore, #mentalhealthawareness #angermanagement
Happy Betico Day
Lots of cultural and sport activities were planned for the day commemorating the birth date of Betico Croes, in Santa Cruz, on January 25th 1938.
Considered the father of our nation, the engineer of Status Aparte, we get a day off on his birthday to reflect on his many political and cultural contributions.
My friends, members of the Aqua Talk & Walk team, headquartered at Aqua Windie’s, remind each other, each time, that while Betico is credited with our special status within the Dutch Kingdom, there were TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY SEVEN, 2,174 equally important, downplayed locals, who between 1947 and 1948 signed the petition demanding the special status from the Dutch Kingdom, without internet and smartphones, walking door to door, riding donkey carts for longer distances, networking, creating a grass root movement for change, and reaping the reward, namely Aruba’s autonomy including a flag, a currency, an anthem, and a coat of arms.
On March 18th, our national day, a monument with their names was inaugurated. That was in 1996. The marble slab with 2,147 names etched into the stone, was graced by an eternal flame during the reign of the previous government.
My friends, whose grandparents’ names are etched into the face of the stone, lament the flame is snuffed. Saving gas expenses? Maintenance issues? Environmental concerns? Public safety regulations? Wassup??
Why isn’t the flame on?
On the other hand, I get the ‘no flame’ policy. That particular symbol belongs to the fallen, unknow soldiers, cemeteries, perhaps it is too bombastic and over-the-top for that national monument.
So, it needs to be replaced.
Asking for suggestions.
This column will be reprinted on March 18th,
One charge per year, no paperwork
On Thursday, January 16, 2019, two Police officers and one DIP representative came by requesting to see the “Precario” for beach events at my workplace, a Palm Beach resort.
In addition to the permit from the Police Department of Aruba for events taking place on the beach in front of the resort, I was informed that I should also request another petition thru DIP, the Department of Infrastructure & Planning, for all events on that public beach.
As you know, a Beach Policy was introduced in 2016, however this year they are enforcing it, with strict controls.
The second petition has to be made at DIP for each individual event attaching a copy of the Chamber of Commerce registration, and the personal number at the Tax Office, plus valid identification of the person requesting the petition, PLUS beachfront drawing from Kadaster, plus event details such as location, number of square feet occupied, set up, stage and/or any F&B sales.
The cost? Thirty-one florins per month.
Back-ups for each event about to take place during the specific month, must be attached to the petition which when approved, will generate a final invoice for the resort, based on the event’s actual specifications.
GREAT. So, for AWG 31 per month, perhaps USD 200 per year, GOA comes up with this genius plan to keep everyone busy and create stacks of paperwork for nothing.
Really a great way to generate extra work, yet mostly frustration for everyone!!
I vote for one charge, per year, no paperwork!