Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, March 4th, 2018

An Update on the Beach Policy

I recently got a wake-up email from a friend, which propelled me to ask for a repeat interview with Gino Winklaar, the Noord district Chief of Police.

But first the email: Rona, it would be good to do a follow up on the Beach Policy. Clearly a lot of hoopla after that one video posted, but since then, after January 21st, when we first saw the Special Task Force taking inventory, nothing happened. As you know, complaints keep coming in at the Beach Police, but it seems that zero gets done.

It is all inter-related between four ministries, Infrastructure, Justice, Tourism and Finance. The beach needs all four to collaborate, a good question would be: “Who is managing this?”


Armed with the questions — who is managing this, how’s your hammock — I listened to the Noord Chief of Police advocating a bit more patience.

No, they did not crawl back into their hammocks. There are no hammocks at the police headquarters in Noord. But following their TWELVE-HOUR beach walk, with ten different government agencies from four ministries, including their legal advisors, the Special Task Force now needs to review the documents and permits of 43 beach vendors, each with a different set of papers, some partial, some complete.

Chief Winklaar volunteered to lead the task force, since no one else seemed to want the job, and he is doing it part-time in addition to his regular work load, namely, defending law and order in his district and the tourist areas.

Chief Winklaar is very charming and well-spoken.  According to him, every case is different and eventually a uniform document spelling out all rules and regulations for beach vending will be compiled. It will be presented to all 43 entities involved and will have to be adhered to.

“We cannot rush,” the chief explains,” some are easy wins, and will be relocated or downsized, but some are complicated legal cases, where vendors have been tolerated on the beach for a long time, getting away with illegal souvenir stands, and illegal food & beverage outlets. These cases need to be studied from all angles before we move in, otherwise they will not hold up in court, and I can assure you, we will end up in court for many; some could be settled amicably.”

So, now you know. We have a task force, under the leadership of Chief Winklaar. They already had four successful meetings. They are proceeding with caution, so cases will stick. He is committed, he doesn’t want to fail, it is a major undertaking, the first one in 50 years, it’s a legal haystack, there were many concessions made, special arrangements tolerated a long time, he needs reasonable time to sift through the stuff, the goal is to have a uniform permit with all rules and regulations, so the groundwork is laid for the MinInfra’s “three strikes and you’re out,” decree.

I asked for a legal opinion from a Legal Eagle. My lawyer girlfriend totally defended the chief’s position. According to her the current government did not do well in the few court cases already held because they went into court with the premise that all concessions made by the previous government were illegal political favors and as such nil and void.

The judge sent them packing, because according to him even squatters have rights, and that political favor premise cannot hold water, solid legal arguments have to be presented instead. No whining, please, do your homework.

So, that’s the story. We must be patient. Fifty years of chaos. What’s another few??

MOBIS true to its mission of Mobility, Welfare and Sustainability

I bet you never even heard about MOBIS, but it is worthy of your attention. It is a nonprofit dedicated to community projects such as cooking, arts and crafts and activities in general, in the different barrios of Aruba where the community-center have been collecting dust until MOBIS checked in, sustained, among others, by CEDE Aruba, with kingdom funds, but director Michael de Nobrega is determined to make is self-sustainable!

Last night I graduated their Vegan cooking class at Centro Di Bario Noord, with Chef Fari, and Vegan guru Meredith Marin. We made a delicious vegetable curry and a tasty chickpea salad, AND learned to make our own flat bread, to scoop the salad with.

The room was set with mini burners, all vegetables and other ingredients, cooking utensils; best of all, printed recipes, and step by step instruction. The men and women attracted to the activity were the culinary explorers of Noord, all professionals, willing to experiment and learn something new in the kitchen, after office hours. We even had a super impressive teenager with a knack for cooking, and two kids assisting their parents.

Wine? That too, one of the participants remembered to pack a chilled bottle to go!!

MOBIS has a website which you could consult, but their Facebook page is more updated BARIO BIBO. Their programs include Bario Chef, with Thai Cuisine listed, date to be advised. They have a soup curriculum and now also Vegan. All recipes taught are original by chef Fari who is as talented as she is charming. No wonder, she is the daughter of Tica Basha Bao, a famous TV personality on the island, a comedienne, and Chef Fari inherited a healthy dose of insanity from her.

The director, Michael, is an on-fire community activist. He is full of plans, to teach cooking and Papiamento to tourists and to incorporate all age groups into the MOBIS calendar. In February, MOBIS shuttled a group of forty elderly from Centro di Bario Lago Heights to another Centro di Bario mid island, where another group of forty elderly made soups and welcomed them, with music, for a Bario meets Bario mix and mingle.

They also conduct art classes for kids under Chispa Creativo, teaching mosaic and collage. Their Bario Chef Team Building is available for companies and any organization wishing to host an event out of the box and their Bario Chef Happy Healthy Kids, graduates groups of mini chefs every month.

​Call them at +297 583 2233

They are headquartered at Stadionweg 27, Oranjestad, Aruba

Bario Bibo includes all nine barrio centers, check them out on FB.

Thank you to the volunteers who helped wash the dishes!!

This badass motherfuckery’s got to stop!

The story about 60 foreign, so called undocumented workers picked up by the Immigration Police at CITGO man camp boiled my blood for various reasons.

Work – If there is work to be done it must be granted to locals. RDA just fired hundreds of locals this week under their slowdown fabrication and was keeping its foreign nationals, locked up in a man camp working around the clock? What is this? Modern day slavery?!

Human Trafficking – Luring foreign workers to Aruba with promises of security and work, then providing NONE, must punishable by law.

Human Rights – Carting foreign workers away in a so called “Dog Catcher,” is in violation of their human rights and dignity – that dog catcher phrase is so disrespectful and wrong.

Raid – Who arranged for the surprise raid of the Immigration Police? How did they just walk in and pick everyone up?

Permits – Where the workers under permit, or indeed undocumented? Were these men imported by a legal contractor, who managed to process their permits, or what it a case of ministerial “Don’ worry, I will fix it for you.”

I asked the questions around, for two days I was seeking answers, I quizzed many people including the CHIEF OF POLICE and he claimed to have no knowledge of the hot potato, he was preoccupied with other matters, he said, and was unfamiliar with the case. Really?

No one wants to own the mess, BUT we believe in our legal system, and the truth will reveal itself, as the case in now under investigation.

ONE THING IS CLEAR: The resorts and all other legit businesses, are incapable of securing any permits from DIMAS, that government agency is chronically constipated, it doesn’t function. Everything is stuck in the pipeline. No one takes decisions. I understand they are 5,000 files in arrear, and UNLESS you grease the hand of a middle man, nothing gives.

This story of sixty undocumented refinery workers will surely lead to a well-connected “employment agency.” Follow the money trail. We’ve had cases like that before, with Turkish nationals. Who remembers?

Whoever imported these poor and hopeful workers was well connected to the former government, with TWO ministers involved, MinLabor and MinJust, as you need both to procure work permits. We know who they were, and the allegations of making the sale of work permits into a business already brought down the former MinLabour, and cost the AVP party the elections.

I am hopeful this practice will be killed, following the investigation of our new MinJust.

This badass motherfuckery’s got to stop!

About Time Share & Delicious Food!

Aruba’s Time Share Industry represents 20% of our GDP

A recent forum at the Universidad di Aruba celebrated 40 years of timeshare in Aruba, but Raymond Maduro believed it’s 43 years, because the seed was planted as early as 1975, when the Aruba beach Club was conceived.

Ursell Arends, President of Aruba Time Share Association talked about the next 40 years with the new generation at the helm and Ronella Tjin Asjoe Croes, the CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority, joined him with some congratulatory remarks stating that timeshare owners have represented an average of 26% of our stayover visitors, over the last 20 years. That is huge! It is also typical of that crowd of repeat visitors to genuinely love the island and its people.

Visiting full professor Robin di Pietro, University of South Carolina, USC, then presented her findings about the state of the Aruba Timeshare industry from a study made with the help of University of Aruba students in 2017.

The last part of the evening was dedicated to hotelier Jan Van Nes, with a surprise tribute given by Raymond Maduro, Greg Peterson, Astrid Muller and Andy Osbourne who told stories and anecdotes of Jan’s colorful four-decade career through various positions in the local hotel industry, contributing tirelessly to the bottom line of his employer and pushing an endless number of community project forward, focusing on welfare and environmental causes.

According to Raymond, Jan is not retiring he is rewiring.

Which is the absolute truth.

Jan who was the general manager of Blue Residence for the past few years, has concluded his mission there and will pursue excellence joining his wife in the family restaurant business, As Es Mi Peru, at Paradise Beach Villas, and Chef’s Table at Blue Residence.

According to Jan, his wife played second fiddle through his career, helping raise successful kids and keeping the household together as his professional journey took off. As the kids matured she established a modest F&B business, and transitioned into it big time, two years ago. “It’s time for me to support her efforts, as she has supported mine,” states Jan, “I am happy to play second fiddle now, let the boss, Roxana van Nes, lead the way! “

Jan, you are in good hands!!

Delicious Restaurant is…. Delicious

Delicious take away with Chef Annelotte Ellis opened in November, just below the old Dutch mill; it’s a bit tucked away behind the kiosks, but it is there. The restaurant later started serving lunch and now also introduced dinner.

Annelotte Ellis is the sister of Eduardo Ellis of Papiamento restaurant fame, both siblings inherited their F&B flair from their father, an iconic hotelier, restaurateur, and a tourism pioneer on the island.

As a young chef Annelotte was a regular winning participant in regional cooking competitions and represented Aruba a number of times as a member of the national culinary team.

She then went on to raise a family, and she’s back in the kitchen now, inspired by dad and motivated to reclaim her rightful place in the pantheon of great chefs on the island.

Call Tel.: 565 0522 for the list of daily specials, lunch is busy, dinner is picking up!

Business partner Daniel Verlaan handles the calls and the dining room service!

We had a seafood experience at Delicious recently, starting with a shrimp appetizer stacked on crunchy patacon, the Venezuelan fried green platins, and a trio of fish main course in a delicate cream sauce. The dessert, a triple decker cake of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla mousse with abstract sugar swirl, and fruit coulis was perfection. Good coffee too. The place is reasonably priced.

The inviting, artistic, bohemian interiors are designed by artisan Annelotte Ellis, who is a woman with many talents.

A Bit Late this Morning, Launch Party for WHENINARUBA Last Night

We celebrated the launch of When in Aruba at the Alhambra ballroom yesterday, with many of the same personalities that joined us to celebrate the launch of Island Temptations Magazine nearly 16 years ago, and we are eternally grateful for their support throughout the years.

The core team has also been together for 16 years—Tina and Rona, Steve, Kiki, and then Debbie, who joined us about 14 years ago. We think the loyalty and commitment to the team has been our ace in the hole all these years.

When we had the idea to produce a lifestyle magazine all those years ago, another publisher told us it would be impossible to find fresh content and new stories to tell about Aruba…

But more than 50 editions later, we are proud to say that our community and this island never cease to amaze us, so much so that we decided that a blog-driven website would be the ideal vehicle to share this constantly evolving story of Aruba on a weekly basis and not just 3 times a year on the pages of our magazine.

When we first decided that it was time to take the next big step into the digital world, Tina went online and studied from the best of the best—who had the best travel websites around the world? What were they doing that made them stand out?

She created a wish list, cherry picking features that she liked, features that she wanted to expand on, and then began to look for a web developer that had the know-how to bring her vision to life.

She thought at the beginning this could only be done by someone in the US or Europe and after a long search she decided on a company in the States.  But it just didn’t click—she didn’t feel that they were understanding what it was she wanted to accomplish.  She was frustrated.

One day Rona mentioned this group of young and hip guys that she met.  They were the team behind ATEC, their company was called Create.  Tina, however, was not sold.  She is ashamed to admit, but she didn’t think we could get a world-class site developed here.

Rona convinced her to just sit and talk with them, share our ideas.  The meeting went great!  We all seemed to connect; Tina could feel their excitement and energy about the potential of When in Aruba…they were hungry, talented, smart, and most of all, believed in our ideas.

Debbie, our copy editor, took on the daunting task of loading all our content—articles, images, videos…she has barely come up for air these past few months and was key to bridging the gap between transforming all our ideas and all our content onto the site in a supremely organized fashion, and working on the technical back-end with the team at Create.

And Steve is now not only photographing Aruba beautifully, he is also shooting amazing videos as well.

And of course, to our family and friends for keeping us sane and grounded through the trials of this past year.

And just a couple things to note about the When in Aruba site:

We are extremely proud of our Weddings & Romance blogs—the destination wedding market will only continue to grow, and honestly, what our wedding planners, decorators, florists, and culinary teams have accomplished blow away other island destinations and we are going to toot your horns so loudly that everyone will want to celebrate their wedding here!

When in Aruba is the only destination travel website in the Caribbean with an entire section dedicated to the LGBTQ community and travelers.  We think most of us will agree that this is a hugely important, and often overlooked, demographic.  Our own local LGBT community has been integral in shaping and coloring our culture, and our visiting LGBT travelers are major contributors to our economy and deserve a voice and a resource that speaks directly to them.

Because we are not a traditional static website, but a blog-driven site, we are cross-promoting heavily via social media channels, including Instagram, Facebook, and our You Tube Channel.  In addition to the When in Aruba social media platforms, we also oversee the Aruba, you should be here Instagram and Facebook pages (thank you, Carla, for helping us with that).  So, we will be linking our blogs and features to all these platforms, encouraging visits to the site itself.

We are looking forward to visiting everyone over the next few weeks so that we can strategize with you about how to best serve you and help you get your message out there.

Call them Venezuelan Migrants, NOT Refugees

The office of calamity keeps calling the those leaving Venezuela refugees. But they are NOT. They are economic migrant. And it is VERY important to understand the difference, before Aruba, as guided by the kingdom the UN and the Red Cross, is flooded with boat people.

Let’s start with a definition:

The definition of a refugee:  A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

More of the same: A refugee is a person who has fled his or her own country and cannot return due to fear of persecution, war or a natural disaster.

The definition of an economic migrant, or migrant worker: A person who moves from one region to another to seek an improvement in living standards because the living conditions or job opportunities in his own region are not good.

More of the same: An economic migrant, or migrant worker is someone who voluntarily chooses to leave his or her own country and make a new life in another country. People are moving for work and better opportunities.

So, you already understand where I am going.

The United Nations says that in order to be called a refugee, a person must have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, and as such deserves protection.

The United Nations also protects economic migrants, or migrant workers out of humanitarian reason, but the two are NOT the same.

Venezuela is one of the riches countries in the world, and it has been committing financial suicide for the past 20 years. The situation there will not improve, unless Venezuelans will take matter into their hands to fix it. It has been done before, so in principle, they shouldn’t flush their country down the toilet, yet.

We should call the Venezuelans wishing to come and live here, migrant workers, not refugees, and if indeed we decided to ready a holding facility for them, if and when they come in bigger numbers, we should think about it carefully, have real plans for schooling and employment otherwise we’re in big trouble, and that will cost big money this is not a $5 a day undertaking!

Share on:

March 04, 2018
Rona Coster