Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, May 24th, 2020

Carolina La Poderosa di Patruya #37

Every once in a while a juicy story comes along, juicy not because it is titillating or naughty, but because it reminds me how country-bumpkinish Aruba is.

Once upon a time, two curvy ladies of Venezuelan origin arrived on the island with the express desire to make friends, fast.

We first heard about them, and especially the raven-haired Carolina, all boobs over a narrow waist, red nails too, when a video of two star-struck local Policemen, patrol car #37, was secretly filmed having a googoo-gaga encounter with the two foxes, body language revealing hot flirtation – the sauce of life.

The girls needed a hand. Or perhaps they just needed a ride.

The video stirred a commotion, accusing the chief of Police of losing control over his troops, who abandon focus in view of boobs, hair, and nails, tightly packed into skin-tight leggings. If he couldn’t keep patrol #37 in line, he must be losing his grip.

The two men were suspended. One of them won his case in court, but his suspension was extended, we don’t know exactly why, we lost track, this business of public-sector investigation is lengthy and takes years to resolve.

The ladies were somehow picked up by Guarda Nos Costa, GNC, and stood in front of a judge for deportation, when the judge discovered Carolina had an asylum case pending.

That fresh and spunky chica COULDN’T be deported.

Leaving the court-room she unleashed a number of cheeky FB videos nicknaming herself La Poderosa, the powerful one, and boasting she was Teflon coated and un-deportable. Just silly, bravado.

Aruba started referring to her as Carolina La Poderosa di Patruya #37 on social media and in the news, she became a celebrity.

I guess it pissed some people off.

GNC fast-tracked her asylum hearing, denied it, and went looking for her.

They found La Poderosa in line at the AIRPORT, leaving the county on her own accord, voluntarily, via Colombia.

But that was not good enough for the resentful GNC chief, she dragged La Poderosa out of line, delayed the plane to retrieve her luggage and take it off, and hauled her butt to the detention center because SHE wanted to DEPORT her for making a mockery of our system, and for ridiculing our laws, she aimed at slapping her with a personae non grata status, bottom line, the girl couldn’t just leave, we needed to add drama to the production, capped by a video clip where the GNC chief pontificates that disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated. 

I am usually with the chief, she is a hard worker, but that was petty and ridiculous, and how did she get away with this kind of behavior?

Needless to say, the judge threw it out. That fresh and spunky chica COULDN’T be deported, she was leaving on her own accord when GNC grabbed her, and she earnestly declared her intentions to leave. Moreover, she complied with weekly reporting and it’s not her fault the border is closed.

Besides, my Legal-Eagle friends point out, she was NOT illegal here, she had an open asylum process, which was denied, and when she wanted to leave the GNC chief PREVENTED her from doing so, so she couldn’t be labeled persona non grata.

GNC was just pandering to the masses in the treatment of La Poderosa. Making her a so-called example. But by mishandling the case all similar chicas learned a great deal about how our system does, and doesn’t work.

We have no flights. Venezuela will not permit any air traffic, and you cannot deport anyone via Colombia.

Bottom-line: The saga of Carolina La Poderosa di Patruya #37, isn’t over. I like that girl and wish her well, she should use her wit and resourcefulness to make something of herself.

Island Finance, highway robbery

My learned-friends report that many debt collection cases on the island are frozen. Apparently, they are all waiting for one case to break. The case has to do with Island Finance, attempting to collect on a debt charged at 27.5% interest.

Imagine.

27.5%.

Most of these loans were made to cover funeral expenses of loved ones, and other unexpected charges, as well as frivolous Carnival and/or Holy Communion expenses.

There will be an appeal of a verdict heard by judges from Curacao, soon, creating a precedent, a juris prudence, as to how to deal with debt collection, and whether the ridiculous interest of 27.5% by Island Finance is legit. A lot of people owe Island Finance, and everyone’s case is hanging on that one, that would rule their fate.

Island Finance #ripoff #Scam #highwayrobbery #preyingontheweak

To mask or not mask, that is the question.

Definitely MASK.

From Infectious Disease Modeling article by some learned authors from Arizona State University.

“Face masks use by the general public for limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is controversial, though increasingly recommended, and the potential of this intervention is not well understood.…

The model simulations, at the university, using data relevant to COVID-19 dynamics in New York and Washington, suggest that broad adoption of even relatively ineffective face masks may meaningfully reduce community transmission of COVID-19 and decrease peak hospitalizations and deaths.

Notably, masks are found to be useful with respect to both preventing illness in healthy persons and preventing asymptomatic transmission.

Even very weak masks (20% effective) can still be useful if the underlying transmission rate is relatively low or decreasing.

The authors of the article, from April 2020 concludes: Our results suggest use of face masks by the general public is potentially of high value in curtailing community transmission and the burden of the pandemic. The community-wide benefits are likely to be greatest when face masks are used in conjunction with other non-pharmaceutical practices (such as social-distancing), and when adoption is nearly universal (nation-wide) and compliance is high.”

© 2020 KeAi Communications Co., Ltd.

Two of three pieces today

In its latest videos RAIZ calls for an improved and upgraded relationship with the Netherlands. No, the party is not calling for the reversal of Aruba’s autonomy, but it is calling for an effort to normalize, stabilize and develop more trust in the relationship with the motherland.

According to RAIZ both coalition and opposition parties have been using the government’s public sector to employ and reward their voters, over the years. RAIZ now wants that system to rehab, and mark the relationship with the overseas overseer, transparent and honest.

Integrity is the way to go, RAIZ reiterates, and integrity should rule all dealings between the two countries.

The RAIZ reaction came as a response to a press conference, held by the father of a RAIZ founder who called for the mother-country to reverse Aruba’s autonomy, give back the key, it said, and turn the island into a Dutch protectorate.

That was not RAIZ’s intention. According to a spokesperson, the young party is proud of our special status within the kingdom, and believes that Aruba when guided by integrity can and will stand on its own feet and prosper.

According to RAIZ, Aruba must show improved financial responsibility, when presenting the Kingdom with the local budget, a well-thought out proposition that doesn’t include frivolous spending items, such as the renovation of the Aruba House, in Den Hague, a costly futile exercise, that cannot possible have priority now.

Go through that budget with a fine tooth comb, and earn the respect of the overseers, RAIZ declares.

Three of Three Pieces Today

The discussion still stands: The following is an article published under the title, “The corona virus clearly exposes a structural problem in the relations between the Netherlands and Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Relations are actually governed by a distinct colonial element: The rendering of favors.” I found it very interesting, forgive GOOGLE translate, it is a good read.

By Aart G. Broek
May 6, 2020
Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten asked the Netherlands for hundreds of millions of euros in support to cope with the financial and economic consequences of the corona virus – that is to say, as a gift.

This is not their legal right. This is a call for ‘solidarity’ with the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and thus the money would be ‘justified.’

Without donations, the islands will perish and will not be saved for the time. Dick Drayer, a correspondent on the islands, rightly observes: “In Curaçao, 50,000 people are in danger of falling below the poverty line” (NOS, April 16, 2020).
The motherland believes it should act in terms of loans, and this with significantly smaller amounts than asked for. The Netherlands already covers many costs, including the islands’ judicial and law enforcement needs, regularly. Donations in kind are also made often; manpower and equipment are flown in to be used as a gift.
The plea from the islands for solidarity, and the answer from the Netherlands, loan not gift, is already causing a major conflict on the political, administrative level (Trouw, April 8, 2020). In the Dutch media, The Hague administrators are being questioned for their (alleged) heartless behavior (de Volkskrant, April 15, 2020).

The Statute, must regulate relationships
The legal document that formally regulates mutual relations within the Kingdom is the Statute, a decree governing the arrangement. It was signed in 1954 and regularly updated thereafter. After October 10th, 2010, the Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four “countries”: Aruba, Sint Maarten, Curaçao and the Netherlands. The islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (the BES islands) have been added to the Netherlands as a “public body,” a king of protectorate, and have been given the name, Caribbean Netherlands. The Statute rules the constitutions of the respective countries within the Kingdom.

The BES islands are described as “a kind of municipalities”, but they are not: They have much less say than any municipality in the Netherlands. The conditions imposed on island administrators are stricter than those imposed on municipal administrators, and the ability of the Dutch to adjust and intervene in internal affairs is greater than in municipalities.

Autonomy affected by inability
Aruba, Sint Maarten and Curaçao are also practically not “countries” in the political sense, because some essential elements cannot be fulfilled by those entities, such as the issue of the Dutch passport, foreign relations and defense.

(Islanders carry Dutch passports, not their own, and all their foreign relations and defense needs are on the Kingdom’s account).

We call the islands “autonomous”, but in many respects they are absolutely not and they have become less and less independent over the years. They have not been able to sustainably cope with their increased challenged.

Every day, this inability to sustain the autonomy is illustrated by inadequate fight against crime, overwhelming environmental problems, failed education, intolerable (inter-island) infrastructure, failing to enforce human rights, all forms of violence, lousy civil service, faltering child protection, high unemployment, fraudulent health care, needy health care, and uncontrollable public finances across island societies.

Wait and see what the Netherlands does
In everyday aspects, the Statute makes the locals second-class citizens of the Kingdom. It is difficult to stick to the status of  this “public body” and above all to the so-called “autonomous country” definition, because in practice it is always a matter of waiting to see what the Netherlands will do.
Wait and see whether and how the Netherlands intervenes when island government entities, local service and the Central Bank threaten to fall into the wrong hands; when the administrators completely lose sight of reality when drawing up the island budgets; when education and health care collapse due to lack of adequate policy; when air and water pollution demonstrably cause death; when refugees are at close range and a virus from faraway places overwhelms healthcare; and so on.

Favoritism Rules

The Statute speaks of equality, independence and reciprocity among countries, but in fact these relations are dominated by a typical colonial element: The rendering of favors. The Caribbean islands are begging serfs of the Netherlands. The Kingdom Relations lack a well-developed and transparent system of rights and obligations, as well as – inevitably – a proper dispute settlement.

Thoroughly spelled out rules create mutual expectations and thus prevent conflicts. More importantly, justice and its enforcement strengthen mutual trust between people in a society. This is exactly what the rendering of favors doesn’t do. A coexistence based on favors feeds mutual mistrust and thus hinders or prevents true collaboration.

Coronavirus makes the favoritism-based relationship visible
Favor-driven coexistence strengthens the building of facades, and evasion of responsibilities, as one assumes the role of victim imbued with feelings of inferiority. In short, the Netherlands shames the islanders, often filled with the best intentions. And now, the corona virus makes what we recognized for a long time, visible.
Reducing and eventually eliminating the shameful favor relationship begins with establishing a common goal. If equality, well-being and prosperity were the main goal of living together in the Kingdom for all the people of the kingdom, then it would be obvious to choose for an administrative construction whereby the islands become true municipalities and together they become a Dutch province. It must be recognized that only with the full integration of the islands into the Netherlands, a level of desired welfare and prosperity, and secure financial resources, could be guaranteed.

With this full integration, the favor-ridden relationship is eliminated, as it is clear to both parties what can be asked, and is expected. Both parties can finally approach each other as equal partners, without shame and (possible) guilt.

Setting course for equal and equitable Dutch citizenship
A choice has to be made. In or out? Or you become independent and, like Suriname, face your own destiny, as happened to that country in 1975 – including an aggressive push of Venezuela, an expanding and neo-colonial China and a merciless Latin American mafia. Or you wish for a Kingdom without colonial favor relations and with a full participation in a democratic system?

The wheel must be turned. We must vigorously and purposefully set course for equal and equitable, same Dutch citizenship. It is the only remaining option to deal with the colonial leftovers within the current Kingdom.

Abolish the Statute and declare the Dutch Constitution the Kingdom’s Constitution. Make the Caribbean islands into one province of six municipalities according to the Dutch model. This need not frighten either party, as long as this inevitable development is well prepared and guided with mutual care and respect. The time for a “Think tank review of kingdom relations” has come.

Aart G. Broek is a sociologist and literary specialist, specialized in the Caribbean, especially the Netherlands Antilles. This article is adapted from his presentation at the conference 65 Years Statute, The Hague, December 2019.

 

About Education

A great number of teachers, Members of the Simar union, gathered on Monday afternoon for a meeting at the end of which they had asked for the resignation of the Minister of Education, having lost trust in his ability to manage learning on the island.

Simultaneously, some of my friends in education report that the teachers themselves are afraid of change and that their suspicion and lack of trust are the result of fear, and the desire to cling to the familiar status quo, without having to make the effort to transform.

They are scared of the transition to on-line, they are uncomfortable with technology, and buck the need to teach old dogs new tricks, my pro-minister crew reports. Not all, but a good number of old-timers, just dig in their heels.

Fact: Under the guise of crisis – CoVid19 – the MinEdu has AGAIN attempted to drive a few round pegs into square holes and rush in changes he’s been contemplating for a while.

Without talking to his minions.

They heard about the 2020-21 school year plans via a letter, and/or social media.

Last week a formal announcement in the form of a letter to teachers, stated that school next year will offer a mix of on line, and classroom learning, for example, elementary education will consist of 2 days of traditional schooling and 3 days of leaning from a distance. Kindergarten will enjoy 3 days of traditional schooling and 2 days of leaning from a distance. Vocational schooling 100% from a distance, same as University of Aruba, and IPA, the teachers’ college.

Luckily, common sense prevailed and the plan was nixed, but with the Office of Calamity managing Education, one may expect the unexpected.

Education is a very HIGH concern to parents here and the #1 key to success, as a country. If we mess up this country’s educational system, we handicap the island’s future, and it will take a while to transition to e-schooling, can’t be done overnight!

If you cannot guarantee quality education, a mass migration will follow. Locals will leave to go elsewhere, anywhere, where they feel they can secure opportunities for their kids.

We have a DUTY to educate our kids.

But right now, it’s all hanging mid-air.

Examples? de Schakels, a private school, opened on Monday on time, because staffers prepared what was needed last week. They have resources.

Some public schools hosted teachers’ conferences on Monday, discussing future needs, and gearing up to start by reviewing their preparedness.

As we all know, some schools have no sinks for hand washing, no soap, no paper towels, no budgets for these luxuries; and they require stickers and signs with instructions, which must be ordered.

Having been abandoned for 50+ days, some need cleaning; most of them have windows which were condemned with the arrival of air-conditioning, now the new Dutch regulations call for ventilation, and the windows must conform to that.  

Some schools already decided to delay the start to August and the 20/21 year, staying shut for now. Others will reopen between June 1st and 18th, and will keep the parents updated. (DPS)

Montessori will start May 25th with small groups of kids, for 3 hours a day.

The MAVO schools start next week.  They are currently busy with final results of the exam classes. Congratulations to those who passed. Next week they will be working at half capacity, 50% of students per class.  

From what I understood, schools decide their own fates, and it is all coordinated by the Office of Calamity.

Besides the nitty-gritty of reopening education, the big underlying issue is the MinEdu’s desire to shift personnel, as instructed, and downsize the number of people working for GOA by moving teir employment contacts to foundations, and that is why he decided to affiliate EPI with EPB, under one umbrella and pair Colegio San Nicolas, with de Schakels.

Good move?

Bad Move?

No one knows because the decision-making process was opaque with zero input from the field.

And then there is of course the subject of salary cuts, 12.5% that according to calculations really amount to 18%.

Is it a permanent or a temporary cut?

Opinion: Teaching is hard enough WITHOUT pay cuts, and if common sense indeed rules, teachers’ salaries along with those in law enforcement, health, and the fire brigade, should not have been cut, because they are front-liners, and besides, salaries in education start from a low of Awg 1,700 to a medium of Awg 3,800 and a ceiling of Awg 6,320, which isn’t excessive at all.  

Like changing rooms on the Titanic

That was the ugliest gathering, a Corona petri-dish, screaming and crowding the MinPres and her cabinet ministers, at the parliament back door, yesterday.

Thankfully, the MinPres handled it well, head bent, dressed in black, grieving, accepting and patient, otherwise it had the potential for disaster.

So sad to see the delusional, entitled, fat and spoiled members of the Sindicatonan, selfishly demanding at the top of their lungs, to be accommodated, while the ship is sinking.

Just like asking for a room upgrade on the Titanic.

Why? You’re going down, anyway!

Our ship is sinking, because the bottom fell out, we are drowning in debt, what don’t you understand about Game’s Over, we have been a wasteful and careless society for decades and we have just run out of resources.

We cannot help ourselves.

(That said, I feel for the underfunded, mismanaged and unloving way we have handled education on the island!)

You, Sindicatonan, have been living in a culture of entitlement for too long, you have a false sense of believing that you are more deserving of special treatments and circumstances than everyone else, because many of you were hired under the Friend & Family vote-getting tactics on both green and yellow governments, which gave you the illusion of power.

The gathering yesterday had green undertones, and the hateful rhetoric reflected the old GROUNDLESS divisions, flamed by politicians on both sides.

Dear Sindicatonan: The private sector of this island fed you and yours for years. It is the private sector’s money that you wasted, and now when it is your turn to support 37,000 unemployed members of that group you bulk? You kick? You scream? You lie, saying it’s not the WHAT but HOW, that enraged you?!

You are the image of solidarity but WE should have asked YOU nicely!

Just like in kindergarten.

The gathering was shameful because you are endangering Dutch support for the rest of us.

The Dutch government made it clear. It wishes to support the private sector.

It is not paying for the inflated, falsely entitled public sector.

When I looked at you, standing on top of each other, I wanted to ask you: Do you want to know why we were subject to such severe lockdown and CoVid19 restriction? Because a very high percentage of our population suffers from NCD, non communicable diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, obesity, as a result of unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke and/or the excessive use of alcohol.

If Covid19 would have gotten hold of us, we would have suffered a disproportional number of deaths.

When I looked at what my colleague Arien Rasmijn called SOPI DI CORONA, I realized that you can lead a horse to the water but you cannot make him drink.

You don’t get it, and you are not going to help.

 #socialdistancing #yegafregaPEGA #coffindance #tinlugadenICU #livelaughcough

How can we make you understand that we need your collaboration, now more than ever, and that you need to get off your high horse?

About our Public Health Challenges

NCDs, A Critical Public Health Issue

At one of this week’s press conferences the MinHealth reported that GOA considers the Kingdom’s condition for financial aid, by which Aruba must reduce the monthly cost of AZV by Awe 5M, contradictory, because Covid19 caused an increase in expenses. Covid19 added Awg 38M to healthcare cost to date. However, If AZV costs are not reduced, The Kingdom will not grant the financial aid needed.

So I looked into the issue, thanks friends for providing me with interesting facts.

According to PubMed Central, affiliated to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of medicine NIH/NLM, we are in the middle of a NCD epidemic in Aruba.

Introducing NCD: Non Communicable diseases, otherwise known as lifestyle diseases, that may also be cause by dirty air, soil and environment. Here are the top four

Cancer

Heart Disease

Cerebrovascular

Diabetes

The four are responsible for 58.16 % of deaths in Aruba, Cancer being the highest at 23.79%, then Heart Disease, 20.11%, then Cerebrovascular Disease, 8.22% and Diabetes 6.05%.

Aruba had the highest percentages in the Caribbean of deaths due to cancer, between 2005 and 2014. I will search for info about the second half of the last decade, but chances are that the percentages are similar, perhaps higher.  

Basically, the Caribbean region faces the highest burden from NCDs for developing nations in the Americas, and chronic NCDs are the leading cause of death

The reasons for the high mortality of NCDs in these Caribbean countries and territories, says PubMed, remain a critical public health issue that warrants further investigation.

WHY: NCD-associated risk factors such as tobacco smoking, harmful use of alcohol, poor diet, and physical inactivity substantially affect NCD mortality.

So here you have it, why does AZV spends so much money? Because it has to do battle with NCDs, without any help from us, we drink too much, we smoke too much, we eat too much fast food and cheap Chinese, and we are lazy. We don’t move.

Dietist Charlene Leslie: Crushing non-communicable diseases is a long and complex process. Health Promotion and prevention is not sexy, and does not help win votes as it costs money while it can take years or even decades to see substantial results.
It should be dealt with on different levels: Knowledge, skills, environment and availability and multi-level policies.
Unhealthy lifestyles and weight have become socially accepted, some even get peer pressure or bullied for wanting to make healthier choices.
I must say it is beautiful to see that individuals are becoming more and more aware about their own health and take measures into their own hand.
I don’t want to come off sounding negative. But in my experience many are eager to say that more health promotion and prevention matters are needed, however not enough is has been done to date and support to do so (jobs, finances) are hard to find.

Second Column Today, about our Public Health Challenges.

I listened to DR Ponson the other night on TV, reassuring the parents that their kids are safe and can go to school

She sounded great, then she said that physicians need to “fax” reference letter to specialist!!!!???

I scratched my head.

Fax?

Are you serious? Who makes them? Why do we have to use them?

And then I thought: What else are they doing which is very costly and cumbersome? I see now there may be a lot of waste in the health sector, costing us all, way too much money.

You know the MinHealth has to shave 5M a month?

It sounds doable to me, if you eliminate the waste in the system.

Don’t eliminate services, but make ‘structural changes’ in HOW services are rendered.

EXAMPLE: Specialists get paid on unit basis. Of course this provides a great initiative to make sure that as many units are handled as possible.  Regardless if effective at corrective health.

What about eliminating the current way specialists get paid?

What about looking at how health professionals IMPROVE health instead of making money on the backs of those who are sick.

Imagine the opportunities for improvements…

We need to find what is keeping us from turning these wasteful services to the public, into E-CARE.

In many countries medical chats help people with routine medical problems, via tablets and phones.

We should never physically have to go see any doctor.

Just like E-Learning, E-Government, E-Business, E-Care is possible, and Dr. Richard Visser has been talking about it for years.

But again the current system was put in place by a medical doctor who was looking to make money and used our political system to accomplish his goal!

It created a lot of waste. How much waste is acceptable?

Four out of every five earned collective florins is pissed away by a body that is not accountable to anybody in Aruba. (think Hospital. Think Central Lab)

Now it is clear, this does not serve our collective health, anymore.

58.16% of our people DIE of preventable disease.

Our country is sinking like a rock. We need to lose a lot of overhead and dead weight so we can get ourselves in shape, mentally and physically.

Medicine implies the correction of the damage we’ve done, and the consequence of wasting our good health.,

E-Care is broader and should include prevention of sickness and a strong drive towards health and wellness.

People don’t change because they see the light…

They only change when they feel the pain.

We feel the pain.

We must change.

And according to the IMF, and the Dutch, we will not be successful, unless we whip ourselves into shape.

What do you think?

Of course. Aruba is living to see visitors come back to the island. It is our main economic pillar and we would love to see them back ASAP, but under certain conditions, sending out a message that we care about their health and that we care about locals, shielding them from a possible new outbreak.

So, the core issue is, to demand or forgo a Covid19 health certificate.

Other options include the airport, in charge of taking everyone’s temperature upon arrival, and performing some screening.

Or perhaps the airport should test all arriving passengers?

That would be expensive but the costs may be split between AAA, ATA and AHATA?

The easiest of course would be for the airport to demand a certified proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within 48 hours of boarding a flights.

The way we do it with passengers from South America and Yellow Fever.

But coronavirus tests are not as easy to come by in the USA, and they might be costly.

If the island demands a negative test result upon arrival it could then reward those who had to pay for the procedure, with an added-value perk? That’s nice. It cost you extra money to come here, but you got something extra for your trouble, and you know Aruba is safe.  

Or should we just open and risk another outbreak, but make it easy on visitors to return, kick-start our stagnant economy.

But if we think about our locals first, and make the process corona-proof, we will prevent another outbreak, but make it super-inconvenient for visitors.

Should we trust that those who want to travel, are Covid19 free? God forbid if they get sick, they can cost us $1M in health care expenses, if they do not carry Covid19 health insurance, and can’t pay.

Besides? Is there such a thing as Covid19 health insurance?

https://www.timeout.com/usa/news/st-lucia-aruba-and-antigua-will-reopen-to-tourists-in-june-052120

This is what Timeout reports: Aruba has not set a date to reopen, but hopes to welcome back tourists between June 15 and July 2020. It has also revealed new health protocols to keep both tourists and residents safe. The Aruba Health & Happiness Code is a cleaning and hygiene certification program that will be mandatory for all tourism-related businesses. Upon arrival at the airport in Aruba, travelers can expect to undergo new screening measures including temperature checks. 

‘New Normal,’ we wish it existed!

Written with local resident N.C., who asked to have her name withheld.

It seems all deals are still on, with the new rooms and new developments underway, in Aruba.

GOA announced last week it has hundreds of projects on the fast track, and noted it was a sign of confidence of investors in Aruba’s economic future.

We’re sad.

We thought there would be a ‘New Normal,’ in GOA circles, too.

In the past 2.5 months many of us spent a great deal of time reflecting on our lives trying to understand the definition of the new normal and what it means for us as an island- nation and also as individuals. 

I have heard many people say this pandemic is like pushing a welcome ‘reset’ button. I think it’s safe to say, many of us now realize how vulnerable life can be. 

We now value humanity more than ever before.

And we finally realize that sometimes “less is more,” focusing on quality instead of quantity.  Cherishing and taking good care of what we have instead of constantly seeking more. 

We have perhaps learned that what we have today, can easily be all gone tomorrow.

Listening to those daily, then frequent, press conferences since March 15th, many of us were hopeful that GOA learned some of the same lessons from the pandemic. Maybe it finally realized that quality tourism is more important than quantity. 

Maybe it realized we must focus on the improvement of what we have instead of permitting more hotels and condos, that we simply don’t need. 

Maybe GOA realized that in order to build these additional hotels, we also must import another 10,000-15,000 people to work at these properties and if another crisis unfolds, GOA will have an extra army of people to take care for. 

So yes, we were hoping to see some ideological changes.

Sadly, that does not seem to be the case. 

We fear GOA learned nothing from the crisis. All deals are still on.  All those hotels and condos are still on the books. Focusing on quantity instead of quality is still the current strategy, because the projects were approved prior to the pandemic. 

Naturally, Aruba did not foresee the crisis. And the promise of employment, raises, bonuses for employees and building and director permits for developers seemed normative, then.

But now?

The world has changed.

We live in a different reality.

It’s almost like starting from scratch.  All those previously welcome deals don’t work for us anymore.  This is the time to make immediate and necessary alterations. 

We were told about Secrets all-inclusive resort coming to San Nicholas. We don’t need it anymore, seriously, it is unsustainable.

We were told about Iberostar all inclusive, coming in with two resorts, not just one, but never officially. One Iberostar is destined to the location previously known as the SANDS, and one to Arashi, accessible via Tierra De Sol, much to the chagrin of homeowners entitled to quiet enjoyment of their life, at the gated community.

They will now be struggling with elevated level of traffic and noise pollution, if that plan for a giant Iberostar comes through.

AHATA, and ATA have been trying to get the list of approved projects for a long time, with the MinTour stonewalling, and dodging the issue.

MINISTER – Can we finally see the list?

What are you planning to do with all those suspended projects?

Are there 4,000 hotel/condo rooms no one needs on the drawing board?

Remember, locals are also entitled to quiet enjoyment of their island, without it ever again becoming OVERRUN by visitors. All of these projects must be officially nixes.

NOW IS THE TIME TO EMPOWER THE MINPRES to make hard decision.

Mandate the famous moratorium. We want it enforced. Period. This is an opportunity to curb rampant over-development.

What locals now fear most, is that in their drive towards growth, GOA will relax all permit processes, and even if developers can’t comply with the rules of financing and time-limits, they will be cut plenty of slack, in order to facilitate dreaded growth.

Those of us who remember the Italians construction companies of the late 80s, and the mess they left behind, know what I am taking about.

We already heard MINJUST informed AHATA that GOA has no intention to ban UTV and ATV vehicles; to avoid further job losses during difficult economic times. Typical short term thinking of a Jell-O-spine politician.

Nix these projects, don’t let them linger and drag, take decisive action to protect our housing supply, our health care system, we cannot excessively burden our electricity & water production, our rundown sewer plant, our underfunded education, our unregulated and neglected nature.

These projects cannot become a reality.

Let’s focus on quality tourism instead of quantity.  Save whatever is left of this beautiful island.  It’s not too late. 

Let’s make Cov-19 an opportunity to re-brand, and re-position.

Let’s make Aruba a five-star island, not just for visitors but for locals too.  Let’s push that ‘re-set’ button and do it right this time.

Share on:

May 24, 2020
Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster