Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, October 7th, 2018

WHY DID GOA SPRING THE ST. REGIS CONSTRUCTION PROJECT ON US, IF ALL PAPERWORK IS NONBINDING?

Political party Raiz, called for a manifestation yesterday under the tree, on the beach, south of the Riu Antillas, a popular weekend picnic destination for local families.

The usual suspects showed up, the turtle lady, the bird man, the chanting yoga teacher and Marjory Vermeer, who makes her opinions known on social media. Speed. How can I neglect to mention Speed?

Ursell Arends, at the helm of the party spoke well.

He demanded a Moratorium on the construction of additional hotel rooms AND integrity in government, in view of the recent government announcement, September 19th, 2018, that a St. Regis Hotel is coming our way.

GOA announced the new project with mild fanfare recently, signing a MOU with the brand representatives. That MOU is now a document waiting to be leaked.

What was already leaked this week is an official 4-page letter to attorney Johan Sjim Fat, signed by the former MinTour, Mike de Meza, and the former MinInfra, Benny Sevinger, ONE WEEK BEFORE LAST YEAR’S ELECTIONS, regarding a petition to amend conditions of long-lease domain land issued by Caledonia Properties NV, the former Starwood Vacation Ownership Resort that almost built here ten years ago, just before the global financial crisis.

The project to the south of Riu Antillas was abandoned as a result.

And because Marriott International has recently acquired Starwood, the letter states that the plan to develop a 4 or 5 start hotel & casino on that parcel, is basically welcome, and that the government WILL consider the change of ownership and agree in principle to all amendments.

The Letter of Intent, however states that it is NONBINDING IN NATURE and subject to negotiation.

As mentioned before, that letter was signed on AUGUST 27th, 2017, one week before the elections which makes it further nonbinding.

SO, WHY DID GOA SPRING THE ST. REGIS CONSTRUCTION PROJECT ON US, IF ALL PAPERWORK IS NONBINDING??

They could have opted out of the deal.

It makes no sense. It is clearly against the will of the people who want NO MORE LARGE HOTELS and against ATA’s recommendation which advocates: “A different management of our human, natural and cultural resources, imperative, in order to avoid entering in a cycle of diminishing returns.”

In a recent World Tourism Day speech, the ATA CEO, Ronella Tjin Asjoe Croes recommended a ‘high value-low impact tourism growth model,’ stirring away from large developments and a ‘volume driven tourism growth model.’

WHO LEAKED THE DOCUMENT? Perhaps the former MinInfra, to prove GOA could have opted out, OR the POR fraction in parliament, to prove their hands are clean, they did not do it.

Integrity in government: Ursell Arends asked a good question, how come three different MinInfra over the past 20 years accuse each other of corruption and malfeasance in the public sector without any of it being ever investigated??

As I said, this is a good question.

The business community is down in the dumps

Why are you protesting under a tree, said one of my learned friends, yesterday, on the phone, what’s wrong with you, have you got nothing else to do, he asked.

I know, I said, St Regis is a great hotel, but I just wanted to have my voice heard.

Don’t spin your wheels in vain, elucidated my friend, because of this island’s economic situation, we have no choice but grow. The machine has to be fed, we owe so much money that this system has no other option but to balloon, unless the government takes some pretty drastic measures of firing half its bureaucratic machinery, which is not happening, on the contrary, the government has just hired a great number of new people and that’s how the locals like it.

They love government jobs, he explained. They don’t care about the bigger picture, they care about the own immediate environment, and a government job means security and stability, in other words the Aruban dream.

We should be so lucky, he continued, if at the end of a negotiation, still to come, nothing has been agreed or signed yet, Marriott International decides to flag the new real estate as a St Regis. It would further revolutionize the group business on the island the same way the Ritz Carlton did, and people often underestimate what the Ritz Carlton did for Aruba by opening its door.

The St. Regis is perfect, he extolled, it would be small, perhaps 200 rooms, and will cater to a guest with deep pockets, feeding the island’s need for revenue.

Don’t forget he concluded, while the hotels did well in the past two years, the rest of the island is in recession, there is no money and people are suffering.  The recent tax hike hit hard, it is just over two points but it cut deeply into the bottom line, merchants couldn’t raise their already-high prices and had to absorb the increase.

Our economy has no money, its spinning on air, the cost of doing business of the island is sky high, finding qualified people is a monumental challenge, the business community is down in the dumps.

While Raiz is hollering ‘no more hotels,’ it should come up with an alternative, a plan, to introduce this ‘high value-low impact tourism growth model,’ veering away from large developments and a ‘volume driven tourism growth model.’

Incentivize local groups to come up with smaller boutique hotel projects, that way the money stays in Aruba and the footprint is minimal, he ruled.

How to supplement your retirement income with Alpha Hulp, Yudansa na Cas

What I wanted to talk to you about is the following: I met a former colleague in the supermarket, we worked together at the Royal Cabana Casino, he was the paymaster, I was director of marketing.

Those were the days.

I remember him as an intelligent, educated, and quiet man, and found him to be a pleasant, retired, elderly gentleman.

As we were talking I realized his mind is sharp and he struck me as very alert. He shared how difficult it is to survive on Awg 1,000 government pension and asked me if I could recommend a part time job as driver or accountant.

He looked very underweight, and was only holding a loaf of white bread, which he bought.

I believe there is an opportunity here to start some kind of volunteer organization designed to find part time work for capable retirees so that they could supplement their pension income.

It was very touching to meet him. And he gave me his number.

I then started asking around and found out the following:

Since 2006 the White Yellow Cross provides community support in all areas, also to those who partially lost their independence, temporarily or permanently, via intermediaries, helpers, other people prepared to shop, do light garden and house work, drive, run errands, and accompany.    

If you are an able-bodied retiree who wants to work part time, you can sign up to become an intermediary, a helper, via Wit Gele Kruis, Alpha Hulp, Yudansa na Cas.

The elderly is helped, and the service-giver gets Awg 9,00 an hour.

I called 523 4444 the main office of WGK, asked for information, and they told me to go to the website. I did. There is no information about Alpha Hulp on the website.

So just go to the WGK, in Oranjestad, fill out a form, and sign up.

I also asked the director for some additional information and I am still waiting.

Bottom line: The opportunity to supplement income exists, but you have to pursue it, you have to go for it.

Breech of Integrity and Privacy

The Dean of the Aruba Bar Association recently gave the local media a well-deserved public spanking.

With accidents and all forms of misconduct taking up 80% of coverage, reporters are trying to outdo each other via explicit pictures, blood and gore.  

You are a bystander, who happens to be at the wrong time in the wrong place? Your bad. Your picture, in color, bearing your full name, lands on the front page and there is nothing you can do about it.

Hit by a car? Lying on the ground trying to collect your wits to cope with the humiliating situation? Click, click, in your face, the ambulance-chasers hover above producing a full photographic report on your unfortunate condition.

(That was me a few years ago, when as a pedestrian I was knocked down by a hit and run car. No one asked permission to take my disoriented picture and publish it in the newspaper.)

The Dean felt obliged to react when a group of 27 individuals was detained, and before the Police was able to question them, and establish their identity, or their legal status, the media already published their portraits, in color, with the ‘illegal’ banner splashed across their faces.

The Dean’s public spanking stated that there is a total lack of respect for privacy in the media, and that coverage of so-call news is annoying and invasive and helps ferment the collective anger against foreigners who come here in hope for a better life.

According to my sources, local media is well equipped with scanners and decoders, and it shows up simultaneously, with the Police, ignoring international codes of conduct, barging in disrespectfully, in the name of news gathering.

Apparently, most pictures, names and relevant information originate in Police chat groups, with media-ferrets as members, enjoying uncensored access to Police files. And some Men in Blue are even said to sell pictures and feed information directly.

That’s it. The Dean has had it up to here.

He expressed his concerns to the MinJust and would like him to establish guidelines, and introduce boundaries, a code of ethics AND a disciplinary organ, so that when integrity and privacy are breeched, action may be taken to restrain the over-enthusiastic reporter.  

Many lawyers have complained about the character assassination of their clients in the public sphere, and the rat-race for sensational publication which lands journalism in the gutter.

Art Fashion 2018, Speaks Up!

We were proud to be sitting in the audience last night, right in the street, as the unique fashion show unfolded on the longest runway, in San Nicholas.

The spectacle blended Art, Fashion & Awareness, on issues of Abuse of every kind, Mental Health, Body Shaming, Oppression, the sad fate of Venezuela, Bullying and a few more that made an appearance on hand-carried signs, as a form of popular protest at the head of each segment.

Every designer presented his take on the awareness campaign, combined with their line of fashion. Singer Lily Rogers and dramatic interpreter Freddy Montoya, contributed to breaks between sets.

Wow. Sorry you missed, if you were not there.

It was an evening filled with goose bumps thanks to the vision by Tito Bolivar, the drive of Diana Croes and the execution a genius team: QueenAnne Bergen and Zilha Wever, assisted by Aishly Tromp, and more than 60 volunteers, with funds secured by Alice Van Romondt’s blessed connections and the Kate Spade organization.

Thank you minister Otmar Oduber for getting that ball rolling three years ago.

The 3rd Edition of ARTFASHION, was incredible.

Solo by Ronchi de Cuba: The idea of translating the photography of Damilice Mansur and transferring it to fabric, was totally striking. Ronchi’s Kibrahacha dress series was as drop-dead-gorgeous at his Chapel of Alto Vista dress series. The designer is a national treasure and after 30 years of doing fashion in Aruba, he is as fresh and creative as he was on day one, and his models were totally dazzling, worthy of a standing ovation!!

Elisa Lejuez: The fabric designer turned multidisciplinary artist and art teacher reinvented herself by presenting a new line of leather bags. The slim, black leather sling bags, worn across the chest were combined with the already famous signature silk scarves. Each bag was ornamented in color, with an original abstract pattern. Super functional and friendly to wear.

Maria Magdalena Gonzalez; This segment Un Grito De Esperanza, was very striking and charged with emotion as the models wore Venezuelan flag caftans, against a backdrop of violent clashes between the despotic Venezuelan regime and its suffering citizens. The segment ended by a rousing rendition of Alma Llanera, Venezuela’s much loved joropo. The audience was left with tear in their eyes.

Elle Juelz: New to me. She presented a line of badass, urban, woman’s clothing, with chicks ready to do battle on the runway. We loved her choice of monochrome khaki/olive green.

Kate Spade: So, you are asking yourself what Kate Spade is doing in the mix? When the news about the designer’s tragic death reached Aruba, Art Fashion 2018 spoke up, and connected with the brand about a fashion show, dedicated to Mental Illness awareness. The rest is history, as the brand lent its name, product and cash to the undertaking.  The Speak Up show produced Thursday night paid tribute to the designer who Left A Little Sparkle Everywhere She Went.

Aldo Shoes: Combined so well with all outfits, sandals, and heels with many dozens of styles on the runway.

Hendrik Schouten: That was an incredible accomplishment. A painter who made a name for himself by painting iconic Aruba landscapes ventured into attractive copper jewelry a number of years ago, and now into fashion. It was a bold, and spectacular move, earning Henrick some very well-deserved recognition, better late than never.

Gigliola Gomez: A well establish runway designer, in Aruba and abroad, Gigliola is known for her feminine flowy gowns, this time she pleased her local audience with a line of black and white athletic clothing. The type you live in, and not necessarily go the gym with. Wearing Gigliola latest collection, you would look fabulous in the supermarket and at the PTA. Total departure from her famous self, including great sneakers.

Zhuzhed by Ali: Ali arrived on the fashion scene as a stylist, styling looks with newest arrivals from DShop. The Zhuzhed By Ali show focused on the role society plays in body-shaming women, and her models, of every body shape and type did justice to the theme including some of my great-looking, talented friends, Aissette Rivera, Gladys Duarte and Charlene Leslie.

Osyth Henriquez: The artistic entrepreneurial business woman presented an elegant line of hand painted silk caftans with an environmental message, very delicate and airy, in pastel hues.

In the jewelry department Loretti Design’s show was beyond spectacular, with oversize, incredibly beautiful blown glass baubles. Gloria Filiciana let her imagination run loose, and it paid off with very striking pieces. Painter Francis Sling turned paint blotches into wearable art. Mersea Jewelry presented a new collection.

It was a night to remember, Pabien to all participants and organizers, it was bigger and bolder, and the setting was totally perfect. #artfashion #AAF2018 #aruba #artfair

Apologies to all I left out.

Art Fashion, right on the streets of San Nicolas.

Compra, honoring 70 years of business on island

Not all companies may boast 70 years of uninterrupted service to the community, but Compra can!

It recently celebrated the landmark at a gala affair at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino and floated a creative invitation, The Daily Com, a tabloid size newsletter, festooned with famous brand logos and some fun facts.

Allow me to quote:

The company was established in 1948 under the name Jan Bodegom & Co

The name COMPRA stands for Comestibles Preferible Arubano

Compra has more than 13,600 followers on FB

Compra Ltd. Is divided into 2 main buildings: The first on Engelandstraat housing the food service business and the second on Schotlandstraat operating the retail division

‘Compra Cares’ is dedicated to giving back to the community, in the form of goods and/or yearly contributions to community projects such as Aruba Doet

Compra’s employees have combined experience of 1682 years

Compra now employs more than 120 people

In 2013, Compra launched ‘Compra Activo’ and signed up more than 40 employees. They participate regularly in sport events on the island

Compra now represents more than 140 brands

Compra handles more than 700 containers per year

Compra has received various awards and recognition from brands it serves

Compra has more than 10 delivery truck providing daily service

Compra prides itself at posting less than 1% employee turn over

Compra’s warehouse and office space comprise more than 10.000m2

Pa Bien, your success is a sweet reward.  

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October 07, 2018
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster