Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap, September 30th, 2018

Keep your head on straight, focus, don’t let your mind wonder….

September. I took some time off to visit friends and family in far-away places, and I am slowly getting back into the swing of things.

Lots of fun stuff happening within the next six weeks: We will be sending Aruba to the Beach & Beyond magazine to print and helping orchestrate the annual Bartender’s Brawl, at Renaissance Festival Plaza.

Otherwise, Tourism Day is upcoming, and I already have TWO weddings penciled in, that of marketing diva Ghislaine de Windt & E-Wizard Diederik Kemmerling and that of effervescent Jacky Lopez and event specialist Maarten Thoonen, the creative team behind the Little One.

But a side story first.

Have you ever lost your bag while traveling and miraculously gotten it back?! And I don’t mean the airlines misplacing your luggage, I mean YOU being absent-minded?

It happened to me three times.

Bottom line, keep your head on straight while on the road, you’re in trouble if you get out of bed with your head screwed on backwards.

The first time

New York. I was catching an early flight to Aruba. A car picked me up on the corner of 33rd, and 3rd Avenue, the driver opened the door, those were the day, UBER wasn’t invented yet, I slipped in and got comfortable in the back seat. Arriving at JFK uneventfully, I got out of the car to discover the driver has left my suitcase standing on the NY city street curb.

He made up for it by speeding back into the city, finding my suitcase where we left it, and speeding back to catch the flight on time.   

The second time

I was among local press members who were invited to Santa Cruz Venezuela to check its budding tourism industry out. I arrived by taxi at a swanky high-rise hotel right on the beach and as soon as I stepped into the lobby I realized my carry-on stayed in the cab.

I turned religious, instantly. Oh, my God, oh, my God, was all I could repeatedly say.

I had no clue which taxi, what license plate, car make nor driver. Nada.

Frozen and stuck on my religious mantra, I followed the bellman’s advice and got into another taxi, with no particular destination in mind, just out the driveway and into the city, chasing a phantom, a man whose name or number I did not have.

Luckily. At the closest arepa stand, mid traffic, I recognized my driver, biting into juicy breakfast. I jumped out of my cab, flung open his back door, grabbed my bag and sailed away. He did not even know what was happening.

The third time

In Athens, this week, when you call UBER, a metered taxi cab appears. A lovely, luscious blonde driver of a Russian Skoda materialized to pick me up. Elenie. We chatted on my way to my hotel in the Plaka neighborhood, mid tiny winding street, just below the Acropolis.

We stopped at my destination and I got out of the cab to check if indeed it was the address. By the time I got in the door, my suitcase was standing right beside me, but my carpet bag and Panama hat gone. Left behind in Elenie’s car, off to service the next customer.

Besides myself, I tried finding the number to call, but frantic only lasted five minutes because the lovely luscious driver was back with my gear. She deserved a decent tip for prompt service.   

As I said, keep your head on straight while on the road, you’re in trouble if you get out of bed with your head screwed on backwards.

It’s their party and they do what they want, OR Mike de Meza out, Glenbert Croes in

Media reports stated recently that PMEC, Project Management & Engineering Consultancy NV, which has been working for RdA – since 2000, as an engineering firm — was unceremoniously fired by CITGO Aruba Refinery NV, effective the end of September.

Workers at PMEC were however told that the new general contractor about to be hired will be absorbing them and that their jobs weren’t compromised.

I now believe that my story from about one year and a half ago, indicating the perhaps former minister Mike de Meza was the totally-silent owner of that company, was true, and that now that MEP is in power CITGO is obliged to play favorites, leaning toward MEP-friendly companies and showing all those who supported AVP the door.

At the time, I got a letter from a lawyer rejecting my speculations and urging me to refrain from guessing since Jairo Wever was at the helm of that company and no one else.

I don’t feel sorry for PMEC, they get a taste of their own medicine now, and I am hopeful that workers will find placement within the new company, a MEP-related contractor A.D.K.Y., Design Development & Construction, which is owned by a man with a familiar last name, Ralph Wever, who also owns Pro Q Engineering, but negotiations are still ongoing.

So, what don’t we like about this?

This is nepotism at its best, with the minister of Labor and Social Affairs at the center.

Apparently, he met with Dutch Caribbean RdA and Luis Marquez, CITGO Aruba VP & GM to discuss who should benefit from working at the refinery. I understand that the minister in charge of signing work permits made it clear that yellow is in, green is black-listed and out.

In the words of American President Theodore Roosevelt: When you hold them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.

And I am not telling you anything new, this is all part of main stream media and an upcoming lawsuit, PMEC Vs. CITGO for dismissing the company without adequate cause – other than we don’t like you, it’s the wrong color, we would like to grant lucrative work privileges to our people.

Mind you, CITGO owes PMEC loads of money, which they will have to cough up, but then again RdA owns everyone a lot of money but no one utters a word for fear of being terminated; it took a monumental effort to get in the door, they are not about to complain.  

So basically, Mike de Mesa out, Glenbert Croes in

I remember not so long ago the venerated minister tried to pull the same stunt at AAA, where he attempted to ‘influence’ the way things work, via a puppet chairman. Luckily the ploy failed, and AAA is holding up.

Incidentally, is the contract with Schiphol finally signed? I hope so, that would assure the success of our airport, with Schiphol group at the helm instead of Buchi Cunucu, with all due respect to Buchi, with whom I’d like to go to Happy Hour, not run a key industry.

For those who missed: Aruba souring on Citgo upgrader: Update

 ARGUS Article 20 Sept., 2018

It seems like GOA could go after CITGO much sooner than October 2020 with regards to defaulting on the agreement, charging an anticipatory breach of contract.  In any way, they should be demanding a monthly progress schedule with earned values, which is certainly not rocket science!  The article references “early September” as the start of Phase 2, but they have not hired any new local contract employees to work on the project!

Time for GOA to put some performance metrics, not only on CITGO, but on the entire RdA board and management!


Jet fuel contamination at the airport

Yesterday, and I have incomplete information, flights were suspended at Reina Beatrix Airport, in honor of World Tourism Day.

In routine fuels tests an irregularity was discovered and airplanes couldn’t re-fuel in Aruba, some left to Curacao, some were grounded, I have no information on how long the situation lasted, but it threw the departing visitors for a loop.

How is that possible? This island worked very hard, for decades, to create a tourist industry, its SOLE economic pillar, and the FMSA is doing its best to take us out of business, on World Tourism Day?!

This morning FMSA, Fuel Marketing and Supply Aruba, sent out a beautiful press release assuring us that all is well, they have a perfect track record of 32 years, and life is dandy.


First of all, FMSA is only two years old.

Before that we had Valero, VMSA, owned and operated by a US public company.

Today, it is owned by RdA with products supplied by Venezuela, and we all know how reliable and reputable that is. NOT.

RdA is managed by Venezuelans, not the Valero straight-shooters.

This deal engineered by ignorant and naïve local politicians, the former MinPres and the former MinEnergy is the pits.

To say that everything was dandy for the past 32 years insults our intelligence.

The press release was just copied and pasted, no critical thinking applied, so we shouldn’t take it seriously.

Aruba should start looking for a different product supplier and get out of this deal that is going nowhere.

We shouldn’t let these morons ruin our tourist industry.

The Amateurish deal put together by AVP country bumkins must be thrown out. Our government has the power to act, and action is needed. Stop blaming the former administration and take a decision to ditch the deal stitched together by crooks – Roberto Rincon, buying our decision makers with goodies and sweet talk. Rincon was arrested in the US, but his deal is still alive and kicking in Aruba.


My friends tell me that this breach of quality jet fuel needs to be investigated seriously by an independent entity, all the way back to the source of supply and GOA should show CITGO the door. Past mistakes are past mistakes, we urge you to make BIG changes in RdA, now.

And incidentally Bati Bleki predicted this disaster in an article about two years when we realized our lifeline will depend on CITGO Venezuela integrity, punctuality and reliability.  


ATA Invites for a World Tourism Event, addressing the 4th Industrial Revolution, or in other words Uberization

Many players in the local tourism trade congregated on Thursday at the Renaissance Convention Center for an event titled Tourism & Digital Transformation, how it impacts our lives.

Ronella Tjin Asjoe Croes was the first speaker. She gave an excellent address stating that the travel and tourism industry has always been an early-adopter of new technologies and platforms.

As I listened to her it dawned on me how right that statement was because during a recent trip I was a bit paranoid about my iPhone, my most precious possession on the road, and possibly in life, trying to remember to ALWAYS place it back in the same place, in my giant travel bag so I don’t have to frantically look for it every time I call Uber, talk Google Maps or book tickets for the Acropolis museum, umpteen times a day.

According to Ronella: “Travel is where the largest consumer and tech trends first meet and much of it is in play already or currently being tested…such as connected rooms, butler service by voice recognition, keyless room entry and therefore no check-in, facial recognition, even wearables that allow you to explore, browse, shop and book whatever you want while on vacation – think cruise ship or amusement park.

She then went on to state that with digital technology poised to transform every aspect of the travel experience, Aruba is taking steps to transform its tourism industry in the face of a rapidly evolving digital environment. She also described how far along the island is, as a tourism destination in the process of transforming and integrating countless digital tools into its strategy.

“Aruba’s tourism industry,” she added, “is as a mature product, and finds itself at a critical stage of its product life cycle, which demands even more attention than ever before, considering this current era of digitization called the 4th Industrial Revolution, or in other words Uberization.”  

Very challenging indeed.

The ATA CEO pledged her organization’s commitment to keeping up with the Joneses, and formulating the required strategy to stay in the race. I will go back to her interesting strategies on another day.

Two invited speakers then took over the stage, both enlightening and entertaining.

 Daniel Newman, a digital transformation expert and Sam Sheffer, a content producer on YouTube.

Newman’s mantra: “Mobile Integration, Mobile first, Mobile only,” confirmed that my cell phone is indeed the most important possession in my life thanks to its contribution to the ease and comfort of living.  We should be able to check in, and check out, he said, make spa appointments, order room service, book excursions and communicate with the air-conditioning unit in our room, directly via our mobile device.


Talk should be an option, not a must, he said. Our mobile devices should be able to do everything for us. Can you imagine cuddling and spooning with an iPhone?  

Sheffer confirmed that the world is getting silly. He creates digital content for a sizeable audience of followers with his cap worn backwards, roaming NYC on his Boosted Board, a motorized skateboard, recording the sights via his spectacles and his DJI OSMO, which helps keep his camera flat. At the end of his presentation he assured us that UBER in the sky, is in the pipeline. A helicopter service, designed to ease city commute.

I guess a university education should remain an option, not a must. Digital gadgets, social media and AI, should be able to do everything for us.



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September 29, 2018
Rona Coster