Bati Bleki Weekly Recap, July 3rd, 2016

Career and Education Opportunities for Petroleum Refinery Workers

I was searching the net to educate myself what kinds of workers would the refinery need. This is what I found, people who know about machinery, pipes, pumps, valves, construction, safety, complicated repairs, chemicals, power lines, boilers, and coolers, people who can identify an issue and resolve it. In other words highly educated and highly qualified, drug free, multi-tasking, trouble shooters.

Where will ours be coming from?

So far it seems that ours will be coming from Venezuela, with their families, and extended families to work in Aruba in the event that our refinery finally starts huffing and puffing.

History repeats itself. When Lago Refinery opened in the late 1920s, it brought in technically educated people, masons, welders, pipefitters and pipe layers, from the English speaking Islands. They settled in San Nicholas and that is why we share native family names with Anguilla, Trinidad and Grenada such as Brown, Hodge, Fleming, Richardson, Gumbs and others, who ‘migrated’ to Aruba over the first part of the 20th century, to work for Lago.

So when the MinEcon, conducted his mass celebration rally in San Nicholas on the night the MinPres returned from Caracas, from the photo opportunity with the former bus driver promising 1,000 high-paying jobs to locals, I sadly noted that we are unprepared, we have not educated any local youth in the past few years in preparation for the opening of the refinery and the boys who served under Coastal, El Paso and Valero, are old. Well, not that old, but too old to maintain 12 hour shifts around the clock.

When I look at the newspaper picture introducing all those involved in bringing together the refinery project I look at a bunch of adorable retirees. And to add to our worries, our relatively young and dynamic MinEcon, was hospitalized with chest pains last week, reportedly in need of a life style change to combat his cardiovascular challenges.

So basically, there are probably a few dozen qualified refinery workers around, some may come back from Surinam or the Netherlands.

Those who remember remember: Lago spent big bucks educating young Arubans to work in the Petroleum industry, they identified candidates, then educated them for middle management, singling out talent and financing university studies. However, the last graduate of a Lago professional education program is now at least 50 and works at a cushy job in one of our financial institutions.

So, after I questioned the political promise that 1,000 Arubans will get hired into high-paying jobs, I read in the newspapers that in reality, that talk about the CITGO refinery is premature. It’s all in the air subject for approvals on both sides of the ocean. Besides, the government is now negotiating with Valero, and when that’s done they will reveal the content of the agreement to our members of Parliament, to ratify, once all their questions are answered. That’s the plan, anyway.

Weren’t you astounded when you read that the MinEcon has informed Parliament that it may look at the 2,000 page agreement, but cannot copy anything for further study, not with phones, nor with office copiers, because the agreements are confidential and the MinEcon wishes to prevent damaging leaks? Can you expect our members of Parliament to seriously decide on something like this by just leafing through pages? There will be a pile of documents to peruse, and the MinEcon mistrusts his bosses’ integrity?? (The ministers report to Parliament, right? How can you tell Parliament that you mistrust its members?)

So this might become entertaining, it has the elements of a soap opera, conspiracy, betrayal, drama, secret documents, and hopes for a better future, which should not surprise us with Venezuela having at least one foot in the door. The world’s best TV soap operas hail from there.

Lolo Bobo wastes my time

Loco Lobo is the name of the production company of last weekend’s concerts, the Aruba Summer Music Festival. It promised a great line up on Saturday night, Tito Nieves, Gente de Zona and Enrique Iglesias. The cashier at Sandra’s Garden from whom I bought the tickets said: Doors open at 7:3pm, concert starts at 8pm, sharp! Sharp, he said. And stupid me, I believed him. Consequently Lolo Bobo wasted my time on Saturday night with the WORST DJ ever, for a two hour pre concert cacophony, from 8pm to 10pm, complemented by a screaming nitwit emcee, then at 10pm after I was already irritated and aggravated Gente de Zona did their best to entertain. Once they took a bow, again a lull, nothing for ONE long HOUR, from 11pm to 12midnight. Enrique finally got on stage past midnight, I hear he was charming, only I wouldn’t know, I left, four hours into this nightmare of a “concert.” Tito Nieves? I never saw him either. It was the pits. When you say 8pm, you have to start at 8pm. You should take a page out of the Soul Beach Music Festival book, they start on time, they finish on time, respecting their clients.

Sound: Very poor, unbearable

DJ: Very, very pathetic

Emcee: Very, very, very, annoying

Venue: Meh

Parking: Good

Security: Excellent, they even found my pistachio nuts and confiscated them

F&B: Good, tasty French fries with pinda sauce, to sooth my nerves.

Beer: Good, nicely chilled, no lines at the bars.

El Chalan Peruvian restaurant

We had lunch at El Chalan the other day. Their Sopa + Plato Fuerte + Postre for Awg 15.The restaurant recently celebrated its 20th anniversary on the main street, just past Jossy Motors, and Hotel Victoria. I can only say good things about them! Admittedly, I am a big fan of the gastronomy of Peru, and El Chalan always does a good job with ceviche, causa, and tiradito, anything with purple potatoes, quinoa, sweet water shrimp, sweet potato, Aji Amarillo, magically come together in their kitchen to create Lomo Saltado, Seco de Cabrito, or Aji de Gallina. From specialty Peruvian drinks to desert, it’s all good.

 Harvey the Electrician teaches me new tricks

Harvey from Rotech really knows something about electricity. This week he visited the house because one of my outlets was smoking. So while trouble-shooting assorted issues I complained to him that bulbs never last in my household. I buy the packaged spiral ones at Price Smart, but they have a short life span here.  In reality they should last longer, I said. Harvey took his volt meter and inserted the prongs into the outlet, measuring 127 volts. The bulbs you are buying, he explained, are made for 120volt 60Hz circuits. But Elmar provides us with 127 +/- 4%, depending how far we live from the substations. Bottom line I overwork the bulbs and they die prematurely. More expensive bulbs from the General Store, are manufactured to withstand up to 130volt and are at the end more economic, he revealed. Propaganda no paga. Also, the bulbs you buy from Lucky Store, Harvey says, are manufactured in India where 110volt is the norm. Once those bulbs meet the Elmar juice, they go bust even earlier! During his last visit, Harvey taught me about ground, this time about voltage. He also reiterated, don’t let the microwave, 900watt run with the hot water kettle, 1,500watt, at the same time, you have an old house, you are overloading  your system, also do not add appliances indiscriminately, think before you buy a new gadget!


Medellin, Colombia, flaunts its medical facilities

Carlos Gonzalez, Executive Director Caribbean, of Procolombia, a government entity in charge of export, tourism and investment, promoting the country of Colombia as a brand, was in Aruba recently with four representatives of state of the art hospitals in Medellin, Colombia. They stayed at the Renaissance Marina Tower and conducted introductions and presentation at the Renaissance Beach Suites, to members of the media and other interested parties.

Let’s face it, Aruba’s medical system is flawed and those who can afford it should take their pains and aches to Medellin, Colombia for a fast diagnosis. Once you know what’s wrong, you may resign yourself to AZV services, but for a battery of tests, executive checkups or for a super serious condition, you might as well go there, they have positioned themselves as the ultimate experts, in recent years.

Clinica Las Vegas:

Maria Isabel Gomez Betancur, the International Patient Office Coordinator, check her e-mail address below, speaks English very well and represents her business with charisma and ease. Write to her directly. The clinic is a huge complex in the heart of Medellin with decades of experience. They have an international patient department and they provide all services including bi-lingual translators and caretakers, elegant rooms, total pre and post-op support. Cardiology, Intensive Care, Trauma, they do it all, and Maria Isabel added that joint, hip, knee, shoulder, elbow and ankle replacements are big specialties. Of course plastic surgery is huge, both aesthetic and reconstructive. Gastric sleeves and bypasses, dentistry for all members of the family and cosmetic dentistry, are among their most in-demand services.

[email protected]

San Vicente Hospital

The hospital offers World Class Medicine, because it’s a University Hospital, and a Children’s Hospital, with over 100 years of experience. The main facility is located outside Medellin in the countryside, very close to the airport, and is great for those in need of recovery, after a complicated procedure. They have experts in every medical field, Trauma, Intensive Care, Orthopedics, Urology, including penile prosthesis, correction of penile curvature, and lots of surgical alternatives for those suffering from urinal issues, or even Andrology. They have a burn unit, with a tissue and bone bank, but their Children’s Hospital is famous. In short, pick San Vicente for kids and Pediatric Neuro Surgery. I also found deep brain stimulation, and Radiotherapy in their English brochure, and a department for Cardiopulmonary and Vascular challenges. The hospital is gorgeous, very spacious, private and the international patients are treated like soft boiled eggs.

[email protected]

Hospital Pablo Tobon Uribe: Go to their website they have a 360 degree virtual tour, of every floor, wow.

Juanita Estrada Plata, the Marketing Manager at the hospital described the place as an institution with a heart. Their International Office accompanies patients and their family members and provides personalized assistance from first contact until you’re ready to return to Aruba. They are open 24 hours, 365 days a year prepared to handle anything, and I mean anything. Check out their excellent website:

Clinica Las Americas:

This is a medical group with a number of super-impressive medicine related businesses established by a group of independent doctors in the 90s, with Clinica Las Americas southwest of the city of Medellin. A group of 480 assigned specialists works at the hospital and together they handle the x-ray & diagnostic imaging services, nuclear medicine, diagnostic & surgical video endoscopy, neurology & breathing therapy, physical & rehab medicine, intensive care, gynecology & obstetrics, executive checkups, and aviation medicine. They have a surgical unit, newborn unit, hospitalization, intensive care, emergency, pharmaceutical services, dialysis, cardiology, cardiovascular surgery and extracorporeal shock wave therapy. The clinic has 199 beds, 12 operating rooms, 12 intensive care beds for adults and 7 for children. Among its most outstanding services I found bone marrow transplants, cancer treatment, minimally invasive surgery, plastic surgery and epilepsy surgery for adults. There is also an institute for women which offers comprehensive assistance to patients and their families, in the area of gynecology & obstetrics (including high risk), and the treatment of climacterium and osteoporosis as well as oncologic gynecology. That was a mouthful.

Write to Laura Yepes Patino, from the International office, she is a sweetheart. [email protected]

If you don’t have a sense of humor do not read this

The sad story of the other TV station

From court papers it is evident that if the rent amounted to Awg 15,000 a month, Channel 15 has not been paying it for ten years?! How is that possible that the owners of Royal Plaza, a set of savvy business people had allowed squatters in their building for all that time?

What exactly happened here?

Why didn’t they move on a payment plan, and/or eviction nine years ago?

ABC Aruba Broadcasting Company NV had been operating for 19 years at the same location, the third floor of Royal Plaza in Oranjestad and according to my understanding in 2005 financial problems reared their ugly head and because of meager financial means their rent payments became inconsistent and infrequent.

I heard there was some kind of barter deal, TV adz against outstanding rent, but that was never formalized and put in writing.

Then one and a half year ago, Royal Plaza NV started a “Pay Me What You Owe Me” court case represented by Attorney Oorman. Some letter exchanges have been made public, and when Royal Plaza lawyered up the debt was around Awg 1.6 million, and recently reached Awg 1.8.

How does that happen?

Improper management.

Inept leadership.

Lack of financial controls.

And sadly the inability to collect from deadbeat advertising agencies, which place spots, but then drag their heels on settling their own bills.

Some past shareholder confided in me that they have never seen a PNL, and they just instructed their accountant to write the debt off at the end of each year. Another one told me, in response to a question: I don’t have a copy of the shareholders’ register of ATV. I happen to be a shareholder and there are some other families who have also contributed to the share capital. However I believe that like myself they are not eager to get involved in any publicity in these difficult times that ATV is facing.

ATV started with great fanfare, professional training, shiny equipment and excellent staffers and over time lost steam, with Patrick Paskel’s famous AaaTeeeVee, the only remaining constant. They also lost their live transmission truck, which further incapacitated them!

The original shareholders, some of our community’s most successful business people, opted out over the years, perhaps leaving the station to its director Tom Pietersz, and some members of the Eman family – this is speculation – a very likable bunch with an assortment of great hobbies, such as car racing and competitive swimming. They are more passionate about their hobbies than about their businesses. The EMCO building if renovated could have served as the new ATV headquarters, had the station moved out of its current digs, but nothing was done to address the building crisis.

Tessa Pietersz will survive by cleverly moving her Trend Alert program on line.

The others?

I feel sorry for my media colleagues, for having lost their jobs. And they are in the dark, since no one spoke to them about the situation. There has been zero communication all along. But, they should have known something was terribly wrong by the inconsistent and infrequent way they were getting paid in recent months.

What’s next?

A bankruptcy. One of my lawyer friends predicts a bankruptcy, and the opening of another company, under a different name with the same purpose.

Because, you cannot conduct an election campaign without a TV station, and you know elections are coming in 2017. If truth be told you can run a TV station from your garage, there is no need to rent a big space with today’s technology.

One of my other friends said they might find some nice Venezuelan businessman who will “buy” the station or “partner” with owners or “loan” them the money they owe, to secure the essential 2017 campaign propaganda vehicle.

What’s in it for the “investor”?

Terrain? Beachfront land for development?! A mega supply agreement with the CITGO facility? Free adz till the end of time? Free access to government ministers till the end of time? Free work permits till the end of time? Free liver or kidney transplants? University educations to all extended family members, and their neighbors? Free Dutch passports and the ability to live in 27 EU countries, all except Great Britain.

I don’t like the above scenario, so if all of us contribute just Awg 15 per person we could bail ATV out, and make sure it doesn’t fall into hostile hands. I would really be unhappy if I had to watch Nicolas Maduro on TV every Sunday, just before American Ninja Warrior.

The Club House at Gold Coast Residence nears completion / White Modern Cuisine reopening

Developer Fito Croes gave me a tour of the almost finished club house at Gold Coast Residence. It is a beautiful structure, with infinite salina views, and the high-rise hotels on the horizon.

The club house is located at the far end of residence, so you get to drive through the gates and down rows of lushly gardened homes and condos. When you arrive, the club’s porte cochere features a bronze art piece by Gilbert Senchi, a conch, spitting water into a lovely rotond pool in the driveway. Fito reports he enjoyed working with Gilbert on the project.

The main lobby is beautifully tiled, and open air, the comfy sitting corners in front of the check in desk, will be set up this week. Yes, the residence reception will relocate to the clubhouse.

Outside on the terrace overlooking the free form, zero entry pool, the bar commands the right hand side, while the rest of the gorgeous open space will be the new home of White Modern Cuisine, some of it, left and center, may be enclosed with modular glass doors.

We toured the garden bordered with lovely fusia bougainvillea planted in the sugar white beach sand; we also toured the new state of the art restaurant kitchen.

Fito reports that when chef Urvin Croes closed his eatery at the Palm Beach Plaza Mall he took his employees with him, and will be opening his restaurant anew at the club house, as soon as the construction concludes and the set up is complete.

Chef Urvin will also cater the opening party of the club house in July, with almost 300 dignitaries, neighbors and family members. Sure, the government ministers are invited but credit for the development of the residence goes to the extended Croes family and they will be cutting the ribbon.

Fito reminded me I was the emcee at the residence opening in 2011, and I immediately volunteered to serve as the emcee for the upcoming club house ceremony.

If you remember tourism was on the rebound in 2007, when the Croes family took the ambitious project on. Planning and construction began that year, and the first homes were delivered to proud owners in 2009. The financial world was in trouble since 2007/8, but Aruba only started feeling the crunch in 2009/10, yet through the real estate crisis the Croes family navigated its business well, resulting in 80% sellout in 2016, and just a few condos left to be built/sell.

And don’t forget that while they were busy at Gold Coast Residence they were also involved with Le Vent, and O Condominium projects on Eagle Beach, besides a slew of other local developments via their eternally hard-working Cas Bon NV.

You will like the club house, it is airy and transparent, white and spacious, and it feels relaxing and up-lifting. So, prepare for the July 21st opening!

Guests will be asked to park on Malmokweg, where there is a large area just below the tennis courts, at the border of the salina. You will then be directed to the club house for the unveiling of the art piece, and the inauguration of the pool, bar and restaurant, to violin music. Fito & Urvin will offer a toast, and then you may enjoy the party, the cocktails, the hors d’oeuvres and the raffle by Diamond International!

Just to stay on the safe side, Fito is arranging a private ceremony the week before, to bless the enterprise, with a representative of God as the official in charge. Fito never leaves anything to chance.


I met Levi Silvanie yesterday; he was talking to Maria Silva about his upcoming visit o Aruba, in the fall, to deliver the #Superando Documentary Concert, based on true stories of people who have overcome adversity especially physical limitations resulting from accidents.

Levi shared with me his idea that accepting the verdict that one could never walk again, or accepting the doctors’ prognosis that one could never dance or talk again, is in itself the prison, the chains incapacitating the soul.

The upcoming concert, in collaboration with a number of artists, among then Sergio Jansen, is coming to Aruba mixing music with documentary materials. It is designed to bring us to a place of inspiration through an uplifting live music performance, powerful talks and film. Stand by for an October date, location to be advised.
It was coincidental that in just one day, I talked to two different people about #Superando.

Claudia Janssen, on vacation in Aruba for a project she calls “Offroad Wheelchair Aruba,” will be here until July 9th, so catch her is you can, she is a superhero.

Claudia was badly injured in a car accident 14 years ago, when her legs were crushed. She did not accept the verdict that she will never walk again, and following a long and worthwhile struggle is today providing support to other wheelchair bound individuals.

She came here for the first time last year and heard from a physiotherapist friend that Aruba’s physically impaired residents never get to go to the beach. She set out to fix that by importing an appropriate chair that could facilitate beach experiences for the physically impaired, and by organizing outings with volunteers via a foundation she started, Offroad Wheelchair Aruba.

Claudia is a super energetic and driven individual, she arrived here, asked for what she needed and the universe provided, in the form of KLM and Top Car for transportation of the wheelchair from the Netherlands and on the island. Other organizations she approached such as Kiwanis Palm Beach, Kiwanis Aruba, Circle K, EPI, CEDE Aruba, Aruba Tourism Authority, Care 4 Care, Funari, Aruba Wine & Dine, Mickey’s Foundation, National Park Arikok, AHATA, ATHA, Rotary, Lions and many others, joined immediately.

In the spirit of asking for what she needs she told me I needed to write about her project and to include an article in Island Temptations Magazine. She loves Aruba, she said, and she swims every day which give her the energy to work on behalf of others. You could find her at 080 café, she calls it her office, where she is organizing a fund raising party next Saturday.

The accident which left her broken, was followed by very difficult four years in which she couldn’t care for her son. Her marriage fell apart.  Yet from the ruins another person emerged, with the help of numerous surgeries, a strong, committed and unstoppable, Claudia.

For more Information about her:

facebook – Offroad Wheelchair Aruba

facebook – Claudia Janssen

integral – Humansofonehappyisland – Claudia’s fashion store in the Netherlands

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