Bati Bleki Weekly Recap September 18th, 2016

The recent Rescata Nos Baranca campaign brings wildlife photographers and nature lovers together

(My report is based on an excellent handout, by Aruba Birdlife Conservation Foundation)

Aruba’s handful of conservationists showed up in full force, and in uniformed tee-shirts, designed by Armando Goedgedrag, for the press conference Saturday evening with most of the following members in attendance: Cherish Becker, Armando Goedgedrag, Ricardo Gogorza, Angiolina Henriquez, Ferdinand “Freddy” Kelkboom, Damilice Mansur, Diego Marquez, Michiel Oversteegen, Sven Oversteegen, Patrick Peňa, Gigi Raven, Peter Sprockel, Anika Stevens, Glenn Thodé, Ayrton Tromp, Rossini ‘Ross Boss’ Wauben and Stephany Wever.

They are mostly amateur photographers, artists, activists, a pathologist and a vet!

I am mentioning their names because I think it is an excellent development to see so many more of them besides the ever-present, short tempered president of the foundation, Greg Peterson.

The main purpose of the press conference, at Hooters on Palm Beach, thank you Damilice Mansur for your hospitality, was to stop the destruction of important nature areas in Aruba and thus protect Aruba’s Nature, Flora, Fauna and related habitats. Aruba Birdlife Conservation has been trying to secure protection for 16 important natural areas, for the past four years. The foundation wants these areas to become part of National Park Arikok, so nature may all be managed under the same umbrella.

Apparently since 2013, 12 members of the AVP party helped approve a motion in Parliament, designed to protect these areas, but the government hasn’t done anything since, nothing, zero, nada, to implement protection.

On the contrary, they seemed to have changed their minds and have allowed development in areas previously on the protected list, de facto, the government has decided to stray away from the master plan – R.O.P. or Ruimtelijke Ontwikkelingsplan – and now permits construction in so-called protected, green areas.

The recent outcry broke out when a portion of land across Divi Phoenix was cleared by bulldozer, to build an Embassy Suites type of resort with 330 rooms, with access to a beach across the street, consequently not a five star, a joint venture between a Venezuelan investor and the Neme brothers who previously thought of opening a small condo project in that same area, Natura, but changed gears when the other investors came along. Obviously, the crying hasn’t stopped since. The community was outraged, and that outrage is what spurred Aruba Birdlife Conservation into action, creating the current Rescata Nos Baranca campaign.

The campaign in the form of a petition is being circulated now, it is addressed to the Prime Minister of Aruba – who lamentably only marches to his own music – and you should sign it too because we need more birds, less buildings, less bridges!

The campaign was launched September 3, 2016, with the goal of collecting 5,000 signatures. That goal was reached within a few days, and it will go on through October, hopefully obtaining at least 10,000 signatures.

SENSE OF URGENCY – Aruba Birdlife Conservation recently filed four court cases, a few against the government and one against a developer, regarding a condo on Eagle Beach, Azure, that had already reached the seventh floor! Aruba’s government most probably granted all necessary permits,  but Aruba Birdlife Conservation aims at proving to the judge that construction in taking place on what was previously classified as green land. The verdict will be handed down on September 21st. It will be interesting to see if construction will be halted or allowed to continue. My bet is, allowed to continue, in view of what happened in Malmok where the MinInfra changed the designation of terrain, just like that, hocus pocus!

FYI:  Regretfully, to date, bird wildlife is not protected in Aruba. According to Aruba Birdlife Conservation, the following areas should receive a special status of protection, and become part of Aruba’s Arikok National Park: The California Dunes, Salinja Tierra del Sol (IBA), Salinja Malmok, Salinja Palmbeach, Bubaliplas (IBA), Sero Teishi, Spaans Lagoen (Ramsar Wetland Area), Mangel Halto, Rooi Bringamosa, Rooi Taki, Rooi Manoonchi, Reef Islands Oranjestad (IBA), all mangrove areas, Rooi Lamunchi, Salinja Sabaneta, Reef Islands San Nicolas (IBA) and a strip of land alongside the coast of Seroe Colorado.

As you can see, four of these areas, are already recognized internationally, as Important Bird Areas (IBA) also Ramsar, the International Convention on Wetlands, recognized a few areas on the island as valued and important. Now it’s the government’s turn to do the same.

Incidentally, there are 254 species of birds registered for Aruba. From 2010 to date, no less than 18 new species of birds have been observed here.

Yellow Mellow

My English speaking readers who live in Aruba are probably anxious to hear what happened to the lowlife nicknamed Yellow, a career criminal and a gang member who in December last year fired 5 shots from a borrowed firearm at the Old Mill hell-hole of a nightclub, shooting two of the bouncers, one fatally, the other, severely.

The defiant Yellow if you recall then remained fugitive for two months until he was apprehended, in one of the island’s neighborhoods, where he was hiding. The local Police sent him to chill in St. Martin, in a jail cell on the neighboring island for fear of his life in prison in Aruba.

So last week he was brought back to the island for his trial, and was given the full protection of the law, and the careful examination of facts. The prosecutor requested an 18 year sentence for this upright, model citizen and a 2 year sentence for the equally bright nitwit whose gun he used, and who is on trial for possession of a firearm.

M.T. “Yellow” R.v.d.B and his colleague R.v.d.B. took long in court, saying little, mostly monosyllabic grunts, they also shook their heads a lot, in front of a full tribune, occupied by grief-stricken family members of their victims, under special security arrangements.

I am not going to burden you with the sad details, but the judge ruled murder, none pre-meditated for Yellow, who shot bouncer Dabian in the chest and back on December 7th, and attempted murder for shooting Aru Montes in the neck. The families did not want to sue for any damages. And Yellow announced that he is disinterested in coming back to Aruba for sentencing. Good, it saves this country some money!

According to newspaper reports here, the judge received an education about gang life and a gang named Blood, he also learned about fire arms, drinking, drugging, and fighting, the dubious art of tattoo, violent confrontations, while all Yellow could say was that these people got in the way of his bullets, and that he was attacked by the bouncer for no good reason at all.

This case shook the local community and kept citizen here up nights, worried, until the arrests were made.

I am saddened that an island as sweet and as peaceful as Aruba could possibly raise a worthless moron like that.


DOWN IN HOUSTON, TEXAS, the police department has issued a leaflet entitled “Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children.” Here they are, as printed in the local Chamber of Commerce publication, “Business”;

  1. Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.
  2. When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cute. It will also encourage him to pick up “cuter phrases” that will blow off the top of your head later.
  3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is 21, and then let him “decide for himself.”
  4. Avoid the use of the word “wrong.” It may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
  5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around – books, shoes, clothes. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.
  6. Let him read any printed matter he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but don’t worry about his mind feasting on garbage.
  7. Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they will not be too shocked when the home is broken up later.
  8. Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his. Why should he have things as tough as you did?
  9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.
  10. Take his part against neighbors, teachers, policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.
  11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize to yourself by saying, “I never could do anything with him!”
  12. Prepare yourself for a life of grief. You’ll surely have it.

You know that everything has an “official” and “unofficial” version right?

The Official Version:

Congratulations to the Ministry of Tourism on an excellent Happiness 360 conference in a decked out Convention Center, with interesting speakers, dazzling audio visuals, live streaming, in short all the bells and whistles.

The Minister of Tourism spoke very well, told the crowd how wonderful we are, as did the Prime Minister, delivering a solid vision, an inspirational talk about Aruba, a five star destination with five star medical care and five star educations. He spoke ad lib, no teleprompter.

Then the CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority welcomed dignitaries and concluded the opening remarks, with a big statement about the importance of a destination development plan. I am not sure if Aruba has one or not, but the graphics were outstanding!

Invited VIP Taleb Rifai, the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization spoke softly and intelligently about tourism, what a serious business it is and complimented the MinTour, the MinPres and ATA’s CEO on everything including the color of their shoes. Dr. Robert Waldinger, a famous TED speaker, educated us about what’s important in life, then I had to go to work, and when I returned Richenel Ansabo, spoke about culture and tourism, warning against the quest for anything ‘authentic,’ because that word and the concept excludes immigrant cultures, and recently adopted trends. He was especially critical about “Made in Haiti Souvenirs” stamped Aruba!

The unofficial version, I asked friends for some feedback!

Friend #1: Many of the hotel people were not there because faced with overwhelming challenges they had to stay at work, avoiding the expensive Mutual Admiration Society Fest, and the annual Blow-Your-Own-Horn show.

Friend #2: Eyes were rolling when the MinPres rhapsodized about five-star education and five-star health care, really?? Half of what he said was simply not anchored in reality.

Friend #3: The whole conference opening was flowery and over-congratulatory, as the MinTour, the MinPres, the ATA CEO and the Secretary General, slapped each other on the back, indulging in self-praise.  It’s simply unjustified. When you look at the regional statistics, Aruba’s not that hot.

And look around you, the economy here is suffering.

Friend #4: Basically, we didn’t learn anything new. This cheesy reminder that “material things” don’t make us happy, we know … and then a woman with a bunch of unrelated anecdotes, I also saw her on YouTube, she is a popular speaker, travelling the world to advocate the “Other Accommodations,” which ATA now supports in the name of Sharing Economy, the latest buzzword . . .

Friend #5: And this other BORING Cruise Tourism speaker, putting the room to sleep with a bunch of unrelated figures…maybe the hotel people are all tired of hearing the same thing over and over again, and seeing the bureaucrats talk more than listen?

Friend #6: They missed the opportunity to discuss the latest global trend, as manifested in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Venice and New Orleans where local people are starting to express anti-tourism sentiments, worried about over development, and their quality of life, as manifested here last week in the petition circulated, “Prime Minister of Aruba: stop nature destruction in Aruba,” and in recent law suits of neighborhoods against developers and the government in Salina Cerca and Malmok.

Friend #7: People who come to Aruba want to just stay on the beach, eat and drink; they don’t care about Culture, Museums, or Heritage, they want a clean beach, clear water, safety for their rental car, good restaurants, reliable WIFI. Stop spending so much money on secondary items, just clean the beach, clean the streets, improve service, encourage culinary excellence, protect nature, that is the “short list,” please stick to it! How is it that we don’t have a single beach cleaner on the government payroll, when this is the #1 reason why people come to Aruba???

A column addressed at the MinJust

Of course it is ironic that our most violent day, to date, unfolded parallel to the Happiness 360 conference, and no one said anything about it, during that propaganda event. We are respectful of the MinTour and did not want to ruin his toot-your-own-horn show.

As you know, a home in Wayaca was compromised on Tuesday, details are sketchy, it’s still mystery, since nothing was stolen, but the violent incident resulted in the tragic death of a woman, shot dead, 3 bullets, during the confrontation. Her husband, shot once, was taken to the hospital, and he is in stable condition. As usual, the Police will not specify — was it a botched robbery, was it a home-invasion, debt elimination mafia style, an underworld transaction, they aren’t coming forth with detailed information!

They did announce, however, that an autopsy will be performed by a pathologist from Curacao who will get here next week. That is peculiar. Autopsy?! What will it reveal? That she died of three gun shots?!

And I keep asking myself and some of my friends, why would the lawbreakers shoot the lady? Did she recognize them? Isn’t taking her jewelry and money enough? Why was a couple of local merchants, members of the Chinese community, living in a sleepy middle class neighborhood, be targeted?

No one is talking.

The following is clear. We need a helicopter. The local authorities must have a helicopter. When the incident unfolded, Aruba had to call their neighbors in Curacao in order to get a chopper up in the air and looking for the couple’s car which was later found with traces of blood, leading to the theory that perhaps one of the perpetrators is wounded.

We also must restore the functionality of our radar. As an island we are very vulnerable, and we have a blind spot, around Seroe Colorado, where most of the illegals come in. I understand the radar is considered a MEP initiative and as such relegated to oblivion. This is a ridiculous policy. While the North coast of the island enjoys some coverage the South-Western part is completely exposed, and criminals take full advantage of that.

Customs: Our Police must again collaborate with Customs to control our waters. Any fishing boat leaving Aruba could come back in with a cargo of firearms and illegals, and no one is checking. There is zero control on the water. Customs, wake up!

Our jail is falling to pieces, eaten by salt, on the cliff at the edge of the sea. Even if we caught these illegals we would have no place to safely and humanely hold them, until we find out where they came from, and which country we could deport them too. We really need a modern jail facility.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: We must crack down on illegality. My friends report that perhaps 20.000 so called tourists, whose visas are now expired, never left the island in recent months. No one is checking. No one is knocking on doors to kindly ask illegals to leave, better yet, escort them to the airport. Instead, many subcontractors are hiring illegals, below market price, put them to work, and in some cases, the authorities are asked to process work and residency permits for them. It should be against the law, if you are illegal, you have to leave, no residency and work permit for you!

Also cardinal: Set up a government committee to deal with the ongoing Venezuelan crisis and how it affects us, be proactive about it, don’t wait until the shit hits the fan, because it already hit it. The situation south of our border is dire, and someone should be dedicating some time to think about the implications.

That’s all for today. The community is worried, distressed, and mostly terribly disappointed with law enforcement. It took two month to apprehend Yellow, how long will it take to catch Tuesday’s offenders who are still on the lam?

 So many places to go, so much to see

This weekend is especially exciting with two great mind-broadening and soul-enriching events, namely the ATECH Conference and the Aruba Art Fair, I recommend that you connect with both, you won’t be disappointed.

The ATECH conference started yesterday at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino transforming Aruba into the Silicon Beach of the Caribbean. The conference, in its second year, added many interesting features to its program, too many to mention, visit the website NOW,, don’t be lazy nor distracted, and peruse their menu.

While the conference attracted startups from around the globe, organizers are wearing “We The Beach People” tee shirts, by local minimalist artist Ashlin Ahlip, Tangerine, who created a  documents/ laptop sleeve with front pocket for keys and phone, for the conference.

Wednesday night, White Modern Cuisine had all invited speakers for dinner. Caribbean Night was hosted by ATECH founders Tristan Every, Rudy Croes, and Valerie Croes, who mix their entrepreneurial skills with technology in order to advance business on the island; Rudy states it is the ATECH goal to teach every business on the island to apply technology and prosper.

Then Thursday was a good day, with twelve different sessions focusing on topics such as innovation, business, marketing, and professional development. The workshops were taught by local and international thought-leaders, with our own Diederik Kemmerling and Elaine Voorderhaak who gave an Online Persuasion workshop teaching how to influence online visitors to buy, book or reserve.

Today, Friday? I will visit and report. The conference invited students to attend, including some ISA high school students, free of charge, super nice!

The Aruba Art Fair hosted a cocktail reception at the Wet Bar at Paseo Herencia on Wednesday night bringing all artists together. It was a pleasant evening under the stars. The artists have been here for over a week working hard on amazing pieces of art, that are here to stay, so please dust off your passports and take a trip to San Nicholas that has been transformed in many ways this week, I am sure you already saw pictures of the astounding iguana by a visiting junk artist, and the amazing fish, by an Aruban muralist, Robert.

Basically there is a lot to see in San Nicholas, many building experienced an artistic takeover, and in its first edition, the Art Fair exceeded all expectations, it presented an ambitious program, by local organizers Tito Bolivar and Diana Croes, and fueled by the inspirations of invited artists delivered above and beyond.

It took the local community of San Nicholas a bit by surprise, but they will be prepared next year for the second edition of the Aruba Art Fair. I am looking forward to a great evening tonight on the street where fashion meets art.

One question remains: Why did they remove the lovely, old, Evelino Fingal mural from Cas Di Cultura if in principle they are all for murals?? It could have should have been restored!

Fashion Meets Art in San Nicholas, Fabulously

If you weren’t there last night, you missed. We were treated to a flawless night in San Nicholas under the full moon, as main-street was transformed into a fashion runway with the anticipating crowd seated on both sides, immersed in sound, light and color.

Local designer Gigiola Gomez opened the show with more than a dozen pieces, two different sets of dresses, one in green and black colorblocks, the other in red and green dominated print. She presented a variety of versions with the same fabrics, mostly long gowns with elegant silhouettes and unique feminine features, ruffles, high slits, wings and cutouts, reminiscent of the glamorous Halston heritage gowns. The emcee reported her collection was travelling to New York for another fashion show this morning. Gigi came out with her models at the end of her segment wearing her own design, emerald green pants made of grass-like fabric.

The second designer, Eliza Lejuez, showed off her silk screened scarves. The models, wearing basic black dresses had the scarves wrapped every which way, with the pattern projected on the giant screen behind them. Eliza borrowed her lexicon of colors and shapes from ancient Indian rock drawings and petroglyphs, making the visual materials authentic Aruban.

David Paulus, a previously unknown designer on the island, hails from neighboring Curacao and is self taught and self supporting in his quest for Art Fashion. His show was delightfully entertaining as he used colors, fabrics and shapes deliberately to create a whimsical theatrical effect, like he was redesigning the wardrobe for an Alice in Wonderland movie production in the tropics. For the last round his models came our prancing waving balloons on a stick, transforming the street into a kaleidoscope of shapes and forms in motion.

The fashion show funny intermission featured a group of actors dressed as clowns, dragging suitcases stuffed with discarded carnival costumes and hats. They littered the street with their junk, fishing a model out of a giant trash can, dressing her up, then picking two of the spectators, dressing them all up too, and parading them for a mock fashion show, which the crowed appreciated. They left after packing up their belonging, including a model, into the trash can, dancing on their way out.

Atelier Dore was next in line presenting spectacular pieces of handcrafted jewelry. The models all dressed in white served as backdrops to spectacular “Jewelry from another world,” by husband and wife team from Surinam known as Atelier Zilver, a family business since 1955, crafting one of a kind pieces with semi precious stones and silver. The show was incredible spectacular.

The shock effect of the last exhibitor overshadowed the handbags at first, when Madariaga and Benjumea two very talented local artists presented their collection of one of a kind satchels, and bags. The models, both male and female, encased in skin colored spanks, and brown fabric funnels on their heads carried the unique oversize bags, made of leather with ethnic trimmings, up and down the street, with dignity and poise, and it took me a while to recover and actually look at the bags. The finale featured a kind of stretcher, carried in by four, practically naked young man, with a slender woman sprawled on top, with two of the bags hanging from her outstretched arms. I don’t remember the bags. I remember the wow.

Dinner on the square and an auction followed. Dinner was prepared by EPI and EPB students under the direction of the island’s best chefs, Erwin Husken, Screaming Eagle, prepared the first amuse, Peruvian Shrimp Causa; Patrick van der Donk, of Amuse Sunset Restaurant, created the second amuse, lollypop Goat Cheese Surprise; then we enjoyed Grouper Roulade with Salmon by Gerard Coste, Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino; a Tropical Goat Stoba, by Darren Romero, Marriott Aruba Resort & Casino, and the main course, Sirloin a la Ritz Carlton by Stephen Toevs. The dessert, a light and creative sweet, won the previous dessert competition held among Aruba’s culinary students. The winning team, under the direction of chef Ever Pena, Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa enjoyed compliments for their tasty creation.

The auction emceed by Diana Croes, concluded a most enjoyable evening. Diana invited some of the visiting artists to report on their experience in Aruba, also inviting her son and colleague Tito Bolivar, to sum up his impressions from an organizer’s point of view. The capable mother and son duo put in many man-hours to create an excellent event for Aruba, following the vision of the MinTour to make San Nicholas the center of art and culture on the island. Our sincere compliments on a mission accomplished.


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September 18, 2016
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
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster