Bati Bleki Weekly Recap, March 6th, 2016

ARUBA DUSHI TERA AS REDEMPTION SONG. It’s March 1st, and according to Erin Croes, the Morning Star from Magic 96.5FM, it marks the beginning of our national month, celebrating local talent, leading up to the 18th and our national day, Dia di Hymno Y Bandera, flag and anthem day. I am writing about this popular piece of news from last Thursday, because some of my overseas readers asked me by private message why Aruban musicians decided to go to NY and sing in Papiamento. So here is why: Forty local singers/musicians of diverse styles and generational affiliation — Jan Poets, a press member, reports seven generations, but he always exaggerates everything — were assembled in NY by Jonathan Vieira, to record the Aruba national Anthem on a professional sound stage with the support of a complete philharmonic orchestra.

Forty local singers/musicians of diverse styles and generational affiliation — Jan Poets, a press member, reports seven generations, but he always exaggerates everything — were assembled in NY by Jonathan Vieira, to record the Aruba national Anthem on a professional sound stage with the support of a complete philharmonic orchestra.

According to Jonathan’s interview, http://noticiacla.com/news/5168, the official recording by a Venezuelan orchestra and a local chorus from 40 years ago, sounded outdated and lackluster, the master was lost, thus he took it upon himself to present the governor of Aruba with a new sparkling version, on the 18th of March, 2016.

When Dushi Tera was introduced forty years ago, it was already a popular composition by Padu Lampe and Rufo Wever, from 1952, but with Status Aparte, on 18th of March 1976, it became the national anthem.

And incidentally, according to that same NoticiaCla interview the funds for the undertaking of the new recording were raised from private sources, and off they went in tuxedo and little black dresses, to record the optimal version of Dushi Tera in the Big Apple.

Jonathan, a child piano prodigy, who dabbles in music production and film, doesn’t have a totally successful record on the island. On the contrary, many reportedly did not get paid from his last set of concerts and his bombastic format of the Aruba Film Festival, proved unsustainable. But he is a visionary. And this is his Redemption Song. He thinks big, which we should not beat him up over. We should just take his checkbook away, but still let him come up with the plan and the fireworks.

So anyway, they went to New York with very unlikely travel companions. I cannot even picture C-Zar Olarte collaborating with Mighty Talent, Claudius Phillips, or Sharon Rose with Janiro Eisden, or Etty Toppenberg and Lord Cachete, but they did and I would like to congratulate Jonathan for that, for bringing 40 individual talents together.

The island will enjoy their cross-pollination for a long time now, because as you know nothing is new in music, it has all been done, but if you come up with a new twist, a new flavor, a new combination, you score big. And I can see that coming, for example a Biggie Boy and Edjean Semeleer project, with Mirugia de Cuba in the mix, wow.

The freshly recorded Anthem will be presented on March 18th, having been mixed and mastered, and it will make your heart flutter. I heard a lovely snippet. It strikes straight at the heart.

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NEW CONTAINER HARBOR. Congratulations to all stakeholders involved. The island’s container harbor has recently moved to Barcadera, and as a result, the large multi wheel trailers hauling those containers, which have been clogging Oranjestad for decades, now get loaded and off loaded away from the heart of town. We no longer have to wait for them while they get in and out of traffic at the entrance to the Oranjestad harbor.  How do you spell relief? You spell it Barcadrahhhh.

To make this project happen, ASTEC the company operating the harbor, and APA, the Aruba Port Authority partnered with a number of local businesses such as META CORP, determined to move the operation away from town to an area past the airport.

It took years, but it happened. Naturally, the activity of loading and discharging ships requires good logistics, and as a result of the decision to move the harbor it was agreed that ASTEC will be making the shore side investment in the new development, building docks, and offices and warehouses, buying cranes and forklifts and whatever it takes to operate the port while the Aruba Port Authority, APA, will be making the maritime investment, I am not sure what it entails but I am confident it takes a huge financial outlay to acquire anything from vessels to technology.  Fast forward to March 2016. It worked. Together, the island was given a new container harbor, with a total investment of 120 million dollars.  The shareholders, ASTEC, APA, META, increased their input, added some capital and borrowed the rest, but they made it happen. Hip Hip Hurrah.

SO….. what do we do now?! We built condos, and shopping malls and restaurants, and bars in the space cleared up along the waterside, leading into town, and we clutter the urban layout with kiosks, and flea markets, street vendors and Dr. Coco coconut water stands? Yes? No?

No! We build a park, a promenade, exercise trails, biking lanes, soccer fields, skateboarding obstacles, we improve the quality of life for people in Oranjestad, we build a super Concert Arena so that the Flip Flop festival and its pesky cousins can stay away from the beaches and entertainment may unfold in a contained, controlled environment, no pissy toilets on the beach, no empty beer cans, no cigarette butts, just pristine, clean sand, and the mess created by the festivals may be relegated to the special arena build in the old harbor.

I can dream. It’s a free country, I can fantasize, it doesn’t cost you anything!

A WORKSHOP ON HAPPINESS.  Yesterday we counted 27 unexpected cars parked along the sides of the road on Malmok. Parked is a compliment. They were sort of abandoned, in front of house #514. So I investigated on behalf of the neighborhood:  The most unusual number of cars, belonged to Aruba Tourism Authority employees on a retreat with a French self styled happiness guru, Arnaud Collery who through technology, workshops, events and films, promotes happiness in the workplace. The guru already spoke here at the TedX conference and recommended happiness, as a way of life for One Happy Island, so ATA brought him back for a retreat with its employees. They had a great time and at the end of the day enjoyed an informal happy hour on the beach, toes in the sand.  I imagine that anyone still miserable at ATA, after the workshop, will be transferred immediately to infrastructure.

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. The Hard Rock Café was closed for a number of days. I asked around, and heard they are current on their rent and seem to be doing ok lately. Then two sources confirmed that Elmar, our electric company pulled the plug for missed payments. I guess it is difficult these days to wire money from Caracas, the company’s headquarters, to Aruba. This is not a joke, I think it is serious, our electric company shut them down, for outstanding invoices. That’s quite sucky when it happens in the middle of the high season.

RUNNING INTO THE PEOPLE WITH THE BOOT POWER. I was parked today on Wilhelminastraat and received a yellow warning sticker from bored and under-employed inspector #8003, because I was “out of parking line.” I was probably out of parking line because when I parked, the vehicle in front of me was out of parking line. Yes, my car’s backside was sticking out 10cm, over the white line, so the under-employed #8003, had nothing better to do, but sticker my window. They’re really a bunch of boot-happy people. Why? Because they bought some expensive vehicles that they have to pay for. Did they go to the bank and borrowed money against their future boot income? Is that possible? “Hmmmm…my dear Javier Wolter, we expect to boot fifty tourists at $43 a pop, that’s $2.2 million over three years, there should be no problem paying back the tow-truck car loan.” I also think they are somehow in cahoots with the car rental agencies, because the car rental people should educate the tourists about paying for parking and they don’t. In general there is no effort to inform the tourists, besides the AruParking FB page is in Papiamento, exclusively. So, no grace period after the period expired, slow to respond and malfunctioning machines AND the office clerk cannot make change for a $50. But you gave ME a yellow sticker?!

 FIGO MEANS COOL. Yrausquin & Sons invited press people to take a test drive in the FORD FIGO. I dropped in a few hours before to inspect the new car, and found out it is cute and smart, and available in four models starting at Awg 27.950. The car has sufficient leg room and huge trunk space and the feature I liked most in a docking station for my phone, on the dashboard, which would allow the passenger, not the driver, to skype, watch the news, use FaceTime, and answer the phone. The new Yrausquin showroom is gorgeous, and I hear it will be officially opened at the end of the month, I hope to get an invitation. I was welcomed by two of Marcilla’s kids at work, both adult, and cute and well informed, contributing to a family-business-with-solid-succession.

The FORD FIGO was introduced five or six years ago, outside the US, and it was a big hit, competing with the Toyota Yaris and the Kia Rio. I thought the name was funny, related to the fruit, fig, and to figa, the equivalent of the finger, nah, the thumb squeezed between two fingers, the sign of rejecting an offer in middle-eastern countries, but “cool” in Italian!

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Concession made to Keep the MinTour in Government, OR March 1st Came and Went

 While he threatened to leave, he stayed. Why? Because concessions were made to accommodate the MinTour, who feels that he is the only one working in Government.

On January 6th, the MinTour announced his upcoming resignation on March 1st. And this is what I wrote at the time, just to refresh your memory: So the straw that broke the camel’s backcame yesterday in the form of an argument about Aruba’s Carnival. The MinTour, had it up to here with the ministers, so he visited the Governor to explain his point of view and declare that if by March 1st, things don’t change in the way his colleagues go about this country’s business, he will resign his post as Minister of Tourism, Culture and Tourism and Primary Sector, whatever that is. He cited nine points of dissatisfaction, which he kept to himself, as if we have no right to know. He did share with the Governor and MinPres!

That was then.

Another threat not to sign the budget, which he signed anyway, stated that his signature didn’t mean that he agreed with the figures, he just wanted to get out of parliament’s way, so deliberations may continue.

At some point The MinTour met the MinPres, and they sang Kumbaya, announcing the hatchet is buried.

That situation is typical of Aruba’s opaque politics. While it is not really clear what the nine points of dissatisfaction were AND why he did not sign the budget, we have the option to speculate, if we do not want to be left in the dark. Can somebody tell me what happened to transparency in government?

The on March 1st, the MinTour went to the Governor once again and withdrew his resignation announcing the differences were bridged and the points on his agenda, respected.

http://www.24ora.com/politica-mainmenu-18/105872-minister-otmar-oduber-na-gobernador-un-biaha-mas

What we think changed:  We think the MinPres brokered an agreement in which the MinTour will get the “All Inclusive” legislation approved by Parliament as well as the “Other Accommodations,” regulations. He will also be able to push his “Beach Policy” through, effective July 1st, 2016. He was unable to get the ministers to move on those issues before.

So concessions were made, and the MinTour would be able to pass the 3 piece of legislations close to his heart, in exchange for remaining in Parliament and keeping the government ticking.

I should mention that the Aruba Hotel Association is vehemently opposed to regulating the number of all inclusive hotels because you cannot dictate a business model to privately owned resorts. They will follow the market and offer whatever their customers want.

As for “Other Accommodations,” there is a consensus that they should all pay taxes and adhere to Product Aruba standards.

The Beach Policy? It’s yet to make an appearance. No one has seen that document, to date.

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This must be a racket. Someone will be benefiting greatly…

A recent despotic new development from our hyper-active MinInfra is a new Ministerial Order regarding Safety, and I say, if it ain’t broke why fix it??

Apparently there are about 2% incidents registered within the HORECA industry, the hospitality trade, and that was sufficient for the MinInfra to decide to bypass parliament and to issue a ministerial decree changing the Safety Ordinance.

Under ordinary circumstance when a law needs to be changed, recommendations are made by the minister, then it goes to parliament and interest groups are interviewed by the Tourism Committee, then a decision is made, however in order to BYPASS all that procedural hurdle, the MinInfra just issued a Ministerial Order.

In former years businesses with more than one hundred workers were required to have a safety official, who ensured compliance with the island’s Safety Ordinance. That person supervised equipment and venues according to safety regulations and instructions. But recently that became not good enough, and effective July 1st, 2016, businesses of 10 employees or more are required to have safety inspectors of their own, with the aim to prevent workers from getting harmed on the job.

The business community was informed that any business would be required to train such an individual for the cost of Awg 3,000 per training course. The designated Safety Inspectors will have to be accredited and registered, take measures, write risk identification and assessment reports, in triplicate, and hand them in to a government department. More paperwork. Whether you operate a law office or accounting firms, or a construction company, you are all equal in the eyes of the law, if you have more than 10 employees, you would be required to increase your cost of business, with one more salaried person….like the cost of business in Aruba is not high enough! Hopefully this new policy will end up like the beach policy, which yet has to be taken seriously.

Basically the new Ministerial Oder makes the government’s Department for Technical Inspections, DTI obsolete. Their job now, will be to manage a new army of safety inspectors, and do nothing but collect reports themselves. Effective July 1st, promoting safety in the broadest sense of the word was relegated to the private sector.

This must be a racket. Someone will be benefiting greatly from the high accreditation fees. Some cousin or relative, just opened a so-called Safety Accreditation Agency, and they will be getting rich, because the accreditation will have to be renewed annually!

 

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March 06, 2016
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
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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