Sint Maarten Government Implodes, Dutch Funding Remains Unclear as Recovery Comes to a Crossroad

What in the hell is going on in Sint Maarten? Nearly two months removed from the most devastating storm in the history of the island, Sint Maarten’s government continues to unravel. And there is no sign that the situation will improve anytime soon.

Indeed, the current government, led by Prime Minister William Marlin, has shown complete and utter incompetence in their handling of nearly every detail since Hurricane Irma hit the island. So it’s no surprise to hear that Parliament logged a vote of no confidence on Thursday.

On Friday, Marlin fought back like a spoiled child when he submitted a national decree to dissolve Parliament and hold elections in January. These are the actions of a selfish man concerned only with his personal future, which, regardless of the outcome of this tantrum, is bleak.

The people of Sint Maarten have endured the wrath of destruction waged by Irma, only to now be enduring the wrath of political incompetence. It’s hard to say which is worse. To continue to subject the people, the entire community of the island, to this nonsense is reckless.

Marlin could have accepted the rebuke and agreed to step down. Instead, he chose the nuclear option. And, to make matters worse, the Governor of Sint Maarten signed the decree submitted by Marlin. So what exactly does all of this mean?

The Netherlands has voiced their concern over how this situation is unfolding, while showing their support for the actions of Parliament and their vote in favor of the resignation of Marlin. All indications from The Hague are that these actions by Marlin continue to hold up desperately needed relief funding from the Dutch.

The Dutch have stated that they do not want a new government in place in Sint Maarten, nor do they think that now is the time to hold elections. Imagine trying to hold elections in a community where people have no homes, no roofs, little food, no jobs, and no support from the government. It’s not only impractical, it’s gross negligence, fraud in the face of adversity.

Funding remains at a standstill, which means that the recovery and rebuild efforts can’t totally get underway. The longer the recovery takes, the more local citizens will continue to suffer. Without rebuilding, tourism won’t come back anytime soon. That means people will have to leave the island in order to survive. The entire future of Sint Maarten, as dramatic as that may sound, is truly at risk here.

For now, the Dutch continue to stand by as observers to this political and humanitarian disaster. Is it possible for the Dutch to come in to Sint Maarten and take over control of the country? I’m not going to pretend to know the answer to that question, but it’s clear that should be an option that the Kingdom of the Netherlands should be actively discussing.

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Jon Strong

I am a U.S. citizen living in Phoenix, Arizona, with my wife and two sons. My family considers Saint Martin a second home and we’ve been there countless times. We love the culture, the people, the community, and the beauty of this island. The people have always made us feel at home and welcome.

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