Published On: Fri, Apr 24th, 2020

Louis L. Duzanson, author, election expert, dies at 71

L. Duzanson INTRO GOV launch 2000

by Lasana M. Sekou

GREAT BAY, St. Martin (April 24, 2020)—The author Louis L. Duzanson passed away in St. Martin on April 16, 2020. He was 71.

He leaves his beloved wife Oretha and many family members. He also leaves several friends and colleagues throughout the island and abroad.

Louis L. Duzanson was born on November 16, 1948, in San Nicolas, Aruba. His early schooling was completed at St. Joseph School in St. Martin, his family’s homeland. From 1966 to 1971, he studied public administration at Bestuurschool Overijssel and document management at Studiekring Overheidsdocumentatie in the Netherlands.

Between 1975 and 1991, Mr. Duzanson headed the legal affairs and archives departments for the “Island Territory of St. Maarten,” which was part of the Territory of the Netherlands Antilles. During that time he also “Functioned” as island secretary and acting island secretary.

In 1994, the career civil servant chaired the working group that investigated the commission to evaluate Dutch “higher supervision” on the territory’s government. By the late 1990s, Mr. Duzanson was head of the Facilitation (general affairs) department.

Mr. Duzanson was an advisor to government on electoral matters from 1979, and invariably well after the territory’s adjusted autonomy in 2010. Politicians, scholars, and the media often consulted this leading election expert on bureaucracy, archival searches, and government history.

Between February 2010 and February 2014, Mr. Duzanson chaired the Corporate Governance Council (CGC) in Great Bay. At the end of the first term of the five-member CGC in 2013, he said that, “Shining the spotlight on where good governance is lacking is not a popular act, but an eminently important one” for political maturity. (bearingpointcaribbean.com)

In 2000, House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) published An Introduction to Government – Island Territory of St. Maarten by Louis Duzanson. The book was launched before an audience of over 100 guests at Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

According to HNP, the book was “The first a-b-c reader written in English in St. Martin about the workings of the legislature, executive, and supervisory branches of the government of the island territory of St. Maarten.” (houseofnehesipublish.com)

In The Daily Herald of March 1, 2000, Mr. Duzanson said that, “There’s a need for English written text on St. Maarten Government.” He had “received positive feedback from the community about the book” and “hoped it will be adopted by the local schools.”

In 2003, An Introduction to Government was reprinted.

The author was “one of the most knowledgeable St. Martiners on the question of ‘What is good governance?’,” said Shujah Reiph. In 2000, Reiph had obtained a rare interview for “Consciously Lyrics” with Mr. Duzanson discussing good governance. The program will air on SOS Radio 95.9 FM, Saturday, April 25, 2020, at 12 noon.

Mr. Duzanson was known island-wide for his thorough knowledge of government history and public administration relative to the Southern part of St. Martin. Mr. Duzanson was also “loved and highly respected by all who had the privilege to work and be trained by him for decades. He was particularly skilled in document registration and archiving,” said drs. Gracita Arrindell, a former president of parliament.

“His work went far beyond the correct and timely processing of documents” or “traversing the corridors of the government … . He was generous in sharing his knowledge of past administration events. He explained the how, when and why a particular important decision was made and by whom. In this position of trust, Mr. Duzanson never compromised his integrity,” said drs. Arrindell last Monday in a press release.

Media people would probably agree that when any one of their members got hold of Mr. Duzanson he would graciously answer questions, especially about the bureaucracy and electoral system. But he was extremely self-effacing and elusive when it came to an in-depth interview about his life and career achievements.

In what might have been the closest to an early full-length interview with Mr. Duzanson, he was called “St. Martin’s ultimate civil servant” and “a man of integrity” in the St. Martin Newsday of February 13, 1998. His “initial desire … to become a French school teacher” was mentioned in the article.

Louis L. Duzanson also wrote articles on the election process that appeared in NewsdayThe St. Maarten GuardianThe Chronicle, and The Civil Server.

The hobbies of Lions Club member included baseball, and, as he once told his publisher, “reading up on legal issues and history.”

Farewell, Mr. Duzanson.

Photo caption1: Louis L. Duzanson (center, seated) with family and guests holding copies of An Introduction to Government – Island territory of St. Maarten, at the book party, PJL, 2000. (© HNP photo.)

Introduction to Government

Photo caption2: An Introduction to Government – Island territory of St. Maarten by Louis Duzanson (HNP, 2000).