Published On: Wed, May 24th, 2023

Wathey’s statue-rock symbolizes the unity of the island’s people

PHILIPSBURG – The fate of Dr. AC. Wathey’s statue has caught the attention of M Sarah Wescot-Williams, a member of parliament for the United Democrats and the leader of the resurrected Democratic Party.

Wescot-Williams is concerned about statements by Vromi-Minister Egbert Doran that the statue might have to be stored and that there are plans for a wall of heroes. “Not as a replacement for this statue,” the MP wrote in a press statement. “There are plans in the works at the Ministry of Vromi, but they cannot be revealed. So, what is it?”

Wescot-Williams has asked the minister via the parliamentary channels whether a storage facility or a permanent new location for the statue has been identified. She has the “uncanny feeling” that’ storage will become the statue’s permanent home.

Questions about the ownership of the statue have been dismissed as being irrelevant by members of the Wathey-family. “Perhaps the better question on ownership is: is it relevant?” Jason Lista wrote in answer to our questions. “Claude is inextricably woven into St. Maarten/St. Martin’s history and his statue is a historic artifact of our story as a people.”

Lista notes that the stone on which the statue stands was graciously donated by the later Dr. Hubert Petit, the former mayor of French Saint Martin. Petit made the donation once he heard about the plans to remember Claude with a statue. In doing so, Petit “recognized Wathey’s long labors in lifting both sides of the island out of a century of neglect and poverty.”

Lista remembers (because he was a part of it) that with Dr. Petit’s permission and assistance, the stone was dug from within the island’s central hills. “When we found it, luckily its natural shape made it suitable to place a statue on. The rock is special in a way because it symbolizes the unity of the island’s people: a Dutch-side leader standing on indigenous stone gifted by the French side in gratitude.”