Published On: Mon, Sep 26th, 2016

North Korea in the Caribbean

The ‘I from Here’ mantra got a new lease on life during a broadcast of Billy D’s radio program last week when United People’s party MP Franklin Meyers tore into migrants, saying that they should not come here to tell him what to do. Meyers said that decisions will be made “by us and not by people who have come here and made St. Maarten their home.” At the same time, Meyers said that he “has nothing against anybody” leaving listeners rather confused.

Interestingly, one of those ‘migrants’, Public Health Minister Emil Lee was also present in the same broadcast, politely pointing out that Meyers’ party has taken over Cookie Bijlanie from the DP list. I am curious to see how this philosophy will translate in the way you put your list together and how a coalition would ever be put together, the minister said.

Lee said that changes will be based on the quality, the integrity and the vision and what the electorate chooses is best for the country.

Meyers came with a story about his father, born in 1923 and that his family had been on the island for 200 years. “We date back to 1723,” he said, as if this has any relevance in today’s society.

He called Minister Lee “a Johnny come lately” and said that he cannot believe that Lee has the best interest and that of his people at heart, “even if you are elected by the people of St. Maarten.”

And yup, nobody is going to change the way “Frankie Meyers feels about that” as the MP expressed it. Why would anybody want to do that anyway? We still live in a free country.

Meyers said that he “did not see a black person in the parliament of China, or the parliament of India” before adding that he does not have anything against Chinese or Indians or Americans.

Well, that remains to be seen. Of course he has something against people who are “not from here.” They cannot have a voice in St. Maarten’s destiny if it were up to him.

Maybe Minister Lee does not know Meyers very well (at least, that’s Meyers’ own observation), but we note that Meyers does not know his own constitution very well either – and that’s a tad more important.

We’ll refresh his memory with the equality articles from the constitution. Article 16; “Everyone in Sint Maarten shall be treated equally in equivalent circumstances. Discrimination on grounds of religion, belief, political persuasion, race, color of skin, sex, language, national or social origins, membership of a national minority, wealth, birth or and any other ground whatsoever is prohibited.”

And article 17: “All Dutch nationals may be appointed to public service on an equal footing.”

Also note that when Members of Parliament are sworn in, they promise to uphold the constitution. It is not possible to give that oath a twist the way MP Meyers does.

Another participant in the broadcast, whose name we could not establish, told Meyers that 70 percent of the population are migrants.

Not that it matters: we are all equal, except for MP Meyers who wants to create two classes of citizens. Those who were here since, like, 1723 and those who arrived later.

What kind of argument is this? It feels like a plea for segregation in a world where cooperation and realizing that we are all in the same boat is the only life vest we have.

Maybe Meyers ought to watch the movie A Day without a Mexican. This movie by the Mexican producer Sergio Arau is a hilarious satire that makes clear how the economy in California would come to a complete standstill if all Mexicans disappeared from the state.

A day without a migrant seems to be an apt title for a similar experiment in St. Maarten. It would show the influence of migrants on all aspects of life as we experience it today – in schools, in business, in the judicial system and even in political parties. Once everyone is gone, Meyers can peacefully follow one of his own desires and die on his knees.

Those who want to ride the ‘I from Here’ sentiment are of course welcome to it. As we stated before, we live in a free world. But to shove 70 or even 80 percent of the population aside and leave the decision making to a measly 20 to 30 percent of the ‘I from Here’ crowd does not smell a lot like democracy; it stinks like dictatorship – North Korea in the Caribbean.