The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

Archive for the month “March, 2013”

Investiture April 30th 2013

Niederländische Königsfamilie auf den AntillenMaximaDutch Royal Family visits  Dutch CaribbeanOn January 28th Her Majesty the Queen announced that she is to abdicate the throne. On April 30th of this year she will hand over the responsibilities to her son, the Prince of Orange.  The abdication of the Queen and the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander, the current Prince of Orange, will take place on April 30th, 2013 in Amsterdam.

Programme Outline: (local time Amsterdam, subject to change)

Abdication of Her Majesty the Queen in the Moseszaal of the Royal Palace Amsterdam. Those present will include the Presidents of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Council of Ministers for the Kingdom and members of the Royal Family, the governors and prime-ministers of Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten.

The Queen will give a short address. The Director of the Queen’s Office will then read aloud the instrument of abdication to which the Queen will then give her assent by means of her signature. Finally the instrument of abdication will be signed by the witnesses.

His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, Her Majesty Queen Máxima and Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands appear on the balcony of the Royal Palace Amsterdam. Princess Beatrix and the King will both give a short address, after which the Wilhelmus will be played. Her Royal Highness the Princess of Orange and Their Royal Highnesses Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane will then join their parents on the balcony.

Opening of the joint session of the States General, following the entry of the members of the States General, the States of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten, the Council of Ministers for the Kingdom and the Council of State.

Princess Beatrix and other members of the Royal Family proceed to the Nieuwe Kerk.

The King and the main cortege proceed to the Nieuwe Kerk.

Swearing in and investiture of the King at the joint session of the two Houses of the States General in the Nieuwe Kerk. The King will deliver an address and be sworn in. The President of the joint session, Fred de Graaf, will deliver an address and make a solemn declaration, after which members of the States General and the States of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten swear an oath or make an affirmation.

The King and his retinue proceed to the Royal Palace Amsterdam.

Reception for royal and foreign missions, dignitaries and members of the States General and the States of Aruba, Curaçao and St Maarten, Council of Ministers for the Kindom, the Council of State, governors and prime-ministers of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten and the Corps Diplomatique in the Royal Palace Amsterdam.

The Song for the King will be performed in the presence of the King and Queen, prior to the water pageant. This will take place at the EYE Film Museum via a video link with Ahoy Rotterdam.

The King and Queen will take part in a water pageant with their daughters on the River IJ. They will sail from EYE Film Institute past the Oever Park and the ‘Kop van Java’. At several places along the route they will be treated to a festive programme, including a ‘mini Sail’.

Celebration, hosted by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Council of Ministers for the Kingdom.


Argentina has scored two goals this year. First an Argentinean  Pope and now a “knockout vivacious (enough said here as I might get in trouble) Argentinean Queen of the Netherlands with three beautiful children, all girls the eldest of which HRH Princess Amalia will be a future Queen.They have all visited Saba so many times and I have been involved with them all my life they are like family. And they will be visiting Saba in November which will be a first as the “Unspoiled Queen” will be hosting a Real King and Queen for the first time.

Governments concern about water problems.

10021150The following is taken from the “Saba Herald” of January 24th, 1992:

Lt. Governor Sydney Sorton, Commissioner Roy Smith, Senator Will Johnson and Mr. Dave Levenstone held discussions at the Administration Office with Mr. John van Dyke, president of Dakota Water Systems from the U.S.A. The discussion centered around the water problem on the island. Mr. van Dyke was invited to Saba by the Executive Council. After reading an advertisement in a magazine I contacted Dakota Water Systems to find out if they would be interested in setting up a reverse osmosis water plant on Saba. The discussion with Mr. van Dyke was very fruitful, he showed much interest in the island and is willing to set up a water plant on the island at no cost at all to the government. This will be a private company doing business on the island. The government and the people of Saba will be able to purchase water from the company, with this the Executive Council feels that it will help to solve our water problems in times of drought. Mr. van Dyke has committed himself by saying that they can have the plant in operation within 120 days. They will employ Sabans to operate the plant. Last year the island experienced a heavy drought and because of this the Executive Council is willing to grant permission to any company that is willing to invest in the water business on the island. If all goes well Saba might have its first reverse osmosis plant by the middle of 1992.”

Before that in the early nineteen hundreds the government built a cistern next to the church on Hell’s Gate. Later on a large cistern was built next to the then Government Administration Building in The Bottom. Both of these cisterns are still in use. In the early nineteen fifties then contractor Lionel Bernard Scot built two cisterns, one in Windwardside and one in the Hillside in The Bottom, both of which have undergone repairs and made bigger (the one in The Bottom) and are still being used. Along the roads in Hell’s Gate and also towards the Well’s Bay several government cisterns have been built by the Saba government in recent years which come in very handy. Plans are for more cisterns to be financed by the European Union. All of these projects are initiated by the Saba Government and have to be fought for to get the funding and to have the plans executed. In recent years licenses were issued to Sabans to operate privately owned reverse osmosis plants.

Under the Administration Building there is a cistern which can hold one hundred thousand gallons and under the home for the aged and the hospital there is capacity for one hundred and fifty thousand gallons. With a large roof system under normal circumstances those facilities hardly run out of water even though with permanent guests, much laundry and so on, they use a lot of water. As a private enterprise whether a hotel is German or from Timbuktu they cannot lay back and act as if the government is supposed to perhaps even deliver water free of charge to their doors. If water is not enough then build another large cistern and it will fill up during the rainy season, but private companies cannot sit back and blame the government for everything. These days as never before private enterprise means just that. No taxes, no community service, no generosity towards the poor, but blame government for everything. Perhaps the government should put the old Income Tax system back in place and do not give complete freedom from taxes for private enterprises. Last year I again paid close to $50.000.– in Income Tax alone. Anyone did better than that I challenge them to show how much they paid, how many indigenous Sabans they have employed, which Foundations are they or their families volunteering on and in general open up to the “other” people living here as to what you are doing other than complaining about the government all the time. Shape up or ship out is something to consider.CIAO


Plans in the making for New Home For the Aged

Sometime back I put some thoughts on Facebook on the need for the relocation of the Home For the Aged to where one could get “A room with a view”. A good number of people responded in a positive way. I decided then to follow up with a letter to  the foundations in charge of the hospital and the Home.

I immediately got a positive response and the ball started to roll. This past week on Wednesday the 27th, the two Foundations invited me to attend their meeting. Mr. Marcel van Bevaran a planner from the company Royal Haskoning gave a positive presentation to all those present and a recommendation to go for the idea which I had presented.

Of course it will require time and money to achieve this, but in the end Saba would have a much better and larger hospital and a Home for the Aged in a location where they will not think they are in a half way house waiting only on death. Last Saturday I was there in the Home. Frieda Caines was celebrating her birthday. I sat with Irene Granger(100) who is sharp as a tack and visited others who are there. They are treated well, but I can see that in a new location with a view, some trees and a place to plant a few vegetables, raise a couple of yard fowls and so on they would be more happy.

The two boards agreed to move ahead and to engage an architect to start the planning. The land is government land and the road leading to it is a government road, so no need to ask permission from anyone and Commissioner Bruce Zagers has already pledged his cooperation to transfer the land as to make this project possible.

People in the community look at perhaps the land might be too steep and so on. With money everything is possible. Some weeks ago I stayed in a condominium on Aruba for a great price. My greatest enjoyment was to sit on the verandah and watch the broad river passing by with no less than FOUR waterfalls. There were all kinds of ducks and other birds and even a Pelican would fly in at times and dive down to catch a fish. You will be saying to yourself: A river on Aruba? Yes. It is all part of the golf course next to the hotel. The “river” flows around the property and has a couple of small lakes. One with a tree growing in it in which the birds nest.It is situated where the old Shell “Eagle” refinery used to be. My taxi driver Michael Johnson (Gabo’s great grandson) told me even that when they were building the golf course they came across a number of old barrels of oil still in the ground from the days of the refinery back in the nineteen thirties.

So with the home, they can scoop out the watercatchment area of the present cistern, build underneath another cistern and parking garage. From the parking garage two elevators can take you up one or two floors and on top of all that a new U shaped Home can be built with nice gardens etc. The public area can have the dining room and a large 15 to 20 foot wide verandah facing the town and the sea, and Voila, there you have it. So let us all think positive and contribute where we can to make this a reality.

I was impressed with the professional way Dr. Blauwboer handled the meeting and how positive all those present from the two Foundations were with this idea and they agreed to move forward with the next stage and that is to get a good architect who knows the Caribbean to start making the plans and then to look for the necessary funding. Also I want to thank them for inviting me to their meeting and allowing me to put my two cents worth of ideas forward.Think positive. Think “Yes we can” and it will happen.


The government owned land runs from the main road through “New Town” includes the cisterns and goes up past Tara Ground into the Mountain. The Road leading to the Government owned cisterns is a Public Road built when I was Commissioner so the Foundations have a big head start there already to achieve the goal of a new Home For the Aged. Wish them well.

Saba in the sixty finalists for the Oranje Fonds Kroonappels

We just received this official communication …


Geachte heer Will Johnson ,

U heeft ons gevraagd om u op de hoogte te houden van het verloop van de Zoektocht naar de Oranje Fonds Kroonappels. Inmiddels zijn de 60 finalisten bekend, u vindt hen op Uit iedere provincie zijn er tenminste drie finalisten, kijk dus snel of dit organisaties zijn die u kent of die misschien wel uw favoriet waren.

Op 18 april strijden de finalisten tegen elkaar, aan het eind van de dag zijn de drie winnaars bekend. We sturen u op 19 april een mail met de uitslag. Indien u wilt kunt de actie ook verder volgen via Twitter of via Facebook.

Mocht u meer willen weten over wat het Oranje Fonds nog meer bij u in de buurt ondersteunt, kijkt u dan eens op Via een zoekfunctie ziet u dan precies wat we steunden in uw provincie. Dank voor uw interesse in de Oranje Fonds Kroonappels en op 19 april hoort u meer van ons.

Met vriendelijke groeten,

Ronald van der Giessen
directeur Oranje Fonds

Oranje Fonds (SM)

Oneigenlijke Taak

8e12cee83e8e365efce99d375901387838f5563bd05cd9dac0854d8e61cfc281543b2ee4651da477deb8fab46a4ca7beb04d8cf42be3c3d90d5732eb2dbccd23Image (355)Image (590)Image (465)5a74e84fad22c8d542e5f099c4a822940fb0fd8bc156602e6cd2319af02f713bImage (534) In one of my Dutch dictionaries the translation is “improper use or task”. Some of the dictionairies do not even carry this translation.
When I was a young civil servant the “stone-wall politicians” (here on Saba that means politicians whose biggest achievements have been sitting on the walls criticzing the caravan of progress as it has moved along during the past fifty years), used to claim that my brother Eric had five jobs. So did a couple of other civil servants. Eric’s main job was head of the Finance department (fls.95.– yes NINETY FIVE guilders per month). His other jobs which I can remember were Court Recorder (Griffier) fls.10.– (ten guilders) per month, Conservator of Mortgages (fls.10.– per month), Island Secretary substitute, no compensation, as this was considered as an extension of his job as head of the finance department, Island Registrar no compensation as this was considered part of his regular job, and I could go on and on. Eugenius Johnson and Kenneth Peterson also had several functions under the same conditions. Major Osmar R. Simmons was also Fire Chief for which he received fls.10.– per month, besides that he had to deliver letters on behalf of the Lt. Governor, drive big shots around and so on, check on those who had to pay license fees for bars/restaurants (not many back then) and also license fees for motor vehicles.Police even fed the poor on the birthday of Her Majesty the Queen and so on. The police officers job was an HONOUR job for those who were privileged to join the force.
All of a sudden things started to change. The Police Unions on Curacao decided that the Police were being saddled with what they considered “improper use” of their function. And after that less and less was done. Now
I understand that checking on people who did not pay their car license fee is an “oneigenlijke taak” and does not fall under the Police Force any longer but under the Tax department. On Palm Sunday while parading to the church we were checking on a number of cars passing by with no stickers which also means that the cars are not insured. What a thing. The Tax Department certainly knows my address, so it seems strange that they don’t know who paid from who did not. And if one is driving along with no sticker and no insurance on the motorvehicle then that qualifies in my book as breaking the law. What then remains for the Police Department to do if even breaking the law is not considered something the police should be checking on??
Collecting taxes and supervising the functioning of the Police Force is a responsibility of the Dutch Government. I will send in a letter to the competent authority to send me a list for publication of those who have paid and who have not paid their car license fee and send it to the competent Minister to find out why no one seems to be bothered about this on the Police Force. And if it is an “oneigenlijke taak” contract it out to one of the complainers and give them 25% of the fee to collect.
Other things which have changed are the following. When I was a boy we boys were dead scared of especially Police Officer Lester Peterson when he was on patrol. If we were playing marbles, or “batting ball” one boy was on the lookout to see if Lester was on patrol. If he was we took to the hills. Lester did not fool around. His salary was probably fls.75.–(yes seventy five) guilders per month. In Windwardside you also had Austin, Harry and Harold Johnson. In The Bottom there were Jeremiah Leerdam, Clement Sorton and later Major Osmar R.Simmons, all of them dedicated police officers. Later on we had people like Police Officer Josepha who for years was a one man police force. Josepha would pick you up take you to The Bottom and put his belt on you after which you could try and walk it back to Windwardside. No abuse mind you. Just carrying out his job like the soldier in the United States who became chief of police and brought crime under control in his town with a baseball bat. For the small salary people were happy to even have a job, but when they did they did what they were supposed to do and did not let some Curacao union decide that they were being used improperly. When the British owned the world they would look for certain qualities in the people they governed and used those qualities in other countries. The people of Goa in India were considered very honest. You could entrust your money to them and come back ten years later and they could give account of every cent. So these people were used in all their colonies in Africa as Treasurers. The Sikh men are known to be excellent Police Officers and act impartial when having to do their jobs. If you deserve a fine you can bawl or plead but the Sikh police officer whether in Hong Kong, Durban or any part of the British Empire would write out your fine and tell you where to go and pay.
If Saba was independent it would be something to consider to hire a few Sikh police officers, people who like Lester Peterson and the old Saba police officers who were not afraid to carry out their duty. There were no motor vehicles back then, but I am sure if there were they would not be driving around without insurance or having paid their license fees. This is a once-a-year issue. I still feel that the Police Force should be checking on motor vehicles which have no stickers as that means they have no insurance and it is against the law to be on the road. That definitely is a task of the Police Force. Please get on the job and move this issue aside so that people can move on to other subjects. Amen.

Dry Weather Stories

It is not unusual around my house to get news making phone calls. I cannot remember what year it was, but I was busy taking some water from a cistern in a pail by gravity to water my plants. One of my children ran down where I was busy and said: “Daddy, Mammie says to come quick, the Queen is on the phone.” “The Queen,” I said! Well better go see who it is. “Which Queen,” I called out on my way up to the house? My wife asked:”How many Queens do you know?” Picked up the phone and indeed it was the office of Her Majesty. Not the lady in person, mind you, but her office. They were calling to make plans for a visit she was going to make to the islands and needed some input from me as to who they could put on the committee. Two days later some Dutch people who were staying in the apartment, came and informed me that they were out of water. It was then that I remembered “The Queens” call and realized that in the midst of dryweather I had let a whole cistern of water run away. I was handicapped that I could not blame the government either as I was the Government so I had to nurse my wounds quietly and back then there was no Internet much less Facebook.Should I have blamed the Queen?
The months from December down to April and sometimes going down to August can be dry to extremely dry here on Saba. When in government I was extremely worried when dry weather would set in knowing that there would be a class of people who would blame the government. I became like the prophet Samuel who prayed for drought relief and sent his servant up in the mountain to see if there was anything on the horizon. The servant came back with the news that there was a little cloud in the distance no bigger than his fist. So Samuel kept praying and each time the servant was sent up the mountain as a weather observer to report back. Finally the rains came and there was relief.Now I am not a Bible expert though most politicians seem to be experts in that field, so if it was not Samuel feel free to correct me.
I remember hearing a story about my grandfather James Horton Simmons. No, not the one when his cow went over the cliff on Hell’s Gate. He said that if Agnes (his wife) had gone over the cliff he could get another wife, but where was he to get another cow? No, this one is about the time in a heavy dry weather he went down to the Spring Bay to bring up a tub of water and found that the spring was dry. Now Horton had a voice that carried for miles. Willie Johnson told me once that when Horton was cleaning someone’s yard in Windwardside and you were up in the Mountain planting you thought there was a riot or something going on with the amount of noise. Turns out it would only be Horton talking to himself while working. The spring had not gone dry. A landcrab had ended up in the intake and blocked the water flow. People in Hell’s Gate thinking something had happened to Horton ran down to Spring Bay. Horton was crying because he worried that the whole of Saba was going to die. In those days not everyone could afford a cistern. Those cisterns next to the church on Hell’s Gate belong to the Government. They were built to help the people there in times of drought. Saba has more water storage capacity now than ever. Here in The Level some people have cisterns of up to forty five thousand gallons.
The truth of the matter is that water is being used more than ever now on Saba. The Government has done their part, giving licenses to private persons to start water plants, restoring the watercatchments up in the hill, building large cisterns under the Government Administration building, the Hospital and so on. Also one of the last projects I did before leaving office was to build another reservoir at the Fort Bay. This drought is affecting the entire Caribbean. But rain will come as surely as death follows life and life comes after death in reincarnation if you wish or in the birth of a new child. So don’t despair, hope is near and yes news is that the government did not start the dry weather. My God, what a thing!! I say to myself what type of idiotic statement is that. Better you shut up and be considered stupid than to write on Facebook and let people know that you are stupid. No one worries more about a drought than conscientious people in Government. We have young, educated people in government. Be thankful for that and don’t wear them down with stupid criticism. CIAO.

Substitute Notary Appointment

Image (240)Image (245)Image (243)We just received the good news that my son Theodore Reuben Johnson has been appointed by the Government of Aruba as Substitute Notary as of tomorrow. This is just part of the legal procedure for him to become full fledged Notary soon. In the meantime he can start his own office and function already as Notary. That stage is in progress already and he can start taking clients anytime now. He is off to a fresh start in life being his own boss.

It has not been made easy for him but the joy of his being appointed overides all stress and inconveniences and obstructions in his path. He will be the first Notary Johnson on Aruba and his English speaking clients just seeing the name will want to take a chance with him and let him do their business for them.

He was the first born Saban who grew up on Saba and who graduated in the prestigeous Law school of Leiden University with two Masters Degrees in 1998. He was only 23 years old and started working the following month already. He has a Masters in Civil Law and a Masters in Notarial Law which in the Napoleonic Code is a special study. His appointment is for life with mandatory resignation at the age of sixty. That will probably change to 65 in future.

After working in The Netherlands for awhile and taking extra courses he then moved to St.Maarten and worked there for awhile and then moved to Aruba and has worked there since. Teddy is an all rounder. He is about to publish his book on research on the sayings of Saba, “Oh me Allyou” and all of that and in interviews with the old timers he has garnered quite a lot of information for the book. Teddy attends all funerals, baptisms, births, weddings and anything to do with Saba on Aruba. The Saba people there all know him and have nothing but praise for the way he moves around with people. He is also wellknown in the business community and is a Member in high standing of the Kiwanis Club. He has done work for many of the largest companies in Aruba while working for other Notaries. Now he will have to build up his own clientele, but I am certain that he will make it. I am sure that his many friends in the Windward Islands will be glad to hear this good news and that is the reason why I am posting this.

These photo’s are from the day of his graduation before the four examiners with friends and family looking on. One of the examiners told him “Just because your friends and family are here do not think we are going to hand out two diploma’s to you just like that.” The lady also wondered why he as a Scotsman would want to study Dutch law. He admitted that he was a Scotsman via a long four hundred year sojourn on the small Dutch Caribbean island of Saba.Image (242)

And so today his family and friends can be proud that he will now begin his own career on Aruba and we praise God. As I said of all my children as quoted from the book of Samuel:” I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me my petition.” AMEN.


I read on Facebook where the businesman the Hon. Don Hughes said of the situation on St.Maarten that it seemed like many young people do not have a conscience anymore. I would add to that:'” Just like their parents.” I often wonder what sort of an agenda some people have. While ambition is a great thing, greed, hatred, and envy are not. When I read statements made on Facebook by certain people I often say to myself:” I wonder if that person has any kind of conscience.” Is it all about me? People who are wealthy, acting as if they are among the poor. Screaming holy murder about taxes they are not even paying, yet willing to jump on the healthcare bandwagon. Passing their jealousy and hatred on to their children by spewing out their hatred for others at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table and as bedtime stories to their children. Fantasized grievances, figments of their imagination, against others especially those in Government are passed on to their children this way. What foolish people I often think to myself when I read statements, or unsigned letters to the Editor and all I can attribute this attitude to is a lack of conscience. I once had the good fortune to win the Lottery. Paid for my ticket for years mind you. You should have heard the hatred spewed out in my direction by in some cases people who I had been a great benefactor to directly and indirectly. One person with a conscience was the exception. I had done legal work for the person who said that once the case was closed I would be paid. A few days after I had arrived back on the island the person stopped me and said:”Now that you are rich I guess you don’t need the money I owe you.” We had a joint bank account. He handed me the bankbook and told me what amount to take for myself. I used that money to continue my anonymous charity in the community.

Conscience also includes service to your fellow human beings. I know how people formerly used to come forward without being asked to find out if you needed help. You better have money nowadays if you need help. My greatest concern is that people who should know better and have considerable means live like envious, jealous morons constantly agitating against those who make much personal sacrifices in the community, and passing on all this to their children.

As Don said, the lack of a conscience leads to theft, murder and withdrawal from the community and evading your responsibilites by not paying taxes, but demanding police protection while you or one or more of yours are sometimes the biggest headache for the community. I have been around long enough to realize that what goes  around comes around and this lack of conscience will come home to roost eventually in your children and grandchildren.  Better do some soul searching and ask yourself if you perhaps because of a lack of conscience are contributing to lawlessness in your community and in your family. If not you will pay the price one day. Enough said for now. CIAO.

Miguel Arcangel Pourier

8e96c4ad36833658a53f5c01c77ad0a0632ba66b1e28feffb342e7ec1af48019Miguel Arcangel Pourier was born in the town of Rincon on the island of Bonaire on September 29th, 1938. He would later become Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles and serve together with a child born on that same day in the Netherlands, namely the future Prime Minister Wim Kok also born on September 29th, 1938. I remember once the two of them were in Parliament on their joint birthday,s and we had a cake for both of them.

I went to the boystown “Brakkeput” on my brthday September 22nd 1955. At that time there were over 200 young men in the Boystown many of them from the island of Bonaire. Miguel was among them and I spent two years together with him before he graduated and went on to The Netherlands to study for Tax Lawyer. When I finished school on Curacao in 1960 I went to St.Martin and started working in the Postoffice/Receivers Office. In October 1962 I was sent to Curacao for almost a year to study our Antillean Income Tax system. I stayed at Hotel Washington, and the tax office was in the customs building just down the road, on the corner overlooking the floating market and the entrance to the harbour. My boss was former Administrator of Saba, Max Huith who was a native of St. Martin. He told me up front that he only had a few months to go on pension and that “You would not know him but the new boss is a young man from Bonaire named Miguel Pourier”. At hotel Washington I frequently came across a number seller who was the King Pin of number selling on Curacao at the time. Josie Woods had won a number and I met him one Sunday morning on the street. Just had enough money to buy half a number and asked Josie to buy a number together with me. He pulled out a twenty five guilder bill and said:”Here, I just won a thousand guilders, buy yourself a number with that.” As I was going back to the hotel I met the number seller. The serial number on the note ended with 57 and I asked him to sell me that number for the full amount. Long story short I too won one thousand guilders. Now how to get my money. I called my cousin Bernard. After describing the man to Bernard, he270601_624331657582303_1018112699_n laughed and said, “your money is safe, that is Juancho Pourier, your cousin Patsy’s father. He was a close cousin of Miguels and had a child by my aunt. That is how family relations go in the islands.

After working with Miguel on Curacao we remained in touch as he was also responsible for St.Martin. In later years when I became a Commissioner for the Windward Islands he was the Minister of Development Aid for the Netherlands Antilles. At the same time our mutual friend from the boystown the Hon. Theodore Maximillean Pandt was the Lt. Governor of the Windward Islands. Through that connection I was able to open the gate for Dutch Development Aid for Saba.

Again later when I was Senator I supported his referendum to keep the islands together and also supported his government. Of course we had our ups and downs but our friendship from the days of our youth in the Boystown remained on a firm basis. Besides politics he held very high positions in the private sector. I remember once when my salary was around seven thousand guilders per year, his was over three hundred thousand plus benefits, and I would tease him as to why I had gone into politics and not followed in his train and gone up to Holland too and studied for tax lawyer or something of the sort.

This morning as I was leaving Mass my niece Desiree Soares gave me the sad news of his death this morning. Later on Dave Levenstone called and told me the sad tidings. Miguel tried to keep the islands together but it was not to be. Promises made to him by the Dutch were never kept and later they ended up having to pay anyway and to split up the islands completely.  I am certain he was disappointed as he believed firmly in the Netherlands Antilles.

This morning in church I was reading a passage from the book of Job, not for the Mass but for myself. The book of Job is the one book from which most writers small like me and especially the great writers look to for inspiration.

I would like to say farewell to my friend Miguel with a quote from the book of Job.

“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground and worshipped,

And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”

Miguel was a very religious man and followed in Job’s footsteps and took the bad with the good. He was a great man and I am sure that he will be taken on wings of angels to his rightful place deserved in the great beyond.

Our Banks

I constantly get calls for assistance to help people with problems they are having with their banks. I can remember many years ago that a prominent citizen came to me with his bankbook for help. The bank had only given him half of the interest due to him on his savings account. He was very upset and rightfully so. He said:”If you cannot trust your bank, who can you trust”? Since then it seems that things have taken a turn for the worse.

Here in the islands there is no such thing as a mortgage loan like you see advertised in other countries. At best here you can only get a short term loan with interests ranging from 8 to 12% and with all sorts of additional charges made by the banks. No wonder that Bada Bing loans have become popular.

Here on Saba in the past years many of our local people have been building apartments for rent or building new homes. They know how difficult it is to get a loan from a bank and once the loan has been obtained the problems you confront with paying back the loan due to the high interest rates and other charges. There have been auctions of houses here on Saba the past years and threats of more auctions to come. I was unaware of how the banks deal with clients even when reasonable arguments for mercy have been brought forward, until recently I tried to help someone with a problem.

Since everything seems to have priority with the Dutch Government, (and I won’t give examples here yet as to what has priority), it puts one to wonder if the DNB (the Dutch National (or Central) Bank) ever checks on what is taking place with the Banks in the overseas colonies of Saba, St.Eustatius and Bonaire. They should, as just like the good gentleman at the beginning of this story, people now more than ever wonder what purpose the banks here serve other than to get hold of your cash and having to pay no interest and lending it back to your neighbour at 12% plus. There is no incentive anymore to save your money with a bank. We make an urgent call on the DNB to check out the banks in our islands and to see if they are giving our people a square deal. This article will be followed up by a letter from me as a citizen directly to those at the DNB responsible for these sort of things.

The average man is no economist and has no clue as to what is going on in the world of finances. They do know though that something is wrong when a bank does not pay you any interest anymore on savings yet charges exhorbitant rates to give a loan for trying to better your circumstances. One thing for sure, the banks are always eager to lend you money to buy a car. How is that? Do they have extraordinary relationships with the car dealers?? Something is wrong here for sure!

In the meantime the banks could do a MEA CULPA and offer better interest rates to people who want to build a house, an apartment and so on and a motivational low interest rate for Indigenous People as indicated by the declaration on human rights by the United Nations.

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