The Saba Islander

by Will Johnson

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.

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