Bati Bleki Weekly Recap, July 30th, 2017

Holmo Henriquez, MAS, makes sense on some issues, and no sense on others

I had coffee with Holmo Henriquez recently, and he made good sense, except for his view on gay rights and the LGBT community. I guess I cannot vote for him, and he is about to lose about 800 to 1,000 LGBT votes on the island, but otherwise he is a reasonably intelligent, educated individual, and a psychologist by training. When it comes to politics, understanding how the human mind works, is definitely an asset.

He was born in the area of Paradera, where his father worked his cunucu in order to supplement the family’s income. Holmo remembers as a kid tending to pigs and chicken on the family farm which eventually had to be sold in order to pay for the kids’ education.

Besides farming the land, his dad was a deputy, a political appointment, and a government employee, so it came easy for Holmo to enter the public arena when the Urirama windmill project came into discussion. The project made no economic sense to him, it was just political window dressing and he voiced his opinion then, and continues to voice it, ever since.

In his private life he is a businessman, he took the family business over, and restructured it, Arufreight International N.V., representing various companies here including Amerijet Air Cargo.

The crux of the matter says Holmo is our lack of personal autonomy. People don’t know their rights on the island and that’s why there’re so many cases of abuse here because islanders are unclear about their rights; they are only told their obligations. So MAS is about empowering the public, educating it, enlightening it, so that it learns to vote with its head, and not just with the heart, the way people here traditionally vote.

We deserve Mas, he says, more, and he is on a quest to empower Arubans and wean us off the epidemic Friends & Family culture, and nepotism as a system of government.

Everything here is a favor. Nothing gets accomplished via regular channels, because the system is paralyzed. Without ministerial good will, there is no life, he explains, and that’s got to change.

He makes it a point to explain that this form of nepotism is true for both AVP and MEP, both parties nurture the dependence of the Aruban people on political favors, and they are both equally guilty.

So MAS wants to uncorrupt the system, which is an excellent goal.

The way he sees it, the same empowerment is applicably in many areas. The public complains about the Police not acting on illegal immigration matters. But in reality their hands are tied. The law was changed under Minister Wever in the MEP government assigning Guarda Nos Costa to deal with illegal immigration, and the Police can do nothing about it.

During the past 8 years of the AVP government, no one lifted a finger to reverse that legislation.  So no wonder the public complains, and the Police corps suffers it own frustrations.

Another issue of Holmo’s concerns is political influence on the office of the prosecutor. If OM is influenced by political consideration, he says, then this country is not a true democracy.

It was an interesting hour, we couldn’t cover all areas, but we covered someDon’t be fooled by clinkers and lights, he said as we parted, because it’s your money that paid for them.

On the issue of gay marriage, I asked for his stand, and he answered in writing:

“Good morning Mrs. Coster. In regards to gay marriage I think the concept became a political issue which needs to be attended to. Marriage is a covenant structure for heterosexuals in view of procreation, designed to protect the assets, goods and inheritance within the family. In the LGBT community that is not the case, and there is no procreation within that unity. Therefore we are in favor of creating another separate covenant for the LGBT community where their assets, goods and heritage within their unity is protected and can be passed onto their partner within that unity. For instance a in papiamento, un contrato di convivencia, to guarantee that if one partner passes the other can inherit his pension, the house they lived in, and all other things left behind. But we do not agree that the heterosexual covenant be used for homosexuals. Homosexuality has existed since the beginning of humanity, and we need to structure something appropriate for them accordingly, and we need to attend to their needs and desires for a better quality of life without jeopardizing their rights, nor the morals and values of humanity. The amendment passed in Parliament we are totally against it because it opens the doors for pedophilic communities, bestiality communities, incest communities, etc. to start demanding their rights as well, and THAT is what violates the morals and values of humanity. I doubt it very much that the homosexual community would agree with opening the doors for pedophilic communities. This has happened in Holland but also in Canada. Just recently Canada amended the law of bestiality. Those are things that violate the core human dignity, morals, values and principles.”

As a culture, says my expert, we are in terrible denial about our health

I recently spoke to an AZV consultant, and he made me feel good about AZV. He said we’re lucky we live here and not in Curacao, because as far as health care goes, we’re light years ahead, and that AZV courageously makes investments in public health.

The hospital he explained, has undergone, DRG, diagnostic related grouping, which means that the hospital has categorize all its costs and knows exactly how much is a patient’s hospital stay, and what is the average length of stay, and the therapies received, a process which results in transparency about the hospital activities. All that DRG analysis gives AZV a good idea how much money it needs to cover future procedures and services, and that’s a very good thing.

But typical to Aruba where communication is difficult, the stakeholders are holding on to the insights, and not doing much to affect change, and efficiency. But the materials exist, for when the specialists, board members and management decide to have a dialogue about improvements in health care.

But the hospital was not our subject of conversation.

We were talking about Diabetes, and other chronic life-style diseases. According to my expert 15% of the island’s population suffers from Diabetes, in various stages; 9% of residents have it bad, and are in Secondary Care of specialists and the hospital, with a bleak future ahead of them cluttered with heart disease, kidney dialysis, amputations and strokes.

6% can be saved, if they listen to their house doctors, take their meds religiously, eat well and exercise vigorously. These 6% of residents don’t have to end up in hospital care if they assume responsibility for their own well-being, ASAP.

But the question is, will they? Will they reform their ways, learn new behaviors and save themselves?!

AZV is making great investments in the Diabetes project. Each family physician will from now on employ a Nurse Practitioner whose job will be to monitor the condition of diabetic patients, and help them stabilize their condition so they do not enter that final dreaded stage that requires hospital care.

As a society, says my expert, we are in terrible denial about our health; people here are unhealthy, and it will cost AZV an arm and a leg if nothing is done, so as a preventive measure, the Nurse Practitioners will try to intervene, and save us some money by improving our health.

According to my expert, when referring to Primary Care, he means our family physicians. Then when the family physician runs out of tricks, he refers patients to Secondary Care, the specialists and the hospital, and that is where patients unfortunately stay, until the bitter end.

It doesn’t have to be that way, says my expert, we can REVERSE this trend. Our aim in Secondary Care is to keep patients for a very short period, stabilize them and send them back to the family physician with a new protocol, a new way of life.

If patients cooperate, and follow the instructions, Aruba will keep health care cost down and save lives. So the goal is to keep Secondary Care to the minimum. Stay away from hospitals, you hear me?

Then Primary Care will send patients back to their lives, in the Social Domain, where in a perfect world GOA made lots of investments in bike lanes, outdoor gyms, walking trails, and other health promotions, to remind us that mens sana in corpore sano!

Former MinHealth, Richard Visser, did a lot in the Social Domain to contribute to healthy mind in a healthy body, and the current MinHealth still has to wake up!

If we can save a patient from entering Secondary Care, and dialysis for example, we save Awg 100.000 a year, per person, and the money can then go toward special care for Baby Luna for example or Nicole Natalie Lin. Think about it.

AAAUUUUUUGGGGGHHHH, or LOST on the road from San Nicholas

I had some stressful moments there, where I actually did not know where I was. We went to Zeerover for dinner a few days ago, and suffered greatly on the way down to Savaneta through the bumpy, meandering, temporary lanes, scattered with cones, traffic barriers and rocks. No signage, no lights. It was hell.

Never again we said, let’s take the back-roads on the return.

(Dinner was lovely, I did not know the kitchen stays open until 9pm)

On the return through the Savaneta salt pans, Spanish Lagoon, TeleAruba, Barcadera, and Parkitenbos, I took a right just below Amuse Bistro, on Bucutiweg, then another right.

I was dark in Cas Paloma. No signage, no lights. My phone had no juice, so no GPS. I drove on and somehow found myself back on the Barcadra road. At a certain moment I was driving into a factory, Arugas? Ecotech? I don’t know.  I had some stressful moments there, where I actually did not know where I was. I could see the airport, but how do you get there?! Luckily a highway came up, the new one to Mahuma, and I recognized that fancy uphill curve as the road back to civilization.

“Hi Bati,” says a note I just received, “I want to address the road construction in San Nicolas and through the island. They are busy doing their job but they are making traffic worse. They have not left one road completely open for those of us who work in Palm Beach area. It takes more than an hour to navigate the detours on every single road. They have left open gaps in the road without cones potentially damaging my car and other cars, without care.

And the new speed bumps they have constructed in San Nicolas, they are not marked with bright paint nor reflectors. Because we know they are there, we slow down but it is hard to tell at night exactly where they are in the road.

And for the tourists that don’t know, some say it nearly put their heads through the roofs of the car when they hit them at normal speed. The planning department is doing a HORRIBLE job. I am NOT happy. Thank you for listening.”

Just to remind you the project set out to design, build, finance and maintain the 36km Green Corridor highway. It was destined to expand the capacity of the existing main road from Reina Beatrix Airport to Savaneta, converting it from a single carriageway (1×2) to a dual carriageway (2×2) over a distance of approximately 8 km.

BUT WHY DO ALL KILOMETERS AT THE SAME TIME??????????????

The same mistake was made in Oranjestad when the whole town was gutted, for years, why can’t you reconstruct the highway in phases??

As a PPP, Public-Private-Project, the Colombian developer Odinsa Group is financing, designing, and constructing; Deutsche Bank provides the debt, and GOA is the public sector procurer. Construction was arranged in 2013 and was supposed to take 2 years and cost $77m. AAAUUUUUUGGGGGHHHH.

 

The tourism awards are back home where they belong

After being high-jacked by politics the island’s awards of excellence in the hospitality sector are coming back home where they belong, to AHATA.

I have to give credit here to the early days when Wichita Villacres and her crew at ECO Destination Management orchestrated the original ARTOUSA Awards at the Americana Hotel, delivering recognition, a scholarship program and a good time at the industry galas. She set the bar high.

https://batibleki.visitaruba.com/aruba-tourism-updates/all/the-shoco-award-of-excellence-goes-to-wichita-villacres-of-eco-destination-management-company/

For a few years in the 90s, we then survived high-brow awards by the Quality Foundation, an AVP initiative. It was a whole big to-do, peppered with words like vision and strategy, and Joyce Bartels Daal did her best to mold us to her liking. I remember a few winners taking monumental trophies home AND cash prizes.

Then we had nothing, with the change of government, until AHATA revived the award program, under the Shoco name.

As expected, around the Millennium, the Ministry of Tourism annexed the program, taking control of the process, delivering annual ministerial photo opportunities, and so-so events.

Somehow when he got off the political stage the program died, a natural lack-of-interest death.

Until the day before yesterday.

I heard this week from Vanessa that the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association announced a new AHATA awards program aptly called AHATA’s Excellence Awards with the goal of recognizing outstanding performers working in the tourism industry, for AHATA’s member hotels and resorts, for ATSA’s member timeshare properties, and for AHATA’s allied members.

This will be the inaugural year for the awards, and nominations are currently solicited in five categories. Moreover, the new AHATA awards program will also include a scholarship program for outstanding students preparing themselves for work in the industry.

Eligible candidates will be vetted by the University of Aruba and EPI Horeca.

AHATA’s Excellence Awards Categories:

Ø  Employee of the Year

Ø  Supervisor of the Year

Ø  Manager of the Year

Ø  Young Tourism Professional of the Year

Ø  Lifetime Achievement award

 

Scholarship Program:

Ø  Student of the Year

(University of Aruba, Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism)

Ø  Student of the Year

(EPI – Unit Horeca)

You are hereby encouraged to nominate your team members who exemplify outstanding service, in support of our Tourism Industry. Nominations will be accepted until Friday, September 1st, 2017. The awards will be presented at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino on Friday, December 1st, 2017. More details about the ceremony TBA.

Forms with more information, and eligibility requirements may be obtained by writing to: vanessa@ahata.com

AWARD TIMELINE:

Applications opens…………………………………………………………………………….July 21, 2017

Deadline to present applications (3 copies each) to AHATA office……September 1, 2017

Judges first meeting ……………………………………………………………………..September 26, 2017

Applicants interview with Judges……………………………………………………….October 9th-20th, 2017

Final Consensus Meeting………………..………………………………………………….October 23rd, 2017

Awards Ceremony…………………………………………………………………………..December 1st, 2017

 

Some footnotes about the pre-election circus

Some of our best loved island musicians climbed on the band wagon of the green party. Both Johnathan Thiel and Michael Lampe, two titan musicians, song writers, poets and bottomless sources of inspiration, support and work for the MinPres.

I find it cynical.

Jonathan Thiel, also known as Jeon and Biggie, was exploited first. Mind you he has 42,297 FB followers, this is a major local influencer! Early in the election season he was hired by the green party to perform at their public rallies, in various neighborhoods, warming audiences up with his Dushi Bida song, before the MinPres emerged, so that he could bombard the already feel-good audience with his accomplishments.

I did not mind that much, because Jeon is after all an artist, and can be hired to perform by just about anyone, anywhere, endorsing any product including Bright Bakery, Burger King, Palmera Rum and connectivity by Setar.

But then I was surprised to find out last weekend that my idol, musical genius Michael Lampe actually joined the green list as a candidate, which took the shenanigans to a different level.

I called to ask.

“I felt,” he said, “that at this time of my life, this is a good move for me; take my music to a bigger platform, create opportunities for other Arubans, inspire and be inspired, give back to the community, serve my country in a broader sense.”

His heart is obviously in the right place. He is interested in music, and heritage, and would make am effective Minister of Culture in a fictional world.

But the vehicle he picked to promote his personal evolution is a political party that mortgaged this island’s future by creating a humongous public debt, currently at about 85 percent of GDP.

I also bet he has zero ambition to actually sit in parliament and manage this country’s daily affairs. He probably has no intention to serve on the legislative branch, making good laws to safeguard our well-being.

And it pisses me off that I love everything he does. He repurposed an old bus, the so-called nostalgic school bus that picked him up for the ride to school as a young boy, in Savaneta. The old bus was outfitted with glossy green stickers and transformed into a travelling boutique, a green market, where green tees and caps can be bought by his fans, converted into voters, just living to escort their political candidate all decked out in green to the registration point, where all parties, at a designated hour, must show up and declare their readiness to run for office.

Where is my vomiting bowl? I need it.

The clever hashtags; the shameless use of the beloved music, both don’t sit well with me. Just saying.

Not to be left behind, an MMA fighter, the Aruban Assassin, Gregory Milliard just joined the ranks of POR as a candidate. Are you kiddin’ me?

And talking about those tees and caps, for sale to voters: We understand some were ordered by the MinInfra, and smuggled in from Venezuela where printing is cheaper, transported to Aruba on a banana boat in an effort to avoid paying import duty. Nice, really nice.

Without being cynical, the MinPres family members have a tee shirt printing plant, why don’t you assign the job to EMCO? They would have done a good job, why go to Venezuela?