Bati Bleki Weekly Recap, November 27th, 2016

We didn’t see it coming

According to NoticiaCla.com, more than 70mm of water was dumped on the island starting Sunday late at night, double the amount of water we received during the brief visit of hurricane Matthew, just recently.

It took us completely by surprise, we did not see it coming, I understand that more than 50 homes were totally inundated, many more damaged, cars submerged, beach destruction, property loss, we will never know the total assessment, because it seems there is no one in charge of disaster or crisis prevention and management.

In fact THIS MORNING I saw a weather advisory from Curacao warning against severe weather.

Did you see one in Aruba?

No.

What would an advisory do?

We could do a lot in even less than 12 hours, move equipment indoor, cleaning drains, move cars out of the way. We could have saved a lot of money had we known!

The only source of information was broadcasting queen Erin Croes, Magic 96.5fm who took it upon herself to show and tell, via Facebook Live; she drove everywhere and reported on the situation. Thank you so much.

Where else could we find information?

Tell me?

I really want some head to roll. Enough.

The bureau of infrastructure need to take a good look at itself. They have been digging for years behind Royal Plaza, in Front of the Valero Gas Station in Noord, on Sasakiweg, spending millions, and nada, all the big plans for NOTHING, the same old placed inundated because building permits are granted without water and drain management.

On May 8th, 2016, I wrote an article about Crisis management in Aruba https://batibleki.visitaruba.com/8am-buzz/crisis-management-in-aruba-tfu-tfu-tfu-may-nothing-ever-happen/

None of the things we talked about in the two-hour seminar happened.  I am quoting:

“Seminar-goers were reassured by Nico Arts, Acting Director, and Rino Hermans, Team Member, that proper Emergency Planning is undertaken by the Aruban government, Crisis Management Office, together with the response agencies to ensure that the local communities are assisted and supported.”

Really?! Where were Nico and Rino when we needed them?

I also said, which I am sure was followed up on, by the international brands running our hotels:

“….the government wanted to tell the business community to wake up and write a plan, develop and implement policies that will help in crisis with effective disaster response to guarantee the overall safety of the life and health of the population and the island’s transient hotel guests.”

So here we are on the morning after. Cleaning and picking up, my former neighbor said on his Facebook page: Saka awa for di 3 kas. Kibra 4 cura di kas pa awa sali. Koba 2 rooi pa awa sigi bai. Saka 12 auto pega. Juda un colega cu su kas a jena cu awa. What a long day. What an amazing feeling to help people in need in desperate times. Body a keda na werki. Pero e satisfaction cu bo ta hanja ora bo sali pa juda bo pueblo ta impagable and it was all worth it. Going home to my family now. Hope mi por lanta pa bai traha manjan. Love you Aruba. And always will. Special thanks pa mi dos soldat nan cu a bai all out cumi awe.

He worked like a dog for 12 hours, on rescue operations, and he is grateful and in love with his island. That’s Aruba for you!

Let’s eat our way out of one problem!

What do we do when an invasive species of fish overpopulates our reef?

We eat it!

Aruba, I hope you’re ready to take a bite out of Lionfish!

As many of us already know, there’s far too many Lionfish on our reefs and not enough restaurants serving Lionfish on their menus.

Studies show we can eat our way out of this problem and that’s why Aruba’s Lionfish and Wine Tasting Fundraising Events got started three years ago by co – organizers Byron Boekhoudt and Castro Perez.  The two tell us, during the month of November, volunteer Lionfish hunters from Team Lionfish, Native-, Jads and Unique Divers and many others are spearing Lionfish, one at a time for Sunday’s Event.

The goal of the Fundraiser is to spread more awareness about the Lionfish invasion and to prove to our guests and island’s restaurants the health benefits of eating and serving Lionfish. The non-native fish, without natural predators, have greedy appetites thus causing an imbalance on our reefs.

Aruba Marine Park Foundation and the Wine and Dine group are encouraging all of us to get onboard and join their 3rdannual Fundraising party where five creative chefs promise to feed us 100 kilos of Lionfish Tapas paired with lots of great wine, courtesy of Romar Trading.

This year Divi’s Pure Lime Chef, Lyssette Van Der Biezen will prepare a Mexican inspired tapas and Chef Adriani Geerman of E Sushi Shap will deliver our favorite Lionfish rolls.  Other chefs include Wine and Dine Chefs Ilja Cybulski, Joost Boerman and Armando Hernandez, round up the culinary team for the event.

You can get your Lionfish and Wine Tasting party tickets at the Jolly Pirates Shop at Moomba beach for a mere Awg 50p.p.

I bought two tickets and you should too!   Be a predator. Help the environment,

Aruba needs more people to spear and eat Lionfish.

Welcome to LNG, Liquid Natural Gas

This week the MinPres continued his re-election campaign full force, by rolling out the third phase LNG exploration with international partners, Repsol/Total, his French/Spanish partners.

The exploration started sometimes ago with 2D and 3D mapping, then when it turned out optimistic, they continued with preliminary drilling, you must have seen the small platform in several places, visible from the air before landing.

So now with the announcement of drilling, we understand that Repsol/Total is willing to spend another $50 million; they must have a pretty good hunch that there is something beneath the surface. Even companies like this, don’t spend $50 million unless they are almost 90% sure, they will strike gold.

What kind of gold? Liquid Natural Gas, LNG, which is better, as far as carbon emissions, friendlier than heavy fuel oil or diesel; that’s the trend now, to transition to more environmental fuel. It’s far from being green, but it’s a natural resource, we are fortunate to have.

BUT

We’re not Norway. Fifty years ago no one thought that oil exploration would be such a huge economic factor, today the Norwegians make NOK 218 billion a year, down from NOK 312 billion in 2014, the drop due to the sharp decline in the oil price. And it pays for everything, in that welfare state from education to healthcare, because “Long-term perspective in the management of the government’s petroleum revenues ensures that they benefit Norwegian society as a whole, and that future generations will benefit from Norway’s petroleum wealth. This has been a key principle in developing the financial and legal framework for the sector.”

I wish we could say the same, but we’re not that disciplined and smart.

Often concessions are handed out to foreign companies with deep pockets and while politicians benefit, the country more often than you think, doesn’t. But we’re not a third world country and I am optimistic.

BUT

Oklahoma is experiencing a 4000% increase in earthquake this year.  According to earthquake researchers, including civil and environmental engineering FRACKING, the wastewater injection and other fluid injection technologies, related to the oil industry have a lot to do with it. So we have to be aware of dangers inherent to oil exploitations, including spills, earthquakes and Tsunamis.

At the end of the press conference hosted by the MinPres, WEB Aruba signed an agreement for batteries with Tesla, as announced in the Green Aruba conference the day before. Name brands are attractive on a small island but I bet you that the Tesla batteries are super-duper expensive, twice or trice that any other brand, and I hope that WEB Aruba has a good plan for disposal of these batteries, they don’t last forever, and Aruba has no room to absorb that chemical stuff. Does Tesla plan to ship to exhausted batteries back to California? How does California feel about it? This decision has large consequences if not thought through, and I hope Frank Hoevertsz is thinking.

Just a foot note about PDVSA, unrelated to Repsol/Total, but still related since it controls the refinery infrastructure in San Nicholas.

Did you read that:

PDVSA has activated the 30-day grace period for paying its debts.  Last week, PDVSA had coupon payments amounting to $539 million. As reported last week by the paying agent, PDVSA has only paid $135 million, while other funds are still pending. PDVSA has not responded to calls or emails. So now, PDVSA has a 30-day grace period to make payments on the coupons before it goes in default. Bloomberg believes that PDVSA will make these payments during the grace period, but this delay highlights the cash difficulties and mismanagement of PDVSA with regards to its liabilities

Starr is a Star

She texted me at 6:16am, about the evil Anderson corporation, emptying the safe, and taking all valuable equipment out of Senior Frog’s in an effort to ditch the franchise in Aruba, and avoid paying their bills.

She texted every media members in town, got Police, Immigration and the Tax Authority involved. Starr Ramos is obviously a fast thinking girl.

As the Sales and Marketing person for Senior Frog’s, the loud, swill-bucket-food café, on Palm Beach, she experienced the lack of funds and slashed budgets, but was unprepared for a man by the name of Daniel Orozco to arrived on the island on the late AA flight, with intensions to close down the joint and leave on the first flight out the following day.

But when she realized what the scenario was she moved, fast. End result: Immigration and Police intercepted, and took Orozco off the plane. He must have been shocked. He was sitting inside the aircraft ready to depart. He probably came here thinking this is a fast in and out job, land at night, axe 30 employees without explanation at about midnight, empty the safe, extract the sound system and freezers, get on a flight out the following day.

But Starr is a star, she got her support system together.

With the Police and Immigration’s blessing Orozco was escorted by his disgruntled employees to the tax office where Filomena Geerman added up everything owed by the corporation, advising him of their no-tiki-no-washi policy. You can’t pay what you owe? Then you cannot leave the country.

The employees’ lawyer Lincoln Gomez also informed the trouble Orozco that all employees must continue to receive salaries until the company’s bankruptcy goes through.

There was a poorly attended press conference last night, hosted by Orozco and his lawyer. But he too could not defend his thief-in-the-night tactics.

It is the company’s right to close a failing franchise, but the laws of this country must be respected. The Mexican Bandito behavior, is not appreciated in Aruba.

I think the unhappy employees of Aura Casino, left hanging since December last year should hire Starr Ramos as their consultant to help them with their case against their former SOB employer.

 

Buy a ticket for the Charity Concert, fund raising for Animal Rights Aruba

As  you  may  already  know  Animal  Rights  Aruba  (ARA),   a  non-profit  Animal  Welfare Organization  aims at protecting  all  fauna,  flora,  and  marine  life  on  and  around  the  island.  ARA  is  run  by  volunteers  and  relies  solely  on  donations  from  the  community  and  the business sector.

ARA’s  main  short-term goal,  is  building  its own  (dog/cat)  no-kill  shelter.  As it stands right now, when stray dogs and cats are identified,  ARA immediately tries to find them foster homes, or arranges to pay for boarding at the vet’s clinic, because otherwise they cannot be saved.

So its own shelter, is the ideal solution, but the total cost to build one including the fencing, is around Awg 280,000.

This  is  an  enormous  amount  for  a  foundation  that  depends  on  the contribution/ donation….

But  ARA is  very optimistic and positive and  is  convinced that the generous locals and overseas visitors will  support and help ARA so this dream may come true, soon.

CHARITY CHRISTMAS CONCERT

ARA  is  pleased  to  announce  that  there  will  be  a  Charity  Christmas  Concert  on  the  30th, just a few tickets left, so hurry up!

November  2016,  on  the  Freewinds, docked in the harbor,  with popular singer Edjean  Semeleer, special guests  Jeanedy Semeleer and  the  Freewinds  Band.  The proceeds from this concert will be earmarked to “We need  a shelter,” which will surely help get ARA one step closer to the goal.

We are kindly asking you or your  company to  contribute  to  our cause by buying one or more Charity Concert Tickets. ARA trusts that you will enjoy the music and feel good about helping!

Sincerely,

Andreina A. Wever, Veterinary Doctor

President of Animal Rights Aruba

Concert on: 30th November, 2016

Place: Freewinds

Time: 08.00 pm

Animal Rights Aruba  – KvK nr. S904 –

Bank account number: 7700000030627674 – RBC Royal Bank (Aruba) N.V.

Swift Code RBTTAWAW

Price: 50 florins

Tickers at Moustachef Bistro, on Havenstraat, Super Food Plaza, Noord, Bestial Pet House, Shaba,  Flora Market, Dakota, or message 593 4584

Occidental Grand Aruba becomes Barceló Aruba

We were invited by Demmi’s Rivas, Director of Sales, Occidental Grand Aruba for an event Friday afternoon 4pm, to witness the brand change, as the resort becomes Barceló Aruba.

I remember it as the Americana in the 80s, then it became Allegro, the Occidental, the Occidental Grand and sometime last year it changed hands again quietly, the previous GM departed, the new one arrived, all without fanfare.

So I was looking for an opportunity to meet the new players, at Friday afternoon’s cocktail party, because as an all-inclusive the resort keeps to itself, and has little to do with the local community. The brand change occasion would have been a good networking opportunity, to meet Rivas and the rest of crew, mingle, and chit-chat.

But the hotel saw it differently. When I arrived fashionably late at 4:30, I was graciously escorted to the dark ballroom set up with rows of theater-style chairs, we endures some lecturing, a few promotional videos describing the friendliness and elegance of the chain, then the beauty and the comfort of its Aruban property.

Just before 5pm, the Barceló resort GM, seated on stage among a long row of dignitaries, got up to address the audience, formally, butchering the often mispronounced last name of our cherished CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority, which was the signal for me to depart.

I heard they later had a ballroom cocktail party – we noticed the circle of gleam-in-the-dark chafing dishes bordering the room where the hors d’oeuvres were getting warm and soggy. I didn’t meet anyone. We didn’t see the property.

About Barceló: With between 100 to 140 hotels, depending which webpage you consult, and over 38,000 rooms on 4 continents, the company also operates 505 travel agencies.

“Originally founded as a small family-owned company in Palma de Mallorca in 1931, the Barceló Group and its Hotels & Resorts Division have grown along three generations to achieve its current portfolio”.

It is interesting to note that the Barceló Group and the RIU Hotels & Resorts group, are fierce competitors in Aruba, and both enjoy success on the island. They both started as family owned hospitality businesses in Palma de Mallorca. RIU Hotels & Resorts in 1953, by the Riu family, and it is still family owned, by third generation family members.