Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap, Aug 6th, 2017

Solemn, Open, Noble, that’s what the Electoral Committee expects!

There was a lot of discussion last week about August 4th, a day in which from 9am to 4pm, the political parties are expected to hand in their final lists, naming their candidates for Elections 2017, and indicating their positions on the list.

The lists must be handed in by legitimate party officials at City Hall, downtown, and the Police sounded the alarm that with urban congestion they fear potential clashes between devoted fans of different convictions.

You should know that by tradition, in full view of TV cameras, one party tries to outdo the next with banners and flags, at the time of list presentation. Dancing elephants, naked girls, anything goes as far as the fanfare preceding this legal, democratic procedure.

So the Police warned against hot-tempers, and the Electoral Committee reiterated that they will accept final lists on a strict timetable, and that they only expect party official at the venue, NOT the circus that surrounds them.

I totally support the Electoral Committee in their decision. City Hall is a dignified location befitting the event, and we live in a civilized society. If you hold the public responsible for disciplined conduct, it will deliver.

When asked to behave, Aruba is a pacifistic, well-mannered island, and you just have to look back at some of those huge concerts, or Jouvert Morning, to realize that we are compliant, well-brought up people.

Additionally, the Electoral Committee should hold party-leaders accountable, and urge them to discourage excessive shows of support and attempts of intimidation. Leave the bravado outside, please.

On another note, we have seen some implausible candidates appear on lists. What does it mean? It means that parties find it DIFFICULT to identify 29 suitable candidates, each.

The majority of voters is not interested in political careers, and is generally indifferent to running for office; government job yes, political activism, no.

We’ve also witnessed haggling going on all week, over the number, the position on the list. The higher up is perceived as better, commanding more respect. But if you are a real vote-getter, your position on the list is irrelevant. Member of MEP Mireille Sint Jago left her party in a huff this week, denouncing discrimination. The party probably assigned her a low number on the list and she was offended, how could they deny her a better position, with 77 votes in 2013, down from 255, in 2009?

An MMA fight, a musician, a timeshare developer, a former MinHealththe parties have been flailing in the dark trying to fill all 29 spots on the list. I think there is no harm showing up short, providing the ones appearing on your list are strong, qualified individuals with great commitment to country and people.

I was always told #29 is an honorary position, you know you will never get into Parliament, but it is nice to have been asked to show political affiliation. For a small fee, I am available!

 

Sharlene Starke determined to re-boot education

These days candidate Shalene Starke, on a yet-to-be-determined position on the MEP list spends all her time going from house to house, knocking on doors, campaigning, listening to people, connecting with voters.

“Everywhere I go, I see young people, unemployed,” she says, ”Our educational system failed them, and neglected to prepare them for life in 2017; the whole system must be rebooted,” she adds.

It’s school summer vacation now, and Sharlene who has been a teacher of 13 years makes time to further her understanding of voters’ wishes and needs. Her own kids under grandma’s watchful eye are spending the summer vacation in Europe, allowing her the freedom to develop a solid following of voters.

Sharlene reports eight years ago, she already postulated herself on a political list of a small party. It was a positive experience, but it did not result in a political career, so this year she is trying again, affiliating herself with the largest opposition party. She likes the party leader, a strong, educated female, and enjoys the solidarity of other fresh and dynamic candidates, who make sure to communicate on an ongoing basis, to further the cause of their Social Democratic organization.

MEP candidates, she explains, are all accomplished professionals, and I am proud of the company I keep, though it is unfortunate that one of them abandoned the organization just recently.

Sharlene grew up in a business environment. Her mom and other family members dedicated their life to work, making enormous personal sacrifices along the way. As an adult Sharlene wanted more balance and opted for teaching, so she could spend time with her children.

As an elementary teacher, she taught all grades, and over time, with education frozen and static, the idea to affect change by means of political involvement came to her.

“I still write with chalk on a board, we still photocopy work sheets, we have frontal classrooms, it is frustrating, education on the island is perceived as boring and old fashioned by students, parents and teachers. There is no innovation, no vision. I decided to run for office in order to change that,” she says.

The two previous MinEdu did not come from education and did not understand the enormous task ahead of them; Sharlene believes a former teacher does.

While kids here are burdened with overwhelming social challenges, many teachers are overwhelmed by their student’s social challenges, resulting in stress, burnout and inability to cope.

And all that teachers hear is: We have no money, just do your best.

“Education,” Sharlene concludes, “must be rebooted on the island. Children, teachers and parents perceive it as outdated, and de-motivating, and we must do things differently.”

Not just that, Sharlene reveals, Parliament must undergo a reboot as well, right now the rubber stamp legislators follow the executive branch, the ministers, who lead the way, making biased decisions, with public debt, currently at about 85% percent of GDP, possibly much higher.

“Come campaign with me this weekend,” she said,” it is very interesting, go for the entire day, or only a few hours, you will learn a lot.”

I accept the invitations.

 

Eddy Paris joins the MEP organization

As a former corporate banker, holding an MBA degree in international finance this fresh candidate believe in numbers, because: Numbers don’t lie.

Over the past months, Eddy has been collecting a strong following with his articles published on his blog, via FB.

He has been writing eloquently about our economy, raising red flags and making good financial sense to many. https://eddyparis.wordpress.com/

Basically the country’s finances are in the toilet. Our GDP numbers have not been adjusted since 2002. So if GOA acknowledges a national debt of 85% against outdate GDP, it means that in reality our national debt is probably somewhere around 130%, which is totally unacceptable, and dangerous.

It makes us vulnerable, if Aruba gets hit by some external calamity such as a hurricane or an economic downturn, or Venezuela implodes, we have no financial buffer, no ability to help ourselves, and who would lend us money to rebuild after a storm?

Think about it.

Aruba is paying interest.

Awg 600.000 a day, on a 4.2 billion owed, perhaps more.

Imagine what we could do with that money.

Build 4 houses a day.

Then have 1,460 houses at the end of each year.

Then in just under ten year we’re done with the list of 12.000 people waiting for housing on the DIP list, and it would all be paid for.

According to Paris, and we can all confirm, people are having a hard time, our buying power has diminished, the Dori is no longer 100 florin, it is not worth much anymore, and our economy has had no growth in almost 3 years.

When AVP took GOA over in 2009, the world was in a global recession, but Aruba had a bit of a financial reserve. Our national debt against GDP was 45% and the WHOLE world was in financial crisis.

Then AVP created all that debt, MISPENDING the funds borrowed. Remember: Three hundred and four million were lost in hedging along, courtesy of WEB!

The move to invest in the economy was the right move, but the MISPENDING mortgaged our future, and leveraged the country.

The spending on the PPP projects? The bridge, the roads, it has been structured as Public-Private-Projects, in order to keep it off the books, but upon completion, we will be charged for it. All that construction, the roads and the hospital are a direct liability structured to be hidden from the balance sheet, now. But they will show up later as a heavy burden.

The decision to join MEP resulted from the knowledge that MEP “no tin dono,” no rich sponsors or investors, expecting to collect a handsome ROI, immediately post-elections.

AVP, says Eddy, is a dead horse. All that talk about 15 seats is delusional propaganda, all campaign promises are lies, because of our sucky economy; so here is a good reason to get into politics. To clean up the mess.

Where does one start?

Reduce the number of ministers. Send all coordinators back to their original government jobs. Don Mansur turned our economy around with four people in the office. Cut at least 50 million in inefficiencies, just focus on fixing the economy, it’s our #1 concern.

Everything else will come into place when the economy is churning.

 

Enough with Politics

New, exciting menu at Windows on Aruba for Brunch every Sunday

We recently checked out the refreshed brunch menu at Windows on Aruba. The restaurant at Divi Golf offers yummy dishes in an elegant setting every Sunday from 10:30am till 2:00pm, inviting guests to take a culinary journey up and down the lovely menu, by executive chef Darwin Torres, paired with bottomless flutes of brut champagne and mimosa.

Everything about the brunch, the food, the 9th hole view and the live jazz music, worked together to pamper us with a most enjoyable afternoon.

The menu serves moderate portions of beautifully plated hot and cold appetizers, soups, main courses and desserts, and allows brunch-goers the freedom to sample quite a number of temptations.

We were served a plentiful basket with mini baguette, Croissants and Danish, bagel and appleflap, as soon as we sat down. A mini antipasto with prosciutto, smoked sausage, AMAZING pate, assorted cheeses, olives and mini toast followed.

Then we ordered, and we ordered:  The Pulled Pork Egg Benedict, on an English muffin, with creamy spinach and truffle Hollandaise; the Thai Coconut Curry Mussels, the Grilled Tenderloin with mushroom truffle sauce, caramelized onions, on a bed of mashed potato. They were all incredibly tasty

I also tried quite a few dishes, off my fellow-brunch-goers’ plates: Vegetable Frittata with Mornay sauce; Coconut Curry Clam Chowder, Windows’ Pizza topped with grain mustard, shredded mozzarella, mushrooms, caramelized onions, prosciutto, arugula, cherry tomatoes, fresh parmesan, and drizzled with olive oil; Classic Escargot, in garlic herb butter, Lobster Ravioli with a crabmeat sauce, fresh Parmesan, basil oil, and Veal Parmigian, on a bed of penne pasta, under marinara sauce, baked with shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

That took care of my diet for the week.

For dessert Chef Darwin presented us with a Mango Cheese Cake, he doodled Bati Bleki Buzz on the plate, and we also ordered the Chocolate Fudge Brownie with coconut ice cream, because we could. The pan bollo a la mode came recommended, but we ran out of space.

We sipped and sampled, taking brunch to the next level, it was a perfect Sunday afternoon, with our hosts Tabitha Fecunda, Island Marketing & Promotions Manager, the Links at Divi Aruba, and Marrit Fleur, Food & Beverage Manager. Let’s do it again!

 

Random Thoughts

I am looking at the AVP list this morning. I am not even talking about the opening foursome. They did not do a good job in the past eight years, and are rewarded for their sub-par performance, by maintaining their positions on the list.

OK, Juan David Yrausquin did not go in, but Richard Arends is #5, as a millennial candidate, in hope he will be perceived as a trustworthy professional, by young voters. I don’t see him campaigning, he doesn’t have to, and as the future of AVP he is a valuable asset.

Same thinking went into positioning Michael Lampe in #11. A political party must nurture successors otherwise it rolls over and dies.

Richard Visser joined the list as #9, he was an excellent minister of sports, back then, and he can add to the total party package in spite of the fact that he took severance pay, not just once but TWICE, and in principle is a successful businessmen who doesn’t really need to work, but admittedly, it is fun and exciting to be a minister, and it beats overseeing plain pharmacies. Innovation would be his cup of tea too, in sports, health, tourism and education; he is a capitalist he sees an opportunity here, importing ipads, or magic wands for some new educational programs. And he photographs well.

Sandra Brown, that’s probably an effort to reel in Michelle Hooyboer Winklaar’s lost votes. But then you should have given Sandra Brown or Desiree Croes a higher position up on the list to fill in the “Strong Female Leader” roll. Where are the Strong Female Leaders candidates on the AVP list? In number #13 and #15.

#7 Robert Candelaria is possibly a good candidate for the Ministry of Justice, but then with Arthur Dowers in #4 I hope they do not think about him as a potential Minister of Education. Health would be true to his background but then #8 on the list, Alex Schwengle, is out of a job.

Pretty much anything on the list below #15, #16, will never get into parliament.  Those positions are really there in support, helping move and secure votes. #27 Rene Herde is obviously thinking about retirement and Marksonn Maduro as #29, the token youth candidate, appears on the list for the first time. Will #24 Jeffrey Kelly get any votes this time?

A Poem by Yakari Gabriel Torres

Between social problems and false political promises there really isn’t a way to make poetry out of the island anymore. I’ve turn Aruba into every possible metaphor under the sun. I’ve made her a mother, a sky, a shelter, even a prostitute once.

Amidst elections, all I can think of is Aruba being that one homegirl you love with all your heart but keeps engaging in destructive behavior. How she jumps from one bad lover to the other, from MEP to AVP like they aren’t more men in the world.
I think of how many times they’ve beaten her, left her black and blue but she stays.
She’s loyal like that. All they do is come back and say “this time we will treat you differently” and she falls. This ever violent ménage a trois. She stays in the middle shaking.

..and I, I no longer have what it takes to try and convince her to move on, to see her worth, to stand up against lovers that mistreat her. Betico didn’t die to leave her in chains, he wanted to see her free.

 

What people say about the elections

We enjoyed Happy Hour on the Malmok cliff, sunsets mix well with Prosecco Villa Sandi and Old Amsterdam.

Inevitably politics crept into the conversation.

And amazingly enough this is a conversation I have been having repeatedly with a number of friends, over the past week.

Friend #1: I am going to vote for a small party. I’d like to learn more about Raiz perhaps, I liked Ursell Arends at the Millennial debate. I am not going to vote Green, the party failed us, I am not going to vote Yellow because I feel it is more of the same thing, friend and family, admittedly, on a smaller scale, but I need some fresh attitude, a new direction. Then in a coalition government, Green & Yellow, Green & Blue, Yellow & Blue, we’ll see which way it goes, we can slow down the spending and help heal our economy.

Friend #2: You are an idealist and you are looking for idealism in politics, there is no such thing. You will be wasting your vote. In 2017 you must decide on the lesser of two evils, Green or Yellow, and cast your vote that way. A coalition government gives the smaller coalition partner great power, it’s a mistake to give Blue practical control over government. The coalition will never last. Besides Blue has great potential for conflict between candidate #1, #2 & #3, it will be difficult to watch.

Friends #3: I totally support that. I lived through a number of coalition governments in Aruba, it is hell, they can never agree on anything; then they procure great debts, crawling behind each other’s backs to sign contracts left and right. We’re still paying for the racetrack!  You will be wasting your vote with a small party, you’d better stay home. Weigh the Green or Yellow option, because that’s all the options you have!