Sint Maarten Pride responds to Minister Lake

Sint Maarten Pride Foundation is rather baffled by the Press Release issued by Minister Lake on Sunday evening regarding the destruction of the historic Tamarind Tree at Bellevue. In his press release the Minister stated the following "… … when I took over the responsibility of the ministry this project was ongoing and one of the principal bottlenecks was the tree and the road alignment".


The Minister seems to have conveniently forgotten that the causeway project was commissioned by his Mentor and party leader Theo Heyliger at the time when now Minister Lake served as executive assistant to Heyliger. The Tamarind Tree in question was obviously situated in the same location for the past two hundred years and should not have come as a surprise to Minister Lake. Infrastructure related to the causeway should and could have easily been adjusted to accommodate the continued presence of the Tamarind tree from the early planning stages of the causeway.

The Minister goes on to state that "the final decision of the entire work group including Nature Foundation was to remove the Tamarind Tree". Sint Maarten Pride Foundation would hereby like to point out to the Minister that the removal of a tree and the destruction of a tree are two entirely separate concepts. In addition Pride Foundation points out that Nature Foundation is not qualified or authorized to speak on behalf of Sint Maarten’s environmental organizations.

Lake states that "it was a tough decision", Sint Maarten Pride Foundation is of the opinion that the Minister took the cheapest way out and did not take feasible alternatives such as realignment of the road or in the worst case scenario, transplantation of the Tree to a safe location such as the Emilio Wilson Estate into consideration.

The Minister goes on to claim that he is working in the "general interest of the people", that he is "not here to play political games" and in the same sentence continues by saying he is "happy to see that Pride Foundation has gotten their voice back after a year of silence". Minister Lake has also repeatedly declared to be in favor of a "back to basics approach", and to be of the intention to include the "people through stakeholder consultations". Yet by excluding the Cole Bay Community, Sint Maarten Pride Foundation, Environmental Protection In the Caribbean and the many other Environmental, Cultural and Historical Interest groups from consultations regarding the Historical Tamarind Tree which the Minister so offhandedly chose to destroy, Minister Lake has shown that he intends to continue the politics of oppression and exclusion he has so enthusiastically served for the past twenty years.

The Minister and his press team are insulting the intelligence of the electorate and the public at large by claiming that Sint Maarten Pride Foundation has been silent for the past year. Anyone who has been paying attention to the media knows that Pride has been uncompromisingly consistent and unambiguous regarding its advocacy for the protection of Sint Maarten’s Natural and Cultural Heritage regardless of who holds the majority in parliament.

It would serve the Minister well to truly heed the call of public service and to indeed stop playing politics and acclimatize to the responsibilities of serving the general public rather than continuing his life-long role as the unquestionably devoted servant of his political leader.