~Meetings in Argentina opened many doors for Sint Maarten on international level~
PHILIPSBURG—Right after having represented Sint Maarten at the “International Workshop
of Scholars and Parliamentarians” in Patagonia, Argentina, President of Parliament Grisha
Heyliger-Marten attended the EUROLAT General Assembly plenary sessions in Buenos Aires.
The EUROLAT is a multilateral parliamentary assembly, consisting of 75 members from
Latin-American and Caribbean regional parliaments, and 75 members of the European
During the sessions, formal decisions are taken on operational matters including
appointments, the approval of the budget, and the adaptation of resolutions. The plenary
sessions of the General Assembly are preceded by committee meetings covering subjects
like sustainable development, social development, political affairs, finances and economic
According to Heyliger-Marten, the real added value of attending the sessions for St.
Maarten lies in the opportunity to meet influential parliamentarians from both sides of the
Atlantic in formal and informal settings. “As was the case during the Parlatino meetings in
March and the workshop in Patagonia earlier this month, I was able to personally explain
the challenges St. Maarten and the other Dutch Caribbean islands currently face within the
Kingdom” according to Heyliger-Marten.
In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, Heyliger-Marten stated that she was very
encouraged and inspired by the understanding and support she received when she pointed
out the bottlenecks in the relationship with the Netherlands.
“According to a number of senior Parliamentarians that I spoke to from this region and from
Europe, the Government of the Netherlands has created a perception of humanity,
compassion and respect for international law. They were therefore astonished when I told
them about the intentions of the Dutch Government to pass a COHO law which infringes on
the autonomy of the islands, and that the CERD issued recommendations related to this in
August of last year”, Heyliger-Marten said.
She also updated her fellow-Parliamentarians on the status of the petition filed with the
United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance “ and “Working Group of Experts on
People of African Descent”.
According to Heyliger-Marten, she also had productive talks with high-ranking
representatives of the Central American Parliament, also known as PARLACEN. The
PARLACEN is the political institution and parliamentary body of the Central American
“I am very pleased that both EUROLAT and PARLACEN indicated that they are willing to
formally table the issue of the constitutional relationships within the Dutch Kingdom during
their next General Assemblies”, she stated.
“PARLATINO and COPPPAL (The Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America)
have both issued resolutions in support of the Dutch Caribbean islands during the past few
years. I look forward to the formal support from PARLACEN and EUROLAT for St. Maarten’s
quest for constitutional reform and UN-based capacity building during the course of this
year as well”, said Heyliger-Marten.
According to Heyliger-Marten, dialogue based on absolute equality is the only way for the
Netherlands to engage the Dutch Caribbean in order to bring the required constitutional
reform about and ensure that the Kingdom Charter (het “Statuut”) is finally brought in line
with international law.
“In June of 2020, I suggested a Round Table Conference for all Kingdom partners as a first
phase of dialogue towards constitutional reform. In August of 2021, the CERD also
recommended the Netherlands to start dialogue with the Dutch Caribbean islands. And
more recently, both Prime Minister Pisas and Aruban MP Mike Eman called for a Kingdom or
Round Table conference”, Heyliger-Marten stated.
“There no reasons to wait. It is now time for action that will benefit the people of St.
Maarten in the long term. As such, I will be dispatching a letter to the Prime Minister
regarding the matter of the COHO trajectory, capacity building, and constitutional reform
based on the de Graaf and van Raak motions this week, and look forward to a speedy reply
With two IPKO’s coming up and the support of international and interparliamentary
organizations, I am very hopeful that 2022 will be a year of significant progress for St.
Maarten and its Dutch Caribbean sister islands”, Heyliger-Marten concluded.