Soualiga United held a press conference in Grand Case on Tuesday to brief the media on their protest action plan for Wednesday. (Robert Luckock photo)
MARIGOT—Motorcades departing simultaneously from the Bellevue roundabout and the Causeway roundabout on the Cole Bay side early Wednesday morning will pass through the Gendarmerie check- point, creating a two-way non-stop traffic flow in protest at the Préfecture’s decision to prolong border controls to October 1, at the same time sending a strong signal that the island refuses to be divided.
Citizens movement Soualiga United has criticised Préfète Délégué Sylvie Feucher’s “unilateral approach” to managing the COVID-19 crisis, calling it “counter-productive.”
The movement’s expected plan of action, which it describes as phase one, was revealed at a press conference Tuesday. The organisers have called for a peaceful mass mobilisation of the population, from both sides, to come out in all forms of transport; cars, trucks, two-wheeled vehicles to form the motorcades for the demonstration which is scheduled to start at 7:30am while marchers are also welcome to participate. The motorcades will turn at the Agrément roundabout on the French side and the Osborne Kruythoff roundabout in Cole Bay.
Participants are asked to wear black clothes and face masks, bring unity flags, and carry hand sanitizer and sufficient water to drink. A unity flag ceremony will be held at the border at 12:00pm. Businesses are asked to close for the morning in support.
“We are going to prove that we can circulate in our own country how we want,” said Conscious Lyrics Foundation President Shujah Reiph defiantly. “We are not going to allow anyone, no matter where they come from to stop us. We are not showing any passes in our own country. If anybody stops us, we cannot guarantee it’s going to turn out well.
“We cannot guarantee to the Préfète that it will be peaceful. The intention is that it will start peacefully. We are going to be demanding that check point be removed. We are asking everyone to be involved and we have the blessing of all sorts of groups; political, cultural, religious etc. After Wednesday, never again in the history of St. Martin will this country be blocked.”
Said Soualiga United member and political commentator Victor Paines: “We are asking the State to listen to the positions of Territorial Council, the Senator, the Députée for St. Martin and St. Barths, the Dutch-side Council of Ministers, the Parliament of St. Maarten, the business communities of both sides of the island. Above all we are asking the Préfète to cancel the executive order extending the border controls.”
Several speakers took part in the press conference, expressing their opinions on the crisis. They included Hélène Hunt from the Federation of Churches (FEDOC), Michael Hodge from the St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP), concerned parent Ketty Paines, Soualiga United member Victor Paines, concerned citizen Clara Reyes, President of SMCP Jacqueline Godet, Soualiga United member Agnes Alexander, Gilbert Rousseau, French-side Chamber of Commerce President Angèle Dormoy, founder of Soualiga United Jules Charville, Shujah Reiph, and President of Fédération Inter-Professionnelle de la Collectivité de St. Martin (FIPCOM) Michel Vogel.
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