MARIGOT, St. Martin – “This year 2015 was a painful one at a societal point of view: The terrible November 13 attacks in France of course, but also those in Mali, in Tunisia, in the United States … reminds us of how much our society models, our lifestyles, our values, have become targets of barbarians, willing to do about anything to attempt to weaken then,” Union pour la Democratie (UD) council member Daniel Gibbs said in the meeting of the Territorial Council on Thursday.
“Our society models, our lifestyles, our values are by no means to be taken for granted. Voltaire’s Candide invites us to cultivate “our garden.” Three centuries later, how relevant remains this invitation! We need to undertake – each one at our level – a double fight against barbarism and in the defense of our common and courageously republican values. What is happening nationally is also true at a local level: We can no longer content ourselves by declaring that we are the “Friendly Island”. We have to put a true meaning to it, live up to it, we have to demonstrate daily in our stands, in our actions, in our behavior, in dealing with others how much we are attached to be part of a common destiny.”
Gibbs called upon the entire civil society, and on his colleagues in the territorial council to make themselves heard by the others. “I’m tired, and sometimes outraged by certain hate speeches, which only draw the different communities against each other. We deserve to live in peace in St Martin.”
To those dangerous reactionaries who still haven’t understood – or pretend not to – the development and the harmonious living together of our Collectivity can only be done by building on the richness and contributions of all communities living on this island, Gibbs said, adding that he wanted to send out a warning.
“I invite everyone to turn his tongue not three but seven times in his mouth before making sweeping statements: one can create the “buzz” without having to do evil. But I will end my point, by calling, once again, for extreme vigilance and respect for one another.”
Gibbs called for a minute of silence to commemorate the victims of the Paris terrorist attack.
“A country cannot be managed on a day to day basis like a grocery store, we needs visionaries, not shopkeepers. Everyone must be able to understand what is our objective, our means and in which direction our island is heading,” Gibbs continued after the interval. “The stumbling blocks of the PLU, the Grand-Case beach affaire are two examples of how the lack of consultation and of process, can lead to an immense waste. The UD group still doesn’t understand why it was necessary to vote in the territorial council on banning the beach chairs. Our beaches are public domain, and it is up to the Collectivity to make and manage the occupancy rules and to enforce the existing ones. It is based on this simple legal postulate that we have abstained from voting on this meaningless deliberation.”
Gibbs said that he was reproached on a radio station for taking sides with Grand-Case professionals. “This is ridiculous. I simply regretted an administratively unnecessary decision. I would have preferred a more conciliatory approach with these professionals.”
There are no sides to take in this case, Gibbs said, adding that it would be dangerous to do so. “The discontent of the inhabitants of Grand-Case has to be taken very seriously; but also the concerns of the professionals. I just wish for a solution to be found in a collective effort.”