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< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
PARAMARIBO—Popular slavery novel “Hoe Duur was de Suiker” has gone from being the most read Surinamese story to becoming the most watched movie in the country. Movie cinema The Back Lot (TBL) in Paramaribo has reported that the movie produced by Dutch director Jean van de Velde has drawn more than 13,500 viewers since it premiered on January 5th. 0nly Hollywood action hero blockbuster “The Avengers” (2012) has attracted bigger crowds.
Hoe Duur was de Suiker is a historical novel by Surinamese writer Cynthia McLeod, set in 19th century colonial Suriname, when slavery was norm. It tells the story of two Jewish step sisters, Elza and Sarith and Sarith’s half-sister/ body slave Mini Mini. Growing up on a plantation alongside the Suriname River, in the Jewish settlement known today as Joden Savanne, the pampered Sarith fails to come to grips with the hardship of plantation life, while Mini Mini finds her own chance at love. The book was also published in English as “The Cost of Sugar”. The movie was shot entirely in South Africa.
The movie premiered in the Netherlands in September last year. It took a few months for TBL to get the rights for Suriname, cinema manager Erwien Emanuels said. “It is still filling rooms. It’s a movie with a lot of emotional value,” he said.
“It’s raining ice outside,” a young woman in southern Paramaribo yelled on Thursday night. Running out in her yard she flicked on her phone camera and filmed as little rocks of ice fell from the sky, rattling on her zinc roof and that of her neighbors. “Here, see,” she said, zooming into her left hand. “It’s hailing in Suriname.” Suriname web boards and Facebook groups came alive with these types of films that were shot when Suriname experienced the unprecedented weather phenomenon.
“I was home when it happened. I saw it too,” ABC’s Rudi Esajas reported. He said it had not been particularly cold when the hail started coming down. “Just a bit more than usual. And when it stopped hailing, the clouds opened up and it briefly rained really hard,” he said.
PARAMARIBO–Suriname has sold a majority share of its main banana plantation to Belgium headquartered fresh produce company Univeg. Parties announced yesterday that the Belgian holding has purchased a 90 percent stake in the publicly-owned banana export company “Stichting Behoud Bananensector Suriname” (SBBS). The purchase finalizes SBBS’ transition into private ownership; the release said the company will as of now be operating under a new name, Food and Agriculture Industries (FAI).
Univeg CEO Francis Kint said in a press release that securing a reliable source of bananas in the Caribbean benefits his company’s customers. “The business reasons for this acquisition are in line with our strategy to secure long-term sourcing requirements to optimally service retail customers. Univeg is aware of its responsibilities towards the local communities,” Kint stated.
SBBS was founded in 2004, succeeding Surland banana company that filed bankruptcy two years earlier. The company operates around 2,000ha of banana production in District Nickerie in western Suriname and has a turnover of US$65 million. The relationship with Univeg took off in 2006, when staff of the Belgian company toured the facilities and plantations.
PARAMARIBO–State oil company Staatsolie on Thursday signed a production sharing contract with a consortium including Norway’s StatOil and Britain’s Tullow Oil to explore an area offshore the coast of Suriname. Under the contract, the consortium will invest US$35 million in a block on the Demerara plateau 200 kilometers offshore, a press release stated.
“This is a historical moment as Suriname will search for oil reserves again after 35 years in the Demerara plateau,” Wim Dwarkasing, deputy director for exploration of Suriname’s Staatsolie, said. The area has a surface area of approximately 8,480 square kilometers.
PARAMARIBO–Privately owned local airline Blue Wing has intentions to spread its wings to destinations in the region.
Managing Director Amichand Jhauw said yesterday he will be traveling to The Netherlands soon to resume talks with Royal Dutch airline KLM about acquiring two Fokker aircraft. “We have reached our peak in Suriname a while ago already. But to expand further we need larger aircraft,” Jhauw said.
The airline has obviously not admitted defeat after two consecutive internal flights ended in disasters a few years ago. Passengers and crew lost their lives when the two Russia made Antonov aircraft crashed in two separate incidents. According to Jhauw actually gone on to establish itself as a credible carrier for internal flights. He said that most of the airline’s business is in carrying out regular and chartered flights for the mining industry. “But that’s all that brings us substantial income.”
PARAMARIBO–The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries LVV says it has purchased a Vessel Monitoring System that should help the Coast Guard get faster to fishermen in distress. A press release issued over the weekend by the Ministry said the system is currently being installed on the unit’s vessels.
“At present, if something happens with fishing vessels at open sea, it sometimes takes a while before the Coast Guard finds these boats and can render assistance,” the release said. It hinted that fisher folk can run into all sorts of problems while out at sea, ranging from engine trouble to falling victim to piracy.
PARAMARIBO–Management of national carrier SLM is confident it will be able to drag the airline out of the red in 2015. “As Management that is our goal. It will be difficult, but we are looking at several measures in 2015. SLM has been in existence for 50 years now and we have always been able to guarantee its continuation,” Commercial Director Clyde Cairo has said.
He admitted that the company has not listed a profit in 2013, as it has not in previous years, but said that this is due to challenges SLM had no control over. “It’s not easy; hard times don’t just disappear,” he said.
Among the measures the company is taking is the introduction of an SLM app for updated and the lease of a second aircraft to operate on the mid-Atlantic route, to the Netherlands. The new app was launched at the Vacation Fair in Utrecht last week as a new tool to reach passengers.
Cairo said the feasibility study about the new aircraft is almost finished. It will probably be an aircraft that is somewhat smaller than the Airbus A340-300 SLM will is currently operating on the mid-Atlantic route.
PARAMARIBO–Two leading sculptors have taken issue with the artistic quality of a sculpture of legendary politician Jaggernath Lachmon that was unveiled on the premises of the VHP party he was the founder of. “It is really unfortunate that people are calling this thing art, because it really is not,” painter and sculptor Erwin de Vries said.
The sculpture is the third such tribute to Lachmon who died in 2001 at age 85 after a long career in politics. A lawyer by trade, he founded the Associated Hindustani Party in the fifties, which would later become he Progressive Reform Party VHP that celebrated its 65th anniversary last week. He stood at the cradle of Suriname’s transition to independent country in 1975 and joined forces with political opponents in the late eighties to form the New Front for Democracy that entered the first democratic elections since the military coup of 1980. There is also a sculpture of his at the Independence Square in Paramaribo. In 2012 residents of District Nickerie, where Lachmon was born, unveiled a buste of his in the center of district capital Nieuw Nickerie.
The new sculpture was unveiled by current VHP leader Chandrika Sanhoki amid an extensive anniversary celebration last week, that also served as a political rally toward the elections of 2015. Lachmon appears with his trademark black trousers and white shirt, horn rimmed glasses planted firmly on his nose, his arms hanging stiff down against his body.
PARAMARIBO—The tourism industry is growing exponentially, an official of the Suriname Tourism Authority STS has reported. There were 183.000 tourists in January through September 2013; the statistics over the last three months of the year are still being calculated, but according to STS Marketing Manager Martin Panday the final figure will be in the area of 240,000.
The country welcomed 150.000 visitors in 2009. Panday said that by 2012 that number had climbed to 240,000. He calculated that visitor numbers have grown by eight percent each year. If STS’ marketing strategies go according to plan, the numbers should double by 2017; by 2020 Suriname should get 500,000 tourists, he said.
PARAMARIBO—The Governor of Suriname’s Central Bank has gone on the defense about the sale in 2013 of part of the country’s gold reserve. “If the gold was not sold Suriname would have lost almost US$ 20 million from the drop in gold prices on the world market,” Gilmore Hoefdraad said recently.
The sale of some 26 percent of the Central Bank gold reserves had prompted a barrage of criticism throughout 2013. “It stinks,” former President Ronald Venetiaan had said in Parliament in March after the sale was just announced. “It almost like a déjà vu. Previously (Desi) Bouterse regimes were notorious for systematically canaling away gold reserves from the Central Bank.” Venetiaan, chairman and then parliamentarian in the opposition for the National Party Suriname (NPS), reflected on corruption scandals during the military reign in the eighties and during the presidency of Bouterse associate Jules Wijdenbosch. “Once bitten, twice shy,” the veteran politician who has since retired had sneered.