Our Story, By Us
< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
By Marvin Hokstam
PARAMARIBO–While on Friday embattled do-gooder Sinterklaas and his slavish black faced helper Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) were getting pummeled by bad weather as they delivered goodies to children all over the Netherlands, Suriname was banning the tradition that has become the center of heated racism debates.
The Ministry of Education and Community Development MINOV said in a press release on Wednesday night that December 5th, Children’s Day would be celebrated without the “Sint and Piet”. “It is important that on Children’s Day the attention is focused solely on the children, as opposed to sub characters that don’t have any relationship with our culture,” the release said.
The resolute stance by the Ministry follows an unprecedented agreement among opposition and coalition parties in the National Assembly last year that Suriname should drop this controversial remnant of Dutch culture. The Sinterklaas tradition had already been scrapped in the eighties, but in recent years, spurred on by commerce, the bearded do-gooder and his pitch black helper somehow retraced their steps back into Suriname. Parliamentarians unanimously voted for his indefinite departure from the Surinamese scene.
PARAMARIBO—Three men –one of them a tourist from the Netherlands- faced a stiff fine after they were found with protected birds in district Commewijne last weekend.
Police reported that the two of the men claimed they had been touring the district when a man offered them red ibises; the species that is also known as scarlet ibis has a protected status throughout the world. The men bought 13 carcasses of the bird that is popular because of its brightly colored plumage. They were held by police after a villager saw them carrying the birds. The seller was also traced and arrested. The deal cost the men 13,000 Surinamese dollars (some US$ 4,000), 1000 Surinamese dollars for each bird.
PARAMARIBO–On Saturday, November 30th 2013, the A Ganar program, which is funded through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), graduated 142 youth who completed a comprehensive three-phased technical/ vocational and life skills training program and completed on-the-job training.
The program provides a second chance to school dropouts and other at-risk youth ages 16 to 24 and uses a team sports methodology to deliver life skills training. The Program is designed to combat youth unemployment.
The graduating youth were trained, mentored, counseled and guided through partnerships with five local foundations: Women’s Business Group, Stichting RUMAS, Pater Ahlbrinck Stichting, Stichting Vonzell and Stichting TANA. Over a seven to nine month period, the youth learned a variety of vocational skills such as administration (secretarial, office assistant), hospitality (culinary arts and serving techniques), welding, wood working, agriculture and elderly care.
PARAMARIBO–Gold miner IAMGOLD has announced that it will develop and operate a solar power project in Suriname. “The project will help meet the electricity requirements of the mine in district Brokopondo and at the same time free up power for use by other customers in Suriname, the company said in a press release.
The release said the solar installation will produce five megawatts; it will cost IAMGOLD about $14 million, including site access and preparation. It is slated to be operational from the beginning of the third quarter of 2014. “IAMGOLD is fulfilling a prior commitment to the Government of Suriname through this green project,” the release said.
Canada headquartered IAMGOLD since 2006 operates the profitable Gros Rosebel gold mine. In April this year the company signed a new agreement with Government, which cut IAMGOL’s 90 percent stake to 70, and effectively made Government a partner in Rosebel Gold Mines NV, the joint company that operates the mine in district Brokopondo, where in 2011 some 385,000 ounces of gold was produced.
AMSTERDAM–Women of Surinamese and Antillean origin are probably the hardest working women in the Netherlands, according to a report by the Dutch Bureau of Statistics CBS. The report that was released a few weeks ago also says that most employed Surinamese and Antillean work full time, even while it remains tough for women of their origin to land a job in the Netherlands.
The report says that only 27 percent of native Dutch women have a full time job, whereas 46 percent of the second generation non-western women work full time; the percentage for first generation non-western women is 36.
By Marvin Hokstam
PARAMARIBO–A website that offers Bulgarian passports for US$ 5,900 is probably nothing more than a perverse scam, but Bulgarian Vice President Margarita Popova has nonetheless instructed security services to investigate. The site was discovered by Bulgarian journalist Ivan Dimov of Trud Newspaper, investigating people who slip into his country with false passports. “I had never before heard of Suriname. When I told the Vice President about it she was shocked. They are looking into it, but the problem is that Bulgaria and Suriname have not established direct diplomatic relationships,” Dimov said.
The website makes big promises in return for the US$ 5,900. “Through our contacts in Sofia (Bulgaria) we are able to arrange legal residency in Bulgaria within 30 days. Full citizenship and passport can be arranged within 90 days,” it says, also offering entire family packages with the requirement of 30% advance pay. Payment is to be made to Filho and Carvalho Immigration Consultants, whose office is at Gompert Straat in Paramaribo.
Joint investigations by Dimov, DevSur and journalist Tom van Moll of De Ware Tijd showed though that the address is fake and the phone number is unlisted; it previously used to belong to a well-known hotel chain in the country. There was also no registration at Suriname’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Filho and Carvalho Immigration Consultants. The site itself is registered with a hosting company in Kirkland, Seattle, USA.
PARAMARIBO—The Dutch Government has given a lukewarm reaction to the petition for compensation the Surinamese Committee Reparations Slavery Past deposited at the Dutch embassy in Paramaribo. Committee chairman Armand Zunder said the letter he received says little.
“It was a diplomatic signal. It is just a confirmation of receipt of our petition and then a referral to the speech Social Affairs Minister Lodewijk Asscher gave at the slavery abolition anniversary celebrations on July 1st in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam,” Zunder told journalists. Asscher had then said that people today cannot be held responsible for what their forefathers did, and that the Dutch Government views the “stain of shame on its history with deep regret”.
Zunder had filed the first ever petition to The Netherlands for reparations to the descendants of slaves and natives in June, in which the Committee requests that the Netherlands acknowledges that people suffered.
PARAMARIBO–Government has submitted to Parliament, the draft legislation to reintroduce the military draft. “Barring other arrangements, every Surinamer who is a resident of Suriname and is between the ages of 18 and 35, is obligated to fulfill their military duty,” the first article of the legislation reads. The draft has already been approved by the Council of Ministers and also passed the Council of State.
It is accompanied by a draft legislation on “conscientious objections” that affords a waiver for those who are breadwinners, are indispensable, are studying, or are members of parliament. President Bouterse had indicated early on after his 2010 swearing in that he would push for reintroducing mandatory military service, for a minimum of 18 months. The draft was introduced in 1970 for men between 18 and 35, but the rule was shelved in 1992 in the aftermath of the internal war.
By Dr Cory Couillard
If your health isn’t enough to encourage you quit smoking, then the health of your baby should be. Smoking while pregnant increases the possibility of stillbirth, miscarriage and low birth weight – especially in teens and young adults.
Teens and young women have the highest reported smoking prevalence, and it’s only getting worse. The problem is kids experiment with tobacco and it often turns into a lifelong habit. Nearly 90 per cent of adults say they started smoking by the age of 18.
This is a reflection of aggressive tobacco industry marketing to girls. Tobacco companies advertise in magazines, market their brands through direct mail and adverts, promote their products in convenience stores and coerce youth through Internet websites and social media sites.
They fail to mention that tobacco smoke contains more than 7 000 chemicals and at least 60 cancer-causing compounds. Two compounds are especially hazardous to a mother and child: highly addictive nicotine and carbon monoxide.
From Trinidad Newsday
Last Sunday 11 delegates competed for the title of Miss Plus Size Caribbean Universe 2013 and 29-year-old Miss Suriname Cheryll Rijger emerged victorious.
The pageant, which was held at the Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s hosted delegates from various countries including Brazil, Bahamas and the USA. This was the second staging of this pageant, which was first held in Barbados last year. The new Miss Plus Size Caribbean Universe 2013 stopped by Newsday’s office earlier this week with pageant coordinator Pearl Williams, to talk about her winning experience in Trinidad and Tobago.
A well known singer in Suriname, she was understandably elated with her win. This was Rijger’s first pageant, but pageantry runs in her family as her younger sister was Miss Suriname World 2009. “She helped me with this pageant,” the new queen said smiling. “She taught me everything – how to sit, how to walk everything.”