We publish as we received it, a letter sent by one of our readers Jean Marc VERMOT de BOISROLIN
“IT IS TIME TO RAISE SAINT-MARTIN”
“Jean Marc VERMOT de BOISROLIN is this young Saint-Martinois who distinguished himself in August 2005 by initiating a conference on the development of Saint-Martin and the future of our youth. Organized at the Maison des entreprises at Concordia, the conference aroused great enthusiasm, particularly among the public and elected officials. But how have these same elected officials responded to all this enthusiasm, expectation and guidance over the past 17 years? Where is Saint-Martin today? Our young graduate is now 42 years old. Drawing on his international experience in the finance and wealth management sector within his many businesses in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and South Africa, this international CEO returns to us from Asia and reports on the places.
Optimistic by nature, I hoped to start this article about our beautiful island on a positive note, but that would disguise the truth and betray the trust of those who read me.
During my first public address, in August 2005, I drew the attention of our elected officials to the economic difficulties that our island would inevitably encounter in its transition from a municipality to a community. Above all, I insisted on our perilous lack of training, guidance and support for young people to meet the challenges that awaited us.
Since then, despite the distance, I have closely followed the evolution of the island, occasionally intervening and hoping for a rebound. But today, alas, the magnitude of the situation far exceeds my most pessimistic projections. From strike to strike, I have the impression that my Saint-Martin family no longer recognizes itself in its institutions, and that it absolutely does not understand the enormous budgets allocated to external consulting firms which do not provide any tangible solution. .
Is it my role as a citizen to blame? To forget that there was IRMA, the global health crisis, and now the war in Ukraine, and their economic consequences that we have not finished paying for? To vituperate only against the State and its sub-prefect? To blame only the management team and its president? Should I add my voice to those already numerous who speak of authoritarian drift, blind arrogance and primacy to the ego?
I do not believe that. Post-hoc criticism is always easy, and to appoint a scapegoat often means cynically exploiting realities that are much more complex than they appear at first sight. Looking at the past as if we could change it does little to public debate. And adding to the political slump or encouraging an ideological war has never helped any people to rise up, to rise up, and to build in unity.
But on the eve of the elections, curbing the desire to stigmatize does not prevent us from making observations. An observation is at least a starting point for progress without pointing out the individual failures of those in charge, without calling into question the goodwill of each other. We must focus on the methods, on the functioning of the institutions, the authorities, and their relationship with the field and the inhabitants. We must also take into account the context, because the situation of our island is not specific to it, it also reflects the situation of France, in all its complexity, and also that of the world and the crises it is experiencing.
What is this observation that I want to talk to you about?
From our economy, which has not been able to adapt to its administrative transition, to the challenges of IRMA, to the health crisis, or simply to the particularity of the island. What a disaster !
My experience, my businesses, my travels to the four corners of the world have shown me how rocks become a flourishing country, how deserts become world-famous attractions, how islands far exceed large countries in the well-being of its citizens.
Today, many destroyed businesses are still not reopened and no exception policy has been put in place to facilitate the restart of our economy, which despite some sporadic aid, remains on its knees. On the contrary, our administrations, like the State, have persisted in using old methods to face new challenges. Businesses are drowning in the administrative imbroglio. Investors are discouraged by the rigidity of the management of public affairs which is mechanical, almost robotic. Promoters of original projects are amazed to see that no room is left for adaptability and innovation to make our economy flourish.
Worse, the local authorities and the State differ on a subject as vital as the reconstruction of our island. Businesses are refused, building permits are canceled or blocked, and the PPRN looks more and more like a National Reasoning Sustainability Plan decided from Paris, far from our economic, social and environmental reality. That does not prevent us, of course, from welcoming with kindness the brand new sub-prefect Vincent Berton and from thanking his predecessor, Mr Serge Gouteyron, for his services rendered to the island.
From this plummeting purchasing power, to the point of putting seniors in difficulty and in extreme poverty. According to figures from Pôle Emploi published by the prefecture, category A seniors over 50 are now twice as likely to be looking for a job as at the start of 2012. Where is our dignity if we don't take care of our elders, if we leave them in misery as if we owe them nothing? The fall in purchasing power affects not only the poor but also the middle classes, while our island has all the capacities for its population to live comfortably.
From this endemic unemployment, which despite a recent upturn has continued to grow in ten years and reached record highs in 2021. Is it conceivable that entire neighborhoods have up to 70% unemployment? We are talking about our island, which is supposed to be in a developed country!
Of this poverty which is gaining more and more ground and which is bringing entire families to their knees, offering the world a spectacle of misery and desolation. Can we speak of solidarity, of fraternity when half of our island is poor?
Insecurity that continues to increase, jeopardizing our fellow citizens and tourism, which is nevertheless a vital income for our island. Lack of firmness, a moribund and sclerotic legal process, our young people plunged into mass unemployment, these are some of the ingredients that fuel thefts, assaults, the consumption and sale of drugs... If we don't hurry provide a future for our young people, we can only expect a calamitous future.
Training, with nearly 50% of our population without any diploma. How are we going to develop our island without having the necessary and essential skills? Will we, eternally, appeal to the outside to manage our administrations? Our companies? Our schools? Our security? Our institutions? All outside skills are welcome, but we must also participate ourselves at the highest levels of responsibility. I already denounced our shortcomings in 2005 and they are cruelly felt today. It must be noted that we have failed with the youth.
To live together, because I am one of those who believe that all people should be treated equally, regardless of their origin, color, religion, creed, or sexual orientation. It is also the deeply hospitable nature of the people of Saint-Martin that has made our island a center of attraction, “The Friendly Island”. Of course, I can understand some, and all communities, a certain withdrawal, as our population has grown from 8 to over 000 in just four decades. But the rejection of the other is deadly. It only fuels the discourse of resentment and hatred at all levels, including the political level. It is even at this time the fertile ground that some populists are cultivating claiming to access the highest offices of the state. The ugly face of a fractured community is not ours. Saint-Martin was built on the values of fraternity and openness to the world that our ancestors left us. It is up to us, the Saint-Martinois of today, to reaffirm this identity, to display it proudly, to cultivate it with strength, and above all to share it with fervor.
Sustainable development that is lagging behind, when we could make our island an example by giving nature its full place in all that it has to offer us: clean energy, quality of life, beauty, rich and prosperous lands that we all need to protect for future generations. Billions of euros are invested by the State and Europe in this area, and our island must receive its full share.
This is what I want to talk to you about today. Admittedly, my observation is harsh. But it is made for love. Because I love our island, with an unconditional love, anchored deep within me. Leave to come back better, that has always been my motto. It was out of the question to stay away, in comfort, as an indifferent and selfish spectator of this announced decay.
« A civilization that proves incapable of solving the problems caused by its functioning is a decadent civilization. A civilization that chooses to close its eyes to its most crucial problems is an affected civilization. A civilization that tricks its principles is a dying civilization. said Aimé Césaire.
I want to end on a note of hope: I say this with conviction, with certainty, I believe in the resilience of our island, in our residents, in our openness, in our ability to face the worst and to adapt to any situation, with our nerves of steel that no storm, no crisis, no institution will be able to constrain.
It is time to raise Saint-Martin and everyone must do their part in the common effort. I'll take mine. I will be alongside stakeholders, politicians, and those who are open to it. I will share my thoughts on all levels, economic, social, political and environmental... I will participate in the debate and in the reconstruction without ideological a priori, because I have only one doctrine, one interest, one party: Saint-Martin.
source of unemployment "
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