Destruction of the Diamond Estate site: several Sint Maarten deputies call for an emergency meeting on heritage preservation


Independent MPs Solange Ludmila Duncan and Grisha Heyliger-Marten, as well as Progress Party (PFP) MP Melissa Gumbs last Wednesday called for an urgent public meeting on the issue of heritage protection.

Following the demolition on the night of Monday 23 to Tuesday 24 January of the ruins of the Diamond Estate in Cole Bay and in the face of the indignation of the inhabitants of the island, the deputies quickly called for a public meeting to discuss this unspeakable act, but above all regulations that would prevent such an incident from happening again in the future.

The Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) and the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) were invited to travel to Parliament to debate current legislation and policy on heritage preservation and management, and to take stock of the ongoing work of the Monument Council and the long-awaited Monument Fund.

“What is extremely disappointing is that this year marks the 160th anniversary of Emancipation Day. The reenactment of the race for freedom each year has become a precious source of pride and ancestral bond for me and many others", underlines Solange Ludmila Duncan, before adding "We are also discussing throughout the Kingdom of the impact of slavery and colonialism and how we must move forward as a people and yet on this island we continue to allow our heritage to be destroyed in the name of capitalism and overdevelopment” .

For Grisha Heyliger-Marten, her main concern is that the government is not taking the necessary steps to preserve heritage sites.

“Heritage provides traces of our past and shows how our society has evolved,” she says. “It helps us to better know our history, our traditions and allows us to develop an awareness of ourselves. It is essential to understand where we come from”.

Grisha Heyliger-Marten ended her remarks with a quote from Marcus Garvey: “A people who are unaware of their past history, origins and culture are like a tree without roots”. _AF

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