About a year ago, our family was vacationing on the beautiful Caribbean island paradise of St. Maarten, the Dutch side of the two-nation island. Today, unrest is taking over the French side of the island (St. Martin). The troubles appear to have started in the early morning hours of Thursday, December 12th and reportedly are related to lingering issues from Hurricane Irma.
The St. Maarten News Facebook page, which has French editors on that side of the island and has posted the most updates on social media, described the turmoil as a general strike and lock down. Calling it a “stand against the PPRN, the water problem, title of land and rebuilding of your homes,” the incidents reflect a general sense of discontent among inhabitants of St. Martin.
Video from the French side of the island is shocking. Cars on fire, barricades, petrol bombs and tear gas dominate a landscape that normally occupies slots in newscasts with images of palm trees, white sand beaches and tourists sunning themselves.
For more updates, please visit the St. Maarten News Facebook page linked to above. It has been providing the most updates since the incidents started Thursday morning. Please note that the posts are not for the faint of heart and provide only one point of view of the current events on the island. You can also find more news at The Daily Herald.
I will post more updates to this article as I come across them.
The current unrest is limited to the French side (St. Martin) only.
The US has issued a travel advisory (level 1 – the lowest level) for the French side of the island, St. Martin. From the advisory:
“Location: French Saint Martin
Event: Roads connecting Dutch and French Saint Martin may be potentially impassable due to road blocks and protest activity.
Dutch Saint Martin (Sint Maarten) authorities are prepared to receive tourists transported from French Saint Martin. Travelers at Princess Juliana International Airport in Dutch Saint Martin (Sint Maarten) may not be able to travel to French Saint Martin.
Actions to Take:
• Avoid demonstrations
• Monitor local media for updates
• Keep a low profile
• Be aware of your surroundings
• Notify friends and family of your safety
• Consider deferring travel to French Saint Martin and making alternate arrangements”
You can click the above link for more on assistance and other information.