Saint Maarten/Saint Martin’s Commissioners of Tourism, Theo Heyliger and Romeo Fleming, strongly denounced the recent attack against two American men as “barbaric and heinous” and called for “swift justice.” In a joint statement Mr. Heyliger and Mr. Fleming, said of the assault, “The entire community of St. Maarten/St. Martin expresses its deepest sympathies for the pain and anguish suffered by Ryan Smith and Richard Jefferson, and their families, from the vicious attack that occurred on our Island.”
“We are appalled that such a violent act was committed on St. Maarten, a destination that has long been recognized for its safety, friendliness and absence of crime,” Mr. Heyliger and Mr. Fleming went on to say. “This community is committed to being a welcome environment for persons of all ethnic, religious and social preferences. We consider this to be an isolated incident that is in no way representative of the behavior of our citizens.”
Mr. Fleming pointed out that St. Maarten/St. Martin’s population is made up of more than 100 nationalities with varying lifestyles and have always worked together to create a safe and pleasurable environment for it’s visitors.
Mr. Heyliger assured visitors that the government of St. Maarten is totally focused on “identifying and apprehending the perpetrators who brutally attacked these men.” He said, “St. Maarten’s chief prosecutor and our police force are leading an extensive and intense investigation and I am confident that we will bring those responsible to justice in a timely manner.”
The two Commissioners further noted that meetings have been held with the private sector, including the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and the Association des Hoteliers the St. Martin (AHSM) in order to formulate an action/crisis community plan.
Both Commissioners assured the world that, “these kinds of crimes won’t go unpunished in St. Maarten/St. Martin. Violence on our island will not be tolerated.”
Located 150 miles southeast of Puerto Rico, St. Maarten/St. Martin boasts a rich history, more than 350 restaurants, 37 beaches, duty-free shopping, varied accommodations, diverse recreational activities, convenient day trips to neighboring islands, casinos and an active nightlife. The 37-square-mile island is the smallest landmass to be shared by two separate governments, with Dutch St. Maarten covering 16 square miles to the south and French St. Martin stretching 21 square miles to the north. As a result, residents comprise a melting pot of 140 nationalities and numerous languages and dialects. http://www.st-maarten.com/ ; http://www.st-martin.org/