Friday, April 14, 2006

St. Maarten/St. Martin responds to Archbishop

Dear Archbishop Simpson:

The entire community of St. Maarten/St. Martin would like to share its deepest sympathies for the pain and anguish Messer’s Ryan Smith and Richard Jefferson and their families have experienced from the vicious and unjustifiable attack that happened on our Island last week. We are shocked and extremely disturbed that such an act could be committed on St. Maarten/St. Martin, which as a destination has long been recognized for its safety and friendliness, having few serious crimes, especially involving our visitors and residents. Our community is committed to being a welcoming environment for persons of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, and sexual preferences.
Almost immediately upon learning of the attack last week on these two visitors to our Island, the government of St. Maarten has been focused on identifying and apprehending the criminals who brutally attacked them. St. Maarten’s chief prosecutor and police force are leading a highly professional and extensive investigation to bring these criminals to justice in a timely manner.
The entire community of St. Maarten/St. Martin has and continues to cooperate and collaborate with the search and investigative efforts underway, and we thank them for their support. It is our goal to remove the possibility of this type of violence from ever happening again on our Island.
We also want to combat any misperceptions that St. Maarten/St. Martin is intolerant of diversity. As a community, we pride ourselves on our acceptance of diversity. Our Island’s population is made up from more than 100 different nationalities with various lifestyles, all working together to create a safe paradise that is a pleasure to live in, to work in, and to visit.

In addition, we want to assure the world that this crime will be investigated as thoroughly and prosecuted. While violent crimes targeting specific cultures and lifestyles are atrocious, we consider this to be an isolated incident and absolutely not representative of the overall culture of our Island. Collectively, our community has genuine respect and understanding for all who visit and live in St. Maarten/St. Martin.

Thank you for your concern as we work through this very distressing time. We hope you will continue to support St. Maarten/St. Martin as a destination for all.

Regina La Bega
Director of Tourism, St. Maarten


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