By Harald Linkels
Oranjestad- If State Secretary Raymond Knops last week received a warm welcome during his visit to St. Eustatius; the welcome Prime Minister Mark Rutte received today was even more abundant and obvious. Quite some people on the island made use of the opportunity to shake the Prime Minister’s hand or hold a short conversation with him. Various people asked to take a picture with Rutte. The Prime Minister obliged and patiently posed with those who asked.
The BES-Reporter was on the island during Rutte’s visit and heard mostly positive stories. “A lot of inhabitants said they were initially hesitant of outright sceptical”, said Sylvia de Leon from ABC Online Media. De Leon also heard quite some positive feedback about Kingdom Governor Mike Franco. “He really takes the time to listen to you and to listen to the problems you are discussing”, a union representative told De Leon. “Even if it takes two hours”, he added.
Most people De Leon spoke to, expressed cautious optimism as to the developments on Statia. Although the trip was short, Rutte took the time to meet the members of the social-advisory council, he visited the local egg farm on the island and he visited the site where car wrecks are being accumulated. Rutte also visited the Dive Shop in the bay of Oranjestad and the Lion’s Den. The Prime Minster seemed relaxed and took his time during every visit to listen to the people asking to speak with him. He was handed a token of appreciation at Fort Oranje from a family whose house had been restored.
The visit was closed off with a short press conference at the airport, where both Knops and Rutte answered some questions from the accumulated press, before boarding their plane again.