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  Yves Bourel has been living in St. Barts for more than 10 years. He is an experienced journalist and has been the editor-in-chief for local newspapers. Currently, he is one of the radio announcers at Radio St. Barth for whom he covers political news and is presenting the local news once or twice a month for St. Barths Online!
  March 18, 2003 - Issue # 32
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   No outpatient surgery in Gustavia hospital this year
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   Patience, patience. The surgical unit that was expected to be set up in Gustavia's Hopital de Bruyn won't be happening any time this year. As with all things concerning the hospital, mounting the dossier is taking more time than expected, and with no new deadlines in site, it is unclear as to when the first scheduled outpatient surgeries will actually be able to take place. For budgetary reasons, initial project originally foresaw acquiring a pre-owned surgical unit from a hospital in Marie-Galante, but that idea seems to have been scrapped for good.
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   New island status : the buzz
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   Island residents were invited to an open debate on a topic that is of particular residents in St. Barts : a new status for the island. Sponsored by a local newspaper, the debate featured three speakers, legal experts from Guadeloupe population, who were called in to shed some light on what the changes would mean for islanders. After reviewing the legal and constitutional conditions for a change of status, the speakers highlighted the two conditions that must be met for this type of change to be successfully carried out : a consensus among the members of the political class about the rightness of the change, and the backing of the island's voting population as determined by a referendum vote.
Only one elected official, regional councilman, Nordleing Magras, has opposed the status change. His is the only voice to break the otherwise unanimous approval that council members have shown mayor Bruno Magras. The question should be put to islanders sometime this autumn to see whether or not it is the majority It is the majority wish that St. Barts be administratively separated from Guadeloupe, doted with local powers to govern and benefitting . To pass through the project, local officials will have to sell the idea to the voting public, and this will require greater, more specific information about the brass tacks of the shift and how it will affect the every day lives of St. Barts residents. Business and political leaders may be able to provide more of those answers once they return from their meeting with France's overseas minister.
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   Airport Security to be tightened
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   Airport officials have decided to invest in security measures that should facilitate travel for passengers. In the near future, outbound passengers will be screened, and their bags electronically scanned to make sure that they provide no security threats. Until now, most airlines refused to check outbound bags through to their final destination because they had not gone through the proper controls. Once the new check-in and screening procedures are in place, St. Barts travellers will be spared the baggage check-in procedures in St. Martin.
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   Peace Vigil held in St. Barts
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   Like thousands of other organizations and groups throughout the world, people gathered in St. Barts to hold a peace vigil on Sunday night. The evening began with a meditation for peace, followed by a candle-lighting ceremony scheduled at 7 pm. In all, it is estimated that 5,500 such peace vigils were observed in more than 120 countries throughout the world. The meditation group was joined by others who came to participate in a spontaneous peace celebration that drew about 100 people who came to express their hopes for peace and to enjoy the music of Alerte 2B, a local band who gave a free concert.
In St. Barts, opinions on going to war vary, but the business sector concurs that the escalation of conflict will undoubtedly slow down the tourism-based economy. In 1991, during the first Gulf war, tourism figures dropped by 30%.

  More to come,

  Yves Bourel


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