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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 every 2 weeks for St. Barths Online!
  September 4, 2002 - Issue # 24
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   A forceful speech
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   The island's top ranking public servant, Bruno Magras, delivered the mayoral address, part and parcel of the fare that is served every August 24, which in these parts, is St. Barthélemy Day. Though the speech was expected (traditionally, the mayor uses the occasion to transmit a key political message to the populace on this day), its content and the intensity of its delivery came as somewhat of a surprise. In short, the mayor told St. Barth residents that he was not about to let the reputation of the island be tarnished by an unruly few. What he was referring to specifically was the rise in petty crime for the first semester of the year. "This is not going to become a place where people can do whatever they want with complete disregard for the law," explained Magras emphatically, adding that the majority of the infractions registered were committed by local St. Barth youth. Though Magras' speech targeted local marijuana dealers, he also publicly deplored the attitude of many island parents. Rather than spend time with their children, Magras accused many parents of shrugging off their parental responsibilities and turning a blind eye to delinquency and drug use. The mayor also chided the homeowners who indiscriminately rented out their properties without requiring rental contracts or security deposits. "There are people who are lured here because they see a TV show about the island and think that it is the paradise they've been looking for. Many of those people never find jobs, or become traffickers, others don't have enough money to even return to where they came from." After laying down the law, the mayor asked the presiding government official, the deputy prefect, to provide the St. Barth community with the financial means to increase manpower in the government-financed gendarmerie. For the past 20 years, the island has disposed of six full-time and three part-time gendarmes, even though, in that same time period, the island's population has doubled. In an effort to put the rising crime statistics into perspective, the deputy prefect told the public that the numbers reflect better crime detection and law enforcement, the result of the new brigade commander who took office one year ago.
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  Had you listened to the speeches on St. Barth Day 2002, you might have been led to think that the island had become a dangerous place. There is no doubt that domestic security is a real concern in mainland France, but in St. Barth, it would be inaccurate to speak of public safety as an endangered species. St. Barth continues to be one of the rare spots in the world where you can (usually) still leave your keys in the car and come back to find them both.
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  Once the speeches had concluded, the mood relaxed, and the evening gave way to lighter entertainment. After elections, fifteen year-old Brithalia Magras was crowned as the first Miss St-Barth ever, an honor she and her family will no doubt wear proudly for the next year. The following day, festivities shifted to the Corossol quarters, marking the end of summer. This week, like everywhere in France, school will start for all of St. Barth's 1,200 registered students.

  More to come,

  Yves Bourel


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