Opinion: Under the bus (definition of a St. Maartener)

POSTED: 10/9/11 10:16 PM

For some the subject is becoming a bit long in the teeth, but there are also plenty of people who will never give up on the subject: the definition of a St. Maartener. While this ought to be relatively simple to do, politicians treat the issue like a potato that’s too hot to handle.
We know at this moment for sure that at least 1,620 people who are on the island do not qualify: the 1,610 failed BTA-applicants plus the ten illegals that recently landed in Cay Bay and proved to be faster than Coast Guard officers.
Then there are of course the bogus employers that surfaced in the BTA-investigation. Even if they are local, does their fraudulent behavior not disqualify them from being the real McCoy? After all immigration scaremongers love to point out how illegals come to our island to commit crime (it’s true – some, but not all of them do). Should they not also condemn locals that use these illegals to commit crime as well, for instance by deporting them to Cuba or to the Falkland Islands?
Ah no, these locals may be criminals (that’s what we call people who break the law), but they are our criminals. Don’t touch.
Our friend Leopold James says that our politicians are throwing the true St. Maarteners under the bus, a touching image given the fact that most buses are driven by folks from other islands.
Let’s make this real simple and cut to the chase. A St. Maartener is someone who lives in St. Maarten and has legal residence, or someone who was born in St. Maarten and does not opt for another nationality, be it Cuban, Brazilian, Dominican, Jamaican or whatever. That’s it! Next to that we’ll entertain the ethnic St. Maartener in the diaspora, like the St. Maarten-American, the St. Maarten-Palestinian, the St. Maarten-Dutch, and so on.
This leaves of course the technical (or bureaucratic) problem that the St. Maarten nationality does not exist. It is not possible to write on a passport under nationality: St. Maartener. We are, in a way, a country without a nationality.
Does that matter? Not really, because such a nationality is relatively easy to come by. Just follow Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger’s lead to independence et voila: a new nationality is born.
However, this is not the choice the people made in 2000. They opted to become an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, so it is fair to say that we have no nationality (other than Dutch of course) because the people didn’t want it. Not yet, at least. In this respect the St. Maarteners threw themselves under the bus.

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