St. Maarten adds another 109 Dutch citizens to its community

POSTED: 05/11/12 12:19 PM

LITTLE BAY-Country Sint Maarten welcomed one hundred and nine Dutch citizens in a naturalization ceremony on Thursday at Divi Little Bay Resort. Of the group, 58 were girls and women and 51 boys and men, all between ages 3 to 78.

In handing over the individual Royal Decrees to this effect, Governor Eugene Holiday said that obtaining the Dutch nationality is a very special moment in a person’s life following a long process. He charged the gathering to take their citizenship transformation seriously, using it to contribute to the development of the island. “I advise each of you to respect the St.Maarten song, to salute the Dutch and St.Maarten flags, to observe and celebrate St.Maarten Day, to acquaint yourself with St. Maarten’s history and culture and to seek to serve your new country, our new country.”

Knowledge of the constitutional principles of the Kingdom, residency, parental ties, good conduct and an obvious attachment to the social and cultural fabric of St.Maarten are a few of the prerequisites for obtaining Dutch nationality, Governor Holiday said.

In an invited comment, Consular Affairs officer Kim Somers said that effective January 1, 2011 all persons applying for naturalization were mandated to take the examinations in Dutch and English thereby demonstrating their proficiency in the mother tongue. However, the group of 109 people was a mixture of Dutch and non-Dutch speakers. It was evident that some of the candidates had trouble repeating “Dat verklaar en beloof ik” (that declare and promise I) and “Zo waarlijk helpe mij God almachtig (so help me God Almighty).   After a few spirited attempts they got it right.

Other persons took the Declaration of Solidarity as a family. The Sanchez family all stood together in front of the Governor and fluently professed their allegiance to the ideals of the Dutch Kingdom.

The new Dutch citizens came from varying backgrounds and countries such as Santo Domingo, Guyana, India, Haiti, Suriname and Dominica. One of them, eighteen year old Johnny Joe was born to a Haitian mother on St.Maarten. He said that he was overwhelmed with joy at finally having his status sorted out. “I faced a lot of trials and tribulations getting to this point. It was so difficult but I feel like a lot of doors have finally opened for me. Many changes are coming my way and I am ready to attack them all.” Joe attended the St.Maarten Academy and one day plans to further his studies. He said that the moment was a bit bittersweet for him since his parents were not present at the occasion. “They were very busy today,” he explained.

After three weeks, the new citizens will be allowed to uplift their Dutch passports at the Census Office once they have presented the Royal Decree and other legal documents.

Throughout the ceremony, the Dominicano grandmother of one of candidates kept shouting, “Thank you government, thank you Jesus, it’s now over!” Her grandson would finally receive a Dutch passport.

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