Gilberto François Croes and Aruba’s “Dia di Betico”

On January 25 Arubans commemorate the birthday of the late pro-autonomy political leader, Gilberto François (Betico) Croes, who helped the island attain the Status Aparte. With this new status, Aruba was given autonomy from the Netherlands Antilles and was allowed to function as a commonwealth within the Dutch kingdom. Since 1989 his life and contributions are honored by celebrating Dia di Betico [Betico Day]. This official holiday also features performances, lectures, sporting events, and games throughout the island.

Gilberto François Croes, often called Betico, is often called the father of the Aruban nation. Croes studied in Holland where he was very active in Caribbean organizations. He returned to Aruba to work as a school teacher. He was also very active in sports as well as social and cultural spheres. He is credited with instituting the official seal, flag, and hymn for the island of Aruba. In 1971, he became the leader of the MEP (Movimiento Electoral di Pueblo) political party. He was also responsible for formally setting the date for Aruba’s independence for 1991, at the Round Table Conference of 1981. Later, at the Round Table Conference in March 1983, the date for Aruba’s independence was changed from 1991, and set in two stages. In the first stage, Aruba’s independence from the Netherlands Antilles was set for 1986; the second step was to grant independence from the Netherlands ten years later, in1996.

Unfortunately, Croes was never conscious to see the results of his ongoing struggle as he lapsed into a coma after an accident on December 31, 1985 (the eve of the status aparte success). He died on November 26, 1986. Arubans never forget the words of this great man, who said, “Si mi cai na caminda, gara e bandera y sigui cu e lucha” [If I fall along the way, grab the flag and continue the struggle].

For full article (in Papiamento), see http://www.institutodicultura-aruba.com/auacultura/pap/main.htm

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