We celebrate our national hero

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The island of Aruba has a special day coming up this Monday, January 25th. In a non-pandemic situation the island would have lots of festivities that honor the late pro-autonomy political leader Gilberto Francois (Betico) Croes. He helped the island attain the Status Aparte.

Aruba was allowed to function as a commonwealth within the Dutch Kingdom and Betico is honored for this outcome since 1989 by celebrating the Dia di Betico. The official holiday normally features performances, sporting events and games throughout the island. Still we as Arubans celebrate our national hero, in social distance and in our hearts.

Croes himself was not able to enjoy the results of his ongoing struggle; he was involved in an accident on December 31, 1985, and got into a coma. He passed away on November 26, 1986. For the Aruban people, his words will never be forgotten. He told his people: “Si mi cai na caminda, gara e bandera y sigue cu e lucha” which means “If I fall along the way, grab the flag and continue the struggle.”

Active man

The father of the Aruban nation, as he is called often, was an active man in Caribbean organizations while he studied in the Netherlands. Betico was a social man, participated in sports and the social and cultural community. He worked as a teacher and instituted the official seal, flag and hymn for the island. During the Round table Conference of 1981, he was responsible for formally setting the date for Aruba’s independency. Betico also became leader of the political party Movimiento Electoral di Pueblo (MEP), now the main party that forms the current government that was elected in September 2017. There were two stages in which the Independence was formed: the first one was set for 1986, the second was set for ten years later and enhanced the independence from the Netherlands. However, it never came to a total independence of Aruba in 1996; it was dropped in 1990. The Status Aparte within the Kingdom of the Netherlands was to be a permanent one.