On 25 January, Arubans celebrate the birthday of their “founding father”, on Betico Croes Day. Gilberto Francois Croes, nicknamed “Betico”, was the main leader of the movement to gain Aruba a separate status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
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Formerly, Aruba had been a part of the Netherlands Antilles, but that changed in 1986. Then came a second-stage, in 1996, wherein Aruba was separated from Netherlands but still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Betico Croes spent much of the energy of his life in promoting Aruban independence. He went into a coma, however, just before his dream finally became a reality on 31 December, 1985.
Betico Croes was the one who fought to obtain the referendum in 1977 in which 83 percent of Arubans voted for independence. He was also instrumental in the design of the flag and seal of Aruba and in the composition of its official hymn. The national hymn, however, differs from the national anthem.
On Betico Croes Day, there are numerous festivals, sports competitions, a Harley bike tour, folklore shows, an abundance of traditional Aruban cuisine, and many other events that take place. It is a truly festive time on the island as they remember the “father of Aruban independence”.