The Dutch national of Guyanese origin is also officially tasked with representing the interests of Guyana and its people in St. Maarten with extended services being offered to Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, Curacao and Aruba as it becomes necessary.
He said Guyana has, through this appointment, taken steps to strengthen ties, stimulate business and regularise their relationship with St. Maarten. For many years, the consulates in Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados provided services to the Dutch Caribbean territories. However, with the growing Guyanese population in the Dutch Caribbean islands, Guyana government found it necessary to appoint an Honorary Consul in St. Maarten.
Beresford officially started on June 1, after a process that took almost a year of planning, training and extensive screening. Laying the foundation for his plans as consul is a responsibility that Beresford has taken on with zeal.
He has commissioned a personal plan of action that involves strengthening Guyanese living on these islands in relation to them knowing their rights and responsibilities, streamlining consul services, deepening community ties and fostering mutually beneficial trading connections.
His intention for strengthening ties falls under the heading “Being a good neighbour.” He said, “Guyanese have pride and enthusiasm about being good neighbours.” This pride should be extended to doing the right thing for all involved; Beresford explained that his office will facilitate cultural exchanges and neighbouring crime watches.
While he knows that some Guyanese run into legal challenges while living on the islands, the majority are law-abiding residents, who love working and contributing to making an even more beautiful place they call home. He said his service entail representing all Guyanese, even the ones accused of crimes. His plan is to offer an education programme that will aim to keep people away from negative actions that might see them incarcerated and eventually deported. An integration initiative is being developed for residents – not only Guyanese but all who are interested in creating a better homeland.
Acknowledging that there are still some Guyanese, who reside in the various Dutch territories in an undocumented fashion, he is of the opinion that the majority of those persons are meaningfully employed. He said his office in no way condones such situations, but he knows that many of these persons are just trying to make a better life for themselves. He made it clear that his office will not be in a position to “fix any papers,” referring to facilitating residence permits. He will only be able to advise persons in such situations, on the best way to deal with their specific legal scenario. No Guyanese will be turned away from accessing the services of his office, Beresford explained.
His office offers passport renewal, copies of birth certificates, and certificates stating bachelor or spinsterhood. On the business side, he will facilitate investments in Guyana and St. Maarten and provide tourism related information for persons interested in visiting Guyana.
He added that a database of all Guyanese living in the Dutch territories, including those naturalised, will be established so as to garner a better understanding of persons residing on these islands. One of the things he is particularly proud of is the fact that Guyana has provided St. Maarten with a lot of educators over the years. He intends to contact some of these teachers and ask them to contribute to a brighter St. Maarten, asking them to volunteer their skills to help some of the less fortunate of St. Maarten.
He said classes in various subjects will be offered in the hope that knowledge brings people together. He is of the opinion that a close working relationship with the Guyana St. Maarten Association will be one of the ways of ensuring that some of these initiatives are realised. His office, located on 158 B Back Street, in the space the association currently uses, will operate Monday to Friday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.
Beresford, along with his team, envisions a greater level of involvement of Guyanese in various community minded events. He will reach out to district policing groups, organisations and service clubs to see how they can work together. The consul said many Guyanese already contribute heavily as volunteers and with his plan; more Guyanese will become volunteers in an effort to make St. Maarten a better place.
The Dutch Kingdom and Guyana have a long and rich working relationship and Beresford believes this relationship will continue to grow. Beresford said a trade mission is in the planning phase and he expects the event, which is scheduled for September, will facilitate very fruitful cross trade possibilities.
He said Guyana is a developing country in the region and this status brings with it a level of stability that is favourable for cross trade. Beresford pointed out that Guyana already has some thriving trade with the Dutch Caribbean and will without a doubt increase that trade presence. He urges persons interested in investing to get in touch with the consulate via goguyana.org and participate in the upcoming trade mission.
Beresford has built a name for himself in the insurance and aviation industries of the Dutch Caribbean. He moved from Guyana to Curacao in 1972 to work at Crown Life Insurance of Canada. Within two years, he was on St. Maarten developing the Dutch West Indies Insurance Brokers – a company which he explained set the foundation for the formation of other insurance companies on the island. In 1976, Beresford, who is proficient in Dutch and Papiamentu, became a professional pilot and launched his aviation career. His experience and expertise has seen him working in several countries in the Caribbean and around the world, including the Netherlands and the Middle East.
Beresford, who has five children who were born in the Dutch Kingdom, said he is honoured and humbled by the task given to him by the Guyana and Dutch governments. He said as the first consul designated to the Dutch Caribbean, he takes his task seriously and plans to build a strong foundation for his office