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False Documents.

Dear Editor

The old saying goes that there is nothing new under the sun, but this is the first time I’ve heard of this. St. Maarten is the first country in the world to have developed two story lands. I'm talking about land, stacked on top of each other.

No, I'm not talking about air rights. I'm talking about land with the same identical borders, located on the same spot and sold or left to two different entities. The only way this could happen is if one parcel is stacked on top of the other, and we all know that's physically impossible, but, it can be done, with special effects, on paper, performed by the Cadastre department of St. Maarten and a Notary public.

These two entities, namely the Cadastre and Notary are our guardians of the land, so to speak, but to commit this act. they had to really dig deep to get this rabbit out of their hat. Out comes the squatter's right, giving ownership to someone, who in turn sells it to someone else. Fifty years later, no one is the wiser and even so, it's a done deal and irrevocable. In the meantime, they confiscate someone else's land, destroy that deed and all is good and dandy. Land is moved on paper and the two-story land has disappeared. The legal owner's heirs are either not affluent enough to retain legal counsel or are not interested because of succession land squabbles.

When the gentleman in Simpson bay was ripped off his land which he had submitted papers for, they said he made mistakes by not filing the correct papers. They even brought in a new term, namely, "Water rights", to bolster their contention, something nobody had ever heard of in St. Maarten. People who should have been disqualified for obtaining the land, produced a bag of papers documenting that they had submitted requests for the land, even though they were submitted much later than the man who was occupying it. I think he even proved that records were falsified, and maps were tampered with, all to no avail. He lost his case and 40 years of history was obliterated from our historical record.

Personally, I don't think that was the case. I think his papers were in order. That gentleman was also a victim of the two-story scenario. Only thing is, he is alive, so when they couldn't wait any longer to grab his land, they lowered their make-believe land unto his. That's when they brought in the water rights, surrounded him, probably obfuscated his documents, overwhelmed him with paperwork and the rest is history.

There are many honest, hardworking people working in the Cadastre department, but this charade of maintaining land records, maps and other Cadastre duties, performed by the criminal Cadastre personnel for their own enrichment must end. In my opinion, most of the ownership for land and other documentation has been tampered with. False annotations have been made to illegal Meetbriefs, to embellish the proof of being authorized to request Meetbriefs. These illegal Meetbriefs have served for people not entitled to land to obtain building permits and allowed them to build on land that they have no bond to.

Because of the lax enforcement of the prerequisites to request a Meetbrief, descendants of people who were allowed live on land, out of the goodness of the real land owner's heart, are now flying in the face of legal heirs. This farce must stop. The issuing of false land documents must be classified as Land Fraud. This is a crime. A major crime, that someone should have to answer for.

Francis D. Hodge

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