by Eulana Weekes
St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Prime Minister and Minister of National Security and Immigration in the Government of St.Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew revealed that there had been cases of illegal marriages taking place in the country; with questions arising on whether or not the Federation is a hot spot for human trafficking.
Speaking on the final day of the Budget- December 19, 2022, Dr. Drew explained that the illegal marriages involved individuals from the Spanish community, allowing them to gain citizenship and voting rights.
“Madam Speaker, I found in my own ministry a “ring” -a ring of illegal marriages. Madam Speaker, let me tell you how this ring works because I have it written down here. There is somebody in Santo Domingo who’s charging a lot of money for a Visa. You pay them for a Visa there, they have a connection here. So you buy a plane ticket and you come in with your very expensive Visa of which this Government is only making 10 percent. When they come in Madam Speaker, a husband or wife is waiting for them. So they [went], marry [and that’s] more money again, Madam Speaker. From the time they get married- the same day, sometimes in their wedding garments, they [go] for their Certificate of Marriage, after they get the Certificate of Marriage, they get their certificate of Citizenship and [go into] the Electoral Office for [an] Id. Once they go for their ID Madam Speaker, they are paid a certain sum of money and their name is included on an electoral list to vote.”
Notwithstanding that there are possible legal marriages within those being investigated, Drew explained that some of the individuals involved in the marriage ring have been abusing the system, by marrying and divorcing several times to gain money.
Drew expressed “Madam Speaker, I am speaking the truth…I have a box of a few hundred [cases]. I don’t even know where to start, because among them might be real marriages; but because there are so [many] fake marriages among them, you don’t even know where to start, Madam Speaker. Thousands upon thousands of dollars; and this is how it works- “You come, you marry, you divorce, you marry again and then you pass on the citizenship here, there and everywhere. That is how it works Madam Speaker. Those persons who are involved in it will say “well [give] me a $3,000 and then they divorce and then they look for another marriage because that’s another quick $3,000.”
The Prime Minister revealed that he had a meeting with the Latino Community and explained to them what the government had identified. He also informed that conversations with some of the Spanish nationals proved that there is no real relationship between them and their marriage partner.
“I went to a meeting with the [Spanish] Community and they have legitimate concerns which we have to address because, as was said, we cannot treat people less than human; but at the same time, every country must have rules, laws and regulations as I said to them. Not even in their own country can it be done like that. “You’re asking a married person, “what is your husband’s name? [and they respond] “Well I think- I can’t remember the first name” and [they’re] married. [They were] saying to the AG (Attorney General) or saying to the officials, “well, I don’t know his name; I call him babes.”
Drew added “I spoke to them directly. I had a meeting with the [Spanish] community, because I said, we’re going to treat people humanely; but I told them, this is what I uncovered and discovered and therefore, we cannot continue that path. It’s a whole ring where we were even being questioned to be part of Human Trafficking. Madam Speaker, people have to be responsible for these things. Our country was going down the drain.”
The Hon. Dr Timothy Harris- former Prime Minister and Minister of National Security was not present on the final day of the Budget Debate, but Prime Minister Drew called on Dr.Harris publicly to accept the responsibilities and respond to the situation at hand.