Rights of Belizean citizenship should be made clear - there is too much confusion

By Wellington C. Ramos

A person who is born in the country of Belize is automatically a citizen of Belize. A person who was not born in Belize but is the spouse, child or other offspring of a natural born Belizean citizen can apply for Belizean citizenship through marriage or “citizenship by descent", providing that he or she comes from a country that accepts Belize's territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty.

Most countries in the world accept Belize as an independent country except Guatemala, so legally Guatemalans are not entitled to Belizean citizenship. Even though thousands of Guatemalans have been granted Belizean citizenship in the past, this act was in violation of the Belize Constitution as it now stands. Guatemala has been claiming Belize for years as their territory and, due to this, all Belizeans were considered citizens of Guatemala up until the independence of Belize on September 21, 1981.

There should be a law that, if a person becomes a Belizean citizen from a country like Guatemala, he or she must swear to an "oath of allegiance” that they accept Belize as a sovereign nation with its territory intact and will not take up arms against Belize but will be willing to fight in defence of Belize if attacked by another country. I do not support revoking any person's citizenship from the country of his or her natural birth because the citizenship of the country where they were not born can always be revoked by the host country or countries.

Belize has an "economic citizenship program” where many people can purchase Belizean citizenships and be entitled to all rights and privileges like Belizeans who were born in the country.

I believe that people who were not born in a country should be given most rights to that country but not all the rights like natural born citizens. Especially, when it comes to being the prime minister of Belize. This office should only be for a natural born Belizean citizen. In studying US history, the Americans were always afraid that a person who became president that was not born in their country could sell America to another foreign country and this is why they included the "natural born citizen" requirement for the presidency of the United States.

My grandmother was born in Livingston, Guatemala, and there are many Belizeans like myself who have relatives in the country of Guatemala and the neighbouring countries. I will not support a ban on Guatemalans becoming citizens of Belize because not all Guatemalans are the same and such a ban will not serve in our country's best interest. However, Belizeans are not nationalistic and we are losing our country slowly and there are several people coming into our country who are enjoying more privileges than natural born Belizeans and I find this to be unfair and disgusting.

I have been to parts of Mexico and Guatemala and the things some of the people Belize has granted citizenships to over the years are doing in our country they would never be able to do in their country of birth. Plus, the things they have gotten, like lots, land, etc. is more than those Belizeans whose application forms are being thrown away every day without any explanation or justification. I cannot remember the last time lots and houses were given to the people of Dangriga where I was born. But many people from these foreign countries have been getting up to today.

I am a natural born Belizean and a naturalized American citizen and I consider both of these countries to be my home. I have served both countries in the past and will be willing to serve them again if any of them are attacked by a foreign hostile nation.

Belizean dual citizenship with the United States does not come with any benefit to most Belizean Americans because of the "Oath of Allegiance" clause which restricts them from doing certain things in the country where they were born.

In the United States, once a person have lived there for a period of years, they must be citizens to qualify for certain benefits. For the country of Belize to ask Belizean Americans to give up their American citizenships to qualify to do certain things on behalf of their country Belize is laughable. Yet, there are no restrictions for the people who were not born in Belize to become even prime minister of the country if they were to choose to do so.

Belizean Americans and those who are citizens of other countries must now call on the Minister of Immigration Honorable Godwin Hulse to table a Bill in the Belize House of Representatives to state explicitly what are the rights and privileges of Belizeans who possess dual citizenships in the United States and other countries before it is too late. This should be the beginning of the "Diaspora Initiative" debate in our country.

I do not know where Honorable Godwin Hulse stands on the issue of dual citizenship for Belizean Americans. All Belizeans who were born in Belize are citizens of Belize even if they became citizens of another country and as such should be entitled to all rights and privileges like those who remained and live in Belize. In the last debate when Dean Barrow presented the Article 7 Amendment, many UDP representatives were not committed to him. The PUP representatives have always been against granting Belizeans with dual citizenships their fundamental rights as citizens of Belize. Most of the people who have left Belize are of African descent and the population is dwindling fast.

This is the issue that all Belizeans should be concerned with who live in the United States and other countries and be debating daily. I am not going to stop pounding this issue until our people and government in Belize come up with a solution to this problem.

Again, I commend Major Lloyd Jones for the distinguished service he gave to our beloved country Belize and I wish there were more brave Belizeans like him.