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Jul 19, 2018

Prime Minister and Diasporans Discuss Re-registration, Naturalized Guatemalans

Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with representatives of the diaspora on Wednesday at his office at the Laing Building.  A group comprising Muriel Laing Arthurs, along with Hubert Pipersburgh, Joseph Guerrero, Debbie Curling and Aria Lightfoot met with the PM; on the table were issues facing the community.  First, was the matter of Guatemalan citizens taking part in the ongoing re-registration. According to a statement by the group, Belizean Citizens Abroad, the Prime Minister explained that it is a legally complicated issue entangled with human rights and constitutional issues.  He is quoted as saying that Guatemalans with Belizean citizenship were initially granted Permanent Resident status then, after five years, were given Belizean citizenship.  The P.M., according to the release, stated that their citizenship was not acquired fraudulently and that they had revoked Guatemalan citizenship.  But he conceded that the matter is subject to correction, but only if a judge says so.   The diaspora’s position is that government’s view is in contradiction of Section twenty-nine of the Constitution and Section nineteen of the Nationality Act.  Second, the two-month residency requirement also formed part of the discussion. This is an irritant for Belizeans in the diaspora who say they are unable to satisfy this specific requirement. During the meeting, it was agreed that the Elections and Boundaries Department needs to provide clarity on what the wording “ordinarily residing” constitutes. All in all, the P.M. explained that he does not believe that government could implement a process that would allow the diaspora to register before April tenth, 2019, to vote in the I.C.J. referendum.  It was agreed that the diaspora will submit a proposal to address this particular matter for review.

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