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Jan 18, 2012

Citizenship for vote in Belize City

The deadline for registration of voters is this Friday so the mad rush has gone wild. The Immigration Department in Belmopan was burning the midnight oil on Tuesday night and was open until after ten. In recent days there have been two swearing-ins of hundreds of immigrants. Today, our cameras again captured hundreds lined up at the Immigration Department. Many of them spent hours in the sweltering heat, waiting for their names to be called in the mass naturalization process that continues, despite public outrage. As per usual, the vast majority of the immigrants applying for Belizean citizenship spoke no English. After spending the morning at the Immigration office, a smaller crowd gathered at the George Price Center at one o’clock this afternoon to take the oath as Belizean citizens.  At a private house on Amara Avenue in Belize City, the immigrants were also lining up waiting to be called for processing. One of them told us that he was promised citizenship in return for his vote.

Immigrant

“We are a people who are living in a foreign country and we would like to exercise our rights, but we cannot do so without our papers. This is why we are here today, withstanding the sun and hunger.  We will get our papers in exchange for our votes, because that is what they are asking right now. If we get our nationality, then we get to vote for them.”

Reporter

“In which division will you vote?”

Immigrant

“I don’t know because if I knew, then I would have gone directly to the representative to see what are his intentions and how all this would benefit us. But up to now I don’t know.”

Reporter

“How did you know about all this today?”

Immigrant

“It’s happening all over Belize right now. First they told us to go to King’s Park then they sent us here on Amara Avenue. We are not certain that we will get our papers, we are just guessing. And that is not fair.”

Reporter

“How many years do you and your family live here?”

Immigrant

“We are here for nineteen years.”

Reporter

“So you qualify. Why do you need to humiliate yourself here?”

Immigrant

“My children all went to school here; to primary school, secondary school. They have studied for 12 years. I have proof of that. They have their certificates.”

Reporter

“Hasn’t the Immigration dept. helped you?”

Immigrant

“I have tried four times already and without success. Neither the blue nor the red has helped me.”

Reporter

“Are you willing to vote if they give you your papers?”

Immigrant

“Yes, of course. That is what I want so yes I would vote for whoever gives me my papers.”

Not far away from this station, our cameras spotted a smaller group at a private house adjacent to a beauty salon where Edmund “Clear the Land Castro” was on hand. The immigrants said in Spanish that they have to pay twenty-five dollars for a police record which they get immediately, one hundred dollars for medical tests, which they also get forthwith and another three hundred dollars for the nationality certificates. In Maskall, Castro’s constituency, we are told, similar exercises were taking place.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Citizenship for vote in Belize City”

  1. CEO says:

    There is much good that could have become of this process but it is looking like a circus now. They could have done this some time ago so it would have more scrutiny and don’t appear to be wrong.

    Vote your concience because those that are doing this now will drop you as soon as they get your vote.

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