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May 17, 2018

Once a Guatemalan, Always a Guatemalan – Never a Belizean?

Dean Barrow

With the re-registration process due to start in July, some Guatemalans find themselves in an absurd situation, particularly those who acquired Belizean citizenship by way of renouncing their Guatemala citizenship. At the core of the issue is the renunciation process. As it stands, Guatemala does not recognize the giving up of its nationality, since those who have taken an oath to renounce their citizenship are still able to obtain a passport from that country.  Prime Minister Barrow says it’s a no-win situation.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Part of the difficulty is that the Guatemalans say, once you are a citizen of Guatemala, I’m not sure if they make any distinction between citizenship by birth or citizenship by acquisition.  But even if it’s confined to citizenship by birth, they say that once you are a citizen of Guatemala, you always remain a citizen of Guatemala and it doesn’t matter how much you renounce that citizenship, they will continue to regard you as a citizen of Guatemala.  But they went further and they said, well if for your purposes we can agree something that would see us acknowledging the renunciation, they said there’s a further problem, that the Guatemala constitution prevents the government from doing anything that would render a Guatemala citizen or a former Guatemala citizen stateless.  So they described a catch twenty-two situation to us.  In other words, they said well, if these people can be given Belizean citizenship then they would not be stateless, and so we could accept their renunciation.  But of course we can’t give them Belizean citizenship, except the Guatemalans recognize the renunciation.  So that’s where we are.”


The Chamber of Commerce, the Belize National Teachers Union and others have been calling on the government not to grant citizenship to Guatemalan nationals.

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2 Responses for “Once a Guatemalan, Always a Guatemalan – Never a Belizean?”

  1. Karl says:

    This is a easy. Why all of the heavy thinking ? Guatemalans should not be getting citizenship or allowed to vote in our elections. We have a situation here where a Guatemalan can vote for Guatemala in their election and vote against Belize in ours. Does that make sense ?

    The only reason this is an issue, is because in a small country like Belize, the me-first politicians wants their votes

  2. Marie says:

    Totally agree with Marita. Guatemalan or other countries should not be allowed to be citizens of Belize.

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