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May 23, 2018

Guat-Belizeans Will Be Registered – but Immigration to Check Certificates

Josephine Tamai

The express concern of those seizing on the re-registration process as a means of “cleaning up” the voters’ list is the presence of many persons of Guatemalan descent who claim to have renounced their nationality for Belize’s. But there is no way to be sure, as pointed out by the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry in a press release issued today.  As noted by Prime Minister Dean Barrow himself last week, Guatemala’s Constitution explicitly states that no citizen can be “deprived” of his citizenship, while Belize’s expressly denies Belizean citizenship to any citizen of any country that fails to recognize Belize’s independence, sovereignty or territorial integrity. Guatemala recognizes the first two officially, but not the third due to the claim. With this impasse, what happens to such citizens during re-registration? Chief Elections Officer Josephine Tamai told us that such persons will be registered unless and until it is proven that they have not met the requirements to be a citizen. 


Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer

“In terms of the verification, the criteria again: if you have a nationality certificate, you are a Belizean; you are given Belizean nationality. That does not come from Elections and Boundaries Department; once you come to us with a valid document then we will take your application. It’s not to say that you automatically get on that list. Like I said, the Immigration Department will be doing verification for us; unless and until the Immigration Department gives us some indication that these certificates have been revoked, for whatever reason, then we’re not able to tell those persons that you cannot get on the list.”


The Chamber argues that it is not suggesting that Guatemalans who live here under Belizean citizenship should be mass deported, but does say a solution needs to be found. As already practiced by the Immigration Department, no Guatemalans should receive Belizean nationality, says the Chamber, until a solution is reached.

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