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Feb 1, 2019

Vital Stats Unit Has No Record of Belizean Born Educator

Joseph Alexander Bennett

Complaints against the Vital Statistics Unit on Hyde’s Lane have been raging for years. We’ve heard horror stories of frustrated individuals who have waited for hours in long lines to have their birth certificate or other documents corrected or free from errors—errors often committed by the staff at the unit. It’s a hellish experience for anyone and for eighty-nine-year-old Joseph Alexander Bennett, his grievance is alarming. Bennett is a longstanding Belizean educator who has served many years at various levels of the educational system and taught thousands upon thousands of Belizeans all the way from high schools to the University of Belize. With the ongoing re-registration exercise, Bennett’s family applied to obtain a copy of his birth certificate at the Vital Statistics Unit.  Lo and behold, they were told that the Vital Statistic Unit has no record for Joseph Alexander Bennett and that he needs someone ten years older than him, at ninety-nine years, to recommend him. So now, his family is left scrambling for answers and ways to re-register him in time for the April tenth I.C.J. Referendum. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.


Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Eighty-nine-year-old Belizean Joseph Alexander Bennett is a well-known educator whose path crossed with thousands of Belizeans. He received his first voter’s identification card in 1978.  Fast forward forty years after, Bennett is now experiencing a major setback in re-registering.


Hilaire Bennett, Son of Joseph Bennett

“We tried to get him re-registered and we made applications to Vital Stats for his birth certificate but that was futile.”


According to Bennett’s son, Hilaire, the Vital Stats Unit does not possess any record for any Joseph Alexander Bennett born on March fourteen, 1929 in Belize City.


Hilaire Bennett

Hilaire Bennett

“And so he has not gotten registered, re-registered up to date today. The basic challenge is that the evidence is not there. They are saying that the page has been torn out. That is what is coming out. Let me put on record that it is somebody that went to made the application that was told, that so I don’t want to go on the record that they told me. But it shows that it is a dire situation. It shows incompetence. It shows total disregard for a sensitive department as is, birth and records. It is crucial for the electoral process as we see the re-registration in full gear right now. And with the I.C.J. referendum coming shortly I don’t know if we would have enough time to get that done.”


So now Hilaire is left seeking for a solution to have his father re-registered before March tenth in order for him to participate in the April tenth I.C.J. Referendum.


Hilaire Bennett

“The recommendation of Vital Stats that he gets a declaration but the person has to be ten years older than him. He is eighty-nine. Other than that they said maybe we can go to the college that he went and maybe they might have the information. Someone is looking into that. There is one other option but I can’t bring it right now but I was thinking about Social Security might have a copy of a birth certificate because he got his social security card. His social security card, his passport, and his voter’s ID is in his name Joseph Alexander Bennett. It is kind of ridiculous that this evidence are that this man is who he is supposed to be but then the records are not in the place where we should find it which is Vital Stats.”


The Vital Stats Unit on Hyde’s Lane has for years been the subject of many complaints but Hilaire’s issue represents a very serious problem. The unit has failed in providing its essential service- the services of equipping persons with vital documents.


Hilaire Bennett

“I can’t be surprised. There are several calls for the revamping and redoing of the system and ensuring that the department works the way it is supposed to work. With this now, the problem still exists. People are finding themselves off the list. There are queries being done. That’s another issue. I strongly call on the relevant authorities to try to deal with the problem at Vital Stats. It’s not only my father that is being affected. There are a lot of Joseph Alexander Bennett out there. This is one of your constitutional rights, your right to vote. He is looking forward to voting in the upcoming I.C.J. referendum. I saw his voter’s ID listed at 1978 so it’s from them.”


Hipolito Novelo

“Now at this age, he might not get to vote?”


Hilaire Bennett

“Yes, he might get to vote again. We don’t know. That’s what it is.”


Hipolito Novelo, News Five.

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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