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Mar 19, 2019

John Saldivar on Guatemalans Who Were Granted Belizean Citizenship

But an estimated one hundred and forty-seven thousand persons have reregistered ahead of the March twelfth deadline to vote in the I.C.J. referendum on April tenth. The Elections and Boundaries Department is expected to share the exact figures in the next couple of weeks including how many naturalized Belizean citizens of Guatemalan origin are on the list. The percentage of Guatemalans remains at a steady six percent when compared to the figures prior to the commencement of the re-registration exercise. Six percent of the one hundred and forty-seven thousand registered persons translates to close to nine thousand Guatemalans on the list. This is important to note because, in 2017, it was revealed during the Senate hearings that thousands of Guatemalans might have been granted Belizean citizenship unlawfully. To become Belizean they were required to renounce their Guatemalan citizenship but it is not clear if that happened. Minister of National Security John Saldivar has weighed in on the matter saying “The Belizean Constitution further stipulates that such renunciation should be in a manner acceptable to the country of original citizenship, meaning that the Guatemalan government must recognize the renunciation”. According to Saldivar, it was only after President Jimmy Morales that it was announced that no Guatemala will be allowed to renounce their citizenship. Saldivar explains that “prior to the election of Morales as President, the Belize Immigration Department use to simply forward the Renunciation Forms to the Guatemalan Embassy in Belize for their information. There was no objection lodged by the Guatemalan government up to and until the election of Morales as President.” Saldivar believes that Morales’ decision can be in Guatemalan Constitutional Court. The Immigration Department has since halted the vetting of applications by Guatemalans. This, however, “does not nullify all previously issued nationality to Guatemalans whose renunciations were at that time accepted by their government.”


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