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Activist groups say PUDP benefit from re-registration of former Guatemalan nationals


Activist groups, BUFERHD, The PEACE Movement, Northern Territorial Volunteers and the Belize Territorial Volunteers, including two groups from the diaspora, BREDDA and Belize Diaspora Voting Rights are opposing the inclusion of Naturalized Belizeans of Guatemalan origin onto the voters list. In a press conference on Tuesday, President of BUFERHD Derek Aikman expressed their determination to challenge the matter in court citing that the exercise is in contravention of the Belizean Constitution. Aikman says they believe that the issue is not one that concerns any of the leading political parties, the PUP or the UDP, because such inclusion serves their political interests. This is how he said it.

President of BUFERHD Derek Aikman: It’s been twelve years that the government both the past and the present have played with the timing of this re-registration even though the law prescribes that it should have been done twelve years ago. Guatemalans who have been nationalized as Belizean citizens in contravention of the very constitution of this nation that says no countries citizen that claims Belize can get Belizean citizenship yet there are over 30,000 Guatemalans that were on the last list that the chief elections officer has said will be allowed to get back on this list. They are facilitated by the political directorate so the way the system is set up in Belize it gives the ruling party total control over the registering process and they both use it to their advantage to manipulate the system so if Belizean’s today think that we can sit by and sit back and it’s all going to be legal and legitimate and above board during these next two months I am here to tell you that anything but that is going to happen.  

In Tuesday’s PUP press brief, the Party Chairman Henry Usher rejected the allegation.

PUP press brief, the Party Chairman Henry Usher: National executive of the party views very seriously those issues raised. There are two matters here, you have Guatemala nationals living in Belize for many years and wether you want to not allow them to register to vote I don’t see how that could be possible but then you have nationals not living here that just come over here to vote and we know that is a practice in those Western constituencies. In terms of a policy the National executive has not set a policy but certainly we believe that these are issues that should have at least been brought up for attention to the Election and Boundaries commission which should have been in place. That is the proper place for having these kinds of discussions but how can you have that discussion if you don’t have a commission.

Dalilah Ical: Is that a matter we have seen where the PUP has taken several matters to court. This isn’t one of them because the argument is being made that because having Guatemalans who by right should not have been given Belizean Nationality because it favors both parties. The PUP has taken away a laid back approach to that specific matter?

PUP press brief, the Party Chairman Henry Usher: I don’t agree with that assessment. I believe that we have always been on the forefront in trying to make sure that the people on the list are there that should be there. We are the ones who raised the issue last year about the 2000 or so illegal persons that are on the list that should not have received nationality documents. The party and then we joined up with other when the Elections and Boundaries chairman of the commission Mr. Doug Singh was recommending that we have the redistricting before registration which made absolutely no sense, we were the ones who said this can’t happen. We need to have a proper registration before we have redistricting so no the party has always advocated these issues so I don’t agree with that what you termed a laid back.

BUFERHD and five other groups have joined to lead the challenge at court.