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Former Guatemalan nationals voting on referendum needs more discussion

Government is yet to set a date for the referendum here in Belize. While many Belizeans oppose taking the Belize Guatemala territorial dispute to the ICJ, the work towards a referendum has begun. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has started the education campaign on the referendum which should be held in 2019. Among the many questions posed on this issue is whether or not naturalized Belizeans who are from Guatemala, be allowed to vote in the referendum. That question keeps coming up and it was posed to the Leader of the Opposition John Briceno on Monday afternoon. He says it’s a subject that requires a bit more discussion.

John Briceno – Opposition Leader

“I believe that a lot of these former Guatemalans living in Belize I believe that they truly love Belize and that they are Belizeans and they are here because they love this place but when it comes to the very issue that has to do with the sovereignty of our nation- when it comes to people that were former citizens of Guatemala it may be something that may require more discussion to whether or not we should decide whether they should participate or not. So we are open to that, we are prepared to have a more in depth discussion on that matter before we can decide one way or the other.”

It is expected that approximately two hundred thousand Belizeans will vote on the referendum, of which a few thousands will be persons who held Guatemalan citizenship. Back in November of last year, Minister of Immigration and Nationality Godwin Hulse was asked the same question by PUP Senator Eamon Courtenay. Minister Hulse responded saying that only those Naturalized Belizeans who have properly renounced their Guatemalan nationality should be allowed to vote in the referendum and added that he would support amendments to the law to forbid others who have not done so, from voting.