Earlier we told you of the one hundred and sixty four men and women who were granted Belizean citizenship last week. While it is acceptable for foreigners to maintain their nationality of their birth country and thus possess dual citizenship, there was an exception as Guatemalans are not given that option, as explained by Immigration Minister, Godwin Hulse.
“We do not require you, all of you, to give up your former nationalities. We do accommodate dual nationality except in the case of Guatemalans. The reason for that is we have a long standing dispute with the Republic of Guatemala, or to phrase it the other way they have a long standing dispute with us over our territory. You have sworn to uphold the territorial integrity of Belize, that means all 8,867 square miles including its territorial waters and insular islands and cayes. So, therefore because of that we do not allow persons who are former citizens of Guatemala and have acquired Belizean citizenship to retain the Guatemalan citizenship. You know that already because you had to renounce; but I must say to you that if you proceed to reacquire Guatemalan documents and citizenship you will lose the Belizean citizenship and the Immigration Department, if they ever find you at the border with Guatemalan documents will confiscate your Belizean documents.”
Guatemalan nationals who took their oath last week as nationalized Belizeans, had already denounced their Guatemalan citizenship. Hulse explained other ways in which the status of Belizean nationality can be stripped from them and the other nationalized citizens.
“There are a few other conditions, having obtained the citizenship you may lose it for the following conditions; if you have been convicted of any offense under the criminal code. You are not criminals so I don’t think you need to worry about that. If you are registered by means of any fraud or false representation or the concealment of material circumstance you could lose your nationality and if within five years after the day of registration, within five years from today if you become sentenced in any court for a term longer than 12 months you can lose your nationality. Also if since the time you become a citizen and for a period of not less than two years you leave this country to go back to reside to your country of origin you could also lose your nationality. The reason for that is we are building a nation so it’s not a nationality of convenience, it is not something you do because you wanted to have Belizean nationality but want to go back to your country and say that you have a Belizean passport; no it is for you to reside here to help to build here and to become one here.”
While there are numerous Guatemalans who come to make a life in Belize, Guatemalans are also known to migrate legally and illegally to Mexico, the United States and Canada, reportedly, due to a lack of economic opportunity, political instability and natural disasters.