Letters — 26 September 2014
Born in Belize: made in America

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

-Section 1 of Article II of the US Constitution

Dear Editor,

I read with bated breath, the letter to the Editor from Derrick Estrada (Nuri Akbar), hoping for a reasoned and intellectual come back to my letter asking the Diaspora to organize. Instead what I got was an emotional tirade. He purports to rebuke me. Okay then!

You must forgive me for not wanting to travel along the path of personal attacks which Estrada’s letter seems to espouse. I am prepared, however, to entertain the idea of a debate.

Estrada was clearly emotional when he penned his letter and so, because I know that emotions often make fools of wise men, I shall give him a month to think of the huge mistake he is about to make. If after a month has passed and he finds himself in the same position, I shall oblige on the following conditions: (1) that the debate takes place in Belize, as I do not have a US visa and I am not sure if I am deserving of one, and (2), that he brings along Hubert Pipersburgh, Jerome Straughan and Bilal Morris as reinforcements. If he fails to heed my advice regarding the second condition, I shall not be responsible for his demolition at the debate.

I find it perplexing that some in the Diaspora continue to misleadingly put forward the notion that somehow, born Belizeans with dual citizenship are “second class citizens.” They argue that because there is a constitutional ban on dual citizens holding seats in the Legislature, that their ability to meaningfully participate in Belize’s development is somehow restricted. This is utter nonsense of course! Belize’s development requires more than just politicians; so what’s stopping those who say they want to help with national development?

Belizeans in the Diaspora have, and continue to enjoy, the full protection of the Constitution, and they are free to participate in every stage of Belize’s development. But one cannot say that one wishes to help develop Belize and at the same time, not wish to comply with our Constitution, when in fact, it is the Constitution that undergirds national development as the supreme law of the land.

We must all recognize that dual citizenship is not an inalienable right: it’s a constitutional gift! Whereas the Constitution recognizes dual citizenship, it also makes it quite clear that if a Belizean chooses to pledge allegiance to a foreign power, they cannot sit in the Legislature. How is it that one can so happily rely on a constitutional provision in order to acquire dual citizenship, and then turn around and complain so bitterly about other constitutional provisions, which set out the terms and conditions for the very dual citizenship that one so gleefully sought?

If anything, Belizean Americans are second class citizens in the United States, not Belize! How is it that we have not heard them complain that, having been born in Belize, they can never become President of the USA, even though they are “US citizens”? If they renounce their US citizenship they can seek seats in our Legislature and possibly become Prime Minister, but if they give up their Belizean citizenship they still won’t be able to become President because of the US constitutional ban. Talk about second class citizen?!

So feeble is the argument against our constitutional ban, that some are now coming with the foolishness that because our oath of allegiance states that, “I swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors…”, that somehow this equates to an allegiance to a foreign power. I will say two things on that: drowning man and straw.

I am firmly of the view that if one wishes to hold a seat in the Legislature, one should be “just a Belizean”. However, the mere thought of becoming once more, “just a Belizean”, seems to terrify some. They refuse to let go of the Stars and Stripes and so they decry section 58 of the Constitution. I am “just a Belizean” and I can testify that it feels good. Real good!

Interestingly, section 58 of the Constitution also forbids members of the armed forces and the police from taking seats in the Legislature, as indeed it does undischarged bankrupts.

Does this make the thousands of members of the police and BDF second class citizens? I think not!

To make their case that they are being treated as second class citizens, some in the Diaspora have been implying that Elvin Penner, Ralph Huang and Danny Grijalva hold dual citizenship. But rather than use their information to compel compliance with our Constitution, they instead want to use it to strike down section 58 of the Constitution.

Let me say this, if Hubert Pipersburgh or Joseph Guerrero or any other person have any evidence that Penner, Huang or Grijalva are dual citizens and they provide such evidence, I shall seek redress through the courts. Of course if they have such evidence they can always seek redress themselves. That is, if they have the courage to do so.

I happen to think that the time has come for us to amend our Constitution in order to restrict certain public offices to natural born Belizeans. The Office of Prime Minister, members of the Legislature, head of the armed forces and the Police, head of municipal bodies, etc, etc.

Finally, let me catch my elephants. I have two members of my immediate family who are dual citizens. I had a Green Card; I surrendered it after less than a year. I could not bear the thought of abandoning Belize, not after the people of Belize invested nearly a million dollars in my personal development. Others have done it. No, not I!

Major Lloyd Jones (R)

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