Letters — 15 August 2014
Tell di Majah: if yuh bawn deh, yuh bawn deh

Dear Editor,

Please convey the following message to Major Jones.  The Major, much like a child trying to manipulate a parent by asking the parent which child they love more, declares that he has a problem because he is not sure whether I (Lara), Ramos and Young love Belize or the mighty USA more. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be reading into this with more than just my eyes; but, there doesn’t seem to be much room for interpretation here. I can’t speak for Ramos and Young.  I can only speak for myself.  Simply put, whether Belizeans living abroad love Belize or the mighty USA more is irrelevant and a completely nonsensical question to ask.

A born Belizean should not lose any miniscule portion of their citizenship status (and certainly not the right to run for elective office) simply because they gained citizenship in another country. I can’t state it any plainer than that. Maybi if ah rite it ina kriol… jus bekaws ah hav wan nada passport nuh mean dat ah dah nuh still wan full blooded Belizean wid all rights as citizen. If yuh bawn deh, yuh bawn deh, period. Becoming an American, for me was a choice that I made for personal reasons. It wasn’t an act of treason or an act of hatred toward my birth country or toward my fellow countrymen. I am fond of and very grateful for the opportunities that I have had in my adopted country. It doesn’t make me love Belize any less. And, I shouldn’t have anything to prove to anyone in order to have the right to run for office. If my dual citizenship makes me a less desirable candidate to some voters – well, like the Major himself put it, don’t vote for me next election. Simple!

I didn’t dance around the periphery, Major. And, I wasn’t out to kill the messenger. The tone of your question was insulting and divisive (and, I suspect you know it); and I felt it was important to address that and not let it slide. But, I’ll humor you for a bit and pretend for a moment that you weren’t simply trying to spark a debate and that you are truly open minded and was asking the question in earnest. This is difficult to do because you demand more from those living abroad as if you have some God-given right to do so, but first want to dismiss remittances as if it is some small contribution.

Remittances, for your information, Major, put real food on table and create real jobs, and are motivated by the purest of love that fellow Belizeans feel towards each other. So no, we can’t just dismiss that important contribution. Beyond that, many in the Diaspora pay property taxes and income taxes, fund scholarships, demand Belizean products (there is a whole industry catering to Belizeans abroad and shipping stuff back and forth), serve as ambassadors and promote the country, organize donation drives for a myriad of projects and groups in Belize, and provide disaster relief. I am sure this is not an exhaustive list; but you don’t even have to read between the lines here to get the point.

I do believe you, Major, when you say that you would like to see a more organized Diaspora oriented toward Belize. That is precisely the handout mentality that I was talking about. It’s great if that happens, but it shouldn’t be a requirement. You would strip those in the Diaspora of their full citizenship status and hold them hostage, simply to force them to become more organized and oriented toward Belize because remittances and everything else they contribute isn’t enough for you.

I know you probably won’t believe me, Major. I’m not out to kill the messenger. I wish you’d come around and see that those of us in the Diaspora are not the enemy. You don’t have to strip us of our citizenship birthright to protect Belize. All you’re doing is making it even more difficult for persons of goodwill and good intentions to ever consider running for office. For Belize’s sake, I hope you change your mind.

Sincerely,

Mario Lara

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