Features — 16 June 2018
Nation papers

I’ve been reading about, and listening to, the discussion on re-registration and citizens from Guatemala who don’t qualify, if we follow Belize’s Constitution

A lot of Belizeans in the north have roots in Mexico. Spain, when it had Mexico under her heel, claimed Belize. A lot of Belizeans in the west and south have roots in Guatemala and Honduras. As far as we know, Honduras hasn’t seriously pressed any claim on Belize.  A faction in Guatemala insists on such a claim, and that forces us into a tough decision.

We make the decision we make not because we love Guatemalan roots less than we love our Mexican and Honduran roots.

I had a Guatemalan friend who, if it were up to me, I, personal me, would have given him citizenship. He refused to speak English or Kriol when we spoke (he could have), so I didn’t get into very deep discussions with him. I know he loved Belize, but I had no doubt that he cherished the land of his birth. He was in every way what we prize in Belize. He loved people, he worked hard, and he respected the environment. He lived here over thirty years but I don’t think he ever got past residency.

He didn’t have any money. He was talented but he did not have paper education. For a special reason, it was my hope to throw something “large” his way, but I never got beyond sharing a little from the little I have. Sometimes I have some cash in the bank, but it is never fat; always it is risk capital for a project.

My friend is gone now, and it is one of my regrets that I never made good. I marvel at this song, where this guy sings: regrets, I’ve had a few…I guess the person who sang that song never knew the Confiteor prayer. How can one live a life with few regrets, and then again, too few to mention? If you lie down all day, sick as a fish out of water, there are still so many things that you OUGHT to be doing. I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do…I sari, there’s just no escape clause there.

Needless to say, my friend couldn’t vote in national elections. I believe that our country was correct to deny him that right. It is not proper to give a citizen of a country that is hostile to your borders, the right to choose your nation’s leaders. It isn’t that they would make wrong choices for the country. It is that they shouldn’t have the right to participate. There shouldn’t be any argument about that.

The simple solution is to deny all Guatemalans the right to vote. There should be no complications with children born in Belize, of Guatemalan parents. They can’t have both citizenships. If they choose Belize, they have full rights. Guatemalans who are disallowed from participating in the ICJ matter, and national elections, should have no beef. (Andrew Enriquez and Aria Lightfoot have some more enlightened views.)

The Guatemalan claim to Belize won’t last forever. We are going to the ICJ, where the world will tell Guatemala to back off. After that happens, if you love Belize, put in back your application. Ah, mucho love and prayers to our brothers and sisters who were/are victims of the volcano. Esquintla, ciudad de mi querer…

The matter of Belizeans living abroad is also being discussed at this time. I don’t think that any Belizean who has made a home, established some form of residency in any foreign country, should participate directly in national elections.

In our Village Council election, there is residency requirement. My in-law, Brother Simon August, spent much of his youth in Camalote, and then he went to live in New York. Brother August prepared to retire in Belize. He bought a piece of land and built his new home, quite palatial, I say. He started offering his ideas, and making small donations to the village. Brother August is back home now, so he can vote in our elections. He can also register to vote in national elections.

Any Belizean who lives abroad and comes home to vote in our elections, is, maybe unwittingly, committing fraud. Two months residency does not a citizen make. That provision is really for students and Belizeans away on long vacations.

There are a number of reasons why Belizeans abroad should stay on the sidelines. If you don’t live in Belize, you will be making choices based on second-hand information, and stale information. You may live in a world that is cutting edge, but no matter how educated you are, you can’t make informed decisions without the FACTS. If you want the facts you have to be on the ground.

Belizeans abroad getting the vote would make campaigning more costly. That would give a major advantage to parties that can send their candidates out of the country, to campaign. Parties with funds to sponsor Belizeans abroad so they can come to Belize and vote in elections would also have a big advantage.

The argument that we should be grateful for remittances, the money Belizeans abroad send home, is not an empty basket. But again, a vote should be made from an informed position. It’s not about money. It was about money and gender before Universal Adult Suffrage. In the old days, before 1954, only men with property could vote. I know the interest of Belizeans abroad is welcomed, but it is limited to their providing guidance to their family and friends in Belize, if they are keen.

Anything that is good for Belize, we have to want. It would benefit Belize greatly to hear, in the House, an Aria Lightfoot, a Michael Lindo, a Bilal Morris, and others, give their views on matters that are important to Belize. Yes, we could have non-voting representatives from California, Chicago, New York, and Florida, in da House. We can’t give them a YAY or a NAY in the House, not yet, but we could allow them fu taak.

Belizeans in America would enlighten us about Jerusalem and Israel/USA. We would expect that they would vote for the Americans. Those bohgaz live there. They might have a lot to inform about matters in Venezuela. We would expect they would advise us to vote against Venezuela. Those bohgaz live in America. We know the UHS vote is coming up. They could speak on that. They could speak especially about the running of the country’s financial affairs.

Bah, our government did right to stop the payment to the Belize Bank. But after they got control of the books, after they gained the inside, common sense would have told them we had to bite the painful bullet. They could have come to the people and explained why we would lose in court. They chose political mileage and we paid for that.

Getting back to the voting, there is a situation where I would make an about turn with Belizeans abroad. I one hundred percent believe they should have the right to Yes/No to the ICJ. The logic here is very simple. They can throw you out of an adopted country, but you always have (should have) a home in the place where you were born.

The date of the referendum would have to be moved back, to give Belizeans abroad more time to inform themselves about the vote. Most of them would not have considered that they would get the opportunity to vote. And there is so much discussion that should take place before we vote.

You know, it would be incredibly interesting to find out what was in the minds of Guatemalans who voted NO to the ICJ. We assume that some of that vote would have been “leave Belize alone”, but there must have been people with other thoughts. On the whole, the Guatemalans really didn’t have much to think about when they went to vote.

There is an unfortunate propaganda that a YES vote in Belize is a YES to partition. It must be stopped. Certain actions on the part of leadership allowed this argument to take root. It will take time, and effort, to debunk it. A YES vote means that if the ICJ in its great wisdom truly believes that Belize da fu Guatemala, truly believes that Guatemala’s incredible claim has foundation, then they can go ahead and commit the sacrilege.

This world not as bad as the one before

US president, Harry Truman, used the excuse that he needed to end the war (WWII), to justify dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in August 1945. The cities literally melted from the heat. The Americans already knew the effect of the bomb. History.com said they had tested one in an American desert on July 16, 1945.

All the experts who weren’t American, said the bombing of the two cities was unnecessary. Still, there was a small victory for the world that didn’t live in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The warmongers saw that their weapons had become entirely too powerful. This is not to say that puny man won’t du fool again. I was just stating a fact.

If you pay attention to history, you will notice a clear line between the world before 1950, and after. Those with eyes to see, saw that almost the entire world of nations crowed down Jewish expansionism in Palestine. You will also notice that almost the entire world of nations crowed down the Russian invasion in Crimea. (Despite FIFA’s claim that football ignores politics, if Russia had invaded Crimea before it got the rights to host the World Cup, FIFA would have had to tell Russia NO.)It’s far from a perfect world. But when it comes to respect for nations and their borders, the world post-1950 is not as bad as the one before.

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Deshawn Swasey

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