74 F
Belize City
Tuesday, August 11, 2020



It is such a refreshing thing to see that this Belizean diaspora issue has taken front stage of Belize’s political scene, and that there are many other Belizeans abroad who have taken ownership of this issue since it had been pushed to the forefront of Belize’s diaspora political debate by the work of BREDAA since 2013 in its initiation of the “Belize Diaspora Vote.” That was the brainchild of Mrs.Muriel Laing Arthurs, who had urged the BREDAA Chairman, Nuri Akbar to take it to the Belizean people abroad. This was after a resistant Belizean group of “Anti-Belizeans Abroad Rights” chanted her down in the support of the Belizean people abroad when the Belize Prime Minister, Dean Oliver Barrow, tried to resurrect the Seventh Amendment at Parish Hall in Belize City in consulting with the Belizean people on the matter.

The Seventh Amendment as it was envisioned by the late Minister Philip Goldson, would have given Belizeans abroad with dual citizenship, the right to exercise their constitutional and natural Belizean rights to vote and to hold political office in all facets of Belizean government. It appears that there are still that “diehard” anti-Belizean diaspora public in Belize today who are either silent on the issue for some reason, or are very critical about it. This is the main roadblock to the success of this issue to become a reality for those natural-born Belizean rights to be restored.

While the Belize Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, refused to exercise his executive powers to make it a reality, it appears that he hauntingly remembers the anti-Belizean abroad rights sentiments, and public opinion in Belize City echoed in his mind that appears to have him being careful in terms of how to advance this issue.

The Belize PM feels that there must be consultation with the Belizean people in regards to this matter before his government can advance the cause of the Belizean people abroad. And that’s the problem here. The Belizean people on the ground in Belize have got to cross the floor in support of their brothers and sisters abroad that are being locked out of the Belize political process though they are natural-born Belizean citizens.

However, it appears that all things are considered for the Belizean Prime Minister that are connected to the ICJ referendum next year, come April 10, 2019. The Government of Belize is hell bent on getting a “YES” vote to go with their Guatemalan friends to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Prime Minister Barrow feels that the process to change the two-month law to accommodate Belizeans abroad to vote in the referendum is highly unlikely because of all the protocols that have to be met in the Belize parliamentary democratic system. This makes it appears that there is a Belize government position to stall the issue so as to keep out a constitutionally viable electorate abroad to participate in the referendum and risk that “YES” vote. The re-registration, the Guatemalan naturalized citizens issue, and his government’s educational campaign are all part and parcel of the march to the ICJ.

It is obvious that the Barrow administration will not go beyond a point that will risk the “YES” vote in the April 10, 2019 Belize referendum. Even if Belizeans abroad decide to take the issue to court, it appears that the process is fixed so as to delay the Belizean diaspora vote before the April 10, 2019 referendum in Belize. There is a skillful kind of politics that is at play on the ground in Belize against the Belizean people abroad.

(Photos through the courtesy of Belizean photographer Clyde Gillett & BREDAA)

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