Guatemala’s dispute to Belizean territorial integrity automatically puts them under Section 29.3 of the Belize Constitution which sates, “No person shall be entitled…to be a citizen of Belize or be granted citizenship of Belize if such person shows any allegiance to or is a citizen of a country which does not recognize the independence, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Belize …” Yet, countless numbers of Guatemalans have gained Belizean citizenship. When P.M. Barrow addressed the issue several weeks ago in his Press Conference, he admitted that the situation is somewhat difficult because the country of Guatemala does not recognize the renunciation of citizenship. Yesterday, Opposition leader John Briceno was asked to comment on the matter. Here are his comments.
Hon. Johnny Briceno, Leader, People’s United Party: I’m in possession of a letter that the Belize Chamber
of Commerce sent to me, raising that very concern that there may be a mismatch with the Belize constitution and the Guatemalan constitution that does not… Our constitution does not allow us to grant citizenship to any citizen of a country that does not recognize Belize’s territorial integrity, in this case obviously, Guatemala. Guatemala does not recognize dual citizenship, so they do not recognize renunciation of citizenship, so there is an issue. We have a copy of this letter from the chamber and as I see it, this is an issue that is both legal and political. Legal because of the mismatch with the Belize Constitution, and political, because we have thousands of Belizeans that have been living – Guatemalan citizens that are now Belizean citizens accordingly, since 1981 – what are we going to do with these people? These people, by all effect they are Belizeans. So what I have done is I have asked our legal advisor to work with our attorneys to look at this matter from a legal perspective, and then to provide us some sort of guidance and secondly, after we receive the legal advice, then we will have to meet with our parliamentary caucus, and then we will need to meet to agree on our position on this issue. But let me remind you – and we need to think about this – that we are talking about the lives of many people who love this country. So we have to be careful and we need to make sure that we get it right.