On the run up to to Belize’s National Referendum on 10 April 2019, proponents of the ‘No’ vote to take the Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice are spreading disinformation claiming that many Guatemalan nationals are being granted Belize citizenship.
Minister of National Security Hon. John Saldivar has provided clarity on this alleged issue explaining that the Belize Constitution does not prevent Guatemalans from gaining citizenship. But that this process has been halted for several years.
Hon. John Saldivar: “It would be good to get an insight into the issue of Guatemalans who desire to become Belize citizens. Our Constitution DOES NOT prevent this from happening as some people have erroneously concluded. The Belize Constitution requires citizens of countries that do not recognise Belize sovereignty to RENOUNCE their citizenship to that country BEFORE being granted Belize citizenship.
“The Belize Constitution further stipulates that such RENUNCIATION should be in a manner acceptable to the country of original citizenship, meaning that the Guatemalan government must recognise the RENUNCIATION. The facts ARE that prior to the election of Mr. Jimmy Morales as President, previous governments had no difficulty with the RENUNCIATION of Guatemalan citizenship.
“Prior to the election of Morales as President, the Belize Immigration Department would routinely forward the Renunciation Forms to the Guatemal Embassy in Belize for their information. There was no objection lodged by the Guatemalan government up to and until the election of Morales as President. With the election of Morales as President he decreed that NO Guatemalan will be allowed to RENOUNCE his / her citizenship. This I believe can be challenged in Guatemala’s Constitutional Court but that’s not my business. This is what has put Guatemalan applicants for Belize nationality in a quandary because the RENUNCIATION is no longer ACCEPTABLE to the Guatemalan government as is required by the Belize Constitution.
“The Belize Immigration Department has for some time now therefore properly halted the issuance of Belize Nationality to Guatemalan applicants BUT this does not NULLIFY all previously issued nationality to Guatemalans whose RENUNCIATIONS were at that time accepted by their government. I hope that this helps to refute the disinformation being spread on social and traditional media.”