Wed, January 18, 2012
Today there was another swearing in of new Belizean citizens in Belmopan. Over 200 new citizens were sworn in at the George Price Center in Belmopan – making it about 750 new citizens naturalized in less than two weeks.
The unseemly haste to process and naturalize has everything to do with elections, because only Belizean citizens can vote – and after these citizens are sworn in, the other rush will be to register them.
Tonight we can report that – under these political pressures – things are sliding in all directions – mainly at the elections and Boundaries office in San Pedro where a UDP political candidate was busted using the office’s computer last night.
We’ll have that story shortly, but first, to Belmopan, where a swell of eager immigrants rushed the Immigration Office. Here’s what it looked like:
Jules Vasquez Reporting
Today again, a throng of new Belizeans swarmed the door at the Immigration Department in Belmopan and waited for hours standing in the
sun to have their papers processed.
There were busses – all the way from Corozal ministerial rides and ministers – slash – area representatives like Elvin Penner from Cayo Northeast doing paper work in the open air, on site.
And while the blazing sun didn’t permit many smiles – most we spoke to were happy
“What are you doing here today, Maria?”
New Belizean – Mexico, Been in Belize for 32 years
“Well I’m trying to get my papers. I finally want to be Belizean after living here from 1979.”
“Yes, I went to school here.”
“So you came from where?”
“Okay, now a lot of people are saying that all these people, they’re being made Belizeans because elections are coming, and we know registration closes on the 20. Is that why you are a part of this?
“No sir, I’ve been – I’ve applied before many years ago through the other party that was in, and I am really not into politics or anything. But I did all my paperwork, and everytime there is just something else, and finally today, it looks I will be able to do it.”
Is there any politician helping you to speed things along or so?”
No, I got my BNA number from 1994, so I said, ‘Let me see.’ The reason I came here is because I saw people on the news getting their nationality. So I thought to myself that I’ve been here so long, why not me?”
“First of all, why are you here today?”
New Belizean – El Salvador, Living in Belize 10 years
“Well, they called me and told me that I have to come and pick up my certificate that I’m a Belizean now.”
“How does that make you feel?”
“Well, it makes me feel great. I have an opportunity to finish my studies, do my bachelor’s degree, get a good job, and maybe improve the country of Belize.”
“Are you being facilitated by a politician or somebody in politics?”
“No, I didn’t get any help from anyone. I just applied about 10 years ago, so it’s just coming out. I didn’t have help from anyone. I just came, applied, and made the correct procedures.”
Those were the only two we spoke to who were fluent in English. All the rest only felt comfortable speaking in Spanish.
We asked if a politician is helping them with their papers.
Guatemala, Living in Belize 18 Years
“No no, all of them are dealing with their political issues and like how I need my papers, I need to see how I can get them.”
“But, why are you coming in this big rush?”
“Because the just called us, but our papers were in from a very long time.”
“Is any politician helping you?”
Living in Belize 28 years – Guatemala
“Right now, a Mr… – I don’t know what’s his name, I am not familiar with him but practically, I just saw him on Thursday for the first time he went to look for us at our House. He’s a lawyer, apparently. He the only who came and told us oh see your name is on the list. Go. That’s all.”
Living in Belize 6 years
“For our nationality… and we are hoping in God that we get it because we’re in the sun because it’s too hot and I have a baby.”
“Are you being helped by a politician?”
Yes, Mr. Vega”
“Yes we are happy because our dream will soon become reality.”
Living in Belize 28 years – El Salvador
“It’s too hard and I need to work to get my money for my children to study. I didn’t dedicate my time to money for the nationality but now that it’s an opportunity, I applied and I think I;m going to get it.”
“Is there any politician or minister helping you?”
“The truth is they are not helping us. They are only helping us in by facilitating a simpler way to get it.”
Living in Belize 25 Years – Guatemala
“I feel very happy and very contented – I don’t know how to express the way I feel. I want to first thank God and also to my minister, Mister Montero. I am very happy and thankful because he has been with me in the good and the bad times.”
“He paid everything for me. It was one thousand he said don’t worry that he will pay it because, also I work for him when they have campaign I cook for him with all my heart. Me and my family we are red like our blood.”
And while she was politically outspoken, what we got from many of those we spoke to is that they have been waiting a long time – and are capitalizing on the political rush to push things through.
The other thing we got is that they are happy to be Belizeans
so you expect to be sworn in as a new citizen this afternoon?
“I hope so. I feel like I’m going to get married today, because I’ve been living in this country, like I told the other news, getting married and just having a little paper is nothing, but it’s a lot.”
“So, are you excited about your opportunity to vote in the election?”
“I’m really excited about that because it’s going to be my first time that I’m going to vote.”
“Do you know who you’re going to vote for?”
“I’m not sure. I think that the person that I’m going to vote for has to have a good plan for the country. He has to have good expectations. I’m not going to go for colors. I’m just going with what they have planned for the country, or how to develope it.
“Will you vote in the next elections?”
“This will be my first time if I am able to vote, so yeah. I’m excited also.”
“I’m living happy here in Belize because in my country the delinquency is very ugly, so better we stay here”
“I am a pure Guatemalan! Was! But now I am Belizean until I die.”
For those lucky enough to finish at the immigration office their next stop was the George Price center for their swearing in which was held this afternoon.
A few notes on citizenship. Persons who are born in Guatemala are required to renounce their citizenship to that country before becoming Belizeans. Also, those sworn in as Belizean Citizens are not required to be English speaking.
Unofficial reports are that over 200 persons were sworn in as new citizens. Again, the media, namely Belmopan’s Plus TV was not allowed to tape the proceedings. Jesse Mendoza tells us he was escorted out by police. This is after Director Ruth Meighan assured us that the media should and would be allowed to tape it.
- Election Rush: 500plus Naturalizations Of New Citizens In One Week (fiwebelize.com)
- Belize Immigration Director Addresses Allegations (fiwebelize.com)
- Fraudulent addresses for new Belizean Citizens? (fiwebelize.com)
- Belize, who will you vote for this election? (fiwebelize.com)
- New citizens swear oath (fiwebelize.com)
- Mass registration in Ladyville (fiwebelize.com)
- The Radical Middle in Belize (fiwebelize.com)