Citizenship means I am part of a country; it means I am co-captain of its future; it means I am a component of a blueprint; I belong; my future and past are interconnected. As a citizen, I can vote, agitate, engage, arouse, examine, and change the Constitution and legal framework of my country. It means that that Belize is me and I am Belize.
Every election season, politicians corrupt my citizenship for cheap votes. They “Belizeanize” hundreds and in some cases thousands of immigrants who share little or no historical, cultural or social similarity to me. They give away my impact as voter and further diminish my citizenship, so that immigrant citizens of Guatemala, a country that still claims ownership of Belize, can recreate the blueprint of Belize. Politicians of both parties have been guilty of the genocide of the Belizean people by systematically changing the cultural, ethnical, religious and social composition of the country. They have treasonously discounted the real citizens’ will and undermined their voting power.
What are the ramifications?
I am livid, outraged, insulted, dismayed to witness hundreds of immigrants lined up outside the immigration office waiting for their citizenship to be quickly processed before voters registration deadlines, a blatant erosion and devaluation my citizenship. Belize allows full rights as a citizen. It means that the person who was allowed to circumvent the process for an X on Election Day, enjoy the same citizenship as I do. That new citizen can run for public office, even the office as high as the Prime Minister of Belize; demand the benefits of taxpaying citizens such as social security benefits; influence the outcome of an election. It translates into zero political accountability as politicians continue to ignore the concerns of real citizens for ballot box stuffers.
Even more disconcerting is the long term effects. How much longer do politicians think it will be before immigrants realize their voting power? How much longer will it be before Guatemala will no longer need to claim us? Our politicians are handing over Belize vote stuffer by voter stuffer. How much longer before these political fools realize that their own children will suffer the encumbrance of such short sightedness.
In the US, I will never be able to run for the presidency if I decide to apply for my citizenship because I will not be a born citizen. Even a born citizen cannot run for public office unless they reside in the US for a determined amount of time and twelve years to run for the Presidency. The politicians cannot circumvent the citizenship process without a vote from Congress (a very open process). Even Belizeans value gaining citizenship from the United States because they know the process is arduous. After all the other qualifications, the immigrant must pass a background check, citizenship test, endure an interview. By the time you qualify for citizenship, the United States have indoctrinated the new citizens into the culture of being an American. Belize has no such system.
Internationally, travelling as a Belizean is becoming a difficult and a harassing experience. You know why? Our politicians are giving away our citizenship because they have no value for Belizeans. Our citizenship can be bought for money or votes. Have you tried getting a visa to visit the United States, Europe or Canada? The processes are becoming more intrusive, stricter, and costly to the average Belizean? In this post 911 era, Belize is like a prostitute, open for business for everyone with money or votes. Politicians have eroded the significance of my citizenship. I call on this government and future government to secure my children’s future and stop perverting my citizenship and start making laws to bring back an atmosphere of integrity and value to being a Belizean.