I very seldom agree with my compatriot, Mr. Ramos. Yet on this occasion, based on what he expressed in this article, I must admit that we seemingly share like views on this particular topic.
Indeed, the blatant disrespect and discrimination perpetrated by the two, major political parties in Belize (the PUP and the UDP aka PUDP), against born-Belizeans who possess dual citizenship in so far as allowing them full electoral rights, is unquestioned. The manner in which our laws are structured actually allow for non-Belizean born (naturalised) citizen, who are inevitably dual-nationals, the right to contest general elections, whereby the same facility is not afforded Belize-born nationals who have acquired a second citizenship. Does anyone else see a degree of inequity or even incongruity in this?
For example, as matters currently stand, a naturalised Belizean of Guatemalan extraction, (mind you Guatemala maintains an unfounded claim to Belize's sovereign territory) can contest general elections and could quite conceivably become the leader of the nation, whereby a born Belizean with dual citizenship is not afforded the same rights. I shudder to think of the possible implications that could arise from this irreverent anomaly in the law.
As for the political element, I don't share Mr. Ramos' surprise when it comes to the PM's inaction on the matter, when his administration possessed enough votes in the House of Representatives. This is primarily because it must be understood that politicians hailing from both, well-entrenched political parties view Belizeans in the Diaspora, as a form of convenience. They embark on their PR junkets to visit the Diaspora and basically use the occasion as means by which to bask in the glory of the traditional "hero worship", meanwhile neglecting to provide substantive and tangible support for Diaspora Belizean's concerns, such as this one. As a result, successive administrations of both the PUP and the UDP use the Diaspora, as they please and on occasion, issues pertinent to the Diaspora are used quite effectively as a political football and nothing else. As far as tangible and proactive moves to substantially address such concerns, effectively nothing is done.
With this in mind, there appears to be an awakening among the Diaspora. I applaud this, as Belizeans abroad contribute considerably to sustaining Belize's economy via remittances in addition to a variety of other manner of contributions. Therefore, I agree they should be afforded, at the very least, the same electoral rights that are enjoyed by naturalised Belizeans who also enjoy dual citizenship. After all, it is not fair to be afforded solely second class citizenship in one's homeland. As a point of clarification, I concede that in the instance of those Belize-born (dual citizens) who reside abroad, of course these must be a reasonable Belize residency requirement, to validate their capacity to contest general elections.
On to the matter of Diaspora Belizeans needing political representation. There is no question this is a reality. The author gave mention of the VIP and the other entity to which he referred, I presume he meant the PNP (not BNP). I agree that a coming to terms of these entities would be the most beneficial for all parties involved. After all, the powers that be, on both sides of the PUDP divide, shall never place this issue at the forefront because it represents the potential empowering of a voting bloc that is not readily subject to the electoral fraud that is perpetrated by the PUDP during elections. For those who are abreast of the situation on the ground, I give reference to their "blue note diplomacy" which both traditional parties exercise. For those who are not aware, Belize's $100 bill is locally referred to as "a blue note". During elections there is never a dearth of them being readily circulated by political operatives. I shall leave the rest to your deductive processes.
Quite honestly, the most prudent means by which for ALL non-PUDP inclined entities is to find common ground and move forward. This is not unheard of, as during the most recent general election (2012), a grouping known as the Belize Unity Alliance (BUA) was formed and several persons in both the VIP and PNP set aside their political party/movement affiliations and contested the general elections under that banner. Although unsuccessful, in terms of winning at the polls, the effort succeeded in demonstrating that those who recognise the need to move beyond the PUPD's hegemony can pool their resources and take a stand.
I am sure most would agree that the most logical thing to do, is to revisit this already-established entity, which in fact is not defunct, but is dormant. There is an already agreed upon structure, which certainly is available to amendment, so as to incorporate other like-minded entities. In the scheme of things, this is far more plausible than attempting to recreate the wheel, for whatever reason. Unfortunately, more often than not, Belizeans tend to be less assertive than is required. Yet, at times there has been instances of assertiveness, which unfortunately has thus far shown to be less than logical, with regard to the overall goal of effectively pooling resources to provide a viable alternative to the PUDP. As one who monitors these matters keenly, it hearkens to query which is more detrimental to the progressive transformation of Belize...a lack of assertiveness or misguided brazenness which looks at the forest, but fails to see the trees!
In any event, for those who truly have the best interest of Belizeans, both at home and abroad, at heart, it is important that we work toward unity...devoid of both ego and especially any level of vitriol. Unity, in fact, is what we require, but the old adage which I must admit is not-politically-correct, still applies. In order for any political movement to make the necessary strides, outside the realm of the PUDP, it is imperative that we inevitably do not end up with "too many Chiefs and not enough Indians".
Therefore, it is my suggestion that those who have a genuine desire to bring forth substantive change for Belize and its citizens, wherever they may be, should truly consider what is the most prudent and viable means by which to maximise your efforts. Admittedly, this will entail that which is somewhat inconceivable for some; that is to humble oneself and take a sober look at the political landscape. With that, I encourage my people to keep your eye on the overall goal. Not everyone is called to “lead”, yet inevitably each person can contribute in a constructive fashion, to this effort. To my Belizean compatriots in the Diaspora, remain strong in your conviction and conduct your due diligence effectively, regarding all matters, for this is an issue that once addressed in the most sound and proficient manner, should prove to impact Belize’s political milieu, on a revolutionary scale.