Dear Major Lloyd Jones,
I have always held you in high regards for the service you have provided in the Belize Defence Force to defend our country. Like you and I there are thousands of natural born Belizean citizens who have served in the uniformed services in Belize and now reside in the United States and possess dual citizenship. Also, there are Belizeans living in Belize who were born in the United States and Belizeans who were born in Belize and became citizens of the United States that returned home to live permanently. Yet, their rights are being denied due to the ambiguity that exists in our constitution today. All Belizean citizens are entitled to the same rights and privileges under the constitution of Belize despite their citizenship status. For you and others who think the same to deny them of their constitutional rights, it is a gross violation of our constitution and a big blow to the principles of democracy.
Our Belizean brothers and sisters who posses dual nationalities can contribute a lot more to the development of our country if we were to amend our constitution and set up the framework for them to participate in the process more meaningfully. There are several countries in the world like the United States of America that grant their citizens the right to vote by proxy and to run for political office with their dual nationalities intact once they meet the residency requirements under their election laws.
You are misinforming the public by saying that there has never been a framework laid out on how this could be done. I have written several articles in Caribbean News Now on how proxy voting could be implemented by our Belize government if they choose to do so. The current prime minister of Belize, The Right Honorable Dean Barrow, has also recommended the Article-7 Amendment to resolve the problem with our citizens who possess dual nationalities. Belizeans like yourself, who cannot see the benefits of this amendment, are still adamant against it for petty reasons. I have been encouraged over the years by many Belizeans who have now become supportive of the Belizeans who posses dual nationalities and with time more will join this group.
Many Belizeans who live in the United States have served in some capacity in the United States Armed Services. These Belizeans possess military experience that our country can use in the event that our country is attacked by Guatemala or another foreign nation. They have indicated to me that they would not hesitate to fight for their beloved country if attacked today by any foreign power. I do not think that you would like to let this opportunity pass by knowing the insecure military situation that our country is facing today. The Guatemalans cross our borders at will everyday and nothing much is done to them. They even shoot at our soldiers and we are being told not to shoot back at them. The Belize-Guatemala dispute has been unresolved for centuries with no end in sight and our future in question as a sovereign nation.
The Belize Defence Force, which you served, is not capable of defending our country by itself against Guatemala. We will definitely need the entire population of Belize and assistance from abroad to defend our country from any invasion. We should embrace all these natural born and all the Belizeans who acquired their citizenship through Belizean descent to come into our country. Belize needs a collective defence strategy to defend itself against Guatemala and all foreign enemies. We should pass a law that all Belizean citizens must serve in the active or reserve element of the Belize Defence Force for three years between the ages of 18 and 35 years of age. Failure to serve within those years would result in a fine or imprisonment or both. Our population is small compared to Guatemala, with its estimated 12 million people and 1 million troops.
We do not want to fight Guatemala or any other country but yet we must be prepared to fight them if they decide to fight us. Guatemala has a plan for Belize and that is to send all their citizens across the border to live in Belize and the invasion will come from within the borders of our country. Many of the Guatemalans and Salvadorans to whom we are giving citizenship have served in their countries’ armed services and know how to fight, unlike most Belizean citizens. They still are citizens of Guatemala and El Salvador because they have not and cannot renounce their citizenship under their constitutions. Recently, one of the presidential candidates from El Salvador came to Belize to get his citizens to go home and vote for him in the last presidential election. It has been said that some Belizean politicians have come here to the United States to get Belizeans to vote for them in the Belize general elections as well. Why? Because they are still citizens of their countries.
This issue is about one thing and that is the fundamental rights of citizens. I ask that you and all those who are opposed to the rights of Belizeans who possess dual citizenship take the time out to read more on this subject matter. When you all are finished, you will have a better understanding of what this whole debate is about. I am a citizen of Belize, my natural born country, and nobody will take away this right from me. I am also a citizen of the United States, a country that I chose to become a citizen of and served in its army. I am proud to be a citizen of these two countries and have earned my citizenship rights to both of them. I have served Belize and I have served the United States and like all those citizens whether they served or not, we are entitled to all the privileges and benefits allotted to all citizens under the constitutions of Belize and the United States of America.
I pray and hope that you change your mind on this issue because I did not even expect a man of your caliber to think so shallow like this. I hope that you are not being influenced by some of the selfish minded people in our country who cannot see the bigger picture on this important issue. As an African Belizean our population has declined significantly. We cannot compete economically or politically unless we increase our numbers in Belize. If we empower the Belizeans with dual citizenships abroad, we are also empowering ourselves in Belize because most of them are of African descent like us.
Denying them of their fundamental rights as citizens of Belize will affect us in Belize gravely. I am not in favour of one ethnic group having more power over the other in Belize but the reality of human relations is that people who look alike tend to favour the people who look like them over others. Belize and most countries in the world continue to survive daily on the benefits it gains from their citizens who posses dual nationalities living in the United States and abroad. This has been documented for years now in all the economic statistics issued by the United Nations and other reputable institutions of the world.
If you think that the Belizeans who possess dual citizenship have not contributed significantly to the human and economic development of our people and nation, you are in the minority. This issue that you have raised is good for us because we want to know who are the Belizeans that are not with us. Remember that, for every day we grant Guatemalans and Salvadorans their citizenship rights while we deny our natural born citizens their fundamental rights, we are handing over our country to our enemies day by day.
Wellington C Ramos
Ex-Member of the Belize Police Force
US Army Veteran Germany, 8th Infantry Division Mechanized