Commentary: The reasons why Belizean citizens living in the US and abroad are being disenfranchised

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Born in Dangriga Town, the cultural capital of Belize, Wellington Ramos has BAs in Political Science and History from Hunter College, NY, and an MA in Urban Studies from Long Island University. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science and History

By Wellington C. Ramos

For decades now and even up to today Belizean citizens who live in the United States and abroad like Nuri Mohammed, Muriel Laing-Arthurs, Bilal Morris, Joseph Guerrero, Professor Albert Williams, Hubert Pipersburgh, Andrew Enriquez, Therese Belisle-Nweke, Jerome Straughn and myself, have been fighting for Belizeans to be granted all their constitutional rights as citizens of our country but we were denied by the PUP and UDP governments.

The reasons why we were denied are:

• The fear of both UDP and PUP to lose their control of political power

• The ambiguities that are not clear in our constitution and laws on the rights of Belizean citizens who possess dual citizenships with the United States

• The failure of our Prime Minister Dean Barrow to submit the Article-7 Amendment to the National Assembly due to lack of support among some UDP and no PUP support when he had the votes

• The law that exist in the People’s Representation Ordinance stating that in order to qualify to vote a Belizean citizen must live in a constituency for three or more months

• The People’s United Party (PUP) have always been against granting Belizean citizens who live abroad their rights to vote because they believed that most of them who live in the United States support UDP.

The United Democratic Party (UDP) promised the Belizean citizens who live in the United States that when they got elected, they will give them all their rights as citizens of Belize despite their residency status but did not. Since the passing of the Maritime Areas Act in 1991, both the UDP and the PUP were working secretly together for the Belizean citizens to vote YES in the upcoming ICJ Referendum election.

They were fearful that the Belizeans living in the United States and abroad, were going to vote NO in the election and provided them no voting accommodations, UDP and the PUP have never approved any legislation in Belize to facilitate voting for Belizean citizens who live abroad by getting rid of the residency requirement for them and make registration and voting through proxy voting available at their embassies abroad.

This situation remains the same up until today so the citizens of Belize living abroad will not be allowed to register and vote in the upcoming ICJ election. The only way this can change is for the Belizean citizens living in the United States and abroad, to come together organize themselves and get involve in the politics of Belize with a new political party. Most of the Belizeans who live abroad, come from a PUP and UDP home.

Some of us still are loyal to these two political parties, despite the fact that they have not done anything substantial for us. We have been given so many promises in the past that have not been delivered. Yet, some of us are still holding on to false hopes and dreams. Let us go back and think about some of the reasons why we left our beloved country Belize. Then, we can go back home and ask ourselves if we are now ready to come back home and live?

The longer it takes for us as Belizeans to realize, that these two political parties UDP and PUP, are only serving the interest of a few Belizean families and people, the more our people will suffer at home and our rights will continue to be denied in our homeland. I was looking for an alternative to these two parties in 2013 and I found the Belize People’s Front (BPF) under their leader Nancy Marin.

They are now getting ready to compete for the first time in the next general election. This election can be called anytime and I urge you all to support them if you want to see fundamental changes in our country.

The failure of these two political parties, to make it possible for my people to vote in the upcoming ICJ elections, has convinced me that they need to be removed from office. I am not losing anything because they haven’t given me anything. In America if we don’t work, we don’t get paid and cannot go to see our elected representative for help.

Remember, that if our families living in Belize are not doing well due to the neglect of these governments, it will cost us more money to send to our families. This is happening to many of us today who care about our love ones.

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