These 213 persons from 26 countries have been waiting for many years to join the Belizean family, but they will not get a chance to vote in the upcoming general election as the voters list was closed on September 10.
Addressing the gathering, Minister of Immigration and Nationality Senator Godwin Hulse cited the diverse backgrounds of those in attendance from A (United States of America and Argentina) to almost Z (Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom).
But as Belizeans, he said, they must learn to use the official language, English; pay your taxes and costs of development as no “tax dodgers” and “freeloaders” will be permitted, and respect religious diversity – Christianity is the leading religion but there are many others.
For those dropping Guatemalan citizenship, Hulse reminded that while Belize recognizes dual nationality, it is not permissible for ex-Guatemalans to retain that nationality in any form, due to the ongoing unfounded territorial dispute.
As the new Belizeans swear to uphold the territorial integrity of Belize, any attempt to hold on to Guatemalan documents will see confiscation of Belizean documentation.
The swearing-ins are held quarterly – four times a year – and this one just happened to coincide with the calling of general elections on Monday; he denied suggestions that they were timed to do so.
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