Much ado about nothing

The Senate Select Committee is spending time flogging a dead horse in insisting that the Government acted wrongly and illegally in awarding a Belizean passport to a man who was not continuously resident in the country for one year before his application was approved.

The Senate Select Committee seems to be saying in effect that Mr. Peter Dahlstrom’s regular visits to Belize over many years do not satisfy the requirement of the law, which specifies that an applicant must be continuously resident for at least twelve months.

Even if one were to concede that this is a correct interpretation of the law, there are extenuating circumstances which explain why the passport was awarded to Mr. Dahlstrom, who is Swedish by birth, but who is married to a Belizean woman from a distinguished Creole family.
Mr. Dahlstrom owns property in Belize. If he has children, they have the right to claim Belizean nationality by virtue of their mother’s Belizean roots. His frequent visits to Belize, once a year for the last 18 years and his undisputed ties to Belize are in his favour.

There has been no suggestion that Mr. Dahlstrom is in any way unfit or debarred from becoming a Belizean. There is no allegation that some person or persons may have profitted financially from the granting of citizenship to him.

At one stage of our development Belize was selling its citizenship; offering immediate recognition to all and sundry who could afford to pay the stiff fees, with no regard to who they were, or whence they came.

This is not the case of a man of unsavoury reputation being given special consideration. It is not the case of some official of the government making illegal gains for his private purse from this application.

The Minister in charge of Immigration at the time has explained that the applicant received favourable consideration by virtue of his marriage to a Belizean, by virtue of his good standing both in Belize and his home country, and by virtue of his close ties and frequent visits to Belize.

Other countries do the same thing. Being married to an American enables the spouse to claim a Green Card, which allows him/her to work and stay in the United States.

These considerations, taken together should count for more than those of the vagrant applicant of undetermined reputation from Guatemala, or El Salvador or Honduras, who has complied with the incubation period of one year’s continuous residence, and by so doing has gained the right to become a citizen of Belize.

If the applicant had been the brother-in-law to Prime Minister Said Musa, or to Prime Minister George Price would he have stirred up such an issue of senatorial debate?

We don’t think so! All this fuss is about Mr. Dalstrom’s being brother-in-law to Prime Minister Dean Barrow! This grand-standing sounds like much ado about nothing!

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