During the 47 years that I have lived in Antigua, I have co-founded and participated in many committees, associations and foundations to improve the quality of life for our residents.
Ranging today from education to micro-credit and promoting cultural activities, many of these meetings usually relate to finding solutions to problems that we have identified over the years. Four-plus years ago, I was attending one of the group association meetings (where a number of local committees meet), and mentioned that I didn’t vote—but I did enjoy having a voice. It was right before the 2007 elections.
While no one commented, it struck me like lightning that I should become a Guatemalan citizen, particularly since the U.S. allows dual citizenship. And the process began.
Many thought it was a “no brainer” since I married a Guatemalan (widowed), have two Guatemalan children, a Guatemalan business and have lived here so long. It was more work than I thought!
First to Migración, then to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, then to Gobernación in Guatemala City, back to Migración, Relaciones Exteriores (countless times).
Since it is a presidential decree, the paperwork was then sent to former President Colom—oops, they needed more flight information—back again—oops, they didn’t notice a stamp in my passport. Back again to the president’s desk.
Much to my dismay, Migración does keep track of all the airport paperwork we fill out —over 43 years, that was quite a few items. (I thought they made firecrackers out of old paperwork as they did in colonial times!)
This time, President Pérez Molina did sign it on April 9th and the presidential decree was published in the Diario de Centro América. I could have written a book and a half with all the paperwork and certainly have the side-stories to share.
All in all, at least now we can call the government offices and they find the information on their computers! I joined 18 other foreign nationals at Relaciones Exteriores on May 30th to be sworn in as a Guatemalan. I didn’t hire a lawyer and there were no fees (except for the Spanish language test). If “time is money,” it is priceless!
While I missed voting in the 2011 elections, I can now call it my country. That is priceless.