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Jul 14, 2011

Citrus and Sugar Associations send strong message to P.M. about rule of law

Three powerhouses in the agriculture industry have sent a stern but emphatic message to the government regarding the state of the citrus and sugar industries. In symphony with the Belize Chamber of Commerce, the message is about government’s slow pace in obeying the rule of law. While it’s not about any nationalization, it deals with court judgments that the government has not enforced regarding the way sugar and citrus are governed. In October 2007 and March 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that certain aspects of the Citrus Industry Act violated the constitution. And on the eight of June 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that certain aspects of the Sugar Industry Act were also in violation of the Constitution. The joint letter from Belize Citrus Mutual, the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association and United Cane Farmers Association says, “We are at a period of tremendous economic uncertainty and by its inaction, the Government of Belize is further undermining confidence in our industries on which our livelihood depends. Years of hard work and millions of dollars of our investments are tied up in these two industries. With the lingering lack of clarity and resulting confusion, we have seen the value of our investment decline…no one is prepared to invest in an uncertain future. This is the true damage and frustration being caused by inaction of the government of Belize.” News Five spoke via phone to Wilfredo Magaña, the Chairman of the United Cane Farmers Association about the letter to the Prime Minister.

Via Phone: Wilfredo ‘Willie’ Magana, United Cane Farmers Association

“In 2010, the court made a judgment on our behalf and ruled that the government through the attorney general’s office must bring the law into conformity becaue there were two sections of the law which we took in the court that proved to be unconstitutional and it violates our rights, hindered us from doing business in terms of the sugar business because that laws at this point says that we have to do business through one association. What strategy we had used was that they were going to bring in more than just those two orders by the court; that there were also other areas in the sugar act that was also unconstitutional and that they were going to do a revision on the whole complete act. But since that process has been happening, on one of the last meetings, we got some information from the chairman of the board. There is a board comprised of—we have members there too—but the chairman, who is Mister Eugene Waight had informed us of a directive from the Prime Minister in terms of whatever we are doing in terms of sugar act will not necessarily reflect on what we want to see in the sugar act. That few things in act will not happen the way we think it should happen. They are putting a lot of obstacles in bringing the act into conformity. They ere is clear indication to us that they don’t want to do it. We, through our lawyer, have asked the court to make reinforcement on the judgment because we don’t see any willingness on behalf of that department to get it done. We sat together and decided that we are going to write the Prime Minister a letter to ask him whether—we know the willingness is not there—to ask him that the court had made a decision and that we are looking forward to doing business and it is stopping us from not being able to do business. And the reason why the citrus joined with us is because they have experienced the very same problem that the court has made a decision and ruling and there is no respect to that particular ruling. So this is what we are telling the Prime Minister that we know that they can do it and that the willingness is not there and we are asking him to put hand in the issue which is a very important issue to us.”

The two cane farmers associations and the Belize Citrus Mutual, all considered breakaway groups went to the courts to have the existence of their associations sanctioned by the courts. That is because the established associations fought to prevent those growers from separating. Despite the court judgments, there are still quarrels amongst the old and new associations. Elsewhere in the citrus industry, the Belize Citrus Growers Association (CGA) issued a release cancelling its Special General Meeting which was slated for this Friday July fifteenth.  According to the release the attorney for Dwight Montero, William Bowman, San Miguel Limited, Valley Orchards and Mullins River Holdings went to court to seek permission for forty members of Belize Citrus Mutual to attend the CGA’s special meeting. The court struck out that application but it still wasn’t what the CGA hoped for because the court also ruled that the special meeting should be cancelled. The dispute lies over the fact that these Belize Citrus Mutual members did not relinquish membership in the CGA, and they allegedly have not paid any membership fees.  So the case of the two citrus associations will be heard on July twenty-first.

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7 Responses for “Citrus and Sugar Associations send strong message to P.M. about rule of law”

  1. REGGIE says:

    PM BARROW ABOVE THE LAW. SUGAR COMPANY ,CITRUS COMPANY.MAYA LAND RIGHT.BTL..
    THE COURT OF LAW HAD PASS JUDGEMENT ON ALL CASES.AND THE GOB DIDN’T COMPLY.SO PM PAY IS FAMILY MILLIONS TO TAKE THE CASES TO COURT .AFTER THE VERDICT THE PM DECIDE HE WILL APPEAL AND LET HIS FAMILY MAKE MORE MONEY.NO RESPECT FOR THE LAW.I WONDER IF SOME OF THE MONEY HIS FAMILY IS MAKING PM GETTING A KICK BACK. MY PEOPLE OPEN YOUR EYES.JOIN THE PNP IN THEIR MARCH THAT IS COMING UP SOON.WHEN IS HE GOING TO CHANGE THE LAW FOR THE OIL COMPANY SO THE PEOPLE OF BELIZE CAN HAVE A GOOD LIFE. REMEMBER ONCE A PERSON MAKE POWER OR MONEY CHANGE HIM,DON’T TRUST THAT PERSON AGAIN,( DON’T VOTE FOR LAWYERS.)

  2. Liberty and Freedom says:

    I’ll bet the Prime Minister is having a good belly laugh. Nothing like having a nice “war” between the the people that need to be united. United we stand; divided we fall. Yes, there is a huge economic loss to all the parties involved. GOB revenue, the growers and the workers. Behind the scenes there are people stirring the pot in order to take the heat off the real problems. Everyone wants to be in charge; no one wants to be a follower. All business and political struggles are about the money and the power. The people that do not benefit are the workers. If everyone focused on the real issues, the GOB would be forced to act in a matter of days. From one voice many things can change. Forget your personal ambitions and stand united.

  3. Justice says:

    PM is introducing us to his future home environment–hell!

  4. Belize says:

    I am wondering which Banks and Lawyers are behind the Citrus and sugar Associations trying to light a fire?

  5. beemtheman says:

    PM trying to make better for comin Belize people ,this counrty was raped for years by people with branes and money ,he is trying to stop that .
    and citrus assosiation should be next….
    always in trouble,missmanaged ,asking for goverment help and money,they hiding and stiling money just like others.
    I hope he will be re elect it.

  6. Earl Grey says:

    CITRUS GROWERS MEETING……………….SOMEONE COULD GET STABBED TO DEATH AGAIN ;-(

  7. Mr. Concerned says:

    I am tired of this legal battle between the two HENRYS. Jesus christ mein! CGA have forget thier real purpose to farmers. NOTHING is happening to assist the farmers. you buy pesticide at CGA, it is so expensive. You want revolving fund, you may get $100 or none. You want to withdraw in thier credit union-there’s no money!!!. where is my hard earn money is going MR CEO (CGA). it is going on all legal fees. you say you are working for the citrus farmers-NOTHING MR CEO.

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