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Dec 28, 2021

Sugar Cane Association’s Internal Feud Erupts into Physical Altercation

But, the challenges that the sugar crop is facing does not end there. On the first day of the sugar crop opening, a fight ensued outside the compound of A.S.R./B.S.I. Vlademir Puck the Chairman of Corozal Sugar Cane Farmers Association and disgruntled farmers from Corozal reportedly went blow for blow during a physical altercation after an internal dispute came ahead. News Five’s Paul Lopez takes a closer look.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

On Monday, the first day of the sugar crop, a fight broke out between the Chairman of the Corozal Sugar Cane Farmers Association and several farmers who say they have been wrongfully expelled from the association.


Guillermo Chi

Guillermo Chi, Cane Farmer, Progresso Village

“I am the leader of the group that we decided we are not going to tolerate too much nonsense they are doing. They are running our association, the present board of directors, the chairman itself has never been elected officially, let me state it, has never been elected officially by the members. So we have a group of people running the affairs of the association without our consent.”


The internal row came to ahead on Monday when these thirty-four farmers found out that they were being prevented from delivering their sugar cane under their association’s commercial agreement with the mill.


Guillermo Chi

“The disadvantage as an individual, you have lost your premium. The premium from fair trade is null and void to you. So let us say you are a big farmer and you were to get sixty sacks of fertilizer, you will not get it. If you were to get pesticides and herbicides, whatever, you are not going to get nothing. So you are out on your own, because if you allow that to happen, God bless you because you are not going to get nothing”


Fingers are being pointed at A.S.R./B.S.I. after the physical altercation. Marcos Osorio, Chairman of the Sugar Industry Control Board, accuses B.S.I. of tampering with the registration list.


Marcos Osorio

Marcos Osorio, Chairman, S.I.C.B.

“I must say that was a situation that happened just yesterday. That situation has been coming for a while now. We have been doing our part at the sugar cane production committee level, where we have provided that the thirty four farmers will remain under the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association, given that we were just at the start of the sugar season. We sent the registration list to B.S.I., because there is a process that is followed. We sent the register to B.S.I.  B.S.I. has no authority to do any changes, once the production committee has approved. I have here emails where the there are instructions from within B.S.I. saying place these thirty four farmers as independents. And we have the emails, which seems that they are overriding the authority of the Sugar Cane Production Committee.”


Nonetheless, A.S.R./B.S.I. flatly denies tampering with the registration list given to them, further asserting that the register that was furnished listed the farmers individually.


Paul Lopez

“The accusation is that A.S.R./B.S.I. took it into their own hands to remove these persons off the list.”


Shawn Chavarria

Shawn Chavarria, Director of Finance, B.S.I.

That is false Paul, these farmers were on the list. As I said, the association has reported that these are former members of the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association, and so the list had them as individuals, independents, in other words, no designation to an Association. In other words, they were on the list, they could have delivered cane, but they were insistent that they should have delivered under the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association. So, then and there a decision was made with the Chairman of the Sugar Industry Control Board to say you know what, to defuse the situation, let us go and update the system, so that they show as Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association members and then have the Association deal with this matter internally, how it moves forward.”


And, these thirty-four caneros have the support of their colleagues at the B.S.C.F.A.


Alfredo Ortega

Alfredo Ortega, B.S.C.F.A.

“We are seeing the disadvantage taken to them and we will not step aside and say oh well let the lion eat them, because it will eat them today and tomorrow it will be us. So we are very clear on what we are doing. We are not supporting any violence. All what we are looking for is that these farmers have the same opportunity as any other five thousand farmers have to deliver to this mill.”


The scuffle, says Corozal farmer Guillermo Chi, could have been avoided.  Chi asserts that the altercation ensued when Vlademir Puck aggressed him.


Guillermo Chi

“He come to me, he was mad. He didn’t come with a good relation, let us discuss, and let us fix it. Not, he came, let us say, you are out and you don’t belong here. So where do I belong? I belong to Guatemala or United Kingdom. I belong to Belize, I am a Belizean. I served my country for twenty eight long years in the army.”


Paul Lopez

“He starts the fight?”


Guillermo Chi

“He did it. Because he pulled my shoulder and he didn’t have to do that. He is the one that start it.”


Paul Lopez

“What happened after?”


Guillermo Chi

 “I am not going to stay, I still have, it is swollen right now, because I had an accident with my motor bike and I am just recovering right now.”


Paul Lopez

“What did you do after?”


Guillermo Chi

“Well I get vex and I give ah a blessing because he shouldn’t have done that. I had to bless him.”


Paul Lopez

“And then others jumped.”


Guillermo Chi

“Well that is business for what happened after word, but he shouldn’t have done that.”


Several entities have come out to condemn the acts of violence that ensued on Monday. They include A.S.R./B.S.I., B.S.C.F.A., the S.I.C.B., and the N.T.U.C.B.  The Minister of Agriculture has also come out to condemn the violence. Reporting for News Five I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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