By Aaron Humes: Amid the internal struggle for control of the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association (CSCPA), the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) has spoken up on behalf of a colleague who they feel got a raw deal.
Belize Sugar Industries Limited (BSI) has banned Everaldo Uk, the putative president of the CSCPA following disputed elections on January 9, from entering its compound except to deliver sugar cane following a physical attack by him on Vladimir Puck, incumbent Chairman of the CSCPA, on December 27, 2021, on BSI’s premises, which BSI said violated its zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence. Uk and other farmers were protesting being thrown out (the CSCPA says they walked out) of the Association due to its ongoing internal dispute.
Fair and good, says the BSCFA, but it points out that the video capturing the sequence of events and actions that day “clearly shows that there were members of the (CSCPA) who also perpetrated acts of violence against Uk and others accompanying him. Yet, BSI has singled out Uk against whom to enforce its policy instead of all persons who were so involved, including persons from CSCPA.”
If they are not equally punished, the BSCFA says, that would be a “miscarriage of justice,” compounded by the fact that Uk by BSI policy can only appeal to rescind the ban five years from its commencement. The denial of a right to immediate appeal as afforded under the laws of Belize is unjust, it says, and when that time comes it should be to an independent body such as the Sugar Industry Control Board (SICB).
BSCFA reiterates that it “does not condone violence of any sort, [but] it also does not condone any injustice in the course of its application of any policy that affects any cane farmer in the sugar cane industry.”
As such, BSCFA calls on BSI to either rescind its ban on Uk or apply it fairly to all who perpetrated acts of violence in contravention of its policy.