There is trouble brewing within the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association. Established in 2014, the association has some six hundred registered members and some are up in arms that an election has not been held in several years. Members such as Guillermo Chi say that the current chairman Vladimir Puck is unjustly holding onto power. Chi is alleging that Puck has breached the by-laws of the association by failing to hold elections every three years. He explains that bylaw-ninety point one states that elections will be held at a general meeting every three years. He says none has been held since 2014.
Guillermo Chi, Member, CSCPA: “At the AGM of 2018 Vladimir said he only had two years that he’s there and he just started but he was never elected. He was never duly elected, he has never been elected. I don’t understand how a person that has never been elected can run our association and nothing can be done. I hope that the Prime Minister is listening to this interview, I hope he hears and they do something about this situation because if SICB is the regulator then I say why is it that they are not doing what they should do. How can one person just sit – I’m going to say like I come sit down here and say I am the chairman now, how can that happen ? That is not possible here in this country but it is happening and nothing is being done, that is the problem. Who do we go to now to see that the law is being adhered ?”
Reporter: Is it that the members they don’t know about the bylaws to ensure that the election is held ?
Guillermo Chi, Member, CSCPA: “For the first two years, going to three years they didn’t even want the members to read the bylaws and to my knowledge I believe each member should know what they are being governed. They should know what they can do, what they cannot do, what they’re supposed to do and what they shouldn’t do. So that in itself was trying to put a cloud in the people’s minds because they don’t have a clear picture of what is taking place.”
Chi has collected one hundred and seventy three signatures from members who share his sentiments. And while he is no longer a member, Everaldo Uk, is supporting Chi. Uk was expelled in 2019 by the current board for reasons he says were unjustified. Uk who is a founding member of the association believes that he was expelled for speaking out against the current board.
Everaldo Uk, Expelled Member, CSCPA: “I decided to move to the Supreme Court because my life was being affected. My daily livelihood was being affected and we are not having the respect as a farmer within the organization. Being one of the founders of the association and being an ex-Director because they expelled me in 2019, they expelled me so I put myself now on the shoes of the rest of the membership and I cannot accept , I cannot accept being expelled from the association due to the fact that five members, five board members decided to amend our bylaws without the appropriate consultation, without the legal consultation with our cane farmers. I mean it is not my home that I am ruling at, it is an organization that you are dealing with finances and the livelihood of 600+ cane farmers.”
Reporter: I would imagine that to change bylaws that would need some sort of quorum.
Everaldo Uk, Expelled Member, CSCPA: “At least consultation with the members and have a presentation in a general assembly and explain to the cane farmers what are the procedures, do follow ups and at the end then we sit down and through the consultation and approval of the membership we say well we are making an amendment but come on, please. Don’t come and put an amendment in front of me that will give you the power to expel me as a member or expel any other farmer who is fighting for their rights.”
Another member who was expelled is Luis Salazar. Chi says that the expulsion was also unjustified. He explains that the executive presented no evidence and accurate reason why Salazar was expelled.
Guillermo Chi, Member, CSCPA : “This is my question: why is it that you’re going to expel the owner of the association? In my mind it is very clear that the present Chairman has no authority to eject or to expel anyone. As a matter of fact when Mr.Salazar was expelled there was no proof to say for what reason he was expelled. I personally asked Mr.Elvis Canul why is it that you’re going to expel Mr.Salazar, what has he done ? And this is the three words he said “Ese es un terco, es un necio, no entiende.”That is not an accusation. If I am stubborn, if I am whatever other things I am doing you are not accusing me, you are telling me that I am stubborn and I don’t understand. That is not an accusation”
We got in contact with Puck and decline comment stating that the matter is before the Supreme Court.