Posted: Sunday, December 5, 2021. 7:31 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The largest of the four major sugar cane farmers’ associations, the original Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), has effectively laid blame at the feet of the Progressive Sugar Cane Producers Association and the Corozal Sugar Cane Producers Association for the necessity of amending the Sugar Industry Act as proposed at the House of Representatives on Friday.
The amendment clarifies provisions relating to elections of association bodies and regularizes the processes of presenting complaints to the Sugar Industry Control Board and if it fails to the Minister of Agriculture to settle disputes.
Progressive and CSCPA had come out against the amendment, feeling it targets them for prioritizing the safety of their members by not holding meetings during the COVID pandemic, even at the risk of violation of their by-laws.
But the BSCFA specifically accuses these associations in a press release today of “increasing reports of violations of the human rights of members by the officers of these associations and the lack of access to any effective remedy to members to address these violations,” specifically by not holding elections to time and meetings to update members.
The BSCFA, which meets annually every November prior to the start of crop, says it backs the amendments as protecting the rights of members to proper association and good governance. It says governments should intervene to protect against abuse including from “business enterprises” such as the associations are, up to and including legislation.
And it challenges its fellow associations to respect their members’ rights and proceed to correct their ongoing abuses.
For their part, Progressive and CSCPA say they have been maligned and intend to challenge the amendment in court.
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