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BSI/ASR defends lawsuit against “illegal” blockade of sugar factory

Posted: Tuesday, February 22, 2022. 3:44 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR) says it, through its subsidiary Belize Co-Generation Energy Limited (BELCOGEN) is suing the Веlіzе Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) in part to uphold the rule of law and in part to protect stakeholders who lost value in their delivered sugar cane.

The miller reminds in a statement that it was BSCFA’s decision to block the mill during negotiations over the commercial agreement because it wanted an interim agreement in order to continue those negotiations, and that their actions hurt not only the miller but their fellow farmers “that were ready and willing to deliver their cane. BSI saw this move by the BSCFA as inappropriate since all associations had valid commercial agreements with the mill.”

This makes the blockade “illegal” in its view “because it exceeded the principle of civil protests and was operationally and economically damaging to not only the mill, but also farmers that sought to honor their contracts and deliver cane to the mill.” Despite warnings of legal recourse if the BSCFA carried out its threats as described in a December 16 meeting to “disrupt milling operations,” those threats were carried out, and now BSI/ASR is firing back.

BSI/ASR reiterates that its investment, now ten years in the making, was due to a “robust legal foundation and reputation for the adherence to the rule of law,” and “the economic importance of the sugar industry to northern Belize and by extension national development goals.” It is sustainably committed, it says, “to the development, productivity and sustainability of the industry for all its stakeholders, which includes all cane farmers, irrespective of association membership.”

The company concludes, “After careful consideration, BSI determined to seek full legal redress for the illegal blockade because it believes that adherence to the rule of law is critical for the long-term success of the sugar industry. BSI will always protect the interests of its stakeholders with whom we hope to secure a strong future for the sugar industry of Belize.”

The lawsuit seeks $564,926 in special damages as well as other damages for loss of business and costs. BSI/ASR does not address the reported indemnity provided by the Government to the BSCFA for its actions.

 

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